Will Afghanistan successfully transition to self-reliance and democracy in 2014?
Stability in post-2014 Afghanistan depends on political and security circumstances – which have been and continue to be – undermined by the Afghan government’s tensions with the United States and regional mistrust.
At the current stage, Afghanistan is in the midst of a security transition process, which will see security shift from NATO-International Security Assistance Force to Afghan National Security Forces. The current transition process also depends largely on the peace process, which now is unclear and suspended due to the Qatar peace talks scandal.
To describe Afghanistan’s post-2014 situation, we must analyze the opportunities presented to Afghanistan as well as the challenges it faces.
The international community has allocated billions of dollars to Afghan security and development. Afghanistan and NATO are both concerned with defeating the common enemy of terrorism and extremism. Afghanistan has shown signs of improvement with the democratic process and will hold presidential elections in April 2014.
Post-2014 Afghanistan challenges are not limited within its borders
On the one hand, cross-border security and regional mistrust are complicating the situation. On the other hand, aid-dependency weakens Afghanistan’s self-sufficiency and sovereignty. Additionally, the lack of good governance and high-level of corruption puts the people in a bottomless doubt whether this government can pass the 2014 exam successfully.
Afghanistan will face more challenges in 2014 when international troops evacuate, political transition approaches and if the security situation gets worse.
Evaluating Afghanistan’s opportunities, challenges, weaknesses and abilities, it is perhaps conclusive that both international allies and Afghan citizens are watching how the Afghan government keeps its promises for a democratic state, sovereign government and a peaceful country.
What remains as the only hope is the scheduled presidential elections on April 5, 2014. This revolutionary date will decide the future of Afghanistan over the next decade. Holding free and fair elections is a key reason for such an enormous achievement that would positively shape Afghanistan’s destiny.
But crisis and chaos is possible if the election does not occur based on its predefined factors and legal framework.
For instance, if for any reason one tribe or a potential candidate does not accept the result, unrest could spread in many parts of the country. Moreover, the lack of rule of law, private armory, tribal breakage, insurgency and poverty growth could threaten the Kabul government.
To prevent possible post-election crisis, Afghanistan’s international allies should keep their commitments for governance sufficiency, security assistance and regional cooperation.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan should improve the functionality of its service and security institutions to reflect a political system safeguarding election transparency and upholding its pluralistic society based on human rights and the rule of law. Although Afghanistan faces many challenges towards its transition to democracy, it is certainly clear that the Afghan people – after decades of suffering – deserve a better life.
Naheed Farid, Afghanistan’s youngest MP, says she wants to “break taboos.” Naheed received the highest number of votes of any woman running for office in Herat Province in 2010. At 29, Naheed is the youngest member of Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament. She recently talked about her efforts to “break taboos” in many international conferences and encourages young people to get more involved in the Afghan political process. Naheed holds an undergraduate degree from Herat University and a master’s degree from The George Washington University. Naheed has found it is difficult to get things done in the legislature. Resistance to change is strong, and efforts to press ahead with legislation designed to improve education and equal opportunities for women have stalled recently. Naheed characterizes the Afghan legislature as “backward,” but still retains hope that change is possible through grass-roots activism.