Global Security: Afghanistan and Pakistan - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office


  1.  It is vital to immediate UK national security interests that Afghanistan becomes a stable and secure state that can suppress terrorism and violent extremism within its borders, and contribute to the same objective across the border in Pakistan. The majority of attack plots against the UK come from this area. Our strategic objectives in Afghanistan remain:

    —  To ensure that core Al-Qaeda does not return to Afghanistan.—  To reduce the insurgency on both sides of the Durrand line to a level that poses no significant threat to progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    —  To ensure Afghanistan remains a legitimate state increasingly capable of handling its own security.

  2.  In addition we aim:

    —  To contain and reduce the drugs trade to divide it from the insurgency and prevent it undermining security, governance and the economy.

    —  To provide long-term sustainable support for Afghan Compact goals on governance, rule of law, human rights and social and economic development.

  3.  In pursuit of these goals we aim to work in close cooperation with our international partners, including the UN, NATO, the US, the EU and regional players and to promote maximise effective international engagement in support of Afghanistan.

  4.  The recent review of the UK's strategy in Afghanistan has reaffirmed the importance and continuing relevance of these strategic objectives. But the review has also identified the need for a strategic step change of effort in Afghanistan in which the international community's efforts are focused to greater effect behind a prioritised focus on governance, supported by politics, reconciliation, and the rule of law.

  5.  Much has been achieved across Afghanistan since 2001, as well as in Helmand and the south more broadly since the UK deployment there in 2006. We recognise that only a comprehensive political, security and economic approach will deliver sustainable progress in Afghanistan. The document attached[1] sets out in more detail UK policy and our assessment in each of these areas.

  6.  Notable achievements since 2001 include the first nationwide democratic Presidential and Parliamentary elections and ratification of a new Constitution. The UK has made a significant contribution to building the capacity of the elected Afghan government which has in turn steadily extended its reach across the country to deliver improved services and improved living standards. But the political process has lost momentum and local governance remains patchy. Presidential and provincial elections in 2009 and Parliamentary elections in 2010 provide a critical opportunity to reinvigorate the political process and to increase Afghan confidence in their government.

  7.  We remain convinced that reconciliation has a critical part to play in paving the way for the sort of comprehensive political settlement which will ultimately be necessary to provide a long-term foundation for a secure and stable Afghanistan. The UK supports Afghan-led efforts to promote reconciliation at both national and provincial level. But, although these efforts have considerable potential, we should not expect significant early progress.

  8.  Alongside the Afghan National Army and Police, international forces have extended their reach to a large part of Afghanistan. Together these forces are now responsible for security across the country. The number of international troops has grown steadily to around 52,000. The UK troop contribution currently stands at around 8,300. Large parts of the country eg in the north and west are now relatively stable. But significant security challenges remain in the south and east and progress is still fragile.

  9.  Extensive opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan continues to threaten improvements in governance and security. However, significant progress has been made: more than half of Afghan provinces are now poppy free. Corruption also remains a serious challenge. The issue is complicated by evidence of a growing link between the illicit drugs trade and the insurgency, with the insurgency exploiting the trade for income. Working with our international partners, the UK continues to attach a high priority to addressing these challenges.

  10.  Afghanistan is currently off-track for most of the Millennium Development Goals. However, progress has been made on achieving universal education, reducing child mortality and increasing immunisation. The challenge ahead lies in cementing gains made, expanding coverage and quality of services and preventing reversals in progress.

  11.  The UK has played an active role in advocating the close involvement of Afghanistan's regional partners in addressing its fundamental challenges, all of which have regional implications. We believe that these main challenges, including extremism, terrorism, poor governance, corruption, the need for increased economic development and combating the illegal narcotics trade, can only be tackled effectively on a regional basis. Afghanistan continues to build good relations with its regional partners. They, in turn, cooperate actively with Afghanistan in a range of areas.

  12.  Pakistan in particular is key to Afghanistan's future, as its largest trading partner, as a country that faces many of the same challenges and whose own security concerns impact directly on those of Afghanistan. We are encouraging the Governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to build on recent improvements in their relationship by stepping up the momentum of their engagement and to look for further ways to systematically embed the improved relationship.

  13.  UK efforts in Afghanistan are only effective as part of the wider international community's contributions. At the heart of the international effort, the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan plays a crucial co-ordinating role, which we strongly support. The UK also financially supports EU initiatives in Afghanistan which have contributed greatly to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. The US is the single largest contributor of troops and bilateral aid, and President-elect Obama has already reaffirmed that America's commitment to Afghanistan will continue. The US is expected to contribute a substantial number of further troops in 2009.

ACTAfghanistan Communications Team
ADGAfghan Delivery Group
ADIDUAfghan Drugs Inter-Departmental Unit
AICFAfghanistan Investment Climate Facility
AIHRCAfghan Independent Human Rights Commission
AISGAfghanistan Information Strategy Group
AMGAfghanistan Media Group
ANAAfghan National Army
ANDSAfghan National Development Strategy
ANPAfghan National Police
ANSFAfghan National Security Forces
ARTFAfghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund
ASCTAfghanistan Strategic Communications Team
ASGAfghan Strategy Group
ASNFAfghan Special Narcotics Force
ASOGAfghanistan Senior Officials Group
ASOPAfghan Social Outreach Programme
ASTAfghanistan Strategy Team
BBCWSTBBC World Service Trust
BPHSBasic Package of Health Services
CENTCOMUS Central Command
CJTFCriminal Justice Task Force
CMMHCivilian Military Mission in Helmand
CNPACounter-Narcotics Police of Afghanistan
CNTCounter-Narcotics Tribunal
COMISAFCommander of ISAF
CPDCentral Prison Department
CSTC—ACombined Security Transition Command—Afghanistan
DCOMISAFDeputy Commander of ISAF
DDRDisarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme
DFIDDepartment for International Development
DIAGDisbandment of Illegal Armed Groups
EoMElection Observation Mission
EUEuropean Union
EUPOLEU Police Mission
FCOForeign & Commonwealth Office
FDDFocussed District Development
GDPGross Domestic Product
GMICGovernment Media and Information Centre
GPIGood Performers Initiative
HMGHer Majesty's Government
IDLGIndependent Directorate of Local Governance
IECIndependent Electoral Commission
ISAFInternational Security Assistance Force
IWPRInstitute for War and Peace Reporting
JCMBJoint Co-ordination and Monitoring Board
JSSPJustice Sector Support Programme
MDGMillennium Development Goal
MIGAMultilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
MISFAMicro Finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan
MODMinistry of Defence
NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organisation
NDCSNational Drug Control Strategy
NGONon-governmental organisation
NJPNational Justice Programme
NJSSNational Justice Sector Strategy
NSID (OD)National Security, International Relations and Development Cabinet Committee
NSPNational Solidarity Programme
ODIHROffice for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
OEFOperation Enduring Freedom
OMLTOperational Mentoring and Liaison Team
OSCEOrganisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
PCRUPost Conflict Reconstruction Unit
PFMPublic Financial Management
PRTProvincial Reconstruction Team
RC (S)Regional Command (South)
SAFStabilisation Aid Fund
SCTStrategic Communications Team
SOCASerious Organised Crime Agency
SPFSpecial Programme Fund
TFHTask Force Helmand
UNUnited Nations
UNAMAUnited Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan
UNDPUnited Nations Development Programme
UNODCUnited Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
UNSCRUnited Nations Security Council Resolution


Why Afghanistan Matters

  1.  We welcome this inquiry. It is vital to immediate UK national security interests that Afghanistan becomes a stable and secure state that can suppress terrorism and violent extremism within its borders and contribute to the same objective across the border in Pakistan. UK engagement in Afghanistan is aimed at ensuring that it becomes a state capable of delivering governance and services to the Afghan people and preventing the return of Al-Qaeda.

2.  A stable Afghanistan, in a stable region, is vital to global stability and security. In the longer term, building up the Afghan Government's ability to tackle the narcotics trade is important to global action against illegal drugs, and in particular to UK action against illegal drugs. Afghanistan supplies around 90% of the world's heroin and the trade generates billions of pounds of revenue for global organised crime.

3.  Afghanistan is a test for the international community, especially for the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). We have a direct interest in them succeeding, and being seen to succeed because failure for the international community would have far reaching effects not only for regional security but also for the authority and credibility of those key multilateral institutions that underpin the UK's security and support for the international rule of law. In addition, Afghanistan is an enduring US political commitment, reinforced by the President-elect.

  4.  The UK has contributed £1.65 billion in development aid and over £3 billion in military operations to Afghanistan since 2001. There are currently around 8,300 British troops stationed across Afghanistan, and around 210 civilian staff.

Our Strategy since 2001

  5.  The international strategy for Afghanistan is built upon the Bonn Agreement in December 2001 and its successor, the Afghanistan Compact of January 2006. The Bonn Agreement set out the steps needed to recreate the institutions of government, leading to Presidential elections in 2004 and National Assembly and Provincial Council elections in 2005. In parallel, G8 countries agreed to lead reform in five key areas: counter-narcotics (UK); disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of militia (Japan); training of a new Afghan National Army (United States) and police force (Germany); and justice sector reform (Italy).

6.  As the Bonn process came to a close, the UK played a leading role through 2005 in defining the terms for continued international community engagement in Afghanistan. Ministers agreed on 19 December 2005 that Her Majesty's Government's (HMG) strategic aim was to help create a stable, secure and self-sustainable Afghanistan. We hosted the major London Conference on Afghanistan in January 2006 at which the Afghanistan Compact was launched. Crucially, the Compact established a mechanism (the Joint Co-ordination and Monitoring Board[2]—JCMB) to keep the international community and Afghanistan Government focused on meeting the Compact's goals.

  7.  In February 2007 Ministers endorsed a comprehensive approach to Afghanistan, complementing moves in the international community for a more rounded counter-insurgency approach. This made clear that our strategic aim would only be achieved through a combination of economic development, governance, delivery of security and communication to the Afghan people as well as fighting the insurgency. Countering narcotics was also key and this had to be achieved by helping the Afghan Government strengthen its authority throughout the country.

  8.  At the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan (Paris, 12 June 2008), the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS) was launched and the international community reaffirmed its long-term support for Afghanistan's development, pledging a further $21 billion.

The Current UK Strategy

  9.  Building on the comprehensive approach agreed by Ministers, the Prime Minister's speech to the House of Commons on 12 December 2007[3] set out the current strategic principles for the UK's involvement in Afghanistan. These are:

    —  increasing Afghan responsibility for their own security by supporting the Afghan Government, army and police;

    —  strengthening national and local institutions and supporting the search for political reconciliation;

    —  supporting reconstruction and development; and

    —  working in partnership with the international community.

  10.  Specific UK objectives for an enhanced strategy on Afghanistan were agreed by the National Security, International Relations and Development (NSID(OD)) Cabinet Committee at the end of 2007. The three primary strategic objectives are to:

    —  reduce the insurgency on both sides of the Durand Line to a level where it no longer poses a significant threat to Afghanistan and Pakistan;

    —  ensure that core Al-Qaeda does not return to Afghanistan and is destroyed or at least contained in Pakistan's tribal areas; and

    —  ensure that Afghanistan remains a legitimate state and becomes more effective and able to handle its own security, increase the pace of economic development, and allow the UK and international military commitment to transition away from a ground combat role to security sector reform.

  11.  Three secondary objectives were also identified:

    —  contain and reduce the drugs trade to divide it from the insurgency and prevent it from undermining security, governance and the economy;

    —  provide long term sustainable support for Afghan Compact goals on governance, rule of law, human rights and social/economic development; and

    —  keep our allies engaged with us in Afghanistan.

  12.  These objectives form the November 2007 NSID Strategy document.[4] The strategy focuses on countering the insurgency within a clear, political framework; reducing the proportion of ground combat in favour of other more sustainable forms of Afghan security over time; and recognising that UK effort and costs in Afghanistan will remain at current high levels for the long haul, whilst transitioning from military to civilian effort.

Cross Whitehall Management

  13.  The UK Strategy is owned and overseen by NSID(OD). In addition to the normal Departmental support provided by officials to Ministers there are two Cabinet Office chaired committees which meet weekly—the Afghanistan Strategy Group (ASG) and the Afghanistan Senior Officials Group (ASOG) who have oversight of the delivery against objectives and the prioritisation of efforts. All Departmental stakeholders are represented in these committees, including Her Majesty's Ambassador in Kabul and the UK's representation in Helmand Province, the Civil-Military Mission Helmand (CMMH). The Cabinet Office and the ASG have been recently enhanced by the creation of a cross-government Afghanistan Strategy Team (AST) whose primary roles are long term strategy development in conjunction with Departments and to undertake regular periodic reviews. In addition to the AST, two other cross-government teams have been established to support co-ordinated delivery: the Afghanistan Strategic Communications Team (ASCT) and the Afghan Drugs Inter Departmental Unit (ADIDU).

  14.  The Afghan Delivery Group (ADG) is the primary governance body in-country and co-ordinates activities on the ground in Afghanistan. It is made up of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Department for International Development (DFID) and is chaired by HM Ambassador in Kabul. It reports to Ministers in the NSID through the ASG. Funding for ADG-approved activities comes from a number of sources: the Stabilisation Aid Fund (SAF), FCO programme budgets (Strategic Programme Fund (SPF) and Bilateral Programme Budget)) and DFID's Country Assistance for Afghanistan. Funds are spent in line with the British Embassy Business Plan, the Helmand Roadmap[5] and the DFID Country Assistance Plan.

Delivery of UK Effort

  15.  UK effort is delivered through nine interdependent strands, indentified in the NSID Strategy. The interdependent strands of work and their medium term goals are:

    —  Security—Increased capacity of the Afghan Government and army and police to contain the insurgency;

    —  Politics & Reconciliation—Strengthened national and local institutions and support for political reconciliation;

    —  Governance & Rule of Law—Increased capacity and accountability of Afghan Government institutions to deliver basic services, remove corruption and provide justice for the Afghan people;

    —  Economic Development & Reconstruction—Economic growth and poverty reduction that improves the lives of Afghan men, women and children;

    —  Counter-Narcotics—Contain and reduce the drugs trade to prevent it from undermining security, governance and the economy;

    —  Helmand—Increased capacity of local and national government to contain the insurgency and deliver security and development to local people;

    —  Regional Engagement—Regional neighbours support the creation and maintenance of a stable Afghan state;

    —  International Engagement—More coherent international engagement supporting Afghan peace building and development; and

    —  Strategic Communications—Increased Afghan and UK public support for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

  16.  A stock-take of the November 2007 NSID Afghanistan strategy is currently being undertaken. The stock-take assesses progress against the UK strategic objectives by reporting on outcomes which together contribute to these strands. The written evidence that follows here covers all these strands of work, and is organised in this order, with the exception of the Helmand strand, reporting on which is incorporated into the other thematic areas.

  17.  The UK's contribution is part of the larger global effort in Afghanistan, involving the UN, NATO, donors, multilateral institutions and international and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in partnership with the Afghan Government. As such, coordination of our activities with other partners is an important part of improving their effectiveness.

  18.  FCO representation in Afghanistan is based in the British Embassy in Kabul (around 150 civilian staff) and the CMMH in Lashkar Gah, Helmand (over 60 civilian staff) and in four Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) across Helmand Province in Gereshk, Musa Qaleh, Garmsir and Sangin (there is one Stabilisation Adviser in each FOB and a political officer in three of the four FOBs). FCO staff are co-located with DFID and MOD colleagues and contracted specialists working as governance, rule of law and justice advisers and contracted by the Stabilisation Unit.

Stabilisation Unit

  19.  The Stabilisation Unit, previously named the Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit (PCRU), is jointly owned by DFID, FCO and MOD (the three "parent departments"). It provides specialist, targeted assistance in countries emerging from violent conflict where the UK is helping to achieve a stable environment that will enable longer term development to take place. The three departments agreed in June that the Unit should take on responsibility for recruiting, training and deploying all civilians in delivery roles in the CMMH except the head and one of the deputies. The unit also provides a contracted civilian expert to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)'s Regional Command (South) (RC(S)) headquarters in Kandahar.


Security Situation

  20.  Since 2001 international forces have extended their reach to a large part of Afghanistan and are now responsible, together with the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP), for security across the country. The number of international troops has grown steadily to around 52,000 and large parts of the country are now relatively stable. Challenges remain in the south and east but expanding areas of control are an indication of our military success against the insurgency. In these areas, development and better governance is happening—albeit more slowly than we would like.

21.  Those opposed to the process of Afghan development, including Taleban extremists, local warlords, fighters from outside Afghanistan's borders and those with criminal interests, all share a desire to restrict the ability of the Afghan Government to provide for and govern its people. The international community's strategy is to support the Government of Afghanistan, working with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to expand security, increase Afghan government capacity at district, provincial and national level, promote the rule of law and support reconstruction and development.

22.  There are significant differences in the security situation across the country. The insurgency is predominantly based in the south and east, although there have been incidents throughout Afghanistan. The insurgents often operate from across the porous borders with Pakistan, and addressing the situation in both countries in parallel is key. There is growing evidence of collaboration between the insurgency and the narcotics trade. The insurgency in the east is more fragmented than that in the south, made up of a range of jihadi groups, often operating from across the Pakistan border. The overall number of security incidents has risen in the south and east since 2006, often as a result of ANA and ISAF initiated operations.

  23.  The tactics of the opposition to the Government of Afghanistan have also evolved since 2001. Following the ousting of the Taleban, the non-state militias and warlords that had multiplied over thirty years of civil war, posed a potential threat. This has been addressed, largely successfully through the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme (see below). Following the substantial international, including UK, deployments to the south in 2006, the Taleban and insurgents conducted an increasing series of conventional attacks on Afghan and coalition forces, in which they were regularly defeated.

  24.  The majority of UK forces are deployed in Helmand, and progress has been made along the Helmand River valley—from Kajaki in the north to Garmsir in the south. We are expanding control,with the ANSF taking an ever more active role. However, these areas remain challenging. As the ANA and international forces' footprint has expanded, the insurgency has increasingly resorted to asymmetric tactics. This is a counter-insurgency operation more complex in nature than conventional warfare with no easily definable front line.

  25.  The insurgency does not have a single coherent command structure or strategy, and depends heavily on support from safe havens in Pakistan. The insurgency is increasingly interwoven with criminal activity and the illegal narcotics trade. A lack of effective governance in many parts of the south and east has allowed the insurgency to flourish.

