Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Joint Statement from the President and President Karzai of Afghanistan

The Los Angeles Times

U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, accompanied by senior-level delegations, convened wide-ranging discussions on May 11-12, 2010, aimed at deepening cooperation on the shared and mutual priorities of the United States and Afghanistan. These discussions on governance, security, economic and social development, and regional issues built on past sessions of the United States Afghanistan Strategic Dialogue. President Obama and President Karzai reaffirmed their growing cooperation and their commitment to the solid, broad, and enduring strategic partnership between the governments and peoples of the United States and Afghanistan. This partnership is based on shared interests and objectives, as well as mutual respect. The two sides declared that a sovereign, stable, secure, peaceful, and economically viable Afghanistan that has friendly relations with all its neighbors and countries in the region is vital to regional stability and global security.

Securing Afghanistan's Future
President Obama recognized the courage and determination of the Afghan people to resist violent extremists and to ensure that their country does not once again become a safe haven for terrorists, including al-Qaeda. President Karzai expressed deep appreciation for the vital support of the 46 troop-contributing countries to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) International Security Assistance Force, including ongoing stabilization efforts. He paid special tribute to the American men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice alongside Afghan and international forces to secure a better future for the Afghan people. Additionally, both countries expressed regret over the tragic loss of civilian lives and committed to redouble efforts to prevent civilian casualties.

President Obama and President Karzai recognized the Afghan Government's deep resolve to assume increasing responsibility for security. They welcomed NATO's intent, endorsed by foreign ministers in Tallinn on April 22-23, to develop with Afghanistan a joint security transition framework that can be announced later this summer. Additionally, President Karzai noted his determination to see the Afghan National Security Forces conduct the majority of operations in the remaining insecure areas of Afghanistan and to take full responsibility for Afghanistan's physical security.
The Presidents further recognized that developing the Afghan National Security Forces' capabilities is necessary to facilitate implementation of an orderly, conditions-based security transition process. Towards that end, the Afghan Government welcomed the United States' pledge of continued support to train, equip, and sustain the Afghan National Security Forces, so they can increasingly take the lead in securing and defending their country against internal and external threats. President Karzai joined President Obama in reiterating the need for continued international military assistance to train and equip the Afghan National Security Forces.

Additionally, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to transitioning responsibility for detention facilities to the Afghan Government. This process will begin at the Parwan detention facility in January 2011. Both Presidents recognized that a successful transition will be an important milestone toward achieving President Karzai's inaugural pledge of having the Afghan Government assume full responsibility over detention operations. As part of this transition process, President Karzai welcomed continued U.S. assistance to build a safe, secure, and humane corrections system. Underscoring the United States' respect for Afghanistan's sovereignty, President Obama also emphasized his strong desire to see all search, arrest, and detention operations be carried out by the Afghan National Security Forces. He and President Karzai directed their senior defense advisors to accelerate and further clarify the timeline for the transition process, and also to consider additional steps to address this Afghan Government priority.

President Obama and President Karzai recognized the importance of Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts. Towards that end, the United States pledged its support for Afghanistan's reintegration and reconciliation processes, which allow an honorable place in society to those who cut ties with al-Qaeda, cease violence against the Afghan state, and accept the Afghan Constitution, including its protections of human rights and women's equality. The United States also welcomed planning towards the Consultative Peace Jirga and expressed support for an inclusive process that includes broad representation from across all of Afghan society – both men and women – and takes into account their concerns and priorities.

Strengthening Governance and Expanding Economic Opportunity
The United States reiterated its commitment to helping ensure that the Afghan Government is able to meet the needs of its people through developing its own institutions and resources. President Karzai expressed deep appreciation for the United States' long-term civilian commitment to supporting the Afghan people. President Obama pledged continued reconstruction and economic assistance, and he commended Afghanistan's commitment to develop a plan for more effective and accountable civilian government institutions at the national and sub-national levels. He emphasized the joint efforts by both governments to build Afghan Government capacity and pledged continued technical assistance to improve the accountability, professionalism, financial management, and oversight capacity of key Afghan ministries and institutions so that they can assume greater responsibility for Afghanistan's economic development. In this regard, the United States supports the Afghan Government's intention to launch a number of key infrastructure projects, which are vital for sustainable economic growth and private sector development. Both Presidents also reaffirmed the need for continued progress toward the United States goal of directing at least 50 percent of U.S. assistance through the Afghan Government and for additional mechanisms to enhance coordination of U.S. assistance not yet flowing through the Afghan Government. Additionally, the United States pledged to expand efforts to hire local staff and procure an increasing percentage of supplies from Afghan sources.

