Let Taliban share power, says key report

Care agencies map out a future for Afghanistan to guide Bonn Conference foreign ministers tomorrow

The future of Afghanistan depends on the leading powers forgetting about military success or failure and focusing instead on the needs of the Afghan people.

So says a briefing paper backed by more than 20 organisations being released tomorrow to coincide with a new attempt to draw up a plan that will secure peace for the country after decades of war.

With time running out and the threat of civil war breaking out once coalition forces leave in 2014, President Hamid Karzai, and foreign ministers, including William Hague and Hillary Clinton, are holding talks in Bonn tomorrow.

A change in strategy is vital, according to the "priorities for action" document, backed by 22 organisations from 10 countries, including international humanitarian aid agencies such as Christian Aid, Oxfam and the Mercy Corps.

It calls for a long-term aid and development strategy; an inclusive political settlement and an end to the use of aid money as a "lever" by the military.

The stakes could not be higher, according to Serena Di Matteo, Christian Aid's country director for Afghanistan: "We are calling on the UK Government, international and Afghan leaders at the Bonn Conference to commit to concrete steps towards a long-term commitment, a poverty focus in aid and an inclusive and transparent peace process that sets out the path to lasting peace. A quick-fix political deal will risk another civil war."

While the 2001 Bonn Agreement, which followed the fall of the Taliban a decade ago, has failed in its stated aim to "end the conflict in Afghanistan and promote national reconciliation, lasting peace, stability and respect for human rights", significant progress has been made in women's rights, health and education.

Under the Taliban, only 1.2 million children were in education. Today they number 8.2 million, 40 per cent of whom are girls. Only eight per cent of the population had access to basic healthcare – that figure is now 80 per cent. And the role of women has been transformed, with 27 per cent of seats in the lower house of Parliament now held by women.

These gains could be wiped out, however, if there is a return to the conflict.

Huge challenges remain before ordinary Afghans can enjoy many basic human rights and Afghan women continue to face entrenched discrimination and disadvantage, the briefing paper says.

Afghanistan remains one of the poorest nations on earth. Over the past decade, too much aid has been spent supporting military action, rather than addressing the needs of the Afghan people, the paper argues. It calls for long-term aid to "address the needs and rights of Afghans".

It also warns politicians not to repeat the mistakes of the past – most notably the absence of the Taliban from the Bonn agreement in 2001.

"The approach to support for reconciliation in Bonn 2011 needs to be inclusive... involving all those with a role in the conflict". It also says women must play a part in peace talks and that women's rights should be "guaranteed in all negotiations".

The document calls on governments to make "a stronger commitment to better protect Afghan civilians as the transition proceeds" and demands improvements in the training of Afghan security forces with police and soldiers being instructed in humanitarian law.

More attention needs to be paid to "civilian development" after the troop withdrawal, and measures to ensure the 2014 elections are not rigged are a "critical priority".

The chances of any meaningful success in Bonn were badly dented last week when Pakistan pulled out in protest at the Nato airstrike that killed 24 of its soldiers.

At the same time, Afghanistan's Finance Minister warned yesterday that Britain and other countries would need to continue providing billions of pounds worth of aid to his country.

Referring to a recent report that concluded Afghanistan was likely to need around $7bn a year from the international community to help pay for its security and other bills long after 2014, Omar Zakhilwal said: "The World Bank's study makes a case for continued assistance. We have done our own analysis and our conclusion with regard to the fiscal gap is not too different."

Money alone will not solve the problem unless the authorities change the way they spend it, according to Farhana Faruqi-Stocker, the managing director of Afghanaid.

"For the last 10 years the international community's support for Afghanistan has been too closely aligned with military and political objectives," she said.

"The focus on quick result projects means Afghan communities are left with a brand new school building but no teachers or toilets, or miles of pipe water systems, but no way to protect and maintain them.

"So despite the progress which has been made – millions of children continue to miss out on an education and communities continue to suffer from a chronic lack of access to safe drinking water."

Meanwhile, as politicians prepare to map out paperwork that could see peace brought in Afghanistan for the first time in decades, the death toll of coalition forces continues to mount. Yesterday, three coalition soldiers were killed in a bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan.

Priorities for action: Briefing paper's key points for the future

* Change the military-focused strategy to one that is based on long-term aid and development.

* Include the Taliban in an "inclusive" political settlement.

* Improve training for Afghan security forces.

* Separate aid from "military objectives".

* Guarantee protection of women's rights (along with other human and civil rights); ensure women have at least 30 per cent of all seats in official meetings.

* Make a stronger commitment to better protect Afghan civilians.

* Professionalise the Afghan National Security Forces, extend police training and train soldiers and police in human rights and humanitarian law.

* Compensate victims of conflict.

* Stop any further expansion of the Afghan Local Police Programme until controls exist to stop human rights violations and abuses.

* Ensure that elections in 2014 truly reflect the will of the Afghan people.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower