World powers vow to secure Afghanistan from terror threat
Tokyo: India and other key world powers on Sunday vowed never to allow Afghanistan to become a sanctuary for global terrorism again, as major donors pledged USD 16 billion in aid to the war-torn country to prevent it from sliding back into turmoil after foreign forces leave in 2014.
The "Tokyo Declaration" adopted at the end of the day- long conference on Afghanistan said the participants, including External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reaffirmed their respect for sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and independence of Afghanistan, which constitutes an integral component of the peace, well-being and prosperity of the region and beyond.
Also, the participants from over 70 countries welcomed the results of the Delhi Investors' Summit on Afghanistan hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industries on June 28 in Delhi, which benefited from many participants from neighboring countries, and underscored the importance of implementing the recommendations of the summit, it said.
Asserting that peace and security are the foundation on which a stable and prosperous society is built, they recognised that the main threat to Afghanistan's security and stability comes from terrorism and that this threat also endangers regional and international peace and security.
In this regard, the participants recognised the regional dimensions of terrorism and extremism, including terrorist safe havens, and emphasised the need for sincere and result- oriented regional and international cooperation towards a region free from terrorism in order to secure Afghanistan and safeguard the region and world against the terrorist threat.
They renewed their firm determination to combat terrorism and extremism in all their forms and never to allow Afghanistan to become a sanctuary for international terrorism again, the declaration said.
Donors at the meet also pledged USD 16 billion in
civilian aid to Afghanistan through 2015, with several pre-conditions, including a clampdown on corruption.
In his opening remarks at the conference, Afghan President Hamid Karzai vowed to "fight corruption with strong resolve".
He said that despite the progress made in the past 10 years, Afghanistan's economy remained vulnerable and security a major obstacle.
"It will take many years of hard work on our part as Afghans, as well as continued empowering support from our international partners before Afghanistan can achieve prosperity and self-reliance," he said. "We must do what we can to deepen the roots of security and make the transition irreversible."
Hillary stressed the need for reform to safeguard changes achieved in Afghanistan. "That must include fighting corruption, improving governance, strengthening the rule of law, increasing access to economic opportunity for all Afghans, especially for women," she said.
Addressing the meeting, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said that India does not visualise its partnership with Afghanistan as "conditions-based or transitory, nor are we looking to transition out of this partnership."
"In spite of not being a traditional donor country, we have shared significant resources for Afghanistan's reconstruction and development.
Krishna noted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had
pledged an additional USD 500 million to Afghanistan during his visit to Kabul last year, bringing India's total cumulative commitment to USD 2 billion.
"A large portion of this assistance has either been disbursed or is committed to ongoing projects. We have also committed to begin a number of new projects over the course of the coming year.
"All these projects have been initiated on the specific request of the Government of Afghanistan, and hence are in line with the Afghan development priorities.
He also highlighted that Indian projects in Afghanistan avoid the multiple-levels of subcontracting and dependence on private security companies that add to the overhead costs of the work done by many other countries.
"India does not plan to limit its future development engagement in Afghanistan to a particular time frame or only to the presently planned projects.
Our partnership is for the long-term. The pace and nature of the utilisation of the present and future Indian assistance will be determined by the preference, comfort level and absorptive capacity of the Afghan government," Krishna said.
The international donor community also attached a series of conditions to the USD 16 billion aid they pledged for Afghanistan including the holding of credible and transparent elections in 2014 and 2015, and improving of factors like access to justice of citizens, especially women, and respect for human rights.
Fiscal transparency and boosting of the country's banking sector, besides strengthening measures against corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.
"(The agreement) established a renewed, stronger foundation for partnership to support sustainable growth and development of Afghanistan throughout the transformation decade," said a statement.
The conference hosted representatives from about 80 nations and international organisations.
The deal called for a monitoring mechanism, and follow-up ministerial meetings every two years, to ensure Afghanistan was on the right track with respect to holding democratic elections, fighting corruption and promoting human rights.
"The Afghan government will deliver," said Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul.
Clinton said the administration of US President Barack Obama would be asking Congress to agree to keep American civilian assistance to Afghanistan at or near current levels until 2017.