Over the past four decades, Afghanistan has suffered from prolonged imposed war and internal conflicts, adversely affecting the country on different fronts. Displacement and mass migration to the neighboring countries and beyond, lack of quality education system, paralyzed healthcare services, dire poverty, and hunger are the consequences of the never-ending war in the country. Afghan people have experienced the worst possible situation under different political regimes backed by foreign counties. Despite the overwhelming problems, Afghans stood firm with resilience against the chaotic conditions inspired to achieve lasting peace and a better future.
Since the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the establishment of the democratic government, the country has undergone a substantial transition period in specific domains. With the continuous support of the international community and donor nations, Afghanistan has experienced unprecedented development in education, healthcare, economy, telecommunication, transportation, regional and international trade, and more. Most importantly, the ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks and reconciliation process makes people hopeful for a brighter future and peaceful life.
Uplifting the education sector of Afghanistan has been an essential priority for the international community. The educational programs and initiatives of international NGOs and the Afghan government have drawn massive investment in improving the education quality and building educational infrastructures across the country. The number of students attending schools and universities of private and public sectors has substantially increased over the years. A significant rise in female students with outstanding academic performances is promising—indicating that the demand for education is rapidly growing in Afghanistan. These are encouraging signs which play a crucial role in shaping the future of the young generation. Empowering individuals through education is the most appropriate strategy in uplifting the living conditions of people and breaking through the poverty cycle that has trapped Afghans for decades.
Furthermore, internet connectivity and telecommunication services have improved to a great extent. Domestic and international telecommunication companies (Roshan, Afghan Wireless, MTN, Etisalat, Salaam, tec.) have accordingly offered communication and internet services. Today, a large majority of people benefit from internet services at different levels. The increase in internet connectivity has helped Afghan people to remain connected to the rest of the world and avoid the isolation that left the country in the shadow of illiteracy, tyranny, and poverty for countless years.
The dissemination of information and knowledge-sharing technologies has experienced a remarkable period over the years. Afghans have benefited from the availability of rich information brought forward through sources online and offline. More specifically, college and university students have extensively utilized such sources in implementing their research projects and academic works. Currently, students have access to journals, educational websites, and research articles from universities worldwide. Now more than ever before, Afghans have the chance to find prestigious scholarships and take distance courses offered by renowned universities. The advancement of information sharing and communication has revolutionized the teaching and learning approaches among enthusiastic Afghan men and women.
Besides being an import-based economy in nature, the country’s economy gradually increases incremental improvements across different areas such as agricultural products, services, and foreign investment in mining, construction, infrastructure sectors, and more.
Finding alternative routes of doing trade with regional and international partners is another opportunity that helps the country boost its trade relations. Lageward and Chabahar are two new routes that facilitate export and import rather effectively to global markets. These new routes minimize the country’s over-reliance on Karachi port, increase connectivity, allow Afghan traders to reach their products to international markets on time, and avoid unnecessary details.
Meanwhile, the transportation sector has gone through significant improvements. Since the establishment of the democratic government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in 2003, several thousand-kilometer roads have been asphalted. Construction companies funded by NGOs and the international community have done a fantastic job to build roads across the country, notably in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar, and other provinces.
Most importantly, peace negotiations with the Taliban excite the Afghan people more than anything else. Afghans suffered imposed wars for decades and fought hard for sustainable and dignified peace for their country. There is a high contingency that the Taliban will compromise with the government on making a peace deal through a political settlement. Hopefully, the peace process would yield positive outcomes because all parties have lost enough resources and are exhausted from the ongoing war. Killing innocent people and confronting one another on the battlefield is not the ultimate solution to the Afghan war. Thus negotiations seem a viable option for bringing a permanent peace that includes all parties.
The optimism created makes Afghan people hopeful for a better future with boundless opportunities on the horizon and peace on the forefront. Afghan people have demanded peace for decades but failed to achieve it due to foreign interventions in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and more. In addition to all the uncertainties and ongoing issues, improvements are expected to occur and quick start the peace process.
This transition period should be embraced and taken as the starting point of a new beginning. It has already laid the foundation for significant changes and development in the country in the years ahead. With sound strategic plans, there is a lot more to achieve, leading the country towards economic prosperity and self-reliance in the long term.