Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 21st, 2019

Political will must be Mustered

The war in Afghanistan has long turned into a tough challenge on the hands of the U.S. and its military generals as well as politicians. The American approach to the war in Afghanistan has long been characterized by a lack of understanding or disregard of some of the most pertinent ground realities that needed due attention from the very beginning of the war. The U.S., during the Bush administration, effectively neglected the war in Afghanistan. While the Taliban were gradually regrouping and finding increasing audacity to organize attacks on Afghan and foreign troops, the American policymakers were optimistic that these were only temporary hiccups. They believed that these temporary setbacks could be overcome through pumping in more money and helping the government of Afghanistan consolidate its authority. The U.S. has learnt it the hard way that seeking a smooth transition and withdrawal would be highly dependent on its ability to pacify the country in the lead-up to the deadline. Broadly speaking, there have been two real options in front of the U.S. from the beginning. Calming Afghanistan permanently through helping it reach a broad-based intra-Afghan consensus that also involves the Taliban and other insurgent groups. This would have been the more difficult path to take. The other has been seeking a short to medium term solution to the Afghanistan conflict through patching up together a shaky deal that never stands a chance of being comprehensive. Unfortunately, what the U.S. seems to be more interested in is the second option as opposed to the first one. This has the potential to become the fountain head of renewed instability and conflict in Afghanistan.
At the end of the day, Afghanistan still finds itself saddled with a multitude of challenges for which no easy solution is forthcoming. The challenges ahead of Afghanistan remain extremely complex and, to be certain, the government of Afghanistan alone would not be able to resolve these challenges single-handedly but would require active contribution from the international community. In the areas of economy, security, bureaucracy and service-delivery, governance and politics, Afghanistan, right now needs to take stock of the situation and act proactively before it would be too late. Above all, it is the responsibility of the country’s national leadership, leaders of National Unity Government, the cabinet and the national parliament to set the stage for working proactively to resolve these range of challenges and problems.
Afghanistan’s political and security challenges are intimately correlated with the outcome of the so-called peace process and the ongoing talks with the Taliban. Unfortunately, the possibility is strong that the Taliban insurgency may drag on for many more years since the ongoing talks within such a framework, evidently, cannot bring about a final and comprehensive resolution of the Afghan conflict.
When military deaths and civilian deaths are occurring on daily basis, high-profile authorities are under serious security threats and Taliban’s sympathizers in Afghan security forces launch attacks on foreign soldiers and mentors than talking of progress in Afghanistan is no more than a tale of futility.
No doubt Afghan national army and police have nurtured well but one must not forget that the Taliban are still potent. The Afghan security forces have still a long way to go to defend Afghanistan on their own.
The challenge in front of the government of Afghanistan and its political and military leadership would be to prepare for a long-drawn war and conflict that would last for many more years. Under such circumstances and when the country would remain in the throes of instability and conflict, economic and political development would take the beating. Under the conditions of war and instability, Afghanistan’s developmental projects would remain under-funded and largely abandoned.
Analysts are of the view that between development and lingering instability Afghanistan should choose one. The fact is that Afghanistan, in actuality, cannot make a choice; its hands remain tied, the future still uncertain and continued instability gradually becoming a guaranteed future of Afghanistan.
As if these grave challenges are not enough, Afghanistan also faces the challenge of developing and consolidating a befitting political and administrative system – one that can deliver ‘good governance’ and be commensurate with the real needs of the country.
A culture of accountability and answerability needs to be built into the current ailing and corrupt system. For this, the reform must start from the country’s highest leadership positions. For the system to be purged and cleansed, enough and substantive political will must be mustered and this would remain impossible until the national leadership sets aside acting out of political expediency and considerations and do not prioritize upholding of the rule of law as the over-arching objective.