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After TOKYO Moot

The Tokyo moot, which came on the heels of Istanbul and Bonn II initiatives in 2011 and extraordinary Chicago summit in 2012, was meant to determine the post-withdrawal reconstruction needs of Afghanistan, review the financial assistance requirements and make arrangements for the provision of international funding in at attempt to make the war-torn country stand on its feet.

 

The three-day Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, which was attended by 80 countries and global organisations, represented the continuity of international efforts to find an end to the longest running war of the American history, which has defied a 100% satisfactory outcome as expected by the Pentagon when the US attacked Afghanistan in 2001.

The Tokyo moot, which came on the heels of Istanbul and Bonn II initiatives in 2011 and extraordinary Chicago summit in 2012, was meant to determine the post-withdrawal reconstruction needs of Afghanistan, review the financial assistance requirements and make arrangements for the provision of international funding in an attempt to make the war-torn country stand on its feet.

$16 billion aid over a period of four years was pledged during the Tokyo Conference; but not without conditionalities. Addressing the Conference, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, ‘Afghanistan’s security cannot only be measured by the absence of war. It has to be measured by whether people have jobs and economic opportunity, whether they believe their government is serving their needs, whether political reconciliation proceeds and succeeds.’

This is a clear indication to the global community’s recurring emphasis on fighting corruption and introduction of reforms in Afghanistan. The ‘mutual accountability provisions’ contained in the final communiqu’ made it manifestly clear that as much as 20% of aid would depend on the Afghan government’s ability to meet these benchmarks. However, the pledged aid falls short of $6 billion per annum as demanded by the Central Bank of Afghanistan in order to foster economic growth and create enough job opportunities to assimilate the de-radicalised youth.

‘Transformation Decade’, termed the progress in security and broad-based development as ‘fragile’. He said that ‘Failure to invest in governance, justice, human rights, employment and social development could negate investment and sacrifices that have been made over the last 10 years.’

The Tokyo Conference also afforded an opportunity to the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US to meet on the sidelines of the conference and mull over ways and means to enhance cooperation towards the shared aim of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. This ministerial-level core group meeting was also important in the sense that Pakistan and the US resumed their normal working relationship after hiatus of seven months and in the background of new-found bonhomie following Pakistan’s decision to reopen NATO supply line routes.

The three countries impressed upon Taliban leadership to renounce violence and enter a dialogue with the Afghan government. The joint communiqu’ issued at the end of tri-lateral meeting said, ‘We reiterate our call for the armed opposition to abandon violence and enter a dialogue with the Afghan government. We call on all parties to devote their energy to realising this vision, respond in the same spirit, and commit to support an Afghan political process that will result in lasting peace, security, stability, and prosperity for Afghanistan and the region.’

The statement said, ‘Capitalising on the opportunity afforded by the Tokyo conference, which represents the culmination of a period of intensive engagement between Afghanistan and the international community ‘we convened the first ministerial-level core group meeting today.’

Addressing the Conference, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, ‘Afghanistan’s security cannot only be measured by the absence of war. It has to be measured by whether people have jobs and economic opportunity, whether they believe their government is serving their needs, whether political reconciliation proceeds and succeeds.’
‘We reaffirmed that the purpose of the core group is to enhance cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States to support an Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and further affirmed that Afghanistan should be a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous nation living in a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous region supported by enduring partnerships with the international community,’ said the joint statement.

Despite all the good words said and gestures of bonhomie made between Pakistani foreign minister and the US Secretary of State, the bilateral relationship between both countries will continue to face ups and downs, thanks to the trust deficit which has marked Pakistan-US relations since the May incident in 2011.

The American insistence on the Pakistani authorities to take action against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan and Pakistan’s demand to the US to put an end to drone strikes inside her territory will continue to drive both countries apart. Ms Hillary Clinton made a reference to difficult times ahead when she said that the relationship will continue to raise hard questions. She announced a shift in the US’s emphasis from aid to trade to assist Pakistan’s economy. If actually implemented, this promise can translate into huge dividend for Pakistan’s battered economy, which has been hit hard by war on terror and the worst energy crisis.

According to official figures, Pakistan has suffered an aggregate loss of $78 billion as a result of its engagement in war on terror. Given the huge losses that the country has suffered both in man and material, tariff concessions for the Pakistani exports can be helpful in reducing the damage to the economy.

While political and economic roadmap to ensure stable and peaceful Afghanistan has now been put in place, a lot will depend on how things transpire in talks between the US and Taliban. There are reports that the stalled Qatar initiative has been revived after the US betrayed its willingness to release some of the key Taliban leaders from the infamous Gauntanamo Bay. Without finding a durable political solution by co-opting the Taliban, the chances of Afghanistan reverting back into chaos and warlordism will continue to loom large with implications for potential instability of the region.

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