Countering Corruption and Enhancing Accountability
Both countries recognized that fighting against corruption emanating from any source in Afghanistan remains a top priority. President Obama noted his commitment to improving oversight of all U.S. government contracting procedures. President Karzai reaffirmed his inaugural pledge to bring to justice those involved in corrupt activities. Towards that end, the two countries resolved to work jointly to improve accountability in Afghanistan by strengthening key judicial and oversight mechanisms. The United States pledged technical and financial assistance to support President Karzai's efforts to strengthen the powers and authorities of the Major Crimes Task Force and the High Office of Oversight. President Karzai underscored the important roles of the Independent Directorate for Local Governance and Civil Service Commission in appointing competent sub-national officials. He also recognized efforts to expedite reforms aimed at improving and expanding access to the formal justice sector by increasing capacity and reducing corruption in state justice institutions.

Sustaining Afghanistan's Democratic Progress
President Obama welcomed recent steps and commitments undertaken by the Afghan Government to strengthen Afghanistan's electoral institutions. He and President Karzai recognized the importance of holding transparent and credible Parliamentary elections in 2010. The United States welcomed the leadership of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in coordinating international assistance in support of the further strengthening of Afghanistan's electoral process. It pledged additional technical and financial support to Afghanistan's democratic institutions.

President Karzai and President Obama reiterated the need to respect and defend fundamental human and civil rights set out in the Afghan Constitution, the United Nations Charter, and international agreements and conventions to which Afghanistan is a party. Towards that end, they underscored the importance of empowering Afghan men and women from all backgrounds to contribute peacefully to the development of Afghanistan. Recognizing that Afghanistan cannot prosper if half of its citizens cannot contribute fully, President Karzai and President Obama stressed the vital role Afghan women play in rebuilding their society and decided that additional measures must be taken to safeguard their rights. The two leaders reaffirmed that women's empowerment and civic participation are critical to Afghanistan's economic stability, security, good governance, and development.

Role of Regional Cooperation and the International Community
President Obama joined President Karzai in calling on the international community to sustain its long-term support for Afghanistan. Both Presidents stressed the importance of a robust and effective United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, and pledged to cooperate with UN-led efforts to coordinate the efforts of international donors.

Towards that end, President Obama announced that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is to head the U.S. delegation to the Kabul Conference, to be hosted by the Afghan Government on July 20. He reiterated that the U.S. delegation looks forward to joining other international donors in discussing and supporting the Afghan Government's concrete implementation plans for accelerating efforts to build its capacity to provide its citizens with economic opportunity, security, and good governance, as committed to at the London Conference in January 2010.

President Obama and President Karzai underscored the importance of regional cooperation in promoting regional security and in combating illicit financial, criminal, and terrorist networks. Both Presidents also acknowledged the important support of Afghanistan's neighbors in facilitating trade and transit in the region, including for supplies needed for the stabilization and further development of Afghanistan.

A Forward-Looking, Long-Term Partnership
The United States and Afghanistan committed to a series of intensive, senior-level bilateral discussions to conclude with the signing of a strengthened U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Declaration in 2010, building on the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Declaration of 2005. Both Presidents concurred that these discussions would constitute a reinvigorated U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Dialogue and focus on themes critical to our long-term relationship and enduring commitment, including: sovereignty, security, democratic development and institution building, economic and social development, and regional issues. The strengthened Strategic Partnership Declaration is expected to: reiterate the United States' and Afghanistan's shared vision and commitment to Afghanistan's future; clarify how Afghanistan plans to increasingly take on responsibility for its own security, justice, and development; and articulate how the United States plans to work with Afghanistan to enhance its ability to contribute to regional stability and

Poison swirls around Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama

The Sunday Times
When Hamid Karzai started presenting the victims of British bombings in Helmand with medals commemorating Wazir Akbar Khan, one of the victors of the first Anglo-Afghan war, someone should, perhaps, have wondered which side Afghanistan’s president was really on.

