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Volume 1-Number 3, December 2011

ATLANTIC ATLANTIC TREATY TREATY ASSOCIATION ASSOCIATION

Exit Afghanistan: Prospects for civilian stability and development Atlantic Voices is the monthly publication of the Atlantic Treaty Association. It aims to inform the debate on key issues that affect the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its goals and its future. The work published in Atlantic Voices is written by young professionals and researchers. With NATO withdrawal from Afghan combat deployment rapidly approaching in 2014 this issue, investigates the security situation in Afghanistan and how and if civilian led efforts can help promote and guarantee the security of Afghanistan in the long term. Civilian efforts and economic development are increasingly important to determining the future stability of

Afghanistan, and was one

subject of discussion at the International Af-

Contents: Can NATO Leave Behind a Literate Afghan Police Force? Geoff Burt and Michael Lawrence examine the recent development of the Afghan National Police Force, assessing the impact that widespread illiteracy has had and highlighting the importance of literacy programs to continuing NATO efforts in Afghanistan and its COIN operations.

ghanistan Conference in Bonn.

We hope you find the following pages both informative and thought provoking, As part of our goal in promoting and informing the public debate upon these topics, Atlantic Voices is happy to accept responses to the issue and articles we have selected.

Atlantic Voices Volume 1 Issue 3

Stabilization Afghanistan

and

Reconstruction

Efforts

in

Rahmatullah Quraishi explores the importance of economic development to the future of Afghanistan, arguing that in order to ensure a stable and conflict free society, country-wide economic development is they key. Looking at how past development policies have failed Rahmatullah Quraishi goes on to make recommendations for more balanced programs for development.

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Editorial: Bonn, Gone but not forgotten? The 2011 Bonn Conference on Afghanistan passed by

The killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in unclear circum-

with almost no mention by international Media outlets,

stances by NATO certainly angered the Pakistan Govern-

many of whom only weeks previously had been promoting

ment, already riled by the US operation to kill Osama Bin

the idea of Bonn as a key chance to move towards a negoti-

Laden. The Withdrawal of Pakistan from the conference

ated peace in Afghanistan, and to resolve some of the big-

was the key turning point, as the country is so crucial to

gest issues facing the country.

the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

Bonn became a victim of ‘realities on the ground’. In a

Although in the end Bonn “committed” governments

relatively short period of time, speculation that the Tali-

to aid Afghanistan for the next 10 years, few specific de-

ban, or at least elements of Taliban leadership, would send

tails were offered, the results of Bonn were largely rhetori-

some kind of representative to Bonn was crushed. Only

cal, and offered little to goals of negotiated peace.

weeks later Pakistan, who had once hinted at an ability to

Despite this apparent set-back 2 years of combat de-

bring the Haqqani Network, a major insurgent group, to

ployment for NATO remain, and Governments have at

the negotiating table, withdrew.

least pledged, in principle, to commitment beyond 2014 .

ATA Chapters Organise Afghanistan Youth Conferences The German Atlantic Association and the Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association both organized youth conferences on Afghanistan, inviting young participants from throughout the Atlantic Community and from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Organised to coincide with the Bonn Conference the German Atlantic Treaty Association’s “International Afghanistan Student Conference” saw youth participants meet with German political leaders such as Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle, German Federal Foreign Minister; and with Afghan national representatives. ***

About the Authors Geoff Burt and Michael Lawrence

Rahmatullah Quraishi

Geoff Burt and Michael Lawrence are Research

Rahmatullah Quraishi has worked with the United Na-

Officers of the Global Security Program at the Centre For

tions and World Bank amongst other international organi-

International Governance Innovation, an independent non-

sations in Afghanistan. In addition to this, he has been

partisan think tank based in Waterloo, Canada. Their

closely involved in the development and implementation

research focuses on security sector reform, state-building,

of a number of youth and civil society development pro-

and conflict. Michael Lawrence’s contribution is supported

jects. Holding a Masters in General Management, Rahmat-

by a Security and Defence Forum Internship Grant from

ullah Quraishi has also worked for the Human Rights

the Department of National Defence, Canada.

Chair’s Office at the University of Connecticut, USA.

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Can NATO Leave Behind a Literate Afghan Police Force? by Geoff Burt and Michael Lawrence

T

While the Afghan national Army (ANA) has a critical role to play in bolstering the Kabul regime through coun-

he NATO mission in Afghanistan has long

terinsurgency (COIN) operations, it is the police who

touted the training of the Afghan National

serve the daily security needs of their communities. Police

Security Forces (ANSF) as the only durable,

officers are the most visible face of the state to ordinary

long-term solution to the country’s myriad security chal-

Afghans and their high community contact places them at

lenges, including insurgency, terrorism, warlords, and

the forefront of efforts to exclude terrorist and insurgent

rampant human insecurity. A capable and effective ANSF

influence. By effectively investigating crimes, upholding

represents the international community’s exit strategy

rights, resolving disputes and safeguarding communities,

from Afghanistan. As the Commander of the NATO Train-

the ANP can bolster support for the government and curb

ing Mission in Afghanistan (NTM-A), Lieutenant General

the appeal of other armed groups3.

William B. Caldwell IV, and Captain Nathan K. Finney put it, NATO is ‘building the security force that won’t leave’.

Ineffectiveness, rampant corruption and abuse have the

As the 2014 deadline to begin US troop withdrawal from

opposite effect and ANP performance, by any measure, has

Afghanistan approaches, the ability of the ANSF to provide

fallen dismally short. Within the three main bodies of the

security and enforce the rule of law is becoming an urgent

ANP (the Afghan Uniform Police, the Afghan Border

priority.

Police, and the National Civil Order Police), ISAF has not rated a single unit as capable of functioning without inter-

The training process is attempting to overcome some

national assistance4. A United Nations Office on Drugs and

monumental barriers as it constructs a security sector that

Crime survey found that in 2010, one quarter of the

can simultaneously combat terrorism and insurgency and

respondents had paid at least one bribe to a police official

satisfy the security needs of the population. Three decades

in the previous year. Reflecting their lack of faith in Afghan

of war have devastated both the physical and human re-

institutions, only nine percent of urban respondents had

sources upon which capable security institutions are based. Chief among the many gaps in human resources is illiteracy, which former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke called one of the most

ever reported an act of

Public opinion polls point to rampant official corruption as the leading grievance against the Afghan government.

“extraordinary” hurdles facing ANSF training1. Iraq

corruption to authorities. The same survey found

that

when

approached by civilians, police, court, and

presented international actors with daunting reconstruc-

customs officials request a bribe nearly half of the time5.

tion challenges but programs benefitted from an educated

Afghans are fed up. Public opinion polls point to rampant

populace with an adult literacy rate of 74.1%. Afghani-

official corruption as the leading grievance against the

stan’s 28% adult literacy rate represents a challenge of a

Afghan government. Even more disturbing, the Afghan

starkly different order . While illiteracy poses grave chal-

police are often themselves a source of insecurity. Accord-

lenges to all facets of security sector reform (SSR) – not to

ing to Lt. Gen Mohammad Rahim Harifi, head of statistics

mention reconstruction, state-building and development

and analsis for the Afghan government’s top prosecutor,

more broadly – this paper examines the role of literacy

“nearly 200 policemen were accused of murder and just

training in international efforts to build a capable Afghan

over 4,600 were involved of crimes in 3,026 separate cases

National Police (ANP) force.

sent to the attorney general in Kabul in [the] year that

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itized combat support functions over community policing.

began March 2010”6.

While eliminating terrorism and insurgency is an essential With time running out for ANP training, the NTM-A is

step towards a better future in the country, so is the con-

focusing many of its resources on literacy training to im-

struction of capable and legitimate security infrastructure

prove police performance and improve its alarmingly poor

that can provide for citizens needs while garnering support

record. The change in strategy is long overdue.

As

for the state. While the counterinsurgency effort looms

Holbrooke testified, “For seven years, for reasons I cannot

largest in international assistance to Afghanistan, everyday

understand, the United States participated in training Af-

security and justice may be much more important for the

ghan police at vast expense without giving them literacy

Afghan population. Indeed, a 2009 poll conducted by the

training… We were turning out police with 88 percent

Royal United Services Institute and the BBC in Afghanistan

illiteracy, and it went right by everyone.” For the most

asked Afghans what they thought was the biggest problem

part, their focus was elsewhere— on getting as many

confronting Afghanistan. 26% pointed towards the econo-

‘boots on the ground’ as possible, as quickly as possible, to

my, poverty and jobs; 24% pointed towards security war-

contribute to the counterinsurgency campaign which was

lords, attacks and violence; but only 8% pointed towards

the paramount concern of international security assistance

the Taliban insurgency specifically9. While international

to Afghanistan.