  26.  There has been an increase in deliberate attacks on humanitarian and development projects and workers as the insurgents seek to destroy the progress made by Afghans, including by targeting those promoting female education, and even schoolgirls themselves. Across the country, security and the perceptions of security have worsened in the past 12 months.

  27.  In recent months high-profile attacks, such as that on the Serena hotel in Kabul (January 2008), the ambush of French ISAF forces in the Sarobi district of Kabul province (August 2008) and the suicide attack on the Ministry of Culture (October 2008) have increased Afghan and international perceptions of insecurity. Separately, the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) has recorded a steady increase of reports of intimidation, kidnapping, extortion and criminality since 2007, furthering concerns that security in the capital is deteriorating.

  28.  Views of the security situation are also adversely influenced by high profile incidents resulting in civilian casualties. The alleged bombing of a wedding party in Kandahar in November 2008 and the incident in Shindand in August 2008 led to widespread condemnation throughout Afghanistan and the international community. Despite strenuous efforts by international forces accurately to target the insurgents, there are occasions when the ordinary Afghans are drawn into the conflict. Rules of engagement and procedures are in place and are constantly being updated in the light of experience, both to minimise the risk of civilian casualties and to investigate any incidents that do happen. However, the Taleban operate from within the community and residential areas, often deliberately drawing the innocent into the fight. International forces have made some progress in minimising these events and adhering to strict post-incident guidelines, and we welcome the involvement of Afghan authorities in jointly investigating alleged incidents. However we remain aware that poorly handled civilian casualty incidents undermine Afghan consent for ISAF and feed Taleban propaganda and international forces will continue to make strenuous efforts to reduce incidences of civilian casualties.

  29.  Building capacity in the ANSF remains an essential step in enabling Afghanistan to take responsibility for its own security. ANSF capacity is increasing. In 2008 the ANA was participating in 70% of ISAF operations, and leading 50% of them.[6] ANSF took on lead responsibility for Kabul City on 28 August 2008 and, thus far, are doing a good job in difficult circumstances. The transition in Kabul City was the first step in a phased transition of lead security responsibility for the whole of Kabul Province. In Helmand, where feasible, the ANA is taking the lead planning and executing operations and is taking responsibility for fixed locations along the Sangin valley.

  30.  The ANP is continuing to grow, with a large-scale training programme focussing on frontline officers being delivered by the US and an EU-led mission mentoring and advising the senior leadership and officials in the Afghan Ministry of the Interior to improve their capacity to successfully manage and implant reform programmes. Whilst the ANP suffer from serious problems such as corruption stemming from the narcotics trade and heavy casualties stemming from fighting the insurgency, some progress is being made. The Afghan Special Narcotics Force, part of the Counter-Narcotics Police made the world's largest narcotics seizure in June 2008 (see Rule of Law section).

  31.  The security situation will remain challenging and improving this is central to the UK and international community's strategy in Afghanistan. We recognise that this is a long-term mission, and that it is an economic, social and political mission as well as a military one. ISAF forces are clearly having a positive impact on the ground: without the intervention of the international community, it is likely that the country would once again have descended into chaos, providing a secure base from which Al-Qaeda could operate. The UK, alongside our Afghan and international partners, remains committed to enhancing the scale and capability of the ANSF so they are able to provide security for their own country and so enable its reconstruction.


  32.  Since the effective expulsion of Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, international terrorist activity has been disrupted and reduced to a relatively low level throughout the country. However, the insurgency's shift towards asymmetrical attacks has entailed suicide bombing and targeting of civilians. Furthermore, the significance of Afghanistan in the psyche of Islamist extremists, the potential for Al-Qaeda to use the current insurgency to galvanise a similar level of resistance to that witnessed in Iraq and their continuing aspiration to return to the pre-September 11th situation in the country leads the UK to view Afghanistan as amongst its highest priorities in countering terrorism.

33.  Counter-terrorism features prominently in the UK's overarching strategy for Afghanistan. To achieve a stable and secure Afghanistan, restored to its rightful place in the international community and committed to eradicating terrorism, we must not only successfully counter the insurgency and narcotics threats but also the threat of terrorism. Success in this overarching strategy would be a strategic counter-terrorism victory against Al-Qaeda and international terrorism.

  34.  Our specific counter-terrorist objectives are to: (a) prevent Afghanistan's reverting into a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and other affiliated transnational groups and to see the Afghan Government and people committed to denying these groups the space in which to plan or conduct terrorist operations; (b) to reduce the threat to the UK and UK interests posed by terrorism from the region; and (c) to reduce the impact that Afghanistan plays in Al-Qaeda/terrorist propaganda. To deliver these objectives the UK works closely with allies and the Afghan Government to develop the capabilities of the ANSF and to counter terrorist messaging.

ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom

  35.  The UK has been an integral part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) against international terrorism since 2001. OEF was tasked with destroying the Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, and ending the Taleban regime that supported them. Military operations commenced on 7 October 2001 in Afghanistan against the Al-Qaeda network and Taleban. OEF troops fought alongside the Afghan opponents of the Taleban, notably the Northern Alliance, which contained some of the remnants of the last Afghan government to be recognised by the UN prior to their continuing civil war with the Taleban.

36.  The Taleban had collapsed by the end of 2001, its remnants melting back into the Pashtun populace in southern Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas. However, it was important to ensure that Afghanistan could not again support or provide the ungoverned space in which terrorists could flourish. International forces therefore needed to remain in Afghanistan to provide security and stability, to combat residual Taleban and Al-Qaeda elements, and to support the development of Afghan security forces.

  37.  In order to assist with this ISAF was created in accordance with the Bonn Conference in December 2001. ISAF's mission is to help the people and elected Government of Afghanistan build an enduring stable, secure, prosperous and democratic state, respectful of human rights and free from the threat of terrorism. ISAF works by conducting stability and security operations in co-ordination with the ANSF; mentoring and supporting the ANA; and supporting Afghan Government programmes to disarm illegally armed groups.

  38.  Deployed at the invitation of the Government of Afghanistan (then the Afghanistan Transitional Authority), ISAF was given a mandate by the UN Security Council through UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1386 of 20 December 2001. Its mandate is renewed annually, most recently with UNSCR 1833 of 22 September 2008 extending until 13 October 2009. ISAF currently has around 52,000 troops deployed from 41 contributing nations, and 26 Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). It is currently commanded by General David McKiernan.

  Troop Contributing Nation: The ISAF mission consists of the following 41 nations (the troop numbers are based on broad contribution and do not reflect the exact numbers on the ground at any one time).[7]

  39.  ISAF was initially mandated to deploy in Kabul city, and international operations outside the capital remained under the control of OEF. In addition to forces that continued to target and disrupt terrorist activities, contributing nations also deployed PRTs[8] to leading regional and provincial centres.

  40.  ISAF was initially a coalition of the willing, under a rotating national command, until NATO formally took command of ISAF from January 2003. This was NATO's first out of area operation. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorised the expansion of ISAF in UNSCR 1510. Under this plan expansion would take place in four stages, running counter clockwise around the country. As ISAF expanded geographically, PRTs operating under OEF transferred to NATO command. Expansion started with the north (2003/4), the west (2005), before moving into the south (July 2006) and completing expansion with the east (October 2006). Each of these areas is designated as a Regional Command under the ISAF command structure.

  41.  Building the capacity of Afghan security forces is essential to improving security across Afghanistan and both ISAF and OEF are heavily involved in this process. The Combined Security Transition Command—Afghanistan, (CSTC-A), under OEF control, leads on the training of the ANA, and also runs a number of large police training programmes, while ISAF also commands a number of Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLTs) usually containing 20-50 military personnel embedded within an Afghan military unit. The OMLTs provide training and mentoring in support of operational deployments for units from the ANA, also providing a liaison capability between the army and ISAF forces. The OMLTs co-ordinate planning and ensure the army units receive enabling support, including on active missions.

  42.  ISAF will continue to be the main focus for the international community's support for security in Afghanistan. At the NATO Bucharest summit in April 2008, Heads of State reaffirmed their commitment to ISAF and its mission, setting out the four principles guiding ISAF's actions: a firm and shared long term commitment; support for enhanced Afghan leadership and responsibility; a comprehensive approach by the international community, bringing together civilian and military efforts; and increased cooperation and engagement with Afghanistan's neighbours, especially Pakistan. ISAF will continue to provide the lead for international support for security in Afghanistan in the coming months, and ISAF will play the key role in supporting the Afghan authorities in providing security for the elections scheduled for 2009 and 2010.

UK Contribution

  43.  Since 2001, 142 UK troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan (as of 20 January 2009). We commend their professionalism and their bravery. Total international casualties have increased year on year.

Jan FebMar AprMayJun JulAug SepOctNov DecTotal
200100 0000 000 35412
20021012 14101 3031 618 69
200347 12227 242 68157
2004112 3395 234 87158
200522 619429 23312 1074130
2006117 1351722 192938 1794191
2007218 10202524 293424 15229232
2008147 19142346 304637 191227294
200950 0000 000 0005

  44.  UK troops were first deployed in November 2001, when Royal Marines from 40 Commando helped secure the airfield at Bagram. 1,700 UK soldiers, Royal Marines from 45 Commando, were then deployed (as Task Force Jacana) in eastern Afghanistan to deny and destroy terrorist infrastructure. Task Force Jacana completed its tour and withdrew in July 2002.

  45.  The UK led efforts to establish ISAF and we remain a key contributor, currently providing the second largest deployment (8,100). Major General John McColl led the first ISAF mission with contributions from 19 nations. As well as providing the headquarters and much of the supporting forces for ISAF's first year, the UK contributed the brigade headquarters and an infantry battalion. Our contribution initially peaked at 2,100 troops, later decreasing to around 300 personnel after the transfer of ISAF leadership to Turkey in the summer of 2002.

  46.  The UK announced its first PRT in the north of Afghanistan, in Mazar-e-Sharif, in May 2003. A second, smaller, UK-led PRT was subsequently established in Meymaneh, also in northern Afghanistan. The PRT in Mazar-e-Sharif included staff from the FCO and DFID, who were brought together with around 100 troops to support development programmes alongside local Afghan authorities. Personnel from Denmark, France, Romania, Lithuania and the US also participated in this PRT under UK Command. At this time, the UK also contributed the bulk of the troops for a new Quick Reaction Force based in Mazar-e-Sharif, bringing the number of UK troops to around 1000, while from September 2004 we also deployed Harrier GR7 aircraft to Kandahar to support OEF and ISAF missions.

  47.  In May 2006 the UK deployed the headquarters of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps to Kabul for nine months to lead ISAF, and oversee ISAF expansion into the more challenging south and east of Afghanistan under the leadership of General David Richards. This expansion saw the UK move our focus of deployment to the south. Control of our PRTs in the north was transferred to other ISAF contributors, with Norway taking control of the PRT in Meymaneh in September 2005 and Sweden taking over the PRT in Mazar-e-Sharif in March 2006.

  48.  The UK then shifted its focus of deployment to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, and established a PRT in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah in 2006. The UK troops deployed to southern Afghanistan have increased significantly since the initial deployment was announced on 26 January 2006 by the then Secretary of State, Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP. Initially deploying 3,300 UK military personnel, this number has been increased, to our current total of around 8,300 across Afghanistan.

  49.  The ISAF mission is divided into five regional commands: North, East, South, West and Capital, all of which are under the command of ISAF HQ in Kabul. The majority of UK Forces are deployed under the command of Regional Command (South) (RC(S)), as part of Task Force Helmand (TFH). RC(S) encompasses the neighbouring provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Nimruz, Uruzgan, and Zabul and comprises forces from the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, France, Lithuania, Georgia, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, UAE and US. Command of this international force is rotated between nations. The UK commanded RC(S) from May 2007 until December 2007 and, under current plans, will take command again in September 2009.

The Civil-Military Mission Helmand

  50.  The role of the PRTs has continually evolved to best deliver results in different and changing environments. In June 2008 the UK's PRT in Helmand became the Civil-Military Mission in Helmand. The CMMH is an integrated structure bringing together the PRT and the military-led TFH in Afghanistan and is charged with delivering our comprehensive strategy in Helmand, as set out in the Helmand Road Map. It allows concentration of the UK effort to deliver a comprehensive, politically-led, counter-insurgency campaign. It is a permanent organisation, providing continuity into which the deploying Brigade will plug for its six month tour. Tasks such as planning, media and communications, which were previously largely carried out by civilians and military in parallel, are now conducted jointly.

51.  The PRT is headed by the civilian UK Senior Representative working alongside the Brigadier who currently commands TFH. The UK Senior Representative reports to the Ambassador in Kabul, while the Brigade remains under the command of ISAF for all operational military matters. The Commander of TFH takes military direction from the Commander of ISAF (and is in close daily contact with the UK's Permanent Joint Head Quarters), but consults and seeks guidance from the UK Senior Representative in mounting military operations.

  52.  During 2008 the number of civilian staff in Helmand more than doubled, to over 60, working alongside their military colleagues to deliver stabilisation and civil effect in Helmand. Civilian advisors are also permanently deployed in a five district centres to maximise our delivery of civil effect in Helmand. The five centres, Lashkar Gah, Garmsir, Gereshk, Sangin and Musa Qaleh contain an estimated 60-70% of Helmand's population. Stabilisation work will continue to prioritise governance; security; rule of law; economic development and reconstruction; counter-narcotics and strategic communications.

The Afghan National Army

  53.  The ANA was re-established by Presidential decree on 1 December 2002. The original ceiling was set at 70,000 but increased to 80,000 as capacity grew. On the 10 September 2008, at the request of the Afghan Minister of Defence Abdul Rahim Wardak, the JCMB again increased the ceiling to 122,000 with a further 12,000 training slots. All recruits are volunteers. There is no compulsory national service. The President is the Commander in Chief, with day-to-day running through the Ministry of Defence and National Military Command Centre.

54.  The ANA is made up of five Corps, one per ISAF region (North, South, East, West and Kabul). It is recruited centrally with manpower drawn from across the ethnic and tribal divide. All recruits undergo a 12-week training programme, run by the CSTC-A, at the Kabul Military Training Centre. The UK plays a role in both organisations. We also support the ANA on a national basis with places at Sandhurst.

  55.  The US is the G8 lead for the development of the ANA, which continues to progress well, with a force of around 68,000 now fielded or in training. Retention rates have increased. Instances of absence without leave have fallen. The ANA was at the forefront of operations to recapture Musa Qaleh in December 2007 and increasingly leads operations (more than 50% nationally). However further work is required to strengthen ANA mobility, combat support and combat service support. NATO assists the Afghan Government to bring the ANA up to operating capability through the provision of OMLTs. These teams support training and deploy on operations in an advisory role. OMLTs play a particularly important coordinating and de-conflicting role between ANA and ISAF operations. Overall, OMLTs are key to the sustainable development of the ANA.

  56.  In RC(S) 205 Corps comprises of six Kandaks (Pashto for battalions) and elements of a 4th Brigade from Kabul. Whilst basic training is crucial, true capability is enhanced and delivered through mentoring, which is provided by either OMLTs or US Embedded Training Teams (ETTs). Kandaks in the south are mentored (17 OMLTs and 10 ETTs) and seven of the OMLTs are provided by the UK. While ANA progress has been one of the success stories of reconstruction and capacity building, the current and expected medium-term scale of sustainability remains its greatest challenge. It is unlikely that the Government of Afghanistan will be able to finance the Army or other elements of the security sector through its own revenue for some considerable time.


  57.  In 2006 the UK agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Afghan Government in respect of the transfer of detainees captured by UK Forces. The Memorandum is available in the Library of the House. The Memorandum commits the UK Government to transferring detainees to the Afghan Government at the earliest opportunity. (The agreed ISAF policy is for transfer within 96 hours unless medical or logistic reasons preclude safe transfer within that time.) The Memorandum also obliges the Afghan Government to treat all detainees in accordance with Afghanistan's international legal obligations; not to impose the death penalty on any transferred detainee; to allow access to any transferred detainee by the International Committee of the Red Cross and to UK officials; and not to further transfer to a third party or outside of Afghanistan without written permission from the UK.

58.  UK personnel, usually members of the Royal Military Police, visit transferred detainees regularly. The UK has also delivered training to prison officers, including in human rights issues, and has worked to improve prison accommodation in both Helmand and Kabul. As at 15 December 2008, the UK had transferred just over 200 detainees. There has been one allegation of mistreatment by a transferred detainee. This was thoroughly investigated and there was found to be no merit in the allegation.

Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration of Illegal Armed Groups

  59.  A process of DDR, led by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) began in April 2003 to disarm the multitude of militias that existed in Afghanistan and provide demobilised personnel with the means to become economically independent (eg by giving access to training for civilian vocations). DDR disarmed over 62,000 former combatants and was formally concluded in June 2005, although reintegration programmes ran until June 2006. The success of the DDR process created the conditions to raise an ethnically balanced and professional ANA. The UK was the second largest donor to the DDR programme, providing £19.1 million. DDR was succeeded in June 2005 by the more challenging Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups process. More than 1,000 groups are engaged in this process and over 42,000 weapons and over 200,000 items of ammunition have been collected. However, more remains to be done to ensure that these groups do not continue to jeopardise Afghanistan's stability.


Democracy, Elections and Politics

  60.  The collapse of the Taleban regime revealed the extent of Afghanistan's political, economic and social devastation. The challenge for the Afghan people and the international community was to rebuild a safe and sustainable state, with a strong and accountable government capable of providing basic services.

61.  In December 2001, the signatories to the Bonn Agreement—including representatives of the various Afghan ethnic groups—set out the road map towards the establishment of a democratic and representative government in Afghanistan. They committed the Afghan Interim Administration—and its successor the Transitional Authority—as the repository of Afghan sovereignty—to act in accordance with basic principles and provisions contained in international instruments on human rights and international humanitarian law.

The Emergency Loya Jirga

62.  The Interim Administration was inaugurated on 22 December 2001 and was appointed to govern for six months. From 11-19 June 2002, an Emergency Loya Jirga (traditional Afghan Grand Council) met in Kabul. Its task, as outlined in the Bonn Agreement, was to select a Head of State and decide on the composition of a Transitional Administration to rule Afghanistan until fully democratic elections could be held. More than 1,500 delegates from across Afghanistan elected Hamid Karzai as Head of State, by secret ballot, on 13 June 2002.