That was in 2006 when he was furious that the British had demanded the removal of Sher Mohammad Akhundzada as governor of Helmand after finding opium in his office. Karzai still insists this move prompted a resurgence of the Taliban.

At the time British officials consoled themselves that he was angry over the bombing of civilians by US forces but could not risk alienating his main backer. Whether or not they were right, there is little love lost now between the presidential palace in Kabul and the White House.

If you commit 100,000 troops to a war, as President Barack Obama will soon have done, you do not want as your partner someone who says that you may be trying to poison him, who flirts with your enemy and threatens to join the very people you are fighting. America has now lost more than 1,000 lives in Afghanistan and is spending $73 billion there this year. After showing footage last week of Karzai lambasting the West, American talk-show host Jon Stewart spluttered in indignation. “I think the words he was looking for [were] thank you,” he said.

From the start Karzai has not known what to make of Obama but he believes the US president did not want him to win re-election last August. He reacted to a recent White House snub by inviting to Kabul President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who gave a fiery anti-American speech.

Karzai has seen himself described as “mad” and “paranoid” in the US media, which have also carried reports that America wants to put his brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, an alleged drug dealer, on a death list.

Peter Galbraith, a former United Nations official, even intimated Karzai was using drugs. “He’s prone to tirades,” Galbraith said. “In fact, some palace insiders say that he has a certain fondness for some of Afghanistan’s most profitable exports.”

How on earth has this happened? I have known Karzai for 23 years and while he is erratic, with mood swings, he is not mad. He is an extremely proud Afghan, answering to a nation that has defeated all its occupiers and which does not trust the Americans, having been abandoned by them before.

Appeasing both the international community and his own Pashtun tribe, which bears the brunt of fighting in southern and eastern Afghanistan, is a balancing act for which he may not be sufficiently skilled.

Since he is isolated behind high walls and seven layers of security in a palace where many of his predecessors were murdered, it is hardly surprising if he is paranoid.

Sycophantic courtiers feed him rumour and a daily digest of the foreign press with anything negative highlighted in yellow.

Unlike President George W Bush, who called Karzai his buddy and held monthly video conferences with him, Obama has distanced himself. He made his first visit to Kabul as president last week, flying for 26 hours to give Karzai a 25-minute lecture on corruption.

The Karzai family has now hit back, accusing US officials of launching a smear campaign as a prelude to abandoning the country again. “There’s a very bad policy developing towards Afghanistan,” said the president’s brother Mahmoud Karzai, a businessman who lives in Kabul. “They want to discredit the Afghan government in the eyes of the US public. I hope it’s not the beginning of an exit strategy. If it is, God help us, it will be very bad — don’t they remember what happened when they did this before in the Eighties?”

Mahmoud believes the tension goes back to before last summer’s elections. “There was a clear push by a group of US politicians to really hurt him.”

He particularly blames Galbraith, who was then the deputy UN representative, and Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “They made statements which were really outrageous,” he said. “On the second day of counting, before the results were even known, they said it would go to a second round.

“Ever since there has been a push to undermine the Afghan government. I don’t understand. I see right now the Taliban at the fence. If we continue the good work, the Taliban will be defeated, but if we continue in this way they will not.”

He was incensed by Galbraith’s suggestion that the president was on drugs. “My brother has never smoked a cigarette in his life,” he said. “He doesn’t drink or gamble. For people to make such a ridiculous attack is outrageous.

“We worry that taking sides with certain countries might be the agenda,” Mahmoud added. “Mr Holbrooke is very close to Pakistan.”