actors often conflate insecurity with the insurgency, these

7

findings suggest that it has a much broader meaning for For the police, this too often meant deploying before

Afghans.

they have acquired the skills they need to perform their duties. As late as November 2009, the majority of police

The international emphasis on force levels persists as

were deployed without any basic training, and those that

the NTM-A strives for a target force size of 157 000 ANP

were trained largely received instruction on infantry tactics

members by October 201210. International assistance,

provided by military personnel8. The police have been

however, has begun to counterbalance the concern for

largely treated as a paramilitary force deployed to support

quantity of officers with greater attention to the quality of

the ANA in its fight against insurgents. In these circum-

their training and performance. As the NTM-A reported in

stances, there was little concern for pervasive illiteracy in

its year in Review report for 2009-10, the focus on quantity

the police force.

“was understandable given the immediate operational need

International assistance to the Afghan police thus prior-

for large numbers [police, but] it had a corrosive impact on

Source: NATO Training Mission—Afghanistan

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the quality of the AUP and fostered a negative public opin-

operations. Orienteering imperatives like reading a map or

ion of the Afghan police in general.” Despite over $12

recognizing street signs become possible. Literacy is also

billion allocated to police training by the United States

especially important for administrative tasks that involve

alone12, the ANP has proven largely corrupt, abusive and

documents and identification, and especially to border

ineffective. The Strategic International Afghan National

control. Further, the inability to keep diligent records hin-

Police Development Symposium in Brunssum, Nether-

ders accountability and transparency, creating a space for

11

corruption to flourish

lands in January 2011 thus cited “a recognized need to balance the immediate security imperatives with

As an encouraging sign of its commitment to quality, NTM-A has implemented a “recruit-train-assign” model

the enduring requirements for a responsive, accountable and capable policing institution that can support and sustain the rule of law in Afghanistan.”13

within the ANP. Finally, and more important than all else, literacy is a foundation-

al skill that enables officers to acquire further skill sets, Literacy training is central to this shift towards quality.

including investigative techniques, human rights and

According to former NTM-A Deputy Commander for

gender training, community policing, training, and special

Programs, Col. John Ferrari, “Literacy is the single most

tactics. Without this foundation, NTM-A and Afghan

important thing we are doing at NTM-A.” Between Oc-

trainers are limited to oral and visual training techniques ill

tober 2010 and May 2011, NTM-A had spent $8.6 million

-suited to subjects that involve lists, memorization, docu-

on ANP literacy training . In June 2011, UNESCO and

mentation and either technical or nuanced content.

14

15

the Japanese government agreed to begin a $3 million literacy training program for 3000 ANP personnel in Kabul

As an encouraging sign of its commitment to quality,

and seven other provinces over the next 20 months . In-

NTM-A has implemented a “recruit-train-assign” model to

deed, the NATO training mission is today the largest adult

replace what might be called the “recruit-assign-intend to

literacy program in the entire country.

train” model which saw 60-70% of the force hired and

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deployed with no training whatsoever20. Today there are Literacy is vital to effective policing in several respects.

37 training centres around Afghanistan, which hold lan-

It is foundational to the rule of law as a basic means of

guage classes of no more than 33 students at a time. Each

identifying people, making detailed reports about inci-

day, 9000 trainees benefit from these facilities, which will

dents, and understanding what the law actually says . This

expand their capacity to train 20 000 recruits each day by

point seems obvious, but as late as November 2009 ANP

April 201321. Each month, approximately 21 000 ANP

officers were being deployed without any training (let

officers receive 64 hours of instruction to achieve grade 1

alone literacy training) so that, as NTM-A explains, “the

literacy, with an 87% pass rate22. Presently, over 30 000

majority of police did not know the law they were respon-

(22%) of the 135 000 members of the ANP have passed

sible to enforce… Not unexpectedly, most Afghans had

the level one literacy exam, 18 000 the second level exam,

come to view the ANP as lawless armed men, rather than

and 9000 the third level23.

