Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

On Entering New Year

The world has stepped in a new year – 2017. It is that point of time in the year when the individuals and the nations should look at their previous year, highlight the main issues that they faced and make a plan to challenge those issues in the next year. It is the time when promises have to be made and commitments have to be strengthened. However, the most important factor is to keep in mind that promises and commitments alone would never change the fate of the individuals or the nations. For true change everyone has to strive to convert the promises into actions and the commitments into endeavors and then expect results from them.
It can be observed that the strong individuals and nations stick to their commitments and then make efforts to chalk out tangible ways of achieving their goals, while the weaker ones are more inclined towards treating their promises as promises and soon forget them or even divert away from them. This ensures that they keep on remaining weaker or even excel in that regard. Nevertheless, improvements and developments are never made in the castles that are built in the air. They have to be made through untiring determinations and selfless exertions.
Afghanistan has been one of the countries wherein the leaders and authorities have not been able to turn their promises into realities. It is also the reason that different social and political problems have persisted within Afghan society. The example of the current government can be taken in this regard. On its starting days, National Unity Government (NUG) was quick enough to making myriads of promises. There were some optimism that could be seen within the people as they had seen change of government after so many years. Nevertheless, NUG was also quick in disremembering its promises. Therefore, many issues that prevailed at that time are now threatening Afghan society to a great extent.
This has also led to a situation wherein people have lost their confidence on the performance of the government and the government has lost its legitimacy. Recent survey by The Asia Foundation revealed that in 2016 Afghans have been more fearful for their security, more dissatisfied with the economy, and less confident in their government and the year 2016 marked the lowest level of optimism shown by Afghan people regarding the situation in country since the Survey began in 2004.
The survey also highlighted certain key issues that deteriorated in 2016 which resulted in a sort of pessimism among the people which they showed in the survey. The peace talks with Taliban collapsed earlier in 2016 and there are no clear prospects of such talks. The pressure generated by the withdrawal of international forces also influenced the security situation. Therefore, Taliban were able to make new incursions and civilians suffered large casualties. Moreover, the situation within the economic system was not satisfactory as well as slow job growth contributed to high rates of urban unemployment, while more than one-third of Afghans said that their household financial situation had grown worse in the year.
Then many political issues also remained unresolved; rather, they were strengthened by widening gap within the ranks of the government itself. The promise of electoral reform, a key issue ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, remained stalled, and most Afghans said that they had no confidence in the Independent Elections Commission to do its job. Moreover, the governance issues kept on challenging the government administration and policy makers. Corruption kept on strengthening its position within Afghan socio-political fabric and justice and rule of law could not make sufficient improvement.
Now, with such a scenario in hand, we are entering a new year. This year will have its own challenges and most probably security situation would be the most dominant among them. Charles Cleveland, a spokesperson for the Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan, warned a couple of days earlier that the war would intensify next fighting season as the Taliban had already started preparing for it. 
Thus security would still be the most dominating issue along with political and economic instability, corruption and absence of rule of law. To face these issues the government authorities and the Afghan people must make honest efforts and must not repeat only verbal insistence. Though the country is going through a tough time, there should be some level of optimism that needs to be shown by the people.
The Asia Foundation report also showed some optimism in its survey report. It revealed that despite the worsening economic and security environment, the desire to emigrate fell to a record low 2016, a striking change from 2015, as large numbers of previous emigrants have returned from European countries where disincentives to immigration have been on the rise. More Afghans, particularly rural Afghan men, supported women’s right to vote and women’s right to work outside the home than ever before. Although corruption rates remained very high, the rate at which Afghans reported actual encounters with corruption, in the customs office or their provincial governor’s office, decreased. Many Afghans showed satisfaction regarding development in education in their localities. Internet access continued to increase rapidly, and television viewership also rose.
Now relying and further working on these optimistic aspects, Afghan people and government need to be practical enough to bring about tangible changes in Afghanistan in new year and make it really new.