63.  The Loya Jirga was the first opportunity in decades for the Afghan people to play a decisive role in choosing their government, and an important step on the path towards democratic elections. The UK gave £500,000 to support the Loya Jirga Commission in their work to organise the Emergency Loya Jirga.

  64.  Delegates were selected to attend the Loya Jirga from regional constituencies across Afghanistan. In addition to those selected from the regional ballot, the Commission reserved a number of seats for women, refugees, nomads, business people, intellectuals, religious scholars and ethnic minorities. In addition to 160 seats reserved for women, 40 women were elected at the regional level. This was the highest proportion of women included in any Loya Jirga in Afghan history, and as such was an important first step to ensuring that the views of women will be represented.

Afghanistan's Constitution

  65.  The Constitutional process began in October 2002, when President Karzai appointed a nine-member Constitutional drafting committee. The committee produced a first draft and passed it on to a 35-member Constitutional review commission. Seven of the commissioners were women. The commission also received suggestions from international experts. The UK contributed £500,000 to support the Afghan Transitional Administration, Afghanistan's Government, and the UN in organising public consultation on the Constitution across Afghanistan.

66.  The final stage of the process was for an elected national assembly, the Constitutional Loya Jirga, to reach a consensus on the proposed draft. The Loya Jirga convened on 14 December 2003 under the chairmanship of former president Mojaddedi. The 502 delegates included representatives of all parts of the country and all ethnic groups, among them 114 women. The delegates elected four vice-chairmen (one a woman), and three rapporteurs, or secretaries (two of whom were women). A final text of the new Constitution, the eighth in Afghanistan's history, was agreed on 4 January 2004 and signed by President Karzai on 26 January.

  67.  The international community always made clear that it attached great importance to the inclusion of the legal protection of human rights as a fundamental part of the new Constitution. Some key elements of the new Constitution include:

    —  citizens, whether men or women, have equal rights and duties before the law. All ethnic groups have equal rights, and there are provisions for protecting minority languages;

    —  the state has an obligation to create a prosperous and progressive society based on social justice, protection of human dignity and human rights and democracy. The state will also abide by the six core international human rights conventions to which it is a party;

    —  Afghanistan is an Islamic republic. Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform religious rites within the limits of the law. No law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam;

    —  the National Assembly will consist of two houses; the directly elected Wolesi Jirga (House of the People) and indirectly chosen Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders). Women will make up a quarter of the Wolesi Jirga and a sixth of the Meshrano Jirga;

    —  Afghanistan will have a presidential system of government. The president and two vice-presidents are answerable to the nation and to the Wolesi Jirga, which can also impeach ministers; and

    —  Pashto and Dari are the main official languages with other minority languages being a third official language in areas where the majority speaks them. We encourage Afghanistan to ensure that provisions for Islamic law in the Constitution, and implementation of the Sharia (Islamic law) in the new legal code are consistent with Afghanistan's obligations under international human rights law.

Elections in 2004 and 2005

  68.  Once the Constitution had been agreed, UNAMA worked closely with the Afghan Transitional Administration on preparations for democratic Presidential and National Assembly elections. Presidential elections were held on 9 October 2004—a testimony to the UN, the Afghan Government and in particular to the Afghan people, who registered in their millions to vote and then braved threats of intimidation and violence, as well as bad weather, to turn up and vote on election day. Of the 8.5 million who voted, 40% were women.

69.  Out of 18 presidential candidates, the only female candidate, Massouda Jalal, came in fifth place—beating two-thirds of the male candidates. Two vice-presidential candidates were also female and Bamiyan became the first province in Afghanistan to have a female governor, Habiba Sarabi.

  70.  Parliamentary and Provincial Council elections were held on 18 September 2005. Around 6.8 million Afghans (51.5% of those eligible) voted at 26,240 polling stations around the country. The vibrancy of the campaign and the high turnout illustrated the desire of the Afghan people to engage in democracy. Parliament was inaugurated on 19 December 2005 and immediately began electing speakers for its Upper and Lower Houses. By 7 August 2006, after some debate, the Cabinet was approved. The first budget was agreed on 3 June 2006.

Democratic Development

  71.  Political parties are still seen by many Afghans as responsible for the instability that led to the civil war and chaos of previous decades. This has meant that the importance of political parties to a functioning Afghan democracy has been underestimated. It is also possible that the development of well organised, strong political parties has been hampered by the electoral system (single non-transferable vote).

72.  However, Afghan politics continues to develop; numerous political parties are licensed by the Afghan Ministry of Justice. There are also some larger political coalitions, such as the United National Front, made up of many of the members of the Northern Alliance, which helped oust the Taleban in 2001. But manifestos and campaigning are rare and reaching the electorate through tribal leaders and powerbrokers is commonplace. The 2009-10 elections will be another opportunity for Afghan politicians to reach out to voters, who are already being educated about the upcoming elections by the Afghan Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

  73.  The UK has supported the development of Afghan democracy since 2001. A significant proportion of our funding has been used to help strengthen institutions, finance the electoral process and build Afghan civil society and political participation. Our financial support has been complemented by the continued political engagement of British Ministers and Embassy officials—encouraging change, raising concerns with the Afghan Government and lobbying internationally for support.

  Examples of UK support to democratic development include:

    —  £500,000 to UNAMA to support the popular consultation process for the Constitution;

    —  £20 million to support the 2004-05 elections process;

    —  £500,000 towards a civic education programme run by the NGO Swisspeace;

    —  £500,000 for a five-year women's empowerment programme run by the NGO Womankind—helping in part to increase the political participation of women; and

    —  over £1.75 million of support (since 2001) for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC); helping foster Afghan civil society and protect the rights essential for a functioning democracy.

  74.  Political challenges still lie ahead. The Afghan Government, supported by the international community, has made huge progress building roads, schools and security services and extending healthcare (as detailed elsewhere in this report). However, in the eyes of many Afghans, who had very high expectations after the 2004-05 elections, progress has been slow and government is too often seen as corrupt or ineffectual. Working with the Afghan Government to increase its capacity to protect and deliver services, including justice, for its people will be an ongoing task for the international community. Tackling corruption will be a key challenge for any future Afghan Government. However the appointment of the capable Hanif Atmar as Minister for Interior in October 2008 is a positive step.

Elections in 2009 and 2010

  75.  Presidential and Provincial Council elections are set for autumn 2009; Parliamentary and District Council elections are due in spring 2010. Geographically phased voter registration started on 6th October 2008 and is due to conclude by the end of February 2009. President Karzai, along with several other candidates, has indicated that he will run again. It is likely that more candidates will come forward as election day draws nearer.

76.  It is unlikely that voter turnout in 2009-10 will be as high as in 2004-05—the first elections of a new democracy generally have a higher turnout than subsequent ones. But, according to the Asia Foundation's "Afghanistan in 2008: A Survey of the Afghan People", over three-quarters of Afghans surveyed said they were likely to vote in the 2009 elections, and nearly three-quarters expressed some level of confidence in their government's ability to manage a free and fair election process.

  77.  The UK and the international community are committed to supporting the 2009-10 Afghan-led elections and are determined that they will be a success. The UK has already contributed an initial £6 million to support voter registration. Security will present a considerable challenge and we are working closely through ISAF to support thorough Afghan-led security for the elections.

  78.  UNAMA is already playing a key role in the 2009-10 elections. Through UNDP it is co-ordinating the efforts of the international community to support the IEC, which has lead responsibility for conducting voter registration and the elections in 2009 and 2010.

  79.  The full electoral process is anticipated to cost up to $500 million and more financial support, from a wider donor pool, is still required. The UK will continue to lobby other donors to help ensure that the electoral process is adequately supported.

  80.  The UK supports the deployment of a substantial EU Election Observation Mission (EoM) to be deployed to monitor the 2009-10 elections. The EU EoM will be complemented by other international, regional and domestic EoMs to help ensure that the election results are credible.


  81.  The UK strategy for Afghanistan is based on the premise that military means alone will not provide the solution in Afghanistan. At the same time as putting military pressure on the insurgents, the UK has therefore been trying to promote, develop and support Afghan-led initiatives to reach out to and if possible reconcile key insurgent leaders at local and national level. The UK's interest is in exploiting existing, and creating future, vulnerabilities in the insurgency in order to allow the Afghan Government to split and co-opt significant elements. These elements need to be brought into, and feel they have a stake in, a stable, sustainable and democratic Afghanistan. The aim will be to isolate those who will not reconcile, who are likely to be driven largely by ideology or criminal motives and who will need to be defeated militarily. In the longer term, the UK recognises that ultimately, political dialogue and settlement will need to be part of any durable solution in Afghanistan.

82.  It is not for the UK to reconcile with those elements fighting in opposition to the Afghan Government. This process must be Afghan-led. The degree to which the UK can input into reconciliation will therefore be limited; progress on this agenda (or a lack of it) will be determined by the Afghans. President Karzai has made clear that the Government of Afghanistan is ready to talk to those who will abide by the Afghan constitution, renounce violence and have no close operational links to Al-Qaeda. The UK is supportive and ready to offer assistance to Afghan-led efforts to engage with those who fall within these boundaries. As yet, the military conditions have not been right and very few commanders have defected. However, in December 2007, the Afghan Government recaptured the town of Musa Qaleh with the help of Mullah Salam, a former Taleb, whose reconciliation was instrumental in bringing the town back under government control following its capture in February 2007.

  83.  The UK was previously supporting the Programme—Talkh-e-Solh, the official Afghan body responsible for reconciliation, established in May 2005 and led by Professor Mojaddedi, a former interim President of Afghanistan and speaker of the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House). Its primary goal was to encourage and provide former enemy combatants with an opportunity to recognise the Government of Afghanistan as legitimate, and to lead normal lives as part of wider society. However, a number of weaknesses in the programme, including lack of validation, monitoring and credibility, led the UK, in March 2008 and in concert with the Dutch and US, to suspend support in an effort to leverage reforms. UK financial support totalled £500,000 from 1 January to 31 March 2007, and £870,000 from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008.

  84.  The Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) is now leading central Government efforts to co-ordinate provincial-level reconciliation efforts led by Provincial Governors, and is developing guidance. The UK is ready to provide financial support to Governor Mangal's efforts to take forward reconciliation in Helmand, when he and the central Government have developed an implementation plan.

  85.  Prince Saud confirmed in late October that Saudi Arabia had hosted a meeting between the Afghan Government and former Taleban insurgents during the month of Ramadan and at the invitation of the Afghan Government. The UK supports initiatives such as this, which are designed to start the process of dialogue between the Government and the insurgency. But there will be no quick solution.



  86.  Years of external occupation and internal war, poor service delivery and widespread unemployment and poverty have led to a breakdown in traditional governance institutions in many parts of Afghanistan. This has undermined the relationship between communities and government institutions and has weakened the ability of both state and community-based governance structures to deliver social stability and peace. In constitutional terms, Afghanistan has a centralised administration under a powerful head of state. At sub-national level, representation is largely through informal and tribal structures. Government efforts are underway to formalise these into a coherent sub-national governance structure.

87.  Governance in Afghanistan has made progress in service delivery and accountability. Improvements have been concentrated at central government level, and nationally, in the fields of health, education and community development. At the sub-national level, Provincial Council elections took place in 2005. District Council elections were originally scheduled to take place at the same time but because district numbers, boundaries and population figures were yet to be determined, they were postponed. The lack of District Council elections left a hole in local level governance that the Afghan Government and international community has struggled to fill.

88.  The IDLG was set up by President Karzai in 2007 to help tackle these issues, with a mandate to extend sub-national governance. The IDLG is now implementing its strategic workplan, which has three main pillars: (i) policy development, (ii) institution building, and (iii) broader governance. The IDLG works to reform and restructure the administration of a range of insecure provinces in the south and southeast by establishing better relationships with district tribal leaders, building stronger sub-national governance institutions including governors' offices, and improving accountability between central government and citizens to increase stability and Afghan Government legitimacy.

  89.  The UK provided £1 million support to the IDLG in 2007-08, and is working closely with other donors to determine collectively how IDLG can best be supported in the medium term. Funding has also been approved to support IDLG's broad mandate on sub-national governance. Funds are being used to buy-in qualified capacity in niche areas, to support internal restructuring and reforms and to support IDLG's facilitation of a cross-government policy process on sub-national governance. Much of the UK's involvement so far has focussed on helping IDLG develop its strategic workplan.

  90.  In Helmand province the CMMH is working with the Afghan authorities to produce a governance roadmap for Helmand. The aim is to agree a single 12-18 month plan for priority governance reforms, against which resources can be mobilised. The governance roadmap will focus on raising the profile of Provincial Government in Helmand, bridging the gap between the province and Kabul, building the capacity of the province's administration to meet the needs of the population, and ensuring that resources are used effectively. The UK is also developing increased support to civil society groups to monitor Afghan Government performance, in areas such as provincial budget monitoring and service delivery.

  91.  But national reforms have been delayed and we are now at a key turning point. Without renewed progress the governance situation could worsen. Rule of law and basic security is lacking for large parts of the population. The heavily centralised nature of the Government prescribed by the Constitution has (in the absence of adequate institutional capacity) hampered the quality and accountability of service delivery at the local level. Measures to improve stabilisation and governance need to be undertaken by the Afghan Government, with co-ordinated international support.

  92.  Work still needs to be done to strengthen sub-national governance institutions. The Afghan Government's new sub-national governance policy (September 2008) will need to be translated into legislation and then implemented. Resources need to be distributed equitably across provinces and districts and local/national budgeting processes need to be better informed by local conditions.

  93.  The sub-national governance policy aims to clarify the roles and responsibilities within institutions at various lower levels of government: governors, municipalities, mayors, and elected bodies. IDLG will support institutional reform and development of bodies such as provincial and district governors, municipalities and Provincial Councils. A five-year programme of infrastructure IT and communications upgrading will be implemented. There will be a focus on engaging participation in governance, with women and young people a priority, as well as tribal outreach. IDLG also needs to tackle corruption in sub-national bodies and plans for this are still being developed. Other areas needing development include: delivering governance in vulnerable districts; integrating formal and informal structures; improving policing and community security; and improving strategic communications.

  94.  In parallel, IDLG has also launched the Afghan Social Outreach Programme (ASOP) to strengthen the link between the local communities and the Afghan Government, and enable them to play more of a role in their own security and development. ASOP will establish community councils of 30-40 influential residents, which will be involved in drawing up District Development Plans that reflect communities' needs. In November 2008 the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging its support for roll out of ASOP in Helmand. The UK has a $260,000 budget for this financial year to support ASOP pilots in four districts of Helmand Province; Nad-e-Ali, Garmsir, Gereshk and Musa Qaleh.

  95.  The UK has also committed in principle to support an IDLG initiative to introduce performance based budgeting for Provincial Governors. This initiative is based on a model used effectively in other conflict-affected countries. In the longer term, the only sustainable solution for governance is to build the capacity of the Afghan Government to deliver services to its people, and allow them to hold their government to account. Improving accountability, government performance and resolving the relationship between informal and formal structures will put governance on a more sustainable footing.

Rule of Law

  96.  In 2001 there were virtually no rule of law institutions or processes in Afghanistan. The lack of a functioning central government, modern constitution, legal code and effective formal justice system resulted in a state with little internal security or stability. The absence of a national police force allowed tribal militias and other non-state groups to impose their will on the general population; to commit human rights abuses regularly; and to engage in predatory corruption. The formal justice system dispensed an extreme form of Sharia-based justice on a regular basis with limited compliance with international standards for human rights and virtually no mechanisms to appeal sentences. Almost all disputes were settled through the informal system by village elders or religious figures using traditional tribal ethics codes, such as Pashtunwali, or Sharia. There was no capacity (or willingness) to investigate and prosecute narcotics trafficking offences. The few prisons and detention facilities that existed were mostly run by private individuals who often committed serious human rights abuses against prisoners with impunity. Endemic corruption often allowed the guilty to remain unpunished and forced financial and physical burdens on the wider population.

97.  The Interim Afghan Administration and subsequent governments created the 2003 Constitution which established rule of law institutions such as the Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court and Attorney General's Office. In April 2003, a Presidential Degree on Police Reform outlined the role and structure of the Ministry of Interior and Afghanistan's police forces, including the ANP.

Afghan National Police

  98.  The US is the largest contributor to police reform in Afghanistan, investing $2.5 billion each year. As G8 Lead Nation, Germany re-established the ANP Training Academy in Kabul in August 2002 and between 2002 and 2006 trained over 4,000 officers in a range of policing skills such as criminal investigation and riot control. Germany has also supplied approximately €80 million worth of infrastructure and equipment. The policing lead has now passed to the EU Policing Mission (EUPOL) which began in June 2007. EUPOL provides strategic advice and mentoring for senior officials in the Ministry of the Interior and ANP, as well as providing training in specialised areas such as criminal investigation and forensics. EUPOL also works to strengthen wider rule of law institutions such as the Attorney General's Office. As of December 2008, there were 176 policing and rule of law experts from 21 different countries in EUPOL, and the mission was delivering training and mentoring in 14 Provinces.

3Finland 13Italy18 Spain11
Canada8France 2Lithuania2 Sweden8
Croatia2Germany 41Netherlands4 UK22
Czech Republic5Greece 1Norway2
Denmark13Hungary 5Poland4
Estonia1Ireland 5Romania5 Total176

National contribution of experts to EU Police Mission (EUPOL) (as at 18 December 2008)

  99.  As of January 2009, the UK was the third largest contributor to the EUPOL police reform mission, with 15 officers or retired officers deployed in Kabul and Helmand. These officers perform a wide range of duties including advising the Deputy Minister of the Interior on police reform, developing training programmes for uniformed police and teaching criminal investigation techniques to criminal investigation department officers. In Helmand they have been helping the Head of Police develop a provincial policing plan.

  100.  Alongside Germany's programme of specialised training, the US provided paramilitary-type training to over 76,000 patrolmen between 2004 and 2007. In November 2007, the US launched a new police training programme for patrolmen called Focussed District Development (FDD), providing a range of survival and basic policing skills in all of Afghanistan's districts in a rolling programme over four years. The UK provides three police officers to the CSTC-A who provide strategic level civilian policing advice on the implementation of the FDD as well as other programmes. Between November 2007 and December 2008, FDD and other US training programmes have been delivered to just over 25,000 policemen. As of December 2008, the total size of the ANP is just over 76,000 patrolmen.

