The concept of self-reliance is not new. It has consistently adorned official declarations and political statements to the morbid point of becoming a cliché. In theory, it always glittered as an inspiring slogan but in practical terms it hardly rose from its conceptual confines.
In terms of self-reliance Afghanistan has been in the reverse gear and the nation as a whole should worry about it.
Afghanistan is an under-developed country. Foreign economic assistance has been an important source of the financing of country's development efforts. At the same time, all effort was made during the early years after the downfall of Taliban towards self-reliance but the success achieved in this direction has remained negligible.
Nevertheless, during this time we have become accustomed to a certain pattern of life. The continuous process of dependence on aid became an unalienable part of our system. It has suppressed the real spirit of self-reliance and adoption of austerity measures. To overcome this phenomenon and to achieve national self-reliance, there has to be a revolution in thought and behavior, which will require continuous motivation to create a national will of survival as an honorable independent state, setting aside the ill-effects of depending heavily on foreign support. But on the contrary, the challenges confronting the economy are formidable.
It is not an exaggeration to state that economically the nation today stands at cross roads. A host of monsters are at work to retard its march to progress, to stifle the development endeavors and quell its aspirations for attaining the coveted position of a really independent nation.
An alarming growth rate of population, with many people living on about one Dollar per person per day, abysmally low literacy levels, wide spread unemployment, deteriorating environment, one of the largest dependency ratio, poor physical infrastructure thwarting desirable levels or substantial growth, persistent energy crises, inadequate availability of social services and huge sums being squandered by corruption all contribute to the issues that hamper the progress to self-reliance or even to the starting point for such a journey.
Then there are serious hurdles such as lack of capital and technology, bureaucratic lethargy and foreign interference. Some strides have been made in agriculture but some of the agricultural products, which could be easily produced internally, are still imported. In addition, heavy imports are made of milk and its products. The growth of manufacturing sector has been too slow to bring about any fundamental change in the overall economic structure.
Another unfortunate aspect of the development is the under development of the mineral resources. Afghanistan is blessed with different types of mineral resources, unfortunately, the efforts made in the sector have disappointed everyone. Moreover, the lack of basic infrastructure of roads and communications has further incapacitated the sector to play any role in supporting the country economically.
While adopting necessary measures for self-reliance, we should not be oblivious of the serious aspect of exploitations by the elite of the country, such as landlords, warlords, military officials and political and religious leaders. If we want to achieve self-reliance, we will have to guard against the continuous exploitation by the rich and the influential. This calls for a national will to frustrate the designs of a formidable group having vested interests who will oppose every effort towards achieving self-reliance.
However, while appraising scope of actual implementation of the philosophy of self-reliance, it is to be pertinently remembered that there exists vast potential for harnessing domestic resources. On the other hand, a ruthless campaign to crush smuggling and proliferating drug abuse which have incalculably harmed country's primary interests; pushed corruption beyond all limits and imperiled social fabric of the nation, is directly needed. A mix of fiscal-administrative-moral crusade is required to be pressed into action.
We will have to educate and motivate our nation to release the ill effects of the policy of dependency. Taxation system of the country also needs improvement. The deficiencies in legislation have to be removed including any lacunas intentionally kept to avoid full implementation of outwardly good-looking laws. In policy planning, corruption is never considered as an integral part of the problem and thus its important facets have never been included in the analysis of the development problem. In the context of our efforts for self -reliance, suppression of corruption must play a crucial and important role.
Emphasizing the importance of education in relation to the country's development, human resources constitute the ultimate basis for the wealth of nations. Capital and national resources are passive factors of production; human beings are the active agents who accumulate capital, exploit natural resources, build social, economic and political organizations, and carry forward national development. Clearly, a country which is unable to develop the skills and knowledge of its people and to utilize them effectively in the national economy will be unable to develop anything else. So, our educational policy should be oriented towards the real requirement and aspirations of our people.