UN envoy: Political strategy key to success in Afghanistan

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The international community needs to 'demilitarize' it's overall approach in Afghanistan if it is to reverse current trends.

That's the message the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Kai Eide, will give to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday at the world body's headquarters in New York.

"We have to get into a mode where our strategy is politically driven and not militarily driven, where the political and civilian components become an appendix to a military strategy," Mr Eide said in Kabul today.

Mr Eide, who will be addressing the Security Council for the last time in his capacity as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, is due to brief member states on what he expects in the next six to nine months for Afghanistan, including the agenda for the forthcoming international conferences on Afghanistan in London and Kabul.

The UN Envoy stressed that one of the main objectives of the military troops that will arrive this year is to build the capacity of Afghan forces.

"I am deeply skeptical (of) a situation where we have an increase of military forces and that increase of military forces engages in political, civilian and humanitarian issues. I say this because...when you have an increased number of troops coming in, there will always be a trend for those forces to demonstrate quick results and take upon themselves political tasks. That leads to quick impact. (But) quick impact very often becomes quick collapse," he added.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul, Mr Eide once again emphasized the need for the Afghn government to initiate a peace process based on the constitution "as soon as possible."

"If the insurgents join the peace process (then) that will significantly increase the prospect of gradual troop withdrawals," Mr Eide said.

He added that the United Nations would be ready to meet with the insurgency anywhere in order to promote such a process in accordance with the mandate.

Answering questions regarding the Independent Election Commission's announcement to hold Parliamentary polls as early as 22 May, Mr Eide said that although he respects the decision to follow the constitution, the time available to conduct such an election was very short.

The international community, including the United Nations has repeatedly stressed on the cogent need for the government to implement reforms before holding another election, especially after last August's Presidential and Provincial Council elections were denigrated by voter fraud and insecurity.

"For me... it is important that a real reform process takes place before the next elections," said the Special Representative, adding that no request for money for the elections has been made from the government.

Meantime, on Saturday, Afghan MPs rejected a majority of the names proposed by President Hamid Karzai for his new cabinet, including the only female minister. Among the seven names approved by the parliament are the former Ministers of Interior, Defence, Finance, and Agriculture. The international community has been pressing Mr Karzai to include competent, reform-oriented individuals in his cabinet.

With the Afghanistan Conference in London just weeks away, Mr Eide said this deadlock was a "political setback, in the sense that it prolongs the situation without a functioning government."

However, according to the Special Representative, the vote also proved that the parliament has made full use of its authority under the constitution and would hopefully lead to a more accountable cabinet which is able to command the confidence of the Afghan people.

By Aditya Mehta, UNAMA