Too Soon to Exit Afghanistan
Posted on: August/10/2015 8:50 am by: Abdurahman Rasikh

The US-NATO led war in Afghanistan has been one of the deadliest and most expensive wars on terrorism. The tragic events of 9/11 returned a forgotten Afghanistan back to the world stage and, with it, came a massive international commitment to confront the Taliban and Al-Qaida militants, rebuild our broken economy and government, and bring our people peace and security.

Key investments have been made in education, health, security, rule of law, governance, and the economy, but these gains of the past twelve years are now jeopardized by the volatile security situation in our country. Despite over a decade of relentless coalition military operations, in concert with Afghan national security forces, the future has become foggy as the Taliban resurges deadlier and more organized than before. They not only grow in number, but spread their influence to most of our provinces. While Al-Qaida still threatens us, ISIS seeks to export to us its sectarian-based hatred to further threaten our country and region as a whole.

Afghanistan has made considerable political, governance, and socio-economic progress. In the governance sector, public administration reform program brought positive change to our legal framework, rationalizing organizational structures of our governmental machinery, introduced a new civil service pay and grading system, and recruited a new generation of young and well educated civil servants. During the Nato-Afghanistan security transition process, our government successfully firmed up our most vulnerable provinces. To improve the delivery of basic government services to our people we recruited and appointed over 700 university graduates and another 2359 employees in provincial and district capitals. Public trust and security improved dramatically.

Yet, our state building effort is not complete and remains stymied by widespread, even worsening, corruption. A resurgent Taliban imperils our reforms as most areas of the country are no longer secure enough for civilians and government officials to work or travel. The army and police are inadequately trained and equipped to battle the insurgents. Internal political instability and a lack of a national consensus about the future of Afghanistan further feeds the kind of chaos that provides fertile ground for regional neighbors and their proxies to fight their battles on Afghan soil.

Political discord within our government not only weakens our ability to deliver public services, it also considerably reduces the government's effectiveness in maintaining security at the district level, especially in the countryside. As a result, people are arming themselves, forming unauthorized and untrained militias that further deteriorates security. These local armed groups engage in armed robbery, abductions and extortion.The resulting sense of abandonment has spawned anti-US sentiment, especially in the north of Afghanistan, which has been traditionally pro-American.

Despite the fragility of our situation, NATO and the US are still set to depart and hand over an increasingly war-ravaged country to a rudimentary Afghan army. After years of support the West has understandably grown tired of war and the high cost of maintaining a durable peace. However, it is important to consider the consequences of departure in light of the aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal that led to the Taliban takeover and eventually the 9/11 attack from our soil. Abandoning Afghanistan at this critical juncture will prove costly. We cannot help but note the sad consequences of US military withdrawal from Iraq.

Afghanistan needs continued US and international support now more than at any other time since 2001. Our state building requires prolonged support to establish and maintain a functioning administration, army and police. With the combined challenges presented by Russia, Iran, the Central Asian countries, the Taliban, Al Qaeda and now ISIS-Afghanistan, we along with the rest of the world face a security threat far greater than that posed by Al Qaeda prior to 9/11. Left on its own, Afghanistan will be again reduced to a hot bed of terrorism threatening regional and world security.

Mr. Rasikh Abdul Rahman is Director General of Provincial Affairs at the Afghanistan Civil Service Commission where he is responsible for public administration reform program in the country's 34 provinces, 364 districts and 155 municipalities. 

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