Home Contact Us  
   

Afghanistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4611, 18 August 2014
 

Dateline Kabul

Can Afghanistan Become a "Perfect Place?"
Mariam Safi
Founding Director, Organisation for Policy Research and Development Studies
 

With the anticipated withdrawal of NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) troops from Afghanistan by the end 2014, the country will leave behind its decade of transition (2001-2014) and enter the decade of transformation (2015-2024).

The key question on everyone’s minds is about the nature of post-ISAF Afghanistan. There are two dominant views towards this question.  Analysts, who take the optimistic view, contend that the post-2014 Afghanistan will continue to witness economic growth through the extraction of its mineral resources which will enable it to regain its position as a regional hub for trade and transit. They also cite achievements in the security transition process – citing the growing capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) – to lead security matters throughout the country. On the other hand, analysts with a less optimistic perspective argue that without continued US and NATO support, the conflict will protract as the ANSF lack the capabilities, professionalism and weaponry to fight defiant insurgents. They argue that a reduction in aid levels will deepen the country’s fiscal gap and sub-national spoilers in the face of rampant lawless and poor governance will exploit its mineral industry. Consequently, this will make Afghanistan, once again, highly vulnerable to interference from its neighbours, which will only deepen regional mistrust.

Both arguments paint scenarios that are equally plausible. But in an effort to prevent Afghanistan’s deterioration post-2014, the government and its international and regional partners committed to helping guide the country through the decade of transformation as stipulated in the International Conference on Afghanistan held in Bonn, the Chicago Summit on Afghanistan and the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan. However, as it has been witnessed in the past, these commitments have not always translated into adequate actions.

Do Afghans Have the Capacity to Assume Ownership?
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, US President Barack Obama confirmed that the US would consider leaving behind 9,800 troops after 2014, to help train the ANSF. However, he was quick to caution that “Afghanistan will not be a perfect place” and that it was not America’s responsibility to make it one.” This is an interesting statement considering that it was the US and its NATO partners who assumed full ownership of Afghanistan’s state-building process from 2001 with little space offered to Afghans to influence the process. But, now with the economic recession capturing the West, it seems the international community is ready to cut its losses in Afghanistan hence its irresponsibly rapid withdrawal deadline. Suddenly, by mid-2014, under the scheme of local ownership, Afghans found themselves being handed state-building responsibilities they were never fully prepared for by the international community.

External state-builders often intervene in conflict zones with the aim of “building functioning and self-sustaining state structures” which they can leave behind when they withdraw. However, in Afghanistan such structures have not been created. The international community’s top-down and elite-oriented approach at building local ownership set in motion a centrifugal process that exacerbated internal cleaves, led to the re-emergence of old patronage networks and fragmented the UN mission in Afghanistan. This eventually stifled “the sense of ownership, the growth of local capacity and local accountability structures.” Therefore, with no self-sustaining structures in place after the withdrawal of the international community, the country faces a real risk of exasperating its current challenges and falling back into a potential civil conflict.

The Way Forward
Realising this, the Afghan government and its international partners adopted several strategies to help foster peace and stability in post-2014 Afghanistan. The 2011 Bonn Conference, which marked the 10th anniversary of the first Bonn Agreement (2001), reaffirmed that the international community would not abandon Afghanistan after withdrawal. At the 2012 Chicago Summit, the international community agreed to end their combat role by mid-2013 and assume an advisory and training role as Afghan forces would begin to assume the lead for nation-wide security. The Summit also highlighted the costs associated in sustaining the ANSF and committed to raising funds of 4.1 billion dollars to support Afghan forces till such time the Afghan government’s revenues could take over these costs. At the 2012 Tokyo Conference, the international community made their financial commitments to Afghanistan in the sum of 16 billion dollars through to 2017. This was intended to plug Afghanistan’s fiscal gaps and support Afghanistan ‘Towards Self-Reliance’, strategy for sustainable growth and development.

Sadly these commitments and pledges are insufficient to sustain Afghanistan’s economy or to ensure the irreversibility of its modest security gains. In the face of scarce local capacities, insecurity, widespread corruption and rising public spending and declining government revenues, these pledges will only provide short-term solutions. These pledges are unable to address the disparity between growing Afghan expenditures and the international expectations of significant but declining aid. With the US-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) yet to be signed, there is no official framework for the US and NATO troops beyond 2014.  The Afghans may be eager to assume ownership of their future but in reality they are ill-equipped to deal with the cornucopia of economic and security challenges that will rise when the international limelight on Afghanistan dims. Nevertheless, if Afghanistan, along with its neighbours and international partners takes stock of these realities and evaluates economic, security and political issues in regional terms and thus create regional responses to these challenges, then perhaps a more promising scenario could emerge.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Af-Pak: A Fresh Start

Afghanistan: Political Crises After the Presidential Run-off

Talibanís Spring Offensive: Are the ANSF Prepared?

Presidential Elections 2014: Afghan-Owned, Afghan-Led

Afghan Elections 2014: What to Expect?

Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?

Bonn II: From Transition to Transformation in Afghanistan

NATO Breakdown in Afghanistan

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.