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US Commitment to Afghan Economic Transition

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In a new generous aid package to Afghanistan, the United States has proposed about 300 million dollars to boost Afghanistan’s economy as the US-led forces are withdrawing from the country. According to the reports, the aid package tops to $300 million over five years for Afghanistan in an effort to stabilize the economy and strengthen Afghanistan’s financial institutions.

The announcement of the aid package comes as the US is pondering over how to deal with the Afghan president’s refusal to sign the bilateral security agreement with the United States. The aid would mainly cover programs aimed at strengthening Afghan financial institutions, education, trade and agricultural sector. The United States developmental agency, USAID, says that the aid package is aimed at sustaining advances and achievements gained during past twelve years. “Going into transition in Afghanistan there has to be economic growth, economic activity, both to offset losses when the military leaves, but also for sustainability,” according to Larry Sampler, who heads U.S. Agency for International Development programs in Afghanistan.

The announcement of the new aid package from the United States comes at a right time when the relations between the two countries have turned sour and the ongoing stalemate over the bilateral security agreement is threatening a post-2014 US military presence in Afghanistan. The new aid package is a demonstration of sustained commitment from the United States to a responsible and gradual drawdown from Afghanistan that would transfer the security to Afghans along with strategies that would ensure there would be no disastrous consequences for the country as the result of the ongoing transition.

The United States’ continued financial commitment to Afghanistan is suggesting that the country is determined to secure a final agreement with the government of Afghanistan so that it would allow the US to keep a residual force in the country beyond 2014. Ironically, the announcement of the new aid coincided with the Afghan government’s decision to further restrict US security involvement in Afghanistan. According to the reports, the Council of Ministers chaired by President Karzai decided to ban imprisonment of the suspect militants by the US forces and any kind of military operations on Afghanistan’s soil.

In terms of the bilateral relations between Afghanistan and the United States and the ongoing standoff between the two countries over the BSA, this meant Afghanistan’s hardening stance over the security deal with the US. And, this could potentially push the standoff into the brink of collapse that would see complete withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan. However, the new aid programs is seen as a meaningful move from the United States suggesting that the country is seeking to resolve the agreement possibly after this year’s presidential elections and by Afghanistan’s next president, if not by Karzai himself.

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