Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency » Politics The largest news and information source in Afghanistan Thu, 27 Nov 2014 18:07:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Al Qaida Still A Potent Threat Sun, 05 Jan 2014 06:25:27 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Manish Rai

Pakistani Talibans get military training at the Pak-Afghan border in South WaziristanAs we begin 2014, it’s worth reflecting on where we stand in our fight against al-Qaida and global terrorism. Throughout 2012 and much of 2013, the Obama administration has toed the line that al-Qaida is on the path to defeat and with it, the terrorism is no longer the threat it once was. Nothing could be further from the truth. During his landmark counterterrorism speech in May 2013, President Barack Obama all but declared an end to the global war on terror. He said that al-Qaida was “on the path to defeat” the White House touted the death of Osama bin Laden as the death knell to al-Qaida. Pre-9/11, al-Qaida maintained large-scale operations in South Asia, complete with training camps and operational capabilities. Surely that capability of Al-Qaida is dented but it is far from over. Today, al-Qaida is a complex, adaptive, and resilient organization. The administration’s successes against high-value targets have fostered a false sense of security.

Right now, al-Qaida controls or operates in more territory around the globe that it did than at any point of time since its creation in 1988. Al-Qaida and its affiliates are resurgent in Iraq, a major player in Syria, a force in Yemen and Somalia, still active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, operational in the Caucasus, and in pockets throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This isn’t what I’d call success. Over the past several years, al-Qaida has developed a new strategy to foster affiliate groups that still maintain strong connections to the core. Take Syria for instance. A terrorist named Abu Khalid al Suri is fighting for a hardcore jihadist organization named Ahrar al-Sham. Ahrar al -Sham does not self-identify as al-Qaida. Yet Suri is a leading figure in the movement and serves as al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s main representative in the Levant, according to the Long War Journal. So although al-Qaida may not have its name plastered all over the Middle East or publicly announce its affiliations and locations, it is always lurking beneath the surface. This doesn’t mean al-Qaida is weakened or on the verge of defeat, it means it has altered the way it conducts its terror campaign and spreads its roots. Burying our heads into the sand and pretending it isn’t so only increases al-Qaida’s likelihood of controlling territory or launching successful attacks.

Moreover, specialized training for a jihadist is no longer limited to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. In Syria, legions of al-Qaida acolytes from all over the world, including Europe and the United States, are joining its cause on the battlefield. Eventually, they will return home and continue their fight against freedom. But as this year ends, the jihadist group’s regional affiliates have dramatically reasserted themselves in multiple countries, carrying out spectacular attacks and inflicting increasing levels of carnage. Though it’s hard to come by reliable estimates of the deaths they caused, the number is certainly in the thousands, and more than half a dozen countries now view these affiliates, or foreigners who have joined their ranks, as their top national security concern. The affiliates’ regeneration became so apparent over the course of this year that President Barack Obama was forced to clarify that his administration’s various claims of al Qaeda’s decimation were limited to the core leadership in Pakistan alone. Let’s take a look at the activities of al-Qaida in various countries:-

Mali-The year began with France spearheading a military intervention to push back jihadist groups that had seized territory in northern Mali, an impoverished country in the bone-dry Sahel region of Africa. France’s operation achieved some success, but a brigade led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar who has pledged his loyalty directly to al Qaeda’s senior leaders seized more than 800 hostages in a retaliatory operation at Algeria’s In Amenas gas complex. At least 39 foreign hostages were killed during the operation. France’s war in Mali also showed how deteriorating conditions in Libya.

Libya – Where the new government has never been able to assert its authority, help the jihadist cause. Some of the In Amenas attackers reportly trained in southern Libya (where camps prepare militants for suicide missions among other things, and used the country as a staging ground for the hostage-taking operation. And as France advanced on the battlefield in Mali many jihadist fighters fled to southwest Libya, where they evaded pursuit by “blending with local militant groups,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Iraq- Iraq’s death toll mounted throughout the year, driven by al Qaeda’s blossoming capabilities. By the end of 2013, more than 6,000 Iraqis had died in violence, the highest level of fatalities since 2007, the peak year of Iraq’s bloody civil war. As U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq two years ago, American and Iraqi officials expressed concerned that al Qaeda was “poised for a deadly resurgence.” Rather than proving alarmist, these warnings likely understated the speed and magnitude of the organization’s rebound in Iraq.

Somalia- Another al Qaeda franchise surged this year that is the Somali militant group al-Shabaab, which once controlled more territory in southern Somalia than did the country’s U.N.-recognized government, had lost its last major urban stronghold of Kismayo to advancing African Union forces in October 2012. But Shabaab remained lethal. On Sept. 21, terrorists associated with the group launched a spectacular assault on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. The attack dragged on for four days, killing 67 and injuring at least 175. But even before that, there were signs that a complex operation like Westgate was possible, as Shabaab carried out increasingly sophisticated attacks throughout the year. These included an attack on a Mogadishu courthouse that killed 29, and a twin suicide bombing at Mogadishu’s U.N. compound that claimed 22 lives.

Syria- In Syria, jihadists built on the gains they had made in 2012. Extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) affiliates of al-Qaida have proven to be some of the country’s most effective rebel factions. As 2013 ends, jihadists have been able to gain full control over such cities and towns as Raqqa and Shadadi in the north. ISIS has become adept at the targeted use of violence against Raqqa’s citizens, for the purposes of dominating and intimidating them as it implements a harsh version of Islamic law. Further compounding concerns stemming from the Syria conflict, a recent study published by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization found that up to 11,000 foreign fighters have flocked to the battlefield to fight Bashar Assad’s government, of whom around 2,000 are from Western Europe. This has sparked fears in their countries of origin that the fighters could pose a security threat if they return both radicalized and battle-hardened.

The motivating factors for Al-Qaida’s aspirants and supporters are still very much in place which is ensuring steady supply of cadres. There is a pervasive belief among extremists that a caliphate an Islamic state governed strictly by Sharia, or Islamic, law is possible and should be fought for. There is a real displaced aggression in this very fundamentalist, jihadist community. And that is that the west is responsible for everything that goes wrong we can expect to see more groups, more fundamentalists, more jihadists more determined to kill to get to where they want to get. Cruickshank points to the disappointment many young men felt over what they perceive as a failed arab spring. So, if we want global peace and stability to be safeguarded then we should take al-qaida and its affiliates more seriously than ever and dealt them with more determination.

Manish Rai(Author is freelance columnist based in New Delhi and Editor of can be reached at

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Afpak: the ‘Strategic Depth’ Fri, 20 Dec 2013 03:34:01 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Gharanai Khwakhuzhi

Afghan Pakistan Strategic DeptThe term ‘Strategic Depth’ has been word of mouth of recent, after it was brought up during a recent visit of an Afghan delegation to Pakistan attending Pakistan-Afghanistan Bilateral Conference hosted by South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA).

The concept of Strategic Depth emerges from the realm of military operations which denotes the distance between enemy forces and the main center of gravity of a country (anything from a military base to economic and commercial hubs). For a military strategist the greater the distance to be traversed by enemy forces to reach these bases, the better are the chances of successful defense line and stance as the enemy in such situations end up in a war of attrition.

One of the best examples of such strategy emerges from German invasion of Soviet Union, where the Soviets traded space for time.

Another example of such policy is the Pakistani Strategic Depth.

As a professor at National Defense University of Pakistan and a military strategist, Gen. (ret) Mirza Aslam Beg, who would go on and become the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan replacing Gen. Zia ul Haq; in early 1980s while the Soviet involvement and engagement in Afghanistan was at its height and Indians had close ties and cooperation with the Soviets, decided to come up with a policy that will prevent an encirclement of Pakistan by its archival India in the East and a Soviet supported Afghanistan in the West.

The policy was to define the Strategic Depth of Pakistan in case of an India invasion. For this Pakistan would assist the Afghan opposition and install a Pakistan friendly government in Kabul and if India invades Pakistan, the Pakistani Army will fall back to Afghanistan so to inflict a War of Attrition on the Indians, thus making Afghanistan Pakistan’s Strategic Depth [de facto].

Mostly this Strategic Depth policy has been rejected by Pakistani establishment and even ridiculed at times by international military strategists, yet this has been the hot topic of recent days.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser, brought up the topic at a Senate briefing few days ago where he made it clear that Strategic Depth meant nothing for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Adding Afghanistan was free to make decisions about its political future on its own, that peaceful neighborhood was the top priority of the incumbent government, and that Pakistan was following the policy of non-interference in Afghanistan and not fighting proxy wars.

This made it clear that the idea of Strategic Depth still is on the minds of Pakistani strategists and politicians even though they are trying to overcome it and establish a new, cooperative and peaceful strategy towards Afghanistan.

Now to assess what could be best for both countries in a new strategy towards each other we should consider the recent developments in the region and the ever-growing economic dependency of the regional countries on each other. With this we can come up with a long-term solution and strategy that will counter the problems facing both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In order to accomplish this solution we could start with revers-engineering the 19th and 20th century policy of “Divide and Rule” with a pluralistic and integrative policy. A policy of integration and contexture of interests of different entities, in this case nations.

One of these interests not only for Afghanistan and Pakistan but also India is the urgent and ever-growing need of energy which has hindered the economic growth of the mentioned countries to great extents.

Projects such as CASA-1000 (Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project) where electricity would be transmitted from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan, TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Pipeline) where the pipeline will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan into Pakistan and India, and the Kunar River Hydroelectric Dam which is a joint management of common rivers project between Afghanistan and Pakistan providing 1500MW of electricity once constructed; could be some steps toward countering the problem.

Beside the common interests of energy, APTTA (Afghanistan Pakistan Transit and Trade Agreement) is another project of mutual interest for both countries which opens doors for the traders of both countries as well as connecting Central Asia with South Asia. With Afghanistan recently becoming a member of International Union of Railways and with the growing railways infrastructure in Afghanistan, APTTA could play a key role in bringing the two regions (Central Asia and South Asia) closer.

The proposed idea of extending Pakistani Motorway to Afghanistan and the Asian Highway Network are some other ideas that could benefit not only the two nations but the region.

These are some of the projects that could make the two countries economically interdependent and with common and mutual interests I don’t see a reason why the two countries cannot walk on the same path parallel to each other in peace.

Now going back to the Strategic Depth policy, India is also developing and growing at a fast pace and would prefer a peaceful neighborhood for its future growth. And with economic dependency of it over Central Asian energy giants, it becomes an obvious urge for it to have cordial and close relations with Pakistan.

Pakistan not having India scratching its back, means Afghanistan would be no more the Strategic Depth of Pakistan military policy, resulting in a common and transparent desire of the two nations to fight terrorism that has been imported and installed in this region.

In conclusion I think adopting each others’ interests as your own will result in interdependency of nations, making a cooperative environment in the region.

We should also remember that the main and core reason behind the success of European integration as an union was the desire of the once conflicting nations to cooperate in sectors of trade and economy so to recover from the aftermaths of World War II.

If the Europeans can manage to live side by side in peace and prosperity after centuries of conflicts between the members of today’s European Union, then the regional countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and India can definitely do it, especially while considering the close history, culture and customs that the nations share with each other.

Gharanai KhwakhuzhiGharanai Khwakhuzhi is an Afghan Foreign Service Officer and blogs on topics concerning International Relations, Politics, History and Regional Affairs.

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Syrian Refugees: Biggest Sufferers Of The Conflict Mon, 16 Dec 2013 13:36:10 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Manish Rai

Syrian RefugeesNearly three years of bloody civil war in Syria have created what the United Nations, governments and international humanitarian organizations describe as the most challenging refugee crisis in a generation bigger than the one unleashed by the Rwandan genocide and laden with the sectarianism of the Balkan wars. With no end in sight in the conflict and with large parts of Syria already destroyed, governments and organizations are quietly preparing for the refugee crisis to last years. Governments and humanitarian groups are increasingly working under the assumption that the crisis will be a long-lasting one. This is the crisis that has been called the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of this century and condemned by the UN as a “disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history”. The United Nations has asked for more than $5 billion in humanitarian aid this year for Syria, its biggest financial appeal ever for a single crisis. But amidst politically-charged debates on the use of chemical weapons, military drone strikes and UN intervention, the real victims of the Syrian civil war, its refugees and its children, are slowly being relegated to the background. It is becoming a political issue, rather than a human one.

The number of refugees fleeing over the Syrian borders to Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq to escape the violent conflict reached 2 million. Currently, it is estimated that over 2.5 million persons have fled the conflict, more than half of whom are believed to be children. The UN confirmed that thousands of new refugees had fled to Lebanon to escape fighting in the Qalamoun mountains on the Lebanese border. Many of these refugees are families, arriving with only the clothes on their back. The Syrian conflict is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time in terms of brutality, numbers affected and the impact on children. With no resolution in sight, there is the potential for an entire generation of Syrian children to be deprived of access to a permanent home, formal education and basic health needs. The impact of this will reverberate not only for generations of Syrians to come, but will also be felt in those neighbouring countries who have openly accepted victims of war seeking refuge, and whose own services now face severe stress. For many children however, after having already missed two years of schooling in Syria, attending school is simply too difficult. Some are set to work in order to sustain their families, and girls in particular often stay in the makeshift settlements to care for younger children. The gains made in female education in Syria in the past are regressing as a result of the refugee crisis.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the Syrian refugee crisis. It is, after all, the biggest humanitarian crisis in modern history with nearly 4 million Syrians one million of them children forced out of their country by the civil war. But, with the conflict and its impact expected to drag on for years, the aid agencies must also plan for the longer term. This includes building capacity in neighbouring states, as the World Bank is doing in Jordan and Lebanon, to provide services for refugees. The life of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is not better then the refugees who have crossed into the neighbouring countries they often find refuge in the poorest and most marginalized regions of the country, which frequently lack proper infrastructure to deal with the population influx. But they are often even harder to reach, as many remain in conflict areas. Staying with relatives or in abandoned properties moving through fields and along roads. And always they are stalked by the bitter war that has torn this country apart the past three years claiming about 126,000 lives, laying waste to infrastructure, and threatening to ignite a broader, regional confrontation. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that some 4.5 million Syrians have been displaced within Syria’s borders as the country’s internecine conflict grinds on, exacting its brutal toll. IDPs have often been the invisible and forgotten victims of this brutal conflict and are largely sidelined by the political wrangling between all parties to the conflict and their international backers. Fears continue to mount that Syria’s internally displaced will go hungry with aid agencies unable to reach many in need because of security risks. Moreover measles and acute diarrhea cases are increasing, and WHO has warned the likelihood of outbreaks of water-borne diseases typhoid, cholera and hepatitis among IDP.

The United Nation estimates that 2.5 million civilians lack food, water, and medicines, because some towns and villages are too hard to reach, with an estimated 250,000 people completely cut off from outside help. Only 60% of aid pledges have come in, with only a fraction actually reaching the intended beneficiaries. Although some agencies have been able to get aid supplies across national borders, they cannot get through the front lines of the fighting to reach those caught in the crossfire. In a nutshell we can just say that humanity is dying in Syria and the whole world community should do something to save it. International diplomatic efforts must therefore focus on achieving temporary ceasefires to bring in the most urgently needed help, such as polio vaccines for children as new cases of polio is being registered among the refugees. Aid should not be a mere side show to the seemingly endless peace talks taking place in Geneva. In order to ensure that an entire generation of Syrian children is not lost to history, we must pay attention to the issues before us for longer than the headlines. We must continue to support these victims of war for longer than a cake stall. We must keep giving, until the light at the end of the tunnel finally appears. Acting now, rather than waiting for a political solution, is a must. Resettlement of more Syrian refugees through a greater humanitarian intake, combined with a continued public giving program is the only way forward.

Manish RaiAuthor is freelance columnist based in New Delhi and Editor of can be reached at

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Building bridges for cooperation in AfPak Sat, 14 Dec 2013 04:13:40 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Huma Naseri

Nawz Sharif and Hamid KarzaiAfghanistan and Pakistan share a lot in common such as religion, cultural and traditional values yet due to the absence of a clear defined foreign policy towards each other, resulting in distrust amongst the tow fragile nations. Looking into the frugality, one can argue, that there is greater demand for building mutual trust between the two countries. When it comes to trust in international politics, realists argue, that because of the complex nature of international system trust is rare among the states. Structure of states is formed in ways that regard to each other they live with suspicion and worry therefore this fear forces them to put their own interests ahead of the interests of others. So in such a scenario what can be done in order to overcome the challenges confronting AfPak Today? It is obvious the challenge cannot be resolved through unilateral approaches because it is no more a wish but an increasing prerequisite to develop comprehensive collaborative approaches to overcome the challenges that they are facing.

During my recent visit to Pakistan, meeting with journalists, politicians, government officials and stake holders, I realized the main issues which have cause misperception and distrust between the two nations are primary the below two: .

  • Terrorism and Taliban safe havens in Pakistan
  • Growing uneasiness in Pakistan over India’s presence in Afghanistan

Terrorism and Taliban safe havens in Pakistan:

Since 9/11 Pakistan and Afghanistan have become a center of political instability, terrorism, economical and social weaknesses. Al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens have undermined Pakistan’s national security and coasted the Pakistani economy billions in collateral damage. Likewise, support for Taliban sanctuaries resulted in thousands of causalities, peace and stability and democracy in Afghanistan. Against this background, there is a dire need for a strong bilateral cooperation between the two countries to mutually deal with terrorism and extremism in the region. If Afghanistan continues to suffer from cross-border terrorism and extremism, there remains no chance and hope for peace and stability in Pakistan and vice-versa.

Growing uneasiness in Pakistan over India’s presence in Afghanistan:

This scenario could be further divided into two parts:

1: Pakistan seems to be using one of the dimensions of framework of ‘Trust theory’ by finding attribution bias. Social psychologist argues that sometime people use their beliefs and prejudice to explain the behavior of others. To put it an illustration, during a recently organized conference a Pakistani fellow asked a question why India has 27 consulates in Afghanistan now the reality is that India has five consulates, three were old ones and two newly established. This example proofs the argument of social-psychologist and illustrates the importance of distinguishing trust from the illusion.

2: Afghanistan is a sovereign nation and committed to the principles of Territorial Integrity under the ‘Good Neighborly Relations’, Afghanistan and its six neighbors signed in Kabul in 2002. Based on International Law, Afghanistan as a sovereign state has also its legal right to maintain relations with any country to pursue its strategic interests. Afghanistan never showed any concern about Pakistan relations with world since it fully respects Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

To sum up, both of the countries are well aware of the ground realties and strategic depth of each other since they are suffering from the same unrest and state security and internal stability still seems too far away. Given the fact that, the conflict and mistrust between these two countries is deep rooted in history but let’s also not forget the very obvious fact, that in context of regional stability building trust is essential to create the environment of cooperation between the two nations. The “blame game” will neither help nor guide them to a peaceful future. Thus the status-quo in both countries suggests to focus substantially on realization of common aspects that has the potential and promises for peace, security and economic growth on both sides.


In institutionalism, the existence of institutional incentives explains trust. The trust can be built when parties involved are protected from misuse by structures that provide incentives and assurances for cooperation, for instance  the ‘ Transit Trade Agreement’ it’s important that the two countries ratify and sign it which will allow Afghans to transit goods through Pakistan to markets in India and open up Central Asia to Pakistan. It has been said if the agreement gets ratified it would increase trade between the countries to $5 billion a year, from $1.5 billion. This will eventually lead toward trust in relationship, increase economic growth, put an end to many problems and contribute to the prosperity in the region.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are confronting almost the same menaces and stands in similar state of affairs. Pakistan had its elections and Afghanistan’s presidential elections are scheduled in April next year. Both the new administrations should bring changes in their policies towards each other and use more cohesive approaches. Second and third track diplomacies should be enhanced between these two countries as people to people linkages are the core to build the relations. Only cooperation without assurances, can be evidence of trust among the actors.

I certainly hope both countries to learn lesson from their past and make every single move to open the way for taking a step for trust-building.

Huma Naseri, holds a M.A in International Relations from Germany and writes on regular bases for her blog and sometimes BBC Pashtu covering issues related to Afghanistan.

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Why Karzai chose to play hard ball with US? Thu, 12 Dec 2013 06:10:26 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Ahmad Shah Katawazai

Karzai leaves for LondonDuring his rule from more than a decade in the country President Karzai perhaps seems a more unpredictable, egoistic smart president rather than a reliable ally of the United States.

Adding to the frustration of the most favored ally during the past decade with which he once enjoyed a special relationship and marriage of connivance particularly during Bush era, once again he pushed for his conditions and denied any agreement before his demands are met.

His demands include setting free the Afghan prisoners in Guantanamo and further assurances from the United States that its forces will not raid Afghan homes and its sincere commitment to help start stalled peace talks with Taliban.

Following US National Security Advisor Susan Rice, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins, the US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (who didn’t meet Karzai during his recent visit) was the latest among US authorities who visited Afghanistan recently persuading Afghan administration to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) before the next presidential elections.

In a rare political maneuvering the president, who is constitutionally barred from running in the forthcoming elections, refused to back away from his recalcitrant stance, this time with a stricter stance in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Karzai said “what I’ve been hearing in recent days and heard in the past is classic colonial exploitation.”

Three core reasons underpin around Karzai recalcitrant stance:

President Karzai perhaps wants to be remembered as a patriot Afghan leader rather than a foreign puppet. His egoistic nature compels him to leave a name in the history of a figure that thought and worked for the greater interest of his people, by standing against and not allowing a major power like the United States to raid their houses or reach an agreement with them without the condition of bringing peace.

Secondly his major concern probably is regarding political settlement with Taliban for which he has been pushing from 2007. His fear perhaps is that after the April poll when a new president come in power and in case he is not assured of this lukewarm political settlement, which experienced plethora of problems and major setbacks during the past few years, there will be another chaos in the country, where the fire and fight will continue for unpredictable time in the future.

According to him, if he signs the BSA and peace is not brought to the country, who will be blamed by history; off course he will be blamed for it. He stated that “we want the security agreement with the condition of peace, it must bring peace to the country, i know that America can bring peace to Afghanistan if they truly want.”

Thirdly he doesn’t want any foreign interference or any hijacking of the forthcoming April 2014 polls in Afghanistan like in the past. He want make sure that the elections are held in a more transparent way.

These conditions are perhaps understandable and pragmatic. Still there is time the NATO and US military could work on the post 2014 peaceful Afghanistan.

Though the relationship between the two countries seems worse than they have been and almost on the knife’s edge but there are many reasons which proves that the Bilateral Security Agreement will be signed as it is inevitable for both Afghanistan and the United States.

Hopes are there among Afghans that the BSA will be signed between the two countries as on one hand the Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) and Afghan people have shown their agreement regarding signing of the BSA while on the other hand from both Afghan and US authorities statements it seems that there is absolute possibility of the signing of the agreement. As Chuck Hagel following a meeting with the Afghan Defense Minister said that he has been assured that the BSA would be signed in a timely manner, also the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford said recently that he will continue planning for a post 2014 forces in Afghanistan. In the meantime, a top US senator in a letter to President Barack Obama, suggested that the Washington should wait until a new Afghan leader is elected to sign the agreement.

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins in his latest remarks to U.S. Foreign Relations Committee mentioned that he has no doubt that the BSA with Afghanistan will be concluded.

 Its only matter of few months where both countries could reach an agreement that is of vital interest to both countries.

In case there is complete withdrawal of troops, this will be a catastrophic scenario, not only for Afghanistan but also for the whole region.

Currently Afghanistan is in the grip of many challenges emerging from inside the country and extending its tentacles from the neighbor countries, hence it is hoped that unlike the past the international community will not leave Afghanistan in isolation and its people in the lurch.

Ahmad Shah Katawazai Kabul AfghanistanMr. Ahmad Shah Katawazai is Diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and permanent member of the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan.

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Hakimullah Death Will Cost Pakistan Tue, 05 Nov 2013 17:31:05 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Manish Rai

hakimullah_mehsud_1504458cThe Killing of Pakistani Taliban aka Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud along with his four associates by the drone strike in the lawless North Waziristan agency has jeopardize the proposed peace talks between the Pakistani Government and Taliban. The drone strike came at a time when the government was all set to initiate peace talks with the Taliban to end the bloody cycle of violence in the country that has killed at least 7,000 security personnel and nearly 40,000 people. This drone strike came at the worst time for the government. The environment for this proposed peace process was being built by the Nawaz Sharif government brick by brick since it came to the power moreover it was very much serious to deliver on its election promise to bring peace by talking to Taliban. But now all these efforts for peace have been washed away because of this wrong timing US Drone Strike everything again has to be started from scratch now. Some people are seeing this killing as the deliberate attempt by the United States to derail the peace process even the Pakistani state establishment acknowledging that. Pakistan’s interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, described the drone strike as “an attempt to sabotage the talks”.

He said the strike had come a day before a three-member delegation of government negotiators was to head to the north-west to start peace talks with the TTP. Pakistani officials had been expecting the drone strikes to stop ahead of the negotiations so that the right environment for the talks can be made but this strike raises a “Question Mark” on the intentions of the US over the issue of peace in Pakistan. This time peace talks had the backing from the top TTP leadership including Hakimullah but now after being killed Mehsud will not be remembered for the blood he has shed, but as a ‘man who wanted to talk but wasn’t given the chance’ or a man who was betrayed. Pakistan must understand that America is not here to stay forever. By 2014, they intend to pull out and they don’t have much to lose with regards to how Hakimullah Mehsud was killed but for Pakistan, however, it’s a different story. Now, and for years to come, many children in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, will be told stories of the “great warrior” who fought against the American “devils” and in the end he ‘died a holy death’. Any other narrative of the story will not be accepted by most. Moreover direct fallout of this killing will be the vengeance by the Taliban which will claim the lives of many innocent people. Taliban commander from North Waziristan Abu Omar has already issued a statement in which he said our revenge will be unprecedented and they considered the Pakistani government was also “fully complicit” in the drone strike.

Loosely in command of some 30 militant groups in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsud was responsible for some of the Taliban’s most damaging strikes against Western interests in the region, organising repeated attacks against Nato convoys heading through the Khyber Pass region to neighbouring Afghanistan. So by killing him United States has only safeguarded its interest and sidelined the Pakistani interest. It seemed that US thinks that decapitation or the strategy of killing top commanders of terrorist groups is quite important from the counter-terrorism standpoint. But considering the loose structure, vague ideology and motivation of the TTP, this strategy may not work. Organizations like the TTP are never short on leadership hence killing of Hakimullah may not affect the TTP’s continuity in carrying out attacks. A close aide of Hakimullah Khan Said alias Sajnaa is likely to take over as the Ameer (Chief) of TTP. There could be a violent backlash in the form of reprisal attacks in various parts of the country. If the group stages large-scale attacks, it would be an indicator of its strength and viability and the death of Hakimullah will result in more upsurge of right wing forces.

One of the immediate negative effects of this present incident is that it has united the right and extreme right wing political forces of Pakistan. Imran khan and Choudry Nisar are using same language and share explanation of Hakimullah death as conspiracy to derail peace talk. The killing of Hakimullah Mehsud is a serious blow to the TTP, which just months ago lost deputy commander Wali Rehman Mehsud under similar circumstances for the group there is a serious leadership crisis now. Indeed the assassination of a top leader can sometimes be a blessing in disguise because it can bring a stronger and more cunning leader forward. Hassan Nasrallah, for example, has been a devilishly effective leader for Hezbollah, helping the Iranian-backed terror organization to all but take over Lebanon and now spread its influence into Syria. He might never have gotten the chance to lead, however, if Israel hadn’t eliminated his predecessor, Abbas al-Musawi, in 1992. This might happen with TTP as well the new leader Sajna, as he is called, is confirmed as the replacement leader, and his track record is a bloodthirsty one. He is believed to be behind the freeing of almost 400 prisoners from a jail in northwest Pakistan in 2012, and also that year, a co-ordinated attack on an air base in Pakistan. His reputation is of a hardliner and his vowing that suicide bombings will now occur does not bode well for any peace talks.

Earlier on also, a number of leading figures of TTP have been eliminated through drone attacks, these include: Nek Muhammad, Baitullah Mehsud, Qari Hussain, Ilyas Kashmiri, Maulvi Nazir, Waliur Rehman Mehsud etc. Most of these commanders were killed when they showed inclination to enter into negotiations with Pakistan. Hakimullah also met a similar fate. In fact, every time Pakistan is close to find out a negotiated settlement of the militancy issue, and attempts to tame the disgruntled Taliban through parleys, the process is sabotaged by the drone strikes. It’s a high time for Pakistan to safeguard its interest, peace, and stability otherwise it will be dragged again into a violent insurgency for years to come. Pakistani state should understand that it has to come out of the US shadow to have its own strategy for peace work.

(Author is freelance columnist based in New Delhi and Editor of www[dot]viewsaround[dot]com can be reached at

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Afghanistan is not alone Wed, 30 Oct 2013 08:35:43 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Kabul Business Center - Development in AfghanistanA decade ago Afghanistan was under serious sanctions of the US and the international community. It was a safe haven for terrorists and Al-Qaeda. But today it is a strong ally of the world community against terrorism and Al-Qaeda. It’s not any more under sanctions, but a strategic partner of the US and major western states. Afghanistan is not yet perfect. But it’s come a long way and it’s not Afghanistan of 1990s.

It was October 2001, when the US and its allies engaged in a military campaign in Afghanistan. 12 years ago in the same month. I have witnessed that the US-led and Afghan-backed mission succeeded in removing the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and their foreign allies within six weeks from their strongest base, know as Tora Bora. It was located only 35 miles southwest of the provincial capital of Jalalabad city, where I was living among thousands of other Afghan citizens, who were suffering under the Taliban regime.

Many citizens were worried that after overthrowing the Taliban regime the coalition forces will go back to their countries. And I personally never thought of their long-term support and contributions to Afghanistan. So their contribution for reconstruction and development of Afghanistan was surprising for many Afghans. The mission has evolved from counterterrorism to counter insurgency and reconstruction of Afghanistan. As results over a decade, more than 4,500 school buildings have constructed, nearly 8,000 kilometers of national highways and roads have been built and thousands of reconstruction projects have been implemented across the country.

Of course we cannot depend on the US and the international aids forever. Like every other country we have to be self-sustaining and take responsibility as the owners of our future. So in order to be self-sustaining we have to work hard. But still it will require years for Afghanistan and we will not be able to do it, without the support of the US and the international community.

We are living in the era of globalization, so we have to establish a solid relationship with the neighboring countries and with the region and countries outside the region. Besides the trade passageways, Afghanistan offers unique opportunities for investment. It has enormous explored and unexploited natural resources including minerals, gas, oil, hydrocarbons and other materials that worth trillions of USD. These resources are crucially needed within the region and across the world. So in order to explore, extract and use these treasures, we need to maintain our relationship and cooperation with the developing countries.

There are still many challenges; corruption, unemployment and insecurity are major issues of concerns for the Afghan people. But they are optimistic about their future and they understand that state building and reform is a long-term process. Appreciating the commitments and contributions of the US government and its people, Afghans are gradually taking more responsibilities in every aspect. Successful security transition is a perfect example.

12 years presence of the US military and civilians in Afghanistan has built an unprecedented relationship between the US and the Afghan government. In this period citizens of both counties has also built a close relationship. The joint sacrifice and efforts of the Afghans and Americans has enabled Afghanistan to regain its sovereignty and international recognition. In last one decade we have created sufficient political, economic and social forces. Many Afghans believe that a swift political transition will safeguard this country against the return of Afghanistan to the miseries of the past. And they also believe that a bilateral security agreement with the US will secure mutual interests of the both countries.

There are diverse views about the Afghan-US relationship. But the majority of the Afghan people is strongly supporting continuity of this relationship. Endorsement of Strategic Partnership Agreement with the US by over 2500 representatives of the Afghan people from across the country at the Consultative Loya Jirga in 2011 and its approval by the mass majority of the Afghan parliamentarians, are clear examples.

During the last one decade the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States has grown stronger. It is not only between the governments, but also between the citizens of these two countries. A recently established bipartisan collation of the Afghan and the US civil society leaders, senior former officials and diplomats, The Alliance in Support of the Afghan People (ASAP), is another strong step in protecting the progress made by the Afghan people over the last 12 years.

Shafiq HamdamMohammad Shafiq Hamdam is the Founder and Chairman of the Afghan Anti-Corruption Network. The Afghan Anti-Corruption Network is the leading and the largest network of civil society organizations fighting corruption in Afghanistan. He is a fellow of the Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative and also a signatory to the Alliance in Support of the Afghan People, a bipartisan coalition dedicated to preserving and protecting the progress made by the Afghan people since 2001.

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Afghanistan – The Evolving Election Scenario Fri, 20 Sep 2013 12:20:59 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Dr. Hussain Yasa

Preparing to voteNominations for the Afghani presidency opened on the 16th September and with this milestone the country formally entered the pre-election period. Over the next seven months Afghanistan will be turned into one great reality TV show, watched by the world, while the candidates practice our unique brand of politics. In the run up to nominations, the alternating announcements of electoral coalitions and rumors that the election will not happen, have given a taste of the intricate tactics involved in Afghan politics. However the 2014 poll is different from the elections in 2004 and 2009. In both of those elections the incumbent was widely expected to win. That is the one outcome which is ruled out in the 2014 election because of the bar on the President standing for a third time. This time the election scenario involves three contests rolled into one. The first contest is between those prepared to participate in the Kabul-based political system and those trying to overthrow it by force, which boils down to the Taliban versus the rest. If any candidate is elected legitimately in April 2014 it will mark a victory for those who support democratic politics. The second contest is over the nature of the elections, between those who try to ensure that there is a popular mandate and those trying to grab control of the electoral machinery to rig the elections. The third contest is the one which has been shaping up between the emerging coalitions. It boils down to the contest between palace and opposition over how different the new team in the presidency should be from that which has struggled to rule Afghanistan over the past decade. This analysis of the evolving scenario takes a look at the current state of the three contests.

The first contest – violent extremism versus Kabul-based politics

The latest generation of jihadists is fighting to overthrow the Kabul-based political system and reject the idea of trusting elections to choose Afghanistan’s leader. The most famous group in the armed opposition is the Taliban. However, as the war has continued, various Afghan factions have come to operate under the Taliban flag, with backing from jihadist circles in Pakistan and what remains of Al Qaeda’s international militant alliance. Although apparently marginalized less influential than before, Hizb-e Islami leader Gulbadin Hekmatyar still operates alongside those who have preferred fighting over peaceful politics. The Taliban have a clear vision of eliminating their opponents by force. The Taliban have unambiguous faith in their ideology, life style and peculiar interpretation of religion. They do not believe in democracy and still follow their distant dream to implement a “Khilafat” headed by their Amir-ul-Mominin (The leader of faithful), the notorious Mullah Omar. They are committed to toppling the fragile system and hope to dominate Afghanistan as the victorious force after the withdrawal of the US-led ISAF.

The second contest – palace politics and popular mandate versus rigging

Karzai led regime (L’ETAT C’EST MOOI)


President Hamed has been ruling over Afghanistan since the fall of Taliban in late 2001. With the wholehearted support of US and its international partners, he managed to lead Afghanistan over the last decade with many positive and undesirable developments.

Following the same line of his predecessors, Karzai is deeply reluctant to step down. He is busy conceiving plans about how to remain in power indirectly through his loyalists in the palace. His body language suggests that he has not really accepted that he was elected president twice for a specific time period. Instead he seems to believe that ruling over this war torn country is his God given right.

His last two elections were flawed and in 2009 his bid to win in one round was declared fraudulent. Interestingly the world never really punished their Afghan client for his ballot stuffing and engineering of electoral results. Apparently they thought that Afghan democracy needs more time to mature. But on the contrary, in our dealing with election-rigging the whole democratization process and achievements of the twelve year international mission in Afghanistan are at stake.

The palace team of experienced election riggers has a lot of opportunities, including the flawed electoral system, the absence of an authentic census and voter list, millions of fake voter cards, unlimited resources with the partial administration and local governments, insecurity, a weak election commission. These are all aspects of the election they may seek to exploit so as to obtain the result they desire. There are hopes that the palace will be less willing or able to conduct as large scale centralized rigging as in 2009. Wisely, the donor community has already warned that any effort to alter the poll results will jeopardize Afghanistan’s future aid prospects. The government would do well to take note. We now have a new election law and election stakeholders are working their way through a list of anti-fraud measures.

The second, tactic of Karzai is to divide and rule the opposition. Most of them have gathered in the “Electoral Alliance”. He is trying to pick them off by offering them political bribes.

At the same time Karzai has held off clearly endorsing any serious candidate to become his successor. He has multiple standby candidates who engage the various opposition strongmen in fake negotiation but are not serious about pursuing any real power sharing formula. Some see the lack of an anointed palace candidate as evidence of Karzai’s clever game. It is just as plausible that Karzai and the palace have simply failed to get their inner team to agree on the so-called consensus figure.

Ultimately, if he could get away with it, Karzai would be open to alternatives to an election, like a Loya Jirga (Grand National Assembly with delegates hand-picked by the palace) or an announcement of a state of emergency by magnifying the security issues and declaring that the overall situation doesn’t support elections. He could try to buy the support of parliament for such a move through mass horse trading.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has already issued press release warning that that some circles are pushing for postponement of the polls.

The third contest – coalitions versus the palace 

Electoral Coalition (EC)

The newly formed Electoral Coalition is mainly composed of two previous strong opposition alliances, the Afghanistan National Front (ANF) led by Ahmad Zia Massoud and the National Coalition of Afghanistan (NCA) led by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. The Electoral Alliance also includes other power brokers such as Atta Mohammad Noor, the strongman of the Northern Balkh Province.

The leaders around EC are mostly old members of the Northern Alliance who resisted Taliban occupation and helped the US led coalition oust the Taliban from power. The alliance includes a few Pashtuns. But the king-makers of the EC all belong to the non Pashtun communities, the Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks.

The Electoral Coalition draws its popular support through parties with significant mass base. These include Jamiat-e Islami led by Salahuddin Rabbani, the son of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, the founder of the Party killed by the Taliban in September 2011. The other mass-based parties include the People’s Unity Party of Afghanistan led by Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, the strongman of Hazaras and the Junbesh Party led by Gen, Abdur Rashid Dostum the leading  strongman from the Northern Uzbek community.

Even though Dr. Abdullah Abdullah had announced his candidacy for the upcoming Presidential Elections much before the formation of the EC, now he says that he will follow the decision of the alliance on the issue of his candidacy. No one else from this alliance has yet stepped forward as the candidate to challenge the palace.

Many believe that the EC still lacks the faith, courage and enthusiasm to win the upcoming Presidential Elections. But the members of the EC have had their minds focused by the prospect of the post election situation, with the withdrawal of ISAF, the threat of takeover of Taliban by force, the
growing sense of insecurity among the communities involved in the resistance against the Taliban and economic challenges. The contest is a survival issue.

The king-makers of the EC have conflicting interests on various issues. But their common minimum approach is the same. None of them trusts Karzai and all of them are afraid of Taliban.

Another fact cannot be ignored. Two important figures in today’s EC were the main vote-getters for Karzai in the 2009 elections. And still he could not manage to get 51%. A palace endorsed candidate this time cannot draw on the same vote bank which Karzai used to scrape home last time.

Some critics suspect that the coalition may not survive the upcoming hectic days of the nomination process where the power-brokers face the all important question of who should be their joint candidate. This means that the electoral process is working towards a contest between Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and whoever the palace finally endorses as their preferred candidate.

Doctors without Borders

This is the name given to the team led by Dr. Zulmai Khalilzad, the former US ambassador to Kabul and Iraq, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai former Cabinet Minister. Ali Ahmad Jalali, the former Interior Minister (also an American citizen) and Qayoum Karzai, the elder brother of President Karzai. All of them wished to become the next president but none of them has any mass support to pose a reasonable challenge to the EC.

They have been busy in trying to win the support of strongmen from non Pashtun communities. But at the end of the day it seems that they are not successful to do so.

Right and Justice Party

The Party is led by Hanif Atmar, the former Cabinet Minister. At its formation two years back the party which mainly consisted of the defectors from other parties. It has grown up to the level where it should be taken seriously. But still many believe that it lacks the mass support to have a chance in the presidential elections. Although, Atmar has been in the opposition, he has refrained from joining any non-Pashtun led opposition alliance – neither the ANF nor the NCA.

His reluctance to join those main opposition alliances could be due to his ambition to lead the opposition or a probable fear of provocation Pashtuns by shaking hands with the anti Taliban figures or parties. Nevertheless he was an active member of the Consultative Council of 23 opposition Political parties, most of them now in the EC. Atmar is a resilient politician and a talented technocrat who has tried desperately to gain the support of the same king-makers of the non Pashtun communities but has so far been unsuccessful. He has another problem which is not usually discussed on the open forums. He belongs to the Eastern province of Laghman. The elders of Southern Pashtun tribes seem to be reluctant to shift power from South to East although both are Pashtuns.

