US pushing for Afghan election reform
WASHINGTON (PAN): President Hamid Karzai's weak government riddled with corruption and the continued presence of militant safe havens in Pakistan will threaten Afghanistan's stability after the withdrawal of US forces in 2014, a Congressional report has warned.
“The administration view is that Afghan stability after the 2014 transition is at risk from weak and corrupt Afghan governance and insurgent safe haven in Pakistan,” the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report on the post-pullout scenario.
Among other efforts to promote effective and transparent governance, the US was pushing for substantial election reform to ensure that the next presidential vote, scheduled for April 2014, would be not experience the fraud seen in 2009 and 2010 polls, it said.
Authored by Kenneth Katzman, specialist in Middle Eastern affairs, the report noted there was also an increased US and Afghan emphasis on negotiating a settlement to the conflict. “That process has proceeded sporadically since early 2010, and has not, by all accounts, advanced to a discussion of specific proposals to settle the conflict.”
Afghanistan’s minorities and women’s groups are worried about a potential settlement, fearing it might produce compromise with the Taliban and erode human rights and ethnic power-sharing, according to the CRS -- an independent research wing of the US Congress.
To promote long-term growth and prevent a severe economic downturn as international donors scale back their involvement in Afghanistan, US officials hope to draw on Afghanistan’s vast mineral and agricultural resources.
“Several major privately-funded mining, agricultural, and even energy development programs have begun or are beginning. US officials also seek greater Afghanistan integration into regional trade and investment patterns. Persuading Afghanistan’s neighbors to support Afghanistan’s stability instead of their own particular interests has been a focus of US policy since 2009, but with mixed success,” it said.
CRS said even if these economic efforts succeeded, Afghanistan would likely remain dependent on foreign aid indefinitely. Through the end of 2012, the United States has provided nearly $83 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban.
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