In mid-June, an article in the New York Times revealed to the world something that many Afghans already knew: Afghanistan sits on about $1 trillion-worth of minerals. Afghans are now hoping the news will help the government attract much-needed foreign investment.
Category: Doing Business in Afghanistan
India’s initiative to host the Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan tomorrow is a welcome step forward in enabling the country to achieve long-term economic self-reliance, in line with the key objectives of recent international conferences. The one-day summit intends to showcase Afghanistan’s economic potential and attract foreign investment, while exploring possibilities of cross-country investment partnerships and collaborative ventures from within the region and beyond as a regional and international confidence-building measure.
We often hear about Afghanistan’s domestic, regional, and transnational challenges each posed by the country’s abject poverty, the Taliban’s cross-border insurgency, and terrorism and drug trafficking that collectively destabilize Afghanistan. But we seldom pay attention to the greatest challenge posed to Afghanistan’s nation-building process by a lack of aid resources coupled with weak strategic coordination of aid implementation by the international community. Some of these challenges deserve special mention both to help overcome them and to avoid collective failure in a country where the international community continues to have the highest chance of success in view of Afghans’ optimism for a better future and their unlimited support for the international peace-building efforts in Afghanistan.
When I first joined the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C., in 2004, as director of government and media relations, the embassy lacked everything from a basic management structure to carry out its routine diplomatic activities to a website that could help facilitate customer service online. The concept of public diplomacy through direct dialogue with the American people — explaining to them our shared interests in securing the future of Afghanistan — was unknown.
In the next couple of days, Afghanistan is hosting the sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VI) in Kabul, where RECCA was first held in 2005. This regional initiative followed the signing by Afghanistan’s neighbors of the Kabul Declaration on Good Neighborly Relations in December 2002, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States to be commemorated soon.
The Trump administration has recently been encouraged to consider a plan using private military companies (PMC) to maintain security in Afghanistan. According to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the plan’s primary external supporter, such a force would include 5,500 personnel and a 90-plane ready-to-use air force. Aside from saving American soldiers’ lives, it would cost the U.S. treasury $10 billion per year instead of the current $40 billion. In terms of command structure and composition, the personnel would be embedded within existing Afghan security forces as advisors and the air-force would drop bombs when directed by the Afghan government.Continue reading
Recently, this author was invited to a track 1.5 China-Afghanistan-Pakistan symposium on “Tackling Terrorist Threats, Jointly Safeguarding Regional Security” in Beijing. The rare trilateral symposium was welcomed by the three sides as a good opportunity to exchange views and to offer tangible, policy and operational solutions for the consideration of their respective governments to help them address jointly the intertwined threats of terrorism, extremism, and criminality in the region. The discussions were so constructive on the seminal role, which major regional stakeholders can play to stabilise Afghanistan, that the absence of an Indian delegation was needfully felt around the table.Continue reading
At the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani discussed the threats posed by “destructive change” and the countless opportunities offered by “creative change” in the Eurasian landscape and its emerging continental economy. He told his counterparts that “our greatest common project is the revival of the Silk Roads,” whose main gateway is Afghanistan, connecting Central and South Asia and the Middle East.