By: Ajmal Shams

It has been more than two years since the Taliban were overthrown and the US backed administration, led by Hamid Karzai, took charge of Afghanistan.  Ever since the Taliban’s vanishing from the scene, there is a growing sense of optimism that that after decades of war and bloodshed, Afghanistan might be back on track and peace and peace and stability will return to the war-ravaged country. It is difficult to predict the timeframe required for the country to have a stable economy and strong institutions, especially in view of the prevailing uncertain military and political situation. However, there is a growing tendency among Afghans of a sense of responsibility and awareness which is a positive development resulting from decades of civil war and instability. The pace of development and reconstruction in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to foreign and especially western aid. Afghanistan has virtually lost its physical and economic infrastructure. The interim government of Hamid Karzai had to start from a scratch.

Among many initiatives taken by the government in economic sector, the issue of new currency was a big achievement. However, it will be difficult to keep the inflation rate at constant low level without having a permanent economic base. The main hurdles in the way of economic are political instability, absence of centralized national army, internal conflicts, warlordism and security concerns posed by remnants of Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

It would be overoptimistic to expect quick solutions to these problems, which have taken roots over years of foreign interference, war and instability. However, the presence of political will on the part of Afghan leadership and commitment from Western Powers would pave the way for lasting peace and prosperity in the country. It should be emphasized that a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is in the interest of the region and the international community at large.

Afghanistan needs continuous flow comprehensive aid packages for building its highways, irrigations systems, hydropower plants, schools and hospitals. The country is not deficient in natural resources. Nevertheless, it is the financial and to some extent the human capital for which Afghanistan has to rely on affluent and technologically advanced nations. Afghanistan has a huge potential to earn  substantial amounts of foreign exchange by boosting its agriculture production. Therefore, investment in the agriculture sector would bring about rapid improvements in agro-economy. In order for the financial resources to be efficiently utilized in agriculture and other sectors of economic development, the people at the helm of affairs must be people of integrity and be qualified for the job. You cannot afford to have a doctor running and engineering school or an engineer running a medical college. Merit has to be respected at all costs if a just and fair society is to be established in Afghanistan.

United nations and other relief organizations popularly known as Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) have been active in Afghanistan for quite a while. Although UN’s role in peacemaking has been less productive, its efforts in relief and rehabilitation works have always been appreciated and acknowledged by Afghans. Recently UN has increased its operations in Afghanistan and is actively engaged in all areas of socio-economic development. As far as the performance of NGOs is concerned, most Afghans have a more pessimistic view in this regard. A general opinion is that there has not been any substantial development in infrastructure, healthcare, or education in spite of the fact that hundreds of NGOs have been in operation for the last 20 years and millions of dollars have been spent. Some even go that far saying that the only reason the NGOs presence in the country might be justified is that they have employed a good number of Afghans getting posh salaries and benefits.

There might be some truth in that these NGOs have not made any noteworthy achievement in community development, however, most people do not realize that these NGOs work in specific areas, mostly conducting small-scale projects in agriculture, engineering, healthcare, education and emergency relief. It should be understood that building a county’s infrastructure on such massive scale that would encompass the entire country is not the task of NGOs. It is something that only governments can accomplish under macro level worth billions of dollars, which in the prevailing circumstances can only be realized by foreign funding. NGOs working in Afghanistan do certain flaws in their funding mechanism, recruitment policies and project implementation processes that need to be rectified. Most significantly, there must be an efficient check and balance from donors to ensure proper utilization of funds and no embezzlement.

Secondly, recruitment of staff should be strictly on merit and there should be no favoritism and nepotism impacting the hiring of employees. Well-qualified and skilled personnel are vital for the realization of NGOs goals and objectives.

Education and healthcare are two of the most significant indicators of human development index. Afghan government needs to prioritize these two sectors of social development. Quality education that is reflective of the ideals of Afghan society and meets the challenges of the 21st century should be provided to all Afghans without any gender discrimination. Similarly better healthcare centers should be established across the country and provision of clean drinking water and better sanitation facilities should be ensured.

Afghanistan has certain unique features that make it distinct among nations in terms of its potential for growth and socio-economic development. These include small population, large area, rich natural resources and its geo-strategic location. It is a good co-incidence that a peaceful, stable, strong and prosperous Afghanistan is no longer a choice, it is a necessity.

The writer is President of the Afghanistan Social Democratic Party (well know as Afghan Millat National Progressive Party) - Courtesy: Political Economy, The News International, April 2004

د ګوندمرامنامه  دګوند تاریخچه زمونږ دریځ لیکنې دا فغان ملت نومیالي دګوند مشر انځورونه خبرونه او غونډې مونږ سره اړیکې د ګوند اخبار

دافغان ملت ملي مترقي ګوند

 Afghanistan Social Democratic Party

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