Thursday, July 24, 2003
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A few months ago I expressed pessimism about the state of affairs in Afghanistan. However, in scanning my recent posts about the country -- here, here, and here, I've noticed an encouraging trend of positive developments. An upbeat report from Glenn Reynolds' Kabul correspondent suggests statebuilding efforts are working. The key graf:
Is this part of a more encouraging trend in that war-torn country?
The answer is still mixed. The good news is that the central government is getting its act together. Hamid Karzai's efforts to increase revenue flows from the provinces to the central government is a partial success. The central government is conducting the first census in 24 years. That sounds mundane, but these kind of statistics are vital for ensuring stable economic and political development. The new Afghan National Army is also conducting its first military operations, deploying 1,000 troops in a joint exercise with U.S. forces against Taliban remnants in the southern mountains.
The improvements in state institutions are matched by an increase in democratic activism and national pride. Consider a few grafs from this report:
Quite a different take than Amnesty International's more downbeat assessment.
Meanwhile, in Kandahar -- the Taliban's old stronghold -- a thousand people filled the largest mosque to protest Pakistani incursions into Afghan territory. A top Taliban leader was arrested there earlier in the month.
The reduction of instability -- combined with an adjustment in tactics -- has permitted the United Nations to restart its de-mining operationsin the southern provinces.
Beyond the state, things are looking up as well. This year the country will experience its biggest wheat crop in two decades -- not a difficult achievement, but still important. A consortium of telecommunications firms are setting up the country's second cellular phone network. Movies are being shown in the provinces.
So has a tipping point been reached where stability will be the norm rather than instability? Not yet. In the short-term, attacks on coalition forces increased over the past month. Some of the provinces are still beset with Taliban activity and a paucity of reconstruction aid. Other provinces are still experiencing factional fighting. And the Afghan defense minister still seems to believe that confiscating opposition newspapers is a viable policy option. Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are badly strained. According to the Christian Science Monitor, this year also produced a bumper opium crop in addition to a good wheat harvest. More disturbing is the link between opium and the Taliban resistance:
Is there a pattern? Sort of. It's clear that conditions are improving in areas where the central government holds some sway. However, that remains a very small portion of the country. As state institutions improve, one hopes that it will expand.
Developing.... in an uncertain way.posted by Dan on 07.24.03 at 01:59 PM
Doing the research on human rights in Afghanistan, I would be grateful if knowledgeable person could assist me in getting information on the student demonstration which was organised at the end of January in Kabul university.
Thank you very much in advance,
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