Tattered parachute

The internationals are preparing to bail out of Afghanistan, presenting impractical quick-fix solutions.

Afghanisation' has emerged as the buzz word from the London Conference on Afghanistan, held in January, one of only six international conferences held outside Afghanistan since 2001 to determine the country's future. Following the gathering, it is now being claimed that the Kabul government has laid out its priorities for the first time. Henceforth, goes the argument, governance in Afghanistan will be Afghan-led, security will be 'Afghanised' and Kabul will take the lead in the process of reconciliation and reintegration with the armed insurgency. But to long-term observers of Afghanistan, the 'new' emphasis sounded very much like the old scriptures. Is this sudden emphasis on 'Afghanisation' just a coded reference to an exit strategy?

In fact, it was London and the same Labour government that, in 2006, hosted a conference that initiated the policy document called the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). While far from perfect, that blueprint was and remains the seminal document identifying Afghanistan's needs. It was finalised, adopted and endorsed by the international community in 2008 in Paris, along with pledges to route more funds through the Afghan government, allow Kabul to determine priority areas and plans for spending, and build and strengthen institutions that would allow Afghans to govern themselves. In other words, 'Afghanisation'.

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Himal Southasian