  101.  Whilst the ANP continue to suffer from serious problems such as corruption stemming from the narcotics trade, low levels of literacy and heavy casualties as a result of fighting the insurgency, some progress is being made. In March 2008, the Afghan Government completed a Pay and Rank Reform process which rationalised the salary and ranking structure of the ANP, ensuring an agreed national pay scale for officers and reducing the numbers of senior ranks to create a more balanced force structure. In August 2008, the Afghan Government and the international community agreed a Police Vision which outlines the values of the police force, and further work is underway to develop a police plan setting out strategic priorities and activities. The Ministry of the Interior under the leadership of Hanif Atmar, is working with both EUPOL and the CSTC-A to tackle issues such as corruption and kidnapping and more effectively co-ordinate police reform.

  102.  The Policing Plan should allow the international community to identify where assistance is most required and where to target resources most effectively. The EUPOL and US Police Reform missions are increasingly working together on a range of projects, including supporting the reform of the Ministry of Interior, strengthening the police and security forces in Kabul and enhancing the effectiveness of the FDD programme.

  103.  The UK has also played a major role in the establishment of the Counter-Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA). The CNPA is the lead drug law enforcement agency of the Afghan Government, is currently just over 2,700 officers strong, and has a presence in all 34 provinces. The CNPA also contains the Afghan Special Narcotics Force (ASNF) which is mentored by UK personnel. The UK has provided equipment, training and mentoring at the Provincial level to the CNPA to improve its abilities to interdict narcotics smugglers. Both the ASNF and the CNPA are making an impact on the narcotics industry. The ASNF made the world's largest narcotics seizure in June 2008, and the Helmand detachment of the CNPA seized 17.7 metric tonnes of poppy seed in November 2008—enough to seed over three thousand acres of farmland with opium poppies.

  104.  In Helmand, the UK is providing advice and training to both the ANP and the CNPA to improve their narcotics interdiction capabilities, organisational systems, and human rights compliance. The UK has developed a comprehensive approach to supporting police development in Helmand, utilising resources drawn from EUPOL, the MOD Police and the military. This has allowed influence to be exerted at the strategic, operational and tactical levels of policing (provincial, districts and local communities).

  105.  Despite this, there is still more to do. Huge challenges remain in building the capacity and capability of the ANP. Strong leadership from within the Ministry of Interior is essential to tackle embedded problems of corruption within the Ministry itself, the police and other parts of the criminal justice system, as well as in providing a clear vision of the reforms required to build a national police force. There will be an ongoing requirement for continued technical support to the police, as part of wider efforts in support of the rule of law sector.

  106.  A deteriorating security situation has pushed the police ever-closer to becoming a state security force, with no form of proper accountability or connection to community needs. There is a real danger of isolating the police from communities and their basic function of upholding the law. International effort should be directed towards police reform and away from further para-militarisation. The short to medium-term aim is have the Afghan Government leading and supporting the ANP to provide basic security and policing functions in areas cleared by ANA/ISAF counter-insurgency efforts, and in the longer term to link into community government mechanisms. Overall, the challenge is to build a fully functioning, accountable police force that operates without international support.


  107.  Italy led the international community's work on justice reform, with the drafting of a National Justice Sector Strategy (NJSS) and, alongside the UK, led the creation of the National Justice Programme (NJP) which delivers administrative reform, develops infrastructure and improves justice service delivery. Since 2003, the Afghan Parliament has passed a variety of new laws including a 2005 law on counter-narcotics. The international community has assisted with the creation of facilities, such as courts and law libraries, and the training of judges and prosecutors across Afghanistan through a range of bilateral and multilateral projects. In August 2005 the US established the Justice Sector Support Programme (JSSP) which provides a range of training and support across the formal and informal justice sectors. The EU has allocated $60 million of funding between 2006 and 2010 for a range of initiatives. The US allocated approximately $67 million of funding in 2007 and 2008 and has provided a wide range of projects including the reform of the Supreme Court, legal education for prosecutors, support in drafting civil and criminal law (including counter-narcotics) and gender access schemes.

108.  The UK has played a lead role in developing the Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) and the Central Narcotics Tribunal (CNT) since their establishment in 2005. The CJTF is an Afghan institution which investigates and prosecutes suspected narcotics traffickers, and the CNT is the body through which cases are tried and appealed. The UK provides both financial support and mentors to the CJTF to improve its capability to successfully prosecute narcotics smugglers under international standards. From June to November 2008, the CJTF secured 133 convictions before the Primary Court of the CNT and 125 before the Appeal Court.

  109.  We estimate that over 90% of justice in Afghanistan is delivered through the informal system and it is vital for the international community to engage more actively here, especially in developing linkages with the formal system. The NJSS also includes a commitment that the Afghan Government will develop policies to ensure compatibility of the informal justice systems with the laws of the country and with the principles and values of human rights, and makes useful reference to linking the two systems together eg by providing rights of judicial review. Further policy development is clearly needed and we will support the Afghan Government in this area, building on our work in Helmand, where we are working with both the formal and informal systems. We have assisted with the development of local shuras to help solve community disputes, which strengthen and build links between the Afghan Government and local communities. In addition we have also helped develop a Prisoner Review system which links tribal elders to the formal justice system. We have also helped to improve access to justice for vulnerable groups such as women and children, through the creation of a Women and Children's Justice Group in Lashkar Gah and the provision of training courses to female inmates in Lashkar Gah prison.

  110.  The Afghan judicial system also needs to expand its capacity and capability to prosecute high value targets in the narcotics trade and corruption cases. Alongside progress in this area, we are encouraging the Afghan Government to take a more pro-active lead on investigating and prosecuting corrupt individuals, especially those in the police and senior government positions as essential to improve public confidence in central government. Key priorities include developing Afghan capacity, in terms of investigative, prosecutorial, and judicial capabilities (especially for the security of judges and prosecutors) and penal facilities, to take on corruption cases; and encouraging the Afghan Government to become more transparent and address the concerns of Parliamentarians and civil society.

  111.  Progress has also been made in improving Afghanistan's prison infrastructure, with improvements made to the Pol-E-Charki prison outside of Kabul and a wider programme of prison building across Afghanistan, including two new large US-funded prisons in Wardak and Baghlan provinces, to improve conditions for prisoners and other detainees and ensure that those who have served their sentence have been released.

  112.  The UK is assisting with the reform of the wider Afghan prison system, with the provision of a five-strong training team from HM Prison Service who provide human rights training to Afghan prison officers. The UK has also funded the development of a special wing of the Pol-E-Charki prison outside Kabul to house narcotics offenders and is supporting the construction of a new prison in Lashkar Gah in Helmand.

  113.  Significant challenges remain in modernising Afghanistan's prison infrastructure and reforming the Central Prison Department (CPD). The poor state of most prison physical buildings in Afghanistan is exacerbated by the limited training given to most CPD staff, and the welfare of detainees remains a serious concern. Improving infrastructure, in particular improving security features to prevent mass escapes such as occurred at the Sarposa Prison in Kandahar in June 2008, is essential to ensuring the guilty remain under the control of the state. The CPD also needs support to recruit, train and mentor prison staff to ensure prisons are staffed by competent professionals; that prisoners' human rights are protected; and that sentences are fully served.


  114.  The international community has regularly lobbied the Afghan Government to make a strong stand against corruption, especially against corrupt police officers and government officials, whose activities undermine the Afghan population's trust in government. The international community has provided anti-corruption experts to develop transparent financial systems and processes to minimise the risk of funds being misused. In 2007 the UK, UN, World Bank and Asian Development Bank produced an anti-corruption roadmap identifying where the Afghan Government could best target its resources against corruption networks. In September 2008 President Karzai announced the creation of an Anti-Corruption Commission which will seek to investigate allegations of corruption in the Afghan Government.

115.  The UK is playing a key role in helping the Afghan Government to tackle corruption, with the provision of civilian experts to work with the Afghan Government to develop transparent financial processes in key ministries. In addition, officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) are working to improve the capabilities of Afghan law enforcement to tackle serious and organised criminality, and associated corruption. On 15 December 2008, the Prime Minister announced to Parliament his offer of a Multi Agency Anti-Corruption Task Force to assist the Afghan Government tackle corruption. The Task Force will be a cross-departmental unit, made up of representatives from DFID, FCO, SOCA, Crown Prosecution Service, and Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service. An enhancement of an existing cross-embassy working group, the new Task Force will support the Government of Afghanistan's own anti-corruption efforts and will work alongside international partners. The Task Force will liaise regularly with the Afghan Government's High Office of Oversight, which is the Afghan Government's lead anti-corruption institution, and other relevant Afghan Government institutions.

  116.  Strengthening the rule of law across Afghanistan is a long-term endeavour. It will require significant financial and human resources for many years to come. Urgently required resources include civilian expertise to improve the capacity of Afghan Government institutions to manage and lead reform programmes themselves; for skilled and experienced police officers to advise the Afghan police through the EUPOL and US police reform programmes; and in the justice sector for civilian expertise in particular to help develop linkages between the informal and formal justice sectors to allow a greater proportion of the Afghan population access to appropriate justice system. Alongside additional resources, enhanced co-ordination between all of the government and NGO actors engaged in rule of law reform can improve delivery of reform projects and help identify priorities.

Human Rights

  117.  Afghanistan's human rights record was amongst the worst in the world in 2001. Taleban rule prevented women from working or receiving an education and religious and ethnic minorities were persecuted. Freedom of expression was severely restricted and many journalists fled the country or were killed. Those who survived within the country did so by strictly censoring their own work. With the economy in tatters, poverty had also taken its toll. Government agencies, where they existed, barely functioned and the population was left without protection or essential services.

118.  Promoting human rights and democracy is integral to stability and security. Central to this effort and to improving the overall human rights situation is developing Afghan capacity to provide security, rule of law, development, democracy and good governance. We are supporting this in a range of ways, detailed elsewhere in this report, through a clear comprehensive approach, joining up our civilian and military effort to ensure maximum effectiveness. But building Afghan capacity will be a long-term endeavour.

  119.  The Bonn Agreement set out the road-map leading to successful national elections in 2004-05 to establish a democratic and representative government (see section on Politics and Reconciliation). Following a successful Constitutional Loya Jirga, a new Constitution was signed by President Karzai on 26 January 2004, a significant achievement. Key human rights provisions in the Constitution include:

    —  basic obligation of the state to protect human rights (many of which, political, economic and social, are elaborated);

    —  equal rights for men and women;

    —  discrimination made illegal;

    —  commitment on the part of the state to abide by the core international human rights conventions to which it is a party;

    —  minority language rights and provisions for religious freedom; and

    —  freedom of expression protected.

  120.  The new Constitution also confirmed the status of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Established in June 2002 and still chaired by Dr Sima Samar, the Commission has a particular focus on the rights of women, children and minorities.

  121.  The London Conference on Afghanistan (31 January to 1 February 2006) was co-chaired by the UK, the UN and the Afghan Government. Over 60 delegates endorsed Afghanistan's Interim National Development Strategy and the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, and launched the Afghanistan Compact (the successor to the Bonn Agreement). The Compact set out how the Afghan Government and the international community were to contribute to the reconstruction process and included specific commitments to improving human rights:

    "By end-2010: The Government's capacity to comply with and report on its human rights treaty obligations will be strengthened; Government security and law enforcement agencies will adopt corrective measures, including codes of conduct and procedures aimed at preventing arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extortion and illegal expropriation of property with a view to the elimination of these practices; the exercise of freedom of expression, including freedom of media, will be strengthened; human rights awareness will be included in education curricula and promoted among legislators, judicial personnel and other Government agencies, communities and the public; human rights monitoring will be carried out by the Government and independently by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), and the UN will track the effectiveness of measures aimed at the protection of human rights; the AIHRC will be supported in the fulfilment of its objectives with regard to monitoring, investigation, protection and promotion of human rights. The implementation of the Action Plan on Peace, Justice and Reconciliation will be completed by end-2008".

  122.  Afghanistan has now ratified all the core human rights treaties.[9]

  123.  Although much remains to be done, hard work and significant investment by the Afghan Government, supported by the international community, is having an impact, for example gradually realising people's rights to freedom of expression, equality and a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being:

    —  there is now one government-run, 16 independent TV channels, around 290 newspapers and 60 independent radio stations;

    —  6 million children are enrolled in school, over a third of whom are girls, and over a quarter of seats in the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament are now held by women;

    —  infant mortality rates declined from an estimated 165 per 1,000 live births in 2001 to about 129 per 1,000 in 2005—equivalent to around 40,000 more babies surviving per year now than in 2002;

    —  since 2000, under-5 mortality rates have dropped from around one in four to around one in five;

    —  the proportion of women receiving antenatal care increased from 5% in 2003 to 30% in 2006; and

    —  82% of people now have access to basic healthcare, compared to 9% in 2002.

Key Challenges

  124.  Ensuring security is vital for protecting human rights. The security situation in Afghanistan remains challenging. The insurgents continue to target innocent civilians—including beheadings, kidnappings, suicide bombings and attacks on NGO workers and schoolchildren. In November a group of schoolgirls and their teachers in Kandahar suffered severe burns after acid was sprayed into their faces by members of the Taleban. The attack was condemned by the Afghan Government as "un-Islamic".

125.  Afghans have embraced their right to choose their own leaders democratically—demonstrated by the successful elections held in 2004 and 2005. Presidential and Provincial Council elections are currently due to be held in autumn 2009 and Parliamentary and District Council elections in spring 2010. As the earlier section on Politics and Reconciliation details, we and the international community are helping to realise the Afghan people's right to vote.

  126.  Many women in Afghanistan still face significant hardships and unequal treatment—in part due to poverty and insecurity, and in part due to deeply held cultural views. A lack of legal protection and inadequate access to justice increases the risks women face in a society where the rule of law is still weak. Outspoken women still face severe risks—as demonstrated by the murder of the country's most prominent policewoman in Kandahar last September.

  127.  The UK works to enhance the status of women in three main ways: through policy engagement with the Afghan Government; through support for national programmes and services, which benefit women; and through bilateral programmes. We regularly discuss women's rights with members of the Afghan Government, Afghan Parliamentarians and NGOs.

  128.  The majority of our financial support is channelled through the Afghan Government, since gender inequality is a deeply embedded and long-term problem which needs a strategic approach. We worked with the Afghan Government to ensure that gender equality was integrated into the ANDS and that women are fully reflected in the development process. We have committed over £35 million to support the Afghan Government's micro-finance programme, giving women in particular better access to finance.

  129.  The UK is giving £500,000 to support a women's empowerment programme, implemented by the NGO Womankind (running 2005-10). The programme focuses on promoting women's equal participation in governance; building awareness of women's rights among civil society and policy makers; and on providing educational, health, community and psycho-social support to women affected by violence and conflict.

  130.  But we also work with local and international NGOs. The AIHRC now has representatives in Helmand province, who are helping support the new Women and Children's Justice Group, established in Lashkar Gah in August 2008. Run by prominent female members of the community, the group is developing and implementing practical programmes on the ground to support women and children's rights and justice issues.

  131.  Afghanistan retains the death penalty under the new Constitution. All death sentences require the approval of the President. 16 criminals, convicted of serious crimes, have been executed since 7 November 2008. These were the first executions carried out since 15 men were executed on 8 October 2007. A moratorium on executions ended on 20 April 2004 when President Karzai authorised the execution of Abdullah Shah, a militia commander accused of cannibalism, torture and murder. The death penalty had not been used again until the 8 October 2007 executions. The resumption of executions has been a highly popular move among Afghans.

  132.  The UK is strongly opposed to the use of the death penalty by any state and have regularly made our views on this subject known to the Afghan Government. We were very concerned to learn that the Afghan Government resumed executions on 7 November 2008. Regarding this latest use of the death penalty, we have raised our concerns in partnership with the EU, as well as bilaterally with the Afghan Government, including at Ministerial level.

  133.  If we have concerns about a particular case, we will raise them with the Afghan authorities. On 21 October, the Afghan Appeal Court announced that the sentence of Afghan Journalism student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh (who had been convicted and sentenced to death for distributing literature relating to women's rights and Islam) was commuted to 20 years in prison. We have serious concerns about the fairness of this and the original trial, and the verdict reached. We are following the case closely and, in conjunction with our international partners, are raising it with the relevant Afghan authorities.

  134.  Intimidation of journalists remains a concern. The UK has intervened in individual cases where journalists' freedom has been threatened. September 2008 saw the passing of a progressive media law, although the Afghan Government currently lacks the capacity to enforce this in a way that will have significant impact in the near future. We are working with both the BBC World Service and the BBC World Service Trust (the World Service's charitable arm) on projects to improve and develop the media in Afghanistan. For example, we are involving female Afghan journalists in "Afghan Woman's Hour" which informs and empowers women in Afghanistan.

  135.  The Afghan Constitution (Article 2) provides for freedom of religion. But abuses continue to occur. In February 2006, for example, Abdul Rahman, a 41-year-old Afghan citizen, was arrested in Kabul following a domestic dispute. During the court proceedings, it emerged that he had converted to Christianity 16 years earlier. The UK lobbied on his behalf. Despite widespread speculation that Rahman would be charged with apostasy, the case was adjourned, apparently on a technicality. Abdul Rahman left Afghanistan and was granted asylum in Italy.

  136.  Since 2001 the UK has given over £1.75 million to support the AIHRC, and will give a further £200,000 this financial year to support its 2009-10 Action Plan. The AIHRC has over 500 staff across Afghanistan—from Badakhshan in the north to Helmand in the south—actively tackling issues such as women's rights, child rights and false imprisonment, as well reporting on concerns.

  137.  In addition to supporting the AIHRC and small Afghan NGOs, we are also working with the United Nations Development Programme and international partners to create a Human Rights Support Unit in the Afghan Ministry of Justice. This Unit will support and co-ordinate Afghan Government efforts to protect and promote human rights.



  138.  Statistics from 2001 show that Afghanistan was in a bleak economic position;[10] Afghanistan ranked 169 out of 174 countries in the UN Human Development Index (1996). This ranking is unlikely to have improved between 1996 and 2001. Life expectancy was only a little over 40 years, and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was estimated at $150-180—one of the poorest in the world. 60-80% of the population were estimated to live below a dollar a day[11] and the UNDP said in its report: "Afghanistan is worse off than almost any country in the world. The country's social and economic indicators are comparable, or lower than the indicators for sub-Saharan Africa". The formal banking system had totally collapsed and the opium sector was the only sector to flourish, with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimating that the industry was worth $91 million.

