Friday, August 28, 2015

A necessary catastrophe

To fight militancy, Pakistan needs to conquer its radicalised north-west, then govern it

A CATASTROPHE is unfolding in Swat, a picturesque region of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) once loved by honeymooners. Nearly 2.4m people are reported to have fled an army offensive against Taliban militants, launched early this month at America’s behest. Thousands of civilians are trapped, with dwindling supplies of clean water and food. Hundreds are alleged to have been killed or maimed. On the evidence of two previous offensives in Swat, this may achieve nothing good. It risks leaving Swatis even angrier with their government and more vengeful than before, hardening the Taliban’s hold over the region. In a country as unstable as Pakistan, it is tempting to fear, America’s new foreign-policy chiefs should be more careful what they ask for.

For all that, the government was right to take military action to drive the Taliban from Swat. The most economically developed area of Pakistan in militant hands, it has long been prime evidence for those who accuse the government of scarcely trying to quell the militancy sweeping the north-west of the country. Unlike the semi-autonomous tribal areas adjoining NWFP, many of whose Pushtun inhabitants fight for the Taliban on both sides of the border with Afghanistan, Swat has a semblance of a functioning state. Its better-educated people have no love for the Islamist hooligans in their midst. Yet the army’s stuttering campaigns, and a recent effort to appease the militants by offering to institute Islamic law in Swat and other parts of NWFP, have strengthened their control over it.

One reason for optimism is that, on early signs, this offensive is more serious than its forebears in Swat and elsewhere (see article). During the army’s last fight in Swat, which ended in February, a small force tried to drive the Taliban from Mingora, the district’s biggest city, with shellfire. This resulted in many civilian deaths and local fury. With a bigger force, including 6,000 soldiers reportedly shifted from the Indian border, the army now seems to be fighting more carefully.

Another hopeful sign is that many Pakistanis claim to support this offensive. Hitherto, most have considered the army’s war against the militants as a regrettable service to America. But recent Taliban excesses, including their well-publicised flogging of a teenage girl, have convinced many that the Islamists need pegging back. The Urdu media, which are roundly anti-American, back this offensive, and the main political parties have declared their support. To keep that consensus and confound the Islamic parties which remain outside it, the army must redouble its efforts to minimise civilian casualties and the government must do more to care for the displaced.

After the battle, prove you’re a state

But if the offensive is to mark a real turning-point in Pakistan’s flailing war against the Taliban, the government needs above all to train and equip NWFP’s police and local administration to control the ground its soldiers have cleared, and to oversee the economic development that must follow. The government’s failure to plan for this in the past, far less achieve it, has been the main reason for the Taliban’s recent successes.

Given the weakness of Pakistan’s civil institutions, this is a daunting task. In the tribal areas, where the army is expected to resume campaigning after it finishes in Swat, and where the state is currently a figment, addressing it will require serious thought. Unless it attends to these basics, Pakistan will neither turn back the Taliban tide nor retain popular support for its effort. Even now, few Pakistanis may consider the Taliban to be the existential threat to their country America says it is. But all Pakistanis can appreciate the merits of having better government. Pakistan has to show it can provide one.

Source: Economist.com

The United Nations Development Programme’s Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan

The United Nations Development Programme’s Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan (DP/DCP/AFG/2) was launched and debated today, May 29, 2009 during the Executive Board meeting of UNDP/UNFPA.

The Programme is designed to map out UNDP’s activities in Afghanistan for the period 2010-2013. It is created in consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders, including the Government of Afghanistan, donor countries, civil society and NGOs. Once adopted, it acts as the framework around which UNDP will plan its projects and activities in Afghanistan.

The draft country programme can be found online here:(Click to Download) . After the introduction of the Programme by UNDP, Ambassador Tanin outlined Afghanistan’s thoughts on the Programme. He was followed by speakers from many major donor countries who supported his comments. Details of the Country Programme will be worked out in the coming months.

UNDP Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan 2010-2013

Statement of H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
On the Draft Country Programme document for Afghanistan, 2010-2013
At the occasion of the Executive Board meeting of UNDP/UNFPA
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Mr. President,

I would like to begin by congratulating you on your leadership throughout your presidency of the Executive Board of UNDP and of UNFPA. Since it is the first time I’m taking the floor, I would also like to seize this opportunity to congratulate Ms. Helen Clarke for her appointment as Administrator of the UNDP and for her inspiring statement on Tuesday, which has provided us with a clear vision of UNDP’s role in the coming years. I would finally like to thank Mr. Ajay Chhibber of UNDP for his insightful presentation of the UNDP Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan.

