CHICAGO SUMMIT .20-21.v.2012 .SOMMET
Chicago Summit And Afghan Future
Militarily powerful nations around the globe, in a sum-20-21, endorsed the plans to conclude Isaf ‘s mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. However, they reiterated that Afghanistan would not stand alone and reaffirmed that their close partnership would continue beyond the end of the transition period. Given the significance of the NATO / Isaf summit, it becomes imperative to analyze the outcome of the Chicago summit in context peak pak- US relations. It is equally significant to discuss the emerging scenario of this relationship from different perspectives.
CHICAGO SUMMIT .20-21.v.2012 .SOMMET set certain roadmaps for handing over the security responsibility entirely to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the end of 2014. President Karzai announced on May 13, 2012 the third wave of the provinces to be handed over to ANSF. This means that 75% of Afghnistan’s population will soon be living in areas where the ANSF have taken the lead of security. The Isaf will be, gradually and responsibly, drawing down its forces to complete its mission by 31 December 2014.As transition of security responsibility is completed, NATO will have the shift from a combat mission to a new training, advising and assistance mission , which will be of a different nature to the current Isaf mission.
NATO/Isaf pledge not withstanding, the crucial question remains of the financing for ANSF beyond the transition period. At the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn on 5 December 2011, the wider international community decided to support the training, equipping, financing and capability development of the ANSF beyond the end of the transition period. The preliminary model for a future total ANSF size defined by the international community and Afghanistan, envisages a force of 228,500 with an estimated annual budget of US$4. 1billion , and will be reviewed regularly against the developing security environment. It was decided in Chicago that Afghanistan’s yearly share will increase progressively for its own security forces.
The CHICAGO SUMMIT .20-21.v.2012 .Sommet commitment with Afghanistan beyond 2014 was not unconditional.The Summit recalled the firm mutual commitments made at the bonn Conference,which formed the basis of long-term partnership.In the said context, Afghanistan will have to deliver on its commitiment to a democratic society, based on the rule of law and good governance, including progress in the fight against corruption,where the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizen, including the equality of men and women and the active participation of both in afgan society, are respected.For attaining these objectives,the Summit touched certain elements in terms of political reconciliation. It advocated that a political process involving successful reconciliation and reintegration is a key to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
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President Asif Zardari’s presentation at the Isaf/NATO Summit highlighted the future role of Pakistan. Such a factor was also acknowledged by the NATO Declaration that ”the countries in the region, particularly Pakistan,have important roles in ensuring enduring peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and in facilitating the completion of the transition process” .
Similarly , NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also made it clear that NATO was ”counting on Pakistan’s commitment to support Isaf and NATO efforts in Afghanistan”, while demanding “”reopening of the land routes very soon”, because he said ”we need these”
The question of reopening of NATO Supply routes or Ground lines of Communication (GLOCS) through Pakistan has been a hot cake since the Salala attacks of November 26. It has both short-term as well as the long term implications both for Pakistan and NATO/Isaf nations. For the last many weeks, Pakistan and the United States have been working closely to sort out the question.
The two sides are reportedly stuck at rates for each container passing through Pakistan. For many years, Pakistan was not charging a single cent. However , it started to charge a mere amount of $250 per trawler till the termination of the supply routes for NATO after salala attacks. On its alternate northern supply routes, the United States and NATO pay $17000 per trawler which is far higher and costlier than the routes through Pakistan. In the ongoing talks, Pakistan has proposed levy of $5000 per container but it is still not acceptable to the United States. Pakistani negotiators press that the United States are paying $17000 on northern routes but unwilling to pay less amount of $5000 to Pakistan. The perspective of Pakistan is that the NATO supply process has caused a damage of Rs 100 billion to infrastructure and road networks in Pakistan.
The United States and NATO are expected to pay for the damage caused to Pakistan roads. However, the US officials are heard of talking that it is not the only nation trucks that use the roads because Pakistani transporter of any kind also use the roads. Many critics suspected that President Asif Ali Zardari would succumb to the pressure and announce reopening of GLOCS. However, President Zardari frustrated his critics and did not make any announcement. Contrary to such expectations, President Zardari categorically told the Summit that our Parliament gave a roadmap for future engagement with NATO and Isaf and the Defense Committee of the cabinet of the government of Pakistan has considered the issue.
The Defense Committee of the Cabinet in its meeting on May 15 ~authorized officers of the relevant ministries/departments to conclude the ongoing negotiations on the new terms and conditions for resumption of GLOCS“. In fact, the talks are still going on. Such a process of talks was echoed in the Chicago Summits that NATO continues to work with Pakistan to reopen the Ground lines of Communication as soon as possible. Similarly, the question of seeking apology on Salala attacks and opposition to drone attacks are consistent from Pakistan and President Zardari did not announce doing away with from these demands.
The very invitation to Pakistan to attend the Chicago Conference was not a small gesture. It reaffirmed the case for engagement from the United States/NATO/Isaf with Pakistan. Not being invited would have given a clear signal that the international community thinks Pakistan part of the problem. And declining to attend like boycott of the Bonn Conference, would have given terrible signal from Pakistan that we do not want to be part of the solution.
Chicago Conference and participation of Pakistan give a clear message that the international community is still by and large willing to engage Pakistan. The expectation remains the same that Pakistan works with the international community to help stabilize Afghanistan and to address some of the internal security challenges that Pakistan has failed to cope with as yet. It must be understood that the International community would never allow a return of 1990s in Afghanistan that the soil of Afghanistan becomes a breeding ground for international terrorism.
The disengagement of the international community beyond 2014 would also be a nightmare for Pakistan as the civil war in that case, would be catastrophic for Pakistan. If the international community abandons Afghanistan and let the religious CHICAGO SUMMIT .20-21.v.2012 .SOMMET fanatics take over Kabul once again, Pakistan would again suffer an onslaught of ideologues.