139.  By 2001-02 the estimate for licit GDP was $2.5 billion. Millions faced starvation, with the UN estimating that a third of the population needed food aid. Infrastructure had been severely damaged and traditional irrigation system had suffered from destruction and lack of maintenance. Agricultural production was limited, industry had ceased functioning and most skilled professionals had left the country. Even without official statistics, it is very clear that the economy, trade and the private sector were all in a dire state.

140.  There has been considerable progress made across most areas of the economy since 2001. However, even with this progress, Afghanistan remains poor and is still at the very early stages of its economic development. Making progress to a fully functioning economy is only achievable over the long term. Nevertheless there have been significant achievements:

    —  economic growth (excluding the opium sector) averaged 15% between 2002-07, taking licit GDP to an estimated $12.8 billion in 2008. GDP per capita, while still extremely low is significantly higher than 2001 at $290;[12]

    —  inflation has begun to stabilise in recent years—reaching as low as 5% in 2006, although this year's high global commodity prices saw an uptick in inflation once more;

    —  licit trade has increased dramatically with exports growing at double-digit levels, reaching over an estimated $2 billion this year;

    —  unemployment remains extremely high, but given the lack of statistics prior to 2001, it is difficult to compare the improvements that have been made; and

    —  opium, remains a driver of overall economic growth, but in 2008 is estimated to account for a smaller percentage of the economy than in earlier years.[13]

  141.  Progress has also been made on the economic policy side, including:

    —  the introduction of the new currency in 2002;

    —  the tax code was restructured and clarified in 2005; and

    —  customs tariffs have been rationalized, existing trade agreements have been renewed and new agreements entered into force.

  142.  The private sector, while still in its infancy is improving:

    —  the Telecoms sector is an example how real progress in a sector can be made, with rapid expansion and international investment;

    —  the financial sector has also seen significant improvements, with 15 banks now operating in Afghanistan. The central bank has been supportive of the financial sector, and just recently demonstrated decisive action in response to the global financial crisis; and

    —  on a smaller scale, microfinance has been a successful tool in Afghanistan, with the Microfinance Institutions issuing over £150 million worth of small loans to over 400,000 Afghans.

  143.  However, there clearly remains many obstacles to the private sector, not least infrastructure and corruption.

  144.  The UK's new Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility (AICF) is an independent private-public partnership (funded by donors and the private sector), that is led and run by the Afghan private sector. The Prime Minister pledged £30 million over the next three financial years to the AICF. It will be a proactive and responsive grant facility providing catalytic support to reduce barriers to doing business such as regulatory reform and cumbersome procedures. As a financier rather than an implementer, the AICF is designed as a fast acting, facilitating mechanism that will work strategically with existing initiatives and stakeholders to address key gaps in reforming priority areas of the investment climate.

  145.  The UK also supports the Afghanistan Investment Guarantee Facility, designed to help bridge the gap between investors' desires to tap business opportunities in the country and concerns about political risks. The facility, administered by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, aims to mitigate key risks for foreign investors by providing political risk guarantees (insurance) for their investments. The UK contributes £1 million to the facility.

  146.  The UK has been supporting the development of rural and alternative livelihoods, as part of wider economic development, and as part of the Afghan Government's counter-narcotics strategy. As part of this support, the UK spent over £33 million on improving opportunities for Afghan livelihoods in 2006-07 and expects to spend a similar amount this year. Activities include support to:

    —  the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) which has established over 18,000 Community Development Councils across Afghanistan to implement projects in some of the most remote and poorest communities; and

    —  the Micro Finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA) which helps Afghans set up and expand small businesses. MISFA has issued over £150 million worth of small loans to over 400,000 Afghans, to help Afghans running small businesses. Over 70% of MISFA's beneficiaries are women, amongst the poorest in Afghanistan.

  147.  The UK has also given £18 million over three years to the National Rural Access Programme, which has generated over 14.3 million days of labour. Around 9,700 km of rural roads have been built or repaired, as well as schools, health clinics and water schemes. The UK has also provided training and mentoring to help establish the Central Bank.

  148.  There are many challenges for the Afghan economy: infrastructure, while better, remains poor; human capacity is low; access to markets is often extremely difficult; trade arrangements with Pakistan and others are difficult; corruption is high; rule of law is to a low standard; and the population remains poor.

  149.  The ANDS, launched in June 2008, includes economic development as a key component. It is important that the UK and other international players ensure that economic development fits within the remit of the ANDS. The UK therefore supports the ANDS and designs economic development programmes to support and complement the plan. The UK will also use facilities such as the AICF to identify what barriers can be broken down to support the Afghan economy.

  150.  From the non-governmental side, the international community will play an increasingly important role. Trade has been a driver of growth in recent years and it will be important that regional economies have trade polices, regional networks, and domestic economic strength conducive to further expansion. Further afield, international investment in the mining industries may also play a role for stimulating the Afghan economy.

Millennium Development Goals

  151.  The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed at the United Nations in September 2000, and form a blueprint to reduce extreme poverty according to a series of time-bound targets with a deadline of 2015. In light of its recent history, the UN has granted Afghanistan the right to modify the international MDG framework. The baseline is taken as 2000, with a target date of 2020. The list of indicators has also been adapted, adding additional detail on security. But data remain poor and often unreliable.

152.  Despite these changes, Afghanistan is off-track for most of the MDG targets. Extreme poverty and hunger (MDG1) is worsening, with analysis suggesting an increase in relative poverty between 2007 and 2008 from 42% of the population to an estimated 52%, due to food prices. Progress has been made on achieving universal education (MDG2) and gender equality (MDG3), with 6 million children now enrolled in school, a third of which are girls, and 25% of parliament seats reserved for women. It is likely that child mortality (MDG4) has reduced—immunisation has certainly increased—but the under-five mortality rate of 191 per 1,000 live births is well above the target of 76.

  153.  Data is too weak to make accurate assessments of trends for MDG5 (on maternal health) and MDG6 (HIV/AIDS, malaria). Performance on environmental sustainability (MDG7) has been mixed, with access to water improving (now at 32% of the population) but access to sanitation facilities remaining low at 7%. On global aid partnerships too (MDG8) progress has been mixed, with aid increasingly untied and partnerships forming between donors, government and the private sector, but youth unemployment high and little progress on the trade system. The Afghanistan-specific target on security (MDG9) reflects good progress on reforms of the ANA, but the actual security situation remaining extremely challenging.

  154.  There are numerous reasons for this mixed progress. The vulnerability of the Afghan poor is extremely high given the nature of the security situation and both economic (rising food and fuel prices) and natural shocks (droughts). Inequalities based on social identity and geographical location are starkly evident and services are failing to reach both the poor and the non-poor. The challenge lies in cementing gains made, expanding coverage and quality of services and preventing reversals in progress.

  155.  The impact of prolonged conflict, poor government service delivery and the insurgency has been felt most acutely by women and the very young, as shown by health and education indicators. In the 2004-05 national elections only 32% of voters registered were women. Both the formal and informal justice systems are biased against women, and access is extremely limited. Yet according to a December 2008 study from the RAND corporation, perceptions of "security" among Afghans are closely linked to equity of access to basic services, and so increased inclusion of women within development and governance initiatives can be an important stabilising influence.

  156.  Starting from a low service delivery base in 2001, achievements particularly in setting up health and education services have been impressive. Almost 85% of districts have access to primary health care. But the scale of the challenge requires long-term investments to improve access and quality of coverage across the country. An estimated 11 million Afghans are illiterate, and there is a critical shortage of basic as well as higher level skills in the population. The gross enrolment rate in tertiary education is 1%, the lowest by far of any country in the region.

  157.  The social and economic development pillar of the ANDS in particular targets achievement of the MDGs: education, health, agriculture, irrigation and infrastructure growth comprise 62% of the ANDS budgetary allocation. The international community committed $21 billion in support of the ANDS.

  158.  The ANDS estimates that a projected $50.3 billion will be required to address Afghanistan's reconstruction and development needs in the period to 2012-13. The UK is the second largest bilateral contributor to the portion of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) (an internationally managed fund created in 2002 to support the Afghan Government's running costs and investment needs) which covers the Afghan Government's recurrent spending—financing most of its service delivery functions. We have pledged to deliver at least 50% of our total aid to Afghanistan through government channels over the next four years, ensuring it has the maximum opportunity to ensure Afghan ownership of the prioritisation process; and to enhance the co-ordination of donor funding.


  159.  In the immediate post-conflict period, Afghanistan's health services were in a deplorable state. Availability and quality of health services were highly variable across provinces and between urban and rural areas. Only 5% of women had access to antenatal care in 2001; in 2002, only 9% of people lived in a district with access to a basic healthcare package; and the under-five mortality rate in 2003 was 257 per 1,000 live births. Major constraints included a lack of managerial and service delivery capacity within the Ministry of Public Health; a lack of physical infrastructure and qualified personnel; poor distribution of financial and human resources; and, uncoordinated and undirected efforts of the NGOs.

160.  In response, the Ministry of Public Health and the major donors developed in early 2002 a new Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS). Independent evaluations show that the Ministry of Public Health has made considerable progress in making the BPHS accessible to most Afghans. By 2006, 82% of districts had access to the BPHS. 30% of women in rural areas now have access to skilled antenatal care, and the under-5 mortality rate has declined from 257 to 191 per 1,000 live births.

  161.  In Helmand, the UK-led PRT has included the re-establishment of basic health care across the province as a key area within their stabilisation planning and delivery activities. Over the last year the PRT has helped the Helmand Provincial Director of Health to plan and implement a Health Support Programme throughout the Province. This included helping restore basic health clinics in the districts of Musa Qaleh, Gereshk, Sangin and Garmsir, as well as renovating the main referral hospital in Lashkar Gah.

  162.  Progress has been made, but there is still a need for long term investment in the government's ability to deliver and regulate universal health service delivery. Despite the improvements noted above, maternal and infant mortality remain amongst the highest in the world. Variations are wide: in rural areas only 19% of births are attended by skilled health staff. Geographical and security reasons for not seeking care are significant, but there are additional problems related to people's willingness and ability to seek appropriate services, including the availability of other sources of treatment such as private providers or traditional healers in the marketplace. Gender discrimination in access to services as well as physical distance also restricts access—only a quarter of women use health facilities even when they are close by.

  163.  The international community will remain central to supporting the Afghan Government's efforts to address these challenges. The US Agency for International Development, the European Commission, the World Bank and the UN are the major donors involved: between them, donors fund almost 70% of the health budget. The UK will continue to deliver a programme to meet immediate health needs in Helmand. Nationally, the extensive range of well-funded donors acting in this field leads us to assess that our efforts are best spent lobbying others to co-ordinate their support, while we focus on issues of particular need and UK expertise in economic growth and employment generation rather than social sectors.

  164.  Severe food shortages in Afghanistan, resulting from rapidly rising global food prices and a poor harvest due to drought, have left at least 4.5 million Afghans dependent upon humanitarian assistance. A UN/Afghan Government appeal was launched in July 2008 to avert a crisis but has faced a shortage of international funding.

  165.  The UK has been swift in responding to the Afghan food crisis (caused by drought and high global food prices), committing £8 million to the food security component of the UN/Afghan Government's July 2008 appeal. This funding is in addition to the £5.5million committed to the agricultural recovery component of the appeal, and the £3 million given to the World Food Programme's January 2008 appeal. We have also provided £4 million in humanitarian assistance to the International Committee of the Red Cross—making our total contribution to alleviating the current humanitarian situation £20.5 million. The UK will continue to encourage the international community to commit greater support to the UN/Afghan Government appeal in the coming months.


  166.  In 2001, only a million Afghan children were enrolled in school. None were girls. A "Back to School" campaign beginning in 2002 resulted in more than 4.3 million children enrolling in grades 1-12, and a total of 6 million children are now enrolled in school, 35% of whom are girls. The Ministry of Education has developed a comprehensive National Strategic Action Plan for 2008-13, which is included within the overall ANDS. The Asia Foundation's 2008 survey of the Afghan people found that 70% of respondents believed the availability of children's education to be good, and 44% thought that access to schools had improved over the last two years.

167.  The UK provides significant funding to the education sector through the ARTF. Roughly one-third of our £240 million contribution over the last six years has been used to support education, mainly in the form of teachers' salaries. In Helmand, Danish colleagues in the PRT lead the implementation of a programme of immediate stabilisation in the education sector.

  168.  But challenges remain. About half the school-age population is still out of school, with significant gender and provincial disparities. In both rural and urban contexts, working children may be their household's primary income earners, especially in cases where a father is unemployed. Enrolment in urban areas is considerably higher than in rural districts, and in many urban areas there is almost a one-to-one ratio of girls and boys attending primary school. However, in southern provinces, more than 60% of the school age children are not in school. Overall only 10% of women compared to 37% of men report being literate.

  169.  The UK will continue to support the Afghan Government's development priorities. We expect that a significant portion of that support will continue to be used for teachers' salaries, and we will maintain a programme addressing teacher recruitment and management issues to ensure this has greatest impact.

Public Financial Management systems

  170.  The recent (January 2008) Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability assessment of Afghanistan shows significant improvement within Afghan public financial management (PFM) systems since the last assessment of December 2005. Afghanistan's ratings are better than the average for other low income countries and in some areas (like policy based budgeting) better than the average for middle income countries. Out of total 28 performance indicators, 17 indicators improved and four indicators deteriorated, while seven indicators remained unchanged. Among three donor practice indicators, two indicators deteriorated and one indicator remained unchanged.

171.  Key PFM improvements include:

    —  Legal Framework: Legal reforms have passed with several key legislation (ie the public finance and expenditure law—2005, income tax law—2005 and the procurement law—2005) which provide strong legal foundations for PFM;

    —  Technical Expertise: PFM technical expertise within the Ministry of Finance is good and improving in several areas. However, a lot of the expertise is being supported through donor salary support schemes resulting in concerns about long-term sustainability;

    —  Budget Credibility: Credibility (especially on the operating budget) is improving due to relatively stable flows from domestic revenues and donors. However, the gap between budget and realization (ie the implementation gap) remains significant in the development budget;

    —  Budget Comprehensiveness: Budget comprehensiveness has improved but reporting and fiscal transparency needs to be strengthened. The Ministry of Finance needs to improve fiscal oversight over relations between the two official tiers of Government;

    —  Budget Process: Budgeting process is well based on multi-year fiscal planning and detailed at the level of ministries but there is still relatively little strategic prioritisation of public resources by Cabinet early in the budgeting process; and

    —  Donors: Donors' practices for budget support are almost best practice as the support is well communicated and disbursements are in line with forecast.

  172.  However, these improvements must be viewed within the context of poor scores in other areas (eg audit/accounting). As a result the UK continues to work to further strengthen PFM and improve accountability.

  173.  UK activity on public spending reform involves the provision of direct support to the Afghan Government's budget via the ARTF and the provision of technical assistance to the Revenue and Budget departments in the Ministry of Finance. The UK will also provide a £9.8 million programme over three years (November 2007 to November 2010) in technical assistance on public financial management/budgeting reform in key line ministries such as finance, health and education. This project is helping to improve the Government's ability to effectively spend resources by improving the execution of the development budget. The UK will also provide £11.5 million project over three years (2008-11), designed to support effective domestic revenue mobilisation and Afghan Government tax reforms.

  174.  The UK will continue to work closely with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund country teams in assessing the health of Afghanistan's PFM system. We will also work closely with other bi-lateral partners to ensure effective co-ordination between technical assistance/capacity building project in key line ministries in Kabul and in the provinces.


  175.  The threat from drugs to Afghanistan ranks alongside the threat from corruption and the threat to security from the Taleban. There are no quick or simple ways of dealing with it. Progress on tackling opium cultivation is decidedly mixed. The many successes have been tempered by the overall increase—nearly doubling—of cultivation and its increasing concentration in five contiguous provinces in southern Afghanistan. Helmand is, and is likely to remain, the main cultivating province.

176.  We should be wary of grasping for "silver bullets"—solutions which risk diverting attention away from our main effort. Achievement of a sustainable reduction in the production and trade requires effort over a number of years. Experience in other countries has shown this. In Thailand, huge public investment and market-led growth almost eliminated the problem, but this took 25 years. Significant reductions in Pakistan were also seen over 21 years. In both countries, comprehensive long-term development was accompanied by targeted law enforcement activity and development of government institutions (including in law enforcement). Cultivation figures actually rose before sustainable reductions were seen.

Cultivation Levels

  177.  In 2001, the UNODC estimated that opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan stood at 8,000 hectares. However, 2001 was an abnormal year, because the Taleban had enforced a ban on poppy cultivation in 2000. Cultivation stood at 82,000 hectares in 2000 and climbed again to 74,000 hectares in 2002.

178.  While the ban on cultivation was in force the Taleban did little to suggest that they were out to restrain the drugs trade. For example they took little action to destroy heroin laboratories or to inhibit the traffic in drugs. The ban was implemented for many reasons. It is now believed that it was primarily an attempt at a propaganda victory and an effort to attract international development aid. At the same time it had the effect of pushing up the price of opium from $100 per kg to $500 per kg. This significantly benefited traffickers (and it is thought some members of the Taleban) who held stockpiles of opium. The increased prices of opium increased the incentives in following years to grow opium poppy. In parallel the security situation worsened, which reduced access to licit markets. The Taleban implemented the ban through a combination of negotiation with influential tribes, promises of (unlikely) development aid, bribery and intimidation.

  179.  Opium poppy production saw a dramatic increase in 2004 and with the exception of 2005, when it fell due to a depression in price, has risen every year since, to 2007.

  180.  In 2008 there was a 19% reduction in cultivation to 157,000 hectares, with an increase in the number of poppy-free provinces from six in 2006 to 18 in 2008—over half of the country's 34 provinces. This includes some of the larger producing provinces with long histories of poppy cultivation. Badakshan's cultivation dropped by 98% between 2004 and 2008. Nangarhar, which in 2004 accounted for 22% of Afghanistan's poppy crop moved to poppy-free status in 2008. Balkh—another province with a high dependence on poppy cultivation in recent years—is also now reported to be poppy-free.

  181.  A key factor which helped reduce poppy cultivation in 2008 has been a nascent but growing recognition by the Afghan authorities of the value of a concerted approach to counter-narcotics, linking information campaigns, alternative livelihoods and enforcement activities. Rising wheat prices combined with a significant drop in the price of raw opium has been important in influencing poppy farmers to switch from opium to wheat cultivation. This is a situation which we are keen to exploit.


