Commitment to Assist Afghanistan
Kazakhstan as a pro-active actor in the world scene regards the situation in Afghanistan as a priority on its foreign policy agenda and exerts serious efforts to facilitate reconstruction in this country which plays a crucial role in the long-term security and stability in Central Asia. That’s why rehabilitation of this country is a major foreign policy priority of Kazakhstan who strongly favours a comprehensive and continued international effort to bring lasting peace and economic development to Afghanistan.
Over the last years Kazakhstan made significant contribution to stabilization of Afghanistan. In 2001 Kazakhstan provided no-cost over-flight rights for “Enduring Freedom” operation. Similar arrangements have been developed and adopted between Kazakhstan and Germany at the end of 2007. In 2002 Kazakhstan offered its emergency landing air fields for US military and cargo planes. Being one of the key parts of so-called Northern Distribution Network through which about 35% of all US cargo arrives to Afghanistan since 2009 Kazakhstan made its rail and motor roads available for transit of non-lethal shipments needed for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
In accordance with Bonn Process, 2006 London Conference, 2008 Paris Donor Conference on Afghanistan during 2006-2009 Kazakhstan has undertaken a number of steps like humanitarian aid to Afghanistan ($ 1 mln.), scholarships for 100 Afghani students to study in the national universities (geology, engineering, etc.), training programs for Afghanistan’s police and internal security service, signing with Government of Afghanistan the Protocol of Intentions to build railway road Termez (Uzbekistan) – Kabul (Afghanistan) with further access to the transport infrastructure of India, creation of the Kazakh-Afghan Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Kazakhstan is the only Central Asian country which has the Assistance Program on Reconstruction of Afghanistan. In 2007-2008 Governmental Action Plan on Assistance to Afghanistan has been successfully accomplished. Total financial funding in sum of $ 3 mln. has been provided to restore agricultural seed supply of Afghanistan ($0.5 mln.), to build a school in Samangan province ($0.28 mln.), a hospital in Bamiyan province ($0.57 mln.) and a road ($ 1.65 mln.).
Under the next Governmental Action Plan on Assistance to Afghanistan for 2009-2011 Kazakhstan allocates $5 million for projects related to water supply, infrastructure development and delivery of grains and other commodities. Besides, Kazakhstan is ready to provide an enhanced education program to Afghanis in a variety of fields. The Action Plan allocates considerable resources for providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. The aid will include the delivery of commodities and materials as well as construction of four bridges crossing the river running through the town of Aibak and strengthening the river banks. According to the Action Plan, Afghan government will receive two aircrafts from their Kazakh counterparts: a MI-171 (to use for humanitarian cargo and rescue operations) and an IL-76 (for transporting humanitarian aid cargo from the United Arab Emirates to Afghanistan within the UN World Food Program).
Another important step was decision by the Government of Kazakhstan to allocate $ 50 mln. to implement the Agreement on Cooperation in Education with Afghan Government. Under the Agreement Kazakhstan will educate 1000 Afghan people from 2010 to 2014. Education of Afghan people will be carried out in the universities of Kazakhstan in such specialties as healthcare, agriculture, police, border control, engineering, teachers and educators.
Kazakhstan also stands for more regional involvement to the solution of Afghan problem and, in this regard, fully supports US strategy on Afghanistan declared by President Barack Obama which contains comprehensive vision on how to operate in «AfPak» zone. Stabilization of Afghanistan was and continues to be one of the most important issues to discuss during high-level exchanges between Kazakhstan and USA.