London Conference gets under way
LONDON (Pajhwok): Co-hosted by the governments of the UK and Afghanistan, the London Conference on Afghanistan, involving delegates from more than 50 nations, began on Thursday.
President Ashraf Ghani, who came to power in September, is likely to seek endorsement for his plan for the transformation decade from 2015-24 and guarantees that aid cuts would not follow troop withdrawals.
Aimed at continued international support to the war-torn nation, the meeting began at 2.30pm with opening remarks by Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
Before noon (London time), representatives of several international organisations and countries will address the participants and announce their future support to the war-torn country.
In the second session, . US Secretary of State John Kerry, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and British Prime Minister David Cameron will deliver speeches before concluding remarks by President Ashraf Ghani.
A number of key Afghan ministers are expected to outline their plans for utilisation of global assistance, transparency in using aid future programmes for economic stability.
It is the third time the UK has brought together leaders from Afghanistan and the international community in London to work together to build a better future for the Afghan people, according to the foreign secretary.
Afghanistan’s development and security had been a shared endeavour for over a decade, a goal that demanded great sacrifices from Afghans themselves and the world at large, he added.
“We can all be proud of the development gains Afghanistan has made…basic infrastructure brought back online and upgraded, giving nearly 30% of Afghans reliable access to power compared to just 6% in 2002 and helping 6.7 million children attend school…”
But the scale of the challenges ahead should not be underestimated, the secretary stressed. Although much had been achieved over the past 13 years, there was much more to do, he insisted.
The conference provides a good a platform for Afghanistan to set out its vision for reform and for the international community to demonstrate enduring solidarity.
The UK government has been a leading partner in helping develop and build a viable Afghan State. The 2014 has been a pivotal year for Afghanistan with millions of Afghans turned out to vote in the country’s historic presidential elections in April and June.
The year also culminated in September in the formation of a National Unity Government and Afghanistan’s first ever democratic transition of power.
This year also marks the end of the international combat mission in Afghanistan. Since July 2013, the Afghan National Security Forces have been in the lead in providing security across the country, including throughout two rounds of elections.
It is also a moment for the international community to signal its solidarity with the Afghan people, and to reaffirm its long-term commitment to supporting Afghanistan’s peaceful development.
Earlier this year, the UK Government hosted the NATO Summit in Wales where they agreed a strategic long-term partnership between NATO, its partner nations and Afghanistan and financial support for the Afghan National Security Forces (known as Resolute Support Mission) until 2017. This conference would build on those commitments made in Wales..
At the Tokyo Conference in July 2012, the international community pledged ongoing support for the development of Afghanistan based on an agreement known as the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF).
Under the TMAF, the Afghan Government also promised to implement reforms. Following the Tokyo Conference, it was agreed that a series of Ministerial-level meetings on Afghanistan would be held in order to support progress.
The UK has already made a long-term commitment to support Afghanistan’s development, and has pledged £178 million per year of development assistance to Afghanistan up to 2017.
Afghan leaders seek to improve interaction with the West at the conference, which is unlikely to deliver new cash pledges.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.