Bonn conference formed a “ten-year transition” plan for the international community from Afghanistan, and leave Afghanistan on its own from 2014onwards. We all perceived the realities on the ground that do not allow the international community to leave Afghanistan on its own. During the transition process, the external supports will still be needed for the country to stabilize its security forces, develop its economy and improve the people’s livelihood to make sure that it will never return to its previous status.
However, all the participants at the Bonn promised to continue their aid to Afghanistan, meanwhile, they also urged Kabul to share common responsibilities to launch reforms, eradicate poverty, corruption and invigorate its legal system. This transition is not all about the military and security affairs, but rather it will also include the social, political and economic processes which were prognosticated to involve the Afghan people themselves in achieving them.
Finally, the Taliban have agreed to have their representative office in Qatar in intention to hold peace talks with the international community. It is believed to have a positive impact that could pave the way for a direct peace talks to end a long-term war in Afghanistan and establish a permanent peace.
The peace talks circulate everywhere around the world, particularly for the Afghan politicians in Kabul media, civil society organizations and for every local person, since this peace talks with the Taliban is to decide the future of Afghan people beyond 2014 and the role of civil society organizations in reforming the region.Therefore, the Afghan civil society organizations and other groups are holding various talks to find out the solution for their survival after the international community withdraws by 2014.
No doubt, the international community will one day withdraw from the country and the targeted date for the withdrawal of most of the international forces is already decided and for the shift in focus from combat to mentoring and training for the remainder of international involvement must be made to prepare themselves for a strong challenge that they are going to overcome.
The fact is the declining presence of the international community in Afghanistan and the expected drop in development funding will have major economic impact, loss of external resources and of jobs. These are the main factors that will absolutely influence the course of events in Afghanistan. Given that the country’s structural problems are very grave and the complicated addressing of issues will meaningfully require a sustained Civil Society’s engagement far beyond 2014 and one a higher level.
What has been manifested in the past ten years of international engagement is that the reality of reconstructing and stabilizing Afghanistan is both complicated and that what seems to be a solution in one field can cause further trouble and disintegration in another.
This article doesn’t state to repeat some of the things that already been known to those following Afghanistan’s line over time in light of what needs to be done to address the root causes of Afghanistan’s instability. This comes up as an addition to the discussion that was held recently on 2nd February 2012 in ACBAR hall Kabul, titled “Post Bonn analysis for an Effective Transition in Afghanistan and the Role of Civil Society Beyond 2014” to explore and discuss the transition process in Afghanistan in regards to the aftermath of Bonn Conference to create awareness, inform communities and the civil society organizations on the importance of transition and the better outcomes for Afghans by evolving the Role of Civil Society Organizations to be the key stockholders in developing process in Afghanistan.
This talk was organized by ACBAR and ActionAid, an international anti-poverty organization based in Kabul which was facilitated by Dr. Shanthie D’Souza of South Asian Studies Institute, the National University of Singapore.
Dr. Shanthie in her presentation said that a good governance should become people’s voices to ensure that local communities concerns are shared with the key decision makers, at the same time continue the struggle to preserve the achievements of the past 10 years, and ensure that human rights and civil liberties guaranteed under the constitution is not violated in this process.
A better security doesn’t include the increased number of soldiers and their fighting equipments only. Women of Afghanistan are still victims of gender based violence by the police and official structures as well as informal groups in the communities.
To support the CSOs to be defined as one of the strongest groups to stabilize Afghanistan and that can be a partner of the government in bringing the stability, progress and gender based equality, she further added that Afghanistan peace and reintegration program clarifies the vision for a peaceful Afghanistan beyond 2014.
It needs national support to be implemented and put into action. Whereas APRP is about ensuring reconciliation, it also fits well with the transition process and support the responsibility of Afghan forces and Afghan leadership. Reconciliation cannot take place without a proper governance, respect to human rights, development and regional cooperation.
The international community’s vision and objective for Afghanistan is a strong government that is far better than the insurgents. Turning the enemies of today into partners of tomorrow is an important challenge and it’s up to Afghans and civil society organizations on how they deal with such a partnership and combat the upcoming challenges after their withdrawal.
Dr. Shanthie, during her presentation added that it is all about the role of CSOs beyond 2014 now to make sure that the development and economic progress, rule of law is improved under the leadership of the Afghan government in changing the miseries of today into progress and prosperity by giving hand to the poor and excluded members of this country.
Dr. Shanthie further emphasized that security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating that is the main hurdle towards stability in Afghanistan which affected the civil society organizations on the ground. The politicians had only talks but had no accountable reaction towards it and promise of Bonn conference seems only talks.
She also added that there is prognostication that during the transition period, there will be a radical shift in Afghan government or governance structures and that security situation will go from bad to worse to an extend that prevents substantive international engagements on political reforms, institution-building, governance, human protection sector, rule of law and security sector.
In the meantime, she also mentioned that there is the understanding that not all targets set during the Kabul process met the planned handover in 2014 and that a limited set of realistic priorities for the two years will increase the chances of stability and continued constructive engagement if these priorities lie in the field of government reform, donor discipline and genuinely inclusive political settlement, with explicit support to the civil society organizations and other actors on the ground.
During the discussions among the participants from different organizations, local NGOs, international NGOs, media personnel and the journalists spoke on different issues but with special focus on the role of civil society organizations to strengthen an integrated and common understanding with ultimate cooperation that will lead to stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan because if the international community stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, its engagement will be limited both practically and politically.
The participants in the conference, including the facilitators stated that the civil society organizations play a vital role in stabilizing Afghanistan beyond 2014. They also felt that the needs of ordinary Afghans must not be sidelined at Bonn if Afghanistan is to be stable, peaceful and economically viable state.
In conclusion, Mr. P.V. Krishnan, the country Director of ActionAid Afghanistan also highlighted the need for increased interactions for analysis and a strong coordination among the civil society organizations that will lead to a convergence of mission, vision and objectives towards overall development of the country.
The article was published in Daily Outlook Afghanistan Group of Newspapers on February 09, 2012.