The Government of Afghanistan values highly its partnership with UNDP and is grateful to UNDP for the operational activities it has carried out in Afghanistan since 2002 in the areas of development, stabilization, state building, and governance.

One year ago, the international community renewed its political and financial support to the stabilization efforts in Afghanistan by welcoming the launching of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). The consideration of UNDP‘s new country programme for Afghanistan will help one of our most important development partners to further assist us in improving the lives of Afghans by implementing our national priorities and working towards the achievement of Afghanistan’s MDGs.

Mr. President,

The UNDP Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan for the period 2010-2013 presented to the board this year is of utmost importance for Afghanistan. Since 2002, significant progress has been achieved in Afghanistan in our path to recover from 30 years of devastating conflict, but much remains to be done. We can state today, in view of the alarming human development indicators and challenges that we are still facing, that Afghanistan is at a crucial juncture of its post-2001 development history. We need to ensure successful progression from an emergency situation to sustainable development and not regress into violence. It is therefore time for intensified action.

Allow me to stress from the beginning that we need to set up an effective framework of partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and its international partners that can align policies and funding behind the stated priorities of ANDS. This will enhance institution building and national ownership as well as further capacity development. There is also an urgent need to coordinate programmes and projects with the Government in order to focus on priorities, eliminate duplication and redundancy, and rationalize development activities to maximize cost effectiveness.

Mr. President,

The new Draft Country Programme of UNDP for Afghanistan is the product of a series of consultations held in Kabul, between the Government of Afghanistan, the donor

community, UN agencies, civil society and other relevant development partners to ensure its alignment with our national development priorities as well as those contained in the UNDAF.

The four core programmatic areas identified in the Draft Country Programme accurately reflect key areas of challenge for Afghanistan. With the upcoming elections, a deteriorating security situation, and increasing levels of poverty, Afghanistan requires support on a broad spectrum of issues. However, the Draft Country Programme document needs greater detail about planned projects, priorities, and budgeting in order to provide us with the tools to accurately monitor the effectiveness of the operational activities and their alignment with the ANDS. Donor countries can work with the government of Afghanistan and UNDP on these details. In addition, in many of these areas, particularly in peace-building and governance, it is important that the international community work in a coherent, consolidated way to support the government of Afghanistan and avoid overlap.

Mr. President,

Rising insecurity requires the international community to focus on the security sector as a central pillar in our efforts to end terrorism. However, the Afghan people differentiate between security and stability. While the military efforts undertaken by Afghan forces, the US, NATO and our other allies are becoming instruments of security, they cannot deliver stability on their own. To be stable Afghanistan must be prosperous.

Our greatest challenge in this regard remains poverty, and the UNDP is our main partner in our path to achieve MDGs and poverty eradication. Afghanistan reiterates the central importance it gives to the core development mandate of the UNDP in supporting our national efforts to address poverty. Without advances in agriculture, a mainstay of our economy, it will be difficult to achieve the target set in MDG1. We therefore encourage UNDP to focus on its core development mandate, particularly through promoting livelihoods with a focus on agriculture, rural development, food security and income generation.

Mr. President,

Afghanistan must build capacity and, with the support of UNDP, articulate development priorities, and invest in the abilities of our people, institutions, and communities to advance human development and achieve results. In this regard, we welcome the Draft Country Programme’s emphasis on national ownership.

The effective implementation of the national priorities identified in ANDS will require a strengthened partnership between the Government of Afghanistan and its development partners and a coherent and integrated United Nations system response to national priorities and needs within the framework of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness.

We have seen what happens when aid is not harmonized. Flows of money outside the budget are undermining our efforts at creation of credible institutions, sound public finances, and stability. The solution involves not just more aid-committed with more certainty over a multi-year period-but a better quality of aid. Better quality aid, however, can only be attained through a tighter compact between the Government and donors. Alignment with the National Development Strategy is therefore an essential principle for all donors that will serve to enhance aid effectiveness and accountability.

Mr. President,

Our aims are high. In the coming years, we believe that with enough of the right kind
of support, we can achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In one of the poorest and most damaged countries in the world, this challenge will test our combined will to the core, but we must succeed. The stakes have never been higher. Afghanistan can and must provide a much needed victory in the international wars against poverty and terror.

I thank you.