Monday, January 04, 2010

Afghanistan: International community must demilitarize its overall approach in Afghanistan

The international community must demilitarize its overall approach in Afghanistan to ensure sustainable gains in the political and humanitarian realms, the outgoing top United Nations envoy to the South Asian nations said today.

“We have to get into a mode where our strategy is politically driven and not militarily driven, where the political and civilian components become an appendix to a military strategy,” Kai Eide, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, said in the capital, Kabul.

He will address the Security Council this week for the last time as the world body's top official in Afghanistan on what he expects in the coming months for the country.

One of the top objectives of the influx of troops this year is to boost the Afghan military's capacity, he told reporters today.

“I am deeply skeptical [of] a situation where we have an increase of military forces and that increase of military forces engages in political, civilian and humanitarian issues,” Mr. Eide said, stressing that an increased number of forces means that they try to demonstrate “quick results.”

But, he emphasized, “quick impact very often becomes quick collapse.”

Afghanistan's Government must initiate a peace process based on compromise as swiftly as possible, the envoy said, adding that participation by insurgents will increase the prospect of gradual troop withdrawals.

He also said that while he respects the Independent Election Commission's decision to follow Afghanistan's constitution by holding parliamentary elections as early as May, he voiced concern over the limited time available to hold the polls, especially since last year's presidential and provincial council elections were marked by fraud and insecurity.

“For me... it is important that a real reform process takes place before the next elections,” the Special Representative said.

This weekend, Afghan politicians rejected most of the names put forward by President Hamid Karzai for his new cabinet, and Mr. Eide called this a “political setback, in the sense that it prolongs the situation without a functioning government.”

Later this month, an international conference on Afghanistan – the result of a joint European proposal by the United Kingdom, France and Germany – will be held in London, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has characterized as a “a very timely" opportunity to discuss the country's agenda in the wake of the presidential elections which re-elected Mr. Karzai after his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the run-off round.

Another high-level conference is also scheduled to be held in Kabul in several months.

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