On the eve of the first anniversary of Bin Laden’s killing, Vygaudas Usackas, the European Union’s ambassador to Kabul, reflects on how that optimism has faded.
Just after news broke that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the top EU diplomat in neighbouring Afghanistan received a flood of emails from jubilant Afghans.
The death of the al Qaeda leader a year ago raised hopes in Kabul, Brussels, Washington and elsewhere that a devastating blow had been dealt to Islamist militancy in one of the most unstable regions in the world.
One year on, the Afghan Taliban, whom Washington accused of sheltering bin Laden, have suspended reconciliation talks with the United States. And discussions with the Afghan government are limited.
Western nations have spent $57 billion dollars on aid and reconstruction yet, he says, President Hamid Karzai’s administration has not kept up its end of the bargain — to improve governance and transparency. While the European Union has no intention of abandoning Afghanistan after most foreign troops withdraw in 2014, some countries will have to justify further heavy spending, as the taxpayer is met with hard economic times.
The end result is economic and political stability are elusive despite the presence of 130,000 NATO-led foreign troops and overalready spent in aid.