The biggest sticking point is Ahmed Wali, who runs the family interests in Kandahar and is believed to be a drug dealer. US officials have reportedly said he must be removed before a battle for control of the province.

“They say he is a drug dealer but we’ve never been shown any evidence,” Mahmoud said. “The idea that Ahmed Wali should be removed is generated by those who want to hand over Kandahar to the Taliban.”

As for the Afghan president’s reported threat to join the Taliban if the West kept attacking him, Mahmoud said: “It’s impossible. The Taliban would not allow him.” It is often forgotten that Karzai was once the Taliban’s chief fundraiser.

The argument may come down to differences over how to deal with the Taliban. Like the British, Karzai thinks negotiations should start now. The Americans want a military victory first. This will be the main topic of discussion when Karzai visits Washington next month.

Germans bemoan poor kit

German troops are complaining that they are unable to fight in Afghanistan because of poor training and a lack of proper equipment, writes Bojan Pancevski.

After the deaths of three German soldiers and five Afghan police officers killed by friendly fire last weekend, officers have blamed a shortage of weapons, ammunition, vehicles and helicopters for low morale.

Their spotter drones, needed for surveillance, could not take off in the heat. The new NH90 multi-role helicopters have proved “inappropriate”, as they lack space for machineguns.

Unlike most other Nato troops, the Germans are flying large quantities of alcohol to their Afghan bases. Annual shipments have reached 1.8m pints of beer and 70,000 litres of wine, according to defense ministry figures.

Obama, Karzai Tackle Talks with Afghan Taliban at White House Meeting
U.S. President Barack Obama meets his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, in Washington Wednesday to improve strained relations between the two governments.
Mr. Obama will spend almost a full day with Mr. Karzai, including lunch and a joint news conference at the White House.
The two leaders are also expected to discuss Afghan plans for a national peace assembly later this month. The "jirga" is aimed at reintegrating lower-level Taliban soldiers and officers into national security forces.
There are two key issues likely to be addressed: dealing with widespread corruption in President Karzai's government and the question of whether to pursue a strategy of reconciliation or reintegration with the Taliban.
The United States wants reintegration of the Taliban as a means towards peace. This means luring foot-level soldiers back into daily life and into the mainstream of Afghan society. The United States contends most of these people are fighting for money, not ideology. As a result, the United States believes they could be easily wooed away.
Reconciliation, which President Karzai wants, seeks to bring the Taliban at all levels into the political process. The Obama administration balks at reconciliation.
These talks will raise "red lines", a term politicians and diplomats use to describe the limits of their willingness to negotiate. What is going to be the cut-off point at which you reconcile with the Taliban, at what level do you allow them to come back? And what level, do you say "No, they are too high level, they are too much in the insurgency, the U.S. cannot have them integrated into the government."
Mr. Karzai, who is in Washington on a four-day visit, met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
The two reaffirmed the durability of the U.S.-Afghan partnership, while delicately skirting the issue of recent discord between the two countries.
As the meeting between Secretary Clinton and the Afghan leader was under way, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates hosted his Afghan counterpart, Abdul Rahim Wardak, and other members of the Afghan delegation.
The officials discussed ongoing efforts to expand and improve the Afghan security forces and the need to further develop security ties with Pakistan.
Also Tuesday, President Karzai visited Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where American soldiers who have been wounded in Afghan combat are being treated. He expressed gratitude for the sacrifices of U.S. troops.

Pakistan grenade attack kills two girls in Peshawar

A grenade explosion in the Pakistani city of Peshawar has killed two young girls and injured two others.The children were playing in the Ram Krishan area when they were attacked.Their father, Rais Khan, told reporters the attackers threw a grenade at his house because he had refused to pay them "protection money".Meanwhile, angry residents have set up a road-block with the bodies on the road that links Peshawar and Charsadda town, closing it to traffic.The dead girls were named as Kulsoom and Sumayya while Mariam and Iqra were injured.
No group has claimed Wednesday's attack.
Peshawar is close to the Mohmand and Khyber regions, part of the semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun tribal lands along the Afghan border which have become a global Islamist militant hub.