  182.  Helmand is the chief opium poppy-growing area of Afghanistan. Typically Helmand has produced between 30% and 50% of Afghan opium since the 1990s (with the exception of 2001, when there was no cultivation). It is likely to remain the main cultivating province for the foreseeable future. In opposition to the national picture, poppy cultivation in Helmand rose in 2008 to 103,590 hectares—66% of all such cultivation in Afghanistan.

183.  A significant forward step in 2008 was the launch of Governor Mangal's counter-narcotics plan for Helmand (the Helmand Plan), under which 32,000 households in Helmand—in five food zones across the province—have benefited from the distribution of free wheat seed. This distribution has been supported by an information campaign which has sought to persuade Helmandis of their responsibility not to grow poppy and instead to feed their families and community at a time of growing food insecurity.

  184.  Governor Mangal has held a series of Shuras (local discussions/community meetings), with supporting TV/radio and print media messages, to promote the distribution of wheat seed, warning Helmandis of the dangers of poppy cultivation, that it is un-Islamic and informing them of the risk of eradication if they do cultivate poppy. There have been reports of some villages being willing to challenge Taleban intimidation not to accept the wheat seed—an indication of the success of the information campaign. Conversely, there have been reports of the Taleban intimidating recipients of wheat seed in an effort to encourage them to revert to poppy. Early signs are that the Helmand Plan is making good headway (wheat seed distribution has been completed), albeit within a challenging security environment. Exactly how successful the wheat distribution strategy has been will be seen in early 2009. Areas within the food zones where opium poppy is still being grown will be targeted for eradication by both the Governor and the Afghan Poppy Eradication Force.

  185.  Achieving a sustainable reduction in poppy cultivation in Helmand will remain a challenge until farmers have a predictable security environment, as well as access to markets, irrigation, agricultural support and alternative long-term employment. External factors in decision-making include the relative prices of opium and of licit crops. The concentration of narcotics cultivation and production in Helmand and other southern provinces in Afghanistan demonstrates the need for greater action in tackling insecurity and weak governance—conditions which allow the trade to flourish.

  186.  For the province-by-province approach to tackling narcotics production in Afghanistan to work, we are encouraging other provinces/Governors to look to the Helmand Plan as an example for what can be achieved. The Helmand Plan includes some economic measures to help farmers transition away from poppy cultivation by integrating support for crops and access to markets. It also ensures the process is Governor-led and co-ordinated with other international donors. But it will be important that we go on to develop a more sophisticated approach in Helmand and other provinces, since an over-emphasis on wheat (one that encourages mono-cropping) as the appropriate crop substitution would threaten the sustainability of the emerging market in wheat and create an over-dependency on buoyant wheat prices. Diversity will be key. Development of plans for other provinces modelled on the Helmand Plan will need to be done in such a way as to ensure that the agricultural alternatives from poppy are sustainable.

Drugs and the Insurgency

  187.  The links between the Taleban and the drugs trade have been a long-standing arrangement of mutual convenience. The Taleban took income from the drugs trade and the drugs trade thrived in a relatively protected environment. These links were formed through tribal loyalties, business connections and personal relationships.

188.  There is now increasing evidence of a consolidating link between the drugs trade and the insurgency in the south and, to a degree, in the east of Afghanistan. The narco-barons and the insurgents share a common interest in resisting the authority of the Afghan Government and of international forces. The UN estimated that in 2008 the insurgents (along with corrupt elements) exacted $100 million of taxes from the drugs smugglers, which was, in effect, protection money. There is growing evidence of weapons caches and heroin laboratories being co-located and the same routes and vehicles are often used to transport drugs and weapons. In an ISAF-supported operation in the Nawa area in southern Helmand in December 2008, 400kg of opium were seized along with a sizeable haul of weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds, small arms and components for improvised explosive devices.

  189.  The UK has been at the forefront of efforts within NATO in pressing for ISAF to target more effectively the nexus between illicit narcotics and the insurgency. We welcomed the decision by NATO Defence Ministers at Budapest in October 2008 to direct ISAF to take action, in concert with Afghan security forces, on counter-narcotics, subject to agreement by governments of the forces concerned. The decision enables the UK to support the Afghan security forces in targeting those elements of the insurgency where there is a clear link to the illegal drugs trade. It is now important to ensure that ISAF has a positive effect in supporting Afghan work to tackle the narcotics-insurgency nexus.

  190.  UK action will focus efforts on targeting risk against narco-barons at the top end of the trade, both to dismantle the power base of corrupt officials and to reduce funding streams available to the Taleban. UK forces in ISAF will continue to target elements of the insurgency where there is a clear link to the illegal drugs trade, in support of Afghan-led operations and within the legal parameters as set out in the NATO Operational Plan. There will be a challenge to move NATO partners—some of whom are reluctant to commit their troops on any counter-narcotics operations—closer to our own position, so that more ISAF forces can be deployed on such operations. Over the longer term, the need to build up Afghan-led interdiction and disruption operations remain important, together with the (US-led) expansion and training of the ANA.

UK Efforts

  191.  The UK is G8 Partner Nation for Afghanistan on counter-narcotics. We are in effect therefore responsible for leading the international effort to engage in tackling illicit narcotics in Afghanistan, in particular in lobbying for support. To this end we have regular dialogue with key members of the international community, especially the US.

192.  The UK and the international community at large supports the Afghan Government's National Drug Control Strategy (ANDCS)—which we helped establish in May 2003. Our own immediate goal is to achieve a drugs trade divided from the insurgency and prevented from undermining security, governance and the economy to the point where the Afghan Government can take responsibility for its own counter-narcotics effort. Our purpose is to ensure that arrangements are in place to provide economic incentives for farmers to move away from poppy while ensuring that the Afghan Government has the capability to create a credible risk to the drugs trade. The emphasis is on maintaining an Afghan lead. UK activity is therefore concentrated on:

    —  targeting the top end of the drugs trade (influential narco-barons), especially those supporting the insurgency;

    —  maximising Governor outreach and access to markets for farmers in Helmand; and

    —  building effective institutional and international development arrangements to sustain and expand poppy-free provinces.

  193.  From 2004 to 2008 the UK has spent nearly £160 million on our counter-narcotics programme in Afghanistan. This directly supports the implementation of the NDCS.

  194.  The UK has also supported the institutional infrastructure which supports that strategy. The Ministry of Counter-Narcotics was established in December 2004 and supported by a UK £12.5 million capacity building programme. The ANP was established in April 2002, the Counter-Narcotics Police (CNPA) in early 2003, the Afghan Special Narcotics Force (ASNF) at the end of 2003, the Poppy Eradication Force at end 2004/beginning 2005, the Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) and the Counter-Narcotics Tribunal (CNT) in May 2005, and the Afghan Government's Anti-Corruption Commission in September 2008. The CNPA, the CJTF and the CNT have all received UK support. The ASNF is UK mentored and latterly has been scoring significant successes against the narco-barons—for instance seizing 238 tonnes of cannabis in June 2008.

  195.  A particular challenge will be to mainstream counter-narcotics into broader Afghan Government business at national and local levels. To this end, the UK is looking to widen our capacity-building programme beyond the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics to other government ministries to address capacity across the Afghan Government. We shall also be seeking to help develop ministerial budgets to a level of robustness which will allow counter-narcotics budget streams to sit within them (rather than as now as aid assistance outside official budgets), and urging the case for responsibility for local management of counter-narcotics policies to be cascade to the local government level. For these policies to succeed, more work will need to be done on extending the authority of the national government.

Poppy Eradication Policy

  196.  Poppy eradication policy and implementation is the responsibility of the Afghan Government, as set out in the NDCS. This makes clear that the policy on eradication is that it should be ground-based and targeted towards farmers who have access to alternative licit livelihoods. The UK does not eradicate, but we do provide support for the planning and targeting work of the provincial Governors and Afghan Poppy Eradication Force. The UK, with the US, funds a cost-recovery scheme which reimburses Governors $135 for every hectare of eradication they undertake. We also engage with the UNODC at a technical level on the monitoring of eradication and overall cultivation of poppy. But it is important to recognise that while eradication is a significant deterrent and can play a catalytic role in influencing farmers to give up opium poppy cultivation it could not solve this problem on its own. Eradication needs to be balanced with measures to interdict drugs, build institutions, bring criminals to justice, and encourage development of rural communities to provide alternatives for poppy farmers.

197.  In 2007 DFID co-sponsored with the World Bank a report which outlined measures necessary to reduce poppy cultivation: "Afghanistan Economic Incentives and Development Initiatives to Reduce Opium Production". These included large-scale irrigation and infrastructure programmes, provision of higher-value horticulture and livestock opportunities, the scaling-up of micro-finance, and support for the development of small and medium enterprises. These incentives, combined with agricultural inputs to tackle food insecurity, need to be rolled out across poppy-free provinces with development ministries and Governors from 2008-09 in order to sustain progress.

  198.  The UK has already promoted community outreach and infrastructure development to help support farmers and improve market linkages: over 21,900 Community Development Councils have been established, disbursing over £248 million in grants; over 9,790 km of roads have been rehabilitated; and over £227 million in micro-finance loans has been disbursed to 443,740 Afghans. We are now taking forward the recommendations of the DFID/World Bank report by working with the Afghan Government on a new programme—the Sustainable Reduction in Poppy Programme—to support growth in the legal economy. Though supported by the UK this will be under Afghan leadership. With financial support from donors, the programme aims to provide rapid delivery of development assistance to the legal economy and communities—particularly the agricultural economy. It will be formulated on a district-based approach, focusing on those districts with significant economic potential, to cement the switch away from opium in the long term. The UK expects to spend £35 million in promoting licit livelihoods in 2008.

  199.  A powerful incentive for Governors to move their provinces towards poppy reduction and ultimately poppy-free status has been the Good Performers Initiative (GPI). This was established by the Afghan Government in 2007, funded by the UK and US, to empower provincial leaders to address local needs and reward action on opium production in a timely fashion. It is a quick-results initiative operating at local community level, offering high-impact development assistance directly to villages and communities leading the fight against poppy cultivation. Initially, the GPI only rewarded poppy-free provinces, but it has now been expanded to offer rewards to provinces which make significant progress in decreasing cultivation levels. Under it, the Afghan Government plans to award over $39 million for GPI projects in 2008, with award money reaching 29 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. UK funding for the GPI has amounted to an estimated £6.8 million since 2007.

The Future Challenges

  200.  The growing number of poppy-free provinces and the emergence of stronger Afghan counter-narcotics institutions demonstrate the value of a multi-pronged approach to counter-narcotics. But this success is fragile, and sustaining it represents the chief challenge. Insufficient high-level political commitment in Afghanistan to counter-narcotics continues to present a problem, as does weak capacity in central government and in the provinces. Success could also be undermined by external shocks such as a worsening drought leading to food insecurity; a deteriorating security situation impeding progress on the ground; unrealistic expectations by Afghans or international actors about how quickly development can occur in a post-conflict environment; and any further deepening of the relationship between the drugs trade and the insurgency. Engagement on Afghan counter-narcotics is a long-term endeavour, which will require a regional approach, particularly with Pakistan.


Regional Organisations

  201.  The productive engagement of Afghanistan's neighbours, all of whom have an interest in a secure Afghanistan, will be crucial to ensuring the country's long-term stability. In 2001 the main mechanism for bringing a regional perspective to policy on Afghanistan was the 6+2 mechanism (Afghanistan's six neighbours—Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China—and the US and Russia), which excluded Afghanistan, as it was then still ruled by the Taleban. International refusal to engage with the Taleban regime (aside from the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) limited the capacity of regional organisations to engage on Afghanistan.

202.  Since 2001 there has been a proliferation of mechanisms aimed at harnessing regional determination to help tackle Afghanistan's problems, which clearly impact also on its neighbours and the broader region. In addition to fora specifically created to focus on Afghanistan (which include the Good Neighbourly Relations Declaration (GNRD), with a focus on counter-narcotics and the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference (RECC) focussed on regional economic integration), there are also existing fora which have accepted Afghanistan as a member and are useful in providing political support and international solidarity to Afghanistan. These include the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO),[14] to which Afghanistan is an observer state.

203.  The UK has played an active role in advocating a regional approach to Afghanistan's challenges, and the Prime Minister underlined this point in his 12 December 2007 statement to Parliament. We believe that Afghanistan's main challenges, including extremism, terrorism, economic development and narcotics, are challenges that can only be tackled effectively on a regional basis. The UK was instrumental in setting up the RECC, with the first meeting in Kabul in 2005 co-chaired by the UK and Afghanistan. However, it is key that progress is driven by Afghanistan and its regional partners, to ensure long-term ownership and sustainability.

  204.  Afghanistan continues to build good relations with its regional partners. They, in turn, co-operate actively with Afghanistan in a range of areas (with Chinese investment, Iranian development assistance, Indian capacity building and road building, Central Asian co-operation on energy infrastructure projects and Pakistani partnership on security challenges, all being examples of existing co-operation). However, there is a lot of scope to do more, in particular on operationalising decisions and broadening the scope of bilateral co-operation between Afghanistan and each neighbour so that they become truly regional approaches.

  205.  The UK continues to work hard to encourage Afghanistan and its regional partners to prioritise joint work. We encourage them to build on the good dynamics they have established with agreement to concrete deliverables. A structured approach to regional issues that brings in key decision makers from government and uses their authority to deliver real progress driven by the region itself is key. This was the focus of a meeting chaired by France with Afghanistan, its neighbours and other key partners on 14 December 2008. We welcome the offer from the European Commission to chair an expert level group to feed into the forthcoming RECC meeting in spring 2009. This is an important step forward in operationalising good relations so that they deliver concrete progress.

  206.  The international community can provide resources and expertise to Afghanistan and its regional partners as they work on shared challenges. Many are already engaged on the regional dimension; G8 partners like Canada, the US and Germany are supporting work on Af-Pak issues, the World Bank is playing a key role in getting energy infrastructure projects delivered, bringing in Afghanistan, Central Asian states, Pakistan and India and with non-governmental bodies like the Aga Khan Foundation are playing an important role in building relations between communities in Afghanistan and those across the border in neighbouring countries.


  207.  Pakistan was the only country which still recognised the Taleban as the legal government of Afghanistan when allied operations began in October 2001, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates having cut ties within weeks of the September 11th attacks. Pakistan provided aid to the Taleban government, and its military and intelligence services provided materiel and logistical support to their Taleban counterparts. Pakistan recognised the transitional government led by Hamid Karzai in December 2001 and the two have maintained diplomatic relations since. Pakistan is Afghanistan's largest (and a growing) trading partner. Relations between the two countries have peaked and troughed in the intervening period.

208.  Both sides' public statements have reflected strained relations during times of crisis. Pakistan and Afghanistan both acknowledge that they share a common enemy of terrorism, and that cooperation will help them counter this more effectively. Pakistan has undertaken military operations in its northwest to deny terrorists safe havens. Pakistani and Afghan politicians and officials now undertake regular discussions bilaterally and as part of wider regional mechanisms, on subjects ranging from counter-terrorism to counter-narcotics and economic growth. In late 2008, both countries' Presidents publicly declared their desire to work together and to defeat terrorism jointly. This was the most emphatic statement of co-operation since before the fall of the Taleban.

  209.  The UK, through its regular bilateral and multilateral discussions, has encouraged both the Afghan and Pakistani Governments to strengthen their bilateral dialogue. We have given financial and logistical support to the Afghan Government to achieve this, and have advised and supported both countries on how to tackle religious extremism, which fuels terrorism in both countries. However, the bilateral relationship, without further broadening, remains susceptible to internal and external shocks. Domestic or regional political pressures may also distract both countries' leaders from pursuing improved bilateral relations. Deteriorating security in either Afghanistan or Pakistan could pose a threat to the other's stability. The Pakistani government and military continue to need reassurance that the international community will remain engaged on Afghanistan in the long term. Increasing civilian control over the Pakistani armed forces remains another major challenge.

  210.  Politically, broadening the Afghan-Pakistani bilateral relationship beyond high-level informal talks is the main task. Addressing both countries' wider concerns with a co-ordinated approach to shared challenges will make the relationship better able to withstand short-term shocks. Counter-radicalisation, counter-insurgency and strategic communications policies need to be co-ordinated as far as possible, taking into account the views of cross-border ethnic groups. A co-ordinated approach to security should go hand-in-hand with cooperation on development initiatives, including cross-border trade. Increased technical cooperation between the two countries' armed forces, police and border management services is also vital.


  211.  Iran had extremely poor relations with the Taleban, exacerbated by the execution of eight Iranian diplomats and one Iranian state news agency correspondent in 1998. Since 2001 Iran has improved its relations with the Government of Afghanistan, consistently and publicly backing President Karzai. Bilateral trade has increased and Iran's development and humanitarian activity in western Afghanistan has also grown. We believe Iran spent $390 million in Afghanistan in 2007. However, there is a significant Afghan refugee problem in Iran. Conditions for Afghan refugees, especially for the majority who are unregistered, have significantly worsened following recent changes to Iranian law. This, in addition to the increased number of returnees, has caused some tension between Iran and Afghanistan.

212.  Creating a structured dialogue with Iran, over a range of issues, is one way we have to influence internal Iranian debate on their involvement in Afghanistan. Though Iran has often been a constructive partner of Afghanistan, their links to the Taleban either through supply of munitions, training or funding remain a concern. The UK has consistently argued that this is completely unacceptable and undercuts the Iranian policy of support for the Government of President Karzai. We have registered our concerns with a number of senior Iranian Ministers and officials, and continue to monitor the situation.

  213.  The UK has sought to develop a regular dialogue on Afghanistan with Iran emphasising the importance of our shared objectives, and challenging unacceptable behaviour. The UK hopes that Iran will agree to further discussion, focussed in particular on the impact of narcotics, which are a serious problem in Iran. Engagement with Iran on the need for it to prioritise the positive aspects of its engagement in Afghanistan will be most effective if it is part of a concerted international effort.


  214.  China's relations with Afghanistan were very limited in 2001. Having established diplomatic relations in 1955, China withdrew its representation in 1993 with the intensification of the civil war, only re-establishing contacts in December 2001.

215.  From 2001, China and Afghanistan started to deepen their relationship, with Chinese investment substantially increasing following the Afghan Government's opening of its energy, mineral and raw materials sectors to foreign investors. China has become one of Afghanistan's largest trading partners, with a bilateral trade volume of $700 million in the year to October 2008. However, this was almost exclusively one-way (primarily export of construction materials from China to Afghanistan). We believe that China has provided around $300 million official development assistance to Afghanistan over the last seven years.

  216.  The Chinese are investing heavily in mining ($3.5 billion in Aynac copper mine in May 2008) and associated infrastructure, including roads (mostly around Jalalabad) and rail links between Tajikistan and Pakistan. They fund 35 post-graduate scholarships annually, and have trained 350 civil servants in China on short courses in 2008. We believe that China has dispersed $62.3 million in aid, during the period January 2002 to March 2008 and has just signed an agreement for a further $11 million in December 2008. The UK has encouraged China to increase the breadth of its contribution in Afghanistan. We will pursue further dialogue on Afghanistan (and regional security, including Pakistan) in 2009.

  217.  The key challenges are to ensure China's large programme of investment in Afghanistan will provide stable long-term economic growth for the Afghan people and to encourage China to become more involved in the international development effort in Afghanistan. There are legitimate concerns about Chinese investments, given the fiscal clout of Chinese companies, many state-owned, which distorts the market, as well as their lack of corporate governance and responsibility. But the investments will also generate employment, infrastructure, and enhanced revenues for the State, which in turn should help the State maintain control over the country.

  218.  China also has a deep (although not broad) relationship with Pakistan and has three priorities in that country: economic recovery, stability and support for combating terrorism. On the latter, China is increasingly worried about domestic terrorism (in Xinjiang in particular) with links to Pakistan.

  219.  The UK will seek to work with China to ensure that its engagement with Afghanistan is co-ordinated with the broader international community's assistance and that China's positive role in Afghanistan's economic development is recognised and used to optimal effect. We recognise that China has a strong preference to pursue its interests in Afghanistan through its bilateral relationship with the Afghan Government and is only likely to become more involved in international efforts if asked to do this by Afghanistan. Any discussions on working with China will therefore need the full support and involvement of Afghan partners.

  220.  The UK will also share with China our analysis of the main challenges in Afghanistan (terrorism, narcotics and reconstruction) and how these impact on the entire global community—including China. China has the potential to be a key actor in the international effort in Afghanistan. We hope that other countries active in Afghanistan will also engage with China to encourage its deeper involvement in Afghanistan's development and economic future.

Saudi Arabia

  221.  Saudi Arabia was one of the few countries that recognised the Taleban. But following September 11th it severed ties with the Taleban regime. Since the fall of the Taleban, the Saudi Government has contributed around $200 million in humanitarian assistance to the democratically elected Government of Afghanistan. Recently they have facilitated attempts to initiate dialogue between the Taleban and the Government of Afghanistan.

222.  The UK has actively lobbied the Saudi Government to secure more funding and has been supportive of Saudi reconciliation efforts. But we hope that more development assistance can be provided. Saudi Arabia has only pledged around $200 million in aid for Afghanistan since 2001.


  223.  India cut off relations with Afghanistan during the Taleban era, and supported anti-Taleban groups during their overthrow. India has now become the largest regional donor to Afghanistan. India has pledged or disbursed around $1 billion of direct aid since 2001, with its aid concentrated on road construction and capacity building for Afghan civil servants. It has maintained this assistance despite the killing of Indian construction workers and the bombing of its Embassy in Kabul in July 2008. Trade between Afghanistan and India has also risen significantly. However, India's engagement with Afghanistan causes friction between India and Pakistan. Improving the India-Pakistan relationship is an essential part of getting full regional buy-in to supporting Afghanistan.

224.  The UK's lobbying of regional players since 2001 has included substantial contact with Indian ministers and senior officials. Regular consultation with both India and Pakistan on regional issues will remain a key part of our policy on Afghanistan. We will continue to emphasise the need for continued responsible engagement by India. This message will be better received if it is delivered in concert with other major global players in Afghanistan, such as the US and EU. We will continue to co-ordinate closely on regional issues with these partners.


  225.  Russia's relations with the Taleban regime were poor, due to its support for jihadists who fought alongside Chechen rebels. Distrust of the Taleban continues to influence heavily the Russian approach to Afghanistan's development.

226.  Given the Soviet Union's bitter experiences in Afghanistan during the 1980s, the Russians are wary of involving themselves too closely in the current international effort. However, Russia also recognises that a stable Afghanistan is important to ensuring the stability of Central Asia and its south-eastern flank, and in addressing the considerable flow of narcotics north.

  227.  Russia has expressed an interest in making a limited contribution to security sector reform, signing a defence co-operation agreement with the Government of Afghanistan in March 2008, and training some Afghans in counter-narcotics techniques at its Domodedovo centre near Moscow. The Government of Afghanistan has not yet taken up more recent Russian offers of bilateral assistance, including further police training at Domodedovo. Russia has also put Afghanistan high up the agenda during their current chairmanship of the SCO, but it remains unclear what sort of role the SCO hopes to play.

  228.  The UK and Russia share the same objective, broadly speaking, of a secure and viable Afghanistan. The UK regularly discusses Afghanistan with Russia. We will continue to work with Russia in a range of fora, most notably the NATO-Russia Council and the UN in New York, to explore how we can ensure that this shared perspective can best be leveraged to provide further support to the Afghan Government. We will continue to try to expand on existing Russian co-operation and to ensure that periodic tensions on broader foreign policy issues do not inhibit co-operation on Afghanistan's development. Co-ordinated and sustained engagement by the international community with Russia will be the most effective way to maintain a constructive approach to Afghanistan.

Central Asian Republics

  229.  The Central Asian republics bordering Afghanistan (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) were very suspicious of the Taleban regime. Uzbekistan was the most vocal of the three, though all were concerned about the spread of militant Islam and narcotics across their southern borders.

230.  Initial Uzbek support for OEF soured following US protest at the Andijan massacre in 2005. President Karimov then expelled US forces based at the Karshi-Kanabad airbase. However, Uzbekistan has recently sought to play a role in the development of Afghanistan. Despite this renewed interest, the Uzbeks are yet to recognise the central role the Afghan Government must play in any lasting solution. They are currently proposing a regional forum on Afghanistan which does not include Afghanistan. The UK has welcomed renewed Uzbek interest in Afghanistan, encouraging them to work more closely with the Afghan Government and the rest of the international community.

  231.  Both Tajikistan and Turkmenistan maintain logistical support for ISAF operations, and are seeking to improve their border security and counter-narcotics programmes. The US has operated an air base in Kyrgyzstan since 2001 supporting the ISAF operation. The UK continues to encourage Tajik and Turkmen security and development programmes which assist Afghanistan.

  232.  We will continue our dialogue and encourage further engagement by the Central Asian republics through existing international fora, emphasising the importance of a regional approach to economic, development and security issues. The main challenge will be to ensure that they deliver their assistance in a way that works long-term to support Afghanistan's development, focussing on water management, energy, trade, transit and counter-narcotics issues. A more developed regional approach will need support from the wider international community in order to be fully effective.



  233.  Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, the US has been at the forefront of the international community's efforts in Afghanistan. The UK has resolutely supported the US response in Afghanistan, including our strong participation in OEF and ISAF. In his address to Congress on 20 September 2001, President Bush recognised UK support, saying "America has no truer friend than Great Britain" and we have maintained this close relationship both bilaterally and in Afghanistan ever since.

234.  The US is the largest single contributor of troops to both ISAF and OEF, with around 20,000 troops currently deployed. It is also the largest contributor of bilateral aid, committing in excess of $20 billion in reconstruction aid and pledging more than $10 billion over the next two years. The US is the G8 lead nation on the training of the ANA and this is managed by the CSTC-A. US General David D McKiernan is also the current commander of ISAF, and in September 2008 the US streamlined their command structures by appointing General McKiernan as Commander of US Forces Afghanistan, giving him oversight of both the US ISAF contingent and the majority of their other forces in Afghanistan, including CSTC-A. As a result, General McKiernan reports both to NATO and to the US Central Command (CENTCOM), which is commanded by General David Petreaus.

235.  President-elect Obama has already reaffirmed America's commitment to Afghanistan, and has pledged to increase military and non-military US resources devoted to Afghanistan.

United Nations

  236.  The UN presence in Afghanistan during the Taleban era was essential in providing basic humanitarian services, such as food aid and drinking water, to up to 50% of the population. UN staff were forced to leave Kabul (for the second time) in December 2000, leaving UN operations drastically reduced, and run by Afghan staff who faced hostility and obstruction from Taleban officials.

237.  The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) was established through UNSCR 1401 on 28 March 2002 in support of the Bonn agreement and the interim Afghan Government. UNAMA was also mandated to manage all humanitarian, relief and reconstruction activities. UNAMA's staff and resources were increased accordingly as the mission expanded. In 2005, the Security Council bestowed additional roles on UNAMA—to provide political and strategic advice in support of the peace process, and to promote international engagement with Afghanistan. In 2008, UNAMA's mission was redefined. In addition to the core activities outlined above, the Mission's mandate was further focussed on co-ordination, political outreach, support for sub-national governance (including human rights), humanitarian aid, elections and co-operation with ISAF.

  238.  UNAMA has increased the size of its mission in Kabul, and now has regional offices operating in seven provincial cities—Bamiyan, Gardez, Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz. UN specialist agencies, including the World Food Programme, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Health Organisation now have permanent operations across the country. UN operations have greatly increased the amount of humanitarian assistance reaching ordinary Afghans in need.

  239.  The UK has been a strong supporter of UNAMA. We have made this clear in the UN Security Council, both publicly and with behind the scenes lobbying of other Security Council members. We have also made our support for a UN co-ordinating role clear at major international conferences on Afghanistan. We provide a significant proportion of UN funding through our assessed contributions, and have pushed key partners in the UN system to provide additional resources to UNAMA as quickly as possible.

  240.  As part of the wider drive to have an integrated and civilian-led international approach to assisting the Government of Afghanistan, supporting the UN's role in international co-ordination remains a priority. Parts of the UN system remain to be convinced that Afghanistan should be a priority issue for the UN. As a result, the UN's operations on the ground in Afghanistan need continued support from the international community, and depend on the Afghan Government and ISAF providing sufficient security conditions. Expanding the UN's operations to cover more provinces will enable more comprehensive and effective support to the Afghan people and Government.

  241.  We remain strongly supportive of the UN's central role in Afghanistan and continue to work closely with UNAMA in Kabul and the provinces of Afghanistan, and are looking to provide practical support, where possible, including on staffing. We are working to step up this cooperation as the UN expands its effort in the region, including to Helmand.


  242.  The EU has contributed substantially to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, disbursing $5.2 billion between 2002 and mid-2008 (between member states and the Commission). An additional $2.3 billion has been pledged for the period 2008-11. 16 EU embassies have opened in Kabul and 25 EU nations are contributors to ISAF, with 10 PRTs led by EU nations. The EU has also established a major police reform mission, EUPOL, which is making a substantial contribution to improvements in the rule of law. The EU sent an election observation mission to Afghanistan for the elections in 2004. Its thorough and rigorous observation of the process, and subsequent declaration on the conduct of the elections contributed to Afghan and international recognition that the process was free and fair.

243.  The UK contributes financially to all of the above EU initiatives through its assessed contributions and some discretionary payments, such as paying the salary of 15 UK personnel in EUPOL. The UK is the largest bilateral donor to Afghanistan among EU nations and has been one of the major advocates of increased EU contributions to Afghanistan, both in terms of military burden sharing and development support. Much of our consultation with European partners over the last seven years has focused on encouraging them to contribute more to security, reconstruction and development. The UK has also played a key role in harmonising international policy on Afghanistan, using its unique position to bring together US, European and other approaches.

  244.  The EU must continue to improve its internal co-ordination (particularly between the EU Special Representative, EUPOL and the European Commission) and its interaction with other international actors. One of the ways in which the UK believes that internal co-ordination can be improved is through the "double-hatting" of the roles of EU Special Representative and Head of European Commission delegation in Afghanistan. The EU can improve its influence and standing within Afghanistan by harmonising its political messaging and using its substantial financial and logistical support to leverage policy progress from the Afghan Government in return for its assistance. It can also support national capacity-building better by channelling more of its funds through national budgets.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

  245.  The OSCE also contributed election assessment missions during Afghan elections in 2004 and 2005, jointly realised by its own Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and OCSE Secretariat. However, Afghanistan is a "Partner for Co-operation" rather than a full member and thus it was not assessed against full OSCE election standards. Instead, the ODIHR compiled confidential technical recommendations which it submitted to the Afghan authorities. Since 2005 the ODIHR has maintained a relationship with the Government of Afghanistan.

246.  The OSCE first considered broader engagement on Afghanistan at the Ministerial meeting in December 2007. The Secretary-General, Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, briefed the OSCE Security Committee with preliminary ideas on 31 March 2008, with a set of 16 proposed projects issued in a June 2008 report. The proposed projects focus on the northern border of Afghanistan, with the aim of providing counter-narcotics training for Afghan police and security forces, in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. Two of the projects are located in Afghanistan which has caused significant debate among OSCE participating states. Owing to these continuing disagreements the OSCE has not yet reached a decision on border security projects.

  247.  The UK has been supportive of OSCE efforts in the region, while advocating the need for OSCE projects to be co-ordinated with pre-existing international police and border security assistance programmes, stressing that it is for the Afghan Government to decide what training they want. We believe that for training to be most effective, it should be delivered in country, as the Afghan Government has requested. Support for the Afghan elections should be a clear priority for the OSCE in 2009. The OSCE has the expertise and experience to assist in the effective delivery of legitimate elections, building on its contribution in 2004 and 2005.

  248.  The UK will continue to support an OSCE focus on Afghanistan, particularly election assistance for 2009, but also efforts by OSCE members to identify other ways the OSCE can add value in co-ordination with the broader international community. Given the number of international partners active in Afghanistan, it will be important that OSCE work is carefully co-ordinated with the wider international community.

Burden Sharing

  249.  When the UN first authorised the deployment of an international force, following the Bonn Conference in December 2001, there were 19 troop contributing nations, led by the UK. By August 2003, when NATO took over ISAF, there were 30 countries contributing 5,000 troops. By the end of 2006, when ISAF completed expansion throughout Afghanistan, there were 36,000 troops from 37 countries. There are now (as at December 2008) 41 countries contributing around 52,000 troops. 37,000 of those troops are located in the less stable Regional Commands South and East. The UK is the second largest troop contributing nation, with around 8,300 troops.

250.  In laying out the UK's long-term comprehensive framework for Afghanistan in his Statement to Parliament on 12 December 2007, the Prime Minister noted the need for greater burden sharing by all partners and allies, shifting our emphasis from short term stabilisation to long term development. To that end, UK diplomatic effort has been deployed in encouraging others to increase their share of the military, civilian and financial burden in Afghanistan.

  251.  Recent announcements from allies have included the commitment by the US, by far the biggest contributor, to deploy an additional Battalion and Brigade Combat Team. Germany has recently renewed its mandate and increased the ceiling of its commitments to 4,500 troops. In December 2008 Japan extended the mandate for their refuelling tanker serving OEF. The French provided an extra battalion of forces following the 2008 NATO Summit. The Canadians are to enhance the air support capability in Kandahar. And the Estonians have extended their mission to Afghanistan, increasing their commitment from 150 to 170 troops. However, the Dutch and Canadians have recently announced the extension of their current mandates only until 2010 and 2011 respectively, after which they intend to play different, likely non-combat, roles in Afghanistan.

  252.  NATO, through the Combined Joint Statement of Requirements identifies the troops and material required to conduct the mission. This was updated prior to a Global Force Generation Conference on 4-5 November 2008. Amongst others, there are currently shortfalls in the required numbers of OMLT training teams for the ANA and helicopters. The UK provides seven of the 73 OMLTs required by the Statement of Requirements and has lobbied allies to provide additional OMLTs to meet the current shortfall (approximately 20). There are now 23 countries that either contribute to or have pledged to contribute to OMLTs. However, as the ANA expands, there will be an increasing requirement for more.

  253.  In 2008, the UK and France launched an initiative that allows countries who have the financial ability to support others (mostly Eastern European countries) who have the helicopter airframes to deploy to Afghanistan and elsewhere. To date, approximately €20 million have been pledged by nine countries (Iceland, Luxembourg, France, Finland, Lithuania, Norway, Denmark, Australia and UK). A number of other countries have offered in-kind donations, including Ukraine, the US, France, Estonia, Italy and Spain. The Czech Republic has donated 12 helicopter airframes to the ANA Air Corps. Six of these are now in Afghanistan and a further six have been refurbished and are awaiting transportation. Hungary, Bulgaria and Ukraine have all formally indicated a desire to make use of the initiative to increase the deployability of their helicopters.

  254.  Several countries place caveats on their forces. Caveats take the form of restrictions or limitations on what individual nations' military forces are permitted to do, ie only conduct operations in certain regions of Afghanistan or only conduct certain types of operation. These often reflect political sensitivities or practical limitations. However, they also limit Commander ISAF's flexibility to deliver the mission. There are no caveats on UK Forces and the UK continues to lobby other countries on their use of caveats.


International community communications

  255.  In 2001 the international community was united in its public condemnation both of the September 11th terrorist attacks and of the role that the Taleban regime had played in harbouring those who had planned and executed those attacks. The message was clear: it was in the interests of international security to remove the Taleban regime. The Bonn Conference at the end of 2001 allowed the international community to coalesce around and support a clear Afghan articulation of the situation and plan for the transition.

256.  As the coalition grew and the NATO mandate expanded beyond Kabul, the shape of the mission also evolved. The more stable security situation in the north and west enabled reconstruction and development to take place more rapidly. This meant that whilst some nations were telling their home audiences that their role in Afghanistan was primarily about rebuilding, other domestic audiences were focused on military action against the insurgency.

257.  Communications was not seen as a priority by NATO/ISAF or many of its member states until 2006-07. NATO in Brussels and ISAF in Afghanistan were under-resourced in terms of staff (both on the media and strategic communications sides) and financial resources. As late as 2006, NATO had only one officer devoted to Afghanistan communications. However, by January 2008 this had increased to 14.

  258.  It is clear from debate between NATO, ISAF and individual member states that the international community has now shifted its understanding of communications. There is now a shared recognition that whilst showing military progress in domestic media is important in maintaining morale at home, communications are also a strategic tool to help deliver policy objectives in-country. There is also greater consensus that communications must be treated as a key element of counter-insurgency operations, and that co-ordinating all these different aspects of communications is vital.

