Tue, 22 Sep 2009
North West Leicestershire and Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats -Mover: Prof Paul Reynolds, Summation: Cllr Meral Ece
I. Extreme concern and deep sorrow over the rise in the number of British soldiers killed and wounded in Afghanistan, mixed with admiration and gratitude to Britain’s armed forces for their sacrifices and bravery; remembering too the military and civilian personnel and their families from other allied countries who have lost their lives.Conference notes:
II. Our sympathies to the families of those civilians killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and deep disquiet over increasing civilian deaths caused by aerial attacks, which can further consolidate support for insurgent forces within Afghanistan and Pakistan.
i) The shifting military and political objectives of the Western forces in Afghanistan since 2001.
ii) The extreme centralisation of, and corruption within, the Afghan government – who, notwithstanding, have full control over only a minority of the territory of the country.
iii) That more than half Afghan GDP is now related to the illegal narcotics business, the result of which is that UK streets are flooded with cheap heroin, causing deaths which are set to exceed 1000 this year.
iv) A decline in living conditions since 2001 and a recent deterioration in the legal position of women.
v) The ‘conflict-facilitating lawlessness’ across the border in the Pakistani tribal areas, where the Pakistani constitution does not fully apply.
vi) That public confidence in the recent elections was seriously undermined by widespread fraud.
A. The primary and urgent security aim now should be to stop the killing on all sides, and put an end to the 30 years of continuous war which have created poverty, chaos and militancy.
B. That the path to a positive end to the conflict lies in the orchestration of a regional peace agreement which takes into account the security and economic concerns of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India and other countries involved or affected, under a UN framework.
C. Progress towards peace should not depend on ‘gaining the upper hand militarily’ – since such a condition is hard to define, it will delay a peace settlement, and it effectively puts the potential for political progress in the hands of military forces.
Conference welcomes the decision by the United States under President Obama to adopt a new approach, the assessment by the new Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, that a new ‘Western’ strategy is needed, and the call for a regional peace agreement from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Conference therefore calls for:
1. An end to the killing and to 30 years of war in Afghanistan, and the start of a regional peace process, not contingent on ‘Western’ forces ‘having the upper hand militarily’ – and the pursuit of a ceasefire, leading to a political and constitutional settlement within Afghanistan.
2. The UK government to press the US government to end its ‘military first’ approach, and shift priority to the economic, political and social development of Afghanistan.
3. The necessary inclusion in the work towards a peace process of three key elements:
a) A properly financed decentralised government.
b) Support for the Pakistani government’s desire to extend its constitution into tribal areas.
c) Steps to develop economic cooperation and trade in the region with all countries neighbouring Afghanistan.
4. In particular, the UK Government to:
a) Focus on concluding the Afghanistan mission and to report to Parliament in detail on progress towards a withdrawal.
b) Present to Parliament on its return a series of public ‘mission tests’ that set out progress towards key security and governance goals, and progress with allies in steps to peace, against which Ministers can be held to account.