Australia – Afghanistan Relations

Australia – Afghanistan Relations

Australia-Afghanistan government-government relations, including diplomatic relations, authorization for presence of Australian military forces, treaties and agreements.

Government sources

DFAT Country Brief on Afghanistan

See Afghanistan country brief – December 2007, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan

Ric Smith, the current Prime Minister’s Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2009 – ?

Senior Military Adviser to the Afghan Defence Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak

Army leader to advise Afghan Government, Media Release, Department of Defence, 26 February 2010

Major General Ash Power has been appointed to the role of Senior Military Adviser to the Afghan Defence Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak… will be the first officer to serve in this senior position within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Government-government relations

Prime Minister: Transcript of interview on 6PR with Simon Beaumont, PM’s Office, Media release, 27 January 2010

BEAUMONT: How much currency does our intervention carry, Mr Rudd? We have a presence, a strong presence, in Afghanistan.

PM: Secondly, in terms of the political interventions with the Afghan Government, well we’ll simply have to take that as it comes. I don’t think it would be wise at this stage to predict or project the effectiveness of any particular intervention by me in the case of this individual. Let’s take it step by step –

BEAUMONT: I understand that-

PM: (inaudible) closest advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs, who’ll be following the case in Kabul.

BEAUMONT: I understand the legalities and the process needs to run, but how much weight does our intervention, how much currency does Australia have with Afghanistan authority?

PM: Well, let me just put it this way: if you’re in the business of trying to help somebody who’s in a situation like this, talking publically about how much influence you have with the Government in question may not help their case. That’s why I’m answering your question in the way in which I’m doing it.

I think it’s fair to say more generally that we have a good, operating relationship with the Government of Afghanistan. I spoke President Karzai at the end of last year when I was in Afghanistan visiting our troops. We’ve got a fully functioning embassy in Kabul. We have a team of diplomats there and they are the ones providing the consular support to this individual.

Diplomatic Appointment – Ambassador to Afghanistan, Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Media release, 22 January 2008

“I have confirmed the appointment of Mr Martin Quinn as Australia’s new Ambassador to Afghanistan. He will succeed Mr Brett Hackett who has been Ambassador since September 2006. Mr Quinn is expected to take up his appointment in March 2008.”

Afghan-Australian Relations, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Canberra.

“For the first time in the history of Afghan-Australia relations, Afghanistan opened an honorary Consulate in Canberra with jurisdiction throughout Australia in October 1994. This commitment established the first resident formal link between the two countries. However, due to civil unrest the Afghan Consulate temporarily closed. After an interval in consulate operations in Canberra, Afghanistan and Australia re-established diplomatic representation in 2002. Between April 2002 and September 2006, Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan was accredited as non-resident Ambassador to Afghanistan. In August 2006, Mr Downer announced the appointment of His Excellency Mr. Brett Hackett as Australia’s first resident Ambassador to Afghanistan.”

In a similar attempt to boost the relationship between the two countries, Afghan Immigration Minister, Mr. Enayatullah Nazari visited Australia followed by Mr. Yusuf Pashtoon, Minister of Urban Development where he signed an agreement with the Australian government to build 1,400 apartments in Barik Aab, Alice Ghan Project.

Note that the Embassy web site “Links” page connects to some useful government and news sites, and a number of porn sites.

Afghanistan Country Brief – January 2007, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Ambassador: Brett Hackett

Afghanistan/Pakistan Relations: Ankara Declaration, Media Release, Alexander Downer, Minster of Foreign Affairs, Australia, 14 May 2007

“The Australian Government commends the initiative of the Government of Turkey in hosting bilateral talks between Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and General Pervez Musharaf, the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, from 29-30 April 2007.

“The talks, hosted jointly by Turkish President Sezer and Prime Minister Erdogan, were comprehensive and constructive and focused on ways to promote peace, security, stability and economic development in the region. The meeting resulted in both countries agreeing to sign the Ankara Declaration – a joint political statement setting out methods of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan including respect for territorial integrity, support for sustainable development and the fight against terrorism, and the development of further confidence building measures between the two governments. Agreement was also reached to establish a joint Working Group that would promote continued high level engagement by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey to monitor implementation of the Declaration.

“Australia is continuing to work with other governments to encourage Pakistan and Afghanistan – key counter terrorism allies – to do more to secure the border region between the two countries, and to ensure the success of the international community’s commitment in Afghanistan.”

Counter-terrorism MOU

In December 2005 Australia and Afghanistan signed a Counter Terrorism Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries.

Australia and Afghanistan Sign Counter-Terrorism Memorandum of Understanding, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Media Release, FA161 – 20 December 2005

Transcript, Media Conference (Following Signing of Counter Terrorism MOU), Kabul, Afghanistan, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah, 21 December 2005


Topic: Pakistan-Taliban support, Answers to questions on notice from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Additional estimates 2006-2007; February 2007, Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Senator Evans asked:
(a)  What information does the government have regarding the veracity of Mohammed Hanif’s claim that Mullah Omar is currently living in Quetta, Pakistan, protected by Pakistani intelligence agencies?

(b)  What information does the government have about broader support for the Taliban by Pakistani intelligence agencies?

(c)  What information does the Government have about Pakistani Government support for, or lack of willingness to deal with the Taliban and their allies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan?

(d)  What representations has the Government made to the Pakistani Government about its support for, or lack of willingness to deal with the Taliban and their allies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan?

(e)  What is the Government position on the Crisis Group recommendations (ICG Asia Report No.125, 11 December 2006) and new policy initiative by the Democratic congress (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) to increase pressure on the Pakistani Government through open

(f)  Specifically, what is the Government’s position on the conditions contained within the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 Bill for sanctions on US military aid to Pakistan if it cannot control militants within its borders?

(g)  Can the Government specify the cooperation and training activities that are conducted between the ADF and Pakistani military?

(h)  Has the Government considered putting similar conditions to those of the US Bill on Australian military aid?

(i)  More broadly, what is the Governmentís position on putting high pressure on the Pakistani Government to end support for the Taliban through Australian open criticism?


(a)  to (c) Information on these issues is classified.

(d)  Australia is aware of and worried about cross-border infiltration by Taliban led militants from Pakistan into Afghanistan and the use of Pakistani territory for recruitment, command and resupply. We continue to raise our concerns with the Government of Pakistan at all levels. Mr Downer discussed this matter most recently with Pakistanís Foreign Minister, Mr Kasuri, in January 2007 at the Munich Security Conference. Mr Downer wrote to Mr Kasuri in September 2006 regarding our concerns. Australia is continuing to encourage Pakistan, a key counter-terrorism ally, to do more in the border region.

(e)  Openly criticising the Pakistani Government is unlikely to be productive.

(f)  The imposition of sanctions on US military aid to Pakistan is a matter for the US Government.

(g)  The Department of Defence is the most appropriate agency to answer questions on cooperation between the Pakistani military and the ADF.

(h)  The Department of Defence is the most appropriate agency to answer questions on imposing conditions on Australian military aid to Pakistan.

(i)  See (d).”

Australian bilateral aid to Afghanistan

See Aid to Afghanistan, Australian Forces Abroad: Afghanistan


Perilous encounters: Australia, Asia and the Middle East, David Walker, in Australia and the Middle East: A Front-line Relationship, edited by Fethi Mansouri, I.B.Tauris, 2006.

See also:

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional research: Ronald Li
Updated: 2 March 2010