  259.  Within NATO, the UK is seen as one of the leading nations on strategic communications. In 2006-07, the UK pushed hard to ensure NATO stepped up its communications efforts on Afghanistan. We hosted the first NATO Public Affairs conference on Afghanistan in May 2007. We were also the first to provide Voluntary National Contributions to help NATO build its Joint Media Operations Centre. The UK still staffs several of the key communications posts within ISAF and RC(S) headquarters.

  260.  In London, the UK Government chairs the RC(S) working group on strategic communications. However, the distinction between OEF military actions and ISAF military actions is often still unclear to both Afghan and UK/international audiences. This risks creating confusion about why international combat forces are in Afghanistan and under what mandate they are operating.

  261.  Every civilian casualty incident caused by international forces risks undermining the international effort and the credibility of the Afghan Government. The current Commander of ISAF, General McKiernan, has stated that he sees the issue of civilian casualties as his most important strategic communications challenge. The international community has worked to achieve quicker, co-ordinated and authoritative public responses to any such incident, but more remains to be done in this regard.

  262.  Ensuring domestic audiences understand that their governments are playing a role in a coherent international community effort is important in maintaining domestic support in key allies for the mission. To do this, media coverage needs to be wider than the purely military story: it needs to show context and what the mission is aiming to achieve. Ensuring a greater share of the burden (including non-military) is borne by international partners will rely on sustained public willingness in contributing nations to support action in Afghanistan.

  263.  It has become increasingly apparent that security in Pakistan is crucial to security in Afghanistan. In light of this, a widening of the international strategic communications effort is needed in order to reduce misunderstandings and suspicion, by establishing a strong parallel ISAF narrative on the Pakistani side of the border. This must show that the Afghan counter-insurgency effort is crucial to Pakistan's own security and stability, and must be done in a way that is sensitive to the unique political, social and security structures in Pakistan.

  264.  Closer working with the UN is needed to harmonise messaging. On elections and development issues, this is already happening. But we need to work more closely to ensure we maximise the effect of our joint efforts.

  265.  One of the UK's key strategic communications objectives is to see more coherent and consistent messaging from Afghanistan's international partners about the international mission in Afghanistan (in their own domestic media). Equally, in the Afghan context, we are keen to see more "Afghanisation" of communications, with the Afghan authorities speaking directly and authoritatively to the Afghan people.

UK Support

  266.  Since 2001 the scope of the reconstruction task and the nature of the security challenge in Afghanistan have become progressively clearer to the British public. This has been combined with the effect on public morale of the British military death toll and a lack of clear public understanding about why the UK's engagement in Afghanistan is in the national interest.

267.  This has led many in the UK to question how attainable the international community's vision for a free, stable and secure Afghanistan is, and whether British sacrifices in Afghanistan are worthwhile. A preponderance of "bad news" stories in the UK media (insurgency violence and British casualties) pose an ongoing challenge. In November 2008 the UK media gave prominence to a BBC omnibus polling question finding that 68% of the British public want British troops out of Afghanistan within the next year.

  268.  Data from ongoing Ipsos MORI polling commissioned by the MOD suggests that this is not necessarily the case, showing 52% of British adults supporting the UK military presence in Afghanistan as of October 2008. However, we are not complacent about the importance of maintaining UK public understanding of and support for our mission in Afghanistan.

  269.  The British media are interested in more "kinetic" military coverage and in focusing on Helmand—this is understandable given the scale of the UK military effort and the concentration of it in Helmand. However, this can give the British public a skewed picture of the overall security situation and of the progress being made in Afghanistan as a whole. A continued effort to raise the profile of the Afghan authorities in the UK is also necessary, so that the British public believes they are fit to govern, worth supporting and ultimately capable of carrying more of the fight themselves.

  270.  In the UK Afghanistan Communications Strategy, the support of the UK population and Parliament for Government objectives in Afghanistan is identified as a key strategic communications outcome. The UK strategy in this case rests on deepening domestic understanding of why we are in Afghanistan and what we are achieving, through broadening coverage beyond a kinetic focus and presenting a clear, realistic picture.

  271.  The UK has put structures in place to deliver more effective, varied and innovative programmes of media visits to Afghanistan, particularly looking beyond Kabul and Helmand, so that UK journalists can obtain a better picture of the situation in the country as a whole. We are also building strong relationships with the Afghan community in the UK, meeting them regularly and ensuring they understand the UK's position on Afghanistan. The aim is to make more Afghan voices available to the British media, to give greater depth to the public narrative about international efforts in Afghanistan. As part of this, we are supporting a conference in February bringing together UK and Europe-based Afghans to discuss security, development and human rights issues.

  272.  Our strategy involves focused cross-governmental outreach to interested groups within the UK audience, as well as an effort to keep the wider British public informed through the UK media, digital diplomacy (websites and blogs), outreach events, seminars, debates and visits. The FCO co-ordinates a regular NGO Contact Group meeting at which senior Government officials meet NGOs to brief them and discuss issues of concern; similarly, the FCO co-ordinates regular Parliamentary Roundtable events for Parliamentarians.

The extremist narrative

  273.  Military intervention by international forces in Afghanistan was a cause of concern to many in Muslim communities both in the UK and overseas. Extremists including Al-Qaeda and the Taleban have exploited this concern since 2001 when calling for attacks against the West, by arguing that military intervention in Afghanistan was part of some wider campaign against Islam. However, a wide range of commentators within the Islamic world do recognise that the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is part of a complex nation-building and reconstruction effort.

274.  We have implemented a programme of outreach to Muslim communities around the UK by Ministers and senior officials to engage on foreign policy issues. Recent outreach work by the Foreign Secretary has included a Question Time-style event with around 100 young British Muslims in Tower Hamlets. Senior government officials have recently taken part in roundtable events with British Muslims in Birmingham, Blackburn and Leicester as well as speaking at the Living Islam Camp in Lincolnshire on 19 July.

  275.  In addition the UK has put in place a programme of "Projecting British Islam" visits by prominent British Muslims to Muslim-majority countries. The aim is to provide a platform for British Muslims to share their experiences as Muslims in Britain today and engage in constructive dialogue and debate. An FCO-sponsored Projecting British Islam visit to Afghanistan in April 2008 was a good example of this. A media programme around the visit enabled the delegates to report back to UK audiences, helping to address possible misconceptions in British Muslim communities about what the UK is doing in Afghanistan.

  276.  The UK has also developed a grievances strand to their overseas counter-terrorism PREVENT strategy, designed to tackle such issues as aspects of foreign policy which may make an individual vulnerable to the radicalising global jihadist narrative. Examples of the work we are doing in this area include redrafting foreign policy public lines to rebut the conspiracy theories articulated by Al-Qaeda and linked extremists.

  277.  We have also worked hard to explain our foreign policy to the UK and international public in order to address inaccurate perceptions. We do this through media and public diplomacy work, including putting Arabic and Urdu-speaking spokespeople forward to media outlets such as Al Jazeera, and speeches, interviews and articles by Ministers and Ambassadors.

  278.  To break down Afghan misconceptions about UK life and the myths around UK motivations for intervening in Afghanistan, the UK strategy will continue to include public diplomacy and outreach efforts such as bilateral visits by prominent Muslim opinion-formers. The visit by Helmand Provincial Councillors to the UK, at the Government's invitation, (4-11 June 2008) was a good example of the power of showing the diverse face of modern Britain to Afghan influencers. It is also important that the international community speaks coherently about its motives and actions in Afghanistan, and has the capacity to clarify disputed facts quickly, in order that international engagement in Afghanistan cannot be misconstrued.

Afghanistan Government Communications

  279.  Under Taleban rule, Afghanistan's already minimal communications infrastructure was effectively destroyed. The Taleban's hostility to modern media which they deemed "un-Islamic" included the prohibition of television sets, VCRs, satellite dishes, video and audio cassettes, and the Internet. Foreign newspapers and books were selectively banned, and there were very few regularly published newspapers. The Voice of Shariah, a Taleban radio station, broadcast only religious programming, although BBC Dari and Pashto broadcasts from outside the country were available. There were no laws providing for freedom of speech and of the press, and journalists were subject to restrictions, arrest and intimidation.

280.  Although access to modern media remains very limited in Afghanistan (largely due to lack of electricity and the cost of telecommunications equipment), and low literacy rates mean many Afghans cannot access print media, the media landscape has changed enormously since 2001. There is a widespread demand for reliable and credible information.

  281.  The principles of free speech are enshrined in the Afghan constitution and further defined in a strong media law, passed by both Houses of Parliament in 2008. However the media law was opposed by the Palace and the Information Ministry and has not yet been implemented by the government.

  282.  There is a growing independent media sector in Afghanistan, although this is a fragile development. There are 60 local and national AM and FM radio stations (over 83% of Afghan households own a radio); 16 independent television stations, as well as the government-owned Afghanistan National Television; scores of local and national press publications; several independent Afghan news agencies and over half a million internet users.

  283.  In parallel with this there have been improvements in the Afghan Government's own capacity to communicate credibly and authoritatively. The new Government Media and Information Centre (GMIC) in Kabul now provides an important platform for the Government to get its messages out to its people. It is part of the Office of the President's Spokesperson, and the only government office working to co-ordinate public information efforts cross-governmentally and with international partners.

  284.  In Helmand, Governor Mangal is making impressive efforts to reach out to the Helmandi population both in person at shuras and over the radio. He is able to interact directly with them, react to events in the province and showcase progress in the province in a way that previous governors haven't been able to achieve. He has shown himself increasingly adept at getting positive messages out through both local and national media over the past year. His press team is coached and mentored by the CMMH Strategic Communications team.

  285.  The UK has contributed to international investment in the Afghan Government's communications capacity: the British Embassy in Kabul first proposed the concept of the GMIC, and helped to drive the project forward in concert with international partners. The start-up costs of $1.3 million were shared equally between the UK, US and Canada, with a further $174,000 from NATO: total UK spend on the GMIC up to April 2009 will be $888,623. The Embassy has allocated £500,000 per financial year for 2009-10 and 2010-11 to support the GMIC, making a major contribution towards its estimated annual operating budget of $2 million per annum. A communications consultant from the Embassy works regularly as a mentor at the GMIC. The UK is also supporting the GMIC with a UNDP-managed project aimed at building the capability of the Office of the President's Spokesperson and developing a government communications strategy ($3.3 million from 2008-10).

  286.  The UK has contributed to the development of a still-fragile independent Afghan media by providing financial support for media development projects, delivered by organisations such as the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST). For example in 2005 we provided £1.3 million (2005-08) in support to the BBC WST's launch of the weekly programme "Afghan Women's Hour", and the training of female Afghan reporters.

  287.  The UK also contributes to the BBC WST Afghan Education Projects (£250,000 in the 2008-09 financial year). This funds educational radio broadcasting initiatives such as "New Home, New Life", a popular radio drama produced in both Dari and Pashto, which has educational messages woven into its storylines. According to AEP research, nearly 75% of active Afghan radio listeners listen to "New Home, New Life" once a month or more.

  288.  The UK has also provided support for developing Afghanistan's communications infrastructure: for example, in the 2007-08 financial year the FCO allocated funding to the BBC WST for three extra FM radio transmitters to be constructed in southern Afghanistan. However, these are yet to be built as the BBC WST has not identified suitable sites or resolved security concerns around the project.

  289.  Lack of broadcast communications infrastructure remains a key challenge to better Afghan Government communications, and this limits its ability to reach as much of the Afghan populace as possible. Establishing a reliable electricity supply and protecting technical infrastructure from insurgency sabotage are examples of the kind of basic but necessary steps required to build a functioning communications environment.

  290.  Institutionalising the GMIC within the Afghan Government and standardising best communications practice across government departments will require reliable, long-term international funding and support. The Office of the President's Spokesperson currently offers little leadership, and the communications performance of Ministries is very varied. Ministries face practical communications challenges ranging from defunct press offices to intermittent electricity supply and lack of IT. Some Ministries which are central to the quality of peoples' lives fail to communicate with the Afghan public. There is currently no coherent international effort to help the Afghan Government address this situation, and the ANDS does not encompass government communications.

  291.  Ensuring that the Afghan Government implements the media law will also be a challenge: in areas of the country where rule of law remains weak, ensuring that the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Afghan Constitution is delivered is difficult. Journalists are still sometimes subject to intimidation and restrictions (both from the insurgency and the Government). Afghan Media Watch alleged that there had been 50 cases of violence against journalists during 2008—26 attributed to the Government, six to the Taleban and the rest unknown.

  292.  The Afghan Government increasingly has to contend with the insurgency's ability to wage sophisticated information warfare—the insurgency propaganda machine is highly reactive and not bound by the complexities of fact. "Traditional" communications channels (ie word of mouth) remain powerful, especially in the south of the country; in the absence of timely and authoritative government information, rumour and propaganda can easily dominate.

  293.  The UK Afghanistan Communications Strategy is clear that the first priority is to increase the Afghan Government's ability to communicate its credibility and authority, particularly in the Pashtun Belt (including through a developed private media sector). To this end, the UK will continue to support the Government in developing its communications capacity and capabilities, primarily through the GMIC but also through continuing investment in infrastructure development. The UK's aim in this respect is to support growing Afghan ownership of communications. We aim to work with the Afghan Government to establish a communications development plan as part of the ANDS. The British Embassy in Kabul is currently working on a two to three year development and funding plan for the GMIC with the Afghan Government and international supporters.

  294.  Improvements in security and rule of law, achieved both through international effort and increased Afghan capacity, will be necessary in order to deliver the conditions in which a free and independent media can thrive while the insurgency propaganda effort withers away.

  295.  The three major challenges for strengthening Afghan Government communications are that its ability and will to communicate with the public is weak, the independent Afghan media is inexperienced and fragile, and media penetration of much of the country is severely limited by lack of infrastructure. These problems are interlinked and the UK alone cannot remedy them effectively. The pressing need is for a coherent international programme to address all these issues simultaneously. Until such a programme is put in place, international efforts will continue to be dispersed, independent and therefore less effective.

  296.  Ensuring the continued growth and vibrancy of Afghanistan's private media sector will similarly require sustained international development investment, political pressure, and capacity-building through establishing centres of excellence for training and developing Afghan media.


  297.  A great deal has been achieved across Afghanistan as a whole since 2001, and also in Helmand and the South since the UK deployment in 2006. But the scale of the task and the complexity of many issues mean that there remains a long way to go and Afghanistan will continue to require significant international support for the foreseeable future. Given the situation in Afghanistan in 2001, progress to date—although slower than we would wish—has nonetheless been significant. The recent review of the UK Strategic Engagement in Afghanistan reconfirmed the validity of the three strategic objectives of the December 2007 strategy,[15] which frame our engagement in Afghanistan. However, the review also identified the need for a step change in Afghanistan including better focussing the international community's efforts on improving governance, reinvigorating the political process, encouraging Afghan-led efforts to promote reconciliation, and promoting the rule of law. Increasing Afghan institutional capacity remains a top priority and will be key to effectively and sustainably countering the insurgency.

298.  Our efforts are focussed on supporting the Government of Afghanistan's delivery of its core functions—at national, provincial and district levels—in order to connect more closely with its people and provide economic growth and jobs. This rationale underpins our focus on the twin track approaches of Afghanisation and Localisation.

  299.  Security continues to be a major preoccupation. Recognising that security is about more than physical military presence, we are working to increase the Afghan State's capacity to deliver justice and basic services in order to drive a wedge between the people and the insurgency. Maintaining security and keeping up the pressure on the insurgency will also remain important.

  300.  As reflected in the first objective of the December 2007 strategy, it will only be possible to deliver sustainable progress in Afghanistan if the international community adequately addresses the regional dimension, including but not exclusively, Pakistan. The UK's Afghanistan strategy is increasingly being taken forward as part of the UK Government's approach to the wider region and we are giving our full support to proposals from the incoming US Administration for a regional envoy.

  301.  The UK and the Afghan Government's aim should be to deliver progressively improved governance on the back of Presidential elections in 2009 and parliamentary elections in spring of 2010, from which sufficient momentum can be generated that prepares the way to begin transition to greater Afghan primacy and ownership.

23 January 2009

1   Ev 75 Back

2   The Joint Co-ordination and Monitoring Board was constituted for overall strategic co-ordination of the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact. It consists of seven representatives from the Afghan Government and 21 representatives of the international community. It is to be constituted for a period of five years from April 2006 to March 2011 and convenes meetings at least four times a year. Back

3   Not published. Back

4   Not published. Back

5   The Helmand Roadmap is the UK's integrated civilian and military strategy for advancing stabilisation in Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan. Back

6   From NATO International Military Staff briefing to the North Atlantic Council of 17 December 2008. Back

7   Table taken from ISAF website: Back

8   A Provincial Reconstruction Team is a multinational team of military and civilian personnel based in provincial areas of Afghanistan with the aim of helping to extend the authority of central government and facilitating reconstruction by contributing to an improved security environment, particularly through aiding Security Sector Reform. Each PRT has a great deal of flexibility in operations, depending on the local environment, so some PRTs are able to focus almost entirely on reconstruction, while others, such as those in the south and east conduct a greater deal of counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics activity. In 2008, PRTs across Afghanistan completed over 10,000 projects. While PRTs are usually led by an individual nation, it is common to find multinational compositions with several nations providing military or civilian expertise together. Back

9   Afghanistan has signed and ratified the following international treaties for the protection of human rights (with dates of ratification): Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (24 April 1983), Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (24 April 1983), Covenant on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (5 August 1983), Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (5 March 2003), Convention Against Torture (26 June 1987), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (27 April 1994) and its optional protocols on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and On the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (24 September 2003). Back

10   The collection of primary data necessary for statistical compilation virtually ceased in the mid 1990s with the collapse of the provincial reporting network. However, the statistics from the 1990s, as well as from 2001 when statistics collection was started again can give a picture of the situation in 2001. Back

11   Statistics taken from IMF report on Afghanistan, October 2002. Back

12   2005-06 data. IMF PRGF 4th review, July 2008. Back

13   United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Back

14   The SCO is made up of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with President Karzai attending since 2004 as part of a SCO-Afghanistan contact group. Back

15   Reduce the insurgency on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border; Prevent the return of Al-Qaeda; Build a legitimate self-sufficient state which can pursue the first two objectives itself. Back

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