Afghanistan Social Democratic Party (Afghan Millat)

It is led by Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady, the current Minister of Commerce. Afghan Millat has a long history in Afghan Politics. The Party is famous for its ultra Pashtun ethnocentrism but it denies the perception and claims that the party has a comprehensive national agenda.

Afghan Millat has good support among the Pashtun liberals and educated class. But Dr. Ahady’s misfortune is that the class does not have any decisive role for the time being in shaping Pashtun politics. He has also announced he is a candidate. On the other hand president Karzai is blamed for the fragmentation of the party into various factions. In brief the Party is not in a position to emerge as a significant player of this process

There are few more alliances and parties wish to play role in the process but for the time being most of the analysts don’t believe any significant role from smaller groups.


We can draw six main conclusions from this review of the election scenario.

Firstly, the political system operating in Kabul is a hybrid one in which both political parties and regional power-brokers play a key role in mobilizing electoral support. Despite ten years of effort by the Afghan government to restrict the growth of political parties and to malign them as responsible for the conflict, Afghan parties have survived. The government’s attempt to establish a non-party system has failed.

Secondly, President Karzai seems set to become Afghanistan’s Musharraf. The presidential palace has failed to come up with a credible succession strategy. Neither have they found a way of keeping Karzai in power nor have they found a viable candidate who can keep together the hotchpotch of interests which have gathered in the palace in recent years. Like Musharraf, Karzai has a strong sense of self-importance and seems determined to scheme until the end. But the President and the world are on course to discover that, just like Musharraf, Karzai is dispensable.

Thirdly, the main focus for Karzai’s political scheming has now become his effort to break up the Electoral Alliance. So far all efforts to seduce its members have failed and this is starting to look like Karzai’s toughest political challenge.

Fourthly postponing the election, long favored by some palace players as a way of staying on in power a bit longer, seems no longer a serious option. Courtiers periodically raise alarms about security in the Pashtun south, argue that elections are impossible or float ideas of a transitional government. But the momentum in the country towards elections has built up and Afghanistan’s international donors have signaled that they will not tolerate messing with the timetable. Elections are never pretty, but they are better than any available alternative.

Fifthly, the electoral arithmetic is such that Afghanistan now has a real prospect of electing a non-Pashtun president. This of course would go directly against the oft-stated assumption that only a Pashtun is fit to run the country. Karzai’s legacy may well end up be a mixture of blame and credit as the Pashtun who handed power to someone from the north. If a non-Pashtun is elected, it will be as a result of the palace’s botched attempts at divide and rule.

Sixthly, precisely because palace scheming has not yet delivered a convincing political strategy to assure continuity there is still a risk of Karzai reverting to his spoiling behavior with gross interference in the electoral process. Friends of Afghanistan would be well-advised to be ready to deal with this eventuality. Afghanistan’s lawful opposition faces the same dilemma – their political strategy must include contingency planning for dealing with presidential sabotage of the process. Naivety does not pay in Afghanistan.

Dr. Hussain Yasa is the Chief Editor of the daily Outlook Afghanistan and the Coordinator of the Munich Process

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The Kuchi & Hazara Land Dispute Conflicts – An Endless Struggle for Land Ownership Sat, 07 Sep 2013 07:37:11 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Nastrat Esmaty

KuchiAfghan author, Nasrat Esmaty, explores the different dimensions of the land dispute and conflict between the Hazaras, a minority ethnic group, and Pashtun Kuchis, nomadic pastoralists, in Afghanistan. The land dispute between the two groups has erupted sporadically for almost a century and caused bloodshed and several conflicts amongst the two groups. Unlike the existing literature, which suggests that both the dispute and conflict have roots mostly due to resources, the author analyses it from the perspective of identity or ethnic conflict, and has tried to present a fresh perspective at not only understanding but also resolving the conflict.

Different regimes have dealt with the grievances and issues of both groups temporarily with questionable fairness (Rassul, 2010). However, more importantly, the main causes of the dispute and conflict have remained unaddressed (Wily, 2004). Both the Hazaras and Kuchis are of importance politically, socially and economically in Afghanistan, which will be discussed thoroughly in the next section. Informed research on the nature of the dispute and conflict that delivers long-term solutions is critically required to permanently address the concerns of the two groups, the Afghan government and the International Community (ibid). As such, looking at the Hazara-Kuchi conflict in such depth is beyond the scope of this paper. However, this paper will pinpoint the key causes of the dispute and conflict.

A brief history of the conflict will put the causes and associated factors of the dispute and conflict into historical perspective. In an effort to expand his realm, Afghan monarch Amir Abdul Rahman Khan (1880 – 1901) sent an army of 30,000 to 40,000 into the Hazarajat (Wardak, Bamyan, Ghazni and Ghor provinces) to subjugate the Hazaras (Wily, 2009). Khan had cited the “irreligiousness” of the Hazaras based on their Shiite beliefs as the reason (ibid). Upon victory, Khan snatched Hazara lands and gifted them to Kuchis, who had partaken prominently in Khan’s Jihad (ibid). With the passage of time, the Kuchis also purchased some Hazara land (Rassul, 2010). The Kuchis’ domination of Hazarajat continued until 1919 when Khan’s grandson, Amanullah Khan, was enthroned. Amanullah Khan reinstated the Hazaras’ land and only recognized the Kuchis’ user-rights of the pastureland (Wily, 2009).  The subsequent monarchs and regimes that came into power acknowledged Amanullah Khan’s decision and their oversight minimized conflicts until the communist regime took over in 1978 (ibid). From the rule of the communist regime in 1979 to the ensuing Islamic regime of the Mujahideen until the Taliban came into power in 1996, the Hazaras enjoyed unprecedented power by forming pro-Mujahideen ethnic political parties and arming themselves against the Soviet regime (Ibrahimi, 2012).  As a result, the Hazara warlords would not allow Kuchis to access the latter’s land or pastureland in the Hazarajat for the following 20 years (1979 – 1998) (ibid). The Hazaras even distributed the Kuchis’ purchased land among their kin or followers (Rassul, 2010).  When the Taliban occupied Bamyan in 1998, Naim Koochi, a Kuchi and a Taliban fighter, retaliated by ransacking Hazara homes and lands (Wily, 2004).

After the establishment of the Karzai-led regime, the Hazaras achieved great political clout while the Kuchis’ political representation also increased (Katzman, 2013).  When the Kuchis ventured into the pasturelands in Behsud I, Behsud II and Daimirdad districts of Wardak province, a violent conflict erupted twice between the two groups in 2008 and 2009 ((Rassul, 2010 and Land Info, 2012). President Hamid Karzai assigned two separate commissions to resolve and report on the conflict on both occasions (ibid). The commissions, however, only made perfunctory attempts at solving the conflict and prescribed temporary and kneejerk measures to end the conflict (Rassul, 2010). Based on evaluation of a Kuchi’s testimony recorded by Rassul, the commissions sought ambiguous and short-lived measures that only temporarily ended the conflict (ibid). It may be fair to conclude that the government has failed to commit to a mechanism to thoroughly understand the problems of each group and end violence.

As a result, this paper is aiming at answering the following question: What are the causes, and associated factors to the Hazara-Kuchi dispute and conflict?  The current literature suggests that it is a battle for resources – land and pastureland to be precise. However, based on the analysis of the aforementioned history and the ethnic exploitation by political elites from both sides, which will be discussed in the identity subsection, this paper argues that it is a struggle for the survival of identity and then resource domination. The author also sees poor land tenure and the government’s contemplation of Kuchi settlement as peripheral issues to the dispute and conflict that hinder the prospect of any long-term resolution.

Kuchi AfghanistanIdentity for Afghans is an amalgamation of religious beliefs (Sunni or Shiite) and ethnicity (Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek…) (Monsutti, 2012). Since Afghanistan has been at war for more than four decades, ethnic groups have formed both intra- and inter-ethnic identities. In other words, every ethnic group has an understanding of who they are amongst themselves and other ethnic groups whom they either share good or bad rapport with based on their affable or antagonistic history (Simonsen, 2004). In the Hazara-Kuchi dispute and conflict, the antagonistic history between them spanning from the late 19th century till the present day revolves around how they see themselves as a group against one another (ibid). One of the backlashes of not addressing identity factors is that the Hazaras always associate the Kuchis with the Taliban because of their Pashtun connections while Kuchis still doubt the religious correctness of Hazaras (Wily, 2009). The recent political achievements have turned Hazaras from a minority group to the third ethnic “majority group” in the country (Simonsen, 2004). On the other hand, Kuchis have solidified their identity and claims after the Afghan government’s Kuchi recognition and allotment of ten seats in the National Assembly (Tapper, 2008).The Hazaras and Kuchis see fighting against one other as the struggle for survival of self and ethnic identity (Monsutti, 2012). The Afghan government is subconsciously playing a major role in the conflict and ‘ethnicization of Afghanistan’ as it is distributing the cabinet ministries, governorships (provincial and district), municipalities, police commanderships and other political appointees based on ethnic population (ibid). Such political treatment has resulted in dividing the ethnic groups into voting blocs and the birth of ethnic elites, who use ethnicity to further their political agenda, in Afghanistan (ibid). Moreover, it has incentivized identification and relation to ethnic groups and fighting for ethnic causes more than national causes (ibid).

As stated before, land or resource is the second source of dispute and conflict. Both the Hazaras and Kuchis need land for survival as land is a valuable commodity. Kuchis need to access the pasturelands of Wardak province and Hazarajat, in general, so that their livestock of mostly sheep and goats can survive, nurture and grow in numbers (Ferdinand, 2006). On the other hand, the Hazaras believe that the Kuchis should not use their pastureland (freely) as the latter were awarded their lands unfairly (Wily, 2009). The other problem that indirectly affects the dispute and prolongs both the dispute and conflict is poor land tenure (ibid). The Afghanistan government has never registered all of its land (ibid). As a result, the powerful warlords and civil servants have usurped (or tried to usurp) public land, especially pastureland, and appropriated it for cultivation and/or other personal use (ibid). The indetermination of pastureland boundaries and its public or communal use is amongst other ambiguities that has been caused by poor land tenure (ibid). Lastly, the Afghan government’s stance to settling Kuchis as an option indicates the lack of appreciation and understanding of Kuchi lifestyle and their economic contribution to the nascent Afghan economy (Wily, 2009 and Barfield, 2004).

In conclusion, the dispute and conflict have roots in identity and resource while land tenure ambiguities and treating the notion of settling and sedentarising Kuchis as a solution serve as peripheral issues.  The base of the dispute and conflict was laid when the Hazaras’ ethnicity and religious beliefs were targeted to occupy Hazarajat. Today, the same identity is used as a tool to turn down the possibility of a peaceful resolution, which if carried out from bottom-up may produce favourable results (de Weijer, 2005b). The only difference is that in the 1880’s a Pashtun leader used it as an instrument for his expansionist ambitions while today the Hazara political elites have embraced the Pashtun leader’s instrument as “innocent victims” and are using it against the Kuchis to further their own political ambitions and survival. Using identity as an instrument, the Hazara political elites create a bubble of myths and fears that causes Hazaras to fear committing to put an end to the dispute and conflict. On the other hand, the Kuchi elites treat Hazarajat as the booty their forefathers were awarded for fighting a “holy war” against the Hazaras. They consider the use of Hazarajat lands as their God-given right and can instigate conflicts for as long as there is no peaceful and permanent settlement. In a nutshell, at the core of it, the dispute and conflict is armed and fought with faith, which has shaped into an integral part of both the Hazara and Kuchi identities.

When a Kuchi political elite makes 2 million USD from a conflict he loses nothing in, he has little to gain from the permanent resolution of the dispute and conflict and risks the loss of the future opportunities of pocketing 2 million USD. Also, the Hazara political elites maintain their heroic status by standing against the Kuchis. In such circumstances, there is little hope and room for any peaceful settlement between the two group from a top-down approach (Land Info, 2012 and Foschini, 2011).  Based on how the political elites take advantage of the dispute and conflict, one conclusion can be drawn that it is them who spread the intangible factors of myths, fears and threats more than they exist. The tangible (or resource) factor of the conflict is genuine. Land is a rare and expensive commodity for both groups because of their high poverty rates and needs. The average Hazaras and Kuchis are the ones who are in the receiving end of suffering in the dispute and conflict. Since the conflicts are staged in Hazarajat, the Hazaras lose their property, assets and family members while the Kuchis lose family members and denied access to their pastureland and purchased land, which is part of their lifestyle and identity. Both groups have realized that their political elites are taking advantage of their plight. This realization can, therefore, be worked on for a bottom-up dispute and conflict resolution.

On the other hand, the ambiguities in definition of land titles, use and boundaries create a legal vacuum that hinders the prospects of a dispute resolution even if both parties put their identity issues aside. The existence of different and multiple documents and accounts of ownership make the resolution even more challenging. Moreover, when the government assigns itself the ownership status of the pastureland, it makes the government an interested party in the dispute and conflict when ideally the government should be playing the role of a trustee. The ownership status can lead the way for commercialization, usurpation and agricultural use of the pastureland, which Afghanistan has experienced.

Afghanistan is not alone in not comprehending the nomadic/Kuchi lifestyle. However, if Afghanistan, which has a large Kuchi population, decides to sedentarise Kuchis, it will be acting on its ignorance and changing the three century-old lifestyle, is unconstitutional as it violates their civil liberties and freedom promised in the constitution. Moreover, it labels them as a liability that needs to be taken care of when they are actually an asset and have the potential of contributing productively to the economy (Barfield, 2004). While sedentarising Kuchis may settle the worries of Hazaras, it will be unacceptable to the Kuchis and will result in Kuchi resentment and lack of support for the government.

More importantly, if the dispute, the conflict, issues and grievances of both sides are not studied thoroughly and responded to accordingly and justly, the Government of Afghanistan may witness the eruption of recurrent violence (Wily, 2009). Afghanistan has already seen the aftermath of neglecting minority groups in the destructive inter-ethnic conflict that destroyed Kabul (Goodson, 2001). Since two major events, namely the presidential and parliamentary elections and the withdrawal of NATO and other international forces, are taking place in 2014, the dispute and conflict between the Hazaras and Kuchis is very fragile, disorderly and costly to remain unresolved. Lastly, the author would like to suggest an in-depth study on Kuchi identity and a further and in-depth field research on the issues that this paper has touched upon.

Please click here to download full PDF version of the paper.

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Afghan Peace Stuck in Clashing Interests Thu, 05 Sep 2013 08:57:16 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Karzai & SharifBy: Sami Jabarkhail
Monday 26 August, 2013 has marked President Hamid Karzai’s twentieth attempt in person to persuade leadership in neighboring Pakistan to adopt a peaceful policy towards Afghanistan. It was Karzai’s first visit to capital Islamabad since the newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

In his address, Sharif stressed upon endorsing peace and reconciliation with Taliban. While Islamabad’s official policy positions have often condemned Taliban attacks, the military establishments have been accused of supporting terror groups such as the Haqqani network, Quetta Shura, and other militant organizations who kill US-Afghan troops.

Pakistan’s army has appeared hesitant to combat Taliban militants despite appeals from the U.S and NATO allies. “It is a problem that terrorist can cross the border, conduct terrorist acts in Afghanistan and then seek sanctuaries, safe havens in Pakistan.” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to reporter after NATO members met to discuss Afghanistan on April 23, 2013 in Brussels.

Consequently, the people of Afghanistan have plenty of reasons to be cynical about the outcome of their President’s visit to Islamabad. However, the more critical consideration is that, because peace and security are the most prominent needs of the Afghans and interest of the international community in the region, any efforts to end the conflict deserve a chance.

The main source of Pak-Afghan tension has been Pakistan’s so called strategic depth in Afghanistan – that is installing a pro-Islamabad regime in Kabul and asserting Pakistan’s interest, especially vis-à-vis India. Seeking strategic depth in Afghan land was sanctioned in Pakistan’s foreign policy by military dictator Zia-Ul-Haq in 1978. Since Zia, Pakistan has begun militating people in Afghanistan against unification and national development.

For Prime Minster Sharif, making a decision that indicates a split with his position on Afghanistan in the past is not easy. At that time, when militancy was being promulgated as a tool of foreign policy to achieve strategic depth in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Sharif’s party was part of a power. Instead of cracking down on militants, members of the ruling party in Islamabad have repeatedly linked militancy to drone strikes and occupation of Afghanistan.

There is an intimate relation between Pakistan’s security establishments and the Taliban. “Taliban members who went to Qatar for the inauguration of their office, possessed Pakistani passports,” confirmed National Security Advisor, Rangin Dadfar Spanta in an interview on 18 July, 2013 in Herat province. Peace and reconciliation with the Taliban no matter where and how it takes place must pass the test of being accepted by Islamabad.

There are two options available to the Afghan government to alter Pakistan’s unconventional policy – domestic and international. The first option will require Kabul to address Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns and fears by limiting Indian activities along the Duran line. Downgrading Indian diplomatic representations in Afghanistan will change Islamabad’s political calculation and encourage public discourse for Afghan peace within Pakistani society.

Second, seeking pressure of the international community on Islamabad is equally important. To do so, the Afghan government should explore new ways of engagement with global partners, especially the United States. Pointing fingers at international allies that have committed wealth and blood to bring Peace in Afghanistan will do no more than to jeopardize relations between the two sides. Future engagement policies must include linking interests of Afghanistan to that of the interests of long-term partners and to lobby for promoting those interests.

The twentieth visit of President Karzai did not inspire confidence for peace, and the next one may not succeed either. Peace efforts will succeed only if both Pakistan and Afghanistan are prepared to compromise on differences and accept the results. If relations with Islamabad continue to be based on fear and mistrust, Afghans will not have a chance to live in peace and economic prosperity in the near future. For this reason, it is important that both countries, including the international community, find a way forward towards peace.

Sami Jabarkhail is a Fulbright Scholar at Texas A&M University. Email him at
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Afghanistan-US Bilateral Security Agreement Talks to Resume Soon Sat, 03 Aug 2013 04:51:37 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Ahmad Shah Katawazai

Karzai and Obama Shaking HandsAfter the visit of two high levels US Officials Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chief of staff to Kabul and Secretary of State John Kerry to Pakistan hopes arose that the negotiations will begin soon regarding the Afghan-US Bilateral Security agreement, indeed both visits yielded positive and encouraging results for resuming talks on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the two countries.

The long awaited Afghan-US bilateral security agreement which will spell out the presence and number of American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 has almost reached to final stages.  Authorities in the US have exuded confidence that they will be able to conclude the Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan soon after the resumption of negotiations.

Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry during his visit to Pakistan this Thursday said that he was confident Kabul and Washington will reach to an agreement to sign the bilateral security agreement. Kerry said, “We are feeling relaxed regarding the current situation, and I expect that the agreement will be finalized in an appropriate moment.”

The talks were suspended over the agreement by the Afghan government following the opening of the Talban Office in Qatar, which according to Karzai was a step to set up a government in exile. With this the peace talks got suspended indefinitely and the bilateral security dialogue held hostage by the talks, much frustration and suspension was observed regarding the future of the country.

The presence and quantity of U.S. troops is depended and directly linked to the bilateral security agreement between the two countries, which will pave the way for residual troops in the country thereby to train Afghan security forces and carry out counter-insurgency operations against militants.

Signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) is in the mutual interest and need of both Afghanistan and the United States. For Afghans it will be a disaster and devastating when in the present conditions where they are faced with plethora of problems from all sides especially security, economic sector they are failed in signing agreement with a major power like the United States which is helping and involved significantly in the reconstruction and rebuilding of the country.

For the United States, in case of failure to reach an agreement, its international credibility will be undoubtedly damaged; and also it won’t like to give up a country which is very important for its strategic, political and economic interests.

From the statements of US authorities it seems that the Afghan side have now agreed to allow the U.S. to “maintain legal jurisdiction over its troops in Afghanistan” which was a controversial point between the two countries.

Afghanistan hopes that the signing of the bilateral security agreement will help in strengthening the country’s military, political and economic institutions. In addition to that the main concern of Afghans is external aggression and support of insurgents from neighbor countries, which needs to be addressed in the agreement.

Interference from neighbor countries especially Pakistan and ill-equipment of the Afghan security forces are the major concerns of Afghanistan which was stressed much in the negotiations of the BSA. Also the Afghans have asked for assurances of financial support included in the agreement as evident from the statement by the Afghan authorities.

Peace and security is the wish and desire of every Afghan which they demand to be incorporated in the Bilateral Security Agreement.

Indeed the current transition process of security responsibilities to the Afghan security forces, growing insurgency and internal crisis have concerned much Afghan people and think that without the long term cooperation of NATO and the US, getting rid of the present crisis and challenges will be impossible. Afghan government considers the bilateral security agreement significant step in the history of Afghanistan which they expect to reflect with the core and vital interests of the country.

The agreement will need final approval from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Also the draft agreement is needed to pass through the Afghanistan House of Representatives once both sides reached to an agreement regarding the content.

strengthening and equipping Afghan security forces, prevention of neighbors meddling in the internal affairs of the country, economic assistance and the presence of foreign forces in the country are all issues which needs to be addressed in the agreement.

In a nutshell, Afghan people would like to know that how their government and its possible long-term strategic partner will continue to address the aforementioned problems including strengthening of the security and economic sector, equipping of the Afghan Security Forces with sophisticated weapons, financial help and how to reach an agreement with Taliban and prevent neighbor countries from meddling in the internal affairs of the country, from which they are suffering from years.

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US-Afghan Security Agreement Challenges Tue, 30 Jul 2013 04:51:59 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Sami Jabarkail

Karzai and ObamaThe visit of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chief of staff to Kabul ostensibly appears to have yield positive and encouraging results for reviving negotiation on a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the U.S and Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan suspended the security talks in protest at the ceremonial opening of the Taliban office in Qatar which was fabricated as an embassy for a quasi-government in exile.

Distinct from the Bilateral Strategic Partnership formalized during President Barack Obama’s visit to Kabul on May 2, 2012, this security agreement with Afghanistan would allow the United States to own as many as 9 military bases in the country and grant immunity for US military personnel from persecution under the Afghan law.

In a statement issued by the Afghan President’s office on July 22, 2013, President Karzai has said “Afghans are ready to sign a security pact with the United States on condition that it leads to peace and stability in the country, the strengthening of the Afghan forces, and a united and sovereign Afghanistan.”

Whether or not President Karzai’s conditions are legitimate could be addressed in two basic questions: How do you bring peace to a country that has been raged by war for decades? Is it worthwhile to negotiate peace with Taliban at their new headquarters in Doha, Qatar; or should the international community concentrate on Islamabad where new Taliban members are recruited and trained? For those keen to find out, a twofold approach could be the answer.

First, Kabul explores every possibility to maximize its gains from bilateral security agreement with United States by renewing its wish-list from time to time. The Afghan government expects the United States to modernize its security institutions by committing to long-term financial and material support. Leaving a skillfully trained and well equipped afghan army is crucial for both sides after the end of combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014.

Second, President Karzai’s conditions are aimed at drawing international attention to the most prominent needs of the Afghan people which are peace and security. To achieve this difficult yet possible task, the international community, especially the United States, has to increase their pressure on Pakistan until Islamabad can demonstrate it’s cutting ties with Taliban insurgents. Since the killing of Osama Bin Laden in a military cantonment town of Pakistan by an elite US special operations unit, Islamabad left  no room to doubt its support for terror groups such as Al-Qaida, the Haqqani network, and other militant organizations who fight US-Afghan troops.

Given the changes in regional dynamics, Pakistan is likely to continue exercising militancy as a tool of foreign policy. Like other States, Pakistan has made policies both bad and good to achieve its interests in the region. Part of Islamabad’s strategic interest is in conflict with that of Afghanistan. For example, the Afghan-Indian relationship is a legitimate security concern for Islamabad which ought to be accommodated through meaningful political and economic diplomacy in order for peace to prevail.

Kabul has been limited in its ability to constructively address Pakistan’s regional concerns and fears while the International community has done less or nothing to build that much needed trust between the two neighbors. Instead of negotiating peace with Taliban officials in Qatar, the focus should be on Islamabad where the key to Afghan peace remains locked.

To ensure long term peace and security, the Afghan army needs to be equipped with sophisticated weapons so that they can thwart any militant attacks. The international partners should therefore be more realistic in delivering on their commitments underlined in strategic partnerships they have signed with the Afghan people. Otherwise, it indicates a dire lack of international partnership to see Afghanistan seeking military assistance from India while NATO allies continue to remove their resources from the war-torn country and implode their military bases.

Sami Jabarkail, a Fulbright Scholar at Texas A&M University. Email:

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Talking to Taliban – A Road Ahead Sun, 28 Jul 2013 16:28:54 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Manish Rai

Talking with TalibanEfforts to end longest American war in the history have been accelerated now. America’s war in Afghanistan marks the longest in the country’s history and risk continuing beyond 2014 when United States wants to pullout but for that they require a graceful exit strategy and a stable Afghanistan. But this is near to impossible without talking to Taliban after fighting for 12 long years United States and Taliban are now on negotiations table as both sides are realising the importance of dialogue.

The basic cause of the US-Taliban conflict is structural miscommunication i.e. fundamental difference exit in each other perception, understanding, and culture. Both the sides never understood each other but feared each other which reflected in their dangerous behavior for each other. U.S feared attack and hosting of its enemy’s by the Taliban and retaliated with its sophisticated military technology on the other hand Taliban see US as invaders and threat for its cultural values and reacted by incriminate violent campaign against the NATO and Afghan forces across the country by its dedicated and motivated cadre base which has the good know how of the region.

Both sides now are realising that the long lasting solution of this conflict can be through talks only. For instance America realise that Taliban have good influence on Pasthun tribe which consists of 46 million people and is the world largest tribe and Taliban ideology have deep roots in Afghanistan and Northwest Pakistan where Pasthun tribe resides. On the other side Taliban also know that they cannot beat the military might of world largest military alliance of 28 countries NATO. Taliban know that at most they can destabilise the country by their guerrilla attacks but they can’t overrun it as they did it in 1994-96 unless NATO have a strong military presence in Afghanistan. So, indulging in a dialogue is a viable option for both the parties now.

Some bottlenecks still exists in the path of this proposed peace process one of them is the position of Afghan President Hamid Karzai who feels his authority is undermined and he is being side lined in these talks. But peace must be the primary concern which for sure Mr. Karzai alone can’t deliver. Other such issue is the conservative and orthodox nature of the Taliban movement whose adamant attitude over some issues like-Women education, strict implementation of Sharia, and unacceptance of democracy can hinder the talks.

Both United States and Taliban at least for this time looks serious for talks like-When Taliban opened their political office in Qatar’s capital city of Doha it was the first time in a dozen years that the world had gotten to see the insurgent’s inner circle and they seemed different. Urban and educated, they conducted interviews in foreign languages like-English, Arabic, French, and German with easy fluency and look more willing to negotiate. One of member of Quetta Shura (Highest Decision making body of Afghan Taliban)  while talking to the media said all the representatives that are selected and send to Qatar for talks belong to the political wing and none have a military background and are selected by the top leadership.  He added we don’t need to send commanders as we are not going to fight in Doha. On the other hand US is also taking these proposed talks seriously as it appointed senior diplomats for the process and trying to persuade all the stakeholder’s to participate. The US delegation to the Taliban talks will be led by Douglas Lute, Obama’s Chief advisor on Afghanistan and James Dobbins the State Department’s new special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan which clearly shows that this time Whitehouse closely wants to monitor the talks.

Back home in Afghanistan though some contradictions exists like- Fierce fighting still going on, Taliban fighters waging suicide attacks, attacking government establishments, ambushing the NATO conveys. These contradictions offer a picture of top Taliban leadership taking advantage of two different tracks-orchestrating the fighting elements even while setting up a new international diplomatic foothold in Doha. Taliban’s are simultaneously following a political and military option which may raises the relevancy of peace talks but it just seems like a tactic to exert pressure for getting a good deal during negotiations. When the previous effort to open a Taliban office in Qatar collapsed in March 2012 many analysts saw that as a result of a split between Taliban officials in the political leadership and their military commanders but some Western officials also note that when Mullah Omar and his closest aides makes a decision it does seems to get carried out and they think this time decision has come from the top leadership.

If both the parties United States and Taliban negotiate with open mind and without any pre-notions for each other this time and Afghanistan neighbors especially Pakistan played a positive role in this reconciliation process then this time definitely some concrete peace formulation will emerge which will help the millions of Afghans who have been crushed and devastated because of this bloody long war and moreover it will add to the stability and security of the region as a stable Afghanistan is very much required not only for security of its neighboring countries but for whole world. But if this time also this peace process turned out to be a just a futile exercise then nobody knows that after how many more years stage for talks will be built again as there will be a trust deficit for both the sides which will take a long time to fulfill.

(Author is freelance columnist based in New Delhi and can be reached at

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US needs to clear its vision on Afghanistan Sun, 28 Jul 2013 14:24:48 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Arian Sharifi

White House United StatesOne of the most perplexing issues I encountered time and again in my travels between Afghanistan and the United States is the sense of disconnect between America’s Afghan policies and Afghans’ perceptions of those policies. During my recent trip to Kabul last month, almost every person I spoke to – everyone from taxi drivers and shopkeepers to politicians and government officials – expressed extreme suspicion about America’s objectives in Afghanistan. Most of them delved into conspiracy theories, believing that the US has some “hidden” agenda, seeking to expand its military reach into Iran, China, and the oil-rich Central Asia, using Afghanistan as a jumping board. A natural conclusion, therefore, was that America deliberately keeps Afghanistan unstable as an excuse to maintain its military presence in the region.

Such flawed way of thinking is a direct result of the Obama administration’s failure to project a clear vision and sustained course of action in Afghanistan, contributing to the increasing rift between the two governments.

President Obama’s administration began somewhat promisingly, with the long awaited unveiling of “A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” released in February 2009.At the time, President Obama correctly concluded that Afghanistan had been denied adequate resources due to the war in Iraq, and committed his administration to giving the country the needed attention.

However, the administration did not stay on course with this clarity of policy. The calls of “troop surge” and “civilian surge” were followed by the announcement of the withdrawal deadline of 2014. Then came the “Strategic Partnership” agreement discussion, as a means to ensure America’s support of Afghanistan beyond 2014. Once finalized, however, the document contained little beyond broad statements about US-Afghan relations with virtually no binding arrangement. President Obama’s reluctance to give any concrete future commitments to Afghanistan through the yet-to-be inked “Bilateral Security Agreement”, and his most recent hint son considering a “zero option” of pulling all troops out of the country further indicate a lack of clear focus in his vision on Afghanistan.

This vacillation has strengthened the enemy, weakened allies, and created mistrust in Afghans toward US intentions. Looking at America’s indecision, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have become determined to stay their course, and wait the US out. They have not only become emboldened on the military front, but have also assumed evermore demanding postures in their negotiations with US and Afghan officials.

The Afghan allies of the United States are also weakened with the lack of clear focus. Most notably, women’s rights activists continue to suffer a sustained attack. Conservative elements within Afghanistan are further emboldened in advance of what they see as the impending return of the Taliban by attempting to repeal the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women; edicts restricting women’s clothing and make-up use; and the refusal to uphold women’s basic rights in the courts.

Uncertainty about what the future may hold has significantly hampered Afghans’ confidence in their country. The business community is planning their own exit, already shifting substantial amounts of badly needed capital to other countries in the region. The number of Afghans seeking asylum abroad has reached the highest in a decade – over 480,000 sought asylum in industrialized countries last year, according to the UN. Many diplomats, journalists, athletes and students have not returned to Afghanistan after visits abroad, creating a massive brain drain in a country in dire need of human capital. A lack of confidence in Afghanistan’s future has also exacerbated the cycle of corruption, as many government officials view their positions as their last chance to power. Choor-e-Aakher, meaning the “final grab” is a term used in jokes among government staffers, referring to a last opportunity to make themselves rich.

The Obama administration, therefore, needs to seriously evaluate its options, get its act together, and communicate a clear vision of what it intends to do in Afghanistan. It may be leaving a residual combat force, maintaining only advisory staff, completely pulling out of Afghanistan, or any other course of action. Whatever it may be, President Obama and his team must clearly communicate it to the Afghan people so they understand what their future may hold. Continuing to send mixed signals could create a domino effect, leading to irreversible and disastrous outcomes.

About Author:

Arian SharifiArian Sharifi is a PhD student at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a Partner at Afghanistan Holding Group. He holds a Master in Public Affairs (MPA) from Princeton University, and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Political Science from Wesleyan University. He can be reached through email at or via phone +1 404 610 2918.

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Freedom In Afghanistan Under Serious Risk Sat, 27 Jul 2013 09:21:43 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Shafiq Hamdam

FreedomDuring the last one decade freedom of expression and freedom of media is one of the major joined achievements of the Afghan government and its international partners. The gain, which everyone appreciates and talk loudly about it. Afghan government and its international partners talk about securing the joint achievements, which called reversible and fragile. Lately freedom of expression and media has been seriously under attack and risk, and this issue has to be addressed strategically.

Afghan journalists and social activists are under extreme risk and there is no guarantee of their safety and protection. Serving for democracy and freedom during last one decade tens of Afghan journalists, writers and social activists either killed during the war or killed by pro-government elements and insurgents. Yet there is not any solid statistic of the social activists’ fatalities and it is because that this issue has not been taken seriously. But according to NAI, an independent Afghan media watchdog, pro-government elements are involved in majority of violations against media and journalists in Afghanistan.

Lately the numbers of journalists and social activists have been either arrested or threatened to stop their actives. Life is not easy for a journalist and social activist anymore. In absence of access to information law and the presence of a very inequitable media law Afghan media and social activist can be threatened, questioned and impeached at any moment by the Afghan authorities. On regular bases here are ongoing cases against media in the media commission, which is established by the government. So far majority of Afghan media outlets have been impeached by the commission and questioned.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) an institution, which plays an absolutely crucial role in protecting the rights of all Afghans were also targeted by Afghan government and their activities have been blocked by senior politicians.  In December 2011 including Ahmad Nader Nadery an outspoken human rights activist, President Hamed Karzai removed three commissioners of the commission. Mr. Nadery was removed formally because of his mandates had expired. But his removal was linked to his outspokenness about electoral fraud in the 2009 presidential elections and his involvement in preparing the, yet to be released, AIHRC conflict-mapping report documenting war crimes in Afghanistan from 1978 to 2001. In June 2013 despite broad disagreement of the Afghan civil society organization, United Nations Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and other organizations the Afghan president renewed mandate of four commissioners and appointed five new commissioners of the AIHRC. But Mr. Nadery’s mandate was not renewed. There are serious concerns about some individuals appointed in the AIHRC, but the government has ignored all international commitment and demands and replaced some of very active commoners with some contradictory figures.

The ICG report titled “Afghanistan: The Long, Hard Road to the 2014 Transition” was released on 6 October 2012. It discusses the weaknesses of Afghanistan’s political and electoral system and calls for urgent attention and reforms. The report was rejected by the Afghan government and the organization was threatened for prosecution. Early this year the government also condemned and rejected a UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) report on corruption in Afghanistan and called the act a political pressure on the Afghan government.

In June 2013 head of Integrity Watch Organization, a non governmental organization over sighting transparency, was summoned by the Supreme Court about their survey on corruption in the judiciary system. Early July 2013 the Supreme Court of Afghanistan denied the latest report by Transparency International which called the judiciary institutions of Afghanistan, one of the most corrupt organizations in the Afghan government and the court accused the organization for working under a political agenda and the organization is summoned by the Supreme Court. But every Afghan citizen can confirm the report of widespread corruption in the judiciary system of Afghanistan.

While tens of corrupt officials, who has been accused of millions of USD corruption are living free. On July 5th Afghan Attorney General Office arrested Mr. Abdurahman Sakhizada, an Afghan writer and anti-corruption activist in accusation of writing a disclosure article, where he discovered corruption in the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOO), a presidential decree based institution over sighting Afghan government. Mr. Sakhizada was released after nearly two weeks, his father who is a police officer, said that his son has been tortured in the custody.

However the issue of brain drain has been widely debated in Afghan media and on December 31st BBC Farsi investigative report shows that nearly 40% of Afghan diplomats have not returned home after completion of their assignments abroad. But on 14th July Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan issued a statement rejecting The New York Times Report titled “As Uncertainty Reigns Back Home, Many Afghan Envoys Decline to Return” dated 12 July 2013. The harsh statement called the report “irresponsible act and unprofessional journalism” and asked from Kabul based NYT correspondence for clarifications. Such pressures continue on a daily basis at all levels and the example I have brought here were a few of those.

Afghans have not fought with the Taliban and terrorists to secure western countries, but they fought for the word of freedom and the freedom of expression and women come at the top of the reason of our fight and sacrifice. Now democracy and freedom become a mutual interest and benefit of Afghanistan and the international community.  But there are increased concerns pressures will increase. The corrupt officials, drug smugglers, the warlord and mafia will continue to threat journalists and social activist to keep them shut. And some government officials will continue the misuse of their power. But the question is what the international community does to secure their biggest achievements? This is freedom of expression and freedom of the media. This fact should not be ignored by the world community and they should closely work with the Afghan people to secure theses gains. Otherwise the tremendous joint gains have made by Afghanistan and its intentional partners will be forfeited

HamdamMohammad Shafiq Hamdam is a social activist for promoting peace, justice and human rights. He is founder and volunteer Chairman of Afghan Anti-Corruption Network, a leading network of civil society organizations fighting corruption.

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The Forgotten War: Peace Talks with the Taliban and Afghanistan 2014 Tue, 09 Jul 2013 05:56:31 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Afghanistan ArmyIn recent months, there is a lot of talk in the media about Afghanistan’s political, and economic situation after the scheduled 2014 NATO combat troop withdrawal. Some people are concerned that the country will dive into chaos, and a civil war will erupt, as witnessed after the Soviet’s withdrawal in 1989. Others are optimistic by saying that Afghanistan will endure the foreign troop pullout and grow out to be a strong and self-sufficient nation. Both arguments are legitimate and grounded in fact. The purpose of this article is to highlight the recent most important political and economic activities in Afghanistan that could either help or hurt with the direction that Afghanistan is taking after 2014.

The most important news of the year for both Afghanistan and for the world for that matter was the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar. This was a bold move by all parties involved. By doing so, President Karzai proved to the people of Afghanistan and the international community that his decade long efforts to bringing peace in Afghanistan are bearing fruit and that in his final days in office, he is able to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. The United States and its allies are financially burdened by the high cost of this war, and are seeking for a way to end it responsibly. Perhaps, end their combat role, but remain in the country in a smaller footprint which will cost less. The greatest beneficiary of this deal is the Taliban. They are given legitimacy as an autonomous political entity by allowing them to raise their white flag on the opening day of the office – even though it has been brought down after President Karzai objected to it. It remains to be seen as to what this office would mean for peace in Afghanistan. However, on a general note, opening of the office could not be a bad thing. As Ambassador Dobbins rightly put it -“You don’t negotiate with your friends; you negotiate with your enemies.” Also, he said “peace talks don’t take place after a war; they take place during the war.” I can’t agree more. Opening of this office is a good first step towards building a peaceful, strong and independent Afghanistan beyond 2014.

On the other hand, last month President Karzai suspended final round of Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) talks with the United States that were supposed to take place that week when the Taliban opened their office in Qatar. On several occasions, President Karzai has used the BSA talks as a leverage to get what he wants from the United States. Often he is successful. For example, in case of ordering the U.S. Special Forces to leave Wardak Province, and handing over of Bagram prison from Americans to Afghan authorities. The negotiations have taken too long. It is concerning. While signing the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement on May 2012, Presidents Karzai and Obama agreed to conclude BSA negotiations within one year. However, it has been more than a year and there is no sign of final Bilateral Security Agreement. As an Afghan living in the United States, let me be very clear. If the mentality in Afghanistan is that the United States would never leaver this country, let me assure you that they will – like they did from Iraq. Any political miscalculation by any of the two parties (Afghan and US) in these negotiations could have devastating effects on long term post 2014 security in Afghanistan. Therefore, President Karzai, please seal the deal and sign the Bilateral Security Agreement.

Finally, it is important to note that the Afghan economy has been slowing down at an alarming rate in the last year or so. This speculation over gradual withdrawal of foreign troops by the end of 2014 is scaring away investor. Last Friday, Anwar ul Haq Ahadi, the Minister of Commerce and Industries warned in a press conference that unemployment, poverty, low investment rates, and declining property values are major challenges in the years to come. The economic growth in the last decade has not been organic. It has been mostly due to high amount of foreign aid pouring into the country. As a result, the economy is heavily dependent on aid. According to a World Bank report, the decrease in foreign assistance post-2014 is likely to cause the economic bubble to burst, plunging the country into an economic recession.

All in all, the picture of post-2014 Afghanistan looks gloomy.  It is important for the Afghan government to reconcile with the Taliban and offer them some sort of power-sharing deal. It is understandable that some people are hesitant of having them back in power. However, we cannot have peace without any sort of arrangement with them. Also, the Bilateral Security Agreement is crucial to the peace process. Signing the agreement will allow the Afghan government to have an upper hand at the negotiating table with the Taliban. This idea of waiting the foreign troops out will no longer exist with the Taliban. President Karzai may not like some of the provisions in the agreement, but overall it is a good deal for Afghanistan. Finally, investors are frightened. Giving them some kind of certainty by signing the BSA and initiating talks with the Taliban are good few steps to boost investment in the country. People need jobs. Lack of foreign aid and weak manufacturing sector make it difficult for people to earn a living. This journey to the year 2014 is a momentous and a historic one for Afghanistan. It can make or break the country. Let’s not return back to post-soviet withdrawal time. Make the right calls now and help the country grow out of this trajectory to be a strong and self-sufficient country.

__ Short Author bio

Abid AmiryAbid Amiri is an Afghan citizen currently working toward an M.A. in International Development at The Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. His work on unemployment in Afghanistan is published in the first issue of Global Journal. In addition, his research papers about Muslim-Americans’ representation in the media, and Road Reconstruction in Post-Conflict Afghanistan are published in Islam and Muslim Societies Journal, and International Affairs Review. He is fluent in Pashto, Dari, and Urdu.

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Why U.S. is losing support among Afghans? Sun, 12 May 2013 13:39:32 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Ahmad Shah Katawazai

Anti-American sentiments AfghanistanAnti-American sentiments are perhaps looming on high level ever among Afghans. It is on a very critical juncture when the US troop’s withdrawal is already planned till the end of 2014, Pivotal Security agreement with the US is to be signed in the near future and the expected botched presidential elections will be held next April.

While the ongoing turf between Karzai and the US Administration is turning public opinion in Afghanistan even further against the United States.

After 9/11 in late 2001, with the US invasion of Afghanistan hopes were there among ordinary Afghans that the US presence will help in getting rid of the neighbor’s meddling in Afghanistan, it will be an end from the warlords and Taliban oppression and that their economy will improve with US aid. That was a welcome relief and a sort of positive feeling existed which is unfortunately on downward spiral now.

Why America lost its image as a champion of Democracy and proponent of peace in Afghanistan? Various factors both on regional and country level exists which needs to be concentrated for future cooperation between the two countries.

  • Unfortunately the US failed to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans because of its

Policies towards Afghanistan itself and its neighbor countries especially Pakistan and Iran.

One after the other Afghan, ISAF and NATO officials have stated about Pakistan providing sanctuaries and support to Taliban but no rational strategy has been devised in order to prevent Pakistan from supporting Taliban.

Pakistan is a country which is playing the most pernicious role in the region by harboring and training terrorists which not only endangers the region but is threatening the globe. Pakistan is posing the greater existential threat to the national security of Afghanistan by supporting and providing sanctuaries to the Taliban. This is definitely against the interests of Afghanistan and the West as well. The competing major countries and neighbors have defined their objective in Afghanistan only vaguely.

Despite providing support to terrorists still Pakistan is beneficiary of the huge sum of aid from the U.S. and the U.S. has always caved into its demands. But little has been done against it.

Pakistan, an unstable country with a nuclear arsenal and supporter of terrorism and violent extremism instead of bringing pressure on it, is appeased by the U.S. Why the United States is appeasing Pakistan? Is a question raised by majority of Afghans?

  • Afghans were much frustrated when the Kunar province witnessed shelling from Pakistani side.  Despite the presence of more than forty countries troops in the country and signing of the strategic agreement with the United States, the shelling was not prevented and the International Community announced that it is the internal matter of Afghanistan.

The shelling regained last month with rocket fires from Pakistani side. This is a major question for Afghan that despite the physical presence of International Community and signing of various strategic agreement with various major countries there is rocket shelling on Afghan soil (Kunar province), but nothing has been done against that.

Disenchantment from the West rose further  when the NATO built facilities inside the Afghan land (in Goshta district, Jalalabad) were occupied or apparently provided by NATO to Pakistani troops, which resulted in fight between Afghan and Pakistani soldiers.

  • When the US and western countries announced that they are withdrawing their forces, this created fear and anxiety among Afghans that they will be left again like in the 1990’s. With this the neighbor countries especially Iran and Pakistan were mainly encouraged that after the withdrawal of the US forces they will be having tabs in the country where they provided more support to Taliban in order to have more influence and sway over the country.  The withdrawal announcement actually boosted the Taliban and neighbor countries strategic position.

The ongoing turf between the Afghan and US administration and the withdrawal announcement has only strengthened the Taliban. Without a long term plan withdrawal of the U.S. forces could repeat the 1990’s once again, paving way for the warlords and Taliban to take over. Afghans sees it as a new great game where they only sacrifice and are victim of the policies of the major powers.

With the departure of the US combat troops there is fear that an internecine violence could erupt among the warlords like it was followed with the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989.

 This fear of being lonely once again is turning the public opinion against the United States and its western allies.

  • The Afghans were of the view that with U.S. arrival there will be democracy and the criminals will be bring to justice, but unfortunately with their arrival they filled the pockets of the warlords which had criminal background and were once involved in plundering the country. With the economic power provided in millions by the U.S. in the later stage these warlords came into political power.  The US is seen as supporters of the warlords and criminals by the majority now.

The unpopular ex-criminals during the civil war were bring back in the mainstream economy and politics instead of sidelining them. They were re-empowered with cash and weapons at the hands of the west mainly the United States which is the foremost concern of Afghan population.

Largely it was seen as to replace one unacceptable terror group with another one, as long as the latest one pledged its loyalty to the United States.

The US never tried to understand Afghan culture and tradition. The anti-terrorism efforts and tactics are still widely unpopular.

  • Civilian casualties are the major source of the anti-American sentiments and disenchantment among the Afghans, which is often raised from the government administration. The local people from different areas have time and again complained against the civilian casualties committed by the International troops which are consistently ignored.

Blind bombing in different parts of the country especially the southern areas and relentless airstrikes which still continues is feeding widespread anti American sentiments.

  • Secret private and secret CIA militias in different parts of the country especially in south and eastern parts have raised major concerns among Afghans which further blackened America’s image. The latest were the Maidan Wardak tragic incidents where villagers and students according to reports were seized in their homes at night, disappeared and were tragically killed by secret forces.

This is what generated fear and violence among Afghans fueling anti-Americanism while on the other hand aiding Taliban recruitment.

Secret arrests, private prisons, torture and killing, warlords, criminals support, inappropriate behavior with the prisoners, private prisons, are all the factors which aid to the Taliban recruitment and disenchantment among Afghans.

  • The most significant factor which raised major concerns from the very beginning is the inappropriate behavior of the ground forces with the population.

The Der Spiegel, a German Magazine when published photos allegedly depicting American soldiers posing with the bloodied and naked corpse of an Afghan civilian added more fuel to the fire, likewise videos that purportedly showed troops urinating on the corpses of suspected Taliban fighters, the burning of Korans created much anger and frustration among Afghans.

Night raids, searching Afghan houses by foreigners where xenophobia is on rise, is something unacceptable and irrational.

  • Burning of Quran provoked anti American sentiments throughout the Islamic World and especially in Afghanistan.  Demonstrations were there several times and with this the neighbor countries propagated against the west and U.S. unleashing a new wave of conspiracy theories.

Protests unleashed in different parts of World over a film insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), including Afghanistan.

In countries like Afghanistan which has passed through three decade of wars and where the power struggle between radical and moderate Islamic groups still continues on a large scale such tendencies of violence are even on higher scale.

  • With the conspiracy theories in a traditional country which is deeply suspicious of the west, anti-American feelings are running high.

The so called Islamic Political groups once having support of the west and east equally during the cold war to undermine communism now are in effort to have control over the politics and country internally and internationally with an emphasis on the extremis version and interpretation of Islamic Sharia.

Statement like US and Taliban collusion for the purpose of the retainment of presence of the US in the country, the past and present assistance of the U.S. with local warlords having criminal background and the Taliban once supported by the U.S. and western countries during the Soviet invasion are all the conspiracy or factual theories which contribute in fueling anti-Americanism among Afghans.

  • Neighbor countries media propaganda has fostered more anti American and anti-western feelings. Most of the reports and programs aired on media outlets from the neighbor countries reflect and add more to anti-western sentiments and the fundamentalist ideologies in the country and region.

Iran the region’s most persistent irritant of the United States, has compiled considerable resources in order to propagate against the US and West and create anti-American feeling among the masses.

  • Though more than a decade has passed since the International Community is working on training and equipping of the Afghan forces but still from equipment side the Afghan forces are faced with major problems.

Due to their ill-equipment and having strong and unfortunately dangerous neighbors the government security apparatus seems unprepared at this time to take the lead responsibility against the insurgence. The failure of the Afghan forces on major scale is due to the lack of resources and their ill-equipment. The poorly equipped and short on air power Afghan Security Forces can’t defend their country until and unless they are not provided with sophisticated weapons in order to defend their country.

Unwillingness on the part of the US for bringing regional balance of power and providing needed resources to the Afghan forces have raised major doubts in the minds of Afghan people.

Vast majority in 2001 were willing and ready to support US in its war against terrorism. But with the passage of time the U.S. lost its support that once it was enjoying among Afghan, it was all due to their ill-conceived policies.

  • One of the blunder which was committed in the very beginning and which added much to the Taliban recruitment was the disenchantment of the Pashtun population, Vast majority of the population was alienated in Bonn Conference back in 2001. Most of the ministries were given to the Northern Alliance and the Pashtun population was not given their due share in the newly established governmental structure which infuriated the Pashtun population.
  • The people of Afghanistan had much higher expectations than the reality. In 2001 after attack on its soil by Al-Qaeda with the US arrival in Afghanistan hopes were there among many Afghans that it could pave the way for stability, justice, progress and prosperity and emancipation from warlords. They had come with the slogan of dismantling Al-Qaeda and promising to bring democracy in the country. They were seen by the vast majority as a beacon of stability and economic prosperity. But unfortunately after more than a decade still Afghanistan is facing plethora of problems in various fields, which infuriated them on a wide scale.

Afghans had high hopes for rebuilding its infrastructure, improving the life standard; there was much optimism that the country will see drastic changes. But unfortunately the process saw major setbacks and frustration.

  • Historical factors and the past legacy of leaving Afghans to its fate when the U.S. national interests were served after the disintegration of the Soviet Union is a factor which raises doubts among Afghans.

 The Afghans are now given the feeling of the past dissertation. Afghans felt deserted by the US in the early 1990’s following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. As soon as the Soviet troops departed from Afghanistan the US officials lost interest in Afghanistan, they backed away from helping the Afghans in standing on their feet instead the country was left for its fate which erupted in civil war paving way for the Taliban to rule on the country with their extremist ideology till 2001.Instead of helping it, Afghanistan was left alone after the Soviet withdrawal.

The above mentioned factors are deepening the sense of disappointment, hopelessness, loss, defeat and anger among Afghans and especially on the part of the youth of the country. Almost 65 percent of the population is aged 25 or younger. This constituency of the population is driven by the past three decade war, ongoing violence, insurgency and cruelty taking place in the region. With no concentration to the problems and demands despite the fact that International community is present in their country, there will be an overwhelming pool of new recruits to the Taliban groups which already with collaboration with neighbor countries is working against the western interests. The consequences could result much more subtle, perhaps more dangerous in the long run where the level of mistrust of the United States and west will grow deeper. This threat looming deeper and perhaps more dangerous may pose even greater risk in the years to come.

Public opinion among Afghans especially youths, towards the United States has not improved instead it is on downward pace and has actually worsened in Afghanistan.

Instead of peace, prosperity and justice the Afghans still see extremism, insecurity, wide-scale corruption, impoverishment and violence throughout the country which brings anxiety and frustration among the people.

The reality of the past more than a decade has unleashed new concerns and embittered the Afghans. Instead of bringing real democracy the west after providing warlords and criminals with millions of dollars is now leaving once again the country to its fate. Such sort of announcements could stir more anti-Americanism among Afghans instead of bridging the existing gaps in their policies.

The reality is that no system, no matter what form it has, can survive without a minimal threshold of popular support. While the popular support could be garnered only through policies that could touch the hearts and minds of people which could be felt in the society from the very gross roots.

Bridging the  existing gaps and flaws which aid to doubt and suspicion among population is in the long term national interest of both countries (Afghanistan and the United States) expected to set the trends of future developments with signing of the Security Agreement after they signed Strategic Agreement in back 2011.

I think the Afghans with the help of International community can puncture the hysteria about the West and especially the United States that has been manufactured by those who want to advertise anti-western sentiments for their own malignant reasons, only through transparent economic aid, robust support to the Afghan National Security Forces, rooting out the ongoing corruption and bringing a system based on justice and transparency.

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Iran Hegemonic Ambition – The Neo-Islamic Revolutionary Movement Tue, 07 May 2013 06:02:06 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Hatef Mukhtar

Iran MullahsAs Tunisia’s revolt against the autocratic rule of now deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali enlighten the region with a revolutionary fire which no western or Arab powers could have foreseen, Iran immediately understood that the wind of history could play in its favor, bringing about the opportunities Iran Ayatollahs had long awaited.

As Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen all rose against their respective dictators, clamoring for their right to self-determination; religiously-driven factions rose through the trenches, given budding revolutionary movements the structure they were lacking.

While the Arab Spring Movement was born of an organic cry-out for freedom and social justice, it was groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – Sunni political faction – or al-Wefaq in Bahrain – Shia political faction – which gave the people a sense of direction and for the most part purpose.

From Tehran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei predicted in 2011 that the MENA region – Middle East and North Africa – would come to remember the Arab Spring Movement as the cornerstone of the region’s Islamic Revolution.

Rising to the challenge, Iran saw in widespread calls for democracy its window of opportunity. Tehran decided it would shine forth its influence, confident it would appear the natural political winner of this regional power chasm. No longer in control, Saudi Arabia was bound to lose its hold over the region, hence the inception of Tehran as the Arab world’s new super-power; such was Tehran’s view-point in 2011.

However, Iran’s ability to project power in the region has been challenged significantly by several factors — Saudi rivalry, unrest in Syria, domestic political discord, international ostracism –

An antagonistic friendship

A long-standing ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a man Tehran knew it could trust in maintaining Iran’s hold over the Levant, through his sponsoring of factions and militias which cause and goals were in line with its own — the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hamas in the Palestinian Territories —  Iran lacked oversight when it decided to publicly throw its weight behind Assad’s regime, shouldering the crimes of his brutal dictatorship, therefore tarnishing its image as a benevolent force and regional power-broker.

It is important to note that while Iran political stance is symbiotic with its religious beliefs – Shia Islam – it does not based its friendships and alliances along a sectarian line as often assume, Tehran has a very clear understanding of the MENA region’s power dynamic and the role which Islam plays in it.

On the wake of Iran 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran set out to organize the next stage of its political agenda – spreading its ideology through the creation of sister-cells across the region, starting with countries with a strong Shia community such as Lebanon, Syria and Iraq -

Iran’s hegemonic claims on the MENA region stretch back decades and are at the core of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s governance vision – as stated in his book: “Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist” -

With Iran clearly militarily engaged in Syria as it seeks to consolidate its positions in the Levant region and create a buffer zone against Israel and to some extent Turkey’s growing influence, Tehran is being dragged into a lengthy and bloody conflict; forced to support President Assad, as the alternative would mean to surrender Syria to its nemesis, the United States of America and by association, Israel.

Tactical Alliances and Foreign Policy

Iran Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi asserted in Februrary 2011 Iran’s desire that: “Egyptians’ high aims, national demands, and resurrection of glory could be achieved in the very near future.” Lest all this is dismissed as Persian gloating, Iran reemphasized its foreign policy includes: “Supporting the ‘Resistance’ in the Middle East.”

The remark perfectly synthesized Tehran’s political stand in terms of its foreign policy and governance ambitions – Iran’s leaders hope events in Arab countries will converge as to create a unified Muslim Middle East, beyond the Shia-Sunni divide, that looks to Tehran for guidance against the West -

Under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran poured millions of dollars into Egypt Muslim Brotherhood’s coffers, almost singlehandedly bank-rolling the Sunni organization’s political and social endeavors. It was Iran funds which enabled the Muslim Brotherhood to grow its political base among poor and middle class Egypt and promote the somewhat political radicalization of an entire segment of the population.

“You can call this an Islamic revolution,” predicted Essam el-Erian, a prominent Brotherhood leader.

The scheme has been emulated throughout the region.

From Lebanon to Bahrain and Yemen, Iran’s footprints are ever increasingly visible.

The U.S. government and private sources engaged in aid distribution have witnessed Iran’s financial and ideological reach into the Arab world. One senior official in Washington with experience in many of the countries undergoing political flux commented, “By the time American and Saudi aid reached those areas, the Iranians’ cash and presence had gained local people’s empathy and loyalty.”

In Yemen, Iran found an expected friend and ally in the Southern Secessionist Movement – al-Harak – stifled for almost two decades under the autocratic rule of deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Harak leaders used Yemen 2011 popular uprising to reinstate their calls for independence and self-governance.

As Saudi Arabia backed up Sana’a central government, Iran offered al-Harak its unwavering support.

With an ally in Yemen southern provinces and the Houthis – Shia rebel group which originally sought to return to the ancestral rule of the Imams – in the north, Iran literally pulled the carpet from under Saudi Arabia’s feet.

With the Houthis growing ever bolder as their influence is spreading to more northern provinces in Yemen – Hajjah, al-Jawf, Sa’ada and parts of Amran – al-Saud are nervously looking at their southern borders, foreboding a Shia-led insurrection which could ignite old border disputes.

Despite an intensive anti-Tehran campaign led by the Yemeni coalition government – under the careful guidance of Washington and the Gulf Cooperation Council – Iran’s hold over the impoverished nation is exponentially increasing both in the north and the south, with countless officials having already pledged their alliance to Tehran.

Islamic Renaissance or Neo-Islamic Revolutionary Movement

As surely as Washington has been warning against the rise of Islamic fundamentalists to power, Iran has been sponsoring religious-political figures such as Rashid Ghannouchi in Tunisia.

After two decades in exile Ghannouchi returned a hero to Tunisia, very much the Sunni parallel of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Having established ties with Ghannouchi during his years in London, Iran’s mullahs anticipated he could propel Harakat al-Nahda al-Islamiya or Islamic Renaissance Movement to the forefront of Tunisia political landscape. Essentially, Tehran sought to turn Ghannouchi into the emblem of Tunisia’s  revolution, a man who embodied political Islam.

Kingmaker in Lebanon, Iran wants to become a regional political and religious beacon.

The transformation of Hezbollah from an anti-Israeli militia into an Iranian-guided, street-savvy, Shiite political party, becoming the kingmaker in Lebanese politics has been a major triumph for the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy, which success it now seeks to replicate throughout a clever network of regional alliances against Saudi Arabia, its main contender in the region.

Mullahs trumpet the Iran-Hezbollah alliance as a fundamentalist, Islamist counterthrust against moderate Sunni Arabs.

In Yemen, Iran did not hesitate to support al-Qaeda – a Sunni fundamentalist group which aims to re-create Islam Caliphates ruling system -

Although Tehran is wary of the terror group, knowing it religious stance is not compatible with its own, it nevertheless utilizes its political reach to further its regional vision – Iran, it appears, wants to reign over the Arabian Peninsula on both ideological and political fronts.

Thirty-three years ago, when Iranians came together for freedom, hoping that the ouster of their monarch – the self-proclaimed Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi – would herald the birth of democracy, Ayatollah Khomeini and his cohorts seized control, imposing an internally tyrannical, externally anti-Western, Islamic state.

Khomeini outsmarted Iranian politicians seeking plurality; first by claiming he would fulfill their expectations and then, once  his supreme leadership was uncontested, by brutally removing all  political contenders from the scene. His governmental heirs are now following the same political maneuvering.

Even as the U.S. and the EU remain transfixed by demonstrations in Tunis, Cairo, Amman, Manama and Sana‘a, and by the inception of a new order in Beirut, always reacting never preempting; Iran has been on what it holds to be its “sacro-saint” mission – bringing theocracy to the Muslim world.

The evidences of Iran’s reshaping of the region are accumulating:

Interferences in Bahrain have intensified. An increasing number of Bahrainis are of Iranian origin, and Shiite religious authorities are strengthening links to the Jaafari jurisprudence schools in Qom, Mash’had and Tehran.

In Kuwait, Iran efforts have been focused on reviving the Husseiniyahs – places used by Shiites to commemorate the assassination of Imam Hussein – and supporting relevant Kuwaiti figures. Kuwaiti Shiites have been also assisted in forming political and popular movements to stand guard against any official anti-Iranian decisions taken by the government.

In Yemen, Iran’s involvement in providing political and material support to the rebellious Houthis in the North and al-Harak in the south is now common knowledge.

In Syria, Iran continues to support Assad’s regime, putting in jeopardy the very social fabric of the Sham region — Lebanon, Palestine and Syria –

In Lebanon, Tehran continues to hold the country’s ability to self-govern hostage through its support of the Hezbollah and sponsorship of prominent political figures. Very much the meddling relative, Iran has been Lebanon kingmaker through Syria.

An examination of the Shia and Kurdish efforts to build legislative and political pillars in a post-Saddam Iraq indicates a major Iranian role. All plans undertaken by the American administration in Iraq were carried out in tandem with the Iranians, or at least through Tehran-affiliated forces.

In the Arab Maghreb, Iran is relentless in its efforts to spread its sectarian ideals through continued diplomatic presence and its privileged relationship with Algeria. It is also spreading its Shia doctrine in the Moroccan society, especially among university students. It has done so by building on the sympathy the Hezbollah is generating among Arab citizens in that it stands against Israel and for the Palestinian people.

These movements and their undisclosed objectives – such as exporting the Islamic revolution to Arab and Muslim countries – have stirred fears in the rest of Arab Maghreb.

In  reaction to Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in North Africa,  the Kingdom of Morocco decided to sever all diplomatic ties with Iran in March 6, 2009, after the Iranian diplomatic mission in Rabat was charged with meddling with Moroccan identity, essential religious values and the unity of its royal Sunni doctrine.

Between Theocracy and Democracy

As the Arab Spring is evolving and morphing, it is increasingly clear that Iran has much to overcome before it can claim to rule the Middle East and an extent the Arab World as a whole.

Even Iran’s natural ally in Bahrain – al-Wefaq – is not as keen on living under Tehran over-bearing shadow as western powers are making out. Instead political factions and civil societies across the region are more inclined to follow the democratic route.

Having lived under dictatorship or monarchies for decades, Arabs are now talking and breathing political renaissance and democracy.

And indeed if Iran cannot become the single spiritual and political beacon to the Arab Shia community, it stands little chance of leading the Sunni Arab majority.

The Arab awakening against authoritarian pro-Western governments marks the beginning of a new struggle between secular democracy and Iranian theocracy.

It is yet difficult to foretell which influences, that of the West or Ian’s will ultimately prevail as anti-American sentiments and the Europe imperialistic policies are challenged by a new class of politicians, one which legitimacy is rooted in demagogy.

About Author

Hatef Mukhtar Afghan AuthorHatef Mokhtar (born 11 May 1962) is an Afghan author currently living in Norway and is a Norwegian citizen. He is the founder and chief editor of The Oslo Times and a human-rights activist. He writes for several newspapers and magazines such as KL-Today, Daily Sun, Malaysia Today, Haama Daily,, Malaysia Today, and Burma Digest. He works towards the freedom of press and speech, and for the promotion of peace. He is a public speaker and a political analyst. Although a political analyst on Afghanistan, he also specializes in global human rights issues and the freedom of expression in particular. Mokhtar belongs to the Durrani clan of the Pashtun. He is the founder and chairman of Armed for the Quill (AFTQ) and the organization Global Peace. Read more about him at:

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In reply to “Afghanistan the Unknown” Mon, 22 Apr 2013 07:18:25 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Gharanai Khwakhuzhi

A view of Kabul cityToday I came across an article titled “Afghanistan the Unknown”* written by Mr. Bing West (A former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine, who has written five books about combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is working on his sixth book, about an embattled Marine platoon in Afghanistan and the role of courage) on National Reviews website.

First up after reading the title I thought it could be an interesting article and straight away jumped to the bottom of the article to read about the writer (whom I didn’t know prior to this article), reading that he was the assistant secretary of defense, gave me further reasons to read it out.

But then sadly the moment I started reading the first paragraph where he labeled Afghanistan a “Medieval” country with “30 million illiterate, fractious tribesmen” (I never read anything that the “triumvirate” that he talks about ever mentioned such lines); I knew that it would be another ignorant article about Afghanistan by a writer who has no real idea of what’s the real history of his “Subject” and the current ground realities about his “Subject“.

It became more horrifying when I reminded myself that the writer was once an assistance secretary of defense, but at least now I know how the policies of the United States go wrong from time to time.

First up Mr. West should know that Afghanistan lived on the world map before 1979 as well, so imaging Afghanistan for its past 3 decades of history itself shows how ignorant the writer is about what he is writing.

I wonder if he has ever heard of the names like Avicenna, Rumi, Abdul Had Mohmand and Ishaq Shahryar to name a few?

If not it would be better he learns/Google about them before writing his next article or should I say ‘Book’.

Now as far as his overall article is concerned I would say he is doing the same mistake that most of Afghans do [sadly], that’s blaming others for your own mistakes.

Whenever a suicide bomb goes off in Afghanistan it’s blamed on neighbors, I know the neighbors play a key role in the instability and stability of the country, but one should not deny the fact that the person carrying out or helping with the attack is one of your own (an Afghan) either distracted or brainwashed.

The same applies to the analysis of Mr. West; he is totally denying the fact that it was people like himself advising the Military and the President when it came to policy and decision makings.

The fact that the US failed to come up with a strong policy to fight against “Terrorism” is a major obstacle in development of Afghanistan and the war against Terrorism.
As mentioned by Mr. West, the US was fighting the Taliban in 2006 (now I wonder if Mr. West would agree with me or just call it a conspiracy theory that Taliban were also one of those “Extensive Networks” that he discusses about, sat up back in 80s under the name of “Mujaheedin” or “Freedom Fighters” fighting the “Ugly” Soviets) while President Karzai was screaming out that Taliban were different from AQ and that he wanted to negotiate with them and bring them in to the political system of Afghanistan, but who would listen because it gave the US a reason to stay in Afghanistan and fight.

Today the same US is roaming around the world propagating about how beneficial it is for Afghanistan to get into talks with the Taliban and saying that “They were not after Taliban”.

The thousands of innocent civilian lives that were taken during US’ war against Taliban meant nothing? And they were “Not after Taliban”? That must be some political joke that the world has seen in recent times.

Yet I agree with Mr. West saying that it should be up to Afghans to decide for their future, but he should not forget that the US also has a responsibility towards Afghanistan; specially after it destroyed more than half of the country’s infrastructure and military might (including Artillery, Tanks  and Air Force) whether it was by its “Extensive Networks” back in 80s and 90s or by itself in the past 11+ years.

Again I am sure that Mr. West will label it a conspiracy theory that the US is not in Afghanistan solely to destroy “Terrorism” and “Save Afghans” from the hardliners; but it also sees its long term benefits and strategic advantage holding military bases in Afghanistan.

Now if my words are not just conspiracy theory, then I suggest that it would be best for both Afghanistan and the US to establish a relationship beyond theories and suggestions of the likes of Mr. West.

Today Afghanistan as much requires the help of the US as the US requires of Afghanistan, so understanding each other’s interests and negotiating on a common ground where both nations have a mutual interest to be respected and agreeable to both sides, is the best way to work on for both nations.

I think Afghanistan’s security forces would be more than ready to secure the country once the Allied Forces leave, granted that they are supplied and economically backed by International Community.

A point to remember from short ago history of Afghanistan is the fact that Dr. Najibullah’s army did not fall apart due to its capability to fight insurgents then “Mujaheedin”, but solely due to lack of finance, once you are not able to finance a large army then surely you are in big trouble.

The amount spent by the US and Allied Force in the last 11+ years could have not only totally destroyed AQ operations in Afghanistan but would have also created a very professional and self-reliant Afghan Army today, but what’s gone is gone.

We should now be talking about future not about past 11 years and try to not make the same mistakes that were made in the past 11 years.

To conclude I would say both Afghanistan and the US should work on the much talked about “Security Agreement” on grounds that both nations could secure their national interests.

And both nations should be very selective when it comes to taking advice, because there could be people who are not only ignorant but also has limited knowledge of topics they are discussing about.


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The socio economic effects of American withdrawal Wed, 10 Apr 2013 05:01:45 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Afghanistan MarketVisit any government office in Kabul and you will see young employees in their twenties or early thirties, flashing expensive cloths, smart phones and the latest computer gadgets. They are the so called National Technical Assistants; receiving their salaries in dollar values averaging thirty thousands in annual salary, forty times more than the per capita income in the country. Contrary to that, the regular government employees receive much lower wages, who on average receive $ 4,000 in annual salary. The same is true with the private sector the large number of NGOs operating in Afghanistan, who are willing to pay high salary mainly because someone is good with English and able to use basic computer applications.

Though forming only a small percentage of the total population of the cities, this group has developed their unique subculture. Fancy restaurants, shopping malls, luxury fitness gyms, indoor swimming pools and Kabul’s only bowling club have all sprouted to serves the needs of this unique class of citizens. Though the sudden flood of aid money and investments in Afghanistan has created many millionaires but such millionaires are usually less educated thus having a rather different lifestyle.

Things like family planning, dieting, and having hobbies, the hall marks of modern societies, are mainly limited to this unique sub-middle class. At the same time volunteering and doing social work are slowly making its way into Afghan society through the same group of people.

But more importantly, since such people have benefited immensely from their education, they place great value on it. They spend a good amount of their income on their own and the education of their family members. This has created a market for private schools and universities, something that never existed before the arrival of western troops into the country. Ten years ago knowing English would guarantee high paid job, whereas nowadays master degree is a minimum requirement for most jobs. The demand for good education is such that the American University of Afghanistan accepts only 25 percents of its applicants to its masters program which costs $17,500 in tuition fees for the two years program.

In the last 10 years billions of dollars are spent to stabilize Afghanistan and transform and modernize the Afghan society. Part of the aid was channeled to transform local communities, improve woman rights, establish democracy, improve living standards and health, etc. But the amount of money spent in this regard never brought about the expected results. There might be many reasons for this failure, but three of the main causes can the lack of capacity on behalf the local staff implementing these projects, lack of education of the masses, and lack of role models. And I believe that this special class of people can both be good roles models and the backbone of Afghanistan’s working capacity.

Serving as the early adopters for any new idea, it is very important for the international community to maintain this special group in order to channel new ideas into the highly traditional Afghan society. Whether it is democracy, woman rights, environmental protection, modernized business, quality education, etc, they all should make way into Afghan society through this specific group of people.

But as with the planned exit of Foreign forces in 2014, and hence the lack of interest in Afghanistan, it is expected that the foreign aid to Afghanistan will substantially be reduced. The Afghan government is working hard towards preparing itself for post 2014 Afghanistan. Part of the preparation is to cut down on its developmental budget and hence the salaries of these high paid employees, resulting in a ten percent cut for the coming year alone. The plan is to gradually reduce such salaries to half the current amounts in short term and eliminate them altogether in long term.

This may save some funds for the donor community in the short term and enable the Afghan government to pay for its employees. But in the long run such a decision may result in the collapse of this class by many of these employees migrating to foreign countries. Even if that does not happen, the urge to get quality education among such people in order to compete for high paid jobs will definitely cease to continue. Thus instead of channeling money directly towards security, social changes, and education, it is better to allocate part of the money to encourage those who have sit good examples and attract our best talent towards education and have a reason for them to stay in the country. Such people should be supported to continue in the same manner so we can get highly educated class in future who may come up with Afghan solutions for the Afghan problems.

By: Mohammad Khan, Program Manager at Ministry of Education, Afghanistan

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NATO notes extraordinary achievements in Afghanistan Sat, 06 Apr 2013 10:22:42 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Ambassador Maurits Jochems

Ambassador Maurits Jochems is the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in AfghanistanThe achievements Afghanistan has made over the past few years are extraordinary. I have seen these changes with my own eyes having served in this country in 2008 and again today. Late last year President Karzai announced the fourth group of areas to enter transition. Now the increasingly capable and confident Afghan National Security Forces are taking the lead in providing security to their own people. With this announcement, nearly 90 per cent of the Afghan population will see their own army and police providing them with security. When taking stock of where we were just two years ago, when the first areas to enter transition were announced, we should recognise this remarkable accomplishment. Since that time we have seen the Afghan National Security Forces planning and conducting over 80 per cent of their own operations and we have seen them take responsibility for over 85 per cent of their own training.

There remains 21 months before the ISAF mission winds down, its combat operations will cease and its training, advising and assistance operations for the ANSF will be handed over to the new NATO-led mission. We will see the ANSF taking the lead for security across the country by the middle of this year. At that point we still have another year and a half with the ISAF forces operating in a combat and training role, but in full support of the ANSF.

Despite rumours and concerns, the international community in Afghanistan is not going anywhere. They are not packing their bags and leaving at the end of 2014. Too much has been invested not only by Afghanistan’s friends and partners, but by Afghans themselves, to give up the achievements we have all fought so hard to gain. The commitment of NATO and the broader international community is both clear and unprecedented. The Tokyo Conference committed to further development support to Afghanistan and in Chicago we decided that we will support the Afghan National Security Forces with funding and a new NATO mission after 2014 to train, advise and assist.

But there is still work to do. The Government of Afghanistan has also made clear commitments at the important international conferences in Kabul, Chicago and Tokyo to hold credible elections, to fight corruption, improve good governance, uphold the constitution especially human rights, and enforce the rule of law. The efforts made so far to address these concerns can be commended. The continued efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to meet their commitments will allow us to continue supporting Afghanistan for the years to come.

Afghanistan has a vibrant and active political scene. A critical part of Afghanistan’s continued progress is a smooth political transition in next year’s Presidential elections. Credible elections are a shared responsibility for a democratic society. Electoral institutions, the government, political parties, media, civil society, and citizens alike need to work together to ensure an outcome accepted by all Afghans. These elections are an historic opportunity for the democratic transition of power.  NATO and its ISAF partner nations are working to support an election that is inclusive and accepted. The Afghan National Security Forces will play a crucial role in making sure that eligible voters can make their decision in peace and security. ISAF forces stand ready to assist where requested and necessary.

The International Community does not own Afghanistan’s future. But we stand with Afghanistan as a dedicated partner in its future. When all of these achievements and commitments are taken together, the message from the International Community to Afghanistan and her people is unequivocally clear: we all want a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan and we are dedicated in supporting you make that happen.

Ambassador Maurits Jochems is the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan

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Government-Mafia-Warlords Nexus and the present Turmoil Sat, 06 Apr 2013 04:29:39 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Ahmad Shah Katawazai

Mafia in AfghanistanWith Taliban gone the warlords supported by the U.S. established themselves back in the new government and economic sector of Afghanistan unleashing a new phase of miseries and sufferings upon the people who already had suffered from a series of brutalities. Commencing with Soviet occupation, a communist dictatorship, the civil war and rule of warlords, the extremist Taliban and now again under an internationally backed government-mafia-warlords nexus Afghans are still suffering from plethora of problems.

Today we are witnessing that the status quo is not working, it is pushing the society backward with out bringing any substantive change in the lives of majority. The country economy is still fragile, unemployment high, security situation deteriorated, insurgents getting stronger day by day, rampant corruption, nepotism and overall the job market is a sorry mess. Today no institution seems immune, Laws are crafted but not implemented and the country is vulnerable in almost all aspects.

Government-Mafia-Warlords Nexus

The warlords-turned-politicians and corrupt ex-leaders of the so called factions, refusing to budge from their positions has both befuddled and infuriated the vast bunch of population. These warlords then have orchestrated a sort of mafia which is a ragtag collection of criminals that took part in the internal fighting/civil war and then in the U.S. led war against terrorism in 2001 and currently influencing both the economy and government of the country.

A specific segment of the society is given all the authority and privileges holding top positions in the government, the positions that they use for their parochial personal gains. This is the goal that they share to make the country ungovernable and to take advantage by exploiting situation in their favor.

Warlords and mafia have long entrenched themselves in every sphere of government and the important economic sectors, squandering public funds and abusing authority for their personal gains. Which results in an increasing gap between rich and poor?

Unfortunately there are very few voices raising up to sow dissension against the venal government-mafia-warlords nexus that has not only fattened itself on public property and money but has also perpetuated a system which only looks after the interests of the so-called elite or privileged class at the expense of rights of the majority.

This is a real concern and a grave threat hampering almost all ways towards progress and prosperity.

Major part of the society (Youth) ignored

Afghanistan has gone through a prolonged turmoil and upheaval in which an important and significant part of the society is ignored. According to UNDP 68% of population of Afghanistan is below 25 years of age, a significant and dynamic part of the society which is derided of their rights.

Already anarchy prevails for the impoverished and under-privileged of the country’s 90 percent population. Rampant corruption in the government, increasing violence, deep poverty, and feckless government is the real grievances of Afghan youth bulge, which contributes to general dissatisfaction, pessimism and resentment among the population. The government has failed to meet even the basic needs of the people.

Majority of the population is poor, unemployed and young. Major part of the young generation then have nowhere to go but the street, join insurgents or go abroad for labour if that’s not the case then probably would have to end up a day labourer inside the country where most Afghans live on less than $1 a day.

Finding no alternative route, part of these youths in their young age that has indeed extremist tendencies which can be led on any direction joins the insurgents, which are then groomed and trained for fight and suicide missions.

The most unfortunate part of the problem is that the ruling class lack political will and determination for economic reforms to unfold.

Presently there seems no single power out there for this youth bulge to bring peace, change or betterment. This young generation is misled and exploited through wrong propaganda.

Where to Begin?

We are passing through a tenacious battle but not that much complicated that couldn’t be managed.

What is needed at this stage is rise and call for a relentless peaceful struggle for a corruption and mafia free society which should reflect and resonate with the demands of the population.

There is anger, a feeling of dissatisfaction which need to be changed into a real consistent positive change. This Change should be through peaceful and non violent means which should resonate and reflect with the interests of the majority of the country.

The swelling resolve to birth a movement that would usher in the fledgling democracy with transparency and accountability as hallmarks is required to be assumed.

It will be this youth bulge guided by broader picture that will vigorously try to overcome poverty through a constructive and positive approach and create an opportunity and growth both on the security and economic side. If they have the will, unity and committed leadership, indeed they can bring a real change by cracking down on the so called warlords and mafia.

The purpose here is not to advocate a need to generate another series of turmoil and upheaval. What I meant is to bring pressure through various but peaceful instruments like pressure groups, lobbying, and movement or by getting into government position a voice should be raised and awareness campaign launched for alternative resources so that the country can be led on the right direction and gets it rid of the menaces it is facing.

This burgeoning pressure will help in shaking government malfeasance and welcomed with open arms by vast majority of the desperately poor people. Which will then give wings to the dreams and desires of millions of young Afghan generation?

Now the time is rife for this action, if this young generation didn’t capitalize of this moment taking advantage of the unique opportunity in their possession, their efforts will be fruitless in the later stage.

Young Generation Potentials

The young generation that is working in different sectors both private and government will help much in galvanizing and giving momentum to such movement.

Youth can play major role in bringing down mafia and working for a real positive change. This burgeoning young population will help speed economic growth and act as a sign of positive development in the standards of life.

As responsible citizens they have responsibility to protect their interests as well as the foremost national interests of the country.

In the later stage it should push for brining to justice all those criminals and warlords and those who are responsible for abuse in the past years. One of the key components of this momentum should be access to justice for all.

Clichés of the past bygone now

The cliché of the past three decades of war made as a scapegoat to hide their misdoings is bygone now. Amazingly and pathetically they still use this cliché and cleanse their hands by saying that Afghanistan has passed through three decades of war and it needs time to recover. But the reality is that it has been about a decade, despite having a unique golden opportunity where all the international community is helping they couldn’t bring substantial change. Which is definitely due to lack of commitment and determination for the welfare of people and national interests of the country.

We do have laws but are not implemented and encroached by the people (warlords and corrupt elements in the government) having influence, and mere laws won’t be able to bring good governance, ensure justice and curb corruption, which unfortunately has been institutionalized in the present stage flowing almost through every artery of the state.

Now it is up to the president as a leader to plan and carve out well planned policies explicitly presenting what he wants and how he’s going to get there, that should get rid of warlords or let this young generation grab the power.

Otherwise the young generation have ample reasons to intervene; plenty of people are ready to raise their voice which needs leadership. They have been closely monitoring the situation and development taking place across the region. The recent changes in leadership and call for justice in the Middle East could be cited as a good example currently.


There should be citizenship participation, a seductive promise from every one for the betterment and economic efficacy of the country with out involving in the pesky need to compete for political power.

We should support and back the government in places where it delivers good economic and security results promoting peace initiatives and working in the national interest of the country and population.

Only through laws and policies nothing can be done, change is needed at high level in the establishment, an honest and committed team or leadership is needed which should led the country in the right direction.

Civil society is needed to be strengthened, a vibrant and functioning civil society will indeed play pivotal role in this process. They should act as vocal, engaged, assertive and responsible patriot citizens taking interest in every aspect of life.

In this broad national effort all patriot are asked to play a key part and contribute constructively in the change which is inevitable for the country at the current times.


This is perhaps the single best opportunity to start with especially at a times when the warlords popularity that they enjoyed in the past is on a downward spiral, thanks to the internet and modern technology that keeps aware, brings together and links young generation through communication both from inside the country and those living in abroad.

The challenges Afghanistan is facing today are plenty but manageable especially at a time when the international community is present in the country. The youth bulge that the country is possessing is an opportunity for the country as long as it is led on the right direction.

If they don’t take advantage of this unique opportunity, power will be in the hands of those who are feeding themselves on the rights and property of majority from the past three decades.

In the first place it seems un-pragmatic and a brittle condescension to stand against the so called strong government-warlords-mafia nexus, especially at a time when they are in power but if there is strong will and determination it is possible and a dynamic youth bulge that Afghanistan is possessing if comes out for change will indeed make it working.

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Iran behind water resources destruction in Afghanistan Sun, 24 Mar 2013 07:13:08 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Iran FlagThe neighboring countries of Afghanistan, specifically Iran and Pakistan with the inspiration of MI6 are responsible for the current crisis in Afghanistan and thoroughly involved in creating barriers for the creation of a strong political leadership in the country.

Iran has made major investments between 1370s and 1380s in a bid to achieve its strategic goals by creating divisions, boosting war and funding internal elements in Afghanistan.

Through its political tactics implemented between 1371 to 1380, Iran managed to successfully complete the construction of water resources infrastructures in its own national interest and block water routes to Afghanistan on permanent basis.

According to reports around 500 billion cubic meter of water which is equivalent to $500 billion flows to neighboring countries of Afghanistan, specifically to Iran.

During the past ten years the Iranian government breaching the earlier agreements has turned Helmand waters towards Iran by drilling at least 12 water canals. Iran has also created a water dam on Hamon to prevent flow of water back to Afghanistan. Previously water was flowing back to Gudzard area in case of increase in Helmand waters.

Two major water storages were also built by Iran on Sarkhas area located between the bordering regions of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. The storages built under an old agreement with the Turkmenistan was aimed at turning the flow of water which comes from Bala Morghab area to Turkmenistan.

The flow of water automatically goes towards the Srakhas water storage in Iran after the water storage built by Iran in Turkmenistan is filled, which shows the main motive of the Iranian government for spending millions of money for constructing water dam in Sarkhas area of Turkmenistan.

This will incur a major loss to the water resources of Afghanistan as the flow of water is blocked from Sarkhas water storage to flow back inside the Afghan soil.

Iran also creates barriers for the construction of two major water dams including Kamal Khan dam and Salma dam in western Afghanistan through its cheating diplomacy and by funding and using internal factors in Afghanistan in a bid to prevent the Afghan government from using the current opportunities which is available with the presence of international community.

According to reports a number of Iranian spies working as engineers in Salma dam project are struggling to prevent the development work of the dam.

On the other hand the government of Iran and MI6 prevented the construction of 3,400 kilometers of gas pipeline from Sarkhas bordering region towards the Turkmenistan border in a bid to main the current war in Afghanistan. The gas pipeline has been constructed inside the Iranian soil on the bordering region between the countries which continues until Baluchistan bordering region. The bordering cities of Iran are connected with the Karachi port which makes the transportation of Iran and Turkmenistan energy easier to India.

The tactics of Iran paved the way for sabotaging the TAPI gas pipeline project which was coming from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and this helped Iran to construct its own gas pipeline from Sarkhas to Pakistan.

The government of Afghanistan during the past 12 years has been helpless to construct water dams in the country despite the presence of international community that pledged billions in aid to Afghanistan. The issues pose a major threat towards the water resources of Afghanistan as main waters of Afghanistan are flowing out of the country despite Afghanistan.

Unfortunately the political figures of Afghanistan are busy with their own political set ups that helps the implementation of new missions by MI6, CIA and Iran in Afghanistan and the region.

By: Alhaj Ghulam Jilani “Wahaj”

This is a translated version of the article which was originally written in Persian by the author. Click here to read this article in Persian.

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The Role of MI6, ISI, CIA and Iran in Afghanistan and region crisis Tue, 19 Mar 2013 12:33:25 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Alhaj Ghulam Jilani Wahaj

Military Intelligence - Mi6Afghanistan is considered to have a highly strategic value during the 21st century in southern and central Asian regions, owed to its geopolitical situation and untapped mineral resources. The country has proven to be a key inhibitor for the newly formed republics in central Asia besides having a high influence and pressure on China, Russia and Iran.

Geographical and geopolitical situation of a nation has a direct impact over the internal, external and economical policies of a nation. However,  policies implemented by ISI, CIA and MI6 in Afghanistan and the region during the past five decades have had different motives The main targets have sometimes been silent and the focus has been on secondary objectives which eventually pave the way for the implementation of the original objective in the region.

Pakistan’s military Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) together with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence under the cover of MI6 gathered over 30,000 Islamist militants from 42 nations in ISI’s sanctuaries, with the preliminary motive to fight against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

However, the same militants are currently used to weaken the financial and moral values of the United States in the world, which is considered to be a successful approach by MI6 to damage the credit of foreign policies of the United States in the Islamic world by attributing the enormous defense budget of the U.S. in their fight against the terrorism and implementation of democracy in the world.

Today, the United States lack a proper communication channel with the Muslims and the Muslim world, which has been one of the main objectives of MI6 during the past years.

The United States along with other western nations have become the hostage of war against terrorism under the framework of NATO, which is considered to be an approach of MI6 in coordination with the ISI and Iran’s intelligence. The defeat of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan will significantly harm the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which will possibly lead to liquidation of the alliance.

MI6 also created barriers for the United States of America, United Nations, NATO and the European Union to the coordination of their strategy and foreign aid to the Afghan government. MI6 also put efforts to drag Germany in war at southern Afghanistan by assassination attempts of German civil workers in Mazar-Samangan and Kabul-Salang highways, and by coordinating an attack on German base in Baghlan province of Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of several German troops.

Through such attempts MI6 prevented the proper implementation of German development projects in Afghanistan besides transporting and evacuating Al-Qaeda and militants through helicopters to northern provinces of Afghanistan in a bid to put pressure on German troops mission in the North.

President Hamid Karzai during press conferences also confirmed that unrecognized military helicopters are transporting and evacuating militants and Al-Qaeda fighters from the southern provinces of the country to northern and north-eastern parts of Afghanistan.

Washington presumed its formal bilateral ties with Afghanistan in coordination with the MI6, where the first ambassador of United States to Afghanistan started its duty under the consultation and agreement of British ambassador to Afghanistan in a bid to satisfy the demands of MI6 and Pakistan’s ISI, and the same approach will continue for several more decades and will remain the top priority of the Washington’s policy.

Afghanistan has been used as troops brigade by the United States during the past ten years to continue Tom and Jerry’s game, however, Pakistan has been considered to be a key alliance of Washington to implement peace in the country.

In addition, the British have formed Kashmir and Pashtunistan on the Pakistan and Afghanistan bordering regions as the main base and route in an attempt to implement their long term plans in the region. Pakistan since its very formation has become a part of the MI6 that has enabled them to enter into the political, military and intelligence mater of the region, specifically of Afghanistan.

The mechanism and leadership of Pakistan in relation to the geographic positions of the newly formed republics in central Asia, China, Iran and Afghanistan have dragged the United States and the United Kingdom to their joint interest for fuel and energy in the region. In order to achieve this strategic goal, . Islam has been used as an appropriate and best tool (fight against terrorism).

As one of the elders had stated, Pakistan is British in its politics, Hindu by culture and Muslim by name. The recent remarks by Pakistan’s Ulema Council Chief Allama Tahir Ashrafi, who endorsed suicide bombings in Afghanistan, is not a new issue and is being preached in Pakistani Madrasas on daily basis.

Islamic Madrasas, political parties and Ulema council are all branches of the ISI, which have been formed by MI6. Through these branches, the objectives of the United Kingdom are being implemented in the region. The holy religion of Islam is not a target for the Pakistani politicians but it is rather a tool for achieving the strategic goal of MI6, CIA and ISI in Afghanistan and the region—the goal of winning over the fuel and energy in the region, which is masked by war on terrorism Any religious scholar or Ulema preaching at Pakistani Madrasa is originally an MI6 employee working within the framework of ISI.

The question is that, “Are human beings not Caliphs of God on Earth?”. Enormous funding by CIA has made Pakistani politicians and Ulemas blind. It is yet not clear how long the Pakistani nation will bear the situation will depend on their self-realization and their support for Islam and Muslims rather than support for the strategic interest of MI6 and ISI in the region. However, the way MI6 has spread its germs in the region through Pakistan and ISI, one can tell that the situation will last for eternity.

The defeat and withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, overthrow of Egypt and Libya’s leaders, political uprising in Syria along with the decade old war in Afghanistan reflect the involvement of the United States and the United Kingdom behind the crisis, terror, suicide bombings and assassinations for their self-interest in the regions.

According to the military and political observers’ research, United States invasion of Afghanistan in the name of fight against terrorism and Al-Qaeda was plotted back in 1997. The plan of collecting and purchasing of stinger rockets from commanders was meant to ease down the dangers that the British and American forces could have faced during their air strikes on Afghanistan. The assassination of Afghan warlord Ahmadshah Massoud was plotted by MI6

According to reports, military drills in Arab nations and movement of the NATO troops towards the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean all started three years before the 9/11 attacks.

The MI6 dragged the former Soviet forces into Afghanistan where they suffered a crushing defeat. The MI6 is now paving the way for the same fate to be faced by the United States, who is working its way towards becoming the super power after the Cold War, and the European Union by creating a similar trap under the name of Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Wasn’t it MI6 after all who provided sanctuary for Osama bin Laden for 7 years inside the houses of ISI officers in Pakistan?

The need for the presence of US troops in Afghanistan is indebted with potential crisis being faced by the United States. Terrorism has not only stopped but also gained considerable growth in Afghanistan during the past ten years, and it is strange that the US policy and lawmakers are still not wondering how their victory has been compromised.

If narrowly observed, the American policymakers have been trapped in MI6’s policies and are under the instructions of the Pakistani policymakers who are being directed by the English policies. Therefore, the United States has been conquered by the United Kingdom and the international community has been conquered by the United States.

The United States plans have been put in trouble by MI6 during the past ten years in Afghanistan and created confusion among the Afghan officials who has not been able to pick between Iran and the international community (mainly the U.S.). Such perplexity resulted in mistrust towards the policies of the U.S. and towards putting Pakistan in a better position than before. Pakistan is in a key situation that has enabled them to convince Washington that the withdrawal from Afghanistan can only take place through Pakistan’s route.

MI6 in cooperation with the ISI and Iran are striving to prevent the construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan. Why is the reconstruction of Salma Dam not completed since the past decade?

Iran managed to finalize the technical and infrastructural construction of Afghanistan’s water resources for its own interest between 1993 and 2003, and block the return of water to Afghanistan on a permanent basis. Iran has also played a major role behind the instability in Afghanistan since 1990s in a bid to meet its water needs and on the other hand sabotage the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan for its own self-interest.

In their secret war against the U.S., Iran is sending huge sums of money to high Afghan officials to win their support, as a result putting the Afghan government on a limbo.

All the parties involved in war in the region are now aware of the western tactics and can easily use terrorism for their survival and create tension in the region; however the issue has now created concerns among the western officials fearing that anti-western nations including China, Iran and Russia will use terrorism against the allied nations. The issue of terrorism in Afghanistan has now become a tool for Pakistan and Iran to use it for their strategic target.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai failed to properly use from the opportunity for the development of the country and the Afghan nation and also maintain a good relation and satisfactory relation with its key allies, United States of America due to the lack of proper knowledge of Washington’s policies leaving Afghanistan in situation being threatened by its neighbors specifically Iran which is apparently an Islamic nation but is a part of the MI6 organization in the region.

President Karzai failed to properly use the opportunity of the international community’s presence in Afghanistan and create a national strategy inside the country and outside of Afghanistan in order to empower the strategic infrastructure of Afghanistan. His approach to keep both Iran and America happy brought only failure. The Afghan leaders concentrated on their personal benefits by creating coalitions rather than paying attention to maintaining a stable Afghanistan. The Afghan government let go of the Afghan ship to the Iranian river not knowing that Iran, a Muslim country in name, is merely a part of MI6.

All the Afghans are aware that the political situation of Afghanistan is controlled by MI6, ISI, CIA and the intelligence of Iran which can be noticed during the recent decade where no internal or external incident or affair takes place unless it has not been approved by MI6, ISI, CIA, KGB or the intelligence of Iran. It is a continuous process which is happening and will apparently continue for several other years or decades.

On the other hand the recent coalitions formed by various individuals who have had a major role during the crisis of the past three decades, have already lost the game and their identity are not hidden from the international community. These faces are now ready to form any kind of coalition in an attempt to maintain their livelihood.  Jihad (holy war) and Islam do not have any value for them, similar as it is valueless for the Pakistani religious clerics.

Leaders of various coalitions which are active now are those faces that made fun of Burhanuddin Rabbani’s government in Bonn conference. The decisions during the Bonn conference, which were supposed to take place for the interest of the Afghan government, were instead made on the basis of the coalition members’ personal deals. The sons of these coalition members are enjoying a luxurious life in Dubai, where they spend USD 5,000 buying whiskey and scotch in a single party.

Are these coalition forces able to resolve the issues of Afghanistan? Clearly NO.  MI6 and Iran are looking to implement their new strategies by using such political coalitions for the decomposition of Afghanistan. Such a strategy was once implemented by Iran but was countered by Ahmadshah Massoud and Abdul Samad Khaksar.

The social formation of Afghanistan is complex and has been formed in a way which cannot be decomposed by any external power and such an approach will mean to spread another civil war that will end in each street of Afghanistan, and that will not be acceptable by any true Afghan.

The major game which is currently going on in the region is divided into two divisions that is A and B, where the first phase of the game has already been completed after the assassination of Al-Qaedaa leader Osama bin Laden, while the second phase of the game, which is due to be witnessed after 2014, is getting closer to its implementation stage.

The new mission, post 2014, mission has also been divided in two sectors where the first phase will be implemented by MI6 and Iran that focuses on decomposition of Afghanistan and creation of federal Afghanistan. The second phase of the mission will be implemented by ISI and CIA that focuses on the policy for the return of Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami party of Afghanistan led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The success of Pakistan’s soft diplomacy approach with the current hard approach, comprising of teams fighting against Afghanistan along with Afghanistan, will automatically pave the way for the return of Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami Party back to power.

Washington is currently convinced to consider bringing changes to the current regime with the help of Pakistan and Taliban militants along with Hezb-e-Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and/or bringing such a change in the regime to create a strong disciplinary government that is based on the plans of Pakistan and interest of United States. Pakistan and United States have already reached to an agreement for the formation of future government and Afghanistan’s role in the region.

The high peace council of Afghanistan is operating without any motive and has only been formed to spend operative money of the intelligence agencies in order to free Taliban leaders and concentrate on dragging world’s attention by acting under the reconciliation project in Afghanistan where the main part of the game is under the control of the United States and Pakistan.

Afghan officials and political coalition members during their operations are revealing to move forward based on the plans of United States and Pakistan. In the outset, Taliban militants were freed from Pakistan jails and blacklisted Taliban group members were removed from the UN sanctions list.

Foreign troops are not leaving the country but are paving the way for the return of Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar back to main cities specifically in capital Kabul.

Karzai’s remarks accusing United States for creating barriers on Afghan peace talks with the Taliban group are yet another approach by him to maintain a coalition power and move towards MI6 and Iran’s policy. But, the section “B” of the political game has already been started and president Karzai is already late and has been left with the two options i.e. to support Washington or Iran in the region.

Ppresident Karzai’s recent anti-US remarks raise questions whether he is being used as a tool to speed up and implement the new mission of MI6 in the region, or he is himself a key player of the new mission to return Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami party back to power.

The Afghan nation which has been suffering for the national interest of others during the past 12 years must consider in specifying the internal and external players behind today’s crisis in Afghanistan. The first approach should focus on unveiling those involved behind the crisis and the second approach must focus on national negotiations and agreement to find ways for resolving the issues and build a stable and strong Afghanistan.

Such steps will apparently face many barriers by internal and external enemies that will include individuals and agencies creating internal ethnic and religious issues for the implementation of their long term strategy in Afghanistan and the region.

The current crisis in Afghanistan will continue unless the Afghan nation does not show a reaction towards strategies of MI6, CIA and other agencies.

This is a summarized and translated version of the article which was originally written in Persian. Please click here to view the article in Persian.

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Afghanistan: Ambiguity of Situation versus Transition Process Sun, 23 Dec 2012 10:05:48 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Farhad Arian


afghanistan_mapAfter more than ten years of the presence of international troops, the situation in Afghanistan still is highly volatile in terms of security, human rights, the rule of law, and socio-economic development. Many observers of Afghanistan anticipate that the situation worsens as the international community has accelerated the transition process. The international community and the government of Afghanistan have agreed that full responsibility for security would be handed over to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the end of 2014. The transition process is considered as the last opportunity to pave the way for reinforcing an effective and democratic political system in Afghanistan. While the transition process is currently underway, there are serious concerns about the ability and commitment of the Afghan government to fulfil its obligations properly to improve security and human rights, to ensure the rule of law, and to fight the widespread corruption. Such concerns are multiplied by the poor record of the Afghan government in the last decade as it was incapable of effectively improving the overall situation of security, human rights, the rule of law, and governance.

As the international community has accelerated the transition process, lack of access to reliable sources of data on the situation of Afghanistan is a matter of central concern, preventing the world to properly understand the potential challenges. Much of the information that is available is subject to large margins of uncertainty, incompleteness, and incomparability. The difficulty in collecting reliable data has resulted in a variety of miscalculations in academic and policy-making circles when assessing the situation of Afghanistan. For that reason, there is an immediate need for more critical research based upon reliable data to realistically evaluate the volatility of situation in Afghanistan with distinct focus on the potential challenges of the transition process.

In this paper, not only will the volatility of situation in Afghanistan be evaluated, but also the potential challenges of the transition process will be examined. While presenting fresh analysis of the volatility of the situation and of the transition process, the paper will critically focus on security, human rights, the rule of law and corruption as the main indicators of serious challenges, undermining the transition process. The paper will particularly highlight the inability of the government of Afghanistan to effectively address the current challenges associated with insecurity, human rights violations, the rule of law weaknesses, and widespread corruption. The paper will conclude that the current challenges significantly undermine the effectiveness of the transition process as the last opportunity to maintain last decade’s achievements, sustain state institutions, and reinforce an effective democratic government. In its conclusion, the paper will also present a number of policy-related recommendations to the international community and the Afghan government to properly respond to the current challenges.


Political and security environment remains extremely ambiguous in Afghanistan. Such a situation significantly threatens the country’s fragile achievements in the last ten years. Talking about the improvement of security situation is extremely arguable as the Taliban and other insurgent groups have continued to expand armed conflict and demonstrate their reach across the country. A recent report by UNHCR reveals that the volatility of the situation in Afghanistan has severely affected some 1.3 million people, including newly returned refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)[1]. Contrary to the claims of many from the international community and the Afghan government, there are still serious concerns about the safety of a large numbers of the population since their lives are regularly threatened by the Taliban, other insurgents, warlords, drug lords, and criminals[2]. Such concerns are growing as the international community will soon transfer its security responsibilities to the ANSF which is incapable of effectively protecting the lives of Afghan citizens. To draw a clear picture of the political and security situation in Afghanistan, this part of the paper will examine the Taliban-led insurgency; lack of a strategy towards Pakistan; ill-trained ANSF; ambiguity about the number of the ANSF; uncertainty over the international commitment; the dominance role of warlords; and uncertainty about the 2014 Presidential election.

First, the persistent presence of an active insurgency led by the Taliban is the most serious challenge, threatening the achievements of the last ten years. The security situation is getting worse on a regular basis as the government of Afghanistan lacks a comprehensive strategy to effectively deal with the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Due to the lack of a comprehensive strategy, the Afghan government has failed to reconcile and reintegrate even a small number of the insurgents[3]. More confusingly, while the majority of the population, including civil society representatives, human rights activists, political parties, parliamentarians, and a significant number of government officials publicly consider the Taliban as the enemies of the people of Afghanistan, President Karzai tirelessly calls the Taliban his “angry brothers”. President Karzai wrongly perceives that the Taliban are drawn into combat accidentally, and not ideologically, due to corruption and possibly other personal reasons[4]. Thus, there are major concerns in Afghanistan about a possible power-sharing deal between Karzai and the Taliban which would bring the Taliban into power and pave the way for severe violations of human rights and individual freedoms.

Second, in the last ten years, Afghanistan has not been able to define its interests in its relationship with Pakistan. The Afghan government has failed to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to effectively deal with the role of Pakistan in post-2001 Afghanistan. The inability of the government to clearly define the role of Pakistan has significantly contributed to the ambiguity of situation in the country. While Islamabad has partly been able to pursue its strategic goals and interests in Afghanistan, Kabul has failed to define its security and political interests in its relationship with Pakistan. This inability has enabled Pakistan to pursue its goals in Afghanistan by maximising the influence of the Taliban in the face of a weak Kabul government, maintaining “strategic depth” against an Indian invasion, and facilitating training and operations of Islamic extremist groups including the Taliban[5]. As a result of the reliance of the Afghan government on an unbalanced traditional strategy towards Pakistan, Kabul is in the lack of a clear view in how to deal with the role of Islamabad in the deterioration of security[6].

Third, there is no evidence to prove that the ANSF is well-trained to effectively protect the people of Afghanistan across the country. There are numerous examples of the inability of the ANSF in providing necessary security protection for both ordinary people and employees of the government and international organisations. Despite complex security arrangements, influential pro-government people are regularly being shot and killed in Kabul and elsewhere in the country. A good example would be the recent assassination of Mullah Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban official and a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council on 13 May 2012 by an unknown gunman who then escaped[7]. The assassination of Mr Rahmani once again raises the argument that while the Afghan government is incapable of protecting its senior officials, how would it justify protecting the lives of millions of Afghan people who live with no protection from the ANSF. Such incidents cause significant concerns among Afghanistan’s populations and prove wrong the claims of the international community and the Afghan government that the ANSF would be capable of effectively protecting the people and securing the country.

Fourth, in the last ten years, neither the international community nor the Afghan government has been able to give firm assurance about the number of the ANSF to be trained. While in the early years of the presence of the international troops the United States and its allies agreed to create a 70,000-strong army, the target number grew rapidly in 2007 and 2008 without any genuine commitment of the necessary funding or personnel[8]. The ambiguity about the Afghan police force was even worse because there were approximately 95,000 men wearing police uniforms in 2009, and almost half of them had never received any training[9]. The target number of the ANSF once gained changed to a combined force of 400,000 due to the expansion of the insurgency by mid-2009. The new target number nevertheless did not last very long and subsequently in 2011 Afghan government and its international allies decided to create a combined security force of 352,000 by the end of 2014[10]. The unpredictable changes in the number of the ANSF and less attention to funding such a large security force with no existing military structures, widespread illiteracy and ongoing insurgency has further contributed to the ambiguity of the situation in Afghanistan.

Fifth, as the transition process is underway and the withdrawal of international combat troops will be completed by 2014, there are serious questions over the commitment of the international community in post-2014 Afghanistan. The withdrawal of international forces is a matter of central concern since the state institutions in Afghanistan are heavily dependent on their consistent support to prevent an immediate collapse[11]. The uncertainty over the long-term commitment and continuous engagement of the international community will likely cause considerable unrest, increase instability, and deepen existing vulnerabilities. Such concerns are multiplied in the absence of an inclusive political process focused on peace and reconciliation with the Taliban and other insurgents. Many observers seriously question the ability of the Afghan government to sustain in the absence of considerable political, military and economic support from the international community[12]. However, though the reassurance of the commitment of the international community would reduce the level of ambiguity, the inability of the Afghan government to effectively respond to security threats caused by the insurgents still remains a central concern, preventing the world to help Afghanistan survive in the post-2014 period.

Sixth, the overwhelming presence of warlords, drug lords and criminals in state institutions is a further contributing factor to the insecurity in Afghanistan. The association of the government of President Karzai with popular warlords became very visible as he decided to run for the 2009 presidential election with the direct support of well-known warlords from the four major ethnic groups of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks. Ironically, despite the continuous efforts of the international community to marginalise warlords and despite the regular criticisms from the Western allies of Afghanistan, in the post-2009 period the majority of senior government positions have been filed by either warlords or those who are associated with them[13]. As a result of the overwhelming control of warlords over population through force and intimidation and by Cabinet ministers, provincial governors, militia commanders, police chiefs and other power-holders, there is no hope for Afghanistan’s people to trust and rely on the government for their protection[14]. The government of Afghanistan is more likely the representative of the interests of a group of powerful lawbreakers rather than serving the interests of the people.

Lastly, the 2014 Afghan presidential election will be crucial for the country’s stability and security after the withdrawal of the international combat troops. The 2009 poll that gave President Karzai a second term were marred by allegations of massive fraud and vote-rigging, significantly undermining the legitimacy of the government[15]. Despite the fact that the Afghan Constitution limits Karzai’s presidency to two terms, there are concerns that he might seek a way to remain in power or possibly appoint a family member to run as his proxy in the 2014 election[16]. Many observers of Afghanistan consider Karzai’s government as a corrupt political establishment in the favour of his political allies and family members rather than respecting the Constitution of Afghanistan. However, though the improvement of security situation and political stability in Afghanistan would be partly reliant on the level of a transparent presidential election, there is no objective evidence that the Afghan government is committed to guarantee a free and fair election in 2014.


The overall deterioration of security has provided the Afghan government with the excuse to pay no attention to the protection and promotion of human rights. Despite the significant human rights achievements between 2002 and 2009 with the technical and financial support of the international community, from 2010 onwards the government of Afghanistan has evidently stepped back from the commitment to improve the situation of human rights. In the post-2009 presidential election, there is no such evidence suggesting that the Afghan government is still committed to take the human rights cause seriously and fulfil its international human rights obligations. The transitional justice and the human rights reporting processes are two evident examples of the unwillingness of Karzai’s government to systematically promote and protect human rights in the country. For instance, though the government did report on three human rights treaties between the years 2006 and 2009, it has failed to make even one report since the 2009 election[17]. To better examine the overall situation of human rights in Afghanistan, this part of the paper will focus the failure of the Afghan government in fulfilling its human rights obligations and implementing the transitional justice.

First of all, apart from the submission of a 2009 report on the overall situation of human rights within the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, the government of Afghanistan has made no observable attempt to implement the recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Afghanistan UPR state report was prepared based on a national participatory process in which the Department of Human Rights & Women’s International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan led the process with the necessary financial and technical support from the Dutch government[18]. In the UPR preparation process, a large number of stakeholders, including civil society organisations, national human rights institutions, Afghan legal/judicial agencies and relevant executive branches, made very significant contributions, which made the report more reliable and transparent[19]. However, after the submission of the report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in May 2009 and receiving 143 constructive recommendations, the Afghan government entirely ignored the recommendations and took no further measures to fulfil its human rights obligations.

In addition, a second example of the lack of commitment in the Afghan government to fulfil its human rights obligations is the Afghanistan initial reporting process on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations Against Women (CEDAW). The CEDAW reporting process began in August 2009 and was primarily planned to finish in one year from the date of its commencement. Ironically, the CEDAW reporting process took three years to finish. The main reason behind the delay of preparing the report is most likely because the government has continually failed to stop severe violence against women such as rape, honour killings, early and forced marriage, sexual abuse, and slavery across the country[20]. There still are serious doubts about the transparency of the CEDAW reporting process and the reliability of the content of the report as well as many ongoing reports of abuses against women. Aside from the limited surveys on violence against women, there are numerous indicators such as media, police records and NGO reports, proving that the government pays no attention to stop such inhumane behaviours across the country[21].

Moreover, the government of Afghanistan has also failed to effectively fulfil its obligations in relation to the promotion and protection of children’s rights. The government of Afghanistan prepared an initial report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) with the technical and financial support of the Norwegian government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The CRC report of Afghanistan was subsequently submitted to the UN Child Rights Committee in Geneva in 2009. The preparation and submission of the CRC report has nevertheless not contributed to the improvement of children’s rights in Afghanistan as the government has not taken firm steps to consider the CRC as a legally binding instrument[22]. This is because the Afghan government has not systematically incorporated the CRC into Afghan legal system to nationally implement its provisions[23]. There is no evidence to indicate that the government has any practical plans to implement the recommendations of the UN Child Rights Committee as a means of improving the situation of children’s rights in the country. The consistent failure of the government in reporting to other human rights treaties and its ignorance of the recommendations to the UPR and CRC reports demonstrate the fact that Karzai’s government is no longer committed to the cause of human rights in Afghanistan.

Lastly, after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, the government of Afghanistan never took the issue of transitional justice seriously as a means of addressing massive human rights violations in the past. Redressing the legacies of massive human rights abuses is central to the sustainable stability in Afghanistan because the people, who have experienced massive violations of their human rights such as disappearances, torture, mass executions, ethnic persecution and internal displacement, need to see the human rights violators are trialled and punished[24]. In other words, the implementation of transitional justice in a sense of criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations programs and various kinds of institutional reforms, would definitely recognise and respect the rights of victims to see the human rights violators punished, to know the truth, and to receive reparations[25]. The implementation of transitional justice would help achievegenuine and long-lasting peace in Afghanistan as it helps people to deal with their past struggle, suffering and loss in order to move forward. However, there is no hope that the Karzai’s government takes firm steps towards transitional justice due to its lack of credibility and legitimacy, and its close association with the alleged human rights violators.


More than three decades of armed conflict and foreign invasion in Afghanistan have rendered governance structures fragile and incapable of implementing the rule of law. Despite the continuation of technical and financial support by the international community, the rule of law still is neither widespread nor applicable in many parts of the country. The equitable dispensation of justice and the rule of law throughout the country remains an unattained aspiration as many Afghans believe that the central government is incapable of resolving disputes arising from the population due to corruption and insecurity[26]. The rule of law has never been widespread in Afghanistan due to a number of legal, political and religious factors. The main contributing factors that significantly undermine the rule of law in Afghanistan are included: contradictions between secular law, Sharia law and customary law; confusions over the interpretation of the Constitution; dominance of Islamic clerics over the justice system; and lack of balance between the centre and provinces in terms of governance and authority.

Firstly, a major contributing factor to the weakness of the rule of law in Afghanistan is contradictions between secular law, Sharia law and customary law as the main sources of Afghan legal system. The division of Afghan legal system into three branches –secular law, Sharia law and customary law– has prevented the enforcement of national laws across the country[27]. A recent report by the International Commission of Jurists reveals that customary and Islamic laws are the dominant laws in Afghanistan, and consequently, the formal justice system is simply not the norm governing the lives of the majority of population[28]. Customary law in a sense of informal rules of justice are frequently used in the country for dispute settlement purposes but they are often at odds with national secular laws and international human rights standards[29]. For example, in a recent case of murder within Waziri tribes of south-eastern Afghanistan, the informal justice council (Jirga) ordered offender’s family to give the victim’s family a ‘Bad’ (payment) typically a girl to marry a member of the victim’s family as an expression of approval of the Jirga’s decision[30]. So further human rights abuses are committed under the banner of customary law on a regular basis in Afghanistan, the government is incapable of stopping these unlawful and inhumane practices.

Secondly, another contributing factor to the failure of the Afghan government to create the ground for ensuring the rule of law is the ambiguity over where to locate the power to issue Constitutional interpretations. As a result of the absence of a legitimate authority to interpret the Constitution of Afghanistan, the door is open to a variety of misinterpretations of the Constitution that significantly undermines the rule of law. Although the Afghan Constitution emphasises the establishment of an independent commission for the supervision of the implementation of the Constitution, it does not specify where to locate the power to issue Constitutional interpretations. Such a legal gap has provided the Afghan government with the opportunity to interpret the Constitution in line with the political interests of President Karzai. For instance, when the House of Representatives of Afghanistan’s Parliament used its Constitutional power to express a no-confidence vote against Foreign Minister, Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta in May 2007, a major dispute emerged over Constitutional interpretations between the government and the parliament[31]. In that case, President Karzai used the Supreme Court of Afghanistan as a means of achieving his political goals, and consequently the Supreme Court found that the no-confidence vote was both unconstitutional and improper[32]. This case set a precedent and provided the government with further opportunities to repeatedly violate the Constitution and interpret it based on its political priorities.

Thirdly, the increasing dominance of Islamic clerics over the formal justice system has significantly undermined the rule of law in Afghanistan. While the courts in Afghanistan are theoretically obliged to apply the Constitution and other secular laws and their primary source of judgement should be based on secular laws, the majority of courts primarily make their judicial decisions in accordance with Islamic jurisprudence as the judges are predominantly Islamic clerics[33]. This practice is contrary to the Constitution because the Constitution makes it clear that Islamic jurisprudence will be used to adjudicate cases if provisions in the Constitution or other Afghan laws do not provide sufficient ground. The dominance of Islamic clerics over the court system has significantly undermined the enforcement of Afghan laws even where there are sufficient grounds[34]. As a result, the formal justice system has not only repeatedly failed to rely on Afghan secular laws, but also judges do not equally consider those secular laws of the country that respect international human rights standards[35]. Therefore, without the replacement of the Islamic clerics with professionally trained judges it would be impossible to enforce Afghan laws on a regular basis to ensure the rule of law.

Lastly, the lack of balance between the centre and provinces in terms of their authority and governance is a further contributing factor, undermining the rule of law in Afghanistan. As a result of more than three decades of armed conflict and political instability, both national and sub-national governance structures are extremely fragile and incapable of effectively delivering necessary public services to the people, particularly with reference to the rule of law[36]. As such, maintaining balance between Afghanistan’s national and sub-national structures and decentralisation of power in a way to strengthen provincial governments and improve sub-national governance arrangements would be crucial to ensure the rule of law[37]. While decentralising the power and improving local governance structures is key to enhance public confidence on the government and ensure the rule of law, the control of the central government over every aspect of public and judicial administration has significantly reduced the hope for ensuring the rule of law. The over concentration of the power in the centre has also left local populations with no chance to actively take part in the administration of their local areas which in return undermines public confidence and fuels insecurity and political instability in the country.


Corruption is widely perceived as a major contributing factor to the spread of insurgency and severe poverty in Afghanistan. After spending billions of dollars by the international community in the last ten years, corruption and poverty are portrayed as the biggest challenges confronting Afghanistan. As a result of the widespread corruption, the government of President Karzai is increasingly unpopular throughout the country and is widely seen by the majority of Afghans as incapable of combating poverty and solving socio-economic problems in the country. In a more realistic picture, Afghanistan is a country where corruption is commonplace within the state institutions, private sector and international organisations. For example, conducting business in Afghanistan, at both public and private levels, is heavily based on personal, familial, ethnic and historical relationships rather than relying on applicable regulatory rules. Successfully initiating a business of any type is impossible in Afghanistan without negotiating a maze of bribes, taxes and murky government requirements[38]. The most common forms of corruption in Afghanistan can be classified as political, economic and administrative led by warlords, drug lords, non-governmental actors, international organisations, government officials, and family members of high ranking officials including the Karzai’s family.

First, warlords, drug lords and human rights violators who, with President Karzai’s patronage, currently hold senior positions in the state institutions or have close association with the government, are mostly seen as the main corruption engine in Afghanistan. According to Abdul Jabar Sabit, a former Afghan Attorney General who between 2006 and 2008 declared a jihad, or holy war, against corruption, there is a class of high-ranking officials, –including members of the parliament, provincial governors and Cabinet ministers–, which is fully corrupt and above the law[39]. For example, on 25 April 2012, the Afghanistan High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption accused Ismail Khan, Afghan Minister of Energy and Water, of land grabbing and using state-owned properties for his private use in Herat province[40]. Immediately Ismail Khan denied his involvement in any land grabbing activities and the Afghan government then entirely ignored the accusations. The further the government relies on warlords and drug lords, the longer they stay in power and political, economic and administrative corruption continues. Thus, as a consequence of corruption, poverty remains constant as a means of fuelling unrest and instability across the country.

Second, President Karzai’s family and its close allies within the government are frequently accused of corruption by independent sources. There are credible allegations by both international and internal sources that the president’s brother, Mahmoud Karzai, has amassed millions of dollars since Karzai took office in early 2002. Mahmoud Karzai, previously a partner in a string of modest family-owned restaurants in the United States, is one of Afghanistan’s richest men, possessing a mining company, a cement factory, property development, and an exclusive sales agreement with Toyota[41]. Daoud Sultanzoy, a former Afghan parliamentarian, says that it is no longer possible to build up such wealth in a very short period of time unless you, like Mahmoud, are related to the Afghan president. Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US ambassador to Afghanistan, claims that various businessmen came to him during his assignment in Afghanistan and complained that Mahmoud wanted a share of their new business[42]. Therefore, as long as the government of Afghanistan in itself is behind the political, economic and administrative corruption, it is extremely hard to effectively fight corruption for the intention of good governance and poverty reduction in the country.

Third, national and international non-governmental organisations aremostly seen as one of the main corruption engines in Afghanistan. According to observers of Afghanistan, officials of some national and international NGOs are allegedly becoming wealthy through fraud and other forms of illegal activities[43]. Part of international assistance to Afghanistan is mostly seen corrupt due to inefficiencies in the high cost delivery through international organisations, NGOs, firms, and the high payments for NGOs, contractors, consultants, and advisors[44]. For that reason, the international community has an obvious role in contributing to corruption in Afghanistan which has negative impacts on the operations of government and private sector and reducing Afghans’ support for the government. The contribution of the international community to corruption in Afghanistan creates not only significant barriers to the improvement of security and governance, but also undermines any socio-economic development efforts to combat poverty. The Afghan government, the allied forces and international organisations working in Afghanistan tend to defend their lack of action against corruption by making appeals to the needs of security and capacity building.  The long term consequences, however, include further entrenched corruption.

Lastly, the widespread corruption significantly undermines economic transition and political transformation in Afghanistan. Though the economic and political transition in Afghanistan has its own strengths such as creation of permanent democratic institutions, rapid economic growth and robust public financial management, there are significant challenges, undermining the economic transition and political transformation[45]. Of these challenges, government ineffectiveness in addressing the nationwide corruption is a major concern that undermines the economic transition and political transformation in Afghanistan. While the security transition is underway and full responsibility for security would be handed over to the ANSF by the end of 2014, the key question is how Afghanistan sustains its newly established democratic institutions and maintains adequate economic growth in the post-2014 era. Responding to this question by fighting corruption would be central to the success of the Afghan government to survive and maintain its fragile achievements. Effectively fighting the corruption would not only pave the way for a successful economic transition and political transformation, but also enable the government to overcome the challenge of ongoing insurgency led by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.


This paper concludes that aside from the consistent political, economic and military support by the international community, the situation in Afghanistan remains highly volatile. The volatility of the situation and uncertainty about the future of the country presents significant challenges to the transition process through which full responsibility for security would be handed over to the ANSF by the end of 2014. The government of Afghanistan has failed to translate opportunities into sustainable practice to improve security and human rights, ensure the rule of law, and fight nationwide corruption. As the transition process is accelerated, there is no evidence suggesting that that the Afghan government has the ability, willingness or commitment to properly fulfil its obligations to successfully combine the security transition, political transformation and economic growth as a means of deterring insurgency and paving the way for lasting peace. For that reason, there is a great deal of ambiguity about the post-2014 era due to the lack of necessary capacity in the Afghan government to effectively respond to the current challenges.

To sustain the fragile achievements of the last ten years, it is important for the international community to put significant pressure on the Afghan government to develop and implement a comprehensive security strategy. Such a comprehensive strategy needs to draw a bold line between the enemies and friends of Afghanistan: those who regularly kill the people of Afghanistan, abuse their human rights, and repeatedly destroy state institutions. By doing so, the government will have a better chance of winning the support of the majority of the population, and in return, people would consider themselves as part of the political establishment of the country rather than feeling isolated.

In addition, it is extremely important for the international community to ensure that the economic transition and political transformation in Afghanistan continue alongside the security transition process. To practically support the economic and political transition, supporting and empowerment of the democratic and progressive young Afghans would be crucial as a means of dis-empowering the warlords and corrupt political elites. By doing so, the international community provides the ground for a genuine economic, political and security transition in which the fragile political, economic and social achievements of Afghanistan will likely sustain and be incorporated into further progress in the years ahead.

Also, the international community needs to clarify the continuation of its presence in Afghanistan in the post-2014 era as a means of giving firm assurance to the Afghan people that its engagement will continue in the country. The commitment of the international community would not necessarily contribute to the improvement of security situation if the government of Afghanistan takes no firm steps towards fundamentally reforming the Afghan security forces to a point to effectively deter the security threats caused by the Taliban and other insurgents. This goal would be achievable if the Afghan government were to successively break apart the links between its security forces and warlords, drug mafias, criminals and the insurgents.

Furthermore, it is important for the international community to take the cause of human rights seriously and as an issue of central importance in Afghanistan. For that matter, the international community needs to prioritise the promotion and protection of human rights in its relationship with the government of Afghanistan. The willingness and commitment of the international community to promote and protect human rights could force the Afghan government to fulfil its international human rights obligations, and consequently improve the situation of human rights in the country. This aim however would not be achievable until the international community puts human rights at the top of its security, political and economic relationships with the Afghan government.

Moreover, ensuring the rule of law is undoubtedly a cornerstone in delivering good governance, paving the way for sustainable socio-economic development, and improving the security situation in Afghanistan. The combination of these efforts would significantly increase the popularity of the Afghan government among the population. However, the dream of the rule of law would not come true unless the government entirely stops its intervention in the internal affairs of the judiciary and the parliament as the two independent branches of the state. The international community should effectively monitor the government’s practices to ensure that the rule of law is respected by the Afghan government and the Constitutional principles of ‘separation of power’ and ‘balance of power’ are fully guaranteed.

Lastly, to better fight corruption and put an end to legal impunity in Afghanistan, the international community needs to continuously support independent anti-corruption bodies in Afghanistan and ensure that the anti-corruption agencies established by the Afghan government perform their duties properly, transparently, and impartially. By regularly overseeing and assessing anti-corruption activities, the international community will have the chance to effectively combat corruption at both public and private sectors in Afghanistan as a means ofgenerating political will for strong and sustained anti-corruption initiatives. To achieve this goal, the international community needs to use its leverage such as financial aid and technical support in order to force the Afghan government to effectively fight political, economic and administrative corruption.

About the Author:

Farhad ArianFarhad Arian is a Senior Analyst at the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education in Sydney, and a Research Coordinator/Guest Fellow at the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies. He is a former Deputy Director of the Department of Human Rights & Women’s International Affairs at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has also worked with numerous non-governmental organisations and international development agencies in Afghanistan. Farhad has recently completed a Master of International Affairs at the Australian National University, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Law & Political Science from Kabul University in Afghanistan. He regularly writes on democratisation, human rights, refugee rights, social justice, conflict resolution, and political stability in Afghanistan. His writings have appeared on Open Democracy, the Diplomatic Courier, Online Opinion, South Asia Times, and other international outlets.


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Afghanistan in Transition: Looking Beyond 2014, 2012, The World Bank, Overview, Vol. 1.

Amiri, Mokhtar, 2012, Afghanistan Election Planned for 2014, The Guardian,

Assessment of Corruption in Afghanistan, 2012, Checchi and Company Consulting, Inc.,

Bormann, Trevor and McAllister, Wayne, 2012, Afghanistan: Girl Power, Aljazeera English,

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Chandrasekaran, Rajiv, 2012, Afghan Security Force’s Rapid Expansion Comes at a Cost as Readiness Lags, The Washington Post,

Dabo, Awa, Salmon, Jago, Venancio, Moises and Keuleers, Patrick, 2010, Local Governance, Peace Building and state building in Post-Conflict Settings, United Nations Development Programme, Discussion Paper.

Global Security, 2009, Corruption in Afghanistan,

Hagerott, Mark, Umberg, Thomas and Jackson, Joseph, 2010, A Patchwork Strategy of Consensus: Establishing Rule of Law in Afghanistan, National Defense University Press, Issue 59, Quarter 4.

Hanauer, Larry and Chalk, Peter, 2012, India’s and Pakistan’s Strategies in Afghanistan, RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy.

International Legal Foundation, 2004, The Customary Laws of Afghanistan,

International Service for Human Rights, 2009, Afghanistan Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report,

Kilcullen, David, 2009, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, Oxford University Press, New York.

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Nordland, Rod and Sukhanyar, Jawad, 2012, Member of Afghan Peace Council is Assassinated, The New York Times,

Quinn, Patrick, 2012, Afghans To Elect New President in 2014, A Democracy Gambit in the Year of US-NATO Withdrawal, The Associated Press,

Rahkola, M. Anne, 2011, Norden in Afghanistan: The Implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Nordic Engagement in Afghanistan, The Finnish 1325 Network.

Schulman, Daniel, 2010, Corruption in Afghanistan: It’s Even Worse Than You Think, Mother Jones.

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UNAMA and AIHRC, 2011, Afghanistan Annual Report: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict,

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Williams, Clive, 2012, Afghan Aid Is Wasted But We Can’t Do Nothing, Australian Broadcasting Corporation,

Winterbotham, Emily, 2010, The State of Transitional Justice in Afghanistan: Actors, Approaches and Challenges, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit.

Zavis, Alexandra, 2009, No Easy Cure for Afghan ‘Sickness’ of Corruption”, The Los Angeles Times,

[1] UNHCR Country Operations Report: Afghanistan, The UN Refugee Agency, 2012,, Viewed 15 November 2012.

[2] Wetland, Morton, The Situation in Afghanistan, Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kabul, 2012,, Viewed 15 November 2012.

[3] Canas, Vitalino, Governance Challenges in Afghanistan, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 2010,, Viewed 11 October 2012. & Miller, Laurel and Perito, Robert, Establishing the Rule of Law in Afghanistan, United States Institute of Peace, 2004,, Viewed 10 October 2012.

[4] Kilcullen, David, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 263-64.

[5] Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou, South Asia and Afghanistan: The Robust India-Pakistan Rivalry, Peace Research Institute Oslo, 2011, p. 21-22.

[6] Hanauer, Larry and Chalk, Peter, India’s and Pakistan’s Strategies in Afghanistan, RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy, 2012, p. 26-27.

[7] Nordland, Rod and Sukhanyar, Jawad, Member of Afghan Peace Council Is Assassinated, The New York Times, 2012,, Viewed 12 September 2012.

[8] Chandrasekaran, Rajiv, Afghan Security Force’s Rapid Expansion Comes at a Cost as Readiness Lags, The Washington Post, 2012,, Viewed 20 November 2012.

[9] ibid. Chandrasekaran, Afghan Security Force’s Rapid Expansion Comes at a Cost as Readiness Lags.

[10] ibid. Chandrasekaran, Afghan Security Force’s Rapid Expansion Comes at a Cost as Readiness Lags.

[11] Afghanistan: Consolidated Appeal, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2012, p. 2-3,, Viewed 29 November 2012.  

[12] ibid. Afghanistan: Consolidated Appeal, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, p. 17.

[13] Afghanistan Annual Report: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, 2011, pp. 1-2,, Viewed 4 September 2012.

[14] ibid. Miller and Perito, Establishing the Rule of Law in Afghanistan.

[15] Amiri, Mokhtar, Afghanistan Election Planned for 2014, The Guardian, 2012,, Viewed 22 November 2012.  

[16] Quinn, Patrick, Afghans To Elect New President in 2014, A Democracy Gambit in the Year of US-NATO Withdrawal, The Associated Press, 2012,, Viewed 28 November 2012.

[17] Bormann, Trevor and McAllister, Wayne, Afghanistan: Girl Power, Aljazeera English, 2012,, Viewed 24 November 2012. & Afghanistan CRC Report, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2011,, Viewed 9 September 2012.

[18] Afghanistan UPR Report, International Service for Human Rights, 2009,, Viewed 20 August 2012.

[19] Afghanistan UPR Report, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2009,, Viewed 20 August 2012.

[20] Rahkola, M. Anne, Norden in Afghanistan: The Implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Nordic Engagement in Afghanistan, The Finnish 1325 Network, 2011, p. 9.

[21] ibid. Bormann and McAllister, Afghanistan: Girl Power & ibid. Afghanistan UPR Report.

[22] ibid. Afghanistan CRC Report.

[23] ibid. Afghanistan Annual Report: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, pp. 1-2.

[24] Winterbotham, Emily, The State of Transitional Justice in Afghanistan: Actors, Approaches and Challenges, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, 2010, p. 3-4.

[25] What is Transitional Justice?, International Center for Transitional Justice, 2012, p. 2-3,, Viewed 17 November 2012.

[26] Hagerott, Mark, Umberg, Thomas and Jackson, Joseph, A Patchwork Strategy of Consensus: Establishing Rule of Law in Afghanistan, National Defense University Press, Issue 59, Quarter 4, 2010, p. 143.

[27] Their, Alexander and Dempsey, John, Resolving the Crisis Over Constitutional Interpretation in Afghanistan, United States Institute of Peace, 2009,, Viewed 11 October 2012.

[28] The Customary Laws of Afghanistan, International Legal Foundation, 2004, p. 4,, Viewed 6 September 2012.

[29] ibid. UNHCR Country Operations Report: Afghanistan.

[30] ibid. The Customary Laws of Afghanistan, International Legal Foundation.

[31] ibid. Their and Dempsey, Resolving the Crisis Over Constitutional Interpretation in Afghanistan.

[32] ibid. Their and Dempsey, Resolving the Crisis Over Constitutional Interpretation in Afghanistan.

[33] ibid. Rahkola, Norden in Afghanistan: The Implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Nordic Engagement in Afghanistan, p. 9-. 10.

[34] ibid. Canas, Governance Challenges in Afghanistan.

[35] ibid. Afghanistan UPR Report.

[36] ibid. Afghanistan: Consolidated Appeal, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, p. 3.        

[37]Dabo, Awa, Salmon, Jago, Venancio, Moises and Keuleers, Patrick,  Local Governance, Peace Building and state building in Post-Conflict Settings, United Nations Development Programme, Discussion Paper, 2010, p. 3-4.

[38] Global Security, Corruotion in Afghanistan, 2009,, Viewed 22 August 2012. & Schulman, Daniel, Corruption in Afghanistan: It’s Even Worse than You Think, Mother Jones, 2010,, Viewed 24 August 2012.

[39] Zavis, Alexandra, No Easy Cure for Afghan ‘Sickness’ of Corruption, The Los Angeles Times, 2009, & ibid. Global Security, Corruotion in Afghanistan.

[40] Tolo News, Herat Mayor Dismisses Land Grab Accusations, 2012,, Viewed 9 October 2012.

[41] Spillius, Alex and Farmer, Ben, Karzai Inc: Has Afghanistan’s Leader Turned the Country into a Family Business?, The Telegraph, 2009,, Viewed 15 October 2012.

[42] ibid. Spillius and Farmer, Karzai Inc: Has Afghanistan’s Leader Turned the Country into a Family Business.

[43] Williams, Clive, Afghan Aid Is Wasted But We Can’t Do Nothing, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2012,, Viewed 29 October 2012.  

[44] Assessment of Corruption in Afghanistan, Checchi and Company Consulting, Inc., 2009, p. 9,, Viewed 3 November 2012.  

[45] Afghanistan in Transition: Looking Beyond 2014, The World Bank, Vol. 1, 2012, p. 3-4.  

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This article was first published in Afghan Institute for Strategies Website.

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Could Power-Sharing Build the Consensus Necessary for Peace in Afghanistan? Wed, 19 Sep 2012 06:29:09 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Farhad Arian

Paper Summary  

For there to be stability in Afghanistan, all major ethnic groups must be guaranteed a share of power. The support of the international community is needed now in order to make this a reality in the post-2014 era.

After more than ten years of the presence of international troops, the situation in Afghanistan is still volatile and the prospective for peace is highly uncertain. Aside from the volatility of the situation, the presence of international forces has not only prevented the Taliban from coming back to power but also significantly contributed to stability in both southern and central Asia. This is because the US-led intervention of Afghanistan in 2001 and subsequent collapse of the Taliban regime contributed to a situation in which Al-Qaida and other Pakistan-based terrorist groups have lost their potential to seriously destabilise the region. From a non-military prospective, the support of the international community has provided Afghanistan with the opportunity to experience a rapid reconstruction process in rebuilding permanent state institutions, improving the overall human rights situation, enjoying economic growth, developing civil society, and many more achievements. In fact, the tremendous achievements of Afghanistan in the last decade were unimaginable in the absence of international forces in that country.

However, since the international community has accelerated the transition process to transfer its security responsibilities to the Afghan security forces, the achievements of the last ten years face significant threats, due to serious political and security challenges. While many observers consider the Taliban-led insurgency as the main threat in the post-2014 era, there are many other equally important challenges – the dominance of warlords, widespread corruption, inter-ethnic tensions, lack of good governance and drug trafficking – that significantly threaten the achievements of the past decade. Of these challenges, increasing inter-ethnic tensions is an issue of central importance as it considerably undermines the whole process of the peace-building efforts of the last ten years. This is particularly so given that Afghanistan has long been suffering from the harmful consequences of tensions and conflicts between its main ethnic groups: Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks.

To effectively deal with the challenge of instability in Afghanistan, it is important to seek a practical guarantee for all major ethnic groups to have a share of power in the political administration of the country. The practical guarantee would build the consensus necessary for achieving lasting peace by providing for all major ethnic groups to equally participate in the political, social, economic and legal processes. This goal would be achievable within a democratic power-sharing political system in which any decision-making efforts occur by consensus between all ethnic groups. In such a political system, all major ethnic groups in the country would be included (not excluded) in government in a way in which they would have the potential to influence both national and local policy-making and decision-making processes.

Despite the fact that the 2001 Bonn Agreement of the post-Taliban regime was a symbolic step towards a democratic power-sharing political system between major opposing groups, the dominance of the post-Bonn political administration by a particular group entirely failed the process. The post-Taliban political system in Afghanistan was overwhelmingly dominated by a group of Tajiks from Panjshir valley. Ironically, while the dominance of Panjshiri Tajiks over the political system ended by early 2006 under continuous pressure from the international community, the same scenario repeated once again and today the government of President Karzai is increasingly dominated by a group of Pashtuns. As such, the post-2001 political system of Afghanistan has been dominated by one or another ethnic group, fuelling the ethnic divide, and provoking inter-ethnic tensions and ethnic-based discrimination.

Critically examining the participation of major ethnic groups in national political processes in the post-2001 Afghanistan, it is extremely hard to draw a picture of a genuine democratic power-sharing political system. This is because since the UN-sponsored Bonn Conference of 2001 in which all conflicting parties (except the Taliban) participated in peace talks, no firm step has been taken to provide the ground for genuine representation of all major ethnic groups in national political and policy making processes. For example, at the Bonn Conference the people of Afghanistan were represented by a number of warlords who were accused of massive human rights violations throughout the civil conflicts of the 1980s and 1990s. As such, Afghanistan has not experienced a democratic power-sharing political system in the past decade; instead, the political system has been dominated by one or another powerful ethnic group at the price of undermining the presence of other ethnicities in state institutions.

To build the consensus necessary for peace, it is important for the international community to pave the way for the establishment of a democratic power-sharing political system in Afghanistan. However, the establishment of a democratic power-sharing political system is not possible in the absence of a strong core of moderate political elites and effective civil society who seek pragmatic coexistence in the multi-ethnic society of Afghanistan. This means that no peace is achievable in Afghanistan if the political system of the country is dominated by a number of extremist politicians who believe in ethnic supremacy and ethnic-based discrimination.

The support of the international community in establishing a democratic power-sharing political system is an issue of central importance at this time, as the strong presence of the international community in the pre-2014 era would significantly facilitate such a process. The international community is currently able to use its leverage (political support, financial aid and military supplies) as a means of forcing the government of Afghanistan to genuinely support the idea of establishing a power-sharing political system. A democratic power-sharing political system would be a practical guarantee for the international community to ensure that the political, economic, cultural and legal achievements will be maintained in the post-2014 era. To achieve this, it is important for the international community to:

  1. Work closely with a strong core of moderate political elites from the Afghan government who seek common values and pragmatic coexistence with other ethnic groups. Taking such a decision by the international community would not be an easy task, as President Karzai and probably many powerful members of his cabinet would oppose it. Such a system would automatically undermine the dominance of Karzai and his allies over the political administration of the country in the post-2014 period.
  2. Seek potential political elites and public figures from the Afghan Parliament, political opposition groups, civil society, academic circles and student organisations to  work with moderate politicians from the Afghan government in paving the way for the establishment of a power-sharing political system. It is extremely important for the international community to select those figures from the political elites who genuinely believe in democracy, human rights, social justice and coexistence between ethnic groups.
  3. Take the necessary measures to amend the Afghan Constitution to legally guarantee the establishment of a democratic power-sharing political system in which there would be a share of power for all major ethnic groups in state institutions. To better guarantee a genuine share of power for each major ethnic group, it is important to amend the Constitution in a way in which no member of a single ethnic group would be able to simultaneously serve as head of more than one branch of the state (the government, the parliament, and the judiciary). Such a political system will ensure that in one time there would be three members from three different ethnic groups serving as head of the government, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice of the country.
  4. Guarantee that there is a genuine share of representation for each single ethnic group in all state institutions, especially in the government. Such a practical guarantee would decrease the chance of any single ethnic group dominating all major posts in state institutions. However, such a guarantee will not be possible unless there is a reliable consensus on the percentage of the population of each ethnic group in Afghanistan. A reliable statistical consensus on the population of the country is very important in establishing a power-sharing political system because all major ethnic groups are eager to claim the number of their population is much larger than what exactly they constitute.
  5. Use its political and economic leverage to force the Afghan government to take the necessary measures to decentralise power, with the intention of providing all ethnic groups with the opportunity to directly elect local authorities and decide about the priorities of socio-economic development in their areas. The decentralisation of power in Afghanistan is an integral element of the establishment of a democratic power-sharing political system as it provides local populations with the opportunity to have a share of power in the decision making processes of their areas.

A power-sharing political system would significantly undermine the legacy of the Taliban among Pashtuns: coexistence between all ethnic groups  combined with the absence of the international troops in the post-2014 era will remove all justification to continue their violence. This is crucial because there is an increasing number of Pashtuns who support the Taliban in the mistaken assumption that the Taliban will serve them better than the current corrupt government of Afghanistan. Therefore, as a power-sharing political system would decrease inter-ethnic tensions and contribute to a more effective governance system, Pashtuns would see no reason for supporting the Taliban or any other armed groups.

Lastly, a power-sharing political system would automatically reduce the increasing influence of warlords among Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks, since with the lack of serious security threats from the Taliban there would be no support-base for these influential warlords among these ethnic groups. The ineffectiveness of the current government in delivering good governance and the growing dominance of state institutions by a group of Pashtuns associated with President Karzai have provided influential warlords with an opportunity to build support among their ethnic groups under the banner of protecting them against the dominance of Pashtuns. A power-sharing political system would prevent warlords who are accused of massive and indiscriminate violations of human rights over the last three decades from portraying themselves as the protectors of the people.

About the author

Farhad Arian is a Senior Analyst at the Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney. He is former Deputy Director of the Department of Human Rights & Women’s International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, and has worked with numerous NGOs and international development agencies. He has recently completed a Master of International Affairs with a special focus on human rights at the Australian National University.

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Afghan Islamic Research Chief: Violent Protests prohibited in Islam Sun, 16 Sep 2012 16:09:11 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Chief of the Islamic Research in the Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs of Afghanistan Mawlawi Keramatullah Sediq denounced violent acts to protest over desecration of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H).

Mr. Sediq said, “The divine direction of almighty Allah and the morality of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) do not allow us for violent acts and breaching the privacy policy of others in order to defend the religious values.”

He said peaceful protest is the right of every Muslim and no one has the right to deprive Muslims from peaceful protests.

This comes as Anti-Islam movie which insults of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) was recently telecasted through YouTube website that led to enormous demonstrations in Egypt, Libya and Sudan where a number of people were killed or injured.

The film also sparked demonstrations in Afghanistan with hundreds of angry protesters shouting against the film maker and United States in capital Kabul, Nangarhar and western Herat province of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan during the recent years witnessed violent demonstrations which incurred heavy losses and casualties over religious desecration however Chief of the Islamic Research in the Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs of Afghanistan Mawlawi Keramatullah Sediq urged Muslims to prevent attacking public infrastructures and violence.

Protesters in eastern Nangahar province of Afghanistan earlier urged to suspend diplomatic relations between Kabul and Washington which was followed by a number of Afghan lawmakers who urged the same on Saturday.

A number of Afghan lawmakers urged president Hamid Karzai urged to suspend diplomatic relations and strategic pact between the two nations until Washington does not specify its obligations regarding the producer of the film.

However Keramatullah Sediq said the actions of some individuals do not represent the policies and diplomatic relations of independent nations.

He said Afghanistan and United States signed a long terms strategic cooperation agreement and the crime was committed by a US citizen which are two different cases however he said that he was supporting the Muslims around the world to condemn the making of the film.

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Small is beautiful – a realistic vision for Afghan Security Forces Wed, 05 Sep 2012 10:24:25 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Najib Manalai

During the first few months of 2012, more than 40 NATO soldiers have been killed by the Afghan National Security Forces personnel in around 32 incidents.

From 2007 to 2011, 58 alliance military personnel have been killed in 26 such incidents. The rise in number of these incidents is a cause of concern for Afghan and NATO military officials. General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, called on Afghan leaders to try to find a solution for what appears a real threat to the NATO forces.

A question often asked is why Afghan soldiers turn their guns against their allies? The Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, pretends that they have infiltrated Afghan armed forces and their militants are the ones who kill NATO soldiers. The Afghan government, while denying the claims of the Taliban, pretends that these attacks are ordered by foreign (i.e. Pakistani and Iranian) spy agencies but it has no clue to how these spy agencies infiltrate its army. NATO officials attribute 10% of these incidents to infiltration by enemy and the remaining to personal motivations. However, they fail to point out the nature of the personal grievance. Observers in Afghanistan note that the growing frustration of ordinary Afghans over the misdeeds of the foreign troops (indiscriminate killings, humiliating and culturally inappropriate behavior such as ill treatment to fellow afghan soldiers, Quran burning , night raids, and so on) finds its expression inside the armed forces. As a matter of fact, five years ago ordinary Afghans did not use derogatory language to designate foreign soldiers but nowadays this has become very common.

One question nobody dares (or cares) to ask is the number of Afghan military personnel killed by NATO soldiers.

All reasons mentioned above and many others may explain why an increasing number of incidents oppose Afghan National Security Forces to the NATO forces (“green on blue” incidents). Whatever the reasons, this new situation is serious enough to require pragmatic handling.

The low quality of recruitment of the ANSF personnel is often on the top of the news. For years, nearly half of the Afghan National Army recruits did not renew their contract. Over the last three years the number of desertions has dramatically raised, reaching a terrifying level of one deserter out of three recruits. These facts are well known. They have been properly addressed in more than one official reports. National and international media have echoed these facts on a regular basis. Yet, no specific action has been taken so far to remedy this situation.

Several thousands of new recruits are enrolled every month within the National Security Forces. Given the capacities of the recruiters, it is likely that little attention is paid to the motivations and the morality of the recruits. Besides, during the decade long unprofessional, ethnic or politics based, recruitment policies have led to a situation where the officers with many years of service are not more reliable than newly enrolled soldiers (the killer of the two American advisors inside the Ministry of Interior, February 25th, 2012 had several years of service record in the intelligence).

General Dempsey formally requested from Afghan leaders to do something. President Karzai promised that he will take care of the problem. But no one seems to know what to do and how to do it.

One reason, why Afghan conflict ran out of control in the very early stage of the operation Enduring Freedom, is that the international alliance overlooked the formation of the Afghan National Security Forces.

The Bonn Agreement, in 2001, established a goal of 50,000 strong Afghan National Army and 62,000 strong Afghan National Police within two years. But a short-sighted vision of the American military, trying to minimize immediate American war casualties, led the US to sub-contract the Afghan war to the warlords, instead of investing in the development of legal Afghan security forces. After a three-years decrease in insurgency activities (from 2002 to 2004), while the war was gaining new intensity, the ANSF were still in limbo.

Afghan generals, whose vision of the security was that of the Cold War, thought Afghanistan needed strong, rather plethoric, armed forces. Afghan politicians, who are caught in day to day compromised-based politics, did not come with a realistic vision of what kind of security was needed for the country. The 50,000 goal was reevaluated to 80,000 and later to more 350,000 before sizing down to about 230,000 in Chicago (May, 2012). Yet nobody has explained the rationale behind these variations in the numbers. All over the time, discussions ran on the quantitative grounds: how many soldiers? How much equipment, how many billions? Nobody has publicly discussed the security needs of the country to justify the quantities suggested.

As far as the qualitative aspects of the Afghan Security Forces, both from a technical training and equipment point of view and from the point of view of the human qualities of the recruits, are not addressed and as far as the relationship between Afghan soldiers and their foreign supporter has not reached the “brotherhood of spirit and fraternity in arm” blue-on-green incidents will happen. The number of such incidents, will grow in parallel with the disengagement of the NATO forces, until direct interaction between the two bodies comes to an end.

Risk management in this regard can only mean better monitoring of the ANSF recruitment procedures and plunge more directly Afghan forces in the fight against insurgency. “Purification by fire” can be an option to produce trustworthy Afghan Security Forces. Thanks to this kind of “purification” opportunistic elements will not find few hundred dollars of monthly wages worth dying for and infiltrated elements will have to wait much longer before finding the right circumstances to carry out a suicide attack that can inflict losses to the enemy.

The mistrust that exists, and grows every day, will make it difficult for NATO forces to work in a constructive manner with their Afghan counterparts. To handle this problem, while the transfer of responsibilities constitutes fantastically challenging environment for this much needed cooperation, requires an optimization of the interactions. The Afghan Forces and their NATO supporters will have to find common ground to feel safe on both sides and to work together, without a 100% synergy. This is likely to complicate the cooperation during the very crucial period of the responsibility transfer. However, these incidents will not completely jeopardize the transfer process as these incidents remain  quite marginal.

If by end 2014, the Afghan National Security Forces are to grow up to 350,000 while the desertion rate is well over 30% and the contract renewal rate is under 60%, there is no way to allocate resources to the qualitative growth of the security means in Afghanistan. Ministries of Defense and Interior will have much to do in recruiting and roughly training many thousands of new security personnel. Under these circumstances, it seems illusory to contain the entryism of the Taliban or other influence groups and to prevent opportunist elements to take advantage of the situation.

With such a background, the ludicrous decision taken by provincial authorities in the South, asking ANA candidates to cease visiting their families in Pakistan are the only likely preventive measures.

A strong and decisive shift in strategic vision is needed to address the security issues during the transition period.

What type of security does Afghanistan need?

Afghanistan’s territorial integrity cannot be guaranteed through military means. Among Afghanistan’s neighbors two are to be considered as potential threat: Iran and Pakistan. Both are nuclear powers (or close to become nuclear powers) with huge armies and unstable political regimes. Whatever the strength of the Afghan army, it is not merely conceivable for Afghanistan to enter in a frontal war with one of these two countries. Afghanistan’s border can only be safe, if Afghanistan can rely on strong support from a super power. The strategic agreement with the United State is such a tool. The mission of the ANA is not to safeguard Afghanistan’s external security but to prevent internal rebellions trying to destabilize the legal regime of the country. For such a task a large army with plethoric infantry is useless. Air force with jet fighters and bomber planes is no more needed. Instead, a small, mobile, well-trained, reliable commando force is far enough to face insurgencies anywhere in the country and to handover to police forces after stabilizing the situation.

As for the Police, a reasonably sized, well trained, well equipped, mobile anti-criminal and quick action force along with a large, effectively managed and supervised corpse of proximity peace keeping force is far enough to supply Afghans with needed security.

Besides a well managed, effective intelligence service does not necessarily need to count thousands of agents. Professionally analyzing collected intelligence information and pragmatically directing intelligence effort can help preventing many insurgency attacks before they happen with no more than a few thousand personnel.

With this shift of vision, the ANA will have less than 50,000 personnel which can easily be controlled, managed, trained and equipped. Besides, by nature, a commando force will not be penetrated by opportunistic elements whose only motivation is to get a good pay.

General Dempsey asked President Karzai to watch carefully his security forces in order to make it easy for NATO to hand over security responsibilities to the Afghans. President Karzai has promised to do so. Who will help the US led NATO and President Karzai to adopt reasonable strategic options for a secure Afghanistan?

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America and NATO misadventures Thu, 02 Aug 2012 06:00:54 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Abid Mustafa

_“The West has already failed in Afghanistan, just as the Soviets failed in the 1980s and the British way back in the nineteenth century.”–John Humphrys_

After having fought for more than a decade in Afghanistan, America has yet to show any considerable gains for its brutal occupation. Nonetheless, there are some diehard American strategists who beg to differ, and argue that America has achieved its primary objective, which was to establish a few military bases in Afghanistan to counter Russia, China and the future Caliphate state for the eventual supremacy over Eurasia. But, even this lofty ideal when measured against the reality on the ground appears too remote to be categorized as a worthy accomplishment. On the contrary, the rampant instability in Afghanistan not only puts into jeopardy the viability of such strategic objectives, but more importantly raises questions about how long can America afford to stay stuck in the Afghan quagmire and continue to report failure after failure.

Clues about this very prospect were provided at the NATO summit convened in Chicago back in May 2012. Speaking about America’s ubiquitous nemesis the Taleban, Obama candidly admitted that they were a hardened opponent and whatever gains NATO had made could easily be undone. He said Just how much time does the world’s lone super power need with all of its sophisticated weaponry to defeat a rag tag army of no more than 25,000 or so? Did America not assemble under its supervision 400,000 soldiers—not to mentions the tens of thousands of private contractors— on both side of the Afghan-Pakistan border? After several years of warfare, America is still unable to crush their avowed adversary. Outgunned and out-manned Taliban are definitely proving to be more than a ‘robust enemy’.

Equally unfathomable is that it has taken several years for the US to accept the fact that NATO is not only fighting the Taleban but also the Afghan people. The reference to “be very sensitive about its own sovereignty” is an admission by president Obama that NATO faces a popular resistance which cuts right across ethnic fault lines and trumps traditional tribal loyalties.

Another fiasco of America’s Afghan war is its exorbitant cost, which has placed a huge toll on the defense budget and this has been further exacerbated by the economic crisis of 2008. America has spent circa $550 billion on the Afghan war since 2001. Other NATO member states like Britain have spent in the region of $20 billion. Yet despite squandering billions of dollars of tax payers’ money, NATO has very little to show. Karzai’s government is corrupt to the core and hated by ordinary Afghans. Karzai’s writ does not extend beyond parts of Kabul, and if it does exist elsewhere, it is totally reliant on foreign forces.

According to some estimates Taliban controls around 80% of Afghanistan. This probably explains why it is so difficult for NATO to hold on to

territorial gains. All attempts to coop the Taliban into a political solution have likewise failed. The Financial Times summed up West’s sorry state Added to this is the human toll on NATO forces, which cannot be quantified in monetary terms. So it came as no surprise to find that the joint communique issued at the end of the Chicago summit expressed the collective desire of all the NATO countries to draw the curtain on their Afghan misadventure.

The statement read:

Whilst 2014 (a date revised several times) is the final withdrawal date for most NATO countries, America and her opportunist partner Britain both steeped in arrogance have still not learnt their lesson and plan to stay beyond this date. No doubt they will do their utmost to delay the inevitable collapse of Karzai’s government and try and save face with their domestic audience. Concluding, the writing is on the wall; America and NATO are heading for a catastrophic defeat and no matter how hard they try to dress up their failings— their only success will be to unite and embolden Afghans along with their brethren across the border in Pakistan to claim the scalp of Pax-Americana and deal a devastating blow to NATO’s first ever mission in Eurasia.

Abid Mustafa is a political commentator who specialises in Muslim issues and global affairs

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Can Afghan Islamists Learn from their Egyptian Counterparts? Sat, 28 Jul 2012 03:45:13 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Said Sabir Ibrahimi

The fall of Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic regime in early 2011 led to some eye-catching transformation of the Egyptian society. The previously banned Islamic political parties, like the Muslim Brotherhood has accomplished huge political success by participating in the parliamentary and presidential elections. In 1970s the Brotherhood denounced violence and has gone through some reforms. The Brotherhood has enjoyed a great amount of support by many Egyptians and gave the organization the most unprecedented political achievement in the world by an Islamist group through nonviolence political participation. Islamism in other parts of the world is in rise, the question is whether a nonviolent approach is practical to their respective countries and regions. In particular, in Afghanistan where there has been four decades of ongoing war under the name of Islam, is an Egyptian style of Islamism possible?

The trends show that an Egyptian style of Islamism is impractical in Afghanistan. Ironically, some of the Afghan Islamist groups like Hizbe Islami Gulbudin Hekmatyar (HIG) once was inspired by the Brotherhood and in fact was deemed as the Afghan branch of the Brotherhood. The current fashion of Islamism in the country leaves little room for the Brotherhood peaceful approach to prevail. There are three main reasons to the Afghan Islamism’s failure: (1) mostly, the Afghan Islamists are unreasonably traditionalist, and they live in the past, (2) in general, they are not fighting for the sake of Islam, but for the sake of personal gains and political power, and (3) the Afghan Islamism is not a national cause, the funding and motivations come from outside. The vicious deeds of these groups have been the testimony of their extreme and aggressive nature. The impediment has been the Taliban, HIG, Haqqani Network (HN) and groups alike.

While Islam is a compatible religion, the Afghan Islamists has been living in the past and incompatibility. One classical example is how they treated the women. In the 1980 the HIG members threw acid on the faces of school girls to prevent them from attending school. In mid 1990s, the Taliban, banned women from all education entities, whereas the in the neighboring Islamic states like Iran and Pakistan women lived with more dignity and rights. In Egypt, in the Brotherhood as an organization, women represented almost half of the members. Another classic example is how the Afghan Islamists are obsessed with the exoteric rituals. Under the Taliban, Afghan men were forced to grow beard, whereas in Saudi Arabia, the center of Islam, many clean-shaved. Minorities such as Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan were mistreated, comparing to Egypt where Coptic Christians has played a major role in the country’s politics – most recently the Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has promised to appoint a Coptic Christian as one of his senior member of cabinet. The Taliban, the HIG, the HN and others simply have to realize and accept the fact that we live in a globalized 21st century world, where societies are interdependent and interconnected. Unless the Afghan Islamists disown living in the past, there is no hope for moving forward, this does not mean giving up their Muslim identity, many Islamic states today play major roles in the international politics and diplomacy.

It is understandable that there are many issues with the current Afghan system, the injustice, the corruption, insecurity and so on. President Karzai admitted the existence of these problems. However, the war under the name of Islam in Afghanistan is not there to tackle the above mentioned issues, rather the war is a struggle for power and personal gain. The discourse is that the insurgents are fighting the infidels and foreigners, but the civil war of the 1990s tells us otherwise. The HIG and HN actively participated in the Afghan civil war of the 1990s after the fall of the communist regime. Gulbudin who was given the Prime Minister position, rejected the proposal and fought for power under the name of Islam, and his hostility continues until today. The Taliban fought other Jehadi groups for some five years after gaining control of Kabul in mid 1990s.  For four decades the rockets and bombs of the Afghan Islamists have been destroying the homes and lives of Afghans. The Brotherhood, moved towards community development and building houses and shelters for the poor. Despite ongoing pressure on by Mubarak regime, the organization acted peacefully and took part in community mobilization, charity work, and development.

There is no doubt that an overwhelming majority of Afghans are devoted Muslims and Afghanistan is an Islamic State. However, not many believe in militant Islam. Studies show that many Afghans have joint insurgency because of the lack of economic opportunities. In general, the Afghan society does not condone radicalism. Having lived and travelled to the villages of Bamyan, Herat, Balkh, Farah, Nengarhar, and Wardak, miles away from urban areas, I have seen the quest of food, education and a better future in the eyes of the men and women, girls and boys of Afghanistan. It is the foreigners, namely Afghanistan’s neighbors who for political reasons use the radical element to sabotage the country. They have created monsters like Mulla Omar, Haqqani and Gulbudin, who are there to do anything for money. In between, unfortunately, some Afghans fall into their deception. The Brotherhood efforts is supported by majority of the Egyptians from within the country, the foreigners do not tell them what to do and what to not do. The hostile Islamism is not a national cause of Afghans, it is an individual cause. The real Afghan Islamism is the thirst for peace.

Today the Islamists in Afghanistan argue that they are performing Jihad against the foreigners in Afghanistan. FYI: the foreigners are packing up to leave. It is hard to understand what kind of holy war are they achieving by destroying Afghan schools built with charity money; by arbitrary arresting and slaughtering Afghans and accusing spies of the foreigners and the government; by orchestrating suicide attacks in the Afghan marketplaces and bus stops where innocent people including children are martyred; by killing defenseless women with the shot of a Kalashnikov on their heads. Surely, they do not have any answer plausible answer to these questions. By terrorizing a nation, the extremists think they will win. Maybe political power can be achieved through violence, but it is moralistic and sustainable at the same time? The big question is if it is Islamic? History has proven the Taliban regime collapsed in less than five years, and the regimes before it did not last that long either, all which were based on violence and aggression toward people.

Said Sabir Ibrahimi is an Afghan national, born and raised in Kabul. He has a degree in Political Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey, USA. He has worked with several international organizations, in the field of refugee rights and development, in Afghanistan. He can be reached at and

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The lust for power and fate of the Afghan nation Sun, 15 Jul 2012 09:53:58 +0000 Read the full article...]]>

By: Rooh-ul-Amin

Had there been good governance in Afghanistan, the USSR wouldn’t have come here. And had there been public-friendly policies, the civil war wouldn’t have taken place. And had there been rule of law and transparency, America and its tool of hegemony—the NATO, wouldn’t have invaded this part of the world. Since it were the internal rifts, political instability, cultural isolation of the country from the outside world, and corruption that undermined the foundation of this great country, so the need is to overcome these lepers.

As it is a well founded fact that crumbling of a society, fall of a nation and civilization starts from inside which eventually goads foreign elements to invade, which is why Afghanistan’s sprawling and wider frontiers started shrinking when Afghans were mired in a whirl of internal challenges. And these internal challenges are not new rather they have been inherited in legacy since long. Times and again the Afghan nation has dug its grave for itself and now it blames others for its decline, plight and bad days.

The politicos of the country, ruling elite and officialdom have pursued their sheer materialistic ends and objectives while keeping the needs and objectives of the nation on backburner, which is why this country and its dwellers have remained dependent on others especially during the past three decades. This is why NATO on Monday has asked Afghan leaders and officials to put their house in order. The NATO said it immediately a day after foreign donors pledged billions of dollars in aid to the impoverished nation to help fix its fragile economy. Afghanistan has been urged to sustain itself once foreign troops end combat operations in 2014.

Yet it shouldn’t be taken a mere hollow claim that the ruling elite of the country will not budge even an inch rather it will try its last ditch efforts to satiate its greed fully, regardless of the fact whatever may fall on this beleaguered nation. It is because of their shenanigans that an endless war has been foisted upon it, with no end in sight. However, despite that many remained in this country, never preferred to go abroad as refugees, and boldly faced all the odds. They are the real sons of the soil. The nation should feel pride over them. Now that the world community has urged the Afghan politicos to ameliorate their character, put their house in order, end corruption, which is posing more serious threats to the country than the scourge of terrorism. It should be a thought provoking moment for the entire nation that why have we reached this extent and for how long we will remain dependant on foreign stilts.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul, NATO senior civilian representative’s spokesman, Dominic Medley, said the country needed to further strengthen governance and reinforce the values enshrined in its constitution. His words are really congruous, but the matter is who will put this house in order when the president of the country is yelling vociferously against the deep rooted corruption because oftentimes Hamid Karzai has made it public that he has been surrounded by war-lords and corrupt people.

What could be more fatal for this nation than this very fact that sincerity and honesty is missing among those who are sitting in the high echelons of power? And in this critical juncture, and troublesome times, access to justice, efficient and transparent distribution of resources, fight against corruption and militancy, and improved delivery of services should be addressed honesty with a will of dedication and sincerity. Then we can hope for change and end to violence.

Moreover the need is to make the most of the opportunity from Tokyo and many other conferences that are likely to take place as the Tokyo Conference on Sunday pledged $16 billion in civilian aid over the next four years to help Kabul manage its economy.

Now it is up to those who are responsible for running the state affairs that whether they want to change the destiny of the nation conjointly or still opt for clinging to their materialism in order to slake their thirst for power and material gains.

Nevertheless, they should remember this blunt prophesy that if the pledged aid is misused and the dollars which are likely to come into national coffers are transferred back into foreign accounts, the nation will not reach to other side of the tunnel and it will remain stuck in it until another revolution comes in. That will be more destructive and more fatal, for revolution doesn’t deliver the desired results. Therefore the need is to start walking on the path of evolution, bring egalitarianism, and introduce rule of law, good governance, fast response justice system, and above all a culture of accountability otherwise there is no dawn for this country and this troubled nation.

The write is a Kabul-based journalist, who frequently writes on contemporary issues of the South and Central Asia. He is also a freelance documentary filmmaker and can be reached at:

]]> 0 Change in mindset can save us Tue, 10 Jul 2012 18:34:55 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Rooh-ul-Amin

These days, unarguably the entire nation is stuck in a whirl of uncertainty and anxiety. Appallingly there has been hemorrhaging and mayhem in every nook and cranny of the country, which shows that the nation is mired in an abysmally deep morgue of challenges. On daily basis, the nation sees macabre slaughters—sometimes from foreign troops, oftentimes from the Taliban, and sometimes from civilians.

Violence has gone so deep rooted that it will take quite longer to weed it out. And the very evil trend has brought a fog of nerve-wrecking anxieties to the nation.

This has badly hit our sense of collective responsibilities. Women, children and elderly men, civilians, and as well as those in uniforms, all are affected alike. There is no escape for anyone. Lawlessness, corruption, arrogance, and dishonesty, all these bad things have become hallmarks of the nation.

On one side, if the world community is asking us to end the culture of corruption, which is eating up the foundations of the country, so on the other, we are asked again and again by the outside world to put an end to the culture of coercion and suppression against women.

If the government officialdom has considered government properties as their personal assets, so the civilians are also toeing alike with them and they have usurped and illegally grabbed the government’s lands. It clearly shows that we as a nation has reached to such abysmal lows that it is quite harder to make a takeoff and to go equally at par with other nations of the world.

The entire nation has become gangrenous from cap-pie with no remedy in sight and access. Never ever the nation stood in need of a measure of stability as pressingly as it does today to face up to the enormous challenges confronting it in a sinister way and perilously, both—internally as well as externally. It is not a single menace and peril rather there is a host of challenges that have made home here in this part of the world, and if the nation wants to get rid of these challenges, it will have to fight all these perils and dangers conjointly. To do that, those sitting in power centers or doing works in streets will have to show a sense of collective responsibility alike, and will have to show their real patriotism to this troubles-hit country.

Favoritism, nepotism, and corruption will have to give way; those who consider government’s properties as their own, they will have to shun their avaricious character as nothing has brought so splotchy blot to this nation as the vociferously decried corruption among the ranks of those who have some influential say in the affairs of the country.

Every one, with no exception, is a spoiler here and until there is end to the ‘spoils system’ there is no end to our collective miseries.

Being stuck between the anvil and the hammer, while all the while, the people breathes not even a whiff of stability and normality whereas the country stays on perpetually in a state of turmoil and turbulence.

Even if not to speak of the government officials, the civilian populace is also responsible for the mess in the country. Our civilians have become that much transgressors and daring that residents of Reshkhor area of the Kabul clashed with policemen that left fifteen policemen injured and another went missing.

The clash erupted on Tuesday when the authorities tried to raze about 250 houses built on government-owned land in the neighborhood, according to a police officer.

Now that the situation has gone that much dented who will come to salvage us, and from where? From the outside world? Not at all. The outside world can only exhort us on good but it is the Afghan nation itself that can put its house in order. Let’s pledge to rebuild our crumbled house, which is home to Afghans since time immemorial, in other words there is none from the outside world that can save us. For that the nation will have to change its avaricious mindset.

The writer is a Kabul-based journalist. He can be reached at:

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Wrong Time for an Afghan Political Turmoil Wed, 27 Jun 2012 04:56:44 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Said Sabir Ibrahimi

There are more than 80 political parties in the multiple party system country of Afghanistan. The political spectrum has created a number of coalitions which theoretically can be an effective way to carry out politics, as quality matters more than the quantity. Whether the notion of quality vs. quantity is embedded in the strategies of these coalitions, is questionable. To be politically correct, these consortiums contain the term “National” in their designation. Some examples are: the National Coalition of Afghanistan (NCA); Afghanistan National Front (ANF); and National Partnership of Afghanistan Front (NPAF). While political associations are formed to work on pressing national issues, unfortunately, many of these parties have been busy accusing each other of wrongdoings.

Most recently, the head of NPAF, Mr. Najibullah Kabuli accused prominent members of ANF of receiving money from Iran and Pakistan to create division among people. The allegations were pointed at General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Haji Mohammad Mohaqeq who according to Mr. Kabuli want to inflame a civil war in Afghanistan and benefit from it. So far Mr. Kabuli has not been able to provide proof of his claims. Later on, the National Security Council (NSC) accused Abdul Rashid Dostum of national betrayal and undermining the national interest.  Allegedly Mr. Dostum has created obstacles for the Chinese National Petroliam Corporation (CNPC) to proceed with the work of an oil extraction project in northern Sar-E-Pul province. President Hamid Karzai has said that Mr. Dostum was not accused of national betrayal charges but an investigation was underway.

Both claims of Mr. Kabuli and the NSC have been denied by ANF and Mr. Dostum. In a statement issued on ANF website, General Dostum has said he supported the demand of the residents of Sar-E-Pul who want to benefit from the jobs related to the project. Mr. Dostum has welcomed President Karzai’s statement and said he will continue to stand for the will of people. To mention, both General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Haji Mohammad Mohaqeq have survived assassination attempts during this month.

Regardless of which party and what leader causing the chaos, this political drama is adding to the existing anxiety of the people from poverty and ongoing insurgency across the country. People are losing faith in the leadership. For more than three decades the Afghans have been suppressed by the same leaders who have been in the scene ceaselessly. They have been responsible for many brutal atrocities to the life, property and the way of life of citizens. These are historical facts that have been coined in history books and cannot be erased. Despite all, the Afghans have courageously set aside the past grievances and are committed in bringing a positive change in their society. However, in return, the headship has failed to bring peace and prosperity to the country. What they have succeeded in is personal gains in forms of political office, money and property. It is disgraceful and coward to continue misusing the public this way.

At present, the country is going through its most delicate moments in modern history. The international community is packing up to leave; insurgency still persists; some 10 million Afghans suffer from extreme poverty and another 10 million live slightly above poverty lines. On the other hand, there is some optimism in government signing several long term Strategic Partnership Agreements with world superpowers and to be superpowers like China, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India and others. At this crucial point, it is the wrong time for an Afghan political turmoil and it is alarming. The disunity among the political elite will negatively affect a desirable outcome post 2014. The imperative, for the so called leaders, is to work with all honesty and sympathy for the survival of the country.

Said Sabir Ibrahimi is an Afghan national, born and raised in Kabul. He has a degree in Political Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey, USA. He has worked with several international organizations, in the field of refugee rights and development, in Afghanistan.

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Taliban reaction toward Afghan peace process Mon, 25 Jun 2012 15:25:07 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Said Sabir Ibrahimi

New Jersey, USA – with the Afghan conflict almost completing a fourth decade, there is an urgent need for peace. In 2005, the re-emergence of the insurgency became a serious challenge for the Afghan government and the international community. The question is how serious the stakeholders, mainly the government and the anti-government elements (AGEs) are, in relation to bringing long-lasting stability in the country. The Afghan government has made multiple attempts to end the chronic conflict. However, the insurgents do not seem so interested in peace. The Afghan government with the support of international community has taken two major initiatives.

The first initiative was the establishment of a Peace and Reconciliation Commission (PRC) in 2005, led by former president and a spiritual leader, Hazrat Sebghatullah Mujaddidi. Admittedly, the PRC did lack a clear peace agenda. There were conflicting views on what needed to be done with militant leaders such as Mullah Omar, of the Taliban, and Gulbudin Hekmatyar, of Hizbi Islami of Gulbudin (HIG) and others. Afghan officials including President Hamid Karzai and Mujaddidi favored amnesty. One of the proposals was to release cooperating militants from Afghan and American prisons, including Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Airbase. The main criteria to join the peace process were to lay down weapons, respect the Afghan constitution and government, and return to civilian life. The Americans were reluctant to release the militants, fearing their re-engagement in terrorist activities. But the Afghans were thirsty for peace.

The Taliban response was rather different. In return they expedited their assaults on Afghan and international forces. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission (UNAMA), between 2001 to 2005 there had been only 7 suicide attacks across the county whereas in 2006 there were 123, and halfway through 2007 there were 77 suicide bombings. These attacks targeted mainly the Afghan and foreign military. However, a substantial number of civilians were indiscriminately killed. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that some 929 Afghan civilians died in 2006 by the Pro Government Forces (PGFs), including International Security Assistance Mission (ISAF) forces, and AGEs. Some 699 of the deaths were attributed to suicide bombings and attacks by the AGEs. In 2007, the number jumped to a minimum of 1,633 civilian deaths, and 950 of deaths were caused by the insurgents.

After the failure of the PRC to bring the AGEs to the negotiating table, the Afghan government took a second initiative and established a High Peace Council (HPC). This was in early 2010 after a Consultative Loya Jirga (Great Council) was held in Kabul. Some 2000 Afghan political elites, provincial representatives and civil society members attended the Jirga to discuss ways to reach peace. The Jirga passed a resolution which laid out a framework for negotiations with “the dissatisfied groups” and requested international support for the Afghan peace process.

Little has changed since the beginning of the HPC. The Taliban and their associates, including the Pakistani-based Haqqani Network, have continued their murderous attacks affecting the lives of many Afghans. In 2011, the UNAMA documented some 3,021 deaths, that is an 8% increase over 2010 and 25% more than 2009 retrospectively. Some 2,332 of the deaths were attributed to the AGEs while the remaining was caused by the PGFs.

On Sep13 2011, the Haqqani Network attacked the US embassy in Kabul leaving 11 civilian deaths including 6 children. The Network is also accused of the 2008 attacks on the Indian embassy, where 54 people died. In the month after the US embassy bombing, two Talib commanders assassinated Afghan chief peace negotiator, and head of the HPC, Professor Burhanudin Rabbani. In May 2012 another senior member of the HPC, Mullah Arsala Rahmani, was assassinated by gunmen. However, the Taliban did not claim responsibility. Most recently, on June 6, two suicide bombers detonated themselves and killed some 20 Afghan civilians in the southern city of Kandahar.

The ultimate goal of the insurgents has been to terrorize people and undermine the Afghan government’s and international community’s efforts towards creating a democratic society. Reminding us of their hostility towards women, they have poisoned hundreds of female students by putting toxic chemicals in school water wells and tanks.

The Taliban’s militant strategy to reach to power has also its side effects. Every day, lives are lost on both sides of the war. As an indirect result, NATO unilateral airstrikes have taken hundreds of civilian lives over the past years. A recent case was on June 6 in Logar province where 18 civilians were killed.

Clearly, many insurgents favor fighting over negotiating peace. In a report by The Office of Director of National Intelligence, some 95 of 599 from Guantanamo rejoined insurgent groups fighting the American interest around the world. Some extra 72 are suspected of reengaging in terrorist activities. The number does not sound huge, only 15.9% are actually engaging and 12% are suspected of getting involved in militancy, nevertheless it shows that there are elements in the insurgency circles who are not interested in peace at all.

If the Taliban were serious about peace, they would have laid down their weapons and participated in Afghan political process, an act encouraged by the Afghan government and people. After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the Jehadi groups (holy warriors who fought the Russians) went through the Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program moderated by the UN. The Taliban could have gone through the same process. All this could have also halted NATO airstrikes on Afghan villages where innocent lives are lost in almost every assault. Moreover, the Taliban position on peace talks varies from groups to individuals. There is no single contact point where the Afghan government and international stakeholders can refer to for reconciliation talks.

A Majority of Afghans do not support the return of a Talibani regime but if they want to take part in the political process, peacefully by denouncing violence, the Afghans have no objection on their participation. Many Afghans know that the Taliban will not win the executive office as they do not enjoy the support of overwhelming majority of people. However, they might win in local elections for house and senate seats and can participate in Afghan politics.

But what happens if the Taliban want to continue fighting? The Afghan government and international community should set aside their appeasement policies towards insurgents. Inevitably, military assaults should be expedited. Insurgent safe heavens should be targeted in and outside of Afghanistan accurately and coordinated so as to avoid civilian casualties. In the process, the Afghan security forces to be fully equipped and trained to fight insurgency after 2014.

Note: in this article the term Taliban, insurgents and terrorist have been used interchangeably, in the author’s view there is little difference between them. As former Taliban Political Committee Chief, Agha Jan Mutasem said in his interview on June 1 2012 with BBC Persian “The Haqqani Network is an inseparable part of the Taliban.”

Said Sabir Ibrahimi is an Afghan national, born and raised in Kabul. He has a degree in Political Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey, USA. He has worked with several international organizations, in the field of refugee rights and development, in Afghanistan.

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Women, War, and Peace Wed, 23 May 2012 10:57:07 +0000 Read the full article...]]>

Reflecting on a panel discussion at this weekend’s Chicago Young Atanticist Summit, Cassandra Gaddo writes that communities and nations “will not reach [their] full potential…unless women’s rights are given the full focus they deserve, and women are involved in this process at every level.”

By: Cassandra Gaddo

There are universal truths we know about women and international development: the best investment a country can make in its future is in women and girls. A country’s treatment of women is one of the greatest indicators of that country’s success across nearly every metric, including economic prosperity, foreign relations, and security. And when security in a country is threatened, weakened, or in crisis, women, as oft-marginalized members of society, are the first to suffer.

These three concepts met yesterday at the Chicago Young Atlanticist Summit in a discussion between Farkhunda Zahra Naderi, a Member of the Parliament (MP) of Afghanistan, and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State. The conversation was moderated by Benedetta Berti, an associate fellow and lecturer for the Institute of National Security Studies and Tel Aviv University.

The panel, titled “Women, War, & Peace: The Impact of UNSC Res. 1325,” was framed in the context of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. Adopted in 2000, UNSCR 1325 “reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. […] It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict.”

Ambassador Verveer opened the conversation by positioning the topic in terms of NATO’s continued emphasis on women’s rights, as well as a growing global movement that recognizes the vital role of women in the political process. For example, she noted, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, and pro-democracy campaigner Tawakkol Karman of Yemen in 2011. This action, Ambassador Verveer stated, recognized not only that women have a critical role to play in peace and security, but also that that role needs to be spotlighted. “Often, it’s an uphill struggle,” she added. “But yet, we see the difference that women’s participation has made in areas of conflict, out of conflict into peace making, and into post-conflict reconstruction.”

The United States must be a leader and an advocate of the importance of including women in decision-making processes, Ambassador Verveer continued. The United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, passed in December 2011, was accompanied by an executive order, which, among other things, served to “ensure that all of our efforts in this large area, whether the Department of Defense, Department of State or other agencies, that we are focused on ensuring that we’re playing the kind of leadership role we can, should and must play in including focus on women’s participation and issues of gender-based violence and sexual violence against women,” according to Ambassador Verveer.

As to the role of women in Afghanistan, Ambassador Verveer’s response was concise and unequivocal: “If women’s voices are silenced, the likelihood for durable peace, stability, and economic opportunity will be subverted in Afghanistan,” she asserted. “Advocating for women on these issues, if we want to advance progress around our world, is absolutely critical.”

While Ambassador Verveer spoke supportively about the NATO Chicago Summit Declaration, which reaffirms the importance of the inclusion of women in paragraph nine, it is relevant to note that she took part in a panel at Amnesty International’s Shadow Summit. Held yesterday in Chicago, Ambassador Verveer, along with a number of other dignitaries, representatives, and experts, emphasized the role of women in Afghanistan’s future, and brought attention to the fact that the protection and advancement of women’s rights was not an agenda item during the NATO summit. Furthermore, it’s been argued that women’s rights are being used as a bargaining chip in peace negotiations with the Taliban and other insurgent forces. For example, this past March, President Hamid Karzai endorsed a non-binding edict stating that, among other things, “men are primary and women are secondary,” women should avoid mingling with strange men in public spaces such as schools and the workplace, should respect polygamy, and should comply with Sharia law on divorce and “teasing, harassing, and beating women.”

Those mandates, which President Karzai stated “reiterated Islamic principles and values,” would threaten to undo much of the progress cited by MP Farkhunda Zahra Naderi, who summarized the successes and challenges of women’s participation in government in Afghanistan. The constitution of Afghanistan, she noted, guarantees equal rights for women and men, and advocates for a “quarter system” of women’s participation in governmental bodies. In the Lower House of Parliament, 27 percent of members are women; in the executive branch, three of thirty-five ministers are women. “Despite all the shortcomings, what we have in two pillars of power—parliament and the executive branch—are a huge success for us,” MP Naderi stated.

Yet, women have yet to break into the Supreme Court, which MP Naderi called the “greatest concern.” This absence concerns Afghan women, who worry about losing the ground for which they have fought over the past ten years. And in the High Peace Council, only nine of the seventy members are women; this underrepresentation, MP Naderi reported, contributes to their contributed marginalization, as those nine women are often unable to make their voices heard within this important council. “The core power exists within the Supreme Court, and if our Supreme Court at any time decides that the participation of women in other positions of power is symbolic, they can do it,” MP Naderi said, later warning, “Do not confuse participation with presence.”

These numbers brought the discussion back to UNSCR 1325, which can be used as a tool to ensure women’s involvement in key institutions. “Women must be included in political discussions and debates,” MP Naderi advised. “Don’t set up talks where women are excluded. Make our presence conditional for all the talks. Follow the letter and spirit of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and make sure that you do not exclude women from peace process. […] This has to be done immediately and cannot wait until our National Action Plan is completed.” By that time, she noted, countless important discussions will have taken place. If women’s voices are not included, there will be significant ramifications.

During the Q&A portion of yesterday’s panel, Ambassador Verveer briefly addressed a question about the inclusion of men—specifically, the questioner pointed out that too often, discussions about women’s rights are held by women and heard by women, with little, if any, participation by men. The question underscored an important point: it is crucial that discussions of women’s rights not be marginalized or segregated as a niche issue, but fully integrated at every level of the decision-making process and strategic planning.

Ambassador Verveer emphasized that women’s rights are not the “sole province” of women, though she allowed that “women often have to prod and say, ‘Look, more has to be done.’ Not just as a favor to women, but this is so essential to the outcome that women and men want to see for the benefit of women and men, boys and girls.” Later, she returned to this point about outcomes: “It’s hard to know,” she said, “how security and sustainability are able to be achieved if half the population is not involved in working toward those goals. No country can get ahead if it leaves half the county behind.” She addressed specifically the phenomenon of rape as a weapon of war, and how women in those conflict zones “desperately need care to be healed physically and psychologically.” Those kinds of issues, she reiterated, have to be addressed by societies in conflict.

In response to another question posed by a delegate, MP Naderi addressed the involvement of the Taliban in the peace process. “As an Afghan woman, I don’t have a problem with Taliban,” she stated. “If they want to come and be in Parliament…but express their views in a democratic way.” That said, she divides the Taliban: those who come to the Taliban because of ideological reasons, and those who came to the Taliban due to dissatisfaction with Afghan government. Though the former, she asserted, will never become participants in the peace process, in the later group, there is potential to build working relationships. Again, she underlined the importance of involving women in the conversations: “We want women to be at each step [of the peace process], so that when Taliban wants to come back, they have no choice but to cope with [the presence of] women.”

Based on discussions with my fellow Chicago Young Atlanticist Summit participants—both women and men—there was no lack of follow-up questions to be posed to the distinguished panelists. As we were repeatedly told throughout the summit, the Young Atlanticist Summit delegation represents not just the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today. If this is true, then it is important that the role of women in issues of peace, security, and economic prosperity continues to be raised in every conference, at every turn, rather than addressed in one panel out of many and then never broached again.

It is often said in the business community that the full inclusion of women in the workforce and senior leadership positions is not just about doing a “nice” thing for women in the name of equality; rather, it is about taking steps to achieve a better bottom line. In Afghanistan, the “bottom line” is the success of the country. Afghanistan will not reach its full potential as a nation unless women’s rights are given the full focus they deserve, and women are involved in this process at every level. The same can be said for every community and country around the world.

Cassandra Gaddo
Managing Editor/Electronic Media Editor, “Today’s Chicago Woman” Magazine

Cassandra is managing editor and electronic media editor of Today’s Chicago Woman magazine. She writes and speaks about local, national, and international women’s issues, including in her blog, “Twice As Well.” Cassandra is a member of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Young Professionals Initiative and served as delegate to the 2012 Chicago Young Atlanticist Summit.

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Chicago Summit Declaration on Afghanistan Tue, 22 May 2012 05:09:52 +0000 Read the full article...]]>

Issued by the Heads of State and Government of Afghanistan and Nations contributing to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force  (ISAF)


  1. We, the nations contributing to ISAF, and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, met today in Chicago to renew our firm commitment to a sovereign, secure and democratic Afghanistan. In line with the strategy which we agreed at the Lisbon Summit, ISAF’s mission will be concluded by the end of 2014. But thereafter Afghanistan will not stand alone: we reaffirm that our close partnership will continue beyond the end of the transition period.
  2. In the ten years of our partnership the lives of Afghan men, women and children, have improved significantly in terms of security, education, health care, economic opportunity and the assurance of rights and freedoms. There is more to be done, but we are resolved to work together to preserve the substantial progress we have made during the past decade. The nations contributing to ISAF will therefore continue to support Afghanistan on its path towards self-reliance in security, improved governance, and economic and social development. This will prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorists that threaten Afghanistan, the region, and the world. A secure and stable Afghanistan will make an important contribution to its region, in which security, stability and development are interlinked.
  3. ISAF nations and Afghanistan join in honouring all those – civilian or military, Afghan or foreign – who have lost their lives or been injured in the fight for our common security and a prosperous, peaceful and stable Afghanistan. We pay particular tribute to the courage of the armed forces of Afghanistan and ISAF countries who live, train and fight next to each other every day. We are determined that all our sacrifices will be justified by our strong long-term partnership, which will contribute to a better future for the people of Afghanistan.

General principles

  1. Our efforts are part of the broader engagement of the International Community as outlined by the Kabul Conference in July 2010, the Istanbul Process on regional security and cooperation which was launched in November 2011 and the Bonn Conference in December 2011.
  2. We recall the firm mutual commitments made at the Bonn Conference on 5 December 2011, which form the basis of our long-term partnership. In this context, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan confirms its resolve to deliver on its commitment to a democratic society, based on the rule of law and good governance, including progress in the fight against corruption, where the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens, including the equality of men and women and the active participation of both in Afghan society, are respected. The forthcoming elections must be conducted with full respect for Afghan sovereignty and in accordance with the Afghan Constitution. Their   transparency, inclusivity and credibility will also be of paramount importance. In this context, continued progress towards these goals will encourage ISAF nations to further provide their support up to and beyond 2014.
  3. We emphasise the importance of full participation of all Afghan women in the reconstruction, political, peace and reconciliation processes in Afghanistan and the need to respect the institutional arrangements protecting their rights. We remain committed to the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, peace and security. We recognise also the need for the protection of children from the damaging effects of armed conflict as required in relevant UNSCRs.

Fulfilling the Lisbon Roadmap and building the Enduring Partnership

  1. In Lisbon, in November 2010, we decided on the phased transition of security responsibility from ISAF to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), in order to enable Afghans to take full responsibility for their own security. NATO/ISAF and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan remain committed to this transition strategy which began in July 2011. Irreversible transition is on track and will be completed by the end of 2014. We also recognise in this context the importance of a comprehensive approach and continued improvements in governance and development.
  2. The third wave of provinces to enter the transition process was announced by President Karzai on 13 May 2012. This means that 75% of Afghanistan’s population will soon be living in areas where the ANSF have taken the lead for security. By mid-2013, all parts of Afghanistan will have begun transition and the Afghan forces will be in the lead for security nation-wide. This will mark an important milestone in the Lisbon roadmap. ISAF is gradually and responsibly drawing down its forces to complete its mission by 31 December 2014.
  3. The success of transition has been enabled by the substantial improvement of the ANSF since Lisbon in terms of capability and professionalism. Afghan soldiers are increasingly taking the lead in operations on Afghan soil. Afghan forces, both army and police, have proven able to maintain security in those areas which have  already entered into transition.
  4. The completion of transition, however, will not mean the end of the International Community’s commitment to Afghanistan’s stability and development. Afghanistan and NATO reaffirm their commitment to further develop the NATO-Afghanistan Enduring Partnership signed at Lisbon in 2010 in all its dimensions, up to 2014 and beyond, including through joint programmes to build capacity such as the Building Integrity Initiative. In this context, NATO and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will now deepen their consultations towards shaping the Enduring Partnership.
  5. Meanwhile, we welcome the fact that a number of ISAF countries have concluded, or are in the process of concluding, bilateral partnership agreements with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. These bilateral partnership frameworks will form the basis of cooperation and friendship between an independent, sovereign and democratic Afghanistan and those countries on the basis of equality and mutual interest.

Beyond 2014

  1. In order to safeguard and build on the substantial progress and shared achievement, ISAF nations reaffirm their enduring commitment to Afghan security beyond 2014; the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan continues to welcome that support.
  2. ISAF, including the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, has played a key role in taking the ANSF to the levels they have now reached. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan reaffirms that NATO has a crucial part to play, with partners and alongside other actors, in training, advising and assisting the ANSF and invites NATO to continue its support. As transition of security responsibility is completed at the end of 2014, NATO will have made the shift from a combat mission to a new training, advising and assistance mission, which will be of a different nature to the current ISAF mission.
  3. We agree to work towards establishing such a new NATO-led mission. We will ensure that the new mission has a sound legal basis, such as a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

Sustaining the ANSF

  1. With the support of ISAF nations, Afghanistan is committed to developing an ANSF which is governed by the Constitution and is capable of providing security to all Afghans. It will operate under effective civilian leadership, in accordance with the rule of law, and respecting human rights.
  2. At the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn on 5 December 2011, the wider International Community decided to support the training, equipping, financing and capability development of the ANSF beyond the end of the transition period. NATO Allies and ISAF partners reaffirm their strong commitment to this process and will play their part in the financial sustainment of the ANSF. We also call on the International Community to commit to this long-term sustainment. The pace and the size of a gradual managed force reduction from the ANSF surge peak to a sustainable level will be conditions-based and decided by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in consultation with the International Community. The preliminary model for a future total ANSF size, defined by the International Community and the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, envisages a force of 228,500 with an estimated annual budget of US$4.1billion, and will be reviewed regularly against the developing security environment.
  3. Sustaining a sufficient and capable ANSF is the responsibility of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan supported by the International Community. As part of the wider International Community, and building upon existing mechanisms, we will play our part in developing appropriate, coherent and effective funding mechanisms and expenditure arrangements for all strands of the ANSF.   Such mechanisms will be flexible, transparent, accountable, cost-effective and will include measures against corruption. They will also distinguish between funding for the army and the police as well as for further capacity development within the relevant Afghan ministries and security institutions.
  4. As the Afghan economy and the revenues of the Afghan government grow, Afghanistan’s yearly share will increase progressively from at least US$500m in 2015, with the aim that it can assume, no later than 2024, full financial responsibility for its own security forces. In the light of this, during the Transformation Decade, we expect international donors will reduce their financial contributions commensurate with the assumption by the Afghan government of increasing financial responsibility.
  5. As the Afghan National Police further develop and professionalise, they will evolve towards a sustainable, credible, and accountable civilian law enforcement force that will shoulder the main responsibility for domestic security. This force should be capable of providing policing services to the Afghan population as part of the broader Afghan rule of law system. This will require an adequate plan to be developed by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, supported as appropriate by the International Police Coordination Board (IPCB) or its successor. Both the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police will play a crucial role in ensuring security and stability, and in supporting legitimate governance and sustainable economic growth across the country.

Towards a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan

  1. A political process involving successful reconciliation and reintegration is key to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. In this context, we reiterate the importance of the principles decided at the Bonn Conference. These are that the process leading to reconciliation must be truly Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, and must be inclusive and representative of the legitimate interests of all Afghan people, regardless of gender or status. Reconciliation must also contain the reaffirmation of a sovereign, stable and united Afghanistan, the renunciation of violence, the breaking of ties to international terrorism, and compliance with the Afghan Constitution, including its human rights provisions, especially on the rights of women.
  2. A peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan will positively contribute to economic and social development in the wider region, and deliver progress in the fight against narcotics trafficking, illegal migration, terrorism and crime. In this context, regional cooperation and support for stability in Afghanistan is key. There are two important events on the way to securing the future commitment of key regional and international partners. The upcoming Kabul Ministerial Conference on the Istanbul Process will launch an initial set of regional confidence-building measures while at the Tokyo Conference the International Community and Afghan leadership will discuss a framework for future development assistance.
  3. Our task is not yet complete. But in the light of our substantial achievements, and building on our firm and shared commitment, we are confident that our strong partnership will lead Afghanistan towards a better future.
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US-Afghan strategic pact challenges and benefits Mon, 07 May 2012 04:44:48 +0000 Read the full article...]]>

Written by: Abid Amiri
Washington, DC – Sunday, May 6, 2012

I had a chance to read through the full text of the Strategic Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States. Here are some of the points that stood out to me the most. I am less concerned about the political features and more interested in the economic and development components of the Pact. However, it is important to mention a couple of political pieces of the treaty.

First, the Agreement states that “[t]he Parties [Afghanistan and the US] … pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the people of the United States in this struggle.” While I do commend Americans, and their government for their sacrifices – both human and monetary sacrifices -, it is important to note that the Agreement should have acknowledged the sacrifices made by Afghans too. We – Afghans and Americans – are equally harmed by this fight against terrorism. We both have lost lives, and treasure. The Pact should have instead indicated that the Parties should pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the people of Afghanistan and the United States in this struggle.

Second, the agreement calls Afghanistan a “Major Non-NATO Ally.” This is significant for two main reasons. This designation confers a variety of military and financial advantages that otherwise are not obtainable. It allows Afghanistan to use American financing for the purchase of certain defense equipment, and permits entry into research and development projects with the Pentagon on a shared-cost basis. Also, Afghanistan is the first nation to receive this title from President Barak Obama, while George W. Bush designated 6 countries as non-NATO allies.

On the economic and development front, there are a few major points in this agreement that I would like to highlight. First, it encourages Afghanistan to pursue consolidation and growth of a market economy, taking into consideration its historical and social realities. In other words, the US is hopeful that Afghanistan can have an open market economy, not similar to the US, but an economy that severs the culture, religion and the people well. To achieve this goal, according to the Agreement, the US will help strengthen and develop Afghanistan in the areas of agriculture, transportation, trade, and energy infrastructure. These are all critical sectors of the Afghan economy. Also, the US will encourage private investment in Afghanistan.

Most importantly, the Pact shows a strong desire that the Afghan people should be the primary beneficiaries of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth. The US will support Afghanistan to govern its natural resources through a framework that is accountable, efficient, effective and transparent. As I argued in my article Mineral: The Blood Diamond of Afghanistan, the Afghan government doesn’t have the capacity to develop its minerals now. Let’s get the tools first, and then exploit the natural resources.  That way the earnings will be greater, and the primary beneficiaries will be the Afghan people.

Finally, one more point that I found significant in this Agreement was the United States’ commitment to promote exchange programs such as Fulbright and other similar programs. As a Youth Exchange and Study program (YES) alum, I can attest to the benefit of such exchange programs. It definitely helps develop Afghanistan’s human resources in the long term.

Abid Amiri currently works for the American Councils for International Education as Program Associate for Higher Education, and has also worked in their Kabul office as a Program Manager. He earned his B.A. in economics and global studies from St. Lawrence University, and concentrates on the North America, the Middle East, and open market economics in Afghanistan. He is a candidate for MA degree in International Development at American University in Washington.  His most recent work on unemployment in Afghanistan was published in the first issue of the Glocal Journal. Abid speaks fluent Pashto, Dari, English, and Urdu. Follow Abid on Twitter @abidamiri

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What Motivates Jihadi Terrorism Thu, 03 May 2012 13:07:33 +0000 Read the full article...]]> What Motivates Jihadi Terrorism: Historical Ambitions, Socio-Cultural Beliefs, Political Sufferings, Or Religious Values?

By Farhad Arian

Source: The Diplomatic Courier Magazine

 Date: 2/May/2012


This paper argues that historical ambitions, socio-cultural beliefs, political sufferings and religious values are not necessarily the most genuine root causes of jihadi terrorism. The paper particularly argues that aside from a variety of scholarly efforts to address the root causes of jihadi terrorism, there still is uncertainty in the academic and policy-making circles about the genuine motivations behind the rise of jihadism. This is because jihadists are no longer stuck to a single set of motivations for justifying their act of violence against combatants and non-combatants. As such, jihadists blame the West for every single problem in the Muslim world rather than equally considering the internal factors of political oppression in the Muslim world, misinterpretation of Islamic texts, and over-politicisation of Islamic ideology.


Terrorism, as a highly complex phenomenon, stands at the forefront of national and international agendas. Although terrorism has a variety of different forms in terms of its association with various secular and religious groups, Jihadi Terrorism (Jihadism) is considered as one of its most dangerous forms threatening the world. Jihadi terrorism is a consequence of integrating Islamic ideology with the idea of jihad in a sense that extreme interpretation of Islamic texts contributes to the rise of violent jihad. As long as Islamic texts are entirely open to a variety of interpretations, jihadi terrorists (jihadists) take full advantage of this flexibility to justify their act of violence against combatants and non-combatants. As such, the act of violence by jihadists is mostly justified under the banner of defending Islam, preserving the rule of Allah, and creating a worldwide Islamic fundamentalist state, the Caliphate.

However, while these extreme interpretations of Islamic texts do not necessarily lead to a consensus on motivations behind the rise of jihadism, some academic and policy-making circles argue that historical, socio-cultural, political and ideological narratives are likely the major motivational factors for jihadi terrorism. To critically evaluate the motivational factors for jihadi terrorism, this paper examines the term “jihadi terrorism” in four contexts of historical, socio-cultural, political and ideological narratives.



Defining jihadi terrorism is highly complex and problematic since distinguishing between religious and secular motivations for the act of violence is not an easy task to undertake. However, aside from its problematic nature, jihadi terrorism is defined in a sense of religious terrorism in which jihadists employ Islam as a means of violently achieving their political goals based on their perceived ideological and fanatical interpretation of Islamic texts. Therefore, it is assumed that jihadists are primarily motivated by historical, socio-cultural, political, and ideological narratives in a sense that they blame the West for almost all problems in the Muslim world.


The historical narrative in terms of the superiority of the Muslim world in the middle ages is considered as one of the primary factors behind the rise of jihadi terrorism. From the perspective of jihadists, the Islamic world of the middle ages was more advanced in terms of philosophical, scientific and military achievements than the Christian world and other major civilisations. As such, for jihadi terrorists, the rise of the Christian world as the most powerful civilisation and consequently the expansion of Western imperialism significantly contributed to the fall of the superiority of the Islamic world. Such an analysis serves as a significant source of highly motivating jihadists to advocate jihadi terrorism as a means of confronting the West and restoring the Caliphate to its former glory.

In addition, the desire of Islamic fundamentalists in restoring the Caliphate leads to their extreme interpretations of Islamic texts for justifying the use of violence as a divine duty of all Muslims. The historical narrative therefore serves as an underlying root cause, mainly motivating jihadists to violently mobilise Muslims under the banner of defending Islam and jihad.


The socio-cultural narrative in terms of defending Islamic cultural values serves as a second motivating factor behind the emergence of jihadism. This in a context of social dimensions of culture in a sense of a unique collection of social rules, institutions, values, ideas and symbols fundamentally conditions the way in which members of a culture see the world and respond to its challenges. As such, jihadi terrorists take full advantage of the potentiality of socio-cultural values as a legitimate means of justifying the use of violence to defend their own version of Islamic way of life by fighting perceived Western influence.

The reason why jihadists are easily motivated to commit terrorist attacks is because the notion of community is culturally very strong within Muslim communities, and individual Muslims consider themselves as part of the community rather than individual persons. Thus,  jihadists believe that defending socio-cultural values of their Muslim community against the influential Western values are their divine religious obligations.


The political narrative in terms of external contributing factors to the political sufferings and injustice in the Muslim world is a third motivation behind the rise of jihadi terrorism. This is because the Western colonialism is largely blamed by jihadists for destroying the idea and political possibility of reuniting the Muslim world under the rule of a worldwide Caliphate. For jihadists, the presence of Western troops in countries like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world is an obvious example of the Western neo-imperialism under the leadership of the United States, contributing to the sever political sufferings and injustice in the Muslim world.

Additionally, the West is largely blamed by jihadists for its support for the Middle Eastern repressive regimes, the continued humiliation of the Palestinians and the division of the Arab world into various countries in order to suit well Western geopolitical and economic interests. Hence, the political narrative is a root cause of jihadi terrorism providing jihadists with the justification to attack the West and its allies all over the globe.


The ideological narrative is considered as one of the most important root causes of jihadi terrorism. In particular, the Islamic ideology in a sense of individually motivating and collectively unifying diverse individuals under a common banner of protecting Islam paves the way for jihadists to employ violence as a legitimate act of achieving their goals. Such an extreme interpretation from Islamic texts nonetheless provides the critics of the Islamic ideology with the opportunity to claim that jihadism simply represents Islam as a violent and intolerant faith. For instance, the critics of Islamic ideology refer to the manifesto of Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, as an example of the association of Islamic ideology with violence and intolerance.

This is because Sayyid Qutb in his manifesto claims that as the whole world is in state of ignorance and the true Muslims are in a state of weakness and under permanent attacks from the infidels, armed jihad is a necessary tool to reinstate the rule of Allah. As such, ideologically interpreting Islam in a violent way has become one of the biggest motivational factors contributing to the emergence of jihadi terrorism.


Despite the fact that some scholars and policy makers consider historical, socio-cultural, political, and ideological narratives as the major motivational factors behind the rise of jihadi terrorism, the role of these narratives in motivating jihadists is hotly contested. This is because jihadists blame the West for almost all problems in the Muslim world; thus, they would easily refer to countless reasons beyond the historical, socio-cultural, political and ideological narratives for the intention of justifying their act of violence.

First of all, the political narrative as a motivational factor for jihadi terrorism is contested because it blames the West for all political failings in the Muslim world rather than equally examining the internal factor of political oppression. As the West-blaming game fails to consider the failure of oppressive regimes in the Muslim world in undertaking democratic political reforms, blaming the West for all political failings of Muslims is highly arguable. As such, while jihadi terrorists are more likely motivated by a variety of domestic factors rather than those political problems caused by the West, they perceive the use of violence as a legitimate tool of putting pressure on the West and their governments. Therefore, the political narrative can never be a genuine reason motivating jihadi terrorism.

In addition, the socio-cultural narrative as a motivational factor for jihadi terrorism is hotly contested because it does not distinguish between Islamic values and socio-cultural traditions of different Muslim countries. As such, the use of violence by jihadists under the banner of defending Islamic socio-cultural values against the Westernisation of the Muslim world is no longer justifiable since Islamic values do not necessarily represent particular socio-cultural traditions of all individual Muslim countries. For example, socio-cultural values of Iraq and Afghanistan, as two Muslim countries, are not only entirely different from one another in terms of their ethnic, religious and political traditions; but also their perception of Islamic values significantly differs from those of other Muslim countries like Pakistan or Indonesia. Thus, defending socio-cultural values of the Muslim world is not necessarily a genuine motivational factor behind the emergence of jihadism as jihadists use the socio-cultural narrative as a legitimate means of using violence.

