Riga, 31 May 2010 - NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY CALLS FOR “RESOURCES, RESOLVE AND PATIENCE” IN AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan is at a critical point, according to two draft reports by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which explain that any slackening in the international community’s resolve in the months to come could jeopardize recent progress.
“Patience, resolve and our shared commitment to the future of
Recent security improvements have created a “genuine opportunity for decisive progress on the governance front”, he told the Assembly’s Civil Dimension of Security Committee as he presented his draft report, titled Governance Challenges in Afghanistan.
“Security, governance and development are all piece of the same puzzle. Without security, there can be no governance and no development, and without governance and development, there can be no security,” said Canas, a member of the Portuguese parliament (Socialist Party).
His report was closely echoed by another, titled Partnering with the Afghan National Security Forces, presented by British Labour MP Frank Cook to the Defence and Security Committee of the Assembly.
“It is my strong belief that we are generally on the right track,” Cook said, calling on the Allies for “resources, resolve and patience.”
The Afghan National Security Forces – a work in progress
Despite progress in Afghan National Security Forces, “deep and troubling shortcomings” continue to afflict both the army and police, Cook said, ranging from “leadership deficiencies, corruption, drug abuse and illiteracy through to equipment shortages.”
But the army is now “generally well-respected, broadly multi-ethnic, and increasingly taking the lead in operations,” he noted. An “embedded partnership” approach, coupled with a newly established NATO Training Mission in
However, the report points out that “the effectiveness of embedded partners continues to be hampered by operational caveats,” referring to the restrictions placed by some individual Allies on their troops’ activities in
The Afghan police are lagging behind the army in terms of effectiveness, but here too progress is being seen, Cook said, in particular since the commander of the NATO training mission,
A significant pay raise, improved training and closer mentoring are already making a difference to a police force that has in the past been perceived as “malevolent and predatory,” Cook said. A recent UN survey showed that, for the first time in decades, more than 40 per cent of the Afghan population say they can trust the police.
Appropriate training can bring significant improvements, Cook said, giving the example of a police sergeant who used his literacy training to run a check on the number plate of a suspicious vehicle, which turned out to have been reported stolen by suspected terrorists.
Despite the progress, Afghan security forces need international support as much as ever, Cook said. “Even the Afghan minster of defence told us that the army is not at all ready to take over,” he said, referring to a recent NATO PA trip to
For these reasons, Cook said, he was absolutely not calling for a “run for the exit door,” warning that some international presence in
While international assistance remains essential to consolidate the progress in
Success will depend not only on foreign contributions to the NATO-led effort, but also on “the Afghan authorities’ ability to deliver on their reform commitments,” says the report.
In Helmand, poppy cultivation has fallen by a third over the past two years, even if the province still accounts for 57 per cent of
Across the country, the number of poppy-free provinces is increasing, from 6 out of 34 in 2006 to 20 in 2009, says the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
But further collaboration between the international community and Afghan institutions is needed if recent progress is not to be wasted, according to Canas’s report. The poppy crop figure for 2010 could go either way, says the UNODC. The positive trend could be reversed if the security situation is allowed to deteriorate, it warns, but given the right conditions, as many as 25 provinces could be free of poppy by the end of the year.
Both rapporteurs underlined the importance of working towards a transition of responsibilities to Afghan institutions. The upcoming elections would be an opportunity for these to prove themselves, and “restore public confidence,” said Canas.
However, this “requires that Afghan authorities demonstrate their willingness and ability to address the major flaws revealed by [last year’s] presidential election,” he said.
The reintegration of certain Taliban elements into the country’s political and social structures is also critical, the reports said. While elements of this project remain controversial within NATO, it is important to allow the Afghans to determine the makeup of their future government, the reports said.
With a peace jirga, or meeting of tribal elders, planned for Wednesday, and parliamentary elections scheduled for September, the Afghans have ample opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of their political institutions before the end of the year.
Timing is of the essence, said Cook, as everyone involved, not least the Afghans themselves, are keenly aware of the “ticking clock” since US President Barack Obama announced he would start to consider drawing down troops towards the end of 2011.
The pressure is on both
The two reports were discussed in draft form at the Assembly’s Spring Session, which brought together around 340 delegates from allied and associated countries in
The final reports will be debated and approved at the Plenary Session in November in Warsaw.