I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is today publishing the 14th progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010.
The Prime Minister and President Karzai signed the UK-Afghanistan Enduring Strategic Partnership document on 28 January. The document signals our shared vision of a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan able to maintain its own security and prevent the country from again being used as a safe haven for international terrorists. This builds on the strong message from the Bonn conference last year of the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan post-2014. The NATO Chicago summit in May and the Tokyo development conference in July will be the point at which the international community looks to deliver on the commitments made at Bonn. The Chicago and Tokyo conferences will demonstrate to the Afghan people and the insurgency that the international community will support Afghanistan far beyond 2014 and will not end when combat troops withdraw.
During the last month the UK continued to help the Government of Afghanistan build their capacity to deliver better public services and economic opportunities for its people. UK support to the Civilian Technical Assistance Programme helped the Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the Ministry of Public Health develop policies and programmes for the Afghan people. The UK also helped more than 3,400 people in Helmand access technical and vocational education and training, helping to raise incomes and generate economic growth.
Governor Mangal visited Kajaki for a Shura on 8 January. He was escorted by Afghan uniformed police. He travelled by road, which was the first time a provincial governor in Helmand had been able to follow this route for many years. The road move reflects a significant improvement in confidence last year.
In Central Helmand the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) successfully planned, commanded and executed Operation Rozi Roshan in Nahr-e Saraj. The operation involved 500 soldiers. Rozi Roshan was completely Afghan-led and represented a significant accomplishment for the ANSF. UK forces, while ready to assist, were present in only a supporting role.
In January the winter weather continued to have a tangible impact on insurgent activity. The number of security incidents was relatively low. However, we must expect to see these rise as the weather improves. In the spring the insurgency is likely to attempt to regain lost territory and with it the campaign momentum. The ANSF supported by ISAF are prepared for this but we should expect challenges ahead, particularly for the ANSF as they take the lead on more operations. However we continue to make steady progress, illustrated in part this month by Operation Rozi Roshan and developments at the Infantry Branch School. We remain on track for the Afghans to assume full security responsibility across Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
I am placing the report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (www.fco.gov.uk).