NATO notes extraordinary achievements in Afghanistan
By Khaama Press - Sat Apr 06 2013, 2:52 pm
By: Ambassador Maurits Jochems
The achievements Afghanistan has made over the past few years are extraordinary. I have seen these changes with my own eyes having served in this country in 2008 and again today. Late last year President Karzai announced the fourth group of areas to enter transition. Now the increasingly capable and confident Afghan National Security Forces are taking the lead in providing security to their own people. With this announcement, nearly 90 per cent of the Afghan population will see their own army and police providing them with security. When taking stock of where we were just two years ago, when the first areas to enter transition were announced, we should recognise this remarkable accomplishment. Since that time we have seen the Afghan National Security Forces planning and conducting over 80 per cent of their own operations and we have seen them take responsibility for over 85 per cent of their own training.
There remains 21 months before the ISAF mission winds down, its combat operations will cease and its training, advising and assistance operations for the ANSF will be handed over to the new NATO-led mission. We will see the ANSF taking the lead for security across the country by the middle of this year. At that point we still have another year and a half with the ISAF forces operating in a combat and training role, but in full support of the ANSF.
Despite rumours and concerns, the international community in Afghanistan is not going anywhere. They are not packing their bags and leaving at the end of 2014. Too much has been invested not only by Afghanistan’s friends and partners, but by Afghans themselves, to give up the achievements we have all fought so hard to gain. The commitment of NATO and the broader international community is both clear and unprecedented. The Tokyo Conference committed to further development support to Afghanistan and in Chicago we decided that we will support the Afghan National Security Forces with funding and a new NATO mission after 2014 to train, advise and assist.
But there is still work to do. The Government of Afghanistan has also made clear commitments at the important international conferences in Kabul, Chicago and Tokyo to hold credible elections, to fight corruption, improve good governance, uphold the constitution especially human rights, and enforce the rule of law. The efforts made so far to address these concerns can be commended. The continued efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to meet their commitments will allow us to continue supporting Afghanistan for the years to come.
Afghanistan has a vibrant and active political scene. A critical part of Afghanistan’s continued progress is a smooth political transition in next year’s Presidential elections. Credible elections are a shared responsibility for a democratic society. Electoral institutions, the government, political parties, media, civil society, and citizens alike need to work together to ensure an outcome accepted by all Afghans. These elections are an historic opportunity for the democratic transition of power. NATO and its ISAF partner nations are working to support an election that is inclusive and accepted. The Afghan National Security Forces will play a crucial role in making sure that eligible voters can make their decision in peace and security. ISAF forces stand ready to assist where requested and necessary.
The International Community does not own Afghanistan’s future. But we stand with Afghanistan as a dedicated partner in its future. When all of these achievements and commitments are taken together, the message from the International Community to Afghanistan and her people is unequivocally clear: we all want a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan and we are dedicated in supporting you make that happen.
Ambassador Maurits Jochems is the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan