In the context of a worsening security situation and economic uncertainty, the sole achievement of last week’s London Conference—which saw over 70 countries and international institutions renew their commitment as donors—generated positive reactions from Kabul-based media.
Held in the UK capital Dec. 4, the conference stressed issues such as strengthened governence, anti-terrorism efforts, unemployment and poverty, drug trafficking, security, foreign investment and regional cooperation.
President Ashraf Ghani identified Afghanistan’s economic development as a fundamental issue and said that Afghanistan has to utilitize opportunities for a better future. He suggested that the international community provide the government of Afghanistan with financial means instead of projects.
“We came here to tell you that we are united and that we need your help,” he told attendees. “We signed security agreements. We opened the Kabul Bank case. We stood firm to tackle problems. We have identified the problems and want to solve them.”
Some dailies in Kabul described the conference as a unique opportunity for the new government to repair Afghanistan’s broken relations with the international community.
“The new government of Afghanistan should initiate a new era of relations and cooperations with the world,” Afghanistan Daily wrote.
Ghani discussed fundamental reforms in the government, strengthening Afghanistan security forces, empowering women, increasing governmental incomes and ushering democratic reforms. He also promised to introduce a new cabinet, which he has so far failed to do despite the passed deadline.
By promising to fight corruption and introduce sweeping reforms, the new government is trying to regain trust of the international community, Afghanistan Daily wrote. “Afghanistan gave assurances on the ability of Afghan security forces to fight terrorism. However, the recent escalation of insurgency raises questions regarding these assurances.”
“To enhance effectiveness, the government of Afghanistan wants the international community to provide it with financial means, but…the government has still not proved that it is capable of implementing large-scale projects,” the daily continued. “Corruption, which is a huge obstacle to the effectiveness of international aid to Afghanistan, has still not been addressed. Reopening the Kabul Bank case failed to restore the trust of the public and that of the international community.”
The editorial also criticized the new government for failing to form a new Cabinet. “The President had to be accompanied a delegation made up of the former administration’s ministers. These issues led to the projection of a less favorable Afghanistan to the international community…Over the coming months, the new government should show that it is capable of delivering on its promises to the international community.”
Hasht-e-Subh Daily noted that like Ghani now, Karzai “made many remarks, but in reality, he did nothing against corrupt ministers.”
In a piece headlined “London Conference; Empty Hands, Heavy Shoulders,” Jamay-e-Baz Daily noted that Afghanistan’s international allies placed all expectations “on the shoulders of Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. These individuals do not have a structure in place to distribute the pressure.”
In a Dec. 7 piece, Asr Daily identifies two obstacles to the realization of these commitments. “The first is fighting 13 years of rampant corruption in Afghanistan…Fighting corruption requires a well-established administrative system, which the current government lacks.”
Despite Ghani’s promises to present “a group of fresh faces” while appointing ministers, Hasht-e-Subh Daily said it was “impossible” to build a cabinet untainted by past corruption scandals. “Those who supported Ghani and Abdullah are the faces of the old administration and now, they want their share,” the daily wrote.
Mandogar Daily said the government is “in no position to continuously miss opportunities. We cannot expect the international community to send us aid forever. There is no doubt that sooner or later, the generosity of the international community will end…The unity government should be very concerned about the future and should do something to make sure international aid goes to things that would address the future needs and challenges of this country.”