Popular Sympathies as a Factor in the Conflict

Apart from six months in Pakistan I have always been inside Afghanistan. During the communist regime I unfortunately spent most of the time in prison. I still believe that my personal heaven is Afghanistan, and I wish to live in my heaven and die in my heaven, hopefully not now but later.

I am deeply impressed and touched by the presentations that have been given at this conference. This is the first time ever that I have heard speeches that so deeply go into the problems of Afghanistan. I would however like to take this opportunity to ask the Swedish and Norwegian authorities, and also bring to the attention of his Excellency the Ambassador Jawed Ludin, to rethink the policies of the Swedish and Norwegian Governments about the asylum seekers here.

I totally agree with the excellent, however pessimistic, analytical picture of Mr. Barnett Rubin, saying that if you want to have the problem solved you have to do a proper and deep analysis. I would like to add to it some good and optimistic information. Three weeks ago there was an interview with the Minister of Mines and Industry in Kabul. He revealed and unbelievable piece of information. The Minister said that 30% of the mines in Afghanistan have been surveyed from space. This amount is that huge that if you excavate 50% of the mines you will get revenue of between USD 200 and 300 billion. This amount of money is even 30 times more than the amount that we have now pledged for Afghanistan, and this far we have only been able to spend 28% of this amount. This is perhaps an area where we can see that Afghanistan is a resource, and we are looking very much forward to this in the country.

As has been mentioned before, it is not fair to ignore what has been achieved so far in Afghanistan. I believe that the interim Government, the constitution and the elections, both the presidential and the parliament, were successes. The Berlin conference and the London conference were successes for the people of Afghanistan. Progress can be seen in different areas of the society and programs for the future development are initiated. On the internet and from other sources can be seen more in detail how many roads there are, how is the access to water, how many clinics, schools and students there are and how the development is proceeding in the areas of trade, agriculture, communication, modern science and global linkage. There are national programs for Afghanistan like the National Solidarity Programs (NSP) and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). I would like to mention and emphasize that the challenges that Afghanistan is facing are so huge that they can always undermine the achievements. We are dealing with huge poverty, insecurity and many other problems.

Let me go back to the expectation of the people of Afghanistan. I am coming from the grassroots level, and my organization is a real grassroots organization that is working in all provinces of Afghanistan. We are even present in the most insecure areas of Uruzgan and Zabul in the South. We just won a contract with a contractor of USAID to implement local government capacity building programs in these particular provinces, where insecurity is erupting.

The expectations of people at the grassroots level were in the beginning very high. We thought that the Americans and the westerners were coming together with democracy and that there would be many funds for Afghanistan. We were expecting to see prosperity, security, employment and justice coming to Afghanistan. We also expected poverty to be eradicated, and that the social services and social justice would be available for everybody. Unfortunately the expectations were too high, and the national, international and regional commitment was very much too low. This is where the failure starts. There was a very solid attention towards Afghanistan, not only from the part of Sweden, but from everybody. But behind this attention there is no solid commitment for implementation.

There are 29 countries working with security in Afghanistan. I think that 75% of the budget allocated for Afghanistan is now spent on security. But what is the outcome of the security efforts? There is now more insecurity in the country than before.

Afghanistan is now more hostile to Pakistan and Iran than it was before and there also is more ethnic hostility inside the country than before.

One has to put focus on the reasons for the failure. What went wrong? In this I am talking on behalf of people who are illiterate. Firstly I think there was no comprehensive regional plan in the strategy to tackle the problems. America had their own agenda and their own interest, the Europeans had theirs and Pakistan, Iran India had theirs, which were very similar.

There has not been any coordination among the actors in Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan always claims that it is not aware of the plans of the different actors in the country. For example, they claim to be unaware of what is happening in the country when the coalition forces and ISAF are bombing or when Pakistan is entering into Afghanistan. Coordination has not existed at all, and Afghanistan has suffered very badly from this. Different actors have different development plans for Afghanistan. Sweden has its own agenda, and is working in the way that we like. Accordingly Germans, Norwegians, Americans, Brits and Bulgarians have their own agendas. There has always been a question of who is doing what in Afghanistan and the government has not been fully aware of the answer to that question.

PRT is a new phenomenon in the country. We do not know what the PRTs are doing. The perceptions are that the PRTs are trying to build up a parallel government to the Government of Afghanistan. There are more resources with the PRTs than with the Government of Afghanistan. I would like to mention that the budget of one of the PRTs, consisting of 1,200 people, is EUR 550 million per year. This can be compared with the total development budget of the country, which amounts of USD 1,132 million per year.

Huge amounts of money are coming into the country, but are not being spent on the right things, and not in coordination and close cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan, the civil society and with the other groups in the country which are deeply involved in development processes of the country. What is needed is a dynamic economy plan for the country, to be recognized by all parties. Not only by the Government of Afghanistan, but by all groups of the society and all the international actors in Afghanistan.

We want to address comprehensively the issue of social development and the political justice in the country. We are very worried about the future of justice. We all believe in democracy, but we do not want democracy in Afghanistan. Both Afghans and international actors in Afghanistan want democracy in their neighboring countries, but not inside their respective country.

Focus must be on coordinated approaches for solving the problems, in consultation with the people of Afghanistan, and with the Government of Afghanistan. National programs, such as NSP, need to be implemented throughout the country to provide job opportunities to the people of Afghanistan, and eradicate poverty. Poverty is erupting everywhere. I assume in the North poverty is now ten times what it was six years ago. The North is not secure anymore. It seems like it is calm, but it is not. It is just the calm before the storm. Poverty could be the main reason for any insecurity increase in the North.

Afghan ownership and partnership must be stressed. I am very straightforward on this issue. We do no feel the afghan ownership throughout the whole process and we do not see real partnership in these processes. For Iran it takes two weeks to dismiss two of the ministers. For Pakistan it takes one week to do whatever they want to do in Afghanistan. For Russia it takes a week’s time to disorder one of the cities in the country. I am not going to talk about what the UK and the United States are doing, but I would like to mention that I have heard, from the Senior Advisors of the President, that if President Karzai wants to remove someone from the police headquarters it will take him 15 days to do that. This is not a good sign of Afghan ownership. The president has to consult everybody whether he is able to remove a person or not.

We need an administrational reform and we need a commitment for that. Whenever we want to remove a human rights violator, we face resistance. Not only from the Government of Afghanistan but sometimes also from the International Community. It can be noticed that only ten out of 34 governors in the country have not been involved in the past war activities. We also need proper counter-corruption programs in Afghanistan, supported by the International Community.

We are fed up with the dual policies. We do not see frankness and straightforwardness in the policies. Pakistan has a dual policy in Afghanistan. We always attack poor Pakistan, but there are many other countries which also have dual policies in Afghanistan. This makes it difficult for the Government of Afghanistan to really tackle the problems, and consequently makes like difficult for the people of Afghanistan.

When it comes to drug and poppy eradication, we are extremely worried. At this stage the drug economy is the only sustainable economy in the country. The total government revenue for this year is around USD 350 million. The ordinary budget of the country is USD 700 million. Afghanistan is thus not able to finance its budget form its revenues. The only sustainable economy at this stage in the country is the drug economy. Who will govern Afghanistan in five years from now if the International Community will get ort from Afghanistan or pull out their assistance and generous support to Afghanistan? If the International Community leaves Afghanistan it will presumably fall into the hands of the drug owners and mafia since we do not have the economy to take the power from the drug dealers and the drug mafia.

Aziz Rafiee About the author
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