A statement at the closing of a conference in Tokyo confirmed donors would stump up $16 billion in civilian aid through 2015, with several pre-conditions including a clampdown on corruption. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was in the Japanese capital along with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for talks focused on the so-called “transformation decade” after the NATO drawdown.
“(The agreement) established a renewed, stronger foundation for partnership to support sustainable growth and development of Afghanistan throughout the transformation decade”, the statement said. Sunday’s conference hosted representatives from about 80 nations and international organisations in a gathering aimed at adopting the “Tokyo Declaration”, pledging support and cash for the turmoil-wracked nation. The deal is meant to plug the gap between what Kabul gets from its barely-functioning economy and what it needs to develop into a stable country. Afghanistan covers only a third of the $6 billion it spends each year, not counting security costs, and has for a long time been heavily dependent on aid.
There are fears that once the US and its allies no longer have to worry about their soldiers dying in Afghanistan after the 2014 pullout, the country could be left to drift into the hands of drug lords and extremists.
The deal calls for a monitoring mechanism, and follow-up ministerial meetings every two years, to ensure Afghanistan was on the right track with respect to holding democratic elections, fighting corruption and promoting human rights.
The statement added that participants “renewed their firm determination to combat terrorism and extremism in all their forms and never to allow Afghanistan to become a sanctuary for international terrorism again”.
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul said Kabul would make good on its commitments.
“The Afghan government will deliver,” he told a news briefing.
“We are talking about the future. We are not talking about the past. And there is no choice. That is the duty that the Afghan government will deliver.”
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said the deal sent the “strategic message that Afghanistan can continue to develop sustainably and in a self-reliant way in a post 2014 period”.
In May an Afghanistan security conference in Chicago involving the countries of the NATO-led coalition adopted a plan to provide $4.1 billion in annual security aid in coming years.
In his opening remarks to the conference, Karzai acknowledged security remained a major problem, but said his country had come a long way.
“In these past 10 years, with help from the international community, we have made remarkable progress toward healing of the scars of conflicts and destruction,” he said.
“And we are laying down a new path for people to realise their aspiration of a peaceful and prosperous and democratic country.”
In her statement at Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that Pakistan was committed to provide fullest cooperation to Afghanistan to help it steer through the transition period and beyond.
“We have pledged an amount of US$300 million for the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan.”
She said Afghanistan was to move from transition into the transformation decade within the next two years, it was indeed timely for the international community to discuss sustainable development and self-reliance in Afghanistan.
She said, “We are convinced and we know from history that political stability and economic progress are inter-dependent. The goal of long term political and economic stability in Afghanistan requires dealing with the issue in a holistic manner.”
An intra-Afghan consensus with continued support of neighbours, the region and the wider international community are essential in the same order of priority and ownership, she said, adding that “the Tokyo Conference today is reflective of our collective efforts towards realising this shared objective.”
The minister said Pakistan wanted a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
“This is vital for our own peace and security. This, as I said in Kabul, is a core national interest for Pakistan,” she stressed.
“At the bilateral level, our engagement with Afghanistan is focused on deepening cooperation in diverse fields, including security, peace and reconciliation, trade, transit, education, health, energy and infrastructure development in a way as to effectively contribute towards the goal of long term stability in Afghanistan.”
She recalled that the recent formalisation of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and the continuation of Afghan transit trade even while Nato supply routes remained locked, showed Pakistan’s abiding commitment to strong bilateral relations with Afghanistan.
Pakistan is currently hosting more than 3 million Afghan refugees (1.7 million registered and the rest undocumented) and any future arrangements in Afghanistan must also factor in the question of the return of these refugees, she noted.
The minister said peace and stability in Afghanistan was contingent upon a commitment by regional countries not to use Afghan soil to destabilising its neighbours.
Earlier Sunday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Afghanistan had made headway in security and development but progress remained fragile.
“Failure to invest in governance, justice, human rights, employment and social development could negate investment and sacrifices that have been made over the last 10 years,” he told the gathering.
“We are at a critical moment in Afghanistan’s history in transition from reliance on the aid that has enabled the country’s institutions to take roots to a normalised relationship of a sovereign, functioning Afghanistan with its people and with its international partners,” Ban said.
Donors to stump up $16b in Afghan aid