Finally, the ideological narrative as a root cause of jihadi terrorism is challenged by many scholars due to a variety of different interpretations in various sects of Islam. This is because aside from the attempts of jihadists to use Islam as a universal ideology and a single justifying force of mobilising Muslims against the West and other non-Muslims, various sects in Islam have their own interpretations of Islamic texts significantly differing from one another. Therefore, the use of ideological narrative as a means of mobilising Muslims to commit terrorist attacks under the banner of defending Muslims and Islam is neither acceptable for all Muslims nor is justifiable by Islamic texts.


The research for this paper has demonstrated that jihadi terrorism is a highly complex phenomenon in terms of its concept and motivations. As such, apart from a variety of scholarly efforts to address the root causes of jihadi terrorism, there still is significant uncertainty in the academic and policy-making circles about the genuine motivations behind the rise of jihadism because jihadists unrealistically blame the West for almost all problems in the Muslim world. Jihadi terrorists are therefore no longer stuck to a single set of motivational factors as they take full advantage of any circumstances or opportunities to justify the use of violence as a means of achieving their political goals.

About the Author:

Farhad Arian is a former Deputy Director of the Department of Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. Prior to joining the Afghan Foreign Service, he worked with a number of non-governmental organisations and international development agencies in Afghanistan. Farhad Arian has recently completed a Master of International Affairs at the Australian National University with a special focus on human rights. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Law & Political Science from Kabul University in Afghanistan. He is an independent consultant on Afghanistan and the Middle Eastern affairs, and regularly writes in the areas of human rights, democratisation, social justice, and post-conflict institution building.


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Protest against the restoration of Nato supply route in Pakistan Sat, 24 Mar 2012 17:49:09 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Hundreds of protestors went out on the streets to demonstrate against the reopening of Nato’s overland supplies route, which pass through Kheyber Pakhtunkhawa, to Afghanistan.

The route has been closed to Nato since November, when a US drone air strike on a Pakistani army base resulted in the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The protestors included supporters of far right Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami marching through streets of Karachi and shouting slogans against the US and Nato. The banners and placards carried messages such as “Down with America” and “No to restoration of Nato supply”.

In a separate protest in Karachi, more than one hundred activists of Jamaat-ud-Dawah, an Islamist charity linked to outlawed militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, staged a demonstration, warning the government not to restore the supply route.

Meanwhile, about three hundred supporters of Jamaat-ud-Dawah rallied in the eastern city of Lahore.

The November 26 drone attack, launched across the border from Afghanistan, created a crisis between the two nations, prompting Pakistan to review its ties with the US, a source of about US$20 billion in aid over the last decade.

A Pakistani parliamentary committee overseeing the review of US relations said on March 20 it wants to halt attacks in Pakistan by US drone aircraft.

It recommended Pakistan demand an unconditional apology for the “condemnable and unprovoked” Nato attack and that if and when supplies to foreign forces in Afghanistan were resumed, the shipments must be taxed.

]]> 0 Clinton Opposes Any Afghan Peace That Shortchanges Women Thu, 22 Mar 2012 10:03:21 +0000 Read the full article...]]>

Any peace deal in Afghanistan that excludes women or tries to roll back their rights is doomed to fail, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. Speaking at an event yesterday in Washington marking the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, Clinton pledged the U.S. will defend the advances Afghan women have made since the fall of the Taliban.

Any peace deal that may emerge from exploratory talks with insurgents must abide by the Afghan constitution, which enshrines rights for women, she said. “We will not waver on this point,” Clinton assured guests at the event, including Afghan officials and U.S. business leaders who have supported programs for Afghan women. A peace agreement “excluding more than half the population is no peace at all. It’s a figment that will not last,” she said to applause. T

he Obama administration is seeking negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban to help bring an end to a military conflict that began in October 2001. Exploratory talks have gone slowly, stymied most recently by disagreements over a potential U.S. transfer of Taliban detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Clinton met yesterday with visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, whose government has insisted on the same “red lines” for reconciliation talks with the Taliban as the Obama administration: insurgents must renounce violence, cut ties with al-Qaeda and abide by the Afghan constitution. Still, Afghan women activists and some in the U.S. government have expressed concern that the Afghan government, in its desire to take insurgents off the battlefield and end the war, might bend to Taliban demands to curtail women’s advances.

Under the Taliban in the 1990s, Afghan women were largely prevented from attending school, holding jobs, participating in government or leaving home without male escorts. Women’s Worries “Many are worried that in whatever future negotiations that might occur, women — their rights, their roles, their concerns — will be sacrificed and the old days will return,” Clinton said. “The United States cannot and will not let that happen,” she said. “Let there be no doubt that even as the U.S. role in Afghanistan changes during the next few years of transition,” with the drawdown of U.S. combat troops, “it’s absolutely critical we protect” women’s gains and expand on them, said Clinton, a longtime advocate of women’s rights. “We will continue to stand with and work closely with Afghan women.”

Clinton cited a list of achievements for women since the fall of the Taliban, from most basic health and social indicators to accomplishments in politics and industry. Female Education The average life expectancy for Afghan women in 2001 was 44; now it is 62, Clinton said. Back then, girls were prohibited from attending government schools; now, almost 3 million do, representing a third of primary and secondary school students, she said. She said 100,000 have graduated from high school, and 15,000 enrolled in universities in the last decade. Rassoul cited the advances of women in government. There were no female politicians under the Taliban; now they make up about 28 percent of parliament and serve on provincial councils nationwide. One in four government workers are women, as were 40 percent of the voters in the last election, Rassoul said.

On the Afghan High Peace Council, nine of the 70 members are women, according to the peace council. Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, joined Clinton at the State Department to praise those advances and announced the foundation was pledging $1 million in grants for higher education for women at Afghan universities. Business Opportunities Former First Lady Laura Bush, who was instrumental in establishing the U.S-Afghan Women’s Council a decade ago, highlighted the accomplishments of women in commerce. Under the Taliban, women were barred from owning or operating businesses. Today, she said, there are hundreds of women-owned businesses, from artisan workshops to financial services and engineering firms.

 A third of the workforce is made up of women, Bush said. Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, said yesterday that several companies have invested in training and education for Afghan women, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), automaker Daimler AG (DAI) and Kate Spade New York, a designer fashion company. “There are still problems” including violence against women, Verveer said in an interview. “The biggest fear today is will there be rollback and will they have a seat at the table” for peace talks, she said. She praised the Afghan government for pledging not to allow that to happen. “This isn’t a favor to women,” she said. “If women are silenced, that potential for peace will be stymied.”

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Afghan Elder Bibi Hokmina: Why Let the Taliban Control Our Lives? Tue, 13 Mar 2012 07:21:16 +0000 Read the full article...]]> “It’s time for us to stand up on our own two feet, to better our lives by ourselves. Who are the Tliban anyway? Who are they to have so much control over our lives?” These were the words of Bibi Hokmina, Afghan provincial council member, that lingered in audience’s heart at the panel discussion on what will become of women and girls once the U.S. pull out of Afghanistan. The panel was moderated by ABC Global news anchor and CNN International chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

The panel highlighted the improvement of Afghan women status since the fall of the Taliban in 2011 and the potential challenges that lie ahead, once U.S. troops withdraw.

Afghan women bore most of the burdens that were brought upon Afghanistan during the decades of conflict and instability, and they still are the victims. Half of all girls are married before the age of 15. One in three women is subject to abuse. Before the 9/11 attack, the world was oblivious to the condition of women during the Taliban regime, when women were relegated to the purgatory of the burqa, within the confines of home and without access to schools.

Significant steps, however, have been taken since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001, to better the situation of women in Afghanistan. An important step is the involvement of men in the process. Zainab Salbi, author and founder of Women for Women International, narrated an anecdote of her encounter with two turbaned, bearded men walking toward her. “In my stereotype image, they looked similar to Taliban. I said to my colleague, ‘Let’s go.’ It was a tense moment.”

But in fact, the two men were tribal elders of the community in which Salbi was working. They wanted to thank Salbi for helping the women of the community. This encounter made Salbi realize that there needs to be a shift. Her organization began offering men’s training programs—aimed at men in leadership positions—to teach them to be good community leaders. “You can’t be a good leader if you don’t engage fifty percent of the population.” One recent success: 400 imams were trained to write sermons including a mention of women’s rights.

A second panelist Mohammad Nasib, founder of the Welfare association for the Development of Afghanistan, explained the importance of local leaders and their influence on the community. His organization focused on working with local maliks, helping them to realize women’s issues and to bring an end to practice of forced marriages. It has often worked. “Many trainees supported women candidates when they ran for local office and parliament, and were influential in advocating girls’ schools,” he said.

The third panelist was Bibi Hokmina, wearing the turban and attire of a Pashtun man, whose emotional declaration was the most memorable.  Hokmina explained that as a kid, she was dressed as a boy to protect her during the Soviet regime in Afghanistan. As an adult, she continued wearing men’s clothes, including the distinctive Pashtun turban. As an elected member of the Khost provincial council, she has helped build schools and clinic in her community.

In response to the discussion on issues faced by Afghans after the U.S. troops withdrawal, Hokmina uttered, “This is not the right time for the U.S. to abandon Afghanistan. The U.S. needs to take [various parties] and to sit down and have a meeting of the minds regarding the future of the country. For thirty years we’ve been entrenched in war and bloodshed. We cannot take it anymore. Afghanistan cannot go back to where it was.”

The deafening applause elicited seemed well deserved, as she raised her voice and said, “My message to the people of Afghanistan is: Do not give up, do not give away even a pound of dirt from your homeland. Fight for it, fight to the death. Fight so we don’t have to depend on others.”

Author: Samadi

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Banning of Largest Islamic Extremist Group in Pakistan Sat, 10 Mar 2012 11:29:56 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Pakistan’s government has issued orders banning Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamaat Islamist group. The group was first banned in 2002 by the former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharaf. The organization’s activists, after the last ban, began to function underground and carry out attacks across Pakistan.

The pro-Alqaeda group was formerly known as the Sipah-e-Sahaba (Soldiers of the Companions of the Prophet) who has been convicted of attacks on Pakistan’s minor communities, mainly the Shia Muslims. Pakistani officials allege that SSP has been behind several militant attacks on Pakistan, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The group has recently renamed itself Ahle Sunnah Wal Jammat and trying to act like a mainstream political party.

The group has held rallies in major cities of Pakistan against the US and the West, calling on the government to cut off ties with them. The US summoned the Pakistan government to ban the group, after the group’s largest anti-US rally in Karachi.

The activists find the ban outrageous and see it as an orchestration of America and its supporters, enforcing their will on Pakistan.

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Iran Nuclear Talks-No Result Sat, 25 Feb 2012 04:37:58 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Tehran has not cleared up questions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pertaining to its possible military aspects of its nuclear program. UN officials had two sets of talks in Tehran over the past month but in vain.

Iran’s extensive enrichment of uranium in recent months has put the West in suspicion that Iran is going to build nuclear bomb. Iran claims that its nuclear program is merely for civil purposes.

An IAEA report on the findings of UN teams who visited IRAN at the end of the January and in mid-February was leaked. The report said Iran has increased the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium and has stepped up production of uranium enriched to the higher level of 20%.

“As Iran is not providing the necessary co-operation… the agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran,” the report said.

“The agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”

The international community has already imposed sanctions on Iran. The White House had issued a statement calling on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment. However, Iran continued to pursue its uranium enrichment program in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions without demonstrating any credible purpose for doing so.

Iran will be further isolated from the international community, if it refuses to shift course.

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Iraq Attacks Claim 48 Lives in Baghdad and Baquba Thu, 23 Feb 2012 10:09:27 +0000 Read the full article...]]> At least 48 people have been killed and dozens injured in a wave of bombings and shootings across Iraq, police say.

The violence targeted predominantly Shia areas, in particular police officers and checkpoints.

          No group has yet said it was behind the violence. Attacks in Iraq have increased since the US troops withdrew in December.

Tolls from other attacks around Baghdad include:

  • six dead after a car bomb in Shia-dominated Kadhimiya, norht of Baghdad
  • six killed by gunmen at a police checkpoint in the Sarafiya district of the capital
  • two dead and five injured in an explosion in the western al-Mansour district
  • two killed and 10 injured in two explosions in Dorat Abo Sheer, southern Baghdad
  • two killed and nine wounded in an attack by gunmen using weapons with silencers, targeting a police patrol in Saidiya, southern Baghdad
  • seven injured, most of them policemen, in a blast in al-Madaen, south of Baghdad
  • five civilians injured in a bomb explosion in Taji, north of Baghdad

Bombings in the province of Salahuddin have also been reported. The capital of Salahuddin, Tikrit, was home town of former leader Saddam Hussein, who was executed in 2006.

Shia targets have come under increasing attack since the government of Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved against senior members of the predominantly Sunni Iraqiya political bloc.

The day after US troops withdrew, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is accused of financing death squads.

Mr Hashemi, who denies the charges, is currently in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the protection of the regional government.

The BBC’s Rafid Jabbouri, in Baghdad, says al-Qaeda in Iraq said it carried out previous waves of attacks in December and January.

However, he says he spoke to a senior government official, who said the upsurge in violence since the withdrawal of US troops was politically motivated. The official blamed Mr Hashemi for planning and co-ordinating the attacks.




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Iran Boosting its Nuclear Program Sun, 19 Feb 2012 06:23:51 +0000 Read the full article...]]> There is a rising concern in the West about regarding Iran’s expansion of its nuclear program, which is believed to be based at an underground site near the city of Qom. Iran has speeded up its production of enriched uranium—required for both power generation and nuclear weapons.

Iran claims its nuclear work is for purely peaceful purpose, but Western countries express fears that Iran is surreptitiously creating a nuclear bomb. Iran’s nuclear program development may trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East region, where at the moment only Israel possesses such weapons. William Hague, UK foreign secretary, fears that Iran’s nuclear ambitions could plunge the Middle East into “a new Cold War”.

Tensions are already rising between Israel and Iran. Israel accuses Iran of planning attacks on its embassies in India, Thailand and Georgia. Iran denies these allegations. On the other hand, Iran blamed Israel and the US for the assassination of several of its nuclear scientists in recent years, allegations Israel and US deny.

There is rising media speculation that Israel is planning a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. US President Barack Obama emphasized earlier this month that Israel and the US were working in “unison” to counter Iran. Mr. Hague told the Telegraph that Britain has urged Israel not to strike: “We support a twin-track strategy of sanctions and pressure and negotiations on the other hand.”  This diplomatic approach of UK was complicated by the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from the UK last December, and the withdrawal of Britain’s embassy staff from Tehran.

In recent months, Western countries have stepped up pressure on Iran over the nuclear issue, with the EU and US both introducing wide-ranging sanctions on the country.

Author: Samadi. Kabul, Afghanistan

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UN Resolution Failure escalated attacks in Syria Thu, 16 Feb 2012 05:40:54 +0000 Read the full article...]]> The failure of the UN Security resolution for ending the ongoing violence has bolstered the Syrian government to continue its assault on the opposition. “The failure of the Security Council to agree on firm collective action appears to have emboldened the Syrian government to plan an all out assault in an effort to crush resistance with overwhelming force,” says Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The humanitarian situation in Homs, a city in western Syria, has become appalling. The number of dead and injured continues to rise in the city. Syria restricts access to foreign media which makes it difficult to verify casualty figures.

Earlier, the Arab League called for a joint Arab-UN peacekeeping force demanding the Syrian president to step down. The League also said it was ending all diplomatic co-operations with Syria, and promised to provide “political and material support” to the opposition. The plan was backed by 13 members of the UN Security Council but could not escape a Chinese and Russian veto which prevented the UN to execute the resolution in Syria.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, condemns Syria for its vicious attacks on the civilians. “It is deplorable that the regime has escalated violence in cities across the country, including using artillery and tank fire against innocent civilians. We stand with the Syrian people and we are looking for a peaceful resolution,” she told a news conference.

So, what exactly did Russia and China have in their mind while vetoing the plan? The following are some potential reasons:

  • Both the Russians and Chinese governments are afraid that the success of the plan would prove that demonstrations work, and they see demonstration as a threat to the stability in their own country.
  • Both countries fear religious extremism and its ability to infect the populations within their countries. They both fear that if the current regime is destroyed, the successor regime will be one that has religious motifs.
  • They both see the West acting unilaterally as the force behind the democracy movements and ignoring China and Russia’s interests and wishes.
  • Both Russia and China are heavily invested in dictatorial regimes like Syria and fear that they will forfeit these advantages if the rulers they have staked are overthrown.

Author:  Samadi, Kabul Afghanistan.

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Col. Gaddafi killed: What’s next in Libya? Sun, 23 Oct 2011 04:03:24 +0000 Read the full article...]]> In only a few months the world’s longest-serving dictator was ousted from absolute power and now even killed by his people supported by a join Arab-NATO military campaign including jets from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Now it is time to look for the right decisions for the future of Libya and to focus on taking the first steps.

Here my 17 points of an action plan for a better future in Libya:

1. Do not just correct the rotten system step by step but make a clear cut with the past and a large leap into the future. This had been done very successfully in Estonia 20 years ago – a best practise example to copy. According to the experience of Estonia’s freedom hero Tunne Kelam, for Libya this means:

- radical reforms from the beginning

- quick privatization

- a national debt limited to the minimum

- a strong new currency best coupled to the euro-zone.

A reform team should analyse and copy the best practices from Eastern Europe.

2. Build up a brand new tourist industry as it will bring many new jobs and open the country.

3. Education is key, including learning English and French with a focus on the study of traditional Islam, the UN Charter and democracy (a little like in Germany after the end of the Nazi-dictatorship starting in 1945).

4. Radical reform of the bureaucracy which otherwise will delay or inhibit all new initiatives.

5. Collect the stolen national fortune of the Gaddafi clan, estimated by a former Libyan Energy minister at more than USD 200bn, by asking an expert foreign company like K2 Global Consulting to look after it and report everything openly to the public.

6. The process of large money transfers must be made transparent to avoid new corruption cases. Make all income from oil and gas transparent for the first time and collect the national wealth in new Libyan Investment Funds. Copy the best examples from Singapore (Tamasek and GIC) with international auditing by PricewaterhouseCoopers or other firms. Report everything online.

7. Copy the best incentive systems globally for investors and give them a tax-free period of ten years, followed by only 15 percent tax afterwards, and for each dollar invested add two more as debt finance to stimulate the transfer of know-how and the creation of new jobs asap.

8. Form investment councils with the EU and special states as well as with the US, Japan and China.

9. Avoid large international donors and conferences with big names attached. These often sound good but delay immediate chances and are too vague in the actions taken as was seen in Iraq and Afghanistan for ten years. They produce more smoke than clear visions.

10. The EU and the US as well as Asian countries should open their markets for ten years for all products from North Africa like fruits and textiles to stimulate growth and jobs.

11. Libya in this transformation process must become more independent from its oil income which is ultimately like cocaine for such states. They subsidise too much for the masses and neglect the establishment of a balanced and healthy mix in the economy which is the only way to create jobs and long-term stability.

12. The country could now pre-sell its oil in an amount of perhaps USD 100bn to the EU, the US, China and Japan as oil reserves with a good discount and get in return cash in advance for reconstruction within the next few months.

13. End corruption by clear and simple laws and actions from this point forward to prevent more billions being stolen from the people.

14. Transfer Gaddafi’s sons and the former head of intelligence to the International Court of Justice.

15. Pay all heroes of the fighting, their relatives and the wounded a national donation for their sacrifices.

16. Invite a National Convention involving all tribes and groups to agree to a new constitution within 12 months with the UN Charter, the French and Turkish constitutions serving as benchmarks. Libya needs a modern and fundamental law protecting freedom and a balanced division of power soon. A referendum should follow and only thereafter free elections for the parliament in September 2012. Elections, when held too early, are no good as the people must first get know the new faces, parties and directions.

17. Agree on a national pardon for all officials of Gaddafi if they are not involved in murder or large corruption cases. Treat the Gaddafi followers like the Prophet did in 630 BC with his enemies when he conquered Mecca with a pardon.Do not repeat the mistake of Iraq which ousted all officials of the Baath party and stripped the country of a functional administration.

Lots to do – but other countries have successfully done it with a fresh approach in the last 20 years. And Libya has a lot of carbon-money to invest.


Article by Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann*

*German investor and London-based geo-strategist Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann is founder and president of the NGO

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Reconstruction of Bamyan Bhuddas by Afghanistan and International Community Wed, 27 Jul 2011 11:06:16 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Wednesday, July 27, 2011 – Taliban regime,an Islamist militia group that ruled large parts of Afghanistan from September 1996 till late 2001. The regime was fanatical about eliminating everything they considered un-Islamic.

Under the Taliban regime, Sharia law was interpreted to forbid a wide variety of previously lawful activities in Afghanistan. One Taliban list of prohibitions included: pork, pig, pig oil, anything made from human hair, satellite dishes, cinematography, and equipment that produces the joy of music, pool tables, chess, masks, alcohol, tapes, computers, VCRs, television, anything that propagates sex and is full of music, wine, lobster, nail polish, firecrackers, statues, sewing catalogs, pictures, Christmas cards.[105] They also got rid of employment, education, and sports for all women, dancing, clapping during sports events, kite flying, and characterizations of living things, no matter if they were drawings, paintings, photographs, stuffed animals, or dolls. Men had to have a fist size beard at the bottom of their chin. Conversely, they had to wear their head hair short. Men had to wear a head covering.

Among the Afghanistan’s historical remains, Taliban’s biggest targets, literally and figuratively, were the two monumental Buddha statues carved out of the sandstone cliffs in central Afghanistan. One stood nearly 180 feet tall and the other about 120 feet high, and together they had watched over the dusty Bamiyan Valley since the sixth century, several centuries before Islam reached the region.

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th century monumental statues of standing buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, situated 230 km (143 miles) northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,202 ft). Built in 507 A.D, the larger in 554 CE, the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art.

The statues which were the largest Buddha carvings in the world were destroyed by Taliban using massive explosions in 2001, despite international opposition.

After almost a decade, teams from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, along with the International Council on Monuments and Sites, are engaged in the painstaking process of putting the broken Buddhas back together.

According a German art historian, Bert Praxenthaler, up to half of the Buddha pieces can be recovered.

Bert Praxenthaler has been working at the site for the past eight years together with his crew and have shifted through 400 tons of rubble and have recovered many parts of the statues along with shrapnel, land mines and explosives that were used in their demolition.

But the question which has remained unanswer is that how would it be possible to rebuilt the Buddhas from the rubble?

Mr. Praxenthaler said, “The archaeological term is ‘anastylosis,’ but most people think it’s some kind of strange disease.”

“Anastylosis” is a familiar term for those in the archaeology world. The process includes combining the monument’s original pieces with modern material, which was used to restore the Parthenon of Athens in the past.

The workers are still busy removing scaffolding after months spent reinforcing the wall where the Buddha’s head once was.

The reconstruction project of Buddhas and Afghans views

Bamyan Province is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the centre of the country and is an extremely poor and remote land in one of the world’s most underdeveloped countries.

The Buddha statues once used to play an important role in the economy of Bamyan province by attracting major tourists from around the world, but Afghanistan has been at war virtually nonstop for more than three decades. The fighting drove away the tourists years before the Taliban blew up the statues.

It is expected to bring back the tourist and rebuild the historic site with the implementation of reconstruction project of Bamyan Buddhas.

The project is also supported by Habiba Sarabi, the popular provincial governor. Bamiyan is now considered one of the less dangerous places in Afghanistan.

In the meantime, human rights activists like Abdullah Hamadi says, the empty niches where the Buddhas stood are a reminder of the Taliban’s fanaticism, and should be left as they are.

Hamadi said, “the Buddha was destroyed, if you made it, rebuilt it, that is not the history. The history is the broken Buddha.”

Abdullah Hamadi belongs to Yakawlang district of Bamyan province. More than 300 members of a minority group, called the Hazaras were massacred by Taliban in 2001, just two months before the Taliban blew up the Buddha statues.

Bamyan province is considered as one of the safest regions in Afghanistan but Taliban can still strike as they did recently by kidnapping and beheading Jawad Zahak, the head of the Bamiyan provincial council, while he was driving his family toward Kabul, about 150 miles to the southeast.

On the other hand, a number of Bamyan residents say they would rather see the money for the restoration project go toward services like electricity and housing, which are in desperately short supply.

Caves used as shelters by homeless Bamyan residents

In the meanwhile, a number of Bamyan residents use the caves at the site of the Buddha statues as their only shelter they can find.

Homeless villagers like Marzia and her six children are living in one of the caves, while the family’s goats bleat nearby. Marzia, who like many Afghans uses only one name, said she has no use for the statues.

“We don’t have a house, so where else can we live?” she said.

On the other hand, a few enterprising villagers have found ways to make money off the story surrounding the Buddhas. One is Said Merza Husain, known around town as the man who was forced to help the Taliban blow up the statues.

Mr. Said Merza said, had no choice but to obey the Taliban a decade ago. If he had resisted, they would have killed him. One of his friends refused to take part, and the Taliban shot him.

The reconstruction team headed by Bert Praxenthaler have halted their work temporarily during the scorching Afghan summer.

According to Mr. Praxenthaler, piecing together Bamiyan’s Buddhas will take many more years. After a summer break, Praxenthaler’s team plans to resume their work in the fall.

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Iran’s Role in Curtailing Afghan Opium Sat, 16 Jul 2011 04:45:41 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Brad L. Brasseur

The recent resurgence of opium production in Afghanistan, notably in Balkh and Badakhshan provinces (as reported by Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit) represents a frightening development for Afghanistan and its neighbors. The ineffectiveness of opium poppy eradication in Afghanistan can be attributed to the Obama administration stopping a military drive to wipe out opium poppy crops in Afghan fields.

Although opium poppies economically sustain thousands of Afghan families, opium production has had serious consequences on the stability of Afghanistan’s regional countries, notably Iran, and Russia. If opium production is increasing today, while the international community is heavily involved in Afghanistan then the potential threat of opium production post-2014 will be even more alarming for Afghanistan’s neighbors.

Iran, with its serious domestic drug problems, is in a strong position to further build up its image in the region and take charge of a process aimed at curtailing the regional opium trade. With its close relationship to the Karzai government, such an engagement could not only potentially alleviate Iran’s drug problems but could also help increase their credibility in the region, including with Russia. In order for Tehran to successfully combat the opium trade, they need to build on the momentum from recent agreements and take the lead on regional approach with other countries that are facing similar challenges.

 In light of the withdrawal of international forces in Afghanistan, President Karzai badly needs to increase cooperation and trust building among his neighbors. Iran is one of the few regional countries that have a fairly stable relationship with the Karzai government based on strong economic and trade relations (also helps Karzai receives cash from Tehran). Tehran can use their influence in Kabul to push for increased measures on curtailing opium production.

While it is widely known that Afghanistan is an opium hub, accounting for around 90 percent of global illicit opium production. According to UNDOC 2010 report, 37% of all Afghan heroine travels through Iran before reaching its final markets. Tehran believes that the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan have ignored the drug trade and have allowed drug traffickers to roam free. Moreover, Tehran believes that they have not received gratitude for their strong efforts in fighting the Afghan drug trade whose destination is usually Europe.

Iran has almost done everything in its power to combat its serious drug problem as it threatens the stability of their country and exhausts its military and financial resources. National efforts have been undertaken to hold back the flow of drugs and Tehran has spent millions of dollars, simply constructing trenches, concrete dams, planting minefields, and deploying thousands of troops to secure its border with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite some achievements in obstructing smugglers, Tehran’s measures, like other regional countries, have been relatively ineffective, mainly due to the vast organized network of the drug traffickers and their advanced technological equipment.

The bottom-line is that success depends on increasing regional cooperation as there are significant limits to what any state can achieve through fighting the Afghan drug trade alone. Moving forward Iran will need to further increase its cooperation and intelligence sharing with the other regional neighbors under threat, most notably Russia.

The UNDOC points to Russia being the country that has experienced the worst effects from the Afghan drug trade. Recently, the head of Russia’s federal drug control agency Victor Ivanov lashed out at NATO for not doing enough to curtail the production of drugs in Afghanistan. He stated that around 90% of the 30,000 heroine deaths each year come from Afghanistan. In order to combat the drug trade, Iran and Russia have initially teamed up with the three other Caspian Sea states (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan) and agreed to form ‘a Caspian Anti-Drug Information Center”.

While, this represents an important step as it includes two regional powers Russia and Iran using their common interest in a similar manner to their strategy in Tajikistan, where they stopped Turkey and the United States from expanding their influence in the region. The pressing need for addition cooperation among regional countries is needed before true steps in combating the opium trade can take place as the United States has shown no signs in changing their position on eradicating opium in Afghanistan(despite recent joint drug patrols with Russia troops).

In light of the transfer of security in Afghanistan from international troops to Afghan National Security Forces, increased cooperation through a multi lateral approach will be vital moving forward in the fight against the illicit Afghan drug trade. Such an approach can be successful with Iran is in the lead with close cooperation from Russia and other regional countries, including the Caspian Sea states and the Central Asian states.

Brad L. Brasseur works on Afghanistan-Pakistan at the EastWest Institute in Brussels. The views of the above article are not attributed to the EastWest Institute but rather to the individual himself.

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Pakistani Military on the Wrong Border Tue, 05 Jul 2011 10:47:41 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Brad L. Brasseur

For years, instability and militancy in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have threatened not only Pakistan’s internal security, but also stability in Afghanistan. The situation in Pakistan’s tribal territories has become a growing concern, with coalition troop withdrawal approaching and transition of security to Afghan forces slowly gaining momentum. Current Pakistani military efforts to combat militancy in the FATA have been very weak, as indicated in early June in South Waziristan, where 150 militants seemingly effortlessly attacked a Pakistani security check post.

 Pakistan must step up its military efforts and improve security in FATA. As this article argues, the strength of militancy in the tribal belt is largely due to insufficient Pakistani troop presence there, due to the deployment of Pakistani troops on the India border at the expense of sufficient troop strength at its western border. As so often is the case in Pakistan’s history, an important Pakistani interest is being held hostage by the country’s difficult relationship with India. The India-Pakistan rivalry is diverting Pakistan’s military resources, undermining the country’s stability and its chances for economic development.

 The latest chapter in Pakistan’s troop deployment began with the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which deteriorated India-Pakistan relations just as they had begun to show very shy first signs of détente after the departure of President Pervez Musharraf. The Mumbai attacks were conducted by Lashkar-e-Taiba agents with close connections to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The resulting outrage in India and internationally led the Pakistani government to fear that the Indian government would retaliate with a ground attack across the border. These fears prompted the Pakistani government to move about 20,000 ground troops fighting militants in the tribal areas to the Indian border. With these troops gone, extremist groups gained freedom to maneuver, expanding their influence and ability to wage attacks on both sides of the Durand Line.

In April 2010, almost one-and-a-half years after the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan finally began moving about 10,000 troops back to the Afghan border. While this may have signaled the Pakistan government’s commitment and desperate need to solve the domestic insurgent threat, the violence of the past months indicates that it may be too little too late for success in FATA.

 Impact of Pakistani Military Operations in FATA

In his April 2011 bi-annual report on Afghanistan, President Barack Obama highlighted the ineffectiveness of Pakistan’s military in FATA. The report stated that the 147,000 Pakistani troops involved have been unsuccessful fighting the tribal belt militants and that the Pakistani government needs to commit more resources to FATA.

A closer look at the impact of recent Pakistani military operations in the region, particularly North Waziristan, demonstrates the price Pakistan has paid for diverting its resources to the Indian border.

Over the past few years, the military cleared some tribal agencies of militants in FATA only to lose the territory shortly after, due to the lack of troop strength.

 In early 2010, the Pakistani military claimed they had cleared Mohmand Agency in FATA. These claims were undermined by Taliban-led attacks in the agency as early as July 2010, which killed over 100 civilians. The Taliban once again controlled the Mohmand agency in 2011, which forced the Pakistan military to again conduct major operations there in February 2011. These operations displaced 25,000 people.

 In June 2011, the Pakistani military claimed that Orakzai Agency was clear of extremist militants after hundreds were killed. However, the history of military claims in Mohmand Agency raises doubts that this claim is true. Orakzai Agency had only recently become home to insurgent group – groups that fled there when the Pakistan military launched operations against militants in South Waziristan.

 The conclusion is clear: even if the Pakistani Military clears a tribal agency of extremists groups, it is merely a matter of time until the militants regain power in a neighboring agency. There are simply not enough troops to secure the entire FATA region. The movement of insurgent groups in FATA from one agency to another proves that the Pakistani military is unable to maintain any security in the seven tribal territories as a whole. This demonstrates that the Pakistani military needs to use a holistic approach to the tribal territories and increase overall military strength there.

 Lack of Financial Resources for FATA Operations

 The Pakistani government’s concern over India’s intentions has not only diverted troops to their shared border – it has also tied up major financial resources related to that troop deployment. In 2009, Islamabad continued to ignore warnings from the World Bank that the millions of dollars being spent on maintaining troops on the border threatened Islamabad’s economic capability. In this context, it is worthwhile pointing out that troop expenses and additional services that the Pakistani military gives to the families of soldiers deployed along the Indo-Pakistani border has directly drained financing for military operations in FATA. The World Bank also noted that an improved relationship with New Delhi would boost economic prosperity.

 Recent developments have confirmed that the World Bank’s warnings were accurate.  In January 2011, as the Pakistan military was preparing for military operations in the insurgent hotbed of North Waziristan, the Federal Finance Ministry stated that Pakistan’s struggling economy could not handle any more substantial military operations. This further delayed the crucial military operations in North Waziristan, one of the most dangerous and unstable regions in Pakistan. Instead, the money meant for operations in North Waziristan went to stationing Pakistani troops and resources on the Indian border.

 In March 2011, the Pakistani military deployed around 20,000 troops to North Waziristan in preparation for military engagement. Ironically, the number of troops was the exact same amount of troops moved from the tribal territories to the Indian border in 2008 after the Mumbai attacks. Even so, Islamabad leaders continued their claims that they would not make a decision on the operations, due to lack of resources. It is not surprising that the Obama administration’s bi-annual report on Afghanistan in April 2011 concluded that Pakistan’s economic situation poses the country’s greatest short-term threat to its stability.

 Overall Effect of Troop Redeployment

 Pakistan’s inability to clear FATA of insurgents has only led to increased speculation over the ISI’s involvement with the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan. Although it is difficult to determine the exact extent that Pakistan’s troop redeployment had on the Pakistani government’s ability to take control of FATA, it is clear that the move crippled the country’s ability to combat the extremist insurgent groups on their western frontier.

 Moving forward, it will be very important that leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan come to terms with a role for India in Afghanistan that takes into account the legitimate strategic interest of both countries. Such an understanding will first and foremost have to be found between Afghan and Pakistani leaders. If achieved, this may also lead to more detente in the troubled relationship between Pakistan and India.

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Isolating Pakistan from Afghanistan Fri, 03 Jun 2011 05:47:39 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Dr Jassim Taqui Deputy Editor (IR)

Following Operation Geronimo, the secretive Indo-US alliance in Afghanistan is brought to the fore. Most certainly, bringing the Indians to Afghanistan is part of the Indo –US strategic partnership that also includes transfer of US nuclear and missile technology to India.

This game is being played just to ensure the survival of the puppet regime in Kabul. It shows how important Afghanistan is to the United States that it is sacrificing Pakistan after declaring it “ Major Non-NATO Ally.”

At present, the US administration is no longer interested in the security interest of Pakistan or any Pak mediation role with Taliban. The Americans are contacting Taliban and holding talks with them both in Qatar and Germany in accordance with a well conceived plan to reintegrate Taliban into the ruling Afghan regime. With Al-Qaeda in a state of disarray following the physical liquidation of Osama bin Laden, the stage is set to delink Taliban from Al-Qaeda, a prerequisite to the programme of Afghan reconciliation.

To ensure the isolation of Pakistan from the Afghan scene, the US administration is waging an unprecedented media war against the military and security establishment to the extent that it has nearly closed down communications between the United States and Pakistan. Ostensibly this policy is paving the way for replacing Pakistan with India in Afghanistan. This reading is reinforced by the visit of Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh to Kabul on May 12-13 in which he committed $500 million to infrastructure projects and training Afghan police. Actually the grant is a price for introducing the Indians everywhere in Afghanistan under the pretext of implementing “ development projects.”

Viewing this unbelievable strategy, one can argue that the Americans are making a blunder by isolating Pakistan and ignoring the geography and common history between Pakistan and Afghanistan and by bringing an outsider not only to fill the void but also to create more instability and complications in the region. Additionally, no other neighbouring states or regional powers especially Central Asian Republic, China and Russia would accept aliens in Afghanistan or any other destabilizing power .

Most probably, the American administration has grossly miscalculated by ignoring the impact of such strategy on the national security of Pakistan and its reaction. You simply cannot replace one imperial power with another and presume that the Afghans would accept Hindu imperialists. Both the Americans and the Indians fail to show to their peoples and the international community as to why would the Afghans not targets the Indians following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The American decision makers also ignored the fact that no regime in Pakistan would accept Indian domination of Afghanistan and creating another hostile front in addition to the highly destabilized Easter Front. You simply cannot push a nuclear power to the wall and presume that you can get away with it.

On their part, the Indians are standing on the wrong side of history by siding with a defeated colonial power. Certainly they would never be accepted by the Afghan people since they are seen as an extension to the American regime that devastated the Afghan people by brutal force. They would definitely expose themselves to a Third Afghan Jihad once the American complete their retreat from Afghanistan.

Viewing the events of the last decade, it is clear that Washington and New Delhi have worked out a very close strategy to gradually cut off Pakistan from Afghanistan. One of the most outstanding outcome of this strategy is creating , training and arming TTP in a bid to transfer the Afghan battle deep into FATA and Pakistani cities. First, the TTP fighters are trained in Guantanamo camps. Subsequently, the are released and sent to Afghan territories where Indians military personnel disguised as security guards trained them and pushed them to Pakistan to target the Pak army and security agencies. This policy is similar to the policy of creating the so-called Sahawaat mercenary troops in Iraq to fight the American war against the national Iraqi resistance.

Earlier, the game of creating Indo and US supported TTP mercenaries were kept top secret. The Americans deceived Pakistan by the “ strategic dialogue” and Kerry Lugar bill. India showed some unexplained flexibility when it unconditionally agreed to resume the composite dialogue.

Evidently, the game was to divert the attention from the Indo-US scheme to destabilize Pakistan and to shift chaos and anarchy from Afghanistan to everywhere in Pakistan. Once, this is achieved, Washington and New Delhi would combine to seize the nuclear and missile assets of Pakistan, ensure its Balkanization and advance towards Chinese Tibet and Xingjian.


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Afghanistan lacks the sinews to move forward as a democracy Sun, 27 Mar 2011 09:49:44 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Farhad Arian

Wednesday, 27 March 2011

Source: ON LINE opinion – Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate

Paper Summary

This paper aims to evaluate the factors that have significantly undermined the establishment and development of democratic political parties in post-2001 Afghanistan. The paper particularly argues that the lack of capacity in the government of Afghanistan, the lack of democratic organizational strength in Afghan political parties and the negative public perception of parties have contributed to the failure of the Afghan government to establish a democratic two-party or multi-party system. Therefore, Afghanistan still remains a partly democracy with no democratic political parties.

Following the collapse of the Taliban in late 2001, Afghanistan experienced a rapid democratization process in terms of enacting new laws and establishing democratic institutions. However, regardless of the recognition of democracy as an issue of central importance by the international community, in the post-2001 period, the Afghan government paid no attention to providing the ground for establishing democratic political parties.

In the post-Taliban era, the government of Afghanistan has not only failed to provide the legal, financial and technical grounds for establishing and developing democratic political parties, but also ignored the importance of founding a democratic two-party or multi-party system. As a result of the ignorance of political parties in the last nine y ears, Afghanistan still is a partly democracy with no democratic political parties.


Inability of the Afghan government in enforcing laws

The lack of ability of the government of Afghanistan to enforce national laws has undermined the establishment as well as the development of democratic political parties in the post-Taliban era.

While both the Afghan Constitution of 2004 and the Political Parties Law of 2003 provide the legal ground for establishing democratic political parties, the failure of the Afghan government in enforcing laws has paved the way for the establishment of those political parties that are not democratic and nationwide.

Therefore, despite the requirements of the Afghan Constitution and the Political Parties Law that forbid the establishment of racial, ethnic, religious, and language-based parties, most political parties in today’s Afghanistan derive support alongside the lines of ethnicit y, race, language, and religion.

