New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) Building upon the success of a regional investors’ meet India hosted last month, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Sunday heads to the Tokyo Donors’ Conference to pitch for an investment-driven approach to stabilise Afghanistan in the wake of the drawdown of combat troops from that country in 2014.
At the Tokyo conference, Krishna is expected to underline India’s growing stakes in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and advocate an investment-driven approach for rejuvenation of the Afghan economy to reduce its dependence on foreign aid, said official sources.
The Tokyo conference will consider key recommendations of the Delhi investors’ conclave, which included providing the private sector investment protection and risk mitigation, incentives for investing in Afghanistan and the creation of an international fund for small and medium enterprises.
Representatives from around 70 countries and international organisations will meet in Tokyo Sunday to firm up a roadmap for Afghanistan’s development over the next decade and to find ways for greater accountability in the way foreign aid in billions of dollars is used in that country.
Donor countries are expected to pledge $15 billion for the sustainable development of Afghanistan during the so-called transformation decade of 2015-2024.
The reciprocal commitments will be mapped out in a document, titled Mutual Accountability Framework, which will be released at the conference along with the Tokyo Declaration. Afghanistan is expected to seek at least $4 billion from international donors.
With barely two years to go before the withdrawal of the US-led international troops, India has escalated its diplomatic outreach to Afghanistan and the international community to ensure that the country does not slip into the hands of the Taliban militia, which are said to enjoy the patronage of Pakistan’s powerful military-ISI establishment.
With this overarching strategic goal in mind, India has been batting for replacing aid with foreign investment as the primary driver of post-2014 Afghanistan’s resurgence and stability. According to an estimate, Afghanistan has got around $60 billion in aid since 2002, which is nearly the equivalent of the country’s gross domestic product.
New Delhi has also been vigorously batting for a regional approach to stabilising Afghanistan and has intensified its diplomatic drive by unveiling a Central Asia Connect policy last month. Krishna travelled to Tajikistan early this week.
Against this backdrop, India took the lead to host the Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan June 28, an initiative that has been widely seen as a success and elicited praise from the US and the international community.
Indian officials have expressed pleasant surprise at such overwhelming response to the conclave at such a short notice as it was conceived and organised in less than two months’ time, said the sources. Over 80 Afghan companies, 130 Indian companies and 70 international companies from 33 countries, including Pakistan, China, Iran and the Gulf countries, participated in the summit.
At the conclave, India’s central message was that it’s not foreign aid, but private sector and foreign investment that held the key to regional stability. The investors’ meet showcased Afghanistan as a high-returns investment destination and presented what Krishna described as “a narrative of opportunity to counter the anxiety of withdrawal, uncertainty, instability and foreign interference”.
“Let the grey suits of company executives take the place of olive green or desert brown fatigues of soldiers; and CEOs, the place of generals,” Krishna had said at the conclave, encapsulating India’s economic-driven approach for Afghanistan.
Krishna is expected to amplify on this message when he speaks at the Tokyo conference.
India has pledged $2 billion for multifarious reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, which has created enormous goodwill among the Afghan people. But New Delhi fears that in case of a Taliban takeover and festering instability, Afghanistan can slide back into anarchy, threatening India’s vital strategic stakes in a country Pakistan sees as its backyard.