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Enhancing the Effectiveness of PRTs in Afghanistan

The governments of Canada and the United States organized a Conference on Enhancing the Effectiveness of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan in Budapest, Hungary, on July 20-21, 2006. The Government of Hungary, planning to take over the Dutch PRT in the province of Baghlan, hosted the Conference. The overall purpose of the conference was to share experiences and insights from countries contributing and committed to the PRT program and to use that shared wisdom to develop ways of improving the PRTs’ effectiveness to benefit the government and people of Afghanistan.

Delegations from more than 36 countries attended the Conference and discussed with the Afghan delegation, led by Adviser to the President Enayatullah Qasimi and Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari, ways on how the PRTs could be more effective in their efforts to provide security and development assistance to Afghanistan. The Afghan delegation made four key recommendations that set the stage for the Conference attendees to discuss the experiences of their PRTs in Afghanistan. Mr. Qasimi elaborated on the recommendations in his opening statement and discussed the delegations’ questions on how to achieve them together with the government and people of Afghanistan.

The recommendations included: First, PRTs must engage in greater communication with the Afghan people, through regular discussions with the elderly, local government officials, the clergy and ordinary Afghans. Second, PRTs must increase coordination with local Governments and work in a manner that their efforts increase peoples’ confidence in the Government and help improve governance. Third, the contributing countries should come up with a standard framework for PRT structure, commitment and operations. Finally, the name Provincial Reconstruction Team creates an expectation that PRTs are there to help rebuild the provinces. They must all make a concerted effort to increase the capability and resources of PRTs to engage in reconstruction. Representatives from Afghanistan’s Ministries of Interior and Defense were part of the Afghan delegation, and substantively contributed to the discussions.

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