The Bonn II Conference is over now and Afghanistan has received a pile of commitments that the international community is going to keep on assisting it till 2024. There are expectations that Afghanistan would be able to stand on its own after 2024, as after that it would be able to take advantage of the mineral resources it has and can transfer them to economic benefits, provided that the socio-political conditions remain stable.
The German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle mentioned in the conference, "We send a clear message to the people of Afghanistan: We will not leave you on your own. We will not leave you in the lurch." On the other hand the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton commented, "The United States intends to stay the course with our friends in Afghanistan," and she further added that the American commitment was for the "long haul".
"We will be there with you as you make the hard decisions that are necessary for your future." Britain has also promised to keep its development aid to Afghanistan continue at the current level of £178 million a year.
William Hague has reportedly mentioned that the government would also be talking its allies in the next few months on how much would be spent on further help in supporting Afghan security forces after 2014.
"The conference has broadened the understanding around the world that our support will continue to be necessary. Nobody should think about walking away after 2014, whether it's western Nato nations or Arab nations," mentioned the foreign secretary.
These commitments seem very much promising when we listen to them but they have to be converted into practices if they have to make real difference in the lives of all the Afghan who have been suffering for many decades and also bring a good conclusion to the efforts that are being made in Afghanistan for the last decade both by Afghan people and international community in terms of not only the financial support but also human blood.
Whether these promises are met or not is yet to come, however the security situation, economic independence and socio-political scenario in Afghanistan seem to be pointing towards further deterioration. Above all the security situation is not improving at all. There are clear indications that the circumstances have worsened and if they are not dealt with appropriately they will further debilitate.
The training and the equipments possessed by Afghan forces do not have the capacity to take the complete responsibility of the country and there are new waves of increasing terror in different parts of country and they differ in their nature. Therefore, proper training to deal with them is a necessity.
Moreover, it would not be possible that the international community keep on helping the Afghan forces so that they get training and equipment while their own countries suffer from financial crises. Thus, security will remain a concerning problem in Afghanistan for the times to come.
Another factor that would remain unsolved even after the exaggerated Bonn II is the reconciliation process. The absence of relevant parties from the conference made it impossible for the participating nations to decide something really worthwhile regarding the reconciliation process. For lasting peace, it is considered important that the Taliban must reach to some sort of agreement with the Afghan government regarding the future political development, but the Taliban's true representatives were absent from the conference.
Another important part of the reconciliation process is Pakistan and it was also absent from the conference. There are many important issues that are not dealt properly between Afghanistan and Pakistan and even US and Pakistan and it is difficult for Afghanistan to expect peace and tranquility in the country without dealing those issues completely. Bonn II could have been the forum to discuss these issues, unfortunately, the conference is over and the issues will keep on bothering Afghanistan.
Definitely, the support that has been pledged for Afghans are of great importance but it is necessary that they should be fulfilled. However, there are some facts that have to be studied before forming strong expectations from the promises.
Louise Hancock, Oxfam's policy and advocacy advisor in Afghanistan said, "The Afghan people needed to be here to hear that there will not be abandoned but at the moment it is just a lot of talk. Already there are projects on education for girls that are shutting down, and one of the biggest fears is that when the troops go, the funds will drop, and drop quickly." Moreover the calculations depict that the financial support for Afghanistan has, in fact, dropped.
According to the reports, development aid from US, Afghanistan's biggest donor by far, has fallen from $3.5 billion last year to about $2 billion this year. Within that, the budget for supporting democracy, governance and civil society organization fell by more than half from $231 million to $93 million and the allocation of support for "rule of law" dropped from $43 million to $16 million.
No doubt there are concerns regarding the financial support that has reached to Afghanistan. There are concerns from donors and certain international organizations that a large share of support has not reached to the deserving people because of corruption and mismanagement.
Therefore, the donors have been careful about their aid. On the other hand the NATO countries and US themselves have been facing some of the shocks of the economic crises and there have been voices in their own countries regarding the involvement of their countries in Afghanistan and the sufferings of their own people.
An important message that has been added by Hilary Clinton is that Afghans had to live up to their commitments "on taking difficult decisions to embrace reform, lead in their own defense and strengthen an inclusive democracy rooted in the rule of law." Though it is nice to see the international world emphasizing on transparency and good governance in Afghanistan but they have to take concrete measures to make them certain.
On the other hand they have to keep on supporting Afghanistan, not only through promises in conferences but by making real changes in the life of common Afghan people. Simon Gass, NATO's top civilian representative mentioned a nice statement in this regard, "This is a matter of self interest, not philanthropy. If Afghanistan turned back to chaos, our countries would face flows of drugs and migrants, as well as instability in a sensitive part of the world."