Challenges lie ahead for Afghan govt
Peace and development were on the agenda at a ministerial-level United Nations conference on Afghanistan in Geneva on Friday. President Ashraf Ghani attended the conference to assure the international community that his government achieved most of the tasks in the 2016 framework for peace and development. Afghan officials explained how the projects, such as reforming the army and improving women’s rights, were achieved.
The unity government of Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah used the meeting in Geneva as an opportunity to convince the international community – the major donors – that they need another five years to reach the framework’s goals.
This might not be soon enough for the millions of Afghans living under the poverty line who are frustrated by poverty, combined with the lack of security and jobs.
It seems Ghani and Abdullah were more concerned with convincing the international community which one is a better candidate to run in the presidential election next spring.
Still, a month and half after the country’s parliamentary elections on Oct. 20, the results haven’t been announced. The fact that the election committee and the government were both unable to count 3 million votes shows how the lack of transparency still plays a major role in Afghanistan.
The government was unable to count 3 million votes shows how the lack of transparency still plays a major role in Afghanistan.
Even the results of the last presidential election, held in 2014, resulted in political deadlock until former US Secretary of State John Kerry went to Kabul and made the deal between the two rivals.
While Ghani and Abdullah were busy establishing their own authority, Afghanistan experienced the bloodiest years since the Taliban resurgence in 2002.
As of Jan. 31, 2018, 229 districts were under Afghan government control, which is about 56.3 percent of total Afghan districts, meaning almost half the nation is controlled by rebels or the Taliban. The number of Afghan refugees is also increasing, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Now the US special representative, Zalmay Khalilzad, who was born Afghanistan, is engaged in peace talks with the Taliban, while the Taliban refuses to accept the legitimacy of the current government or to negotiate with it directly.
The UN also reviewed the reports of the fate of $15 billion, which the international community donated to Afghanistan in 2016.
According to the presidential spokesperson at the event in Geneva, “The Afghan government achieved 60 percent of its commitments,” although it wasn’t clear exactly what. Given the challenges that lie ahead, Ghani and Abdullah will need to do a lot more convincing.
Camelia Entekhabifard is an Iranian-American journalist, political commentator and author of Camelia: Save Yourself By Telling the Truth (Seven Stories Press, 2008).