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Afghanistan

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the public consultation phase of the Afghan constitution-making process will begin; and how many women's groups, and from where, are to be consulted. [109408]

A process of public education and consultation will begin once the Afghan Constitutional Commission has been established and published the draft text of the constitution. We hope that all sections of Afghan community, including women, will be involved in the process. The UK has given £500,000 to the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan to support the consultation process.A Constitutional Drafting Commission, including two women members, was established in October 2002 to prepare a set of recommendations to the Constitutional Commission on constitutional arrangements. The Drafting Commission has met with the Ministry for Women's Affairs, women's NGOs, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and other civil society groups to discuss how to incorporate gender and women's rights into the preliminary draft of the constitution.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the commissioners of the Constitutional Commission in Afghanistan, broken down by gender. [109409]

The Constitutional Commission has yet to be established. A Constitutional Drafting Commission of constitutional experts was appointed by President Karzai in October 2002. Two of the nine members of the Drafting Commission are women. Their task is to prepare a set of recommendations to the Constitutional Commission on constitutional arrangements.The members of the Constitutional Drafting Commission are:

Vice-President Shahrani (Chair)
Mr. Azimi
Mr. Fazili
Mr. Sherzoy
Ms Mukarama
Mr. Asheri
Mr. Marufi
Ms Kakar
Mr. Danish

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the UN Special Representative in Kabul has appointed a permanent gender advisor; and if he will make a statement. [109410]

The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) have confirmed that the position of Gender Advisor to the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan has now been filled. UNAMA have told the British Embassy in Kabul that the successful applicant will take up their post in the near future.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what special security arrangements will be made to ensure the safe and full participation of women in the public consultation phase of the Afghan constitution-making process. [109411]

The International Security Assistance Force will continue to help ensure security in Kabul and the surrounding area during the popular consultation process, while progress with security sector reform should help increase the safety of all Afghans. There are no plans at present for special security arrangements for women.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had regarding the disarmament and demilitarisation efforts in Northern Afghanistan. [110016]

None. However, FCO officials are in regular contact with Afghan and international partners on all aspects of Afghanistan's disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the need for further (a) political, (b) economic and (c) military support for the Afghan transitional administration. [110017]

There is a continuing need to provide political, economic and military support to the Afghan transitional administration (ATA). Ministers are in regular contact with the ATA to discuss the best way in which the UK can support it in line with the Bonn Process.

On 17–18 March the ATA presented its National Development Budget of U$2.3 billion for 2003–04 to a high level meeting with donors in Brussels. Twelve participatory consultative groups, chaired by the ATA, will coordinate the economic and developmental process in Afghanistan. The UK is participating in four of these groups—private sector, economic and financial management, public sector reform and security sector reform. The Department for International Development is additionally carrying out a bilateral programme of support to the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank through the Adam Smith Institute. The UK has spent £170 million in Afghanistan since September 2001.

We continue to contribute towards military assistance to the ATA. In 2002/03 we contributed £18 million towards Security Sector Reform programmes. The UK also contributes approx 300 troops to ISAF.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had concerning securing the adherence of Afghanistan's neighbouring states to a policy of noninterference. [110018]

My ministerial colleagues and I are in regular contact with the Government of Afghanistan, and the Governments of Afghanistan's neighbours, on a wide range of issues, including the reconstruction of Afghanistan and regional security. I welcome the signature by Afghanistan and her neighbours of the good neighbourly relations declaration, in Kabul on 22 December 2002. The declaration marked an important step in building a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbours, and should contribute towards greater security and stability in the region.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence. [110019]

We welcomed Pakistan's decision to break its links with the Taliban in 2001, following the attacks in the US on September 11. Pakistan is a key ally in the campaign against terrorism.We regularly discuss with Pakistan the importance of their continuing support for coalition action against Al Q'aida and its associates (including Taliban remnants), and their support for the Afghan Transitional Administration and the Bonn Process. We welcome Pakistan's signing of the Good Neighbourly Relations Declaration together with the Afghan Transitional Administration and Afghanistan's other neighbours on 22 December 2002 as a demonstration of a shared interest in promoting stability in the region.