InternationalVolume 13 Issue # 20

Afghanistan’s challenges still unmet

The United Nations observes international days during the month of June, which are mostly dedicated to human security – such as Innocent Children Victims of Aggression Day, Child Labour Day, Sustainable Gastronomy Day, Drug Abuse Day, Illicit Trafficking Day, Sexual Violence in Conflict Areas and World Refugees Day. Ironically no other country but Afghanistan alone bears the UN days’ application in full as all the above menaces are seen in abundance there.


It is the classic example of declining human security where the State has failed to address micro-level insecurities being faced by the Afghan population. The development work has been badly affected by ineffective governance amidst the TTA and IS terror challenge. Even massive foreign aid has failed to help. Acute scarcity of technical and skilled human resource has doubled the dilemma that demands the urgency of bringing back and repatriate refugees and experts or technicians from other countries.


The Afghan rulers’ role is seemingly guided by self-interests rather than humanitarian concerns. It needs to own responsibility as the international community must join hands to create peace as well as economic opportunities in Afghanistan. Pakistan being in the immediate neighbourhood is bearing its spillover, besides the so far largest and longest refugee burden for the last four decades. Not only has it been badly affected by the menace of terrorism and extremism, it has also seen organized crime, child labour, drug and human trafficking, which has put in jeopardy Pakistan’s economy, security and social fabric. India, the arch enemy, is taking full advantage of such a precarious situation.


It’s not easy to sustain development activity in the land locked country; existing conditions are likely to remain the same in the near future. Kabul’s government and the international community should work together to bring peace and prosperity to its people. This is only possible if an acceptable-to-all political setup is evolved. Nonexistent infrastructure and absent legitimacy are the problems that need to be addressed first. Stability of a political system is directly proportional to the stability of the military and economic structure. Security is prerequisite for sustained economic growth. Without confidence that resources invested today will still be owned and available tomorrow, investment will wither, growth decline, assets depreciate, and an economy will collapse. In this sense, security and the economy are interdependent factors and it implies from this concept that security is a necessary and a complementary inducement to investment.


The present geostrategic and socioeconomic environment of the region does not pose any threat or aggression from outside. Therefore, the Afghan government needs to focus on internal stability and the law and order situation. For this purpose, Kabul requires strong and capable law enforcement forces to bring peace and tranquility to the country. The most pressing task is an effective action against insurgent and dissident factions, disarming the common citizen and firm operations against drug dealers and illicit traffickers. Afghanistan doesn’t have manufacturing capability. It has to rely on foreign suppliers for spares and ammunition. Training is also controlled by their benefactors. Therefore, Afghan forces will have to depend on foreign assistance for a long time to come.


According to a latest report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) America has spent more than $78 billion for Afghanistan’s security since 2002.  Similarly, members of the Afghan Army are involved in corruption cases and the same report reveals that multi-billion dollars have been spent to counter narcotics, but still there is 63 percent increase in the land under poppy cultivation during the 2017 growing season from the previous year while the raw opium production increased by an alarming 88 percent. This shows ineffective utilization of the US taxpayers’ money, which does not allow for a large standing incapable army; it calls for a different system to fulfill the internal security requirements wherein the economic factor is duly considered.


Announcing the new Afghan policy, President Donald Trump declared,“We are not nation building again.”Failure of US ambitions in Afghanistan is quite evident from this statement. Nevertheless, this is the time to help Afghanistan that has been destroyed in the new Great Game where the powers-that-be are fulfilling their self-interests by exploiting Afghanistan. The most critical are the US, India and Iran factors; their involvement is destabilizing Afghanistan by directly affecting its relationship with Pakistan. Obama had curtailed the role of the US military in Afghanistan while Trump is doing the opposite; he prefers to bolster military efforts. The rise and fall of US troop levels is a clear manifestation of America’s failed policy that brought nothing but miseries to the Afghan people.


The number of US fatalities in Afghanistan alone is over 2,000, other than the causalities to US troops and coalition forces. Still the security forces are struggling against the increasing influence of the Taliban, which is a clear indication of the fast deteriorating security situation there. If an army with the most sophisticated weaponry can’t bring peace and stability, then how is it possible to bring peace with the help of a ragtag Afghan army? Isn’t it alarming for the world at large? Here lies Pakistan’s major concern: Afghanistan needs ownership from US in all aspects. It is the prime responsibility of the US and the international community to remain committed to the security and reconstruction process until a stable government is established in Afghanistan, besides providing requisite funds for the development of the country’s economy and rehabilitation of the Afghan people.


Afghanistan is a prize in pursuit of which different powers are involved, but it can only be accessed through Pakistan which is the most important player in the region. A stable Afghanistan is in the greater interest of Pakistan; it can pave the way for the total return of refugees. Peace and stability in Afghanistan are a prerequisite for stability and development in Pakistan. Afghanistan is a regional issue, directly affecting the stability and prosperity of its peoples. Leaving aside politics of competition, there is a need to adopt the policy of “peaceful coexistence”. In the wake of current global developments, it is in the interest of Afghanistan and Pakistan to develop more integrated political and economic relations that lead to greater common security, peace, stability and development after due consideration of regional perceptions of each country.


The road to stability and economic recovery is long and requires great deal of careful planning. Proper planning requires feasibility studies for precise decision making. Planners may also consider regional economic integration and formation of a free trade association with neighbouring countries. Pakistan and Afghanistan share a long border with numerous routes and passes that can be utilized for regional trade. Close and harmonious relations must be the cornerstone of a mutually beneficial foreign policy.  The world is fast turning into regional blocs as a legalized form of protectionism. Thus, the developing countries should restructure their relationships to meet challenges of the new world.A stable, peaceful, developed, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan is in the interest of all the regional countries.