Afghanistan at the moment is going through what is being called as a 'transition period'. The basic concept of the term is to suggest that Afghanistan is going through a time after which there would be visible changes in Afghan society as far as the socio-political scenario is concerned. The international community is in the process of withdrawal, which will be completed in 2014. The Afghan forces and authorities will be responsible for shouldering the security responsibilities and carrying on the political and economic affairs of the country.
As per the demands of the transition, the post-withdrawal scenario must experience better security and political and economic conditions. Unfortunately, the prospects are pointing towards something quite contrary to what is mentioned above. In fact, it is a transition, but the fear is that it may turn into a transition for worse. To use a proper term, retrogression is what suits it the most. But, what difference does it make to the international community if the transition is turned into retrogression? All it is concerned about is making a reputable exit, which will not be possible.
Already the international community involved in Afghanistan has earned a very notorious reputation for the war against terrorism and unfortunately, the same reputation may persist even after the war is left alone. Expecting that US and NATO will be able to extract themselves out of Afghanistan without a spot on their reputation is not possible at all, as they have not been able to end the war here.
It is one of the basic problems of the war against terrorism that it remains undecided. There are many issues that remain unresolved and all of these issues have the capacity to turn enormous and invite instability and disorder. The security concerns, reconciliation process, the shaky political setup, the issues of ill-governance and corruption, the rising poppy and the suffering economic infra-structure, all these issues are moving like a pendulum between the two extreme points – worse and worst. They do not seem to stay on the central point which happens to be the stability.
It would not be suitable to accept these claims appropriate without examples from the actual circumstances in the country; unfortunately such examples are large in number. The security situation, which has been exaggerated about to a large extent and most of the attentions in the recent international meetings have been diverted to this factor, seems to be very much out of reach.
The deteriorating situation in different parts of country and the information about the strengthening fronts of the Taliban are now open secret. Just have a look at some of the current news items. Read about the recent blasts in Qandahar which killed around 22 people and wounded 50 others. Check the number of casualties in attacks that target Afghan and international security forces.
Have a look at the Saturday's (June 09, 2012) attack that killed four French troops. Only in June, about 13 international troops have been killed. Analyze the movements that are launched against the schools and educations in Takhar, Ghazni and some other provinces. See how Taliban poison the innocent students, mostly girls so as to discourage them from attending school and being able to guarantee a better future for the country. Go through the deteriorating situation in Behsud district of MaidanWardak province, where Kochis have launched a brutal assault against the innocent locals to misplace them and make a mockery of law and order situation.
Moreover, count the number of bomb blasts and bullets that have been used only in the last one month to kill civilians and security forces and also the weapons that have been seized by the security officials before they are used. None of the aspects of security points towards the improving situation, yet the national and international authorities are very much confident of the situation.
What is the status of reconciliation process and the talks with Taliban? It is not hidden any more that Taliban have vehemently rejected all the sugar-coated invitations of the President Karzai and the US for talks. It seems that they realize to have a lion's share in the post-withdrawal Afghanistan so 'why should they negotiate?' The negligence on the part of international community involved in Afghanistan to reach to conclusions with Taliban and the government's sweet attitude towards them clearly show that they would return to power and may take a costly revenge from Afghan society. And they have every right to think so as they are the 'brothers' to the President of the country.
Like the security and reconciliation, the hopes for a better political order are very much dreary as well. The highly centralized political setup has made the heterogeneous Afghan society suffocate to a great extent. With all the powers lying with the Presidential office, the provincial and local bodies have very little to perform and participate in. Therefore, they have started feeling to be neglected and uninvolved. Moreover, the tolerance for the opposing political parties and coalitions is also debilitating.
And then there are the concerns about the 2014 election – There are no hopes that the election will be fair and free as both the indications and conditions point towards heinous intentions of the authorities to spoil it. In short, the political future of Afghanistan does not seem to be in a position that would be able to face the challenges of time unless real efforts are made to change the scenario.
The prospects that the government will be able to perform miracles in the areas of good-governance, eradication of corruption and poppy cultivation are also very much disappointing. Though there have been different strategic partnership agreements signed recently with major regional and international powers, the outcomes cannot be achieved from them once the government does not perform in the areas mentioned above.
In fact, the countries that have been involved in the country are really disappointed from the Afghan government as they see no improvements. Therefore, there has been major decrease in the assistance funds that are provided to Afghanistan and they are mostly with many conditions attached to them. US and NATO are facing difficulties in compensating for the funds that would be required to maintain Afghan security forces after the withdrawal completes as many countries are unwilling to pay.
It would not be inappropriate to conclude that the prospects of better changes in Afghanistan are really very much hazy and the transition can easily turn into retrogression if sincere and sensible efforts are not made on national and international levels.