17

trusted law enforcement officials”18. Indeed, a 2009 survey by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commis-

While the focus on literacy is a positive step, it remains

sion (AIHRC) found that fewer than 20 percent of law

a recent and belated one. It is too early to tell whether

enforcement officials were “aware that it’s illegal to tor-

literacy is having an impact on police performance or help-

ture someone accused of a crime”19.

ing to repair (or even build for the first time) the tenuous relationship between citizens and police. It is unlikely that

Literacy facilitates many aspects of day-to-day police

literacy alone will stem the tide of police corruption and

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abuses that plague Afghanistan today. Indeed, ANP training ultimately aspires to achieve grade 3 level literacy, which will likely remain insufficient for the more complex tasks described above (administering technical documents for example). Yet any progress on literacy will help develop administrative capacity, improve understanding of the law, and advance record-keeping that will help crack-down on these offenses. In this sense, literacy is the keystone of the core SSR concern for promoting good governance and effective management systems in security institutions as a necessary complement to improvements in their on-theground capacities. Ultimately, the long-overlooked issue of literacy training directs our attention to more profound issues in Afghanistan and beyond. Among the most enduring lessons of the international engagement in Afghanistan is that a narrow conception of security—that is, freedom from

Notes 1 Edwin Mora, “NATO’s Education Training Chief Unsure When Afghan National Security Force Will be Fully Literate,” CNS News (22 July 2010), available at: http://www.cnsnews.com/node/69843. 2 Based on Statistics from United Nations Development Program, International human Development Indicators (accessed 21 Sept. 2011), available at: http:// hdrstats.undp.org/en/tables/default.html. 3 A UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report observes that “the police force, through its regular contact with the general population, has greater potential to change popular conceptions about the legitimacy of the Afghan government than the ANA.” United Kingdom House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee - Eighth Report Global Security: Afghanistan and Pakistan (21 July 2009), 1. Available at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/ cmfaff/302/30202.htm. 4 United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Quarterly Report to the United States Congress (30 July 2011), 55. Available at: http://www.sigar.mil/July2011Report.asp. An ‘independent’ rating denotes: “The unit is able to plan and execute its missions, maintain command and control of subordinates, call on and coordinate quick reaction forces and medical evacuations, exploit intelligence, and operate within a wider intelligence system.” 5 United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Corruption in Afghanistan: Bribery as Reported by the Victims (January 2010), 9. Available at: http:// www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/Afghanistan/Afghanistancorruption-survey2010-Eng.pdf. 6 Mirwais Harooni, “Billions Spent on Afghan Police but brutality, Corruption prevail,” Reuters.com (24 August 2011), available at: http:// www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/24/us -afghanistan-police-crimeidUSTRE77N10U20110824. 7

Quoted in: Mora.

In 2009 there were over 1000 military mentors but only around 500 civilian police advisors focused on police development. See: Scott Chilton, Eckart Schiewek, and Tim Bremmers, Evaluation of the Appropriate Size of the Afghan National Police Force (Kabul: 15 July 2011), available at: http:// blog.foreignpolicy.com/files/ANP_Tashkil_Final_Study.pdf. 8

needs facing the population of conflict-affected societies.

9 See: Michael Clarke, “More Effort Needed to Win Afghan Hearts and Minds – Afghanistan Opinion Poll 2009,” Royal United Services Institute Commentary (no date), available at: http://www.rusi.org/analysis/commentary/ ref:C4990051938E13/. Survey results are available at: http:// news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/05_02_09afghan_poll_2009.pdf.

The belated strategic shift towards more education and

10 William Caldwell, preface to Shohna ba Shohna [Shoulder to Shoulder – NTM-A Public Affairs publication] vol. 1 no. 1 (September 2011), 2.

training for the ANP in 2009 seems to suggests a realiza-

11 NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A), Year in Review: November 2009 to November 2010 (November 2010), 18. Available at: http://www.ntma.com/documents/enduringledger/el-oneyear.pdf.

insurgent attack—fails to capture the range of security

tion that poorly-trained police forces were not only unable to provide a robust paramilitary function in the COIN effort, but that a lack of community policing capacity, along with police abuses and impunity, were undermining the already fragile state-society relationship to the detriment of both COIN and SSR. The security of Afghans represents just one of many international objectives in Afghanistan, but it has important consequences for other goals. It cannot be neglected.

12

Opening statement, quoted in: Konrad L. Shourie, “Beyond Brunssum: ANP Development,” (12 February 2011), 2. Available at: http://ntm-a.com/ wordpress2/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Brunssum-and-Beyond.pdf. 14 Col. John Ferrari, “One on One: NTM-A’s Deputy Commander for Programs,” Shohna ba Shohna vol. 1 no. 4 (July 2011), 5. Echoing this sentiment, Afghan Minister of the Interior Bismellah Mohammadi stated at the Brunssum conference: “The first priority is training and education”. Quoted in Shourie, 5. 15

SIGAR, 67.

16

Ibid., 68.

17 Maj. Jeremy Burnan, head of the literacy branch of the NTM-A, explains: “Without literacy there are no civil rights, no accountability, no understanding of [the] Rule of Law. I can identify a person; I can write a report myself. I can describe an incident and write it down. I can read the law - I am the complete policeman and twice the citizen.” G. A. Volb, “To Learn to Read: Literacy Training Enhances the Afghan national Security Force,” Shohna ba Shohna vol. 1 no. 4 (July 2011), 7. 18

The massive investment in literacy training by the NTM-A is a credible first step towards a legitimate and community service oriented police force. However, too much damage may have already been done to salvage a relationship of trust and respect between the Afghan police

SIGAR, 65.

13

NTM-A, Year in Review, 18.

Steven Chase, “Afghan Officials Unaware Torture Illegal,” The Globe and Mail (1 May 2009). 19

20 United States Department of Defense, Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, and United States Plan for Sustaining the Afghanistan national Security Forces (2009-2010), 118. Reports can be found at: http:// www.defense.gov/pubs/. 21 Walter M. Golden Jr. “Policing the Training: Engaging the Afghan National Police Training Organization,” Shohna ba Shohna [Shoulder to Shoulder – NTM-A Public Affairs publication] vol. 1 no. 1 (September 2011), 5.

and the communities they serve in time for the Interna-

22

Shourie, 4, 7.

tional community’s withdrawal. The best case scenario for

23

Golden, 5.

the NTM-A’s new training model is therefore to give the

The views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. They

ANP the skills required to start the gradual process of re-

do not necessarily represent the views of the Atlantic Treaty Association,

gaining that lost trust in Afghanistan’s post-NATO future.

it’s members, affiliates or staff.

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Stabilization and Reconstruction Efforts in Afghanistan by Rahmatullah Quraishi

Background

A

fghanistan, following Russian war, continued to go through severe civil conflict from 1989 to 1995, then enjoying a comparatively peaceful era until 2001. During this period of relative peace and security, the government had very limited capacity to deliver basic social services and most of the institutions couldn’t continue the historical ability to address hardship caused by the long civil war. This resulted in acute unemployment not only among professional Afghans, but also large number of the youth. Compounded by this, AfghaniSource: NATO ISAF stan’s socio-economic structure, which was already fundamentally devastated due long war, continued to and the living conditions of the Afghan people. In othflare up and vanish. er words, if, currently, it takes decades to rebuild and Alongside this, the international community susreconstruct the country, support at that time would tained pressure against the Taliban regime with an have sharply reduced the time period and resources to increasing regime of sanctions, pushing the country to rebuild today’s Afghanistan. even worse humanitarian crises. The international community failed to understand that sanctions and Post 2001 pressure against Taliban regime did not affect their Following collapse of the Taliban government, power to rule the large number of developed countries made country, but they Since there was a dire need of rehabili- their way to Afghanistan and rapidly initiated harshly added to the many humanitarian and development projects. tation in almost every sector, a huge burden of catastroSince there was a dire need of rehabilitation in number of development efforts were phe and problems on almost every sector, a huge number of develrequired ... civilians. The Afghan opment efforts were required to allow the people felt alone, particularly during the rule of the country and its people to stand alone. Alongside this, Taliban regime, when there was comparative peace efforts continued to build the capacity of the demoand security yet they badly needed assistance and supcratically elected Afghan government to ensure peace port to recover from the long Russian and civil war. and security and effectively deliver basic services. This is when, the international community missed an During the reconstruction process, immense proopportunity to create an Afghanistan that would have gress has been made in almost every field, either been very different today, if the Afghan people had through quick impact or long term development probeen supported and assisted at that point in time. The grams. A constitution was adopted and over 75% votsocio-economic structures of the Taliban regime have ers participated to in government elections. Afghanidirect influence and linkages with today’s situation stan’s economy has seen very significant progress with Atlantic Voices Volume 1 Issue 3

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robust GDP growth and huge amount of investment ferent matters and problems, and addresses them by both national and international companies. More through a form of collective decision making. There than 6 million children are at school and basic health are many examples of development issues that govservices extended to most remote areas. Thousands ernment institutions couldn’t secure community conkilometres of roads have been constructed to intesent for through formal channels and methods, but grate rural and urban areas, largely improving the later issues were very easily resolved by these tradiagricultural economy. tional community structures and mechanisms. The capacity of the During the course of the many programs design During the course of the many pronational police and and implementation, there was little or no congrams design and implementation, army has been greatly sultation with communities, their structures, there was little or no consultation enhanced to fight values and attitudes were not considered, with communities... against insurgents and which resulted in failure for some very crucial ensure peace and seprojects. This deprived some communities of curity in some urban areas. Government institutions assistance and support, whilst simultaneously it sehave been equipped with more resources to extend verely compounded a lack of trust between people and provide required services where possible. and government. This resulted in increased instabilThere are significant numbers of development proity, insecurity and more vulnerability. Also, due to grams and achievements almost in all areas, resulting lack of prioritization and realistic strategies, rural arein improved quality of life for Afghans and strengthas and their relevant sectors, particularly agriculture, ening government capacity to provide social services. were not given the required fundamental support and However, together with all this development, there assistance. have been many new challenges. Afghanistan is faced Second, in Afghanistan over 75% of the people live with these because of irrelevant, improper, and poor in rural areas where agriculture is the primary source policies and strategies. Below are discussed some of of income, in addition to this it is the main compothe key sectors where, in the context of Afghanistan’s nent of the Afghan economy. Despite the fact that current transition period, dynamic and positive proonly 12 per cent of Afghanistan’s total land area is gress can be made. arable and less than 6 per cent is currently cultivated, First, Afghanistan is a country, which is strongly more than 80 per cent of Afghanistan’s population is united and combined by in-depth community strucinvolved in farming, herding or both. The agriculturtures derived from various roots and historical tradial sector contributes about half of GDP (excluding the tions. This especially applies to rural Afghanistan, opium economy). According to international organiwhere the majority of the decisions and are made zations, to enable faster economic growth and rural through traditional mechanisms. Afghanistan’s 34 poverty reduction, agriculture needs to grow at least provinces can be clustered into 6 regions, each with 5% per year over the next decade. But its main drivspecific characteristics, values, norms and attitudes. ers of growth like technology, roads, irrigation, and Within each region, province and district, there are education are deteriorated due to conflict, lack of local community structures with a leader, who normaintenance, and frequent droughts. mally is a religious scholar or someone with power to The recent efforts and rebuilding processes focusinfluence local citizens. The community leader is aling on the agricultural sector are not aligned with the ways at the forefront of contributions, donations, hospriorities on the ground. Market linkages between pitality or sacrifices. He normally defines and estabagribusiness and industry are clearly missing, and Aflishes decision making process and structures for difghan framers have not been provided with modern Atlantic Voices Volume 1 Issue 3

