Afghanistan has experimented with different forms of government since its emergence as a modern nation-state. From absolute and constitutional monarchies to the first republic and communist/Marxist regimes, never has Afghanistan experienced as much democratic rule as over the past 18 years since the fall of the Taliban. Even though democracy has gradually evolved with most of the Afghan state institutions still developing to deliver on the promise of democracy in a system of checks and balances, the process of institutionalization of democracy continues unhindered with the strong support of the Afghan people and commitment of the country’s leadership, including President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.Continue reading
Category: US South Asia and Afghanistan Strategy
Partnership defines this fast shrinking century. Since the end of the Cold War, the world has increasingly become interdependent both in security and economic development terms. That is why countries no longer speak with the kind of zero-sum undertones, which they used to do in the last decades of the Cold War and the early years of the post-Cold War. At least in rhetoric, ‘win-win partnership’ has replaced the realpolitik jargon of the past century and increasingly guides states towards a new world order whereby every state should be afforded the opportunity to grow and develop alongside the rest.Continue reading
Reporting out of Afghanistan is decidedly downbeat these days, intimating that the United States is entangled in an unwinnable war. The focus tends to be on what is not working in the country. This is perhaps understandable given that foreign correspondents often cover violence, death, and destruction in Afghanistan. But they aren’t seeing, for a variety of reasons, what is working.Continue reading
The challenges currently facing Afghanistan and the US-led international coalition are cumulative. They did not pop up overnight. They have been evolving since the Taliban was driven from power in late 2001. In the case of narcotics trafficking, failure to properly assess the problem’s causes and effects is encouraging misperceptions.
New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote a piece on “Smart Power Setback,” harshly criticizing the international aid system and the way it has operated in Afghanistan over the past decade. Drawing on the recent U.S. Congressional reports on aid effectiveness in Afghanistan, he points out a few major achievements in the areas of education and healthcare in the country, but argues “the influx of aid has, in many cases, created dependency, fed corruption, contributed to insecurity and undermined the host government’s capacity to oversee sustainable programs.”Continue reading
Lagging commitment on the part of donor nations has been a factor in giving the Taliban new life. According to a recent study by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an astounding 40 percent of the $25 billion in aid that has been pledged to fund Afghanistan’s democratization process has not been delivered. And of the $15 billion in aid that has arrived, roughly 40 percent has gone to paying salaries and fees for Western contractors and their employees. On top of it all, officials in Afghanistan admit that they cannot properly account for how $2.5 billion in aid was spent. It all adds up to a sad fact: the Afghan people are being short changed. It’s not surprising, then, that a fair share have grown disenchanted, and that this disillusionment has provided fertile ground in which a new generation of Islamic fighters can grow, and narcotics trafficking can once again flourish.Continue reading
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.
The relationship between Sufism and Sikhism dates back to the time of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), who led a modest life of profound, spiritual devotion, focused on building bridges of love, tolerance, co-existence, and harmony among peoples of diverse faiths and socio-economic status. So immersed in piety and teaching his disciples to live spiritually, honestly, and harmoniously was the Guru, that many of his Muslim contemporaries, especially Sufis, called him a true Muslim.Continue reading
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