Achieving and sustaining progress for Afghan security, governance and development also depend on measures that will strengthen the management of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, by inhibiting the flow of insurgents and criminal activity and facilitating legitimate travel and commerce.
Under this priority, Canada’s objective for border security stated that, by 2011, Afghan institutions, in cooperation with Pakistan, will exercise a stronger capacity to manage the border and foster economic development in the border area. Canada became part of a major effort by the international community to improve the security of Afghanistan’s border by working to assist the Government of Afghanistan with the development of better governance in the border regions.
Canada played a key role in the development and implementation of the Dubai Process Action Plan, a March 2009 agreement specifying joint project recommendations from Afghanistan and Pakistan on border cooperation in the areas of counter-narcotics, law enforcement, and managing the movement of people and goods.
The Dubai Process, now called the Afghanistan Pakistan Cooperation Process (APCP), became recognized as an established mechanism for dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan on border management. Projects implemented under the APCP included support for drug treatment centres and measures to inhibit the shipment of chemicals used in the production of heroin. Some 16 tonnes of these chemicals were seized in 2010; Pakistani authorities involved in this action were trained under a joint United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)/World Customs Organization program funded by Canada.
According to the UNODC, the heroin market in Canada is mainly supplied by Afghan heroin. Heroin seizures in Canada increased sharply, rising from 16 kilograms in 2007 to 102 kilograms in 2008 and 213 kilograms in 2009. The increase in 2009 is attributed to a single maritime shipment of 108 kilograms of heroin that originated in Afghanistan.
Recognizing the critical need to stem the poppy trade at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Canada contributed to UNODC counter-narcotics efforts between 2009 and 2011, in particular, through its work in support of the APCP, which was targeted in three ways: establishing a Border Liaison Office at the Torkham crossing located at the Khyber Pass; developing joint Afghanistan-Pakistan counter-narcotics operations; and training and mentoring border personnel.
Core training of the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA) has also resulted in significant success: in the first half of 2011, 961 CNPA operations were reported, resulting in seizures of 25,000 kilograms of opium, 18,000 kilograms of heroin, 20,000 kilograms of hashish, 53 kilograms of morphine, and 48,000 kilograms of precursor chemicals. More recently, on October 30, 2011, the Governor of southern Helmand province (which has high levels of poppy cultivation) reported that CNPA had seized 4,975 kilograms of precursor chemicals and 15 kilograms of opium.
Among other measures achieved through the APCP, the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan each have committed to harmonizing their border infrastructure plans at the Torkham crossing at the Khyber Pass. With support from Canada and the UNODC, Afghanistan opened its first Border Liaison Office to improve law enforcement at the Torkham crossing. Pakistan subsequently opened a Border Liaison Office on its side of the crossing, ultimately improving coordination between counter-narcotics and law enforcement officials from both countries. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) provided two workshops on risk management to Afghan and Pakistani Border Liaison Officers.
In April 2011, deputy ministers from Afghanistan and Pakistan approved and signed an Action Plan as part of the APCP that sets out a framework for cooperation under the APCP until 2013. With a sustainable mechanism in place for regular and substantive discussions across a broad array of border issues, Canada’s 2011 objective to foster dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been met.
However, political and security relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are highly complex and relations between the two countries of late have been strained following a NATO airstrike along the border on November 26, 2011, that resulted in the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers. These deaths prompted the Pakistani government to close its border with Afghanistan and withdraw from the International Afghanistan Conference that was held in Bonn, Germany, on December 5, 2011.
Given the critical importance of this relationship, Canada’s regional diplomacy commitment in Afghanistan will continue until 2014. In particular, building on past accomplishments, Canada will continue to facilitate dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan through the APCP process, allowing both countries to improve their management of cross-border challenges to regional stability. Canada will also work towards increasing dialogue and cooperation among countries in the region.
Among other achievements in Afghanistan under this priority, Canada provided support for the new Afghan Border Police Faculty located at the National Police Academy in Kabul. The faculty provides additional training capacity for the Afghan Border Police, particularly for senior ranking officers. Canada also completed the construction of a Joint District Coordination Centre in Spin Boldak, located in Kandahar province near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
In addition, Canada provided a senior Canadian civilian police officer to mentor the head of the Afghan Border Police, facilitate border planning among all players and assist with corruption investigations. A Canadian military officer continues to act as an adviser to the Afghan Border Police.
Well-managed borders are key to the long-term economic development, stability and security of Afghanistan.
As part of Canada’s whole-of-Government effort, CBSA supported Canada’s border priority by working with international partners, the Afghanistan Customs Department and the Afghanistan Ministry of Finance to help build an efficient, modernized customs service in Afghanistan.
This involved deploying customs CBSA experts to develop customized training modules based on World Customs Organization standards for the Afghan National Customs Academy in Kabul, and to train Afghanistan Customs Department recruits and officials at the Academy. The Agency’s support also included the provision of a deputy dean and a senior trainer for the Academy. All of Canada’s targets were met or surpassed in this area.
A total of 201 Afghan customs officials from four classes were trained at the Academy between January and October 2010, and the first female Afghan border officer graduated in March 2010. Ten Afghan customs managers received senior management training. At the same time, the CBSA also mentored three Afghan customs officials to become trainers at the Academy. Ten Afghan customs managers received senior management training in November 2010.
In consultation with the local population, the Government of Afghanistan worked with Canada and the US to complete the new border crossing facility at Weish in Kandahar province. The facility will enhance Afghanistan’s capacity to manage immigration and customs processes, harness new streams of revenue and help regulate the flow of commerce and people at the border crossing point. Canada’s contributions to this project have been completed.
On November 2, 2011, the International Conference on Afghanistan: Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia, was held in Istanbul, Turkey. The event, hosted by the Turkish government, called for greater cooperation between Afghanistan and its regional partners and emphasized the need to work together to stabilize the region and improve economic development. It marked an important opportunity for Afghanistan, as a sovereign state, to present its own vision for Afghanistan within a regional context.