Both India and the UK will likely make long-term funding commitments in Afghanistan beyond 2014, with the UK alone contributing some US$150 million annually for development and a further US$100 million for supporting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) after the NATO drawdown, according to a new report published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
'Towards a stable Afghanistan: The Way Forward', a joint report from RUSI and the New Delhi based Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), acknowledges the roles currently played by both India and the UK, and also identifies 'urgent' areas where the international community need to make significant contributions to the long-term stability of Afghanistan, and the region, after the 2014 drawdown of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Highlighting the immediate challenges to Afghanistan, such as the 2014 Presidential elections which will coincide with the last phases of the draw-down of combat forces, the report outlines that state-building is key to a stable and secure Afghanistan. The joint paper warns such an endeavour needs to be supported and financed for the long term, and calls for regional countries 'to share more of the burden for stabilising the Afghan state'.
The paper also supports the idea that India, the UK and other states involved in Afghan reconstruction efforts, can act as a force for good contributing to wider regional stability.
'Given ISAF's inevitable draw-down over the next three years, there is now an urgent requirement to consider what further measures will be needed in order to support the provision of security and stability in Afghanistan after 2014,' states the joint report.
'As key members of the international community, both India and the UK have made significant contributions to promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in Afghanistan. India is among the major contributors to Afghan reconstruction. It has committed US$2 billion to the effort over the last decade.
'Meanwhile, the UK has been a key contributor to the international military coalition that ousted the Taliban regime in 2001 and has ensured the country's stability ever since... The UK has also been a major provider of development aid, spending US$2.5 billion (£1.6 billion) in the country since 2001. It is planning to spend a further US$1.7 billion (£1.1 billion) in bilateral assistance in Afghanistan over the next four years.'
'The very fact that the Taliban remain active and potent raises concern: the fear is that the withdrawal of ISAF will provide the Taliban with an opportunity to re-establish their influence over large swathes of territory in Afghanistan. To forestall such a development, it is important that the Afghan state be supported militarily and sustained economically well beyond the 2014 deadline. Unless the capacity of the Afghan state is built to withstand a Taliban offensive, and external intervention, its survival will remain in serious doubt,' claims the report.
'The UK is prepared to contribute proportionally to this effort after 2014, as are the US and several other states. India's Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan - that envisages 'training, equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan National Security Forces' - fits in well with the overall policy of the international coalition and its security co-operation is intended to help enhance ANSF capabilities.'
'The international community - including the US, India and the UK - has contributed to building Afghan capabilities in a significant way, but much remains to be done. Political, ethnic and tribal divisions continue to militate against the achievement of peace, stability and security. Poor governance, weak administrative structures, poor enforcement of law, narcotics trafficking and a weak economy are weighing too heavily on the ANSF, adding to stakeholders' apprehensions about the viability of the Afghan state beyond 2014. The final phase of the draw-down may also coincide with crucial presidential elections and will require careful monitoring.
'Regional countries also need to share more of the burden for stabilising the Afghan state, by helping to diversify the country's trade links and ensure generation of sustainable revenues, with minimum corruption and waste. Shaping the future of Afghanistan will not be an easy task; nevertheless, there is now an opportunity for both the UK and India to take leading roles in the debate on providing the answers to these problems.'
To read the report in full, please click here.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Any enquiries, please contact : Daniel Sherman / +44(0)20 7747 2617 / danielsATrusi.org
2. Towards a Stable Afghanistan: The Way Forward , a report of the joint working group of RUSI and the Vivekananda International Foundation can be viewed at: http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Towards_a_Stable_Afghanistan.pdf
3. RUSI is an independent think-tank for defence and security. RUSI is a unique institution; founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, it embodies nearly two centuries of forward thinking, free discussion and careful reflection on defence and security matters.
4. The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) is a New Delhi-based think tank set up with the collaborative efforts of India's leading security experts, diplomats, industrialists and philanthropists under the aegis of the Vivekananda Kendra. The VIF's objective is to become a centre of excellence to kick start innovative ideas and thoughts that can lead to a stronger, secure and prosperous India playing its destined role in global affairs.