In addition to the lack of capacity in the Afghan government in enforcing laws, Afghan Constitution does not particularly oblige the government to establish a democratic two-party or multi-party system. Likewise, the Afghan Election Law provides for the Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV) system that undermines the role of political parties in the national elections.

As such, the silence of Afghan legal frameworks towards establishing a democratic two-party or multi-party system has provided religious leaders, Communist movements, ethnic group elites, individual intellectuals, warlords, and tribal elders with an exceptional opportunity to establish their own political parties rather than founding democratic nationwide parties.

As a result, in the last nine years, both the Afghan government and legal frameworks in their own have been two barriers, challenging the establishment of a democratic two-party or multi-party system.


Lack of organizational strength and transparent financial sources

In the post-Taliban era, Afghan political parties have been in the lack of democratic organizational strength for establishing a two-party or multi-party system. This is because Afghan political parties are mostly remained fragile, fragmented and non-democratic in the post-Bonn period. Although Afghan political parties claim that they represent the democratization process of the country, no political party democratically represents the people of Afghanistan because they are established along the lines of ethnicity, language, race and religion rather than being nationwide representatives of the Afghan people.

Therefore, while Afghan political parties neither have a national political agenda nor represent the Afghan people, in the post-Taliban era, political parties are rema ined non-democratic and fragile in terms of their organizational structures.

In addition to the lack of organizational strength, Afghan political parties lack transparent financial sources. Despite the legal requirements that forbid political parties from receiving foreign funding, in the last nine years, Afghan political parties have never paid attention to the legal restrictions of national laws, and as such, political parties have been regularly receiving foreign funding.

Both foreign funding and the inability of the Afghan government in monitoring financial sources of Afghan political parties have contributed to a situation where most of parties are the representatives of overseas political, military and religious organizations rather than the representatives of the people of Afghanistan.

Therefore, the lack of transparent funding has not only undermined any attempts of political parties in fin ancing themselves through democratic ways of membership fees and financial contribution of Afghan citizens, but also contributed to the failure of establishing a democratic two-party or multi-party system.


Negative public perception of political parties

Negative public perception of Afghan political parties has also contributed to the failure of establishing a democratic two-party or multi-party system. The reason behind the negative public perception of political parties in Afghanistan is their strong association with Islamic groups, Communist movements and ethnic group nationalists that are mostly blamed for their destructive role in the long-term conflict and civil war of the country.

Therefore, the majority of the people of Afghanistan are mostly critics of political parties to further do not see political parties as stabilizing forces and the representatives of the democratization process. As such, the Afghan government in the last nine years has politically benefited from the negative public perception of political parties and consequently has never tried to pave wa y for establishing democratic political parties for the intention of founding a political party system in the country.

However, the younger generation of Afghanistan sees political parties as stabilizing forces rather than destabilizing factors in strengthening the democratization process of the country. Apart from the positive perception of political parties among the younger generation of Afghanistan, in the post-Bonn era, both the government and the parliament of Afghanistan have been dominated by a generation of politicians who do not believe in the democratic role of political parties in the political future of Afghanistan.

As a result, in the post-2001 era, neither the government of Afghanistan nor the Afghan parliament paid significant attention to provide the ground for founding a democratic two-party or multi-party system.

In conclusion, the lack of capacity in the Afghan government to enforce national laws, the lack of organizational strength in the Afghan political parties, and the negative public perception of political parties have contributed to the failure of establishing a democratic two-party or multi-party system in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

It is, therefore, important for the international community to force the Afghan government to politically, financially and technically provide the ground for establishing nationwide and democratic political parties for the intention of founding a democratic two-party or multi-party system. If not doing so, Afghan democracy is like a dream tha t would never come true without national democratic political parties.


About the Author

Farhad Arian is a former Deputy Director of the Office of Human Rights and Women’s International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. Prior to joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was a Legal Consultant to the General-Directorate of the National Radio/Television of Afghanistan. Farhad Arian is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in International Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU).



Afghanistan Political Parties Assessment, (2006), National Democratic Institute-NDI, Pp. 1-31. Retrieved December 5, 2010 from

Elliot, A. (2009), “Political Party Development in Afghanistan: Challenges and Opportunities”, The School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, Policy Options for State-Building in Afghanistan, Pp. 1-52. Retrieved January 25, 2010 from

Ennis, D. (2006), “Analysis of the Electoral Legal Framework of Afghanistan”, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Pp. 1-17. Retrieved November 20, 2010 from

Giustozzi, A. (2003), “Respectable Warlords?: The Politics of Stat-Building in Post-Taliban Afghanistan”, Development Research Centre at the London School of Economic, Working Paper, No. 33, Pp. 1-20. Retrieved December 12, 2010 from

Larson, A. (2009), “Afghanistan’s New Democratic Parties: A Means to Organize Democratization?”, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), Briefing Paper Series, Pp. 1-24. Retrieved December 2, 2010 from

Maass, C. D. (2006), “Afghanistan without Political Parties: Can the New Parliament Function?”, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Comments 6, Pp. 1-4. Retrieved December 12, 2010 from

Political Parties in Afghanistan, (2005), International Crisis Group, Asia Briefing, No. 39, Pp. 1-15. Retrieved December 10, 2010 from

Travis, H. (2005), “Freedom or Theocracy?:  Constitutionalism in Afghanistan and Iraq”, Northwestern University Journal of International Human Rights, Vol. 3, No. , Pp. 1-52. Retrieved January 3, 2011 from

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Purging the Afghan government will not build the consensus necessary for peace talks Sat, 26 Feb 2011 01:44:51 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Farhad Arian    

Source: OpenDemocracy    

Paper Summary       

This paper argues that the resignation of a host of pro-Western, anti-Taliban, and anti-Pakistan officials from the Afghan government bodes badly for peace talks with the Taliban.  

 In recent months, there has been a trend of forced resignations of anti-Taliban, anti-Pakistan and pro-Western officials in the government of Afghanistan. In a pattern that is deeply worrying because of its negative implications for the democratization process of the country, President Karzai sees anti-Taliban and pro-Western officials as the major barriers to his government’s peace feelers with the Taliban. The resignations of Interior Minister Hanif Atmar, Intelligence Chief Amrullah Saleh, Afghan Ambassador Sayed Taib Jawad, and Davood Moradian, a senior policy advisor at the ministry of foreign affairs, are four obvious examples, indicating that the Afghan government no longer tolerates officials who oppose the government’s peace approach.

Aside from the sacking of Afghan officials, the Afghan government’s approach is unlikely to achieve peace due to a host of other factors: the disagreement of non-Pashtun ethnic groups and the Afghan Parliament with the conditions of the peace approach; the mistrust between President Karzai and his Western allies; the concerns of the international community regarding a peace deal with the Taliban; and the continuous support of the Taliban by Pakistan. Such factors not only compromise the peace efforts of the Afghan government, but also encourage the Taliban to fight on rather than joining the peace talks. 

First, in spite of removing a number of anti-Taliban and anti-Pakistan officials from the government, the Taliban has repeatedly pointed out that their first political priority is neither joining the government-led peace talks nor reaching an agreement on power-sharing with President Karzai. Regardless of the attempts of the Afghan government, the Taliban has continued their violent battle against Afghan and international troops rather than laying down their arms and joining the peace talks. 

Meanwhile, the international community, which militarily, politically and financially supports the Afghan government, has announced that respect for the Afghan constitution is a central pre-condition for any reconciliation with the Taliban. However, the Taliban have never accepted the constitution of Afghanistan as a pre-condition for the peace talks nor recognised the legitimacy of the government of President Karzai as a negotiating partner. The forced resignations of anti-Taliban and pro-Western officials will not contribute to a lasting peace in Afghanistan so long as the Taliban’s aims remain wholly at odds with those of the Afghan government or the international community.

In addition to the different terms of peace of the Afghan government, the international community and the Taliban, the disagreement of non-Pashtun ethnic groups with the conditions of reconciliation with the Taliban is a further barrier obstructing the government’s peace efforts. In particular Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks, as the major non-Pashtun ethnic groups, are broadly against any peace deal with the Taliban that might increase Pashtun dominance of the political administration of the country. Thus, the dismissal of anti-Taliban figures is unlikely to convince the Afghan Taliban and their Pakistani supporters of the viability of Kabul’s offer of concessions as they are well aware that the government’s peace approach would lack the support of non-Pashtun ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

No peace deal with the Taliban can be reached unless there is a national consensus on the terms and conditions of such a deal. If this consensus is not achieved, non-Pashtun ethnic groups have the potential to launch political movements across the country with the intention of opposing the peace talks with the Taliban. This would effect a new political crisis in Afghanistan which would not only undermine peace efforts with the Taliban but also create the potential for further conflict on the lines of ethnicity, language and religion.

Furthermore, Karzai underestimates the potential of the newly elected Afghan parliament to obstruct peace talks with the Taliban. This is because, in spite of government efforts, President Karzai’s favourite candidates failed to achieve a majority in the new Parliament, and as such, the new Parliament of Afghanistan is dominated by anti-Taliban and anti-Pakistan figures. If President Karzai ignores parliamentary discontent with the terms of peace, parliament will no longer approve related legislation. Whatever the composition of government and senior ministries, the disagreement of the Afghan parliament with the government’s peace approach will remain a major challenge, significantly undermining Karzai’s peace efforts.

Finally, the government’s peace approach is further undermined by the deteriorating relationship between the government of President Karzai and his Western allies. In the aftermath of the fraud-tarnished 2009 Afghan presidential election, President Karzai has become a vocal critic of Nato policy. This has soured relations between the government of President Karzai and its Western allies, significantly decreasing support for the government’s peace approach with the Taliban. The mistrust between President Karzai and his Western allies has provided the Taliban and their Pakistani allies with an exceptional opportunity to gain ground in their fight against the government’s forces and international troops rather than joining peace talks. By sacking anti-Taliban and pro-Western officials and spouting nationalist rhetoric, Karzai intends to present himself as an independent national figure rather than a Western puppet, but ignores the fact that without support from the West, the government would soon be overthrown, either at the hands of the Taliban or Afghan warlords.  

To reach a peace agreement with the Taliban, Karzai needs to overcome the opposition of parliament, non-Pashtun ethnic groups, and Kabul’s Western backers, as well as the support provided to the Taliban from Pakistan. On top of dealing with such significant challenges, the forced resignations of senior anti-Taliban officials compound the obstacles to achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan. National consensus and a transparent agenda must be the cornerstones of any peace talks with the Taliban. A deal with the Taliban that is supported by Karzai and his clique alone will not bring the country any closer to peace.  

 About the author

Farhad Arian is a former employee of the Afghan ministry of foreign affairs and a post-graduate student at the Australian National University.


Bijlert, V. M. (2010), “Dreaming of Pliable Parliament and a Ruling family”, Afganistan Analysts Network (AAN). Retrieved November 24, 2010 from

Gall, C. & KHapalwak, R. (2010), “An Election Gone Wrong Fuels Tension in Kabul”, The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2011 from

Majidyar, A. K. (2011), “The Price of Afghanistan Timelines”, American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved January 12, 2011 from

Rashid, A. (2010), “NATO’s Dangerous Wager with Karzai”, The New York Review of Books. Retrieved November 26, 2010 from

Rashid, A. (2010), “The Way Out of Afghanistan”, The New York Review of Books. Retrieved Janyary 13, 2011 from

Sara, S. (2010), “US and UN Welcome Afghan Election Results”, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved November 25, 2010 from

Wollman, N. & Hairan, A. (2010), “Do We Want a Stable Democracy in Afghanistan or Just a Short Term Ally to Fight the Taliban?”, Psychologists for Social Responsibility Blog (PSYSR). Retrieved December 2, 2010 from

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Does the sacking of anti-Taliban and pro-Western officials pave the way for peace in Afghanistan? Wed, 09 Feb 2011 11:54:50 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By Farhad Arian
Source: On Line Opinion

In the last couple of months, there has been a trend of forced resignations of anti-Taliban/anti-Pakistan and pro-Western officials in the government of Afghanistan. With such a pattern that is deeply worrying because of its negative implications for the democratization process of the country, President Karzai sees anti-Taliban and pro-Western officials as the major barriers, undermining his government’s peace approach with the Taliban. The forced resignations of Interior Minister Hanif Atmar, Intelligence Chief Amrullah Saleh, Afghan Ambassador Sayed Tayeb Jawad, and Davood Moradian, a senior policy advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are four obvious examples, indicating that the Afghan government no longer tolerates those officials who oppose the government’s peace approach.
Despite the sacking of Afghan officials, the Afghan government’s peace approach would no longer contribute to the peace because of the disagreement of non-Pashtun ethnic groups and the Afghan Parliament with the conditions of the peace approach, the mistrust between President Karzai and his Western allies, the concerns of the international community regarding a peace deal with the Taliban, and the continuous support of the Taliban by Pakistan. Such factors not only undermine peace efforts of the Afghan government, but also encourage the Taliban to fight the government rather than joining the peace talks.

First, In spite of removing a number of anti-Taliban/anti-Pakistan officials from the government, the Taliban has repeatedly pointed out that their first political priority is neither joining the government-led peace talks nor reaching an agreement on power-sharing with President Karzai. As such, regardless of the attempts of the Afghan government, the Taliban has regularly continued their violent battle against the Afghan and international troops rather than laying down their arms and joining the peace talks.

Meanwhile, the international community, that militarily, politically and financially supports the Afghan government, has announced that the respect for the Afghan Constitution is a central pre-condition for any reconciliation with the Taliban. However, the Taliban have never accepted the Constitution of Afghanistan as a pre-condition for the peace talks nor recognized the legitimacy of the government of President Karzai. The forced resignations of anti-Taliban and pro-Western officials do not necessarily contribute to achieve the lasting peace in Afghanistan because the priorities of the Taliban for the peace are wholly at odds that of the Afghan government or the international community.

In addition to the different peace approaches of the Afghan government, the international community and the Taliban, the disagreement of non-Pashtun ethnic groups with the conditions of reconciliation with the Taliban is another barrier, undermining the government’s peace efforts. In particular Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks, as the major non-Pashtun ethnic groups, are entirely against any peace deal with the Taliban that might increase the dominance of ethnic Pashtun over the political administration of the country. Thus, the dismissal of anti Taliban figures no longer paves the way for achieving the lasting peace in Afghanistan because the Taliban and their Pakistani supporters are well aware that the government’s peace approach lacks the potential support of non-Pashtun ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

However, if President Karzai pays no attention to the concerns of non-Pashtun ethnic groups concerning the government’s peace approach, he fails to provide the ground for achieving peace due to the lack of national consensus on the conditions of any peace deal with the Taliban. Additionally, if the disagreement of non-Pashtuns with the conditions of the peace deal is ignored by the Afghan government, non-Pashtun ethnic groups have the potential to launch political movements across the country for the intention of widely opposing any reconciliation deal with the Taliban. Therefore, while the sacking of anti-Taliban and pro-Western officials does not necessarily result in the lasting peace, the agreement of non-Pashtun ethnic groups with the Afghan government’s peace approach is a central issue of importance in achieving peace in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, despite the removal of anti-Taliban/anti-Pakistan and pro-Western figures from the government, the government of President Karzai underestimates the potential of the newly elected Parliament to oppose the peace talks with the Taliban. This is because, apart from the attempts of the government, President Karzai’s favourite candidates largely failed to have a majority in the new Parliament, and as such, the new Parliament of Afghanistan is dominated by anti-Taliban and anti-Pakistan figures.

However, if President Karzai ignores the disagreement of the Afghan Parliament with the conditions of peace with the Taliban, the Parliament will no longer approve any legislation concerning the government’s peace approach with the Taliban. Therefore, while the main challenge towards achieving the lasting peace in Afghanistan is not those officials who oppose the peace talks with the Taliban, the disagreement of the Afghan Parliament with the government’s peace approach is a major challenge, significantly undermining any peace efforts of President Karzai.

Finally, another major barrier that undermines the government’s peace approach is the relationship between the government of President Karzai and his Western allies. In the aftermath of the fraud-tarnished 2009 Afghan Presidential Election, President Karazai has become a critic of the West. As such, the mistrust between the government of President Karzai and its Western allies significantly decreases the support of the West from the government’s peace approach with the Taliban. Therefore, the mistrust between President Karzai and his Western allies has provided the Taliban and their Pakistani allies with an exceptional opportunity to continue their fight against the government’s forces and international troops rather than joining the peace talks.
While the mistrust between President Karzai and his Western allies encourages the Taliban to fight the Afghan government rather than joining the peace talks, President Karazai, ironically, thinks that the sacking of pro-Western and anti-Taliban officials would pave the way for reaching an agreement on power-sharing with the Taliban. Additionally, President Karzai, with the sacking of anti-Taliban and pro-Western officials, intends to appear as an independent national figure rather than a Western puppet. He, however, ignores the fact that no support from the West would soon result in the collapse of the Afghan government by the Taliban or other Afghan warlords. Therefore, the dismissal of pro-Western and anti-Taliban officials neither paves the way for achieving the lasting peace in Afghanistan nor encourages the Taliban to join the peace talks.

To conclude, the sacking of anti-Taliban and pro-Western officials from the government of President Karzai no longer provides the ground for achieving the lasting peace in Afghanistan. Instead, the very pre-conditions for the peace in Afghanistan are dealing with the challenges of the fear of non-Pashtun ethnic groups from a Karzai-Taliban deal, the disagreement of the Afghan Parliament with the conditions of the peace with the Taliban, the mistrust between President Karzai and his Western allies, the concerns of the international community regarding the government’s peace approach, and the continuous support of the Taliban by Pakistan. Therefore, it is important for the government of Afghanistan to convince non-Pashtun ethnic groups, the Afghan Parliament, and the international community that its peace approach with the Taliban is a transparent national agenda rather than a Karzai-Taliban deal for power-sharing in their own.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

About the Author
Farhad Arian is a former Deputy Director of the Office of Human Rights and Women’s International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. Prior to joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was a Legal Consultant to the General-Directorate of the National Radio/Television of Afghanistan. Farhad Arian is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in International Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU).


Bijlert, V. M. (2010), “Dreaming of Pliable Parliament and a Ruling family”, Afganistan Analysts Network. Retrieved November 24, 2010 from
Gall, C. & KHapalwak, R. (2010), “An Election Gone Wrong Fuels Tension in Kabul”, The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2011 from
Majidyar, A. K. (2011), “The Price of Afghanistan Timelines”, American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved January 12, 2011 from
Rashid, A. (2010), “NATO’s Dangerous Wager with Karzai”, The New York Review of Books. Retrieved November 26, 2010 from
Rashid, A. (2010), “The Way Out of Afghanistan”, The New York Review of Books. Retrieved Janyary 13, 2011 from
Sara, S. (2010), “US and UN Welcome Afghan Election Results”, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved November 25, 2010 from
Wollman, N. & Hairan, A. (2010), “Do We Want a Stable Democracy in Afghanistan or Just a Short Term Ally to Fight the Taliban?”, Psychologists for Social Responsibility Blog (PSYSR). Retrieved December 2, 2010 from

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Deportation of Afghan Asylum Seekers from Australia Wed, 26 Jan 2011 04:08:42 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Farhad Arian
Source: South Asia Time

This paper aims to critically evaluate a newly signed agreement between the Australian government and the government of Afghanistan on returning those Afghan asylum seekers who do not pass the refugee test in Australia. The paper particularly analyzes the failure of both the Australian and the Afghan governments in respecting their international human rights obligations due to signing such an unrealistic agreement for the intention of the sustainable return of those Afghan asylum seekers not considered genuine refugees.

On Monday, 17 January 2011, the Australian Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen signed an agreement with the Afghan Refugee and Repatriation Minister, Jamaher Anwary, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Richard Towel. Signing this agreement is part of Australia’s broader attempts for the intention of decreasing illegal immigrants to Australia. This agreement particularly provides the Australian government with an exceptional opportunity to successfully respond to the challenge of Afghan asylum seekers to further send those back home who fail to pass the refugee test.

Despite the promises given by the Australian government in terms of helping the Afghan government to improve passport system, funding a housing project outside Kabul, and providing skills training to Afghans, the government of Afghanistan, with signing this agreement, has ignored the fact that it is no longer capable of protecting Afghan returnees. However, neither the government of Australia nor the Afghan government has paid attention to this issue that the sustainable return of those Afghans not considered genuine refugees to Afghanistan is not a realistic approach to deal with the challenge of Afghan asylum seekers.

First of all, singing such an agreement, that allows for the forced return of those Afghans who do not pass the refugee test, is in contrary to the international human rights obligations of the Australian government. As a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Australia is obliged to ensure that people who meet the definition of refugee under the Convention are not sent back to a country where their life or freedom is threatened. As well, Australia has signed the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the 1984 Convention Against Torture (CAT), and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), obliging Australia to not return people who face a real risk of violation of human rights even if they do not meet the definition of refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention. As such, signing to further the implementation of this agreement indicates that the Australian government has neither paid attention to its international human rights obligations nor taken serious the life and freedom of the returned Afghan asylum seekers.

In addition to the failure of the Australian government in respecting its international human rights obligations, the government of Afghanistan, with signing such an agreement for returning Afghan asylum seekers, has entirely ignored the fact that the returnees neither in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan nor in other parts of the country are safe due to the Taliban-led insurgency. In particular, the government of Afghanistan has denied the fact that all people who leave Afghanistan and seek for overseas asylum are those who cannot return due to serious security concerns to further because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and political opinion. For example, Professor William Maley from the Australian National University and an expert on Afghanistan and immigration issues points out that the life and freedom of ethnic Hazaras are mostly at risk if they are forced to go back Afghanistan. Thus, regardless of incapability of protecting the returnees, the government of Afghanistan has signed the agreement with the Australian government, demonstrating the carelessness of the Afghan government in protecting the lives and freedoms of its citizens.

Furthermore, regardless of few achievements in improving human rights institutions in the post-2001 era, the Afghan government has failed to systematically protect human rights of the people of Afghanistan. In other words, in spite of signing the major international human rights treaties, the Afghan government has paid less attention in protecting human rights of its citizens. As such, the Afghan Immigration Minister has signed the agreement for returning Afghan asylum seekers with no intention of caring about the protection and improvement of the basic rights of the returnees. Therefore, signing such an agreement is another step towards violating human rights of Afghan citizens rather than guaranteeing their rights and freedoms because the government of Afghanistan no longer believes in human rights. More specifically, signing such a deal obviously indicates that respect for human rights is not a policy-priority for the Afghan government; unless it did not agree with the Australian government for returning Afghan asylum seekers to a country where respect for the dignity and rights of the people is like a dream that have never come true.

Finally, there is no guarantee that the agreement on deportation of failed Afghan asylum seekers is based on reliable and balanced security assessments of the situation in Afghanistan. As Professor William Maley points out, the security expertise of Australian officials for the purpose of returning failed Afghan asylum seekers is partly doubtful. Likewise, Paul Power, the Chief Executive of the Refugee Council of Australia, points out that even if the returned asylum seekers in Afghanistan are not so much under the threats caused by the government, they will be facing serious threats from the people or groups who are not under the control of the government. Meanwhile, The Afghan government has signed the agreement without undertaking any security expertise assessments; otherwise the deteriorated security situation in Afghanistan does not allow the Afghan government to agree with the Australian government for returning Afghan asylum seekers. As a result, this agreement is neither prepared based on reliable security assessments in Afghanistan nor pays attention to the security risks that might threaten the Afghan returnees.

To conclude, the 17 January agreement on returning Afghan asylum seekers between the Australian Immigration Minister and the Afghan Refugee Minister is an agreement that is in contrary to the principles of human rights to further violates Australian as well as Afghanistan international human rights obligations. While the agreement ignores the deteriorated security situation in Afghanistan, it is a deal that is not prepared based on reliable and balanced security expertise assessments. In particular, while the agreement is technically an achievement for the Australian government, it does not pay attention to the security concerns of Afghan asylum seekers who do not pass the refugee test in Australia. By signing such a violating human rights agreement, the government of Afghanistan once again proves that it does not value the lives and freedoms of its citizens whether they are at risk or under uncertain security threats.

Tuesday, January 20, 2011

Farhad Arian is a former Deputy Director of the Office of Human Rights and Women’s International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. Prior to joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was a Legal Consultant to the General-Directorate of the National Radio&Television of Afghanistan.Farhad Arian is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in International Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU).


Australian Human Rights Commission, (2011), “Asylum Seekers and Refugees”,Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved January 18, 2011

Cronin, D. (2011), “Afghan Deal May Send People Back to Danger”,The Canberra Times. Retrieved January 18, 2011

Cronin, D. (2011), “Deal to Return Afghan Asylum Seekers”,The Canberra Times. Retrieved January 17, 2011

Cullen, S. (2011), “Australia and Afghanistan Sign Asylum Seeker Agreement “,Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved January 17, 2011

Massola, J. (2011), “Deal with Afghanistan on Return of Asylum Seekers”,The Australian. Retrieved December 17, 2011

Morgan, T. (2011), “Failed AfghanAsylum Seekers to Go Home”,The Age. Retrieved January 17, 2011

Narushima, Y. (2011), “Thousands of Afghan Asylum Seekers Face Deportation”,The Canberra Times. Retrieved January 18, 2011

Rehn, A. (2011), “Time to Go Home, Afghan Refugees”,The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved January 18, 2010

]]> 1 A Commentary by Farhad Arian Thu, 06 Jan 2011 05:44:35 +0000 Read the full article...]]> This commentary aims to analyze the political situation of Afghanistan in relation to the crisis caused by the outcomes of the 18 September Afghan Parliamentary Election. The commentary particularly evaluates ongoing political challenges of Afghanistan from a different analytical point of view from that of the article of Carlotta Gall and Ruhullah Khapalwak.

Carlotta Gall and Ruhullah Khapalwak in the article “An Election Gone Wrong Fuels Tension in Kabul” published by the New York Times on 29 December 2010 mainly focus on the negative outcomes of the 18 September Afghan parliamentary election. In particular, Gall & Khapalwak argue that the outcomes of the parliamentary election not only fuel the Taliban-led insurgency across the country, but also contribute to serious ethnic tensions in Afghanistan.       

Firstly, Gall & Khapalwak claim that the results of the parliamentary election affect stability of the country to further fuel the insurgency. The authors, however, fail to critically evaluate why and how the outcomes of the election contribute to the increase of the Taliban-led insurgency across Afghanistan. The authors not only fail to present a reliable and balanced analysis describing the potential reasons behind the insurgency, but also ignore the facts that in the last 9 years neither Afghan political processes nor presidential or parliamentary elections have led to the insurgency and instability. Instead, the reason behind the success of the insurgency in Afghanistan is the continuous support of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from the Taliban and other insurgent groups in the post-2001 period. Thus, the outcomes of the 18 September parliamentary election will no longer relate to the success of insurgency because for the Taliban and other insurgents the entire post-9/11 established political administration of Afghanistan is illegitimate.

Secondly, while the authors argue that the outcomes of the parliamentary election affect stability in Afghanistan, they fail to critically evaluate the failure of the government of Afghanistan in effectively fighting corruption and providing the people of Afghanistan with good governance. In particular, in the post-Taliban era, the failure of the Afghan government in providing people with good governance and dealing with the serious challenge of corruption has contributed to the dissatisfaction of Afghan people. As such, dissatisfaction of the people of Afghanistan especially southern and eastern Pashtuns from the government has provided the Taliban and other insurgent groups with an exceptional opportunity to recruit disappointed people to further significantly threat stability of the country. Therefore, the stability in Afghanistan is no longer dependent on the results of the parliamentary election; however, the lack of ability of the government of Afghanistan in successfully responding to the challenges of corruption and weak governance along with the continuous support of the insurgent groups by the ISI has fueled the insurgency and would further pave the way for the increase of the insurgency in forthcoming years.

Thirdly, Gall & Khapalwak point out that the decrease of Pashtun members in the new Afghan parliament causes serious ethnic tensions in Afghanistan. The authors, however, fail to support their argument with reliable viewpoints of independent Afghan and international experts rather than a number of losing candidates in the parliamentary election. Ironically, the authors, with reference to opinions of a number of losing candidates, draw a conclusion that the decrease of Pashtun parliamentarians contributes to the ethnic strife to further leads to civil war in Afghanistan. However, the authors again ignore the fact the Afghan election laws have no provision to provide each ethnic group with a share of power in the parliament or governmental institutions. Instead, the share of each ethnic group in the parliament is based on the number of seats they have won in the election; hence, the share of ethnic representation in the Afghan parliament is entirely dependent on the well performance of candidates in the votes.

For example, the share of ethnic Pashtun representation neither in the Parliament of 2005 nor in the new parliament is exactly the same as its estimated percentage of population which makes up 40 to 42% of the population of Afghanistan. In particular, in the parliament of 2005 there were 48% Pashtun members, while the outcomes of the new parliamentary election indicate that Pashtun members account for 35–38% of the parliamentarians. As a result, the outcomes of the parliamentary election will no longer contribute to ethnic tensions because the election laws of Afghanistan have made clear the conditions for the representation of each ethnic group in the parliament, although no share of ethnic representation in the parliament is recognized.

Finally, the authors, with reference to the claims of a number of tribes, point out that the lack of representation of some Pashtun tribes further undermine security situation in Afghanistan. While the authors argue that the lack of representation of some Pashtun tribes threats stability in Afghanistan, they fail to present a balanced analysis because there are various Afghan minor ethnic groups such as Baloch, Pashai, Qizilbash, Pamiri and Kyrgyz who have not been able to have a share of representation in the Afghan parliament. As such, no tribe whether Pashtun or non-Pashtun is authorized to threat the stability of the country to further support the insurgency due to their lack of representation in the parliament. As a result, there are a variety of ways rather than representation in the parliament through which the Afghan government can easily win the hearts of Pashtun tribes as well as other ethnic groups of Afghanistan.

January 4, 2010

Farhad Arian is a former official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. He is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in International Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU).

The link below is the article of Carlotta Gall and Ruhullah Khapalwak.

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Post-9/11 Afghan Democracy: Far Longer From Expectations Thu, 16 Dec 2010 10:30:12 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Farhad Arian

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the UN-sponsored Bonn Conference of 2001 not only intended to build sustainable peace in Afghanistan but also opened the window for a formal democratization process in the post-Taliban era. The Bonn Conference resulted in the Bonn Agreement of 5 December 2001 that recognized the right of the people of Afghanistan to freely decide about their political future with reference to the principles of Islam, democracy, pluralism, and social justice. Regardless of the formal recognition of democracy by the Bonn Agreement, in the post-2001 period, both the Afghan government and the international community paid less attention in providing the ground for institutionalizing democracy in Afghanistan due to the ongoing challenges of warlordism and the Taliban-led insurgency. As a result of shifting the attention of the international community and the Afghan government from democracy to counter-warlordism and counter-insurgency, democracy has neither institutionalized nor systematically developed across permanent institutions in post-9/11 Afghanistan.

To begin, the Bonn Conference in its own did not provide the ground for the democratization of Afghanistan. While the Bonn Agreement of 2001 recognized the right of the people of Afghan to freely decide about their political future, it did not practically provide the Afghan people with the opportunity to democratically decide about the future of their country. Ironically, the participants in the Bonn Conference were the representatives of Afghan opposing groups that were neither democratically elected by the people of Afghanistan nor had legitimacy among various Afghan ethnic groups especially Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Such a non-democratic mechanism paved the way for the representatives of Afghan competing groups particularly warlords to entirely dominate the political power in post-9/11 Afghanistan. As a result, the internationally-sponsored Bonn Conference of 2001 deliberately provided each Afghan opposing group with a share of power in the political administration of post-Taliban Afghanistan; however, neither the international organizers of the Bonn Conference nor Afghan participating groups took democracy and the democratic right of the people of Afghanistan as an issue of central importance.

In addition to the Bonn Conference that non-democratically provided warlords with the exceptional opportunity to dominate political power in Afghanistan, during the implementation of the Bonn Agreement between the years 2001 and 2006 the dominance of warlords over permanent political institutions undisputedly continued. Despite the fact that during the Bonn Process the international community consistently attempted to decrease the power of warlords over national institutions, such efforts did not necessarily contributed to the end of warlordism and the success of democratization process in Afghanistan. Paradoxically, the international community entirely focused on counter-warlordism as the main obstacle towards democratization process rather than investing in institution-building process for the development of Afghan democracy. Not only the international community but also the government of Afghanistan in the course of the implementation of the Bonn Agreement was partly unsuccessful in building permanent institutions for the intention of institutionalizing democracy in Afghanistan. As a result of over-concentration of both the international community and the Afghan government on counter-warlordism, Afghan democracy never found the opportunity to be institutionalized between the years 2001 and 2006.

For instance, although the Presidential and Parliamentary elections of 2004 and 2005 were two significant steps towards institutionalizing democracy in post-Taliban Afghanistan, the internationally-backed government of Afghanistan was unable to counter the challenge of warlordism during and after the elections. Thus, not only the elected government of President Hamid Karzai but also the Parliament of 2005 as well as the Afghan Judiciary significantly remained under the dominance of warlords especially whom they had strong political ties with the government of President Karzai. As a result of the failure of the government of Afghanistan and the international community in effectively dealing with the challenge of warlordism during the Bonn Process, the efforts of the international community did not necessarily resulted in institutionalizing democracy in Afghanistan.

Finally, in the post-Bonn Process, the emergence of the Taliban-led insurgency has shifted the attention of the international community and the Afghan government from institutionalizing democracy to counter-insurgency. Once the Taliban and other insurgent groups became able to increase the insurgency after 2003, not only the international community but also the government of Afghanistan saw democracy as an issue of less important in comparison to the priorities of counter-insurgency. Institutionalizing democracy and building sustainable democratic institutions in the post-Bonn process, therefore, have not only disappeared from the policy priorities of the international community but also the Afghan government has entirely forgotten its national responsibility in strengthening democracy. Regardless of the attempts of the international community in supporting the democratization process in the post-Bonn Process, the government of Afghanistan has paid no significant attention to the democratization process of the country. The Afghan government has not only less focused on institutionalizing democracy, but also continuously restricted democratic freedoms of citizens due to the increase of security concerned posed by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

For example, the fraud-tarnished Presidential and Parliamentary elections of 2009 and 2010 have been two obvious examples of democratic deficit in the post-Bonn Process in Afghanistan. In these two elections, the transparency, credibility and inclusivity of the electoral processes were significantly undermined by the widespread fraud and corruption across the country. While in the post-Bonn Process the focus of the international community has shifted from the priority of the democratization of Afghanistan to counter-insurgency, the Afghan government has been over-confident in paying no attention to democracy. As a result, while the international community has failed to oblige the Afghan government in convening transparent and credible elections in 2009 and 2010 to further building democratic institutions, Afghan democracy is seemingly far longer from the expectations of the people of Afghanistan as well as the international community.     

To conclude, both the international community and the government of Afghanistan have failed to institutionalize democracy in the post-2001 era. Despite few democratic achievements at the primary stages of the Bonn Process, the Afghan democratization process has neither been successful nor found the ground for systematically development in post-Taliban Afghanistan. The reason behind the failure of the democratization process in post-9/11 Afghanistan has not only been the over-concentration of the international community on counter-warlordism and counter-insurgency, but also the failure of the internationally-backed Afghan government in effectively dealing with such challenges has further undermined the democratization process. To better strengthen democracy, it is important for the international community to oblige the Afghan government in systematically institutionalizing democracy and building sustainable democratic institutions; otherwise, the challenges of warlordism and the Taliban-led insurgency would more undermine the democratization process to further result in the entire failure of Afghan democracy.

December 15, 2010

Farhad Arian is a former official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. He is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in International Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU).


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2010 Afghan Parliamentary Election: Checks and Balances of Power Thu, 09 Dec 2010 03:59:07 +0000 Read the full article...]]> By: Farhad Arian

More than 10 weeks after the 18 September Afghan Parliamentary Election, the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) announced the final results of the election on 24 October 2010. While the 2009 Presidential Election was significantly undermined by the widespread fraud and corruption, there were high expectations from the government of Afghanistan to ensure a transparent, credible and inclusive parliamentary election for 2010. However, regardless of consistent efforts of the international community particularly the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA), the 2010 Parliamentary Election took far longer than expected due to the widespread electoral fraud and corruption the same as the fraud-tarnished 2009 Presidential Election. Consequently the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) invalidated about 1.3 million of the 5.6 million votes to further disqualified 24 winners after receiving more than 5,000 complaints of fraud across nationwide polls.  

The final results of the 2010 Parliamentary Election particularly indicate that the government of Afghanistan has failed to have a majority of pro-government members in the new Parliament. In other words, President Hamid Karzai’s favourite candidates have not done well in the vote; hence, pro-government parliamentarians will no longer be the majority in the House of Representatives of the new Parliament compared to the previous Parliament of 2005 in which the government’s supporters formed the majority (NineMSN News, 2010). According to the New York Times, President Karzai will be able to count on the support of at least 100 members of the new Parliament which is not enough to satisfy the Afghan government whereas Dr. Abdullah Abdullah the main opposition rival of the government has claimed that his supporters have won more than 90 seats out of 249 seats of the new Parliament. As a result, the new Parliament of Afghanistan will no longer be dominated either by President Karzai’s favourite members or by the supporters of Dr. Abdullah. The new Parliament, however, will probably introduce some checks and balances on the Presidential power (GGS News, 2010).     

Compared to the previous Parliament of 2005, the new Afghan Parliament will probably have a better opportunity to place some checks and balances on the power exercise of President Karzai. As long as the Afghan electoral system does not provide political parties with the opportunity to run for the election in their own capacity, Afghan political parties have not played a significant role in the electoral process because the majority of candidates for the 2010 Parliamentary Election have run as individuals rather than the representatives of political parties (Bijlert, 2010). There are, however, concerns that the lack of the representatives of political parties in the new Parliament not only undermines the ability of the Parliament to introduce some checks and balances, but also gives the floor to the Afghan government to seek possible ways in encouraging individual parliamentarians to support the government dominance over the Parliament. Despite the dominance of the new Parliament by individuals, the government of Afghanistan will still be facing a strong parliamentary opposition consisting of the supporters of Dr. Abdullah the main opposition leader, and the representatives of Hazara and Uzbeck ethnic groups who have been widely disappointed from the government in the last couple of years (Media-Witty News, 2010).

While placing some checks and balances on the power of President Karzai by the new Afghan Parliament is the cornerstone for strengthening the post-2001 democratization process in Afghanistan, competition between various parliamentarians, in particular, ethnic groups might undermine the ability of the new Afghan Parliament to maintain a balance between the Executive and the Legislative branches of the state. For example, widespread ethnic tensions were the most obvious features of the previous Parliament of 2005, which not only led to further fragmentation among ethnics rather than national unity but also provided the government with the exceptional opportunity to broadly ignore the Parliament as an independent branch of the state (Sultanpoor, 2005).

However, the new Parliament is significantly varied from that of the previous one due to the ethnic representation of Afghanistan. For instance, there were 45 – 48% Pashtun members, 24 –27% Tajik members, 11 – 13% Hazara members, 8 – 9% Uzbeck members, and  4 –5% other ethnic groups members in the previous Parliament of 2005 (Sultanpoor, 2005). However, the Pashto-speaking majority in the new Parliament has now disappeared and Pashtun candidates have won only 88 seats out of 249 seats which accounts of 35% of the representatives in the new Afghan Parliament (GGS-News, 2010). Not only the Pashto-speaking majority has disappeared from the new parliament but also Tajiks have reportedly won nearly the same seats as Pashtuns (RFERL-News, 2010). Based on the significant changes in the ethnic representation, the new Parliament will no longer be dominated by a specific ethnic group, in which the major ethnic groups will have the opportunity to cooperate to further constraint one another that is mostly important for the practice of democracy in the Parliament of Afghanistan.   

To conclude, the final results of the 2010 Parliamentary Election of Afghanistan indicate that the Afghan government, regardless of its consistent efforts, has failed to have a majority of its supporters in the new Parliament. Not only President karzai’s favourite candidates have had less opportunity to win the majority in the Parliamentary Election but also the ethnic representation of the new Parliament has been largely changed due to the significant disappearance of Pashtun members. However, the final results of the 2010 Parliamentary Election indicate that the new Parliament will probably place some checks and balances on the President Karzai’s power in the forthcoming years. If ethnic tensions again do not undermine the performance of the new Parliament, the new component of the Parliament will significantly contribute to power-sharing among various ethnic groups to further strengthen the democratization process in Afghanistan.

December 5, 2010

Farhad Arian is a former official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. He is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in International Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU).


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