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.
This past November, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its annual survey of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan for 2017. As ever, the survey’s findings are hardly surprising. They reflect the periodic fluctuations in the amount of opium poppy cultivated and produced in the country. Last year, cultivation increased to 328,000 hectares and production to nine thousand metric tons—a 87 percent increase over 2016.
Just a few days before the tragedy of 9/11 fourteen years ago, Afghanistan had been a pariah, forgotten state in the international system. Landlocked and surrounded by predatory neighbors at the time, the Afghan people and their beautiful homeland, once the “Garden of Central Asia,” had become the battleground of proxy conflicts since 1979.
In “How to Bring Peace to Afghanistan” (Op-Ed, June 16), Stephen J. Hadley and Moeed Yusuf are right that Pakistan’s behavior must change if Afghanistan is to attain stability. But they are naïve in thinking that what they propose will produce such change.Continue reading
In a recent New York Times op-ed, “What Trump Needs to Learn from Vietnam,” David Elliot draws lessons from America’s experience in Vietnam for Afghanistan. His opinion follows those of a few others, who have similarly argued over the past 16 years that Afghanistan has slowly turned into America’s Vietnam, a quagmire, from which the United States must disengage. While studying the complexity of Vietnam War remains interesting for academics and policymakers, it offers no relevant lessons for international engagement in Afghanistan.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
What is the main purpose of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation?
President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah re-launched the Kabul Process in June 2017. The principal purpose of the process is to ensure an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, inclusive peace process where we are fully in the driver’s seat to address the multiple dimensions of ongoing war and violence in Afghanistan. But we know this is impossible without results-driven regional and international cooperation. Since its re-launch, the Kabul Process has been recognized as an overarching platform, under which all other peace initiatives and efforts take place to support Afghanistan in our quest for genuine, lasting peace. Because the success of the process hinges on sincere regional cooperation, we continue to call on our neighbors and partners in the region to develop measures necessary to end violence and to forge sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Doing so, we strongly believe, should create positive dividends for the entire region. Continue reading
In “The U.S. Needs to Talk to the Taliban” a New York Times op-ed run on March 19, Borhan Osman mistakenly reduces the popularly elected National Unity Government (NUG) of Afghanistan to one of the internal “factions.” To the contrary, the NUG enjoys a broad popular mandate and support. Like any democracy, Afghanistan is hardly devoid of political differences, which underpin the very essence of democracy: recall tensions in the U.S. two-party system or in the multiparty coalition governments of Europe.Continue reading