New administration asked to address graft
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): A top American Senator on Monday said the new Afghan government had an obligation to address corruption and use the US taxpayer resources responsibly.
“Afghanistan stands at the crossroads as the country experiences historic political and security transitions,” said Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
American lives were lost and vast resources spent in defence of Afghanistan, and the US had an obligation to ensure the gains were not reversed, Menendez said after releasing a report "Afghanistan in Transition: The U.S. Civilian Presence and Assistance Post 2014.”
US assistance in Afghanistan must be defined by increased accountability, sustainability and effectiveness, the legislator stressed, saying the report offered a perspective on how the US should consider engaging the new administration in Kabul.
The report examines the development challenges that remain in Afghanistan following the recent political transition and offers a series of recommendations for US assistance approach and civilian presence.
Among other things, it recommends that a higher proportion of US assistance should be conditioned based on specific reforms by the Afghan government. The US should make clear to the new government the appointment process factors into how the US allocates assistance.
The US has set aside id="mce_marker"00 million in a reform incentive fund for the Afghan government. It called for enhanced budgeting and revenue collection, support for women’s political, economic and social rights; renewed efforts to address corruption and the illicit economy.
US support for Afghan security forces will be contingent on respect for human rights, the report said the State Department’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) must be actively engaged at every step in the process of determining the suitability of security assistance recipients.
“The State Department should invest more sustained senior level engagement and funding to realise the goals of the New Silk Road initiative, including utilizing up to id="mce_marker"50 million in Afghanistan Economic Support Fund assistance to bolster economic connectivity between Afghanistan and its neighbors in the region,” it said.
As the drawdown of U.S. troops continues, the State Department should accelerate the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process to prevent any unnecessary backlog of applicants, it said adding that the Congress should expand the number of SIVs offered to Afghan staff that have worked for the US and extend the program through the end of 2016.
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