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agricultural skills and technologies. Almost, all factorealities and actual needs assessments with consultaries which depended on agricultural raw materials and tion from local communities. The development stratcould provide job opportunities to very large number egies should include the characteristics, elements, and of unemployed Afghans remain derelict. Support to potential of each specific region and geographical area these government and non-government firms would to ensure local response to local needs. Huge focus not only increase productivity and employment, but it should be placed on two very important components; would also immensely contribute to a reduction of a) revision of curriculum and materials based on the poppy cultivation, which is considered to be the main current market needs b) establishment of value chain source of income for insurgents. For example, the and provision of clear market linkages for all technical cotton seed factory in Helmand, which has not been vocational education graduates. During the whole rebuilt and made functional, could make huge differprocess ownership at very grass roots (district) levels ence in reduction of poppy, providing job opportunineeds to be maintained, which has not been practiced ties, increases in the local income and improved stain the past. So far, most of the international originability. Likewise, there are examples in other provinctions and development partners have been holding es as well, where factories and industrial parks remain relatively few meetings with ministries and other govuntouched and unsupported over the last 10 years. ernment institutions at central level, assuming this is Third, within the education sector, historically sufficient for coordination and a sense of national Afghanistan has always had a need for technical vocaownership! tional education, alongside general and higher educaFourth, Small and Medium Enterprise develoption. Due to its context, geographical structure and ment has always proven to be the most important local industry, there has been always a very high dedriving factor for the development of any war affected mand for skilled labor to meet market demands. This country. In Afghanistan to achieve long-term stability particularly applies at the current juncture since there and prosperity, it is important that the successes of have been large number of development programs, the past ten years on the political and institutionwhich need relevant skilled laborers. But the focus building fronts are matched on the economic front from international community and development prowith poverty reduction and sustainable job creation. grams is only on general education, disregardThis is especially true ing the importance of the technical vocational for rural Afghanistan, This resulted in the employment of education and training. There are over 6 milforeign workers, causing Afghan youth where most of Aflion students in general education (36% feghanistan’s populato remain jobless, which immensely male), while in technical vocation education tion lives and where contributes towards insecurity... the total number of students is not more than the problems of pov100 thousand. Not only is the number of stuerty and unemploydents and graduates are not responding to market ment are particularly severe. needs, but also the curriculum and its tools and mateWhereas the Afghan economy as a whole has regisrials are irrelevant to market demands and employers tered robust growth rates in recent years, these figrequirements. This resulted in the employment of ures largely reflect booming construction and tradeforeign workers, causing Afghan youth to remain jobrelated activities in urban areas and the steep rise in less, which immensely contributes towards insecurity, narcotics. There has been little growth of enterprisehopelessness, and an indefensible local economy. related activities in rural areas of Afghanistan, and To overcome this trouble, sound and clear stratemost people still live on subsistence farming. Even gies need to be developed based on ‘on the ground’ where Afghanistan could be self-sufficient in agriculAtlantic Voices Volume 1 Issue 3

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ture-related products, the country imports vast quantime. The worsening peace and security situation has tities of food and other easily-manufactured daily use been severely undermining the wonderful achieveitems, while the exports sector remains small and unments and development that Afghanistan made with diversified. The lack of economic growth in rural aresupport from the international community. Afghans as directly contributed to unemployment among are now in between either standing firm against the youth, who are easily manipulated and misguided by current challenges or losing hope, which will mean a many antireturn to the civil war of the 90s, which was government eleresponsible for the deaths of more than one The current transition period is the ments, particularly most appropriate time to implement hundred thousand innocent Afghans and forcing insurgents and drug more than 10 million people to migrate to othnationally-owned development dealers because youth er countries. programs with longer vision in rural areas are the The current transition period is the most apmost vulnerable and largest group of Afghan populapropriate time to implement nationally-owned tion, development programs with longer vision, based on Hence, in order to provide most these communithe past lessons learnt i.e. ensuring involvement of ties in need with legitimate income and address uncommunities, focusing on youth employment, ecoemployment among youth, it is vital to enhance local nomic growth through enterprise development, realenterprises and strengthen their capacity to effectively istic health, education and agricultural projects, and manage their business and value-chain, produce more respect for Afghan beliefs and customs. Unlike in the products and link with markets for more access to past, the starting point for projects should be rural finance and other services. This needs to start with areas, not urban areas. mapping the potential of productivity in each geoIn Afghanistan peace, security, democracy and graphical region, followed by development and imhuman rights can be achieved through the developplementation of realistic national-led strategies and ment of economic growth programs and projects. programs. Due diligence has to be exercised when However it is not true that development and economimplementing the rural enterprise development proic growth can be accomplished by implementing programs by identifying and ensuring the important role grams and projects through international NGOs on of rural communities during the whole process, which democracy and human rights. hasn’t been considered in most of the rural development programs over the past ten years. Finally, large numbers of development projects were implemented with aims to provide immediate support without considering the establishment of a system within government or community to maintain and sustain such support for longer periods. This includes the implementation of projects through international companies and NGOs, who had no or very little understanding of the Afghan context. On one hand Afghanistan, over the past ten years, made rapid strides toward development and the econThe views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. They omy witnessed vigorous growth rate, on the other do not necessarily represent the views of the Atlantic Treaty Association, hand, peace and security gradually deteriorated over it’s members, affiliates or staff. Atlantic Voices Volume 1 Issue 3

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Atlantic Voices Volume 1 Issue 3

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Atlantic Voices Volume ? Issue ?

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Atlantiv Voices - Vol. 1 no.3  

The third issue of the Atlantic Treaty Association's publication Atlantic Voices. This issue examines the prospects for civillian developmen...

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