U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry (at right, above) at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Monday. Clinton, who announced earlier a major aid package to Pakistan, arrived in Afghanistan's capital for Tuesday's Kabul Conference.
The Afghan government and the United Nations will be chairing the conference. Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, foreign ministers and top officials from more 70 countries and organizations will be attending the meeting, described as the first conference of its kind in Afghanistan.
It is the latest step in what Western and Afghan officials call the Kabul process – the transition to more Afghan responsibility for running the nation. Earlier this year, two other high-profile meetings dealt with the issue – an international conference in London, England, last January and a "peace jirga," a meeting of tribal and religious leaders in June.
One of the most respected voices among U.S. foreign policy experts says the Obama Administration’s Afghan policy is not working.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a veteran of several U.S. administrations, writes in the latest edition of Newsweek: “Continued or increased U.S. involvement in Afghanistan isn’t likely to yield lasting improvements that would be commensurate in any way with the investment of American blood and treasure. It is time to scale down our ambitions there and both reduce and redirect what we do.”
Speaking on CNN’s American Morning on Monday, Haass said Afghanistan was now “a sponge for American resources and it is a distraction. We out to be thinking militarily about what we might have to do in North Korea or Iran where we really do have vital national interests.” FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Abbas Daiyar began his blog, Kabul Perspective, last year to look at issues in Kabul and around the world. He has worked with newspapers in Pakistan and reported for news agencies in the past and is now a member of the editorial board of the independent Daily Outlook Afghanistan newspaper in Kabul. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Abbas Daiyar.
More than 2,500 candidates are running for the 249 seats of Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament, Wolesi Jirga, elections on September 18. About 400 women, mostly from Kabul and provincial capitals, are also in the race. The campaign is in full bloom in the capital Kabul. The streets are filled with signboards and posters of independent and party-nominated candidates. These posters mostly include slogans about change, poverty, security, development, illiteracy and promotion of justice. The posters and big boards look like resumes of the candidates, listing all their past experience and political background. The lists of their slogans are like whole manifestos. FULL POST
As few as "a couple of thousand" U.S. troops may leave Afghanistan in the first phase of withdrawing forces from there beginning a year from now, Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast Sunday. FULL POST