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This update is a summary of various news articles from open sources relating to US AFPAK policy and governance, economy, security and regional interests in Afghanistan and Western Pakistan. Please click on the links below to access the complete article from the internet. External links may expire at any time depending on the archiving policy of the particular news agency. News summaries given below highlight only the portion of each article that is relevant and may not necessarily be the focus of the entire article or the headline. Please note that the update includes articles, which use the British English spelling. Articles are taken from diverse regional, American and European media sources, reflecting a range of political views/biases, and are intended to provide readers with a better understanding of various interests and perspectives regarding the situation in the region. Opinions expressed in the articles/commentaries do not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense, the US Navy, or the LDESP staff.
Disclaimer: Articles are taken from established and diverse professional periodicals, news articles, and editorial commentaries from different countries, reflecting a range of political views/biases, that are intended to provide readers with a better understanding of various interests and perspectives regarding the situation in the region. External links may expire at any time depending on the archiving policy of the particular news agency. News summaries may highlight only a portion of an article that is relevant to the readers and may not necessarily be the focus of the entire article or the headline. Opinions expressed in the articles, commentaries and features do not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense, the US Navy, or the LDESP staff.
GOVERNANCE: DEMOCRACY & RULE OF LAW
Afghanistan: Governance & Civil Society
Afghanistan hopeful of extra US cash to fund security
Afghanistan is confident the US will stump up billions of extra dollars for its army and police on top of the main chunk of a $4.1bn (£2.6bn) annual budget that is expected to be sealed at a Nato summit this month, an Afghan diplomat has said. With foreign combat troops already heading home, and all due to be all gone by the end of 2014, there is little hope the impoverished country will be able to hold off the hardened Taliban insurgents without outside financial help. NATO nations fighting in Afghanistan have informally agreed that they will top up $500m of Afghan government cash to reach $4.1bn annually, the amount western diplomats and the Afghan government say is sufficient to support 228,000 soldiers and police. The deputy foreign minister, Jawed Ludin, said of the sum: “We are pretty confident that we will get that.” But he added that while the money would cover the slimmed-down force numbers scheduled for 2017, it would cost more than that to pay for the much larger force expected to be securing the country in two years’ time. (Guardian)
Afghans ‘Ready’ To Take Over From French
The Afghan government says Afghan security forces are ready to fill any vacuum caused by the possible early withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan. The 7 May announcement follows French President-elect Francois Hollande’s pledge to withdraw France’s 3,300 troops by the end of 2012. Such a withdrawal would end France’s combat role two years earlier than called for under an official NATO timetable, which says full security control is to be handed over to Afghans by 2014. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that Afghan forces could “easily” fill any security vacuum left by the withdrawal of French troops. Hollande has said he will raise the issue with other NATO leaders at a Chicago summit on 20-21 May. (RFE/RL)
Parliamentarians Criticize US Pact for Regime Restriction
Afghanistan’s members of parliament has criticized a provision within the US-Afghan long-term agreement which does not allow Afghanistan to change its system of government. The strategic pact, is valid until 2024, was broadly welcomed by both Afghan and international officials last week, seen as a major breakthrough for the future of Afghanistan after the NATO-led combat troops leave in 2014. However, some officials have since said that the government system provision of the deal could very well take the Afghan people “into custody” for a decade if there are restrictions on changing the political system of government until 2024. According to Afghan lawmakers, any kind change in system of the government should be in consultation with Afghan people and any deals restricting this should be seen as a clear intervention. “The provision which says the government system may not change is against Afghanistan’s laws,” Badakhshan MP Fauzia Kofi said. “Whether it’s a US congressman or the [strategic] deal talking about this, it’s a clear political intervention in Afghanistan,” she added. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a press conference the day after signing the agreement with his American counterpart Barack Obama that the US will support the presidential regime in Afghanistan and any kind of call for a regime change is a clear intervention. Other MPs raised concerns that the agreement refers to Islamic militant group Al-Qaeda as the enemy of Afghanistan but there was no mention about the Taliban or the Haqqani netowrk in this regard. The Haqqani network is based in Pakistan’s tribal region and has both claimed and been accused of launching high-profile attacks against Afghan and foreign troops and facilities. “The Taliban have attacked Afghanistan for the last fifteen years and claimed them all but the deal has not mentioned their name which concerns the people,” Baghlan MP Mahaiuddin Mahdi said on 5 May. “There are circles within the government trying to make a deal with Taliban.” (…) Some Afghan experts also called the agreement insufficient after a report came out from the Associated Press (AP). Afghan analysts agreed with the findings of the AP report saying that the deal does not contain certain commitments from the US government and lacks guarantees to fully and accurately execute the provisions of the pact. “The pact lacks proper legal terms. All the commitments are from Afghan side with encouragement from US government,” Taher Hashimi, a foreign relations lecturer at Kabul University told TOLOnews.”There’s no guarantee for the full implementation of the pact,” he said. (TOLOnews)
Afghan Peace Negotiator Blames Assassination On Foreigners
The head of the Afghan High Peace Council has said the assassination plot that killed an influential peace negotiator was planned outside Afghanistan. Salahuddin Rabbani, who recently took up his post, made the comments while addressing the Afghan Senate. His remarks came after Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban official who became a negotiator and key member of the High Peace Council, was shot on 13 May in the capital, Kabul. Rabbani said “foreign enemies” of the country would not succeed in derailing the peace process and that their interference in the country was a “mistake.” The assassination of Rahmani is seen as yet another setback to the Afghan government’s effort to negotiate a political solution to the ongoing battle against Taliban militants. (RFE/RL)