Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 18th, 2019

No Real Improvement in Afghanistan

In the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, one of the most tragic facts has been that the support and assistance provided to Afghanistan have not been sufficiently utilized for the purposes they were allocated. Therefore, both in development and security, Afghanistan has not been able to achieve as much as it received the funds for. The current security situation does not seem to be satisfactory and the development projects have not been driven to their desired destinations.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan’s (SIGAR) recent quarterly security report shows that around 56.8 percent of the country is under the control of influence of the Afghan government, which depicts only a marginal decline of one-point over the last six months, some of which include winter months wherein the security situation gets better.
As per the report out of the 407 districts in Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, only 231 were under government’s control or influence in late August. It also highlighted that 54 districts were either under insurgent control or influence. This means that 13.3 percent of all the districts in the country are under insurgent control or influence. It also means that there has been an increase of nine districts in the past six months under insurgent control or influence, a more than two percent increase over the previous six months. 
The number of contested districts - 122 - however remained largely unchanged.
According to SIGAR, the majority of people, (20.7 million) still live in areas controlled or influenced by government while another 8.1 million (24.9 percent) live in areas that are contested. And, the provinces with the largest percentage of insurgent-controlled or influenced districts are Uruzgan, Kunduz and Helmand provinces. 
At the same time, the efforts for development and economic opportunities have not been successful as well. SIGAR’s report – DOD Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) – also says that a program by the Defense Department of the United States (DOD) has spent $675 million USD to revive the Afghan economy, but it could not provide reliable data on where the money went.
TFBSO's purpose was to fund business-related projects to reduce violence by encouraging Afghans to focus on economic activity rather that fighting. However, the SIGAR report, showed the program to be inept and beyond the Defense Department's capabilities. The report highlighted that “because important documents and data were not consistently collected or retained, we could not fully assess the extent to which the $675 million obligated by TFBSO was spent effectively". Same was the case with many other projects that were meant for development and economic stability. SIGAR’s previous reports on security and development also showed that most of the funds, resources and efforts were wasted in various manners. 
Afghanistan has, as a matter of fact, failed to deliver maximum at the time when the development has been required the most and, in the process, has also lost some golden opportunities. Corruption has been lethal enough to annihilate the efforts or the plans to reconstruct the country and the different systems that may set it on the way to development. It should be noted that billions of dollars poured in the country for both military support and development projects. But if we analyze the socio-political and socio-economic scenario in the country the development does not seem as great as it should have been. Most of these aids were devoured by corruption instead of being spent for the intended purposes. Either the money that was to be spent through government or the NGO sector, both the ways corruption had the largest share.
Currently, Afghanistan is ranked the among the ten most corrupt countries in the world. This is really tragic and shows that no considerable work has been done against corruption though it has been highlighted as a major problem throughout the last decade. And, it has had negative influences as well; particularly in the top governmental institutions. Corruption not only dominated the political sphere but also brought bad name to the nation and at the same time financial loss; however, it has been left to dominate with vigor and strength. It has, in fact, victimized our society more than terrorism and insecurity and today if Afghanistan is not able to stand on its own, it is also because of the corruption.
National Unity Government (NUG) has not been able to deliver on its promises to fight corruption in the country. With the change in government, there were some hopes that the situation would get better as National Unity Government (NUG), in its early days promised to handle corruption with iron fists; however, that does not seem to be happening even after several years have passed.
It is a real challenge now for the Afghan government to stand against corruption. However, a solid and dedicated effort against it can make a difference. It is not altogether impossible to defeat it. Definitely, strict measures are required, temperaments would be tested, institutions would be questioned, the powerful would have to be threatened, and more responsible attitude would be expected from all the people; in short, the whole mechanism would be shaken if there are real and honest efforts. And, it should be noted that there is no alternative for Afghanistan. The way it is going on leads to chaos and instability. If it has to change its route it must decide now and act accordingly.