Russia urges active US role in Mideast

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged the United States on Wednesday to actively work to achieve peace in the Mideast with the support of other nations, saying there is a human tragedy in Gaza.His comment appeared to indicate Moscow's willingness to become an active Middle East mediator. On Tuesday, during a visit to Syria, Medvedev said Israeli-Arab tensions threaten to draw the Middle East into a new catastrophe, adding Moscow's weight to a diplomatic push to ease antagonism between Israel and Syria."The United States must be active and other nations must contribute," Medvedev told a joint news conference in Ankara with Turkish President Abdullah Gul.Washington recently launched U.S.-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but signs of trouble already have emerged. On Monday, Israel said it doesn't intend to halt construction of Jewish housing in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians accused Israel of undermining trust and urged President Barack Obama to intervene.Obama supports establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.Medvedev said no one should be excluded from the Mideast peace process, a clear reference to Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which is shunned as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union nations.Medvedev met Mashaal in Damascus on Tuesday. Hamas rules in the Gaza Strip, one of the territories that would one day be part of a Palestinian state.
"We have to include all conflicting parties and not exclude anyone from this process," Medvedev said.
The Russian president said countries that are not close to the region also have "responsibilities" to work for peace in the entire Mideast.
"We are facing a human tragedy in Gaza, so that there is need for more efforts, even though we can't solve all problems," Medvedev said.
Gul said the Mideast conflict is the source of "unrest" in many parts of the world and must be stopped.
Medvedev also said Iran must "adopt a constructive approach in some way," as the U.S. and its allies rally for new U.N. sanctions against Tehran regarding its nuclear program. Iran has denied charges that it is secretly building nuclear weapons."The Mideast must be a region cleared from nuclear weapons," Medvedev said. "The use of nuclear weapons in the region would be a disaster."
Medvedev said Russia would hold talks with Iran and Israel on the issue.
On Tuesday, Russia urged Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and open up its long-established but unannounced nuclear arsenal to the U.N. monitoring agency.Israel's officially unacknowledged arsenal of perhaps 80 nuclear weapons is the only such stockpile in the Mideast.Later Wednesday, Turkey and Russia were to sign a series of cooperation agreements in trade and tourism, including the lifting of entry visas in a bid to further bring the former Cold War era rivals closer.
Medvedev and Gul vowed to triple the bilateral trade volume to around US$100 billion in the next five years.
Turkey, a U.S. ally, served as NATO's foremost base during the Cold War but has seen its relations rapidly develop with Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Gul said several new energy projects are on the agenda, including a pipeline that could pump Russian oil from Turkey's Black Sea coast to the Mediterranean and construction of its first nuclear power plant with Russian help.
Medvedev, meanwhile, supported reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Armenia while acknowledging that "it is a difficult issue."
Turkey wants Armenian troops to be withdrawn from Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-occupied enclave in Azerbaijan, to restore diplomatic relations with Armenia and open the joint border which Turkey shut down in 1993 to protest Armenia's war with neighboring Azerbaijan. Turks share ethnic and religious bonds with Azeris.


Does anyone care to revamp education system?

“WHERE is Malta?’ a panelist at an interview board asked a candidate - a postgraduate in Geography - who had applied for a job to teach the same subject. “Malta?” a somewhat puzzled candidate retorted, with a cynical look. “You must be kidding me,” he remarked, still bewildered. “It’s a fruit of course and everyone knows where to find it?” pat came out the answer.

Now, for those of us, not well-versed in geography, “Malta” would certainly have meant orange, but you have to give it to a postgraduate in Geography for not knowing a fig about this Mediterranean archipelago.

But, even this gentleman can be forgiven for his ignorance, if one were to leaf through the last Annual Report of the erstwhile NWFP Public Service Commission.

It notes: “Master degree holders in specialised subjects like MCS, MSC, Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Biology etc. could not answer simple questions of Pakistan Studies, Islamiat and questions about government institutions which they should have leant at secondary school and college level.

