In the bilateral conversations with Pakistan and at the Istanbul conference in November last year, there was a focus on regional security in the full light of combat troop withdrawals. The long-term commitment of the international community to the security of Afghanistan will be confirmed at the NATO summit in Chicago in May.
The Minister will be aware of the humanitarian cost of previous fighting in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, including over 1 million displaced people. What assessment has he made of the impact on children and communities of the draw-down of allied forces, and what steps has he put in place to mitigate it?
The Department for International Development has a substantial programme to assist those in Afghanistan. We are acutely conscious of the issues affecting withdrawal. There will be a further conference in Tokyo this year where the long-term commitment on development will be considered. This conference can be seen in conjunction with those in Bonn and Chicago, as I mentioned, that will look comprehensively at the international community’s support for Afghanistan post-2014. Development issues and the protection of women and children are a key feature of that.