Kabul via Rawalpindi
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Sunday's international conference in Tokyo on future economic assistance to Kabul has rounded off the new American framework to put Afghanistan on its own feet when the bulk of US and allied troops leave by 2014. With US President Barack Obama focused on his re-election this November, no new initiatives on Afghanistan can be expected. The US framework for the transition looks robust but questions remain on whether the current international commitments to Kabul are sustainable amidst the financial and political uncertainty in the western world, the fluidity of Afghanistan's internal dynamic and Pakistan army's determination to extend its influence across the Durand Line.
Obama has sought to reassure Kabul that Washington is not going to abandon Afghanistan. He signalled long-term American commitment to its security and stability by signing a strategic partnership agreement with Kabul that will last for a decade after 2014. Last week, the Obama administration declared Afghanistan as a "major non-NATO ally", a designation that will provide a solid basis for long-term military cooperation between Washington and Kabul. The US plans to leave a small residual military force to train the Afghan armed forces and conduct counter-terror operations against extremist sanctuaries in Pakistan's western borderlands. At the NATO summit in Chicago in May, the US won pledges from its allies for financial contributions — nearly $4 billion a year — to help maintain the Afghan armed forces at about 250,000 troops. The Tokyo conference has complemented the military effort by raising commitments worth $16 billion for the economic development of Afghanistan for the next four years.
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