Drastic reforms brought to foreign policy: Mustaghni
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Wednesday said Afghanistan’s foreign policy, undergoing drastic changes, was based on mutual respect, national integrity, peaceful co-existence and non-interference.
Afghanistan’s foreign policy and diplomatic mission had suffered a huge setback during the Mujahidin and Taliban regimes. The president has to endorse basic principles of the policy that should be approved by the parliament.
But the Afghan foreign policy was mainly fashioned in light of presidential speeches and decisions. The MoFA said Afghanistan currently had cordial relations with foreign countries, establishing strong diplomatic ties with the world at large in the past 15 years.
MoFA spokesman Shakib Mustaghni,during an exclusive interview, told Pajhwok Afghan News Afghanistan’s relations with other countries were based on mutual respect, peaceful co-existence and resolution of disputes under international norms and laws with other countries.
In particular, he said, Afghanistan set store by cordial relations with neighbours. Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs was identified as a key principle of the reformed policy. Afghanistan is pursuing active diplomacy by keeping balance in relations with other countries, keeping in mind regional tensions and disputes.
“Regional linkages on security, economic and other issues have been top priorities of our foreign policy since the formation of the national unity government. As a result, Afghanistan has emerged as an important actor in the region,” he claimed.
Launch of work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, the Chabahar port, Central Asia-South Asia (CASA-1000) power project, the lapis lazuli railway line and revival of the Silk Road from China to the Middle East through Afghanistan were major foreign policy gains, he said.
Another major goal of the foreign policy is to convert Afghanistan into a corridor with Central Asia through four transit routes. Considerable progress had been made in this regard, the spokesman continued.
Foreign policy principles
In line with Article 64 of the constitution, main foreign policy objectives should be approved by the parliament and endorsed by the president. But in the past 15 years, no foreign policy document has landed in the parliament for approval.
On the other hand, the ministry claimed having sent basic foreign policy principles to the parliament. He said they were awaiting approval of the principles by lawmakers.
Due to lack of effective diplomatic missions abroad Afghanistan’s foreign policy remained weak and its say was not projected in an effective way in the past, the spokesman acknowledged. Now that the reform process has been set in motion,the situation is improving.
But implementing reforms was a lengthy process, said the official, who added strengthening Afghan diplomatic missionshad been a top priority for the Ashraf Ghani administration since its formation.
To build the capacity of diplomats, the ministry haslaunched multiple programmes,like enhancement of diplomatic skills, foreign language learning and several other initiatives. Leadership of the ministry hires individuals in line with the MoFA human resource policy.
Some sources within the ministry allege most diplomats hired are relatives of governmental officials. Transparency in appointments was a far cry, raising questions about adherence to merit, they say.
But Mustaghni insisted no law could prevent an individual from being appointed to a post in diplomatic mission merely on the basis of his relationship with an official in a government institution.
Number of MoFA staffers
According to documents 1,062 individuals -- 14 percent of them women -- are working in Afghan embassies and diplomatic missions abroad.
But a clear process for hiring new individuals is yet to be evolved. Ministry officials say new contenders could be hired through an examination and all candidates are supposed to meet the basic criteria.
The spokesman revealed another five posts would be announced as a new directorate of economic cooperation has been established in the ministry. In accordance with the presidential orders, new individuals will be appointed to these posts.
In compliance with a presidential decree, Adela Raz has been appointed as head of the economic cooperation department in the ministry.
Mustaghni said the retirement process was conducted within the ministry every year. The employees who reachthe age of 65 or complete 40 years of service are eligible for retirement. A commission has been authorised to decide on the issue annually.
The spokesman said Afghanistan’s diplomatic missions in Norway, Switzerland, Indonesia and Canada were headed by women ambassadors. Recently, Shinkay Karokhel was appointed as ambassador to Canada in compliance with a presidential decree.
He affirmed the commitment of the unity government and Foreign Ministry to giving competent and qualified women leadership roles and creating an enabling work environment for them.
Afghan diplomatic missions
Afghanistan has set up embassies in 44 countries, which include Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherland, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Bulgaria, the US, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Austria.
Afghanistan maintained diplomatic ties with other countries through its embassies in the neighboring countries.
He said the country established 18 consulates in different cities of the world and in addition it had an active diplomatic mission in the United Nation (UN) and Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).
He added Afghanistan diplomatic missions in Brussels, Rome, Geneva, Paris were considered to the permanent entities of Kabul in those courtiers besides being diplomatic missions.
According to Mustaghni this year due to increasing cost Afghanistan’s embassies in Brazil, Hungary and South Africa were abounded and Kabul representation in UNESCO was absorbed in its mission in Paris.
He said the foreign ministry planned to open its embassy in Greece due to increasing migration and other related issues.
Revenue from consular services
The MoFA spokesman said over 1.5 billion afghanis had been generated from consular services in the first six months of the ongoing financial year. Last year, the revenue collected in the same period was 941,000 afghanis. The new figure shows a 90 percent increase.
He added the ministry expected nearly 2 billion afghanis in revenue this year, but 97 percent of the estimated income was collected in the first half of this year.
Foreign diplomatic missions
Currently 34 countries including Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, South Korea, the Netherland, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, the US, Britain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kyrgyzstanhave embassies in Kabul.
Most countries around the world have forged diplomatic links with Afghanistan but some of them do not have their embassies in Kabul, according to information from the ministry, which hopes the amended policy will help enhance the country’s image.