| ||MPs, analysts split on Chicago outcome|
By Abasin Zaheer & Mir Agha Samimi
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KABUL - The just-concluded NATO summit in President Barack Obama’s hometown of Chicago has yielded no concrete outcome, some lawmakers and politcal analysts said on Tuesday.
But others believe the two-day meeting -- attended by a galaxy of world leaders, including President Hamid Karzai -- had sent a loud and clear message to the government in Kabul on the imperative of administrative reforms.
While reiterating its plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2014, the alliance reaffirmed its long-term commitment -- primarily focusing on training, advising and assistance mission -- assuring Afghans of steadfast support in the post-transition period.
“In line with the strategy which we agreed at the Lisbon Summit, ISAF’s mission will be concluded by the end of 2014. But thereafter Afghanistan will not stand alone. We reaffirm that our close partnership will continue beyond the end of the transition period,” ISAF leaders said.
In a joint declaration, they said: “We agree to work towards establishing a new NATO-led mission. We will ensure that the new mission has a sound legal basis, such as a United Nations Security Council Resolution,” the declaration said.
Noting that sustaining a sufficient and capable Afghan National Security Force is the responsibility of the Afghan government, the declaration said Afghanistan’s yearly share will increase progressively from at least $500 million in 2015, with the aim that it can assume, no later than 2024, full financial responsibility for its own security forces.
Of the $4 billion needed annually to fund ANSF needs, Australia has pledged $300 million for a three year period, Germany $190 million, Britain $110 million and Pakistan $20 million to strengthen Afghan forces.
A public representative from Takhar, Maulvi Abdul Wahab, told the upper house that Afghans expected momentous decisions on funding and equipping their security personnel. But the world was still looking at Afghanistan with suspicision and supporting the nations that promoted Western interests in the region.
Without naming anyone, the senator claimed some foreign countries, least interested in resolving the Afghanistan conflict, were out to achieve their own political aims.
Another legislator central Daikundi province, Ali Akbar Jamshidi, said although the overall impact of the meeting on Afghanistan was yet to sink in, the results apparently did not match people’s expectations. “Our main expectation was that NATO leaders would announce shouldering the long-term responsibility for training and equipping Afghan forces.”
But Senator Syed Farrukh Shah Janab from Faryab province insisted the Chicago meet remained fruitful for Afghanistan. Not only NATO members and its partners, other countries also vowed not to leave Afghanistan alone, he said. “I assure you, the world will not dump us as long as terrorists remain here.”
First Deputy Chairman Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, who presided over the session, urged the international community not to abandon Afghanistan. Such a move would trigger another round of unrest, he warned, asking the government to do enough homework to convince the world into continuing to support it.
Ex-diplomat Ahmad Saeedi hailed the summit as fruitful, saying Afghanistan had gained what the countrymen expected. “The important thing was the international community’s promise to help Afghanistan directly or indirectly after 2014.”
However, he warned the government against breaking the promises it held out to the world. Kabul should not expect international aid if it failed to honour its pledge to root out corruption. “The international community is not ready for the time being to leave us alone.”
Another analyst, Prof. Wadir Safi, said a major achievement was that the meeting echoed the real demand of ordinary Afghans by asking the government to introduce institutional reform.
Although the government promised combating corruption, executing reforms and ensuring transparency, it has rarely taken practical steps in this regard. “Knowing this, participants of the summit did make promises in line with the expectations of Afghans,” he said.
In a statement, the Taliban said the summit repeated what the US had said many times in the past.