With the recent announcement that 34,000 US troops will withdraw in Afghanistan, the United States of America today announced US goal is for Afghans to take full responsibility for their security by 2014
In his remarks at the World Bank High-Level meeeting on Afghanistan in Washington DC, Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides for Management and Resources says for the past decade, tens of billions of dollars in security-related spending have fueled consumption and economic growth in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.
“Today, we are in a period of transition. By 2014, our goal is for Afghans to take full responsibility for their security.” – Mr. Nides
He says since last November 2012, seven provinces and municipalities have already begun transition.
In many ways, the growth Afghanistan has seen is remarkable, and they should not minimize the gains made over the past decade, Mr. Nides stated.
However, Mr. Nides points out that the US is concerned that these gains may not be sustainable and may prove reversible unless the region and the international community start to take action before combat forces leave and foreign spending decreases.
According to Mr. Nides, as the Bank’s analysis has shown, fiscal sustainability will be a major challenge particularly covering the cost of security forces and maintaining existing infrastructure.
“Without outside help, the Afghans will not have the revenue to do so.” – Mr. Nides
It requires immediate attention by all parties– Afghanistan, the region, and international donors, Mr. Nides highlighted.
Growing Afghanistan’s own economy will be vital to this effort.
According to Mr. Nides, the Afghan government put forward a vision for its economic future based on increased private sector investment and expanded regional trade, he added.
“I appreciate the World Bank’s continuing analysis, and their focus on encouraging the creation of “resource corridors” to promote sustainable economic development.” – Mr. Nides
Mr. Nides cites that all are facing difficult economic times and no one, including the Afghans, is interested in having Afghanistan be dependent on foreign assistance forever.
He says it is a time to promote self-sufficiency and now is a moment to draw on the full potential of legitimate agriculture, light manufacturing and extractive industries, he underlined.
“All can be sources of prosperity for the Afghan people.” – Mr. Nides
Afghanistan’s neighbors have a critical role to play
According to Mr. Nides, a more integrated South and Central Asia will create jobs everywhere and make the region more attractive to investors.
He says it will increase security and build constituencies for peace.
“I have been encouraged to see Afghanistan and its neighbors move in this direction.” – Mr. Nides
He says Afghanistan and Pakistan are working on the technical and financial details to implement a Transit Trade Agreement. India and Pakistan are engaged in dialogue.
All of this will require private sector investment as well, he added.
However, Mr. Nides points out that businesses need predictability and they need assurances that governments are stable, have stable relations with neighbors and will make reforms where needed to improve the investment climate.
Itt starts with a solid commitment to a secure, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan, Mr. Nides emphasized.
US pledges for long-term military commitment
According to Mr. Nides, America is negotiating a Strategic Partnership agreement that signals our long-term civil-military commitment.
US knows the cost of neglecting Afghanistan, Mr. Nides underlined.
“We will not repeat it. This is not about long-term bases, or about projecting power.” – Mr. Nides
The US will continue to support the sovereign rights of the people of Afghanistan.
It is also about finally bringing lasting peace to a young country that has spent much of the past three decades at war, he added.
“A key test of our long term commitment will be what we do with the “transition dividend,” as I call it” the savings we will see from a drawdown of coalition forces.” – Mr. Nides
He says the Bonn Conference in December is not meant to be a donor’s conference, but he hopes that countries can make a political commitment to invest a portion of our transition dividend back into the Afghan economy.
Mr. Nides says US knows the cost of walking away from Afghanistan and continuing to invest now may well save them from paying a higher price down the road.
At Bonn, Mr. Nides says countries should agree on a vehicle to coordinate the delivery of the transition dividend to support priorities identified by Afghan government.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has stated that major US combat operations will end in Afghanistan by 2014.
In an interview with Reena Ninan of ABC News
in Lima, Secretary Clinton saidthat in 2014, according to the decisions that were made by NATO which includes the United States, they would end major combat operations in 2014, the end of the year.
US asserts that there is an enduring commitment that a number of countries have already made to the Afghans, including the United States, but also the UK, France, and others have said they don’t want Afghanistan to end up the way it did after the Soviet Union left and those countries that had been funding the fight against the Soviet Union retreated.
No one wants Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists again, Ms. Clinton has noted.
In July 2012, with its commitment to strengthen Afghanistan’s institutions, the United States of America announced that Afghanistan is officially designated as its major non-NATO ally.
In her remarks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the security situation of Afghanistan is more stable.
The Afghan National Security Forces are improving their capacity to protect the Afghan people.
The Afghans are in the process of taking the lead in more than 75 percent of the population’s living areas in order to provide security.
The Government of Afghanistan has signed partnership agreements with many countries, and the United States is among those.
US and Afghanistan Partnership
Both nations have worked together to set forth a long-term political, diplomatic, and security partnership, and it entered into force just a few days ago.
The US government sees this alliance as a powerful symbol of its commitment to Afghanistan’s future.
The United States wants to continue to invest in doing what the Afghans believe they need.
The United States will continue to protect Afghanistan from any efforts by insurgents and outsiders to destabilize Afghanistan.
The US government has supported President Karzai in his effort to have an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led reconciliation process.
The US government pledges to continue its support and to work with the Afghans to get more international support, Ms. Clinton stressed.
In December 2011, the United States withdrew 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
July 2011 marked the beginning of a responsible transition that will see Afghan forces gradually taking the lead in securing their own country.
By 2014, the process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.
The Afghan security forces move into the lead, the United States continues to reduce its military footprint. Its mission will change from combat to support. The remaining 23,000 “surge” troops in December 2009 will leave Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012.
The U.S. government has made significant progress towards their goals.
Reports say the U.S. government is redoubling its efforts to pursue a peaceful end to the conflict in the region.
The U.S. government has taken tangible steps to advance Afghan reconciliation and reintegration initiatives, including support to the Afghan High Peace Council and provincial police and reintegration councils.