The examples are already given that MCS (Master in Computer Science) could not answer the question ‘where Minar-i-Pakistan is located and what is its historical significance. A master degree holder in Islamiat could not differentiate between Imaan and Islam.” It said. A candidate had answered that Minar-i-Pakistan was located in Peshawar!

A law graduate was repeatedly referring to “coconut stories” while being interviewed for a post of additional prosecutor. It turned out - to the amusement of those sitting on the interview panel - that the gentleman actually meant to say “concocted stories. When asked what a coconut looked like. The candidate said: “It was just like an apple.”

Such is the state of education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The tragedy is that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly that received the PCS Report on almost annual basis passes it without bothering to leaf through its pages and address the many causes that ail our education system.

The rot has set in and it will take a Herculean effort to turn around things and improve the quality of education. This requires vision, something that is deplorably missing in the ruling elite, whose sons and daughters know not how does it feel sitting on a mat in a classroom with no ceiling fan and a bathroom with no water.

Ignorance may be forgiven but indifference is criminal and that’s what our education system has come to be treated as - with criminal indifference. A province that has little resources of its own spends Rs30 billion on education, Rs24 billion of which is spent on salaries of teachers and other allied staff.

With 174,000 employees (56 per cent), education department is the biggest service provider in the public sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. And this is what we get? “Coconut stories?”

A child, who is taught who the founder father of Pakistan is long before he learns the name of his father does not know where Minar-i-Pakistan is, definitely highlights where we stand.

The quality of education has deteriorated and this speaks volumes about the incompetence of those who have been overseeing the formulation of syllabi as well as those teaching it. Does it surprise anyone that the education department is still being governed under an outdated 1935 Education Code - the so-called Bible of the Education Department - which is only now being changed, thanks to some good and dedicated officers at the helm?

A study has found that put together; the amount spent on a student in public schools by the government was enough to get him enrolled in one of the best private schools of Pakistan.

This is not to say that the elite private schools are fairing any better, where school bags are getting heavier than the weight of the kids carrying them on their all-too-weak shoulders, and where, as one dear friend put it, knowledge is hammered through their brains without so much caring for them to understand it.

But still, there is a huge difference between public and private schools in terms of quality of education. And that is because of the training the teachers are put through in private sector schools on a regular basis and where promotions are done on the basis of performance and not because teachers reach a certain ceiling of their pay to become eligible for a move-over to next grade.

Please! When was the last time public sector teachers went though a refresher training course? If it is mandatory for officers of other government department to go through management courses to become eligible for promotion to the next higher grade, why can’t it be made compulsory for the teachers to do the same?

But this may never happen. And you know why? With all due respect to the teachers, some of whom abound in politics than knowledge, there umpteen associations, some of which are associated with this or that political party, would be out on the streets, holding placards. Ever heard of teachers protesting to demand better training? Hell, No! Why should they?

This is what the many political governments have done over the last several decades; inundate schools with their own political loyalists, who owe their appointment not to the knowledge or the lack thereof, but to their political loyalties. Wonder why some of these associations suddenly come to life when their parties come into power.

And then to rub salt to your wounds, you hear ministers making statements ad-nauseum, of making education their top priority. That may be true. Because this would mean more schools; and more schools mean more recruitment and more opportunities to draft more loyalists.

But the tragedy is that nobody is concerned, not leas the people at large, who, beset by a raft of troubles, have their way, groping in the dark, not knowing which way to turn. The government, with the exception of a few good officers at the helm in the education department, is least pushed to give a policy direction and set a vision for revamping the rotten state of affairs in the education sector.

Reforms are necessary and it does not require a task force to re-invent the wheel. A glace through the PCS Annual Report lays it bare, even for those with a weak sight to diagnose the real causes behind the downfall of education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The issue is not money or spending more money for that matter to improve the quality of education. Cuba is spending less than many of the Latin American countries but is competing with some of the developed countries of the world in terms of quality education. In Western Europe, Finland is spending less than Norway but tops the list of countries in quality education. What is required is an effective and merit-based recruitment system for teachers and headmasters and putting in place an effective monitoring and supervision system.
All the countries which are now competing in terms of high quality education have come to learn this through trial and error. It is time to abandon the outdated CT, PT-mode of recruitment and revamp the whole system. And this does not require money. What it requires is the political will. Does anyone care?

