Islamabad – Japan pledged some $720 million (¥75 billion) over the next four years for Afghan reconstruction at an international conference in Geneva on Tuesday that brought together some 100 countries and international organizations to help the war-torn country recover from years of violence.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, in his statement, said, “Japan continues to stand with the Afghan government and its people. We will work on providing assistance from 2021 to 2024, maintaining the amount comparable to the past four years, which was $180 million per year.”
Japan and 65 other countries as well as 32 international organizations pledged a total of over $12 billion (¥1.225 trillion) over the period between 2021 and 2024 for the reconstruction of Afghanistan at the meeting held at the United Nations’ European headquarters and online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a communique adopted at the mostly virtual meeting, the participants expressed “deep concerns” over ongoing violence in the war-ravaged country, calling for an “immediate permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”
The statement acknowledged the “strong desire” of the Afghan people to “sustain and build on the economic, social, political and development gains achieved since 2001,” following the collapse of the Taliban-led government in the country.
It also called for a peace process that also involves women, and ethnic, religious and other minorities.
The Afghan government has unveiled a five-year national strategy under which it will work to end serious corruption and poverty, and adhere to the rule of law.
Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar, in his closing remarks, thanked the global donors for their pledges at a time when no country has been spared the impact of the pandemic.
Afghanistan has relied on outside assistance for most of its national budget. But the international community is seeking to build up the country’s capacity during what is often described as the “decade of transformation” from 2015 to 2024.
The Afghan government and the Taliban have been in talks since September for permanent ceasefire. But the country remains unstable amid a spate of attacks by the Taliban and terror attacks by the Islamic State extremist group.
“For the negotiations to move forward, we call on all the concerned parties for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. We strongly hope that the negotiations will lead to sustainable peace, and ensure the achievements of the nation-building in the past 19 years,” Motegi said.
The Afghan reconstruction meeting followed similar meetings in 2012 and 2016. The international community pledged over $16 billion for Afghan reconstruction at the first meeting in Tokyo and $15.2 billion at the second one in Brussels.
Japan has provided some $6.8 billion over the period between the collapse of the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan in 2001 and this month, according to its Foreign Ministry.
Motegi said that with progress in the peace process, Japan is “ready to consider additional support” beyond the amount just committed over the next four years.
“From this standpoint, it is important that the Afghan government take on full responsibility to make progress on issues such as the rule of law and anti-corruption under the Afghanistan Partnership Framework — only then, can our assistance be provided.”
Japanese assistance, he said, will continue to focus on areas such as agriculture, rural development, education, health and infrastructure.
The United States sent troops into Afghanistan in 2001 to go up against the al-Qaida organization and the Taliban, which harbored the group, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
It reached a peace agreement with Taliban insurgents in February under which all U.S. troops would withdraw within 14 months if the Taliban meets its commitments, including to a reduction in violence.
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