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Lords Committee holds first evidence session of inquiry into the UK’s strategy towards Afghanistan

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Following the opening of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar on Saturday, the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee will hold the first in a series of evidence sessions in its recently launched inquiry exploring the UK’s diplomatic, military and aid strategy for Afghanistan.

The evidence session will take place virtually on Friday 18 September with further sessions scheduled to take place between now and November. Giving evidence will be:

10am

  • Kate Clark, Co-Director, Afghanistan Analysts Network;
  • Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission; and
  • Hameed Hakimi, Research Associate, Chatham House;

11am

  • Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Questions will include;

The peace process

  • What is your assessment of the prospects for the negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban? What would be the key elements of a stable and durable agreement? What is your assessment of risk that the Taliban might “capture” and control the Afghan state and its institutions? What if the talks fail?
  • What weight is being given to both women’s participation in the negotiations and women’s rights? To what extent is the fear that women’s rights will be sacrificed at the peace talks justified?

Domestic dimension

  • What would you identify as the biggest human rights challenges in today’s Afghanistan? How can progress made since the fall of the Taliban, such as in the area of women’s rights, be protected and sustained?
  • What is your assessment of the agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah? How stable is the agreement, and to what extent does it provide the basis for the resolution of ongoing tensions? Is there a need for revisions to the Afghan constitution?

Foreign aid

  • It is estimated that more than 75 percent of the Afghan government budget is financed by foreign contributions. Foreign aid currently amounts to nearly 20 percent of Afghanistan’s total gross national income, making it the fourth-most aid-dependent country in the world except for five island microstates. How ready is Afghanistan for possible reduction of foreign contributions following the withdrawal of American troops and possible cuts in foreign aid?

UK role

  • How would you assess the United Kingdom’s engagement with Afghanistan?

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