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Call for Evidence

Call for evidence

Between 2001 and 2014, the UK was involved in the conflict in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al  Qaeda. The UK participated actively in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force from 2002. The last UK combat troops left Afghanistan in October 2014.

Around 1000 UK troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan, as part of the non-combat NATO Resolute Support mission, which provides security and helps to train Afghan security forces.[1]

The UK is a major aid donor to Afghanistan with a country budget of £148,672,080 for 2020-21.[2] The Department for International Development describes Afghanistan as “one of the poorest and most fragile countries in the world”.[3]

The UK Government describes its engagement in Afghanistan as “supporting the Afghan government to:

  • support Afghan-led efforts to make progress towards a sustainable political settlement
  • build sustainable and sufficiently capable Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) which can contain the insurgency, deny safe havens to international terrorist groups and protect the civilian population
  • build a viable Afghan state, which can increasingly meet its population’s needs from its own resources.”[4]

The Committee’s inquiry will explore the UK’s diplomatic, military and aid strategy for Afghanistan, including scrutiny of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and the Ministry of Defence (MoD). It will consider the UK’s work with international partners such as the US, NATO, and the Afghan government.

 

The call for evidence

The Committee is calling for written evidence on the questions below. The Committee will use the written evidence received to further shape its inquiry.

You do not need to answer all the questions to make a submission.

Diversity comes in many forms and hearing a range of different perspectives means that committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinise public policy and legislation. Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a select committee to share their views with the committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome.

 

Geopolitical environment

1. Which regional and global powers are playing the most significant role in Afghanistan’s political and security environment? What scope is there for that role to be more positive and constructive than it has been in the past? We would particularly welcome responses on:

  • Pakistan;
  • Iran;
  • India;
  • The Gulf states;
  • The US;
  • Russia;
  • China; and
  • European countries

2. What are the prospects for the implementation of the peace agreement between the US and the Taliban signed in February? To what extent have its provisions been implemented, and what are the principal challenges?

3. What might US policy to Afghanistan look like under each of the US presidential candidates? What will be the likely direction of the Trump Administration’s policy to Afghanistan up until the election?

4. Which non-state actors are most active in Afghanistan, and how significant a role are they playing? What is their relationship with foreign and domestic political actors?

5. What is your assessment of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan?

Domestic context

6. What are Afghanistan’s principal economic sectors and trade relationships?

    a. How can these be built upon to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and create jobs and livelihoods?

    b. To what extent are the illegal drugs trade and the grey economy still an important source of income?

7. What is your assessment of the functioning of Afghanistan’s constitutional arrangements?

   a. What is the outlook for the May 2020 power sharing deal between President Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah?

   b. Can Afghanistan successfully operate as a multi-ethnic state?

   c. To what extent have international and domestic efforts to build Afghanistan’s institutions (such as the judiciary and the rule of law) and measures to promote the rights of women, freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, and anti-corruption initiatives been successful? How best can they be sustained and strengthened?

8. What is the current strength and geographic reach of the Taliban? What are its aims and underlying motivation, and how united is it as a group? What are its links to non-state actors such as al Qaeda and to external powers? What are the social and economic conditions in areas under the Taliban’s control?

9. What is the outlook for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban following the US-Taliban peace agreement? What role can or should the Taliban play in government, and how can this be achieved?

10. What is the state of the Afghan military and civilian forces? What further international support will be needed? How can this be delivered in the future?

11. What are the prospects for the return of the almost 2.5 million registered refugees from Afghanistan (UNHCR figures)? What is the impact of hosting Afghan refugees on its neighbours?

The UK

12. What are the UK’s national security and foreign policy interests in Afghanistan? What are the UK’s objectives for its engagement?

13. What will be the impact of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan on the UK?

14. The UK is a significant aid donor to Afghanistan. What has been the impact of UK aid to Afghanistan since 2001? How effective are its ODA programmes across all issues and sectors (such as education, health, food security and women’s rights), and how do they compare to those of other countries?

15. How effective have the UK’s military training activities been in Afghanistan?

16. How influential is the UK in Afghanistan, and in international discussions about Afghanistan, including in the UN Security Council, of which the UK is a permanent member?

17. How well co-ordinated are the UK’s activities in Afghanistan in terms of aid, defence and diplomacy? 

     a. How can the Integrated Review improve co-ordination?

     b. What impact will the merger of the FCO and DfID have?

Other

18. What impact is the COVID-19 pandemic having on Afghanistan?

 

 

[1] https://www.army.mod.uk/deployments/afghanistan/

[2] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/location/country

[3] https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/location/country

[4] https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-kabul

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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