A fence-mending agenda for President Obama and Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai

By Zalmay Khalilzad
Relations between the United States and Afghanistan have recently verged on crisis. Will this week's visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai return things to a better path? That will depend on four big issues:

First, restoring confidence. There is a substantial trust deficit between the United States and Afghanistan. Karzai feels personally slighted, perhaps even disoriented, by U.S. actions, such as a senior administration official's press briefing about the March meeting between Obama and Karzai and a leaked cable by the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan describing Karzai in unfavorable terms. He has been told by some of his advisers that the United States surreptitiously tried to defeat him in last year's presidential elections by supporting rival candidates and by focusing military operations on areas populated by his base in order to manipulate voter turnout. Hectoring by some senior administration officials underscored the credibility of these allegations in Karzai's eyes and added to his humiliation.
It appears that the Obama administration will try to soothe Karzai by giving him the red-carpet treatment. That's fine, but the improved atmosphere is just a backdrop: What is really needed is substance. The administration has developed serious doubts about Karzai's reliability and effectiveness as a partner, as well as his ability and will to deal with corruption and further the rule of law.
The presidents' meeting, therefore, must produce credible agreement on specific issues such as a new division of labor on security in Afghanistan. As he wrote in The Post on Sunday, Karzai wants a new status-of-forces-type agreement that limits coalition activities. For example, he wants coalition forces to stop entering Afghan homes or arresting Afghans. It would be good for both sides to begin negotiating a new framework for bilateral relations, perhaps by updating the five-year-old Strategic Partnership Agreement. The Obama administration should welcome Karzai's desire to take on more responsibility while noting that the Afghan leader may seek more authority than he is able to deliver on at this time.
This discussion needs to be pragmatic and realistic, not driven by pride or slogans -- a point that applies to the equally crucial issues of corruption and governance. Here, our administration needs to show a willingness to review and improve the U.S. government contracting process, which is undeniably part of the problem. This could prove to be an area of constructive collaboration, given mutual goodwill.
The third issue is dealing with the Taliban. Karzai's goals and strategy on this sensitive matter are unclear. Certainly, Afghans want an end to the warfare that has plagued their country for more than 30 years. At times it has appeared that Karzai wants the Taliban to accept the new order: Lay down its arms, acknowledge the Afghan constitution and forswear terror in exchange for amnesty and reintegration. At other times, Karzai has signaled that he wants to strike a deal with the Taliban and implied that everything is subject to negotiation, including the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan and the validity of the constitution. And at still other times Karzai appears to believe that all hope for the future is lost and has said he would like to reconcile with the Taliban, if it would accept him. A mutual understanding of an acceptable end state on how to deal with the Taliban is critical, as are the steps that would be necessary to get there.
Fourth, all of this needs to be embedded in a coordinating regional strategy. Success in Afghanistan depends heavily on relations among key regional players, several of whom are being unhelpful. For example, Iran would like to see the United States abandon Afghanistan. Pakistan would prefer that Washington "subcontract" Afghanistan to it. Both are telling Karzai that the United States will abandon Afghanistan. Just as we are unclear on Karzai's approach to the Taliban, Karzai is confused about our relations with regional actors such as Pakistan. These points must be clarified during his visit, and a regional approach that includes the implications of a confrontation with and possible sanctions regime against Iran must be mapped out.
The United States is enormously invested in Afghanistan. In recent months it has sometimes seemed as though Karzai and the Obama administration, instead of seeking a joint way forward, were positioning themselves to blame the other for an inevitable failure in Afghanistan. The good news is that both seem to have recognized that things have gone too far and that both sides have to step back from the brink. The blame game is likely to resume, however, if they cannot develop and agree on a plan that improves the situation on the ground.
The writer, a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and president of the consulting firm Khalilzad Associates, served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration