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SUSTAINABLE STRATEGIES FOR AFGHANISTAN

AND THE REGION AFTER 2014


Charles King Mallory IV (ed.)
Joachim Krause (ed.)

CONFERENCE PAPERS
PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

The Aspen Institute Germany and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung wish to thank the Robert-Bosch-Stiftung, Daimler AG,
the Embassy of the United Kingdom to the Federal Republic of Germany and the Gesellschaft fr Sicherheitspolitik und
Rstungskontrolle - Deutsches Strategieforum for their support of the
2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum

The mission of The Aspen Institute is to improve the


quality of leadership through dialog about the values
and ideals essential to meeting the challenges facing
organizations and governments at all levels. Over its
sixty year history, the Aspen Institute has been devoted
to advancing values-based leadership to creating a
safe, neutral space in which leaders can meet in order
to discuss the complex challenges facing modern societies confidentially and in depth, with respect for differing points of view, in a search for common ground.
This report includes papers and proceedings of The
2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum, which the Aspen Institute Germany and the Konrad-AdenauerStiftung convened in Germany in January 2012.
THE ASPEN INSTITUTES ROLE IS LIMITED TO
THAT OF AN ORGANIZER AND CONVENER.
ASPEN TAKES NO INSTITUTIONAL POSITION
ON POLICY ISSUES AND HAS NO AFFILIATION
WITH THE U.S. OR GERMAN GOVERNMENTS.
ALL STATEMENTS OF FACT AND EXPRESSIONS
OF OPINION CONTAINED IN ALL ASPEN PUBLICATIONS ARE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF
THE AUTHOR OR AUTHORS.
For further information about The Aspen Institute,
please write
Aspen Institute Deutschland e.V.,
Friedrichstrae 60, 10117 Berlin,
Federal Republic of Germany
or call Aspens Executive Director at
+49 30 80 48 90 14.
or visit our website at
www.aspeninstitute.de
Copyright 2012 by The Aspen Institute Deutschland
e.V.
All rights reserved. This report may not be reproduced
in whole or in part, in any form (beyond that copying
permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and excerpts by reviewers for the public
press), without the express, prior, written consent of the
publisher.

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum

CONTENTS
ABOUT ASPEN

05

CONFERENCE AGENDA & PARTICIPANTS

13

SESSION II:

PAKISTAN: A CRUCIAL AND VULNERABLE ACTOR IN THE REGION

1. Christine Fair
U.S.-Pakistan Relations: Ten Years after 9/11
SESSION III:

25

CONSEQUENCES OF UNEVEN DEVELOPMENT AND THE USE OF NATURAL


RESOURCES: REGIONAL ECONOMIC, DEMOGRAPHIC, AND
ENVIRONMENTAL DEVELOPMENTS AND DYNAMICS

2. Keith Crane
The NATO Drawdown: Implications for Afghanistan and Pakistan

SESSION IV:

33

IMPLICATIONS OF REGIONAL POLITICAL RIVALRIES FOR AFGHANISTAN


AND PAKISTAN

3. James Dobbins
Launching an Afghan Peace Process

SESSION V:

45

THE ROLE OF GREAT POWERS IN THE REGION

4. Anthony Cordesman
Transition in the Afghanistan-Pakistan War and the
Uncertain Role of the Great Powers

SESSION VI:

59

THE FUTURE OF ISLAM AS A POLITICAL MOBILIZATION


FACTOR IN THE REGION

5. Sumit Ganguly
Militant Islam in South Asia: Past Trajectories and Present Implications

CONFERENCE PAPERS PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

139

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum
SESSION VII:

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

SCENARIOS FOR AFGHANISTAN AND FOR THE REGION AND


POLITICAL OPTIONS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

6. Thomas Ruttig
Afghanistan between Democratization and Civil War: Post-2014 Scenarios

149

7. Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

APPENDIX I:

Scenarios for Afghanistan & for the Region & Political Options for the
International Community

163

ACRONYMS USED

177

BIBLIOGRAPHY

179

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT ASPEN

183

CONFERENCE PAPERS PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum

CONFERENCE PAPERS PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum

ABOUT ASPEN
THE MISSION OF THE ASPEN INSTITUTE IS
TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LEADERSHIP
THROUGH DIALOG ABOUT THE VALUES AND
IDEALS ESSENTIAL TO MEETING THE
CHALLENGES FACING ORGANIZATIONS AND
GOVERNMENTS AT ALL LEVELS.

What do you have from the fact that 36,000 participants*


from business, politics, diplomacy and culture have come
together at the Aspen Institute Germany in the course of
the last 35 years?

* Including 16 Foreign Ministers, 26 U.S. Governors


and German State Premiers, 7 Heads of State, 19 Ministers and 7 members of the U.S. Senate
The world is safer
The world is more transparent

The Aspen institute brings business, science, politics,


diplomacy and culture togetherglobally, intellectually, inter-culturally.
Top leaders in different regions of the world, founded
eight independent, but closely cooperating, Aspen institutes in order to advance universal values and values-based leadership.
Over 550 leaders from business, science, politics, diplomacy culture and non-governmental organizations
support Aspens activities in over fifty different countries.

CONFERENCE PAPERS PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

On August 28, 1949, two thousand guests


celebrated Johann Wolfgang von Goethes
birthday in Aspen Colorado. One year later,
the German immigrant Walter Paepcke
founded the original Aspen Institute

A U.S. entrepreneur and German immigrant Walter


Paepcke (1896-1960) founded The Aspen Institute in
1950 in Aspen, Colorado, after he had been inspired by
Mortimer Adlers seminar on the classics of philosophy
at the University of Chicago.
Paepcke had visited the collapsing mining town of Aspen in Colorados Roaring Fork valley in 1945. Inspired by its natural beauty, Paepcke became convinced that Aspen could be converted into a place
where leaders could meet in retreat from their daily
toil.
To realize this vision, in 1949 Paepcke organized a celebration of Johann Wolfgang von Goethes 200th
birthday in Aspen, Colorado. Over two thousand guests
took part. Amongst others, Albert Schweitzer, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Thornton Wilder and Arthur Rubinstein
attended. Paepcke founded The Aspen Institute one
year later.
Paepcke wanted to created a forum at which the human spirit could blossom amidst the storms of modernization. He hoped that the institute would help leaders reorient themselves towards eternal truths and ethical values in the daily management of their business.

Twenty four years later, German Federal


Chancellor Willy Brandt, Die Zeit publisher
Countess Marion Dnhoff, German Federal
President Richard von Weizscker and
Shepard Stone founded the Aspen Institute
Germany.

In 1974, German Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt, Die


Zeit publisher Countess Marion Dnhoff, German Federal President Richard von Weizscker and Shepard
Stone founded the Aspen Institute Germanyas the
first Aspen Institute outside of the United States.
Under Stones leadership (1974-1988), the institute
made a significant contribution to achieving mutual
understanding between the East and West blocs during
the Cold War. Aspen was one of the few places where
high-ranking East bloc and West bloc representatives
were willing to meet in a neutral, respectful and confidential atmosphere in order to look for solutions to the
East-West conflict together.
Under Stones successors, the institute dedicated itself
to the search for solutions to the Yugoslav conflict and
other foreign and security policy issues. The Aspen Institute Germany organizes public events, and conferences and seminars with the goal of reconciliation,
promoting peace, preventing conflict and advancing
mutual understanding in the Near- and Middle-East,
Southeastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Northeast and South Asia.

Inspired by Mortimer Adlers seminar on the classic


works of philosophy, Paepcke founded the Aspen Executive Seminar. In the 1960s and 1970s the institute
broadened its program with many new programs.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Three programs that regularly publish


academic reports form the core of Aspens
current work.

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum

Aspen Leadership Program


Leadership Seminars |

On the basis of Eastern and


Western classic and modern texts, participants deliberate together on the proper structure of and role of
leadership in the good society. They thereby gain
knowledge and insight, new perspectives and a
greater ability to conquer complex challenges.

The Aspen Executive Seminar

For over sixty years, the Aspen institutes have been


organizing multi-day retreats for top leaders in order
to advance values-based leadership.
Content and Organization
Leaders from Germany and the United States meet
for several days and in a Socratic dialog and intensively discuss philosophical texts from Occident and
Orient. The goal is to develop and apply the principles necessary for the construction of a good society in a manner relevant for international partnership
in mastering a number of critical future international
challenges such as:
The modern welfare state
Migration
Integration of minorities
Climate change
Participants prepare for the seminar via intensive
reading of excerpts from relevant texts and deal with
the following topics in the process:
Human Nature
Natural Law
Freedom
Property and Productivity
Equality and Social Welfare

CONFERENCE PAPERS PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Meetings of Foreign Ministers

West Balkan Seminars

Aspen convenes an international meeting of foreign


ministers once a year. In December 2007-2010 highranking U.S. representatives and top politicians and
officials met with six Foreign Ministers from Southeastern Europe at a closed-door conference. In 2010,
German Federal Foreign Minister Dr. Guido Westerwelle and his Austrian counterpart Dr. Michael
Spindelegger opened the conference.

The Aspen Institute organizes two seminars a year


one in Germany, one in the region with four participants each from the USA, Germany and the West
Balkans region to discuss current and future challenges to the region.

The Topics:
Reconciliation in the Western Balkans
Regional cooperation
NATO and EU integration
Economic development and energy security
A stable security architecture for Southeast
Europe

The events are organized in cooperation with Southeast European governments and are complemented
by high-level guest speakers from the respective
host country.
The Goals:
Establishing transatlantic networks that in
clude Southeast European leaders;
Contributing to the political and economic
stabilization of a region that remains
important for future European and
transatlantic security

CONFERENCE PAPERS PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum

Aspen Policy Program

Aspen DPRK-USA Dialogue

Programs to address current complex policy challenges faced by society. Conferences and seminars
on complex political and social developments: these
are analyzed in confidence and together viable solutions are developed. The institute mediates between
conflict parties with the aim of using a holistic approach to defuse or solve the most difficult challenges arising in international relations.

An unofficial, confidential Track II meeting of senior government officials from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and former senior policy
makers and North Korea experts from the United
States of America.

Aspen European Strategy Forum

A strategy forum for top international and transatlantic leaders from business, science, politics, diplomacy and culture, convened to discuss strategic
challenges openly and in depth behind closed doors.
Kickoff presentations by international experts
Feedback and dialogue with policy makers
Search for an international consensus
Development and publication of constructive
suggestions that can be implemented, are
relevant and are of practical value to policy
makers
The Topics:
2008 International State Building and
Reconstruction Efforts: Experience Gained
and Lessons Learned
2009 Russia and the West: How to
Restart a Constructive Relationship
2010 The Strategic Implications of the
Iranian Nuclear Program
2012 Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan
and the Region after 2014

The Goals:
Exploring the envelope of possible solutions
to the North Korean nuclear crisis
Making a contribution towards renewed
DPRK-U.S. contact in official channels
The Topics:
Denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula
Conventional Armaments Reductions
International Economic Cooperation with the
DPRK
Normalization of DPRK-USA relations
Concluding a peace treaty by which to end
the Korean War.
Strengthening Near-Eastern Civil Society

A series of twenty convenings conducted over the


course of three years designed to build networks and
capacity in key sectors of civil society in the Islamic
Republic of Iran, the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon.

CONFERENCE PAPERS PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

10

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Aspen Public Program

Aspen Germany Publications 2009-2012

Public presentations by and discussions with highprofile speakers. A platform at which differing opinions can be exchanged and debated and new ideas
can be introduced.

Krause, Joachim | Mallory, Charles, (eds.),


Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan and the Region after 2014 (Aspen Institute Germany: Berlin,
2012) Available at www.aspeninstitute.de

A selection of speakers from 2009-2011:

Krause, Joachim | Mallory, Charles, (eds.),


The Strategic Implications of the Iranian Nuclear
Program (Aspen Institute Germany: Berlin, 2011)
Available at www.aspeninstitute.de

Dr. Josef Ackermann, Deutsche Bank AG


Dr. Manfred Bischoff, Daimler AG
Dr. Klaus-Peter Mller, Commerzbank AG
Dr. Bernd Reutersberg, E.ON Ruhrgas AG
Dr. Dr. Hans-Werner Sinn, ifo-Institut fr
Wirtschaftsforschung
Bundesminister Dr. Guido Westerwelle
Roland Koch, Ministerprsident Hessen
Bundesminister Dr. Wolfgang Schuble
Bundesminister Thomas de Maizire
Brigitte Zypries, Bundesminister a.D.
Prof. Dr. Volker Perthes, Stiftung Wissen
schaft und Politik
Dr. Thilo Sarrazin
Paul S. Atkins, U.S. Securities & Exchange
Commission
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, C.
Boyden Gray
Elliot Abrams, Deputy U.S. National Secu
rity Advisor
Lt. Gen (ret.) Ricardo S. Sanchez, Coalition
Joint Task Force 7
Prof. Dr. John L. Esposito, Georgetown
University
Dr. Kevin Hasett, American Enterprise
Institute
Prof. Dr. Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown
University

Krause, Joachim | Mallory, Charles, (eds.),


International State Building and Reconstruction Efforts: Experience Gained and Lessons Learned
(Barbara Budrich: Farmington Hills MI, 2010)
Available at www.amazon.com
Bhnke, Olaf | Azimi, Amin | Spanta, Frangis Dadfar | Zillich, Helena | Morton, Allison | Reynolds,
Justin | Gottwald, Ramona | Schreer, Benjamin |
Mallory, Charles, Iran: Supporting Democratic Reformers (Aspen Institute Germany: Berlin, 2010)
Available at www.aspeninstitute.de
Krause, Joachim | Kuchins, Andrew | Rahr, Alexander | Schreer, Benjamin | Mallory, Charles, Russia
and the West: How to Restart a Constructive Relationship (Aspen Institute Germany: Berlin, 2009)
Available at www.aspeninstitute.de
Over five hundred additional academic reports published by the Aspen Institute Germany can be obtained at http//archive.aspeninstitute.de

CONFERENCE PAPERS PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

The Friends of the Aspen Institute Exists


so that the Aspen Institute Germany can
continue to work independently in the future
as well

Representatives of German business, science, politics, diplomacy and culture founded the Friends of
the Aspen Institute (Verein der Freunde des Aspen
Institut e.V.) in 1989 in order to support the mission
and goals of the institute.
The institutes work can be supported via a tax deductible membership contribution to the Friends of
the Aspen Institute, as a Corporate, Private or Junior
member. The revenues generated in this manner
cover the core operating costs of the Aspen Institute
Germany. This financial support permits the institutes staff the freedom to execute the institutes
mission.

Aspen
European
Strategy Forum

Benefits of Membership in the Friends of the


Aspen Institute

Aspen offers members of the Friends of the Aspen


Institute:
Exclusive access to recognized national and
international experts and select, top decision
makers.
Participation in confidential conferences,
seminars, roundtables and lectures that deal
with the most important current challenges
and issues.
Detailed, non-partisan analysis of important
political, economic and cultural challenges.
Insight into the latest political and economic
developments and their impact on your work
well before they become known to a
broader public.
Access to an international network of
decision makers in eight different countries.
Additional information from books,
conference reports, newsletter and events.
As a corporate member in the Friends of the
Aspen Institute (Verein der Freunde des
Aspen Instituts e.V) you support Aspens
many activities, receive access to our
international network, as well as invitations
to Conferences, Seminars and public events.
In addition, you receive copies of
Aspens publications free of charge.
Would you like to know more?
You are more than welcome to attend one of the
next Aspen Public Program events:
freunde@aspeninstitute.de

CONFERENCE PAPERS PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CIRCULATE

11

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In cooperation with:

The Aspen Institute


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region
after 2014
2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum
Monday, January 9, 2012 Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Hotel Adlon, Unter den Linden 77, 10117 Berlin, Germany

Gesellschaft
fr Sicherheitspolitik und
Rstungskontrolle

Aspen Institute Deutschland e.V.


Friedrichstrae 60
10117 Berlin | Deutschland
T +49 (0) 30 804 890 0
info@aspeninstitute.de

The Aspen Institute Germany and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung wish to thank


the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Daimler AG, the Embassy of the United Kingdom to the Federal Republic of Germany
and the Gesellschaft fr Sicherheitspolitik und Rstungskontrolle - Deutsches Strategieforum
for their support of the 2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum

The Aspen Institute


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum | Draft Agenda


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region after 2014

After foreign troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan in late 2014, the future stability of the country, neighboring Pakistan, and the general regional neighborhood will be open to question. A renewed civil war and an
eventual return of the Taliban to power cannot be ruled out. Pakistan itself may continue to be characterized
by growing instability. The surrounding region will be the subject of great power competition involving regional and extra-regional actors. Given the importance that the Afghanistan-Pakistan area has for the stability
of the wider region, for the fight against Islamist terrorism, and for future nuclear non-proliferation, the strategic challenges that NATOs withdrawal from Afghanistan pose for the international community are
enormous. The 2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum will tackle this challenge by seeking to address a number of related questions.

The Aspen Institute


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum | Draft Agenda


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region after 2014

MondaY, JanuarY 9, 2012


18:00 19:00

Welcome Cocktail

19:00 22:00

Welcome Dinner (Hotel Adlon, Wintergarten)


After Dinner Speaker:
Ambassador Mark Sedwill CMG,
Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Foreign and Commonwealth
Office, United Kingdom

tueSdaY, JanuarY 10, 2012

Hotel Adlon / Akademieraum I


09:00 09:15

Welcoming Remarks:
Dr. Gerhard Wahlers, Deputy Secretary General,
Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Berlin
Prof. Dr. Joachim Krause, Aspen Institute Germany, Berlin

09:15 11:00

Session i:

afghanistan after the bonn Conference

Chair:

Karsten D. Voigt, Former Coordinator of German-American


Cooperation, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

Panelists:

Stephen Biddle, Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC


Philipp Ackermann, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin
Hamid Gailani, Former Deputy Speaker of the Afghan Senate, Kabul

11:00 11:30

Coffee Break (Akademie Foyer)

11:30 13:00

Session ii:

Pakistan: a Crucial and Vulnerable actor in the region

Chair:

Mark Sedwill, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London

Paper:

Christine Fair, Georgetown University, Washington DC

Panelists:

Christian Wagner, SWP German Institute for International and


Security Affairs, Berlin
Farzana Shaikh, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London
Habib Malik Orakzai, Pakistan International Human Rights
Organization, Islamabad

13:00 14:30

Lunch (Akademieraum II)

The Aspen Institute


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

14:30 16:00

2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum | Draft Agenda


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region after 2014

Session iii: Consequences of uneven development


and the use of natural resources:
regional economic, demographic, and environmental
developments and dynamics

Chair:

Charles King Mallory, IV, Aspen Institute Germany, Berlin

Paper:

Keith Crane, RAND Corporation, Washington, DC

Panelists:

Stefan Oswald, German Federal Ministry of Economic


Cooperation, Berlin
Gareth Price, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London

16:00 16:30

Coffee Break (Akademie Foyer)

16:30 18:00

Session iV: implications of regional Political rivalries


for afghanistan and Pakistan

19:30 22:00

Chair:

Thomas Bagger, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

Paper:

James Dobbins, RAND Corporation, Washington, DC

Panelists:

Christian Koch, Gulf Research Center Foundation, Geneva


Hasnain Kazim, Der SPIEGEL, Islamabad

Reception and Dinner hosted by Daimler AG


(Haus Huth, Alte Potsdamer Strasse 5, 10785 Berlin)
After Dinner Speaker:
Dana Rohrabacher, Chair, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations,
U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs

The Aspen Institute


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum | Draft Agenda


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region after 2014

WedneSdaY, JanuarY 11, 2012

Hotel Adlon / Akademieraum I


09:00 10:30

Session V:

the role of great Powers in the region

Chair:

Stefan Friedrich, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Berlin

Paper:

Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International


Studies, Washington DC

Panelists:

Brahma Chellaney, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi


Pan Zhenqiang, China Institute of International Studies, Beijing
Thrse Delpech, Commissariat l'Energie Atomique, France

10:30 11:00

Coffee Break (Akademie Foyer)

11:00 12:30

Session Vi: the future of islam as a Political Mobilization factor


in the region

12:30 13:30

Chair:

Heinrich Kreft, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

Paper:

Sumit Ganguly, Indiana University, Bloomington IN

Panelists:

Senator Mushahid Hussain, Pakistan Muslim League


(Quaid-e-Azam), Islamabad
Nader Nadery, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights
Commission, Kabul
Conrad Schetter, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universitt,
Bonn

Lunch (Akademieraum II)

The Aspen Institute


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

13:30 15:30

2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum | Draft Agenda


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region after 2014

Session Vii: Scenarios for afghanistan and for the region and Political
options for the international Community

Chair:

Michael Strmer, Die Welt, Berlin

Papers:

Thomas Ruttig, Afghanistan Analysts Network, Berlin


Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh, Centre detudes et Recherches
Internationales, Paris

Panelists:

Ali Sarwar Naqvi, Center for International Strategic Studies,


Islamabad

15:30 16:00

Coffee Break (Akademie Foyer)

16:00 17:00

Session Viii:

17:00

Concluding Session

Chair:

Franois Heisbourg, International Institute for Strategic Studies,


London

Paper:

Joachim Krause, Aspen Institute, Professor University of Kiel

Panelists:

Najmuddin A. Shaikh, Former Foreign Secretary,


Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Islamabad
Candace Rondeaux, International Crisis Group

End of the conference

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum | Participants


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region after 2014

name

affiliation

Dr. Philipp Ackermann

Head of Task Force Afghanistan-Pakistan,

The Aspen Institute

German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin


Dr. Thomas Bagger

Head of the Policy Planning Department, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

Paul Berkowitz

Staff Director, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations,


U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs

Dr. Stephen Biddle

Roger Hertog Senior Fellow for Defense Policy,


Council on Foreign Relations, New York

Friedericke Bge

Freelance Journalist

Prof. Brahma Chellaney

Professor of Strategic Studies


Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

Dr. Anthony Cordesman

Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy,


Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC

Dr. Keith Crane

Director, Environmental, Energy, & Economic Development Program


RAND Corporation, Washington DC

Thrse Delpech

Directeur des affaires stratgiques


Commissariat l'Energie Atomique, France

Judy Dempsey

Senior Correspondent, Europe, International Herald Tribune

Ambassador James Dobbins

Director, International Security & Defense Policy Center


National Defense Research Institute
RAND Corporation, Washington DC

Carl Douglas

Vice Chairman of the Board, Securitas AB, Stockholm

Dr. Kristina Eichhorst

Desk Officer Central Asia and South Asia


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Berlin

Christoph Erhardt

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Dr. Christine Fair

Assistant Professor, Center for Peace and Security Studies,


Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University, Washington DC

Dr. Stefan Friedrich

Director, Team Asia & the Pacific / European & International Cooperation,
Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Berlin

Hamid Gailani

Former Deputy Speaker, Mesherano Jirga (Afghan Senate), Kabul

Prof. Dr. Sumit Ganguly

Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations


Professor of Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington IN

Louie Gohmert

Vice Chair, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism & Homeland Security,


U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum | Participants


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region after 2014

Dr. Michael Groth

Deutschlandradio, Berlin

Eric Gujer

Neue Zrcher Zeitung

Jeremy Haldeman

Professional Staff Member, Office of the Minority,

The Aspen Institute

U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs


Bill Hawkins

Professional Staff Member, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations,


U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs

Prof. Franois Heisbourg

Chairman of the Council,


International Institute for Strategic Studies, London

Senator Mushahid Hussain

Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam), Islamabad

Hekmat Karzai
Hasnain Kazim

Director Center for Conflict and Peace Studies, Kabul


Der SPIEGEL, Islamabad

Dr. Patrick Keller

Coordinator, Foreign and Security Policy Programs,


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Berlin

Steve King

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 5th District of Iowa

Dr. Christian Koch

Director, Gulf Research Center Foundation

Prof. Dr. Joachim Krause

Professor of International Relations, Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel


Director, Institute for Security Policy, University of Kiel

Ambassador Dr. Heinrich Kreft

Director for Public Diplomacy and Dialogue among Civilizations,


German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

Patryk Kugiel

South Asia Analyst, Polish Institute of International Affairs, Warsaw

Charles King Mallory IV

Executive Director, Aspen Institute Deutschland e.V., Berlin

Nader Nadery

Commissioner, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Kabul

Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi

Executive Director, Center for International Strategic Studies

Habib Malik Orakzai

President, Pakistan International Human Rights Organization, Islamabad

Dr. Stefan Oswald

Head of Division Afghanistan / Pakistan,


German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Berlin

Major General (ret.) Pan Zhenqiang Professor, Institute of Strategic Studies, PLA National Defense University,
Senior Research Fellow, China Institute of International Studies, Beijing
Dr. Hartmut Philippe

Foreign Policy Advisor, CDU-CSU Parliamentary Group,


German Bundestag, Berlin

Dr. Gareth Price

Senior Research Fellow, Asia Programme,


Royal Institute of International Affairs, London

Prof. Jens Ringsmose

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science & Public Management,


University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum | Participants


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region after 2014

Dana Rohrabacher

Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations,

The Aspen Institute

U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs


Candace Rondeaux

Senior Analyst-Afghanistan, International Crisis Group

Thomas Ruttig

Co-Director & Co-Founder, Afghanistan Analysts Network, Berlin

Loretta Sanchez

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Member, Subcommittee


on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Armed Services Committee, Member,
Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Committee on Homeland
Security, U.S. House of Representatives

Dr. Conrad Schetter

Center for Development Research,


Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universitt, Bonn

Martin Schuldes

Deputy Head of Division Afghanistan / Pakistan,


German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation & Development, Berlin

Ambassador Mark Sedwill CMG

Special Representative for Afghanistan and Paksistan, Foreign and


Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom

Dr. Farzana Shaikh

Associate Fellow, Asia Program,


Royal Institute of International Affairs, London

Ambassador Najmuddin A. Shaikh

Former Foreign Secretary, Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Prof. Dr. Michael Strmer

Historian, Chief Correspondent, Die Welt

Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

Director, Program for Peace and Human Security,


Centre detudes et Recherches Internationales,
Institut d'tudes politiques (Sciences Po), Paris

Karsten D. Voigt

Former Coordinator, German-American Cooperation,


German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin
Trustee, Aspen Institute Deutschland e.V.

Dr. habil. Christian Wagner

Head, Asian Research Division, SWP


German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin

Dr. Gerhard Wahlers

Deputy Secretary General, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Berlin

Tinko Weibezahl

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Kabul Office

Jack Wheeler

Consultant, Washington DC

The Aspen Institute


Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

2012 Aspen European Strategy Forum | Participants


SuStainable StrategieS
for afghaniStan and the region after 2014

observers

Paul Behrends

Senior Policy Advisor, Crowell Moring, Washington DC

Andreas von Brandt

Desk Officer Pakistan, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

Lance Domm

First Secretary Political, Embassy of the United Kingdom to the Federal


Republic of Germany, Berlin

Irmgard Maria Fellner

Counselor, Multilateral Afairs, Task Force Afghanistan and Pakistan,


German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

Stefan Hansen

Research Fellow, Institute for Security Policy, University of Kiel

Dr. Andrej Heinke

Corporate Communications, Brand Management, and Sustainability,


Media and Public Relations, Robert Bosch GmbH, Stuttgart

John Lenczowski

President, The Institute of World Politics, Washington DC

Jan Losemann

Attorney, Losemann & Schnfeld, Berlin

Johannes Marten

Head Political Communications Office, Deutsche Bank AG, Berlin

Ambassador (ret) Dr. Gunter Mulack Director, German Orient Institute, Berlin
Andrew Noble

Deputy Head of Mission, Counselor, Consul-General,


Embassy of the United Kingdom to the Federal Republic of Germany

Robin Schroeder

Institute for Security Policy, University of Kiel

Adrian Seufart

Desk Officer Afghanistan, Task Force Afghanistan,


German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

Serap Ocak

Desk Officer Pakistan, German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

Dr. Klaus Wittmann

Brigadier General (ret.), Senior Fellow, Aspen Institute Germany, Berlin

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
U.S.-Pakistan Relations: Ten Years after 9/11
C. Christine Fair
Assistant Professor, Center for Peace and Security Studies
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University
On September 10, 2001, Pakistan was, for all intents
and purposes, a rogue state. It was encumbered by numerous layers of sanctions pertaining to nuclear and
missile proliferation, the 1998 nuclear tests, as well as
sanctions that resulted from General Pervez Musharrafs
1999 coup. When then U.S. President Bill Clinton visited the subcontinent in 2000, he spent five days in India
and a mere few hours in Pakistan. During that time in
Pakistan, Clinton refused to shake General Pervez
Musharrafs hand and hectored the dictator on the necessity of democracy. Pakistan was one of the three
countries that recognized the odious libn regime and
it had by the fall of 2001 secured a long track record of
supporting terrorism. So much so that Pakistan teetered
upon the verge of being designated by the U.S. government as a state that supported terrorism in 1993.
The gruesome crimes of 9/11 changed Pakistans fortunes and that of its military dictator, General Musharraf.
By joining with the United States in its so-called War on
Terror, Musharraf was transformed from an international pariah to an international messiah. Pakistan was relieved of its sanctions, reaped billions in loan forgiveness
and loan rescheduling, benefited from more than $20 billion overt funds in military and economic assistance as
well as lucrative reimbursements for military operations
on its purportedly sovereign soil. Most importantly, the
tragedy of 9/11 afforded Pakistan the opportunity to rehabilitate itself among the comity of nations and stave off
what General Musharraf believed would be an Indian effort to take advantage of Pakistans precarious position.
Optimists believed that General and later President
Musharraf would be able to navigate his country to a new
future if provided adequate political, military and financial support.
Those heady days are long gone. Pakistan has not been
celebrated as a light of moderation or even a reliable
partner in the War on Terror for several years. In recent
years, American analysts and policy makers have come
to realize the United States and Pakistan have strategic
interests that diverge starkly even while there are some
importantalbeit retrenchingissues upon which they
agree. From the U.S. point of view, the crowning perfidy was the astonishing fact that Osama bin Laden was
ensconced in Abbottabad, an army cantonment near the
famous Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul. Whether
or not bin Laden enjoyed the support of the highest
military and intelligence officials is immaterial to U.S.
lawmakers, analysts and citizens.
From Pakistans point of viewparticularly that of the
army and the ISIthe most humiliating outrage was the
fact that a U.S. Navy SEAL team launched a unilateral

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helicopter-borne military operation on May 1, 2011 to


kill bin Laden and extricate his corpse. Despite a fortyminute firefight, the U.S. stealth choppers infiltrated
and exfiltrated Pakistani airspace before the Pakistani
army even figured out its airspace had been violated.
While U.S.-Pakistan relations had not recovered from
that blow, the bizarre memo scandal, which allegedly
involved former Pakistani ambassador to the United
States Hussain Haqqni and shady businessman Mansr
Ijz, further undermined rapprochement. Then on November 24, NATO launched airstrikes upon Pakistani
positions that resulted in the deaths of twenty-four Pakistani army personnel. Pakistanis are convinced that the
attack was just desserts for Pakistans decade of support
to the Afghan libn who have killed thousands of U.S.
and allied troops and civilians in Afghanistan. The
United States, while acknowledging that it was largely
culpable for the tragedy, has refused to apologize to Pakistan for the same reason.
After ten years of precarious military, intelligence and
other security cooperation between Pakistan and the
United States, the two countries could not be more at
odds. Worse, as much as they despise each other, they
both know that their security depends in varying degrees upon the other. However, at the time of writing,
the way forward is far from this obvious.
This paper will first briefly summarize the enduring challenges that Pakistan presents. It will next examine how
the peculiar and suboptimal impasse has come about.
This essay argues that the looming 2014 date, when the
United States will begin scaling back kinetic activities in
Afghanistan, may present new opportunities for the United States to re-optimize its position in the region.
The Pakistan Problem

Pakistans problems are as well-known as they are numerous. Pakistan is both the source of terrorists operating throughout the region and beyond (some of which
enjoy explicit state sanction) and increasingly the victim
of terrorist groups that have emerged from its erstwhile
proxies. Despite its mooring as a parliamentary democracy, the state has been dominated by the army, which
has governed Pakistan directly or indirectly for most of
the states existence. While democracy has never fully
taken root, authoritarianism has never garnered widespread legitimacy. Thus the army always comes to
power through the connivance and acquiescence of the
broad array of civilian institutions and personalities
necessary to provide a patina of legitimacy to its seizure
of power.
The army enjoys a generally accepted right to intervene due in part to Pakistans origins as an insecure
state and the intractable security competition with India,
which first centered on the disputed disposition of
Kashmir but now derives from Indias ascent as an
emerging global power. The army believes itself to be
the only institution capable of protecting Pakistan, and

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many Pakistanis share that belief. Because the army sets


external policies, including those on the use of Islamist
militants, normalized civil-military relations are likely a
necessary (if insufficient) condition for Pakistan to resolve its security concerns vis--vis India. However, because such normalization would vitiate the Pakistani
armys arrogated right to manage Pakistans affairs, the
army itself is an important institutional stakeholder that
may resist normalization.
Pakistan is also riven with ethnic discord, often stemming from strained center-provincial tensions, which
include the centers refusal to devolve power and control of resources to the provinces, consonant with the
1973 constitution. Pakistan faces numerous governance
challenges throughout the country, but these challenges
are most acute in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The state has made successive policy decisions to keep FATA beyond the remit of the law by
maintaining a draconian, colonial-era legal instrument,
the Frontier Crimes Regulation, which facilitates control of the area but not its incorporation into Pakistans
legal structures. To manage both internal and external
concerns, the state under both military and civilian
leadership has instrumentalized Islam in various ways,
to varying degrees, with a variety of outcomes. In short,
Pakistanis continue to wrestle with foundational issues,
such as the role of Islam in the state, who is a Pakistani
and who is not, what relationship should exist between
the center and the provinces, where the balance of power should lie, and what kind of Islam Pakistan should
embrace as a state.
Since 1947, Pakistans polity has been unable to resolve
foundational questions about the nature of the state. Is it
to be an Islamic state? Is it to be a state for South Asias
Muslims but which provides protection to Pakistans
small, but important, non-Muslim minorities? If it is to be
an Islamic state, whose Islam should it embrace? Not only have these questions not abated in the sixty-five years
since independence they have become more acute. In the
past, proponents of rendering Pakistan a Sunn Muslim
country aimed their sights at non-Muslim minorities,
Ahmadiyya and Shah. In recent years, members of the
Sunn Deobandi sect have increasingly sought to declare
Barelvis (fs) as apostates and therefore subject to violence. In the last few years, Deobandi militant groups
have conducted suicide and other terror attacks upon Pakistans cherished f shrines. They argue that shrinerelated religious practices are accretions from Hinduism
and anathema to Islam.
While these myriad challenges are often evaluated as
distinct issues in isolation from the others, their origins
are fundamentally similar: the failure of constitutionalism to fructify in Pakistan, despite the fact that the
country has forged and subsequently abandoned numerous constitutions. Unfortunately, the weaknesses of Pakistans political and civil society institutions, the
groundswell of emergent domestic threats, and the

failed institutions of governance and internal security


will likely prevent Pakistans varied polities from forging a consensus on these foundational issues.
Apart from numerous security-related dilemmas, Pakistan presents enduring economic challenges. Its leaders
have long refused to expand Pakistans tax net by imposing agricultural and industrial taxes. Income tax
compliance is extremely low. The government is therefore overly reliant upon regressive sales tax, which affects the poor disproportionately more than those who
are well off.
Given Pakistans notorious patronage-driven politics
and craven political institutions, which are vertically integrated personality cults, there appear few prospects
for political leadership that can exert civilian control
over the military and slowly enact reforms that are required for Pakistan to be a state that can pay its bills and
exert the writ of law across its territorial expanse.
A Decade of Missed Opportunities?

Over the last ten years, the United States has pursued
relations with India and Pakistan under the rubric of
de-hyphenation. That is, Washington has interacted
with New Delhi and Islamabad without regard to their
long-standing and intractable security competition. 1
Proponents of this policy tend to advocate vertically integrating U.S. policies towards India and Pakistan while
minimizing the real collateral effects that engaging either India or Pakistan has on the other. While this has
been an elegant rhetorical argument motivating foreign
policy, its practicality has been belied by the zero-sum
nature of Indo-Pakistan competition itself.
While the United States has sought to cultivate Pakistans support in the struggle against violent Islamist extremism, at a significant cost to the Pakistani state, the
United States has also pledged its support to help India
become a global power, including military assistance
and the infamous Indo-U.S. nuclear deal. Equally problematic, the United States has encouraged Indian involvement in Afghanistan without regard to Pakistans
concerns and often without any genuine consideration
much less assessmentof what India is actually doing
apart from its stated activities.

1 Ashley J. Tellis, "South Asia: U.S. Policy Choices," in Taking


Charge: A Bipartisan Report to the President-Elect on Foreign
Policy and National Security-Discussion Papers, eds. Frank Carlucci, Robert E. Hunter, and Zalmay Khalilzad (Santa Monica, CA:
RAND, 2001): p. 88, http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_ reports/MR1306z1.html; also see Ashley J. Tellis, "The Merits of
De-hyphenation: Explaining U.S. Success in Engaging India and
Pakistan," The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 31, no. 4 (Autumn
2008): pp. 2142, http://twq.com/08autumn/docs/08autumn_ tellis.pdf. See my critique of this in the context of the last decade in C.
Christine Fair, Under the Shrinking U.S. Security Umbrella: India's End Game in Afghanistan?" The Washington Quarterly, Vol.
34, No. 2 (Spring 2011), pp. 187-189.

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and the Region After 2014
On the other hand, U.S. cupidity towards Pakistan has
overwhelmingly emphasized the provision of support to
Pakistans military. India has long complainedwith
considerable justificationthat U.S. assistance has been
directed into Pakistans growing nuclear arsenal and that
the weapons systems provided to Pakistansuch as F16shave greater utility against India than against Pakistans domestic insurgents and terrorists.
Whether Islamabad and/or Rawalpindi believed that Pakistans abandonment of the Afghanistan libn in
2001 would be temporary or whether this overture signaled a genuine willingness to change course will likely
never be known. However, a perusal of President
Musharrafs September 19th, 2001 speech reminds us
that Pakistan acquiesced to U.S. demands not because
of an inherent strategic alignment but rather to counter
any Indian advantages. He explained to the Pakistani
public that
They want to isolate us, get us declared a terrorist state In this
situation if we make the wrong decisions it can be very bad for
us. Our critical concerns are our sovereignty, second our economy, third our strategic assets (nuclear and missiles), and forth our
Kashmir cause. All four will be harmed if we make the wrong
decision. When we make these decisions they must be according
to Islam.1

While the United States greeted this speech as a sign that


Pakistan would actively cooperate, a close reading of the
speech reveals a tone of resignation. The ultimate aim of
the speech was not to reverse decades of dangerous Islamist politics (including supporting militancy) but to
convince Pakistanis that Pakistan must act to counter Indian advantages in a post-9/11 global order.
It is important to acknowledge that Pakistan offered unprecedented assistance to the United States, including
port and airfield access, ground lines of communication,
and air space. Without Pakistans support, the U.S. ability to launch Operating Enduring Freedom on October
7th, 2001 would have been in question.2 Moreover, Pakistan assisted in the capture of numerous high-value
Al-qidah operatives. Notably, however, Pakistan did
not remand high-level libn to the United States.
Quite the contrary. From at least 2004 onward, Pakistan
resumed its support for the libn. Indeed, this support
was likely an important factor in the libns resurgence in 2005, the consequences of which the United
States, as well as its Afghan and other partners, continue to suffer.
Since 2004, Pakistan has also undertaken a selective set
of operations against Pakistani Islamist militants. Many
of these militant commanders organized under the rubric
1 President Pervez Musharraf, President Address to the Nation,
[sic] September 19, 2001. Available at http://presidentmusharraf.
wordpress.com/2006/07/13/address-19-september-2001/.
2 For a detailed inventory of Pakistans extensive assistance, see C.
Christine Fair, The Counterterror Coalitions: Cooperation with Pakistan and India. (Santa Monica: RAND, 2004).

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of the Pakistani libn (Tehrik-i-libn Pakistan) in


2007. While Pakistan has lost many citizens and members of the armed forces in this conflict, it is too often
forgotten that Pakistans war against its own terrorists
and insurgents is selective. It focuses upon those commanders within the Pakistani libn who will not cease
targeting Pakistan while considering those (e.g. Maulvi
Nazir, Gul Bahadur) who target U.S. forces in Afghanistan to be allies.3 While Pakistans losses are truly tragic,
Pakistanis tend to blame the United States for these
deaths rather than their government, which has cultivated
the militants for decades. While it is true that the U.S.-led
war on terror and Pakistans participation in that effort
galvanized the current insurgency, it is also true that had
Pakistan not cultivated these proxies in the first place the
Pakistani libn would be far less capableif it even
existed at all.
Thus, howsoever crucial Pakistans contributions have
been, they have been eclipsed by Pakistans contribution to the problem of instability, insurgency and terrorism. Pakistandespite numerous assurances to the contrarycontinues to support groups like Lashkar-iTayba (LiT), which has attacked the U.S. and its allies
in Afghanistan since 2004 and which perpetrated the
November 2008 Mumbai outrage in which several U.S.
citizens were also killed. This is in addition to the terrorism campaign that LiT and numerous other groups
have sustained in India since 1990 with support from a
Pakistani intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI).
The United States has appropriated some $22 billion in
economic and security assistance as well as military reimbursement between FY2002 and FY2011 for Pakistan.
(This is divided between $14 billion in security assistance
and military reimbursements and $7.4 billion in economic assistance).4 Admittedly, obligations are not the same
as disbursement, and this remains an important bone of
contention between the United States and Pakistan. But
irrespective of the precise sum in question, the simple
fact remains that while Pakistan has benefited from U.S.
assistance under the explicit expectation that it help the
United States in its struggle against Islamist terrorism in
the region, Pakistan has in fact supported the very groups
against which the United States is fighting. It is the
libn and the Haqqni network that are responsible for
the majority of U.S. and coalition fatalities in Afghanistan, yet these very groups are suspected of being a strategic arm of Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence Agency.5 Pakistan is the firefighter, the arsonist and the vendor of a variety of propellants.
3 Seth G. Jones and C. Christine Fair. Counterinsurgency in Pakistan
(Santa Monica: RAND, 2010).
4 K. Alan Kronstadt, Pakistan-U.S. Relations: A Summary, CRS
Report R41832, October 20, 2011.
5 Admiral Michael Mullen, U.S. Navy, Chairman Joint Chiefs Of
Staff Before The Senate Armed Services Committee on Afghanistan And Iraq, September 22, 2011. http://armed-

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From Af-Pak to Pak-Af?

Since 2005, with the resurgence of the libn in Afghanistan, U.S. focus has slowly but surely moved from
Al-qidah in Afghanistan to the libn, if for no other
reason than that Al-qidah has largely moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan. While the United States in late
2005 finally acknowledged that Pakistan was indeed
supporting the Afghan libn, it did not pressure Pakistan to act against the libn because it remained focused on Al-qidah. As the U.S. concentrated more on
the libn, it became increasingly insistent that Pakistan do more to disable that group. However, in the
same period, Pakistan redoubled its commitment to the
Afghan libn while sustaining its long-term commitment to the Haqqni Network.
It should be forthrightly conceded that from Pakistans
point of view the developments in the region were deeply injurious to Pakistans security interests. India, under
the U.S. security umbrella and with U.S. approval and
encouragement, had re-ensconced itself in Afghanistan.
The U.S. strategic partnership with India signaled to
Pakistan that Americas long-term partner in the region
was India. Implicit in Washingtons pursuit of New
Delhi as a partner is the recognition of India as the regional hegemon and a growing extra-regional power of
some consequence. The United States has simply failed
to grasp that Pakistan will not, in any policy-relevant future, accept Indian hegemony. To do so would be to
concede defeat for Pakistans expanding revisionist
goals, which first focused upon changing the territorial
status quo over Kashmir and which increasingly involve
undermining Indias expansion in the region.
In the face of the emerging recognition that Pakistan
and the United States have divergentif not actually
conflictinginterests, the United States deepened its
military posture in Afghanistan. Proponents of Counterinsurgency (COIN) argued for a larger footprint and
eventually prevailed upon the Obama administration to
surge U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Opponents of this approach (such as this author) were doubtful that U.S.
COIN efforts in Afghanistan could ever fructify given
the limited numbers of combat troops available, the
niggard contribution of combat troops of our allies and
their less than robust capabilities, a broken U.S. aid
agency, a surprisingly shallow understanding of the region, persistent lack of language skills, and an Afghan
partner that seemed more vested in securing its own
corrupt patronage networks than in providing any semblance of governance that could displace the libn
and allied network of militant commanders.1
services.senate.gov/statemnt/2011/09%20September/Mullen
%2009-22-11.pdf
1 For a useful debate on these two positions, see Gilles Dorronsoro,
Fixing a Failed Strategy in Afghanistan (Washington D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, November 2009) and Ashley J. Tellis, Reconciling With the libn?: Toward an Alternative

While progress in Afghanistanor lack thereof


remains subject to debate, what is quite clear is that the
United States has put itself in a very precarious situation. In expanding its military commitment in Afghanistan, it deepened its dependence upon Pakistan during a
period when Pakistani and U.S. interests were rapidly
diverging. Thus U.S. officials struggle to explain to
U.S. taxpayers why it is that the United States continues
to see Pakistan as an ally even while the United States is
largely at war with Pakistans proxies in Afghanistan.
How strange is it that the United States has leveraged itself to Pakistan for access to ground and air lines of
communication to fight a counterinsurgency effort in
Afghanistan, when the very insurgents are supported by
Pakistan and it is Pakistan that is most likely to determine the outcome of that fight, likely in a way that is injurious to U.S. interests and investments?
The United States needs to work quickly to re-optimize
its position in Afghanistan. While the United States remains dependent upon Pakistan, it has virtually no political will to compel Pakistan to cease support for the
libn and the Haqqni network much less groups like
LiT. The year 2014 offers the United States an important opportunity to shift away from counterproductive counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and
move towards a more sustainable relationship with both
Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In the Shadow of 2014:
Near-Term Engagement with Pakistan?

In the near term, the United States will remain poised


on the knifes edge of logistical dependence upon Pakistan. The U.S. should not mistake a logistical transaction for a strategic relationship. Pakistan has consistently demonstrated that it does not want a strategic relationship with the United States; rather it has sought to
maximize economic, political and military gains while
minimizing its commitment to the United States. The
United States should adopt a more pragmatic tone about
the nature of this relationship. Pakistan is essentially
renting out its air and ground lines of communication,
and the two countries should settle upon a price for
what is mainly a business transaction. Similarly, the
United States needs continued access to Pakistani territory to sustain the drone campaign. Pakistan cooperates
in both of these activities because it has benefited from
doing so. If Pakistan wants a strategic relationship or a
relationship that is more expansive than a transactional
relationship, the onus should be on Pakistan to propose
such an engagement.
This does not mean that the United States should disengage. However, while the U.S. repositions itself in Afghanistan, U.S. goals for engaging Pakistan should be
modest. To date large-scale aid projects have simply
Grand Strategy in Afghanistan (Washington D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April, 2009).

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failed to deliver due to the deep deficiencies in USAIDs
current business model, a past over-reliance upon institutional contractors, an inability to identify credible and
appropriate Pakistani NGOs as U.S. partners, a paucity of
genuine reform-minded Pakistani governmental partners,
and a security posture that prevents U.S. personnel from
leaving their enclaves. Added to this list of debilitating
challenges, the Pakistan government has recently placed
absurd restrictions upon U.S. diplomatic officials after
the Raymond Davis affair and the unilateral U.S. raid that
resulted in the demise of Osama bin Laden. (The United
States government has not placed reciprocal restrictions
upon Pakistani diplomats.) No amount of U.S. assistance
to Pakistan can attenuate deep-seated anti-U.S. antipathy,
and indeed the instrumentalization of U.S. aid only fosters Pakistani cynicism that the United States attempts to
help Pakistan only when its own aims are being served.
United States assistance to Pakistan should focus on
tangibles such as power and infrastructure rather than
areas, such as education, curriculum reform, and social
issues that are deeply inflammatory. The United States
should quickly move to a less ambitious aid program
that is demand-driven rather than supply-driven. If the
United States wants to invest in human development, it
should consider doing so through multilateral development agencies, which are more capable of delivering results.
The Next Ten Years of U.S.-Pakistan Relations?

Over the coming decade, there are few prospects for a


major rapprochement between the United States and
Pakistan, particularly if that rapprochement requires either that Pakistan abandon its militant proxies and aggressive regional revisionism or that the United States
alter its relationship with India.
Equally disconcerting is the likely reality that, as India
continues its rise, Pakistans reliance upon Islamist militancy, the only tool that it has to change Indias trajectory, will increase, not decrease. The fact that Pakistan is
suffering grievously as a result of this policy does not
diminish the confidence of the ISI and the army that
they can continue to manage their fissiparous former
and current proxies. Increased destabilization in Pakistan as well as increasing accounts of militant infiltration of the armed forces raise a number of disconcerting
questions about Pakistans command and control of its
nuclear assets as well as more quotidian concerns about
the possibility of a Pakistan-based terrorist group conducting a mass-casualty operation in India that sparks a
conventional war. The United States should expect that
whatever political order is created in Afghanistan to enable the United States to wrap up large-scale counterinsurgency efforts, Pakistan will expeditiously seek to undermine itunless that order was what Pakistan wanted
in the first place. Pakistan has a greater willingness to
bear the costs needed to shape Afghanistan according to
its strategic needs than does the United States.

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Worse, the increasing propensity of small numbers of


Muslims in Europe and North America to radicalize and
undertake training in Pakistan (and increasingly in
Yemen and Somalia) threatens to bring Pakistan into a
serious collision course with the United States and the
international community.
The realization that Osama bin Laden had been ensconced for years in Abbottabad was profoundly vexing
for U.S. officials who have to answer for U.S. budgetary decisions in a crushing financial crisis. Pakistans
inordinate interest in capturing those who collaborated
with the United States rather than understanding how
bin Laden enjoyed such sanctuary has only exasperated
U.S. patience with Pakistan. Admittedly, the unilateral
U.S. raid deeply humiliated Pakistans military. As the
Pakistani military has maintained control over Pakistan
based upon its self-proclaimed unique ability to protect
Pakistan, this was another blow to an institution that has
sustained many challenges over the last ten years.
The ongoing outrage over Pakistans duplicity, coupled
with the global economic crisis, has prompted many
U.S. lawmakers to propose ceasing all support to Pakistan or stringently conditioning all aid to Pakistan upon
its cooperation in combating terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
While these impulses are understandable, they must be
resisted. Pakistan right now is extremely vulnerable and
combative. Its decisions are deeply troubling, whether
we consider its expanded interference in Afghanistan or
its rejection of International Monetary Fund assistance.
It is imperative that Pakistan not become North Korea: a
rogue regime that is disengaged from most of the international community.
However this does not mean that the United States
should continue its decade-long policy of seeking to induce Pakistans cooperation with large-scale economic
and military assistance. What the last ten years have
demonstrated is that these incentives have had no effect
on Pakistans fundamental strategic calculus. Given that
political allurements (e.g. a conditions-based nuclear
deal, active U.S. efforts to resolve disputes with India,
ensuring an explicitly pro-Pakistan regime in Afghanistan, etc.) are politically poisonous in the United States
given Pakistans problematic record, Washington has no
choice but to acknowledge that U.S. and Pakistani interests and allies are fundamentally incompatible while also understanding the essential need to stay engaged in
spite of this fact.
Pakistan, for its part, is tired of participating in a war effort with the United Statesalbeit on highly selective
termsthat is fomenting increased domestic tension,
while the United States seems deaf or indifferent to its
security concerns. These center on India's defense modernization and the U.S. role in facilitating it; the impact
of the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal on Pakistan's own
nuclear program; the nature of India's presence in Af-

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ghanistan (particularly given Pakistani beliefs that India


is supporting subversive elements in Pakistan from Afghanistan) and other related issues.
I propose a somewhat radical way of reframing our relations with Pakistan. In 2009, I argued that if U.S. efforts
to persuade Pakistan to abandon its strategic use of militants and other policies deleterious to U.S. interests and
international security failed, then the United States and
its partners will have to reorient their efforts toward
containing or mitigating the various threats that emanate
from Pakistan.1 I believe that the time has come to
adopt this approach and the United States should take
advantage of the drawdown in Afghanistan to make
such a strategy possible. There are several components
of this proposed approach.
First, rather than continuing to frame U.S.-Pakistan relations within the context of a strategic dialogue, the
United States should scale back its pursuit of Pakistan
and resist framing the relationshipor lack thereofin
civilizational terms. The United States appears as if it is
an uxorious suitor while Pakistans demurrals only increase the price of engagement. Pragmatism must replace optimism as the guiding principle. This should be
a gradual process. Pakistan has been accustomed to U.S.
efforts to engage and to use financial incentives to influence Pakistani decision-making. Any rapid deescalation could well catalyze an even more precipitous
decline in U.S.-Pakistan relations with ever more dangerous consequences. And this certainly cannot be undertaken given the current dependence upon Pakistani
cooperation with U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
Second, rather than seeking to forge a strategic partnership with a country that does not seek such one, the
United States should simply embrace the fundamental
transactional nature of its relations with Pakistan but
expect Pakistan fully to deliver on each transaction.
Third, U.S. efforts to elicit changes in Pakistani society
through its USAID program are misguided. First
USAIDs efficacy can and should be questioned. The
U.S. Congress has had numerous hearings about aid to
Pakistanand Afghanistanand the objective results
of these engagements have been less than satisfactory
given the price tag. This does not mean that the United
States should not continue to help Pakistan with its
problems. However, it should do so with less publicity
and with greater focus on projects that are executable
such as power, roads and other infrastructure. No doubt
such efforts will suffer from corruption. However, the
United States at least has the ability to ensure that minimal quality standards are in force for these projects.
And, as noted above for the short term, in the future the
United States should rely more upon the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) and similar multilateral
platforms.
1 C. Christine Fair, Time for Sober Realism: US-Pakistan Relations,"
The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 2 (April 2009), p. 166-167.

Fourth, the United States should still seek to develop


democratic and civilian institutions when there is a clear
demand from a Pakistani partner. This partner should
have an executable plan, with metrics to monitor success in outcomes, and this Pakistani partner must have
their own financial resources invested in the project.
There is no hope for Pakistan to become a stable country that does not negatively affect the security of the region without greater civilian control of the military. But
the United States cannot force such changes.
That said, the United States has for too long encouraged
the armys praetorianism. The conditions on security assistance that were enshrined in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman
legislation were a good start. Unfortunately, the language of the bill offers Pakistan and the United States
many loopholes even if the conditions are not met, as
evidenced by Secretary of State Clintons March 2011
certification that Pakistan was fulfilling its obligations
to help fight terrorism among other issues. This certification was issued even while the United States was
planning the bin Laden raid. It would have been better
for the administration to have sought a waiver, which
would have signaled to the Pakistanis that U.S. national
security interests would prevailfor the time being.
Fifth, the United States should engage Pakistans military as it does with any other military. The International Military Education Training (IMET) program is important. Where possible, it should be expanded. However engaging Pakistans military does not mean the
provision of strategic weapon systems or other weapon
systems that are more suitable for fighting its revisionist
conflict with India than domestic terrorism and insurgency. This also means treating the Pakistan military
like a military. There is no reason why the US Secretary
of State should meet with the Chief of Army Staff routinely, much less the head of the ISI. The United States
should follow its diplomatic protocol. While the desire
to go to the source of power is understandable, there is
no reason to believe that engaging the army chief directly produces better cooperation or even that the army
chief or ISI chief are honest interlocutors in the first
place. The United States needs to attenuate its khaki addiction.
Most importantly, the goal of engaging this army and
other armed forces should be observation rather than
transformation. Because the army will dominate security policy on things about which the United States cares
deeply, it must continue to engage the army, but on a
sustainable scale.
Sixth, the United States also needs to continue working
with Pakistans intelligence and law enforcement agencies on issues of importance to both, such as international crime and terrorism, regional developments of
mutual concern, tackling Pakistans domestic terrorism,
cooperative anti-narcotics efforts, fortifying physical
security of important institutions and infrastructure

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
against terrorist attacks, and so forth. But these should
not be the public corner stone of our relationship. They
should remain quiet and out of the public eye.
Seventh, the United States must take advantage of its
growing independence from Pakistan to erect increasingly robust containment initiatives that directly pertain
to support for terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and murderous abuse of human rights (as we have seen in Baluchistan and elsewhere). The United States has considerable tools at its disposal to do so and can certainly innovate new ones where current legislation is inadequate.
The Leahy Amendment was crafted precisely to punish security forces that engage in human rights excesses, while having the ultimate aim of rehabilitation
rather than permanent isolation. U.S. unwillingness to
apply this law has contributed to the sense of impunity that pervades Pakistans military, police and intelligence agencies. Regrettably, the U.S. record of respecting rule of law and human rights in Pakistan is
not unblemished. The United States has directly benefited from Pakistans policies of detainment without
charge and of enforced disappearances. The disappeared Pakistanis remain a source of outrage in
Pakistan, as there is no way of locating these persons
and accounting for their whereabouts. Unless the
United States is prepared to lead by example, it
should have little expectation that Pakistan will do
better on its own.1
The United States should consider sanctioning or designating specific persons within Pakistans government when there is credible evidence that the individual is supporting terrorism or nuclear proliferation.
The U.S. Congress could consider visa restrictions on
such persons and their families.
The United States should not certify that Pakistan is
in compliance with U.S. laws when it is not (e.g. Secretary Clintons March 2009 certification that Pakistan was complying with Kerry-Lugar-Berman requirements). If engaging Pakistan despite these failures is critical, a waiver should be sought as a potent
signal that Pakistan is not fulfilling its obligations and
that future assistance is contingent upon U.S. needs
rather than on some idea that Pakistan is carrying out
its side of the bargain faithfully. Issuing dubious certifications also confuses Pakistanis about what their
government is or is not doing and makes it hard for
the United States to explain the eventual cessation of
assistance that could arise from Pakistans failure to
perform per the terms of reference in the assistance.

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recognize that operating against Lashkar-i-Taybas


headquarters in the Punjab and elsewhere will be
nearly impossible and subject to the limits of tradecraft. Similar concerns exist for operating against the
Afghan libn in Quetta, Karachi and other cities.
However, nearly every one of these groups has an extensive network in the Gulf, the rest of South Asia,
South East Asia, Europe and North America. There is
no reason why the United States should not be more
aggressively targeting these nodes of activity, be it
through monitoring financial transactions, identifying
individuals facilitating the groups and working with
host-nations to conduct police and other raids upon
these organizations and their facilitators.
Where possible the United States needs to expend
diplomatic effort to ensure that as many of Pakistans
partners as possible adopt a common approach. China
will be an obvious problem. However, even China ultimately voted at the UNSC to designate Jamaat-udDawa (LiTs new operational name) a terrorist organization in 2009, though it had declined to do so a
year before.
Conclusions

In short, the United States must engage where it can,


with clear thinking about the nature of the U.S.-Pakistan
relationship and an honest assessment of whether the
terrorists Pakistan is helping the United States to eliminate are more important than the terrorists they continue
to nurture. The United States should try to invest in positive social change when there is an opportunity to do so
and a vested partner to work with. This engagement
must be focused, transactional and have the near-term
goal of monitoring the army and the intelligence agency,
not transforming these institutions over any policyrelevant time scale. This is simply beyond the capabilities of the United States.
Such an approach is more sustainable, financially and
politically, given the beleaguered state of the U.S. and
Pakistani publics, who are exhausted with the others
ostensible perfidy. Finding such a sustainable and functional relationship rather than an inflated, expensive
program that fails to meet the most fundamental objectives may be the best way to stay engaged in Pakistan
over the long haul. The stakes are high. The United
States cannot afford to walk away even if it cant afford
to stay engaged as it has been.

The United States should move aggressively to counter Pakistans militant networks outside of Pakistan. I
1 Human Rights Watch, We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for
Years Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in
Balochistan, New York, 2011. http:// www.hrw.org/sites/ default/files/reports/pakistan0711WebInside.pdf.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
The NATO Drawdown: Implications for
Afghanistan and Pakistan
Keith Crane
Director, Environmental, Energy, and
Economic Development Program
RAND Corporation
December 15, 2011
Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to examine the economic


implications for Afghanistan and Pakistan over the next
several years of the on-going drawdown of NATO
forces. In contrast to some of the other papers written
for this conference, 2014 is not the salient date. The
economic effects of the drawdown on the economies in
the region are beginning to be felt now, as force levels
fall and foreign assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan
is scaled back. By the same token, because of likely
continued inflows of foreign assistance and the presence of training and other forces in Afghanistan after
2014, not all inflows of foreign funds will end on that
date. Consequently, the time frame discussed in this
paper neither stops nor starts in 2014.
I first focus on Afghanistans economy, then turning to
Pakistans economic problems. For each of these two
countries, I first describe current economic conditions
and the impact of the foreign presence in Afghanistan
on the economies. I then analyze the potential implications of declining U.S. military and development assistance for the country. I conclude with recommendations on policies for the international community and
the host nation government to mitigate the consequences of the drawdown.
Although the conference focuses on all of Afghanistans neighbors, after some initial research, I concluded that the economic impact of the drawdown on Afghanistans other neighbors is likely to be small. Hence,
I have not written separate sections on these economies.
Of Afghanistans five other neighbors (China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), the drawdown
will have the most effect on Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan
has become an important logistics hub for International
Security Forces-Afghanistan (ISAF); seventy-five percent of all supplies for ISAF transported by ground
now cross the Uzbek border.1 Prior to 2009, most supplies went through Pakistan. The shift of supply routes
from Pakistan to Uzbekistan has been relatively recent,
and the value of providing logistics services, small,
compared to Uzbekistans Gross Domestic Product
(GDP). Uzbekistan also has become Afghanistans
most important supplier of refined oil products. This
1 Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Central Asia and
the Transition in Afghanistan, Washington, D.C., December 19,
2011, p. 5.

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role is unlikely to change after ISAF draws down. As


ISAF reduces consumption of refined oil products, Uzbekistan will be able to divert these products to other
markets, although margins may be lower than they
have been in Afghanistan.
Afghanistans other neighbors play little if any role in
logistics or supplying IASF. Iran had been a substantial
source of smuggled subsidized refined oil products for
Afghanistan, but with the recent increase in prices of
subsidized products in Iran, this trade has declined. As
discussed below, Iran remains an important destination
for Afghans looking for work. With the impending decline in demand for construction and other services in
Afghanistan, the supply of Afghans looking for work
abroad, including in Iran, is likely to rise.
The Afghan Economy and the Drawdown2
Economic Development Since 2001

Afghanistan is very poor: per capita gross domestic


product ran an estimated $537 in 2011; in 2008, the
most recent year for which comprehensive data were
available, Afghanistan ranked 187 out of 195 countries
in terms of per capita income.3 Evaluating Afghanistan
using a more comprehensive measure of development,
the World Banks Human Development Index, which
incorporates a combination of indicators of health, education, and income, in 2010 Afghanistan ranked 155
out of 169 countries with comparable data.4
Despite its poverty, since 2001 Afghanistan has registered very rapid rates of growth. Between 2001 and
2010, the Afghan economy grew at an average annual
rate of roughly eleven percent. In constant dollars of
2005, GDP has risen from $3.5 billion in 2001 to a projected $10.9 billion in 2011 in Figure 1 (overleaf).
In my view, four major factors have driven growth. First,
and I would argue, most importantly, despite the insurgency, levels of violence in major urban areas are down
sharply from the time of the civil war. Interviews with
Afghan entrepreneurs and the substantial investments in
commercial and residential real estate in all of Afghanistans major cities attest to the improved levels of security and improved investment climate compared to the
time of the civil war. The decline in violence in Afghanistans cities, including Kandahar, and the improved security in the Northern and Western parts of the country
have been a dominant factor in fostering growth.
2 This section on Afghanistan has benefitted greatly from the research, insights, and observations of my colleague, Dr. Victoria A.
Greenfield of the RAND Corporation. I would like to thank her
for her contributions to this analysis.
3 Author calculations based on data on population from IMF, 2010
and IMF, 2011, p. 3 and estimates of Afghanistans population
4 World Bank, Human Development Index, www.worldbank.org.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Figure 1: Afghanistans GDP in Billion Constant U.S. Dollars of 2005


12.0

10.0

Billion 2005 $'s

34

8.0

6.0

4.0

2.0

0.0
2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Source: International Monetary Fund, Various Years

Second, donors made substantial investments in roads,


schools, clinics, and irrigation systems. The improvement in the road network has resulted in sharply lower
transport costs. As Afghanistan imports virtually everything it consumes, the reduction in transport costs has
had a major impact on living conditions for almost every Afghan. Investments in education and public health
are also contributing to economic growth. Afghanistan
lost a generation of young men, and especially young
women, because of the collapse of the education system in the 1990s and the policies towards female education of the libn government. The first generation
of high school graduates and the large numbers of children attending elementary school are already yielding
improvements in human capital, as can be seen by the
new crop of young civil servants and employees. Despite the loss of life to the war, life expectancy is
creeping upward. Infant mortality and loss of life during maternity are falling. A healthier, longer-lived population for those of working age has a positive effect
on economic growth.
Third, the international community has also had a major impact on Afghanistans economy through purchases of goods and services, especially transportation services on the part of ISAF. Services, primarily generated in urban areas, accounted for fifty-four percent of
GDP in 2010.1 This part of Afghanistans economy
will be hit hardest by the drawdown.
Fourth, investments in transportation and communications, especially motor vehicles, and cell phones, have
contributed to growth in transportation and communi1 World Bank, Issues and Challenges for Transition and Sustainable Growth in Afghanistan, Presentation presented at Wilton
Park, United Kingdom, June 7, 2011, Slide 10.

cation services. Motor vehicles were few and far between in Afghanistan prior to the fall of the libn.
They are now ubiquitous: motorized transport is available virtually everywhere in the country. Growth in
cellular telephone services has been explosive, including among lower income Afghans. In 2001, outside of
a few satellite telephones owned by wealthy individuals, senior libn government officials, and Alqidah, Afghanistan had no cellular telephone services. By 2011, cell-phone subscribers numbered 17.2
million.2
However, much of Afghanistans economy is rooted in
the past. Licit agriculture, excluding opium poppy and
cannabis, remains the most important source of employment: about seventy percent of Afghanistans population works in agriculture. Yet it accounts for just a
third of GDP. Most Afghan farmers are primarily subsistence farmers; wheat is the most important licit crop,
followed by milk, meat and fruit.3
Services like trade, transportation, and construction also employ substantial shares of the Afghan working
population, often on an itinerant basis. The security
forces have become large employers as well. Most Afghans engage in a variety of economic activities: they
farm and work day jobs. Many spend part of the year
working in cities or abroad. The combination of greater
ownership of motor vehicles, which has expanded access and introduced more competition into the transit
market, and lower levels of violence, has made it easier
for Afghans to migrate abroad for work. Large num2 CIA, World Factbook, 2011, https://www.cia.gov/
brary/publications/the-world-factbook/.
3 FAO, FAOSTAT database accessed on September 22, 2011.

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li-

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
bers of young Afghan men work in Iran1 and India as
interim workers. In Iran, agriculture and construction
are major employers.
The Role of Illicit Drugs in Afghanistans Economy

Production of and trafficking in narcotics are among


the most important income-earning activities in the
country, albeit, in the case of opium production, largely
concentrated in the South.2 Afghanistans economy is
substantially larger, if the value of illicit drugs is included in GDP. Martin and Symansky estimate that
opiates would have added substantially to Afghanistans GDP in 2005.3 Opiates generated an estimated
twenty-nine percent of Afghanistans GDP, licit and illicit, in that year. Martins and Symanskys estimates
encompass value-added from growing and harvesting
opium poppies, from processing opium into morphine
and heroin, from transport, and from bribes and other
payments made to ensure security of transport, stocks,
and processing facilities. Although the share of opiates
in Afghanistans economy has fallen in recent years
because of growth in other sectors and fluctuations in
the production of opium, opiates still account for a very
sizeable share of Afghanistans economy.
Martin and Symansky find that most of the money made
in narcotics is on the processing and trading side. For
2005, they calculate that farmers received twenty-one percent of the value-added from narcotics in Afghanistan.
The remaining four-fifths accrues to the much-smaller
group of people engaged in processing, transport, trafficking, and providing security, and to the economic power
brokers, government officials, and insurgents who take
their own cut.4 Cannabis and its processed form, hashish,
are also valuable commodities in Afghanistan, but play a
much smaller role in Afghanistans economy. Based on
the value of cannabis at the farm gate, it is unlikely that
the cultivation of cannabis and processing and trade in
hashish contributes more than a few percent of Afghanistans GDP in any one year.5
1 Bruce Koepke, The Situation of Afghans in the Islamic Republic
of Iran Nine Years After the Overthrow of the libn Regime in
Afghanistan, Middle East Institute, February 4, 2011 downloaded
at http://www. refugeecooperation.org /publications/ Afghanistan/03_koepke.php on November 18, 2011.
2 Ward, et al., February 2008, p. iii
3 Martin and Symansky, 2007, p. 28.
4 Calculated from statistics on GDP from the IMF and Martin and
Symansky, 2007, p. 28.
5 For example, licit GDP ran $13 billion in 2009 (IMF). Building
on Martin and Symansky and taking UNODC estimates of opium
production and data on opium prices, we estimate that illicit
GDP from opiates ran $4.4 billion in 2009. The upper bound estimate of the value of cannabis production by UNODC was $94
million. As noted above, farmers received 21 percent of the value of opium and heroin in 2005 with middlemen taking the rest.
Applying this ratio to the cannabis and hashish industry, as another upper bound, suggests that total value-added from cannabis and hashish in Afghanistan in 2009 would have been no
more than about $440 million, or less than 3 percent of Afghanistans GDP, licit and illicit.

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Drug exports are an important component of Afghanistans balance of payments. Exports of opiates are substantially greater than exports of licit products. In 2008,
for example, exports of opiates were estimated at $3 billion; all other exports, $2.2 billion.6 As most large cash
transactions involving drugs take place outside Afghanistans borders, the economic effects of the drug trade on
consumers can be measured primarily through imports
of goods rather than financial flows. Drug financing of
imports shows up in the form of trade deficits. Afghanistan has been running very substantial trade deficits
(Figure 2, overleaf). Most of these deficits have been
financed by foreign assistance, but earnings from illicit
drugs are another important source of import finance.
The Afghan government does not restrict exports of
capital; individuals or institutions that wish to take currency out of the country only have to register the
amount. In 2010, Afghans officially reported roughly
$1.7 billion in bulk cash transfers out of Afghanistan
through Kabul International Airport, or roughly $5 million per day, primarily by Afghan hawalas or money
transfer agencies.7 Most of this cash was being carried
to Dubai. In contrast to their role in financing imports,
earnings from narcotics do not appear to be a significant source of capital exports out of Afghanistan. Interviews with government personnel in Kabul involved
in monitoring financial flows out of Afghanistan revealed that most of transfers were from Afghan revenues associated with foreign activities within Afghanistan, be those payments for purchases of imported
goods, or earnings from construction contracts or foreign assistance projects, not earnings from illicit drugs.
Funds transferred into Afghanistan from narcotics exports are a small share of total revenues from narcotics
and are used to pay growers and smaller scale traders.
Payments for larger traffickers are generally made outside the country.
The Drawdown and the Afghan Economy

The drawdown is likely to affect the Afghan economy


through a number of channels:
1. A fall in demand for Afghan goods and services on the
part of the ISAF as the number of troops fall;
2. Possible reductions in public services because of reduced foreign budgetary support;
3. Reductions in public investment because of anticipated cuts in foreign assistance, especially U.S. flows;
4. Possible capital flight because of increased uncertainty.
6

International Monetary Fund, 2010.

Interviews with U.S. government personnel, Fall 2010.

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35

35

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Figure 2: Afghanistans Trade in Billions of Nominal Dollars


6.000
4.000

Billion $'s

2.000
0.000
-2.000
-4.000
-6.000
-8.000
-10.000
2002

2003

2004

Licit Exports

2005

2006

Exports of Opiates

2007

2008

2009

Total Imports

Sources: International Monetary Fund, 2010, UNODC, various years, and RAND estimates.
Note: We were unable to find estimates of exports of opiates for 2006 and 2007.

As troop levels are reduced to half or less of current


levels, ISAF demand for transport and other services
will fall proportionately. Services now account for over
half of Afghanistans GDP; transport is a major contributor to value-added from services. A fall in demand
for transport services by half or more could easily lead
to a fall in GDP of at least a few percentage points.
The World Bank notes that Afghanistans Fiscal Year
2010/2011 government spending totaled $9.4 billion;
revenues were only $1.65 billion, leaving a gap financed by donors of $7.75 billion, equivalent to half of
Afghanistans GDP. 1 Afghanistans government covered less than one-fifth of total expenditures from its
own revenues, primarily from sales taxes and tariffs.
Donors have promised continued support, especially to
cover the costs of Afghanistans army and police. But
problems with corruption and war weariness are already resulting in reductions in aid, at least on the part
of the United States.

ment.2 After a decade of substantial foreign assistance,


increases and improvements in the capital stock have
not been such as to create a basis for sustained, high
rates of economic growth without continued substantial
foreign assistance.
As noted above, wealthy Afghans already keep substantial shares of their financial assets abroad. Financial assets held in Afghanistan remain a small share of
the value of total assets. Assets in Afghanistan tend to
be physical assets, primarily land, residential property,
motor vehicles, and livestock. Although a deterioration
of the security situation might lead to an increased outflow of assets, in light of current patterns for savings
and holding assets in Afghanistan, it is not clear that
withdrawal will accelerate current outflows unless security becomes much worse.
Likely Sources of Growth after the Drawdown

Investment as a share of GDP in Afghanistan is not low,


running between 26 and 32 percent of GDP in recent
years. Almost all of this investment is financed by donors and most of it is public: the public sector accounts
for four-fifths of total investment. The World Bank argues that foreign assistance and expenditures by the international community in Afghanistan have been targeted more towards consumption rather than invest-

If security does not markedly deteriorate following the


drawdown, Afghanistans economy will not collapse.
Agriculture, the dominant economic activity, will continue to provide a source of income for most Afghans.
Currently, agricultural output fluctuates, sometimes
dramatically, with the weather, the availability of agricultural inputs, and plant and animal diseases. Substantial gains in agricultural output are possible, if irrigation
systems are expanded, incentives and systems to ensure

World Bank, Issues and Challenges for Transition and Sustainable Growth in Afghanistan, Presentation presented at Wilton
Park, United Kingdom, June 7, 2011, Slide 5.

World Bank, Issues and Challenges for Transition and Sustainable Growth in Afghanistan, Presentation presented at Wilton
Park, United Kingdom, June 7, 2011, Slide 11.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
efficient use of water and maintenance of irrigation systems are improved, and further investments are made in
expanding and maintaining roads, market access, and
markets for agricultural inputs and products.
Along with licit agriculture, growing and trafficking in
opium and hashish will certainly remain important
sources of income for many Afghans. In 2010, an estimated 248,700 households in Afghanistan, six percent
of the total and eight percent of rural households,
farmed opium poppies.1 A smaller, but still numerous
group was engaged in trading, transporting, processing,
and exporting heroin. Although opium production has
fluctuated, illicit drugs will remain an important source
of income for farmers, especially in the south. The
large amounts of money involved in trafficking will
continue to be a major source of funding for traffickers,
corrupt government officials, local powerbrokers, and
the libn.
Withdrawal of more foreign troops and the accompanying reductions in spending on local services will lead to
a fall in demand for transportation, construction, and
professional services, which is likely to lead to a fall in
GDP in years following substantial drawdowns. The
social and political implications of such declines in
output are not clear. A few large trucking and contracting companies provide a substantial share of these services. The numbers of Afghans who work for these
companies is relatively small compared to the entire
working population. Thus, the fall in demand is likely
to be concentrated on this group of people; most Afghans will be hurt indirectly through declines in expenditures from employees of these companies rather
directly through layoffs. Furthermore, large fluctuations in GDP are not unusual in economies like Afghanistans. Entrepreneurs, laborers, and consumers in
volatile economies have different expectations than in
countries where output is more stable. They save during the good times in expectation that the good times
will not last. Once the economy adjusts to the fall in
demand from ISAF, growth is likely to resume, albeit
at a slower pace, because of the improvements in
transportation and communications of the last decade
(provided security does not deteriorate markedly).
Surveys of Afghan households find that remittances
and transfers account for substantial shares of household income, especially in rural areas. For most of these families, seasonal work, either in Afghanistan or
Iran, is an important source of cash income; transfers
from family members or friends permanently working
abroad are important as well. As the volume of foreignfunded investment projects falls, less-skilled Afghan
workers will be more likely to seek work abroad, at
least seasonally. Based on current and past patterns,
Iran will be an important destination, but increasingly
1

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Afghanistan


Ministry of Counter Narcotics, Afghanistan Opium Survey 2010,
New York: United Nations, 2010.

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India is likely to be so as well. Provided passport and


visa issues can be improved, the Gulf countries will also provide another market for lower-skilled Afghan labor. The much lower costs of transportation and communications than in the not-too-distant past will make
it easier for Afghans to travel back and forth and send
money home. A smaller foreign presence is also likely
to reduce demand for skilled Afghan labor. Afghan
high school and college graduates are likely to also
seek employment abroad. This type of labor tends to go
for longer periods of time or emigrate permanently.
Like many other countries in the world, remittances and
transfers from these people will provide an important
source of income for those left behind, boosting consumption and investment in housing. These people may
also provide a source of capital for small businesses, especially if they return home. However, the financial inflows are offset by the loss of human capital. Emigrants
are working in their host country, not at home. Their
economic contributions tend to be concentrated where
they work; not where they have come from.
Afghanistan has potentially commercially exploitable deposits of iron ore, copper, natural gas and other metals and
minerals. The World Bank cites projections of future government revenues from two mining projects (a copper
mine at Mes Aynak, a village within one hundred kilometers of Kabul, and an iron ore mine at Hajigak in Northern
Afghanistan) that could generate as much as $342 million
annually by 2015 and $704 million annually in 2016 and
beyond. However, the World Bank notes the need for
substantial investmenti.e., $6 billion to $15 billionto
open these mines.2
At present only the copper mine at Aynak is under development. Other sites need much more detailed geological surveys before mining companies can judge the
potential profitability of these sites. Extracting these
metals and fuels will be challenging. The China Metallurgical Group, the group that is developing the copper
mine, has had disputes with the Afghan government
over permits, treatment of imports through customs,
work permits for Chinese employees, compensation to
local tribes, and environmentally responsible disposal
of tailings, which have delayed progress on opening the
mine.3 To exploit deposits of iron ore at Hajigak, a railroad connecting through Uzbekistan would have to be
extended.4 Iron ore is too heavy to be transported economically by truck.5 However, the cost of extending
the railroad is so high that potential investors have been
hesitant to move forward with more extensive mapping
of the site. In light of the lack of detailed data on min2

World Bank, Afghanistan Economic Update, Washington, D.C.:


World Bank, May 2011, p. 12.

Interviews with advisor to Afghanistans Ministry of Mines.

Associated Press, Afghanistan gears up to award contracts for


vast iron ore deposits in peaceful province, June 17, 2010.

Copper is currently so valuable that transportation by truck is a


commercially viable option.

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ing sites, infrastructure costs, institutional weaknesses,


and the poor investment climate in Afghanistan, the
hopes of the Afghan government and foreign financial
institutions for mining to make a major contribution to
the Afghan economy in the near to medium term are
unlikely to be realized.
Even if developed, mining will not be a large source of
employment for Afghans. It is a capital-intensive industry: direct hires are relatively small compared to the
revenues generated. In many countries with large earnings from mining and oil and gas, extractive sectors
have been magnets for corruption. This is likely to be
the case in Afghanistan. Graft and corruption are likely
to impede the formation of mines and divert tax and
other revenues from successful operations into the
pockets of Afghan government officials and their supporters, limiting tax revenues to the government.
International transit traffic is unlikely to provide much
of a spur to Afghanistans growth. Afghanistans terrain, the state of its highways, levels of insecurity, and
bribes demanded from transit companies are not conducive to transit traffic. In 2011, owners of Afghan
trucking companies said that the cost of shipping a container from Karachi to Kabul ran $3,500.1 Shipping a
container a comparable distance in the United States
costs $900 to $1,200, a quarter to a third of this cost.
Until bribes drop and transport becomes less risky, it is
unlikely that Afghanistan will become a major international corridor. Moreover, with the exception of exports of oil and gas, which are transported by pipeline,
volumes of trade between Central Asia and Pakistan
and India are likely to remain low because of the types
of goods exported by these countries.
What Can the International Community and the
Islamic Government of Afghanistan Do?

In my view, the most pressing problem is Afghanistans


national budget. Without continued budgetary support,
the Afghan government will have to sharply cut government services, employment of civil servants, and the
size of the security forces. Donors have assured the Afghan government that budgetary support will continue.
They have wisely split the issue into two: continued
support for security forces and support for other Afghan
government operations. Afghan forces are much cheaper
and more politically acceptable (both in Afghanistan and
in coalition countries) than foreign forces. Replacing
foreign forces with Afghan forces, provided the Afghan
forces are proficient enough to prevent insurgent gains,
is highly cost-effective. Recognizing this, the United
States and other coalition partners have committed to
providing the necessary funding to support Afghan security forces. In the event that the insurgency subsides or
ends, foreign support can be reduced as Afghan security
forces are downsized. Because rates of attrition from the
1

force are very high, the force should shrink rapidly if recruitment is halted.
Providing continued support for the Afghan government is more challenging. Donors need to focus on
working with the Afghan government to ensure that
government operations are not so large that they cannot
be supported by likely future levels of assistance. Donors also should focus on mechanisms to improve the
efficiency, transparency, and accountability of the Afghan government. When the Afghan government fails
to meet standards of accountability and efficiency, cuts
in foreign assistance may need to be the consequence.
According to the World Bank, Afghanistan could
greatly benefit from additional investments in roads,
bridges, and irrigation systems, as well as other infrastructure. Although new investments may have high
rates of return, the international community should focus on working with the Afghan government to ensure
that what has been built is used effectively: schools and
clinics, once built, need to be staffed by qualified
teachers and health care workers. Donors and the Afghan government also need to ensure that systems to
maintain infrastructure and levy and collect appropriate
charges have been set up and operate properly. After
all the resources invested in Afghanistan, both donors
and the Afghan government need to ensure that what
has been built will be maintained. Afghanistan may be
better off waiting before embarking on major new investments in infrastructure, such as further extensions
of the railroad from Uzbekistan, new trunk roads, or
large investments in electric power, until systems for
maintaining and collecting revenues are in place and
functioning well.
In this regard, Afghanistan would be well served if the
international community worked with the Afghan government to sell off or close state-owned enterprises.
These have primarily been a source of patronage and
graft. Afghanistan is too poor to afford the luxury of a
loss-making, state-owned airline or power companies
designed to enrich government employees.
On a final note, the draw down may also have economically beneficial consequences. Over the past few years,
the rate of growth in Afghanistan has become close to
unsustainable. The large demand for services on the
part of the international community and substantial expenditures on foreign assistance have created an environment in which corruption and graft have flourished.
Fewer funds should contribute to fewer opportunities
for corruption and perhaps a sharper focus on government and contractor accountability and performance.

Interviews with Afghan owners of trading companies, Kabul,


April 2011.

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Figure 3: Comparison of Growth Rates in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India


9.0

Average Annual %

8.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
4.0
3.0
2.0
1.0
0.0
1970s

1980s

1990s
Pakistan

Bangladesh

2000-2007

2008-2011

India

Sources: International Financial Statistics, International Monetary Fund, online at: www.imf.org;
Asian Development Bank, Asian Development Outlook 2011: Update, Manila, Philippines, 2011.
Implications of the Drawdown for Pakistan1

Foreign security and economic assistance play a smaller role in Pakistans economy than they do in Afghanistans. Afghanistans GDP was estimated at $16 billion
in 2011; Pakistans, at $204 billion, yet Afghanistan
receives more foreign assistance than Pakistan.2 Nonetheless, the drawdown will have significant economic
repercussions for Pakistan as well as for Afghanistan.
Since 2001 the value of economic assistance to Pakistan from international donors, especially the United
States, has been substantial. It has been an especially
important source of funds for Pakistans government
and military.

budget from loss-making state-owned enterprises, and


brought in additional revenues to Pakistans government.
Pakistan has not enjoyed the very rapid rates of growth
of India. When translated into growth in per capita income the differences are quite large: between 2000 and
2007, per capita GDP in Pakistan rose at an average
annual rate of 2.9 percent; in India it was rising by 6.0
percent per year, more than double. Rapid growth in
India has generated very tangible increases in incomes,
especially for the expanding Indian middle class. Pakistans middle class has grown, but the slower rate of
growth has not lifted as many people out of poverty as
in India and has not generated the same degree of economic dynamism.

Pakistans Economy

Between 2000 and 2007, economic growth rates in Pakistan rose from an average of 3.9 percent in the 1990s to
5.3 percent (Figure 3). Pakistan participated in the acceleration in economic growth that took place across
most of the developing world in the last decade, including on the Indian subcontinent. Better macroeconomic
management, trade liberalization, and some progress on
reducing microeconomic impediments to economic
growth were key factors in spurring faster growth. Sales
of state-owned assets to private investors helped improve the productivity of capital, reduced drains on the
1

This section draws heavily on C. Christine Fair, Keith Crane,


Christopher S. Chivvis, Samir Puri, Michael Spirtas, Pakistan:
Can the United States Secure an Insecure State?, MG-910-AF,
RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 2010.

Asian Development Bank, Asian Development Outlook 2011


Update: Preparing for Demographic Transition, Manila, September 2011.

Pakistans balance of payments crisis in 2008, the


global recession, and the floods of 2010 accentuated
these differences. These calamities have slowed growth,
which has fallen to an average of 2.7 percent per year
between 2008 and 2011; growth in per capita GDP has
fallen to 1.1 percent per year. In contrast, India and
Bangladesh have continued to boom (Figure 3).
Despite the growth in per capita GDP in the last decade,
Pakistan remains a poor country, although not as poor
as Afghanistan. In 2010, at market exchange rates, per
capita GDP was $932 compared to $513 in Afghanistan. Average wages are correspondingly low. Growth
has not been spread evenly: nationally, rural poverty
rates in Pakistan have been over sixty percent higher
than in urban areas. Per capita income in the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a major source of
cross-border attacks on Afghanistan, is half the nation-

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al level: sixty percent of the population of FATA lives


below the poverty line.1
Until 2008, Pakistan was able to avoid extreme bouts of
inflation by dint of reasonable monetary policy: inflation
averaged eight percent per year between 2003 and 2007.
But consumer price inflation surged to twenty-five percent in 2008 due to pressures on the exchange rate and
rising prices for food and oil, which comprise a large
share of the consumer price basket in Pakistan. Since
that time, the central bank has had difficulty in controlling inflation: consumer prices have risen by twelve to
twenty-one percent per year. These inflation rates are so
high that they are likely to impede economic growth and
exacerbate political and social discontent.
Pakistans persistent problems with fiscal balance are a
major reason for the countrys recent problems with inflation. Between 2000 and 2007, budget deficits average 3.4 percent of GDP. Foreign borrowing, privatization receipts, and high rates of domestic savings made
it possible for the Pakistani government to finance these deficits. Since 2008, deficits have averaged 5.7 percent of GDP. Because of Pakistans balance of payment pressures since 2007, money creation has played
a greater role in financing these deficits. The deficits
are not so much a consequence of large government
expenditures, although subsidies for energy and food
remain major problems, but the modest revenue base
upon which Pakistans government finances rest. Tax
revenues as a share of GDP average less than ten percent in Pakistan. By way of comparison, India collects
eighteen percent of GDP in tax revenues. Although neither the Pakistani nor the Indian governments are models of efficiency, revenue constraints in Pakistan have
severely limited public investment, expenditures on
public services, and the ability of the government to
control budget deficits.
The Counterinsurgency and Pakistans Economy

Insurgencies are never good for an economy. In Pakistan, increased levels of violence and risk associated
with the insurgency have contributed to capital flight,
disruptions in commerce, and higher costs of capital,
retarding economic growth. Although much of the difference between growth rates in India (and more recently Bangladesh) and Pakistan are due to better micro and macroeconomic policies and more investment
in infrastructure and human capital, the violence associated with the insurgency spanning Pakistans border
with Afghanistan is also greatly to blame, especially as
violent groups have extended their activities into Pakistans major cities.
Although the insurgency has slowed growth, the counterinsurgency has provided some economic benefits to
Pakistan. Foreign assistance related to Pakistans sup1

International Crisis Group, Pakistans Tribal Areas: Appeasing


the Militants, December 11, 2006, p. 9.

port for the counterinsurgency that has gone for development and security has been substantial. Pakistani
firms have benefited from the sale of transport and other services to supply ISAF. Pakistani companies have
also enjoyed increased sales of goods to Afghanistan
due to the growth in incomes in that country.
Non-Security Assistance. Pakistan receives a substantial amount of foreign assistance: According to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD), between 2007 and 2009 Pakistan received between $1,539 million and $2,816 million in development assistance annually, making it one of the largest
such recipients in the world.2 The largest contributors
were the International Development Association of the
World Bank, followed by the Asian Development Fund
of the Asian Development Bank. The United States has
been the most important bilateral donor, followed by
the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany. In my view,
of these sources, U.S. assistance is the most likely to be
cut as foreign forces draw down in Afghanistan. Consequently, I confine the discussion below to a discussion of U.S. assistance.
Total post-9/11 U.S. assistance to Pakistan has been
substantial. The United States provided $20.137 billion
between FY2001 and FY2010 (Table 1). Nonsecurity assistance ran $6.746 billion or about a third of
this total. Most U.S. funds for economic and development assistance have been disbursed through the Economic Support Fund (ESF). Development assistance
through this fund has been focused on education, health
care, financial stability, and general economic development. U.S. funds have been provided on a project
basis and as cash transfers to Pakistans budget. Because of concerns about the effectiveness of budget
support and the possibility that funds will be lost due to
corruption, the United States has put more development assistance into projects than budget support.3
The United States has targeted a substantial amount of
development aid to FATA in an effort to tamp down
militancy in that region. In 2006 Pakistan authored a
FATA Sustainable Development Plan 2006-2015 to
which the United States allocated $750 million over
five years.4 USAID also administers several other programs specific to FATA in education, health care, and
2

Pakistan, Overseas Development Assistance, Organization of


Economic Development and Cooperation, available at
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/23/35/1882685.gif accessed on
December 22, 2011.

Richard A. Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and


Central Asian Affairs, addressing Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations Subcommittee on International Development, Foreign
Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection,
Washington, D.C., Web site, December 6, 2007.

Statement by Don Camp, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary


of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of
State, to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs, June 12, 2008.

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Table 1: U.S. Assistance to Pakistan in Nominal Dollars from Fiscal Years 2001 to 2010
2001
Coalition Support
Funds (CSF)
Foreign Military
Financing (FMF)
Pakistan Counterinsurgency
Fund (PCF/PCCF)
Other Security
Total Security
Economic Support
Fund (ESF)
Food for Peace
(Food Aid)
International Disaster Assistance
(IDA)
Other Economic
Total Economic

TOTAL

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Total

$0

$1,169

$1,247

$705

$964

$862

$731

$1,019

$685

$1,499

$8,881

$0

$75

$225

$75

$299

$297

$297

$298

$300

$294

$2,160

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$400

$700

$1,100

$77

$102

$33

$38

$50

$101

$99

$219

$289

$242

$1,250

$77

$1,346

$1,505

$818

$1,313

$1,260

$1,127

$1,536

$1.674

$2,735

$13,391

$3

$625

$188

$200

$298

$337

$394

$347

$1,114

$1,292

$4,798

$91

$41

$30

$22

$32

$55

$10

$50

$55

$124

$510

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$70

$50

$50

$103

$232

$505

$17

$45

$68

$95

$72

$91

$229

$144

$93

$79

$933

$111

$711

$286

$317

$402

$553

$683

$591

$1,365

$1,727

$6,646

$188

$2,057

$1,791

$1,135

$1,715

$1,813

$1,810

$2,217

$3,039

$4,462

$20,137

Source: Susan B. Epstein, K. Alan Kronstadt, Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance, Congressional Research Service, July 28, 2011, pp. 19-20.

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economic development. 1 The effectiveness of these


programs is open to question. FATA is a dangerous
and difficult place to work for aid workers, especially
U.S. ones. Militants reportedly have been able to benefit from some U.S funds.2
Security Assistance Programs. Security-related assistance, including reimbursements, arms sales and internal security assistance totaled $13.391 billion between
FY2001 and FY2010. The bulk of this assistance has
consisted of military aid or reimbursements for costs of
Pakistani counterinsurgency efforts. Of these two categories, Coalition Support Funds (CSF) have been the
largest single source of U.S. security aid to Pakistan.
CSF funds are intended to reimburse Pakistan for the
costs of Pakistans own counterinsurgency efforts.
However, the funds go directly to the Ministry of Finance where they can be used as the Pakistani government wishes. Pakistan has reportedly often used these
funds to pay for military operations or purchases of
military equipment not tied to counterinsurgency.
The Pakistani government and military have balked at
U.S. requests for information about how CSF funds have
been spent, citing issues of Pakistani sovereignty. According to Bush administration and military officials interviewed by the New York Times, much of the
American money was not making its way to frontline
Pakistani units. Money has been diverted to help finance
weapons systems designed to counter India, not Alqidah or the libn the United States has paid
tens of millions of dollars in inflated Pakistani reimbursement claims for fuel, ammunition and other costs.3
Officials from the U.S. Department of Defense argue
that it is better to have 120,000 Pakistani military and
paramilitary troops deployed in FATA than not. However, even U.S. Department of Defense officials who
have strongly supported the program concede that the
program should be tightened up, that Pakistan should
provide better documentation, and that some of the activities that are currently billed as CSF should be paid
for under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, over which the United States has better control.4

Details of USAID initiatives in FATA, ranging from clean water


projects to microcredit schemes may be found online at:
www.usaid.gov/pk/mission/news/ fata.html.

Jane Perlez, Aid to Pakistan in Tribal Areas Raises Concerns,


New York Times, July 16, 2007.

See David Rohde, Carlotta Gall, Eric Schmitt, and David E.


Sanger, U.S. Officials See Waste in Billions Sent to Pakistan,
The New York Times, December 24, 2007. As of September 20,
2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/24/world/asia/24military.
html

See U.S. Department of Defense Response to the U.S.GAO


findings in U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO),
Combating Terrorism: U.S. Oversight of Pakistan Reimbursement Claims for Coalition Support Funds: Testimony before the
Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives, 2008, pp. 34-38.

CSF accounted for two-thirds of U.S. security assistance to Pakistan between FY2001 and FY2010. The
remainder was provided through a number of other
programs, the largest of which is FMF; spending for
Pakistan under FMF was $2.16 billion between
FY2001 and FY2010 (Table 1). FMF has funded purchases of U.S. military equipment and training above
and beyond that provided through the International
Military Education and Training (IMET) grant program.
Most of the training funded through FMF is supposed
to be for counterinsurgency. The U.S. Department of
Defense has characterized many of Pakistans major
acquisitions under FMF, like F-16 fighters and P-3C
patrol aircraft, as having significant anti-terrorism applications. The U.S. Department of State claims that,
since 2005, FMF funds have been solely for counterterrorism efforts, broadly defined.5 But some of these
weapons are not very useful for counterterrorism purposes, potentially contravening U.S. statutory requirements that FMF only be used for counterinsurgency
training and equipment.
Sales of Services to Afghanistan and ISAF. Pakistan is
Afghanistans largest export market. Although Uzbekistan and China are more important sources of supply,
Pakistan is also one of Afghanistans top five sources
of imports. Pakistan is Afghanistans most important
transit country. For businesses and consumers in Kabul,
Kandahar, and Jalalabad, Pakistan is the cheapest route
through which to import goods. According to Pakistani
data, 1,500 trucks a day pass through the Torkham
Gate crossing point in the Khyber Pass.6 In addition to
the trucks crossing at Torkham Gate, large numbers of
trucks cross the border at Spin Boldak, Gholam Khan,
and other crossing points along the border. The volume
of truck traffic at Spin Boldak has been estimated at
700 trucks per day.7
As noted above, the volume of this transport used to
haul goods for ISAF has fallen sharply since 2009. ISAF has concluded that the political risks of periodic
halts to trucks hauling goods for ISAF on the part of
Pakistans government, the destruction of fuel trucks
and supplies, and bribes paid to groups associated with
the insurgency for passage make the route through Uzbekistan preferable to that through Pakistan despite the
additional costs. By 2011, seventy percent of supplies
for ISAF transported by ground come through Uzbekistan, even though that route remains more expensive
than shipping through Pakistan.

See U.S. Department of State, Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, On-The-Record
Briefing on U.S.-Pakistan Relations, Web site, December 21,
2007; cited by Kronstadt, Pakistan-U.S. Relations, pp. 60-61.

Interviews with members of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce, April 2011.

Aikins, Matthieu, The Master of Spin Boldak: Undercover with


Afghanistans Drug Trafficking Border Police, Harpers Magazine, December 2009.

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Implications of the Drawdown for the International Community
and the Government of Pakistan

Relations between Pakistan and the United States are


poor and getting worse. In 2009 the U.S. Congress
tightened conditions for U.S. assistance; in 2011 many
members of Congress requested further tightening after
Osama bin Laden was revealed to have resided in a city
not too far from Pakistans capital, Islamabad.1 In light
of political pressures in both countries and current relations, U.S. assistance to Pakistan is likely to be cut,
possibly sharply, as U.S. forces draw down. Under this
scenario, what are the economic implications of these
likely reductions in assistance to and likely declines in
traffic through Pakistan?
Reductions in Economic Development Funds. Even if all
U.S. development assistance were to be eliminated, the
economic consequences for Pakistan would be unfortunate, but not severe. In 2010, Pakistans GDP was $172
billion. In FY2010, U.S. assistance to Pakistan other
than security ran $1.727 billion, one percent of GDP. If
this money were to disappear, it would not result in a
sharp decline in Pakistans output. Moreover, an appreciable share of U.S. assistance is spent on administration,
management and outside consultants to run projects.
These expenditures are counted as assistance even
though they are used to purchase U.S. goods and services, not goods and services in Pakistan. Reductions in
assistance would therefore have even less of an impact
on Pakistans GDP than the dollar figures suggest.
Reductions in U.S. development assistance would have
a greater effect on the provision of public services than
on Pakistans GDP. In 2010, total expenditures by Pakistans government ran $34.3 billion; U.S. nonsecurity assistance was equivalent to 5.0 percent of these expenditures. However, only a portion of U.S. assistance goes to budgetary support: most of it goes for
projects. The elimination of U.S. non-security assistance would therefore result in less than a 2.5 percent
reduction in expenditures by Pakistans government.
The direct beneficiaries of U.S.-funded programs,
many of whom are poor and disadvantaged, would suffer from a sharp fall in U.S. assistance, as the programs
from which they benefit are ended or curtailed.
According to the OECD, the United States provided
twenty-two percent of total development assistance to
Pakistan in 2008 and 2009.2 A decline in U.S. development assistance would be tempered by continued
flows from other donors, as other donors are unlikely
to reduce aid to Pakistan, if the United States cuts back.
Assistance provided by International Development As1

See Susan B. Epstein, K. Alan Kronstadt, Pakistan: U.S. Foreign


Assistance, Congressional Research Service, July 28, 2011, pp.
25-27.

Pakistan, Overseas Development Assistance, Organization of


Economic Development and Cooperation, available at
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/23/35/1882685.gif accessed on
December 22, 2011.

Aspen
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sociation and Asian Development Fund is likely to


continue no matter what the near-term trajectory of
foreign involvement in Afghanistan. The United Kingdoms Department for International Development has
attempted to separate development assistance provided
by the United Kingdom from UK security policy concerns. These donors may even step in to cover some
U.S. cuts.
Reductions in Security Assistance. Oddly, the Pakistani
institution with which the U.S. government has had the
most contentious relationship, Pakistans military, is
the one that is most vulnerable to reductions in U.S. assistance. According to the Stockholm International
Peace Research Institute, Pakistans expenditures on its
military totaled 514 billion rupees in 2010, or $6.04
billion, converted at the market exchange rate.3 U.S.
security assistance to Pakistan ran $2.735 billion in
2010, equivalent to forty-five percent of this figure.
Although U.S. security assistance does not translate directly into budgetary support for Pakistans military,
Pakistans military benefits much more directly from
this assistance than do Pakistans other ministries from
economic development assistance. If U.S. security assistance were to disappear, the Pakistani government
would not be able to make up the difference.
These sums have implications for Pakistans competition with India. Indias spending on its military ran
$41.8 billion at market exchange rates in 2010, seven
times Pakistans expenditures.4 If Pakistan were to lose
U.S. security assistance, spending on Pakistans military would have to drop and the gap between Indias
expenditures and Pakistans would widen substantially,
exacerbating Pakistans challenge of maintaining a
semblance of equilibrium in conventional military
forces with India.
Decline in trade with Afghanistan. I do not foresee serious national economic repercussions for Pakistan
from continued declines in transit traffic through Pakistan to Afghanistan. As noted above, seventy percent
of total deliveries to ISAF by ground transportation are
now routed through Uzbekistan; prior to 2009, Pakistan
was by far the most utilized transit route. In aggregate,
if these flows disappear, Pakistans economy would not
suffer notable damage. In Pakistans border regions,
the effects would be pronounced. Trucking companies,
wholesalers, and support industries like lodging, restaurants, and vehicle repair shops have benefited from
the large flows of goods trucked from Pakistan to Afghanistan, as have insurgents, corrupt civil servants,
and local powerbrokers who have been able to demand
3

Pakistan, SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, Stockholm International


Peace
Research
Institute,
available
at
http://milexdata.sipri.org/result.php4 accessed on December 23,
2011.

India, SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, available at http://milexdata.
sipri.org/result.php4 accessed on December 23, 2011.

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bribes from truckers to traverse the border region. As


this traffic falls, so should flows of funds to both support industries and these groups.
What Can the International Community and the
Government of Pakistan Do?

In my view, the willingness of the U.S. Congress to


continue to provide assistance to Pakistan will depend
heavily on the U.S. counterinsurgency effort and U.S.
perceptions of Pakistans contribution to that effort.
Pakistan faces potentially sharp reductions in security
assistance, unless perceptions and relations change.
U.S. development assistance is probably less vulnerable to sharp cutbacks.
Patching up relations between Pakistans military and
the U.S. government is probably the most beneficial
step the two sides can take. However, the United States
and Pakistans military have very different views of
Pakistans interests with regard to Afghanistan and
very different views of what constitutes a positive outcome there. Reconciliation between the United States
and Pakistans military may not be possible. Without
reconciliation it is hard to see the United States continuing to provide recent levels of security assistance; in

fact, it would probably be in the United States best interests to cut back on this assistance without a better
meeting of the minds on what ends and means should
be with regard to Afghanistan.
In contrast to security assistance, the United States and
other donors would be well advised to continue to provide assistance to improve education, health care, and
other public services in Pakistan. However, the United
States should carefully evaluate the efficacy of current
programs to facilitate economic development. Pakistans
governments, military and civilian, have repeatedly
avoided making policy decisions that challenge the interests of the economic elites. To some extent, foreign
assistance has facilitated this behavior. Because these
decisions have not been made, tax revenues are inadequate to provide universal elementary school education
or staff public health clinics. Electricity is often not
available, because rates do not cover costs and theft is
rampant. A reduction in bilateral grant aid for economic
development coupled with greater reliance on the development banks and, hopefully, a role for the International
Monetary Fund, could result in creating substantially
better conditions for economic growth as foreign forces
draw down in Pakistans Western neighbor.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
Launching an Afghan Peace Process
James Dobbins
Director, International Security & Defense Policy Center
National Defense Research Institute
RAND Corporation
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the two shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at Gods great Judgment Seat

So wrote Rudyard Kipling of a Victorian age confrontation between an English soldier and a Pashtun horse
thief. The poems conclusion belies its opening lines, as
the two men do bond, and the Pashtun joins the Englishmans regiment.
East and West continue to meet today on much the same
ground and in much the same manner. Here is where
American and European soldiers combat (and seek to
recruit) the descendants of Kiplings horse thief. Here is
the epicenter of global terrorism, the font of nuclear proliferation, and the most likely locus for the worlds first
war between two nuclear powers. Here is where a rising
China and India share a common border.
The Great Game thus continues. But if the playing
field is familiar, the number of contestants has increased
to include most of the worlds major powersthe United States, Europe, Russia, China and Indiaalong a
number of neighboring states that did not even exist in
Kiplings day.1
Afghanistans long running civil war is largely a product of this global and regional competition and the resultant external involvement. Unlike Yugoslavia, a
strong state divided by even stronger ethnic antipathies,
Afghanistan is a weak polity that has been torn apart by
its near and more distant neighbors. Question a Serb,
Croat or Bosniak regarding the basis of their mutual antagonisms and one gets an historical narrative dating
back a millennium or more. Ask the same of a Tajik,
Pashtun or Uzbek, and one will find that their grievances only seem to go back a few decades, anterior to
which they recall, however erroneously, a golden era
when everyone lived together in peace. Even today, despite the antagonisms bred of thirty years of civil war,
Afghanistans Uzbek population does not want to live in
Uzbekistan, its Tajiks in Tjkistn, its Pashtuns in Pakistan, or its Hazara in Iran. Among Pashtuns, the major
tensions are with each other, across tribal lines, not ethnic or linguistic. The vast majority of Afghans accept
that theirs is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic country. At
the same time, they all feel entitled to a greater share in
its governance and the patronage that flows from it than
the others are prepared to accord them. Theirs is thus
more a conflict over power sharing than national identity.

1 This paper is adapted from a longer RAND study entitled Afghan


Peace Talks: A Primer, by James Shinn and James Dobbins, 2011.

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Internal divisions among Afghan political factions


sparked the Soviet invasion. These divisions were
fanned into a much larger and more enduring conflict
with the involvement of the United States, Pakistan and
Saudi Arabia. Following the Soviet withdrawal, India,
Iran and eventually Russia stepped in to limit Pakistani
influence. Only in the aftermath of 9/11 was the United
States briefly able to engineer a reconfiguration of these
external forces toward a common purpose, the overthrow of the libn, and their replacement by the current regime.
This convergence proved short-lived. Iran was rewarded
for its considerable help lining up Afghan support for
Karzai by being consigned to the Axis of Evil. Subsequent Iranian offers of assistance in rebuilding the Afghan army were ignored. Pakistan afforded sanctuary to
the fleeing libn leadership and allowed it to recruit,
organize, train, equip and eventually deploy an insurgent
force. For years Washington turned a blind eye to Pakistans behavior, focusing almost exclusively on securing
that governments cooperation in hunting down the remaining Al-qidah leadership.
Even today, despite intense U.S. prodding, Pakistan
continues to allow the Afghan libn almost unfettered
access to its border regions while Islamabad complains
bitterly about four Indian consulates in neighboring Afghanistan. Iran has continued to support the Karzai regime, but is also hedging its bet (and tweaking the United States) by providing limited material support to insurgent groups. U.S. forces in Afghanistan have tried to
reduce their reliance on lines of supply through Pakistan
by increasing shipments through Central Asia. This
raises Russian anxieties about encroachment on its own
sphere of influence. China has announced plans for a
very large investment in mining Afghan copper, but is
otherwise the least engaged of the major powers, despite
being the only one to actually border Afghanistan.
In the event of an American and European disengagement these other states would continue to pursue their potentially divergent interests. The result would probably be
a reversion to the earlier pattern of civil war, with Russia,
India and Iran supporting Northern, non-Pashtun resistance to a Pakistani-backed Pashtun hegemony. If Afghan history is any guide, this conflict would be considerably more violent than the one currently underway,
producing many more casualties, larger refugee flows,
and expanded opportunities for violent extremist groups
to employ Afghan territory, like they already do Pakistan,
as a hub for more distant attacks.
It is not difficult to construct a notional international arrangement for Afghan security that would suit the interests of all parties. It might look as follows:
Afghanistan commits not to permit its territory to be
used to destabilize any of its neighbors;

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


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Afghanistans neighbors and the other powers promise not to allow their territory to be used to interfere in
Afghanistan;
The effect of the above pledges would be to declare
Afghanistan permanently neutral, and commit all others to respect that neutrality;
Afghanistan recognizes its border with Pakistan (the
Durand Line);
The United States and NATO promise to withdraw
their forces once these other provisions had been give
real effect;
The donor community promises to support the delivery of public services roads, schools, health clinics,
electricity and security to the disadvantaged communities on both sides of the Af-Pak border.
Such a package would give all the participants something
of value. Pakistan would secure Afghan recognition of its
long contested border and assurances that India would not
be allowed to use Afghan territory to destabilize Pakistans own volatile frontier regions. Afghanistan would
gain an end to cross border infiltration and attacks from
Pakistan. Pashtuns living on both sides of the border
would get access to improved public services. Iran, Russia and China would get assurances that the United States
and NATO troops would leave. And the United States
and its allies would get to leave.
Such an exchange of pledges could have effect, however,
only if Pakistan and Afghanistan have sufficient control
of their respective border regions to deliver on the mutual
promises of non-interference, something neither state is
currently capable of doing. Thus an international accord
on Afghanistan would have meaning only if it buttressed
an internal, Afghan process of reconciliation.
For some time Afghan President Hmid Karzai has
sought to initiate such an internal Afghan process. The
United States, even under the Bush administration, was
not opposed in principal. Until 2011, however, Washington had preferred to concentrate on detaching lowlevel fighters from the insurgent cause, a process labeled reintegration, arguing that any top down effort
at reconciliation should await improvements on the battlefield.
The attractions of reintegration are evident. Each insurgent brought over weakens the enemy while it correspondingly strengthens the government forces. In Iraq
such a process broke the back of the Sunn insurgency,
resulting in the massive defection of enemy fighters,
who in 2007 moved more or less overnight from killing
U.S. soldiers to working for them. This shift was
achieved without the U.S. or the Iraqi government having to make any concessions affecting the nature of the

Iraqi state, or the constitutional order that the United


States has helped establish there.
Reconciliation, by contrast, would launch a process of
mutual accommodation among two competing Afghan
leaderships with very different visions of the Afghan
state, inevitably opening the prospect of substantive
trade offs that make both U.S. officials and many Afghans uneasy, not to say apprehensive.
NATO generals have, nevertheless made clear that this
war is not going to end in a military victory. Reintegration efforts have so far proved disappointing. The insurgents do not have the support of the majority of the
population, or even most Pashtuns, but they are probably the largest, and certainly the best-organized and
most militant faction of the countrys biggest ethic
group. It is hard to imagine a sustainable peace without
their acquiescence, particularly as long as they enjoy a
sanctuary within Pakistan.
These considerations led U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton explicitly to endorse talks with the
libn leadership without any preconditions in a
speech to the Asia Society in March of 2011. Since then
U.S. officials have had several exploratory discussions
with libn intermediaries in an effort to get more
formal negotiations going.
Just as an international accord on Afghanistan would
have little meaning unless accompanied by a successful
internal process of reconciliation, so the reverse is true.
Any settlement among the major Afghan adversaries
would crumble quickly unless supported by all the other
players in the Great Game. It is significant that Pakistan
has offered itself as a facilitator and mediator. But even
if Pakistan can broker a deal between Karzai and Mullah Muhammad Omar, this would only mark the start of
a new civil war unless India, Iran and Russia were also
willing to help deliver the old Northern Alliance.
One should thus conceive of an Afghan peace process
as a series of concentric circles. At the core would be
the main Afghan parties. Immediately around them are
the states most directly concerned, those that have historically overthrown, installed or propped up successive
regimes in Kabul. Beyond these are a still larger number
of state actors with an interest in Afghanistans future
and some ability to influence it.
The Afghan Parties

The Insurgents: The Afghan libn is overseen by four


regional shrs (or councils) located in Quetta, Peshawar, Miramshah, and Gerdi Jangal, with the Quetta
Shr first in primacy, and three associated networks;
the Haqqn, Hizb-i-Islami (led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyr), and the Mansur networks. The latter three networks overlap to varying degrees with the regional
shrs; the Haqqn and Mansur networks are represented on the Quetta Shr, as is the head of the Pesha-

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war shr, Maulvi Abdul Kabir. The role of the Tehriki-libn Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani libn, in internal Afghan insurgent debates is unclear. What is clear is
that both the United States and Pakistan wish the two
parties could be separated and isolated. Al-qidah has
interpenetrated both the Afghan libn and Pakistani
libn to some degree, but their numbers are small,
their leverage decreasing, and their control over decisions is probably very limited. They will, however, do
their best to sabotage any negotiation.
One does not know how much command and control the
Quetta Shr continues to exercise at the ground level,
but it does seem to have been attenuated over time.
With eighty to ninety percent of libn fighters operating in or close to their own communities, there is a mosaic of contending loyalties on the ground whose lines
of cleavage will only be revealed and tested as the terms
of any peace agreement are negotiated.
Mullah Omar has both legitimacy among the libn
and some coercive power, but he is constrained by the
consensual nature of the Quetta Shr, the quasiindependence (and bloody-mindedness) of affiliated
networks such as Hekmatyr and Haqqn, the decentralized nature of the insurgency itself, which has seen a
new set of leaders emerge on the ground as many
mid-level libn leaders have been killed or captured,
and by Pakistani influence. Mullah Omar himself may
at some point in this conflict be removed by an act of
God, Pakistan, or the United States and his removal
would make the already low coherence of the libn
even shakier.
The Hekmatyr, Haqqn, and Mansur network leaders
could all play spoiler roles in any negotiation if they perceived that they were being excluded from the process or
that their interests are being sacrificed. Spoiler groups from
among the local leadership of the libn, at the district
and provincial or front level inside Afghanistan, could
also emerge to challenge an accord and to defy Mullah
Omars authority if an accord, in their view, seemed to
have sold out the libns core values, or in some way
threatened their local power base.
Finally, East of the Durand Line, the Pakistani libn
could declare war on any accord that imposed terms
that it considered threatening, as would Al-qidah.
Since the terms of any plausible peace accord would
explicitly isolate both the TTP and Al-qidah, a campaign of intimidation, kidnapping and murder by these
two groups against both the Kabul Government and the
Quetta Shr during the negotiation and implementation
of a peace accord is virtually certain. This will raise the
diplomatic and personal stakes for the negotiators in unpleasant ways.
The libn leadership will have a long list of objectives in any peace accord, as might be expected from a
group that at one time ruled most of the country and has
been fighting a sustained war for nearly a decade to re-

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gain that position. We do not know how much consistency there is regarding the priority of these objectives within the insurgency leadership, either horizontally or vertically, nor which objectives are hard and
which ones might be compromised on or traded off
against other goals. As noted earlier, the libns primary goals are:

Remove foreign forces from Afghanistan; no residual foreign military presence other than as part of
temporary peacekeeping forces;

Establish security for insurgents, particularly in the


countrys South and Southeast, while neutralizing
the military threat to the libn by ISAF, the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and
National Security Directorate. This includes ending
the targeting of the leaders and their families in Afghanistan and, importantly, in Pakistan as well;

Recognition of the libn by the outside world as


a legitimate political actor in Afghanistan, delisting by the UN of key Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leaders as terrorists, and release of
libn prisoners held in Pol-e-Charki, Guantnamo, and elsewhere;

Establish an extreme version of Islamic law


throughout Afghanistan;

Purge corrupt elements from Afghanistan, including


local commanders and several figures who are part
of the current government, and prosecute or exile
some of the most violent warlords (as defined by the
libn).

There is likely to be some shifting priority among these


objectives over time and several points on which compromise is possible, probably with considerable variation
horizontally and vertically. Based on some subtle changes
in the libns public statements over time (including
Mullah Omars d proclamations), anecdotal evidence
from experts in the field, and the authors conversations
with libn figures, these possible areas of compromise
include:

Severing ties with Al-qidah and other extremist


jihd groups, although, as former libn foreign
minister Mullah Wakil Mutawakel observed to one
of the authors, The longer this war goes on, the
closer our links with Al-qidah;

Some limited gender rights; the libn leadership


has at times said that it will accept education for
girls, and has, in practice, allowed girls schools to
operate in some areas under its control;

Relaxing the imposition of some Wahhb-style Islamic cultural rules (such as banning music and kiteflying) and some Sunn-centric legal rules, particular-

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ly in non-Pashtun areas and among Shah communities;

Political accommodations and assurances to former


Northern Alliance and non-Pashtun groups, based
on some sort of decentralized structure and/or parliamentary system. This could be negotiated at the
top or at the bottom; these arrangements are likely
to be more durable the closer they are negotiated at
the district level on the ground;

Sharing leadership; Mullah Omar may not necessarily be interested in running Afghanistan again as
its supreme leader, although he probably wants to
influence or reform the constitutional structure.

The Government of the Islamic Republic and Afghanistan: the Kabul government is fragile, relatively new, in
a very poor, war-torn country, with uneasy relations
with its neighbors and foreign patrons alike, resembling
a congeries of overlapping patron-client networks in uneasy coalition rather than a modern nation-state. This
makes the Kabul government a difficult partner in counterinsurgency operations, and frustratingly incoherent
with regard to a peace process.
Polling reveals very strong support throughout the Afghan population for peace negotiations. Seventy percent
of the total population, and ninety percent of Pashtuns
living in Kandahar and Helmand favor such a process.
Afghans value what has been achieved over the past
decade and have no intention of giving it up to return to
life under the Islamic Emirate, but they also regard the
libn as an inescapable and not necessarily illegitimate part of the national fabric and one that should be
brought back into the fold, although not at any cost.
These positive views of a peace process are not fully
shared by those who might have the most to lose in such
an accommodation, to include elements of the old
Northern Alliance leadership and much of civil society,
particularly womens representatives. President Karzai
knows he must reach out to his (non-violent) political
opposition to include former Northern Alliance factions
and negotiate with them over his shoulder as he hammers out the terms of a possible deal with the libn
across a table. He has historically exhibited considerable
skill and finesse in this consensus-making, allocation of
patronage, and finely-tuned log-rolling, thereby building
up his power from an originally very narrow base and
making the best of the weak hand he was dealt in 2002.
His choice of former Northern Alliance president
Burhnuddn Rabbn to head the High Peace Council
charged with spearheading the reconciliation process
clearly intended to coopt at least some of the opposition
into this process, and Rabbns assassination represents
a serious setback in this effort to broaden the basis of
political support among non-Pashtun leaders for the
reconciliation process.

Civil society groups, to include those seeking to expand


the role of women in government and the economy, and
those supporting human rights, free media and opposing
corruption will also view any peace process very skeptically. These groups are heavily dependent on the international donor community, and will likely seek to exert
their influence primarily through it. Civil society groups
pose a challenge to the untrammeled exercise of authority (and self-dealing) by both the Karzai inner circle and
libn members in forming a government of national
reconciliation, and will fear becoming the targets of
state surveillance and selective violence.
The Kabul governments objectives in a peace process
seem likely to include, in approximately the following order:

President Karzai remains head of government until


2014 (and possibly thereafter) with a guarantee of
personal security for him, his family, and his inner
circle, as well as immunity for some key allies;

ISAF and U.S. forces withdraw in an orderly,


phased manner, while providing training and weaponry to the Afghan army and police through 2014
and beyond;

The international community provides a peacekeeping force for a limited period after an accord,
backfilling behind ISAF;

The resultant power sharing arrangement provides


sufficient scope for non-Pashtun elements to forestall a renewed civil war along sectarian lines;

Afghanistan remains a democratic state and the


constitution survives largely intact, with some minority and gender rights;

The international community continues to provide


financial support.

The Inner Ring

Pakistan: There are two competing narratives about Pakistans role in Afghanistan. Which one turns out to be
true will have a profound impact on the negotiating process and ultimate outcome of any peace talks. If both
are true, i.e. the government is divided, as seems most
likely, then the role Pakistan will ultimately play in any
such process is even more unpredictable.
The first narrative, favored by many observers in Kabul,
New Delhi, Washington and even Islamabad has Pakistans security establishment viewing Afghanistan almost entirely through the prism of the Indian threat. In
this narrative, Islamabads principal objective in Afghanistan is to limit Indian influence, the risk of encirclement and of Indian-supported subversion within Pakistan fomented from across the border in Afghanistan.
In other words, Pakistan fears the Indians doing to them

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in the Balch and Pashtun regions of Pakistan exactly
what Pakistan has been doing to the Indians in Kashmir
for the past sixty yearsundercutting their sovereignty
with proxy terrorists. To defend against this, Pakistan
seeks a predominant role in Afghanistan for its libn
proxies, even while fighting against the Pakistani
libn at home. After NATO is gone, Pakistan will resume its meddling and manipulation through its libn
proxies, now members of a government of national reconciliation, with an eye to countering any residual Iranian and Indian influence.
A competing narrative flips all of these points one hundred and eighty degrees. In this view, also professed by
serious people in Islamabad and Washington, and increasingly part of the Pakistani militarys official line
with foreign interlocutors, Pakistan now regards Afghanistan increasingly through the prism of the existential threat to the Pakistan state posed by the Pakistani
libn, rather than by an Indian threat. We are the
victims of extremist terrorism goes this argument,
pointing to the suicide bombings and brutal assassinations of civilian, intelligence and military figures by
their own domestic insurgency. As a Pakistani journalist
suggested to the authors, Pakistans military leadership
has finally gotten the message that they are now in the
gun-sights of the jihds that the real risk to them is here
in Western Pakistan, not from the Indians in Eastern Pakistan.
In this starkly different narrative, Islamabad does not
control the Quetta Shr; Pakistan exercises some residual influence over the libn, but it is much attenuated. Because of this uneasy relationship with the
libn, Pakistan therefore wants a government in Kabul in which the libn participate, but do not dominate. Instead, they want Afghanistan sufficiently stable
so that Pakistan can focus on its own domestic counterinsurgency. Pakistan wants to split the Afghan libn
from the Pakistan libn, getting the former out of Pakistan by making them a junior partner in a Kabul government of national reconciliation while stamping out
the latter at home. Islamabad therefore will do all in its
power to nudge the Quetta Shr to the table, and will
honor its undertakings in any resultant accord. In this
narrative, Pakistan wishes the United States to withdraw
its forces from Afghanistan, but in an orderly fashion,
and to continue providing military and economic support to Pakistan to wage its own domestic fight against
extremism.
In this narrative, Pakistani leaders do not regard time as
on their side. They recognize that Pakistan itself is now
the prime locus of militant extremist insurgency, which
poses an existential threat to the secular Pakistani state,
hence the urgency of closing off the Afghanistan war in
order to focus at home.
This second, more constructive narrative is consistent
with the governments current pronouncements, but also
with Pakistani national interests as seen from outside.

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Unfortunately, the first, less constructive set of policies


and objectives is more consistent with observed Pakistani behavior. As noted earlier, it is likely that both narratives have advocates within the Pakistani government,
and that the Pakistani strategy and decision-making unit
with regard to Afghanistan is simply incoherent both
vertically and horizontally. That is certainly the most
charitable explanation for what otherwise seems to be
conscious and concerted duplicity in Pakistani behavior.
If the more constructive narrative ultimately shapes Pakistans role in any negotiations, then Islamabads list of
objectives are roughly as follows:
A stable, reasonably neutral Kabul government with
the Afghan libn as a junior partner;
Afghan and U.S. support for counter-terrorist and
counterinsurgency operations against the Pakistani
libn;
A phased U.S. and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, but with continuing military and economic aid to
Afghanistan thereafter;
Limitations on, but not complete elimination of, Indian influence and activities in Afghanistan, including
effective checks on Indian capacity to support the anti-Pakistan insurgency in Balchistn;
Access to expanded trade and investment with Afghanistan.
United States: The U.S. government has multiple goals
in Afghanistan, more or less in this order of priority:
Prevent Afghanistan from becoming a sanctuary for
and an ally of Al-qidah, as it was under the libn;
Create a reasonably stable, autonomous and friendly
state in Afghanistan;
Keep Afghan violence from further de-stabilizing Pakistan;
Preserve democratic and human rights for Afghans;
Preserve the credibility of the NATO alliance;
Reduce the illicit drug trade;
The first objective (expelling Al-qidah) was the reason for the original intervention, and the main reason
President Obama has cited for sustaining and indeed increasing the U.S. military commitment. This is a must
have. The second objective is really derivative of the
first. The third (Pakistani stability) has emerged after
the intervention had taken place and is now seen by
many as the most important American interest in the region. The fourth objective (democratization) is a core

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American value, but one often compromised when too


hard, or too expensive to secure. The last two objectives
are essentially nice to haves. Damage to NATO has
already been incurred and the terms of a peace accord
may make little difference on that score. The United
States is a secondary or even tertiary market for Afghans heroin production, and in any case a reduction of
supply from Afghanistan will likely be replaced by
some other producer.
Washington will have to engage in any peace process
against the noisy backdrop of bureaucratic warfare, partisan sniping, Congressional second-guessing, apparently unpluggable leaking, and intrusive, critical media.
Afghanistan and its immediate neighbors have no monopoly on incoherence.
Most U.S. citizens understand that the international
community must help build a minimally capable Afghan
state and continue to provide military and economic assistance to Kabul over time in order to achieve the first,
counter-terrorism objective. But in an era of economic
retrenchment and intervention fatigue, U.S. voters are
likely to accept greater risk of failure in Afghanistan as
the price for a reduced commitment of U.S. resources.
The laudable goals of creating a democratic Afghan
state with religious, gender and minority rights, economic development and the rule of law are likely to be
scaled back as the price for so doing becomes more burdensome and the memory of 9/11 recedes. Within the
executive branch, Vice President Joseph Biden has repeatedly expressed his preference for a strategy in Afghanistan that focuses more exclusively on the counterterrorism goal, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, rather
than an open ended commitment to counterinsurgency
and state-building in Afghanistan.
The United States operates under tight time constraints
of its own making. By contrast, it is striking how many
of the other parties to any peace process are on a much
longer timeline. Almost all of the regional actors can
play the long game in Afghanistan. By contrast, U.S. influence in Afghanistan is on a gradually declining trajectory. The ability to modulate violence in order to
bring the libn to the negotiating table and to keep
them there is a wasting asset. Gradually declining U.S.
leverage means that the longer any peace agreement
takes to negotiate, the less influence the United States is
likely to have over its contents. It would be hard today
for the United States to offer to accelerate its planned
withdrawal in exchange for other considerations, e.g. a
libn break with Al-qidah, and it will soon be practically impossible.
The Outer Ring

India: Indian officials are very skeptical about the utility


of Afghan peace talks, but will want to be present if
they occur. The Indians would prefer to see such negotiations organized within a United Nations context. India
does not have a specific timetable for an Afghan solu-

tion. Top Indian political figures are upset by the timeline for NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan and by
what they consider to be a failure of U.S. resolve, fearing a retreat that will leave India holding the bag, as
one senior diplomat told the authors.
Indias goals in an Afghan peace process include, approximately in this order of priority:
A friendly or at least neutral Afghan government that is
not dominated by the libn or other Pakistani proxies;
Elimination of Al-qidah and other Islamist terrorist
groups sanctuaries in Afghanistan although it is
Pakistani terrorist groups targeted on India that are of
primary concern to New Delhi;
Preservation of an Indian presence in Afghanistan, including political and military intelligence capability
partly as a mechanism for ensuring that objectives (1)
and (2) are enforced over time, but also to maintain
Indias broader influence in the Central Asia region;
Expansion of trade and investment in Afghanistan,
including access to transit routes through both Pakistan and Iran;
Preservation of basic human rights for Afghans;
Maintain and strengthen the growing strategic partnership with the United States;
Much to the discomfort of Indian diplomats, Pakistan
plays the key role in delivering on four of these five objectives. India will press for some acknowledgement of
its security interests in any accord and insist that the result not facilitate Pakistans ability to support terrorist attacks on India in Kashmir and beyond. This could well be
the subject of a parallel side agreement between New
Delhi and Islamabad, either public or private.
On this score, some observers suggest that the United
States should attempt to promote an Indian-Pakistan
rapprochement on Kashmir as part of an Afghan settlement strategy. This is a highly desirable objective, but
an unrealistically ambitious short- to medium-term undertaking, analogous to solving the Israeli-Palestinian
problem. At the end of the day, statesmen in Islamabad
and New Delhi will have to arrive at some conclusion or
at least a modus vivendi on their own terms; encouragement from Washington should be continued, but is
unlikely to have more than a marginal effect on the behavior of either party.
India has traditionally allied with the former Northern
Alliance against the libn and has close ties with
many of its senior members, both in the Kabul government and in the opposition. At the end of the day, if Indias leaders believe that negotiations imperil either of
Indias top two objectives, they could derail the process

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by encouraging their own proxy groups in Afghanistan
to oppose the emerging agreement, defect from the Kabul government or even take up arms to derail it. The
Unites States will be obliged to send repeated and clear
messages of reassurance to the Indians in order to forestall this outcome.
Iran: Irans position with regard to a peace process is
likely to be obscured by political infighting in Tehran
among lay political leaders, clerics, members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), conservatives
and those few reformers not in prison.
The supreme leader, Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khmenei,
will have the final say on negotiating strategy. The executive branch of the Iranian government, led by
Mahmd Ahmadinejd, will be involved in the negotiation through the foreign ministry and other senior individuals reporting to the presidents office. Elements of
the Quds Force of the IRGC will probably also play key
roles. Veto power rests exclusively with Khmenei,
while formal approval must be officially obtained from
the Iranian parliament for any formal undertakings.
Iran will likely adopt a passive role in the run-up to any
accord negotiations, continue to fulminate against UN
and U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, and use indirect
pressure through its proxies as much or more than
frontal diplomatic engagement. If a negotiating forum is
devised in which neighboring states have some standing,
Iran is likely to show up. Its behavior would be heavily
conditioned by the state of its relations with the United
States. Thus Iran could prove quite unhelpful for reasons extraneous to Afghanistan, even though Iranian
and U.S. interests with regard to that country are rather
closely aligned.
Iran does not seem to have calendar pressures for an Afghan settlement. If anything, the Iranians appear fairly
satisfied with a stalemate status quo in Afghanistan, one
which ties down U.S. armed forces, leaves them hostage
to possible Iranian indirect violence through IRGC proxies in Afghanistan, and plays into the narrative of the
United States as waging war on Islam, although the
Iranians appear to fear any permanent U.S. military presence in Afghanistan post-accord and will presumably use
all the levers at their disposal to oppose any terms of an
accord that would permit this. Iranian support or obstruction of a peace process is more likely to be paced by other
timelines external to Afghanistan, such as tensions over
its nuclear program or tensions between Iran and the Gulf
states, or the long-standing tensions with the United
States.
Irans objectives in Afghanistan, probably in this order,
include:
Eventual withdrawal of U.S.-ISAF military and intelligence forces in Afghanistan;

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A stable Afghanistan with a regime in Kabul that is


friendly to Iran and not dominated by Pakistan or by
its libn proxies;
Protection of interests of traditional Iranian allies inside Afghanistan such as Frswn Herts, Tjks,
and Shah Hazra from libn revenge;
Trade and investment with Afghanistan, including
transit trade through Chabar and possible future gas
pipelines;
Return of the remainder of the Afghan refugee population currently in Iran, which numbers somewhere
between two and three million;
Reduce narcotics flow into and through Iran;
Cooperation of Kabul in fighting the Jundallh
(Peoples Islamic Movement of Iran PIMI) insurgency.
Russia: According to analysts Dmitri Trenin and Alexey
Malashenko, Moscow sees its policies towards Afghanistan not as something shaped by the public good, such as
helping to end the fighting or to restore peace and stability in the region. Rather, they are a means of bolstering
Russias geopolitical position and gaining material advantage. Afghanistan is also a bargaining chip in Russias
wider relations with the United States. In the Russian political mind, rational calculations of interests and analyses
of threats are superimposed, of course, on the Soviet Unions traumatic experience in Afghanistan the Afghan
syndrome and on the post-Soviet Russian experience
in Chechnya, Dagestn, Ingushetia, and Tjkistn.1
Russian goals in Afghanistan include, in approximately
this order:
Countering the ability of Islamic extremist groups to
support Chechens or to engage in terrorist acts inside
Russia or against Russian interests abroad;
Eliminating the U.S. and NATO military presence in
Central Asia, including access to airbases in Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere in the region;
Reducing the flow of heroin from Afghanistan to Russia;
Blocking development of gas and oil pipelines from
Central Asia South through Afghanistan.
There is a slight conflict between the first two goals: the
Russians would like the United States gone from Afghanistan, but Moscow probably realizes that some residual U.S. intelligence or special operations presence
1 Dmitri Trenin and Alexey Malashenko, Afghanistan: A View from
Moscow, Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, 2010

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may be necessary to ensure the execution of the counter-terrorist undertakings of a peace accord.
This suggests that Russia could be marginally helpful or
marginally obstructive in any peace negotiations, although Moscows seat on the UN Security Council gives
the Kremlin a veto on UN-related actions as part of a
settlement. The Russians have been willing to provide
temporary transit accommodations to ISAF in order to
blunt Pakistani threats to the ISAF logistical supply
lines, and have temporarily suspended their efforts to
limit American access to Central Asian basing and
transit. But at the end of the day, one of the primary
benefits to Russia of a successful peace process is the
exit of U.S. military forces and the reduction of Washingtons political influence throughout Central Asia.
Turkey: The Republic of Turkey has multiple interests
that would be served by a successful peace process, and
it could well play a central role in helping to bring such
an accord about. Ankaras relations with the parties to
the conflict and its understanding of the context are extensive. Turkey is the only country that has maintained
reasonably good relations with all of the potential parties to a peace process. Ankaras relations with the Kabul government and with various leaders of the former
Northern Alliance are close. Yet Turkey also had reasonably good relations with the libn when it was in
power. Even now Ankara can probably activate personal
ties with some libn leaders, which is pretty remarkable for a NATO member that has from the beginning
contributed troops to ISAF.
Ankaras proxies in the Afghan conflict include the Uzbeks, notably General Dostum, and the Junbesh movement, as well as close ties with the Turkmens and a few
other former Northern Alliance affiliated groups.
Through these proxies Ankara exerts a modest degree of
control based on suasion, trust, intercessions with the
Karzai government and some financial support.
Turkeys goals in Afghanistan include:
Fighting terrorism. Turkey is a front-line state with
numerous terrorist attacks and casualties from Alqidah-related attacks;
Expanding commerce. Turkish firms are major participants in construction and development contracts in Afghanistan, and Turkey is a large foreign investor in the region;
Promoting Turkish political influence and prestige
throughout Central Asia;
Protecting the interests of Turkic ethnic groups such
as the Uzbeks and Turkmens;
Strengthening Turkeys role in NATO. A leadership
role for Ankara in stabilizing Afghanistan would contrast with the slack of several other NATO members.

Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabias influence and interest in Afghan stems from Riyadhs long
association with the mujhidn in the anti-Soviet conflict and its relatively warm relationship with the IEA
when the libn controlled most of Afghanistan. There
was a notorious falling-out when Mullah Omar allegedly promised to hand over Osama bin Laden and then reneged, but the libn still rely heavily on private donations from wealthy Gulf individuals to conduct the war,
and the House of Sad has influence with the libn
as Keeper of the Two Shrines.
The Kingdoms goals in the country consist of countering both Al-qidah and Iran, and contributing to the
stability of Pakistan, an important Saudi ally.
Al-qidah is a sworn enemy of the Saudi state, and of the
Al-Sad family, which amount to virtually the same
thing. migr Saudi terrorists cycling through Afghanistan and Pakistan pose a continuing threat to Saudi Arabia, as well as its neighbors in the Gulf and Yemen. The
Saudis will have no objection to the extension of
sharah law or the imposition of conservative religious
practices as the price for a peace settlement. On the contrary, Saudi public opinion (at least male Saudi opinion)
likely favors a settlement in Afghanistan that includes extensive Islamicization, more conservative social policies,
backward steps from popular democracy, possibly full
sharah law, and rehabilitation of the libn as part
of power-sharing arrangement. Riyadh is also likely to
favor the eventual withdrawal of Western forces. The
military presence of the United States in Afghanistan
continues to feed the perception of a war against Islam, a
narrative that animates anti-Americanism and strains
U.S.-Saudi security relationship.
The Saudi leadership has no particular time pressure with
regard to Afghanistan and its relationship with Washington has suffered recently as a result of the Arab Spring.
The regime nevertheless has little to risk and possibly
modest gains to achieve by hosting peace negotiations.
They would likely be willing to exercise their moral suasion and perhaps a limited amount of checkbook diplomacy to nudge Kabul and the libn towards signing an
agreement.
Although less consequential than Saudi Arabia, Qatar has
been playing an increasingly active diplomatic role of late
in a number of spheres, to include Afghanistan. It has reportedly hosted exploratory talks between U.S. and
libn representatives, and is a quite plausible local for
any formal peace process, should such be launched.
China: Like Russia, China would be unhappy with any
significant long-term U.S. military presence in Central
Asia. On the other hand, China, unlike Russia, has not
traditionally been a major player of the Afghan "Great
Game". It has no strong ties with any of the Afghan factions, it is not embittered by a previous defeat, and its
primary objectives are to limit the spread of Muslim

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militancy throughout Central Asia and to advance its
commercial interests, including access to Afghan natural resources. In this sense, Chinese diplomats probably
view Afghanistan through the geopolitical lens of Chinas own South Asian Great Game, since Chinas
fundamental position in Afghanistan is going to be
shaped more by Beijings calculus of how to counterbalance India and support Pakistan than by any direct
Chinese stakes in Afghanistan. The Chinese are unlikely
to exert themselves in support of a peace process, but
neither are they likely to obstruct it as long as Pakistan
is adequately included.
Chinas objectives in Afghanistan include, in approximately this priority order:
Eliminate the Western military presence in Afghanistan and Central Asia;
Curb the ability of Islamic extremist groups (such as
the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement ETIM) to
support Uyghurs or to engage in terrorist acts in China or against Chinese interests;
Support Pakistan (Beijings oldest and most trusted
ally) and insulate it from instability in Afghanistan;
Reduce both Russian and Indian influence in Central
Asia;
Ensure access to raw materials (such as natural gas and
metals) from Afghanistan. China Metallurgical Corporations Mes Anyak copper project is the first of what
will probably be many natural resource investment projects that China will engage in within Afghanistan if
the security situation is sufficiently resolved by a peace
accord;
Strengthening the role of the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization (SCO) in the region;
Europe: European governments are largely united with
respect to their basic objectives in Afghanistan. Europeans do not believe that time is on their side, militarily
speaking, and they are each committed to varying, but
generally short-term deadlines for the withdrawal of
their combat forces, although a few of them may be
ready to maintain a security assistance and training role
beyond 2014. Public opinion is solidly behind this departure. Even a large terrorist strike in Europe is highly
unlikely to change this, since forensic and other evidence is more likely to tie such an attack to Pakistan,
Middle-Eastern, or even African-based terrorist networks rather than to anything in Afghanistan.
European governments and their publics support a peace
process for Afghanistan, but are not likely to allow it to
affect the pace of their military withdrawals.

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Withdrawal of European combat forces (with minimal


bloodshed) on an early timetable;
Preventing Al-qidah and other terrorist franchises
from using Afghanistan as a sanctuary;
Preserving Afghanistan as a democracy with basic
human rights, especially gender rights;
Limiting narcotics exports from Afghanistan to Europe;
The British government has for several years taken the
lead in arguing for an Afghan peace process eventually
helping to persuade the Obama administration to embrace the goal. The German government, in addition to
organizing the Bonn II conference on the tenth anniversary of the first, has become active in trying to broker
talks between the United States and insurgent intermediaries. Both governments will seek to play some visible
role in any Afghan peace process.
Table 1 illustrates the views of the main stakeholders on
the issues likely to be at the center of any Afghan peace
process. It distinguishes among three Afghan parties,
the Kabul government, the libn, and the legal opposition to the libn government, which includes both
elements of the former Northern Alliance and current
civil society. The issues are withdrawal of NATO forces,
the residual commitments and arrangements to combat
terrorism, a commitment by the Afghan parties not to allow their territory to be used against any third party
(non-alignment), the reciprocal commitment by Afghanistan's neighbors not to allow their territories to be used
to destabilize Afghanistan (non-interference), a promise
of continuing U.S. security assistance, a commitment by
Afghanistan and its neighbors to cooperate against drug
trafficking, the arrangements for power sharing among
the Afghan factions, the role of Islam and sharah law,
and commitments by the international community to
continued economic assistance.
Structuring a Negotiation

Any peace process must go through three broad stages;


first talking about talks, then actually negotiating, and
finally trying to implement the results.
The first stage has already begun. The Afghan, U.S.,
NATO and Pakistani governments have all endorsed the
idea of negotiations with the insurgent leadership. President Karzai has created a High Peace Council. Ministers and heads of government at NATO and other international gatherings have declared in favor of a peace
process. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has
spoken favorably and rather precisely on the topic.1
1 Speech to the Asia Society, Feb 18, 2011.

European interests and objectives in Afghanistan thus


include:

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Table 1: Afghanistan Converging & Diverging Objectives

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The Pakistani military leadership has offered to mediate
between President Karzai and the libn, although
they did send mixed signals by arresting Mullah Bardar
a top deputy of Mullah Omar who was reputed to be interested in opening talks with Kabul. Saudi Arabia has
arranged talks between the Afghan government and insurgent representatives, most prominently at an iftr in
Mecca in 2008. More recently Qatar and Germany have
played a similar role in trying to bring together U.S. and
libn representatives.
There remain, however, a number of issues that would
need to be worked out before one could proceed to the
second stage, actual negotiations. First, who would participate? Second, where would talks take place? Third,
under whose auspices? Fourth, what would be the
agreed purpose and agenda for these talks?
Participation: At the center of the process would naturally be the main Afghan protagonists, but this means
more than someone representing President Karzai and
someone else representing Mullah Omar or the Quetta
Shr leadership across the table. There are several important Afghan constituencies which have the power to
subvert any agreement, and who therefore need in some
measure to be represented. On the government side this
includes Karzais main political foes, some of whom
represent the non-Pashtun communities, and civil society, notably women. These are the elements most likely
to oppose any peace with the insurgency if their interests are not accommodated. Karzais political rivals
might do so forcefully, while civil society would seek to
bring its influence to bear largely through the international community.
On the insurgent side, the inclusion of the autonomous
networks headed by Jalluddn Haqqn and his son
Sirjuddn, and that headed by Gulbuddn Hekmatyr
would also be necessary to assure a comprehensive
peace, although it might prove possible to proceed initially without them if necessary.
Most of the insurgent leaders and much of their support
structure is located in Pakistan. The insurgents depend
on Pakistan not just for sanctuary, but for other forms of
material help and advice, to rest, recuperate and to recruit. It is unlikely that they would or could make peace
without concurrence by the Pakistani military leadership.
Neither could any agreement be implemented and enforced without Pakistans collaboration. Thus the participation in some form of Pakistan in any peace process is
essential.
But even that is not enough. India, Russia and Iran supported the anti-libn resistance prior to 9/11 and
would likely do so again if excluded from a Pakistani
brokered peace process, particularly one that left their
traditional Tjk, Uzbek and Hazra clients unhappy. So
these countries too have to be included in the process in
some fashion.

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The United States and its ISAF coalition allies are obviously central parties to the war. The future presence or
absence of foreign military and intelligence forces will be
one of the main issues at the heart of any peace negotiation, so they too need to be represented. And finally there
is the wider circle of countries, to include Japan, China,
Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Central Asian republics on Afghanistans Northern borders Uzbekistn,
Tjkistn, and Kyrgyzstn which could be expected to
contribute economically to sustaining any peace settlement and should accordingly be given some role in its
elaboration. Although only the Afghan parties should participate formally in negotiation of the core issues regarding their countrys future, some role and access needs to
be arranged for all the major external stakeholders. If excluded, these governments will certainly become spoilers.
If included and engaged, there is some prospect that they
may be persuaded to exercise convergent influence on the
Afghan parties.
Location: Security, ease of access and neutrality are the
three criteria for choosing a location. Insurgent representatives are not going to feel safe anywhere in Afghanistan. The insurgents are very reluctant to negotiate
inside Pakistan, and no other party would regard that as
either a secure or neutral locale. Saudi Arabia, Qatar,
one of the other Gulf States or Turkey are also possibilities, although Iran and elements of the legal Afghan opposition would probably object to the former, while
Turkey is a combatant as part of the ISAF coalition, and
thus possibly unacceptable to some of the insurgents.
The Germans would certainly like to host such a conference. Geneva, Switzerland offers a neutral site combining most of the above attributes.
Agenda: The main topics for negotiation among the Afghan parties at the core of the negotiations will be security arrangements, acceptance of the libn as a legitimate
political force, distribution of power and patronage, constitutional revision, the role of Islam in government and
law, and the presence of foreign forces.
In parallel there will also need to be discussions between the Afghans and their neighbors about the latters
role in sustaining peace and denying support or sanctuary to spoiler elements, as there will also need to be
talks between the Afghans and the broader international
community about the levels of external economic, political and perhaps even military support the latter are prepared to provide in the context of an agreement.
Format: These considerations suggest the need for a
multi-layered process, one with the Afghan parties at
the center, surrounded by several wider circles, the first
involving the United States and Pakistan, the second
adding India, Russia and Iran, and the third involving
other ISAF troop contributors and large financial donors.
These distinctions need not be, and as a practical matter
cannot be formalized. India, Russia and Iran would nev-

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er agree to be consigned to the second circle, nor would


Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom or Germany
to the third. And indeed participation would need to
vary from issue to issue.
Need for a Facilitator: Someone will need to convene,
host, and preside over such a process. History provides
any number of possible models. Private groups have on
occasion mediated peace settlements. Sometimes a national government has convened, hosted and presided
over such a process, as the United States did over the
Bosnian peace negotiations in 1995. Sometimes, more
rarely, the protagonists themselves take charge and engage without the benefit of third party facilitation, as the
United States and North Vietnam did beginning in 1968,
with France providing the venue but playing no other
role in the talks.
It seems unlikely that the Afghan government and the
libn leadership, left to their own devices, would be
capable of orchestrating the sort of multilayered process
described above. It is possible that a single government
might act as both host and ringmaster, but this would
require a very unusual, perhaps in this case unattainable
combination of impartiality, commitment and capacity
for skillful diplomacy.
In the absence of anyone who could fill all three of these requirements, one may need to find an impartial host
who can offer a secure and accessible site, and separately identify a convening and presiding authority with the
requisite diplomatic capacity and acceptability to all the
parties.
Implementation: The history of peace accords between
undefeated opponents is not encouraging. Any such accord requires both sides to engage in some considerable
degree of disarmament. Fear of betrayal often causes
one side or both to balk at such a step. Unless there is an
impartial third party, trusted by both protagonists and
capable of overseeing implementation, the lack of mutual confidence between the former enemies often causes implementation to falter and conflict to be renewed.
Recent Afghan history has more than its share of failed
cease-fires and peace agreements.
A successful Afghan peace agreement will contain both
political as well as military provisions, and will entail
significant expenses, most of which will have to be
borne by external parties. Among the political provisions are likely to be alterations to the existing constitution, holding of new elections, and appointment of new
officials. Among the economic expenses will be the
costs of disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating combatants from both sides. Indeed, given the much larger
size of the Afghan governments current armed forces,
the cost of scaling these back to peacetime levels will
greatly exceed the costs of demobilizing the insurgents.
As noted, it will probably be essential for some neutral
third party to monitor these processes and cajole the Af-

ghans into fulfilling their promises and implementing


the accord as negotiated.
The United States and NATO, as major protagonists in
the conflict, will probably not be in a position to provide
this kind of impartial oversight. Neither is either Afghan
party likely to want any of their neighbors playing such a
role. There will thus be a need for some more neutral party, perhaps the United Nations, to organize a peacekeeping force. The task of this peacekeeping force will not be
to compel implementation, but rather to build trust between the Afghan parties and help them deal with the
spoilers who will inevitably emerge.
Conclusion: NATO has begun withdrawing its forces
from Afghanistan and most will be gone by the end of
2014. Western leverage in any Afghan peace process is
thus already diminishing. Among the participants in any
such process, therefore the United States and its allies
are likely to feel the greatest sense of urgency. Yet the
prospects of getting an acceptable agreement depend
heavily on not needing to do so. Only if NATO has an
acceptable non-negotiated outcome in prospect will
Western diplomats have much chance securing their negotiating objectives.
Western policymakers must therefore prepare for two
futures, one negotiated, one not, both of which will meet
their bottom line need to prevent Afghanistan from falling to an Al-qidah linked regime. This means preparing both to stay indefinitely and to go definitively. If
negotiations fail, some level of Western military engagement will probably be necessary well beyond the
2014 date by which NATO leaders have promised to
remove all U.S. combat forces. On the other hand, the
full withdrawal of NATO troops from the country by
some not-so-distant date is probably a necessary component of any peace deal. In bargaining terms, promising to leave is the Western counterpart to the libns
commitment to cut its ties with Al-qidah. Troubling as
Western publics may find this symmetry; these potential
concessions represent each sides highest cards, and are
thus likely to be played only at the culmination of any
negotiation process and will probably be essential to
closing any deal.
It is thus perfectly reasonable for Washington and Kabul
to be negotiating, as they are, the text of a long-term
strategic partnership, one with an enduring military
component. Without the prospect of such an enduring
U.S. presence, the libn would have little incentive to
negotiate, rather than to just wait the U.S. and NATO
out. On the other hand, U.S. and Afghan officials should
also be making clear, at least privately and perhaps publicly, that any such accord between Kabul and Washington is subject to amendment depending on the outcome
of a peace process and its successful implementation.
Iraq offers an inexact parallel to the situation in Afghanistan, but several components of any peaceful solution
are likely to be the similar. First of all, NATO will have

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to tolerate, indeed seek to broker, the inclusion of former insurgents into an enlarged coalition government
and into its local and national security forces. Second,
NATO will have to promise to go home, to withdraw its
remaining combat forces on a fixed, mutually agreed
schedule. Third, Western governments will need to remain heavily engaged in implementation of whatever
accord is reached.

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and the Region After 2014

Transition in the Afghanistan-Pakistan War and


the Uncertain Role of the Great Powers
Anthony H. Cordesman
Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy
Center for Strategic and International Studies
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The near-term future of Afghanistan and Pakistan is not


going to be shaped by cooperation between the Great
Powers: Russia, China, and the U.S. A new Great
Game between the Great Powers may emerge after the
U.S. and its European allies withdraw their forces, and
phase down their military spending and aid. However, it
is the way in which the U.S., NATO/ISAF, and major aid
donors interact with the Afghan and Pakistani governments as they transition by withdrawing their forces
and cutting their spending and aid that will shape events
for the foreseeable future.
This transition is already underway, but no one can yet
predict how the withdrawal of U.S. and other
NATO/ISAF combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014
will play out over time. It is not clear how the U.S. and
its NATO/ISAF allies will actually manage withdrawal
of their forces. It is not clear how much continuing support aid donors will provide to Afghanistan through 2014
and beyond, or whether the coming massive cuts in military spending and aid will trigger a major recession or
depression during a period when outside troops will leave
and Afghanistans weak government and armed forces
must go through another election.
The U.S. and its European allies are encouraging a negotiated settlement between the Afghan government and the
insurgents, but this effort is equally uncertain. It seems unlikely that talks between the Afghan government and various insurgent factions can produce a meaningful or stable
agreement that does not accommodate the libn and risk
a libn takeover after U.S. and allied withdrawal, dividing the country, or creating some new form of Northern
Alliance and civil conflict. It is equally unlikely that that
the libn will accept anything like the level of human
rights and effective democracy the outside world has
sought to bring to Afghanistan.
Uncertain Gains in Afghanistan After a Decade of War

NATO/ISAF have sharply reduced the level of libn


influence and control in the South, and the number of
libn and insurgent attacks on NATO/ISAF forces in
most of the country especially insurgent initiated and
complex attacks. They have made progress in reestablishing an Afghan military and government presence in a
number of areas, and in establishing some degree of control and security in Kandahar. The security situation is
uncertain in the East, however, insurgent forces have expanded operations against Afghan officials and their

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presence in some areas in the North. It is also unclear


that either Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) or
the central Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) can hold the territory in the South and
East now secured by U.S. and ISAF forces once they and
Provincial Recovery Teams (PRTs) phase out during
2012-2014.
It also is far less clear that the U.S., ISAF, and Afghan
military have been able to counter the impact of insurgent
sanctuaries in Pakistan or defeat the libn, Haqqn
network, or Hekmatyr group at the political level, and
can keep insurgents from dispersing and establishing new
operating areas in Afghanistan. The insurgents have
raised the level of assassinations, kidnappings, and other
low-level forms of violence in some parts of Afghanistan
and the decline in the number of military attacks may reflect the fact they are now avoiding direct combat and
seeking to wait out the NATO/ISAF withdrawal.
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
remains a major problem. It has yet to show it can successfully combine honest elections with effective government, or that its over-centralized government structure
can make its legislature effective or bring honest and effective governance to the provincial and district level.
The most recent presidential and legislative elections
were corrupt, power brokers dominate much of the de
facto level of governance in much of the country, and
there is no effective governance and legal system in
many of Afghanistans 403 districts.
A decade of aid has had little effect in fully restoring or
developing the part of the economy that most Afghans
participate in. The incomes of the rest and statistics
showing growth in the GDP are now heavily dependent
on NATO/ISAF military spending and aid to the Afghan
budget. The ANSF are almost totally dependent on outside U.S. and allied aid, and both the ANSF and GIRoA
budget will remain dependent on such outside aid long
after the withdrawal of most or all U.S. and ISAF forces
in 2014.
Dubious Options for Successful Peace Negotiations

The U.S. and ISAF have put a rising emphasis on peace negotiations, and some form of serious talks may begin with a
new libn entity to be established in Qatar. The U.S. has
also signaled that it does not see the libn as an enemy if
it accepts a peace where it rejects violence and joins the Afghan government. The libn, however, has continued to
attack peace negotiators and killed former Afghan President
Burhanuddin Rabbani, the lead Afghan government negotiator, on September 20, 2011.
The insurgents may come to treat talks as a delaying tactic, or a means of winning a war through political means,
but they do not feel that they are being defeated and have
reason to believe that all they have to do is outwait
NATO/ISAF in a battle of political attrition. They may

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also increasingly see the U.S. and allied countries as


seeking peace on steadily less demanding terms to cover
an end to the conflict, a weak and vulnerable Afghan central government, and peace negotiations as the way to
win the struggle by non-military means.
Failure in Dealing with Pakistan

The U.S. made major progress in attacking al-qidah and


insurgent networks in Pakistan before the steady deterioration in U.S. and Pakistani relations in late 2011 led to Pakistan expelling U.S. advisors, closing a U.S. Unmanned
Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) base on Pakistani soil,
and limiting U.S. UCAV flights over Pakistan. The U.S.
Special Forces raid into Pakistan that led to the killing of
Osama bin Laden at the end of April 2011, an incident on
the Afghan Pakistan border on November 26th where U.S.
forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and a Pakistani civilmilitary crisis, dubbed memogate, over claims that the
President of Pakistan sought U.S. aid to avoid a military
coup all combined to transform long-tense U.S. and Pakistani relations into near hostility.
At present, Pakistan and especially the Pakistani military shows few signs of restoring full cooperation with
the U.S. Even Pakistani willingness to allow the U.S. to
use Pakistani supply routes and air space is uncertain
although Pakistani need for U.S. aid may preserve at least
the faade of some aspects of cooperation. Pakistan also
sees the Afghan conflict as one where it needs to do what
it can to gain advantage once U.S. and ISAF forces have
left. There are many signs that Pakistan will seek to exploit U.S. and ISAF withdrawal, and any peace negotiations, to its own advantage, seek influence over at least
the Pashtun areas on its borders and use Afghanistan to
provide strategic depth against India.
China and Russia do play a role in Pakistan, but the Russian role is limited and China has carefully limited its
commitments as well. It is the tense relationship between
the U.S. and Pakistan that is now driving Pakistans role
in the conflict. More broadly, it is Pakistans own internal
problems that will shape its future role in the region.
Pakistan is caught up in its own political, security, and
economic problems and is drifting towards the status of a
failed state. Its deep political tensions with the U.S. continue to grow, and it seems committed to trying to expand
its own influence in Afghanistan, and to counter Indian
influence, as U.S. and NATO/ISAF forces leave. At the
same time, Pakistans civil government has deep and
growing tensions with the Pakistani military, and is divided by political struggles that sharply limit the effectiveness of a weak structure of governance and one that
faces growing internal political violence throughout the
country. There is always hope that Pakistani relations
with India may improve, but Pakistans military continues to focus on the Indian threat and to build up Pakistans missile and nuclear forces.

At some point in the coming decade, the outcome of


transition will produce a new equilibrium of regional
power between Russia, China, the U.S., the major European states, and local powers like Iran, the Stans, and
India. The nature of this equilibrium will depend, however, on now unpredictable levels of U.S. and European action during the course of transition, and will almost
certainly be an extension of each regional states view of
its own national interests and how best to serve them that
will depend on how transition plays out in Afghanistan
out during 2012-2014 and beyond, and how Pakistans
growing internal tensions and drift towards the status of a
failed state play out over time.
It is all too easy for the U.S. and its allies to hold more
conferences and renew calls for aid and regional cooperation as transition takes place. This may even achieve at
least token levels of progress. It is unlikely, however, that
this will have a major impact without massive political
change and reform in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and both
nations will at best be minor players in the much broader
structure of tensions and change that will shape any form
of new Great Game in Central Asia and South Asia during 2012-2014 and beyond.
More broadly, it is impossible to determine how the
broader struggle between key regional powers India and
Pakistan will play out, or how Great Powers like Russia, China, will act in shaping the future of Afghanistan
and Pakistan once the U.S. and Europe withdraw their
forces and much of their aid. It is all too easy to call upon
them to solve the problems that are the legacy of transition and U.S.-ISAF withdrawal, to ignore the individual
ambitions and mutual tensions of such, and call upon
them to do what they have never done before. There is
little, however, to indicate that calls for regional cooperation, major Russian and Chinese action, or sudden solutions to the tensions between India and Pakistan, have
any real credibility.
Hope vs. Realpolitik

These are grim facts, particularly after a decade of U.S.,


allied, and UN efforts. Yet, hope is no substitute for realpolitik, and creating another round of unrealistic plans
will not help. It is unlikely that either Afghanistan or Pakistan will achieve enough internal reform, stability, and
security during the transition period in 2012-2014 to
become attractive to major outside investment at the scale
they need, or will get the level of continuing outside aid
they will need either during 2012-1014 or in the decade
that follows.
Regional solutions are easy to call for as if they could
somehow deal with the internal problems of each state.
Experts on economic development, and many area experts
as well, focus on regional cooperation as ways of improving the political and economic stability of the different regional states that cover an arc from Iran and the Caspian

Creating Unpredictable Sideshows in the New Great Game

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states in the West to China in the East, and from the Indian
Ocean in the south to Russia in the North.
Studies by groups like the IMF, World Bank, and Asian
Development Bank do show that it is possible to ease the
impact of transition on Afghanistan and Pakistan by
seeking improved regional development and cooperation
in three different sub-regions:
Central Asia and the Stans to the North of Afghanistan,
Afghanistan and the border areas in Pakistan that affect
the Afghanistan-Pakistan war, and
Indian and Pakistani relations within the context of South
Asia and the tensions between India and Pakistan.
In theory, there is an economic and political case for regional cooperation between the Stans, Russia, China,
India, Pakistan, and Iran. There is a case for a New Silk
Road that seeks to find ways to develop and stabilize
Afghanistan (and to some degree Pakistan) by making
Afghanistan a major economic transit route and developing its natural resources; and for finding some regional
solution to the India-Pakistan conflict usually centered
around Kashmir that would help stabilize Pakistan and
reduce Indian and Pakistani conflict in Afghanistan as a
side benefit.
The practical problem with such exercises in letting hope
triumph over experience is that they require changes in
the behavior of the states involved that cannot occur in
ways that can shape the near and mid-term outcome of
transition and levels of security and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan must
largely shape their own destiny, and will be critically dependent on the level of U.S. and European aid they receive in the process.
The other great powers Russia and China have interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in improving their
stability, but as the discussion that follows shows, these
interests are limited relative to other higher priority interests and far more limited than their diplomatic rhetoric
sometimes indicates. The probability of actually reaching
and implementing regional solutions at the scale to have
major interest to Russia, China, and the U.S. and key
trading partners like the EU is low. The time may come
when powers like China and Russia will play a critical
future role in the security, stability, and development of
Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that time is not predictable
and must wait on the outcome of transition.

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cess of transition will depend on U.S., European, and


other existing countries that already have forces or donate
significant aid to Afghanistan.
The success of such U.S., European, and donor efforts is
highly uncertain. Studies by the World Bank, and ongoing studies by the IMF, the U.S., and key European governments show that transition will require massive levels of continuing aid to avoid triggering major security
and stability problems.
Afghan Hopes and Ambitions

There are major political, security, and governance challenges in creating any effective form of transition. It
seems highly unlikely that insurgent groups like the
libn and Haqqn network will reach any form of political reconciliation with the Afghan government before the
U.S. and other allied forces leave unless they feel they can
use such agreements to win. It seems equally unlikely that
Pakistan will cease to seek its own objectives in Afghanistan and put an end to insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan.
Tactical gains against the insurgents matter but it is far
from clear what level of security they can win on a political level, and sustain once U.S. and allied forces leave. The
quality of Afghan governance at every level is critical to
popular support as transition takes place.
The most critical immediate challenge that outside powers face, however, is to support a transition plan that
will allow the Afghan government to function as aid and
outside spending are cut, and to sustain the progress being made in developing and sustaining Afghan national
security forces.
Studies by the World Bank and Afghan government
and ongoing studies by the IMF, the U.S., and key European governments show that transition requires major
levels of continuing aid to avoid triggering major security
and stability problems.
Afghan President Hmid Karzai requested some $10 billion a year through 2025 at the Bonn II Conference in
December, 2011 for a program that set ambitious goals
for both security and development, called for equally
ambitious reforms and improvements in governance, and
called for the Afghan government to achieve full independence from outside support in 2030:1

By 2015 Afghanistan will have taken over full responsibility


for its own security, and will be leading development initiatives and processes with the confidence to make critical foundational investments that will lead to economic growth and
fiscal sustainability.

It is the U.S. and Europe that Will Determine


Win, Lose, or Draw for Transition

By 2025 Afghanistan will have eliminated its dependency on


international assistance for funding to non-security sectors and

Neither Russia nor China has predictable incentives to


engage in Afghanistan or Pakistan at levels that will ease
the problems the U.S., Europe, and other ISAF and donor
states face during transition. The same is true of Afghanistans other neighbors. In the real world, the suc-

1 The details were provided in a separate paper circulated in addition


to the Presidents statement entitled, Towards a Self-Sustaining Afghanistan, An Economic Transition Strategy. It was issued by the
Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and dated November 29, 2011.

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will only receive support consistent with all other least developed nations. A robust and growing extractive industries sector
will have developed. Through effective development and, improved delivery of Government services, the root causes of insurgency will be reduced and, in consultation with international partners, plans will have been put in place to reduce the size
of the ANSF.

By 2030 Afghanistan will be funding a professional, highly effective ANSF. Achievements in development and governance
will see Afghanistan emerge as a model of a democratic, developing Islamic nations.

The Afghan government circulated a paper supporting


President Karzais statements that warned that, 1
Afghanistan's fiscal gap is significant, and unless it is addressed
the good work of the past ten years will come undone. The
Government and the World Bank have examined the financial
position of Afghanistan as it moves beyond Transition and the
results, shared in the joint World Bank - Government report,
show that even under ideal conditions the Government will not
be able to cover spending pressures. In the preparation of this
document Government closely examined the costs associated
with delivery of its planned strategy. It used the same economic
models as the World Bank, but made slight modifications in the
fiscal assumptions. Government chose to exercise additional restraint on forecast spending on recurrent costs, incorporated
modest increases in minerals related revenue and invested the
proceeds in development. The primary difference between
World Bank and MoF models is that the MoF forecasts continued projections to the future, to understand what would be required to achieve sustainability.
This internal analysis has not been independently reviewed by
donors, but calculates the estimated cost of continued nonsecurity related on-budget development through the NPP
framework is equal to 14% of GDP in 2015, with an estimated
9% of GDP coming through off-budget channels. The total cost
of security is 26% of GDP. The civilian wage bill, O&M and
other recurrent non-security Government costs is equal to 13%
of GDP...The total forecast for required on budget spending is
therefore equal to 53% of GDP in 2015 and 62% when projected off-budget development spending is considered. Substantial
funding cuts in any of these areas undermine our ability to
achieve our shared goal of a secure, sustainable Afghanistan.
Included in these estimates are the costs of absorbing the results
of more than ten years of generous external budget assistance
programs. Of the estimated $57 billion spent on Afghan reconstruction only $6 billion has been channeled through the national development budget, with the full ownership of Government.
In spite of this, the Government will ultimately need to absorb,
utilize and maintain much of this infrastructure. It realizes that it
must face difficult decisions about which assets can be accepted.
Further, Government will inherit funding responsibility for externally funded technical advisors that are essential to the delivery of donor-funded programs. Long-term success in Afghanistan requires that the anticipated shortfall in security and development spending be met.

The paper called for increases in revenue that were very


ambitious. It called for revenues to rise $2.0 billion in revenue in fiscal 2011-12, corresponding to just over 11% of
GDP, to $4.4 billion, or 15% by 2016, an average annual
revenue growth rate from 2009 of more than 30%. The requirement for outside aid was described as follows, 2
1 Towards a Self-Sustaining Afghanistan, An Economic Transition
Strategy. Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and
dated November 29, 2011.
2 Ibidem

Based on our initial analysis we must look to donors to finance


approximately 47% of GDP or approximately $10 billion in
2015. At first glance, this figure may look enormous. However,
it reflects a 40% reduction from current aid levels, and it is expected to decline over time. The Government takes the challenge donors will face in maintaining this level of assistance seriously, but notes that when compared to the current spending of
the International Community it is small. The current estimated
cost of the international military presence in Afghanistan is
$140 billion per year; 7% of total 2011 security costs is sufficient to fund the entire gap. This cost savings can facilitate Afghanistan's passage to a future that is not aid-dependent. A longterm funding commitment by the International Community, declining over time and ending in 2030, would provide the necessary stability in financing to allow Afghanistan to arrive at a
stable and prosperous future. Based on current analysis the
Government of Afghanistan believes it will be necessary for the
donor community to fund the cost of the Afghan security forces
through 2025.

These Afghan requirements seem to be based on assumptions about future security, the pace of reform and improvements in governance, increases in economic development and activity, and increases in government revenue
that are optimistic to the point of being unrealistic.
One of the critical problems in many civilian aspects of
transition plans is that they do not take account of the
probable level of security in given areas as outside military
and aid workers depart and of the question who can provide
security for domestic and internal ventures. Such planning
efforts border on the absurd. There are few prospects of anything approaching local security in much of Afghanistan until long after 2014 barring some peace arrangement that
gives insurgents de facto control over high threat areas. No
aid or economic plan that ignores the fact that the nation is at
war and that key areas are likely to remain so long after
2014 has the slightest value or credibility.
As a result, the level of outside aid need to achieve Afghan
goals are almost certainly understated. Aid levels of roughly $120 billion over the entire period are almost certainly
too low to both cover the cost of funding the Afghan National Security Forces during transition and beyond, and
give Afghanistan the resources to cope with the loss of U.S.
and ISAF military spending during 2012-2014 and the
probable forthcoming cuts in donor civil aid.
U.S. and European Realities

Yet, it is far from clear that the Afghan government can


obtain the level of aid it requested at the Bonn II Conference, particularly over a period that extends far beyond
2014. Many U.S. and European actions have already begun to look like a cover for an exit strategy from Afghanistan.
Development aid from the U.S., the largest aid donor,
dropped from $3.5 billion in 2010 to about $2 billion in
2011. Aid to support democracy, governance and civil
society dropped by more than 50%, from $231 million to
$93 million. Aid for "rule of law" dropped from $43 mil-

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lion to $16 million.1 Many aid agencies and NGOs are already making major cuts in their programs, and some are
already having to eliminate key programs or withdraw
from the country.2
While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
joined her European colleagues in pledging continued aid at
the Bonn II Conference in December 2011, no long-term
pledges were made in concrete terms. The conference
which Pakistan did not attend and the libn stated would
further ensnare Afghanistan into the flames of occupation
focused on vague calls for aid and regional cooperation.
The U.S. and European speeches at the Bonn II Conference
also called for Afghan reforms, and reductions in corruption,
in ways that implied new conditions for aid that Afghanistan
may well not be able to meet. U.S. and European foreign
ministers discussed continuing past security and economic
aid, but did not deal with the massive impact of ending U.S.
and European military spending in Afghanistan as each ISAF countrys forces depart spending which totaled $4.3
billion for U.S. military direct contracts with Afghans in
FY2011 which was only a small portion of U.S. military
spending in the country.3
As for other actors, Pakistan did not attend, and Russia,
China, and Iran seem remarkably unlikely to support either Afghan government hopes or the U.S. and Europe in
funding transition. As Louise Hancock, Oxfam's Afghanistan policy officer, put it, Its been another conference of flowery speeches: big on rhetoric and short on
substance.4
Prospects for Transition in Afghanistan:
The Problem of Resources

This mix of Afghan needs, U.S. and European funding


pressures, and popular war fatigue presents major prob1 Julian Borger, Afghanistan conference promises support after troop
withdrawal, The Guardian, 5 December, 2011, http://www.guardian.
co.uk/world/2011/dec/05/afghanistan-conference-support-troopwithdrawal.
2 Julian Borger, Afghanistan conference promises support after troop
withdrawal, The Guardian, 5 December, 2011, http://www. guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/05/afghanistan-conference-support-troopwithdrawal; Rod Norland, Aid Agencies in Afghanistan Fear Reversals New York Times, December 6, 2011, p. A1; Steven Lee Myers
and Rod Norland, Afghans Say Assistance Will Be Needed for
Years, New York Times, December 6, 2011. P. A14.
3 Julian Borger, Afghanistan conference promises support after troop
withdrawal, The Guardian, 5 December, 2011, http://www. guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/05/afghanistan-conference-support-troopwithdrawal; UN Secretary-General's statement to Conference on Afghanistan
in
Bonn,
http://unama.unmissions.org/
Default.aspx?tabid=1741&ctl=Details&mid=1882&ItemID=15874;
Rod Norland, Aid Agencies in Afghanistan Fear Reversals New
York Times, December 6, 2011, p. A1; AFP/Reuters, Bonn conference: Afghanistan assured conditional aid for another decade, December
5,
2011,
http://tribune.com.pk/story/302502/bonnconference-us-lifts-hold-on-development-funds-for-afghanistan/,
4 http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/oxfams
-reaction2011-bonn-conference-afghanistan.

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lems for a successful transition. U.S., IMF, and World


Bank working studies do indicate that continuing flows
of carefully focused U.S. and European aid might lead to
a stable transition if the war makes major progress in
defeating the insurgents at the political as well as military
level, if Afghan forces become effective enough to replace the U.S. and ISAF, if Afghanistan can achieve
enough political stability and reduce corruption, if Afghan governance improves at every level, and if insurgent
sanctuaries and Pakistans actions in Afghanistan do not
have a crippling impact.
The practical problem is that the U.S. and Europe must
begin to act almost immediately to deal with the near term
challenges Afghanistan faces. There are only three years left
before transition in 2014, and there are no magic bullets
that offer rapid growth and prospects for stability before
2020. Aid and development plans must focus on Afghanistans real world problems and capacities must begin to be
implemented in 2012 and then be consistently implemented
for at least half a decadeat levels the U.S., Europe, and
other donors may be unwilling to sustainand require far
more demanding levels of action and reform from the Afghan government than it has provided to date.
Some form of success (or limited failure) may still be
possible, but little that the U.S. and European governments have done to date raises a high probability that this
will be the case. There are four critical areas wherein any
lasting level of success is now unlikely:
Strategic failure? The U.S., ISAF, and donors have
not shown that they can bring about enough of the
elements required to create Afghan security and stability in a way that creates more than a marginal possibility that Afghanistan will have a successful transition by 2014, or at any time in the near future.
They have never announced detailed plans and funding programs that would make this possible. They
have no strategic plans or clearly defined goals for
Pakistan, although the latter is of far greater strategic
importance than Afghanistan.
Talk Without Hope: It is far from clear that any major insurgent faction feels it is either losing, or cannot simply outwait, U.S. and allied withdrawal. Nor
is it clear that Pakistan will seriously attempt to eliminate insurgent sanctuaries within its borders. If insurgents do chose to negotiate it may well be because they feel that the U.S., allied, and GIRoA position is becoming so weak that they can use diplomacy as a form of war by other means and speed their
victory through deception and by obtaining U.S., allied, and GIRoA concessions. They have already
used similar tactics in Helmand and Pakistan, and
Nepal and Cambodia are warnings that talk may
do little more than cover an exit.
Tactical Success? The very real gains the U.S. and ISAF have made in the South may not be possible to sustain if the U.S. moves forces East, and the U.S. and IS-

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AF cut forces so quickly that their ability to achieve the


goals that ISAF set for 2012 is cast in doubt. ANSF development is being rushed forward as future resources
are being cut, and it is far from clear that the insurgents
cannot outwait the U.S. and ISAF and win a war of political attrition without having to win tactical battles in
the field. The ISAF focus on significant acts of violence
is a questionable approach to assessing both tactical and
strategic progress, and ANSF transition has been little
more than political symbolism.
Spend Not Build? The latest Department of Defense. SIGAR, and World Bank reports do little to indicate that
U.S. and allied efforts to improve the quality of government, the rule of law, representative democracy, and
economic development are making anything like the
needed level of progress. They are a warning that Afghanistan and the Afghan government may face a massive recession as funding is cut, and the dreams of options like mining income and a New Silk Road are little more than a triumph of hope over credible expectations. Once again, the very real progress being made in
the development of the ANSF is being rushed as future
funding is being cut, and it is unclear that current gains
will be sustained or that the U.S. has sufficient time left
in which to find credible answers to these questions,
build U.S. Congressional, domestic, and allied support,
and then begin implementing them. The U.S. is now entering the eleventh year of a war for which it seems to
have no clear plans and no clear strategic goals. The new
strategy that President Obama outlined in 2009 is now in
tatters.
Prospects for Transition in Afghanistan:
Other Critical Uncertainties

The U.S., its allies, and aid donors need realistically to


assess the cost-benefits of their future actions and decide
whether it is worth taking the risk of making commitments for yet another decade. Even if the U.S. and Europe do act quickly and effectively, success is uncertain.
Afghanistan may have even less success than Iraq in
building a functioning democracy with effective control
over governance, economic development, and security.
Worse, Pakistan is far more strategically important and is
drifting towards growing internal violence and many of
the aspects of a failed state.
If Afghanistan does obtain enough outside funding to
avoid an economic crisis and civil war after U.S. and allied withdrawal, it is still likely to remain a weak and divided state dependent on continuing U.S. and outside assistance through 2024 and beyond, confining any strategic role to one of open-ended dependence. As for Pakistan, it is far more likely to be a disruptive force in Afghanistan than a constructive one, and there are no obvious prospects for creating stable relations with Pakistan
during the transition process.
The Karzai government barely functions in much of Afghanistan, and new elections must come in 2014 the year

combat forces are supposed to leave. U.S. and allied troop


levels are dropping to critical levels. No one knows what
presence if any will remain after 2014.
It is far from clear that the present U.S., allied, and UN focus on building up the central government will make
transition possible. The West must take the blame for
driving the drafting of a constitution that grossly overcentralized power and control of funds in the president,
and must now do far more to encourage effective government at the provincial and district level, and find ways to
provide aid and contracts directly at the local level.
Success may well require some form of de facto federalism that reflects the major differences between Southern
Pashtun, North Pashtun, and the ethnic minorities in the
North a new form of Northern Alliance operating
within the government. It must act to protect Afghanistans
Hazra Shite minority, and recognize that local justice
systems, approaches to human rights, and law enforcement
will remain a reality in many Afghan districts.
Progress is taking place in creating an Afghan army, but
without a functioning state to defend, the ANSF could
fragment. Far less progress is taking place in creating the
police and justice system. Massive aid to Afghanistan has
produced far too few tangible results, and the Afghan
economy is likely to go into a depression in 2014 in the
face of massive aid and spending cuts that will cripple
both the economy and Afghan forces.
Mobilizing U.S. and European support for the war and
continued aid and support to Afghanistan is already a
critical issue. It is also an issue where success will depend largely on the U.S. If the U.S is to have any hope of
bringing its European allies along at the required level of
effort, it must show them and Afghanistan and Pakistan
that it has the domestic support to act. This means that
the U.S. needs a meaningful action plan that the U.S.
Congress, media, area experts, and the American people
can debate and commit themselves to supporting no later
than U.S. Congressional approval of the FY2013 U.S.
budget. If U.S. President Obama cannot provide such a
plan within several months, and then win the support
necessary to implement it, any hope of salvaging lasting
success in the war will vanish.
Prospects for Stability in Pakistan

The U.S. and its key European allies also face a more
critical strategic challenge. The U.S., European aid donors, and NATO/ISAF have focused on Afghanistan and
dealt with Pakistan largely in terms of its role in the Afghan conflict. They must now define a credible set of
goals for the strategic outcome they want in Pakistan.
This must involve dealing with Pakistans impact on Afghanistan. Pakistan will complicate U.S. and European
efforts in helping Afghanistan move towards transition.
Even if U.S. and ISAF relations with Pakistan do not
continue to deteriorate, or remain so tense as to be nearly

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dysfunctional, Pakistans efforts to advance its own interests in Afghanistan, and inability or unwillingness to
deal with Afghan insurgent sanctuaries, will threaten or
undermine any successes inside Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, however, is only part of the story. A nucleararmed Pakistan is both the real strategic center in the Afghanistan-Pakistan War, and its most dangerous wild card.
Pakistan is slowly evolving towards the status of a failed
state, and becoming progressively more unstable, regardless of U.S. aid to and actions in Afghanistan. Any de facto
exit strategy that suddenly cuts off U.S. aid to Pakistan,
or produces an even more serious level of confrontation
between the U.S. and Pakistan during the entire transition
process will make this future almost inevitable.
It is easy to talk about regional solutions, as decades of
previous efforts have shown. In practice, Pakistans internal problems are more likely to block any progress in
Indian and Pakistani relations than push Pakistan towards
a settlement.
As for the other Great Powers, Russia has little strategic interest in taking on Pakistans problems now, and
will have even less if Pakistan continues to evolve towards a failed state. China will take a more active interest,
but will keep a careful distance.
Rhetoric aside, China has been careful to stay away from
any major aid effort or attempt to help a Pakistan whose
civil and military leaders seem so incapable of helping
Pakistan help itself. China will want to keep Pakistan as a
counterweight to India and to prevent it from becoming a
base for Islamist extremist threats to China and its interests in the region, but China knows all too well that any
major Chinese intervention is unlikely to be any more
successful than past outside aid efforts.
Muddle, Uncertainty, and Unpredictable Future
Great Power and Regional Roles as a Non-End State

These challenges do not mean a worst-case outcome in


Afghanistan, or that Pakistan cannot move forward if it
gets a more competent civil and military leadership.
While no one can predict so uncertain a future, the most
likely post-2014 outcome is unlikely to give the libn
and other insurgents control of the country, even if the
Afghan insurgents do succeed in keeping their sanctuaries in Pakistan and outwait the U.S. and Europe during
transition. The most likely post-2014 outcome in Afghanistan is a situation where the insurgents control and
operate in some Pashtun areas, while others are controlled by the Northern Pashtuns. Other Afghan ethnic
factions are likely to create some new form of the Northern Alliance, and the central government in Kabul is either likely to play some limited role, or to become a key
player in a limited form of civil conflict.
The most likely case in Pakistan is that it will drift further
towards the status of a failed state until some coup or

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leadership crisis produces an new leadership that actually


begins to react to Pakistans internal problems rather than
focusing on its own power, living in denial when it can,
and exporting blame when it must. Outside powers can
encourage change and reform using a mix of diplomacy,
aid, and pressure but Pakistans problems go far beyond the war in Afghanistan and no faction has yet visibly emerged that offers serious hope of the level of reform that can only come from within.
In short, the most probable result of result of transition
will not be what some U.S. policymakers have come to
call Afghanistan good enough a stable democratic
state nor will it be a stable Pakistan. It will be Afghanistan muddle through, next to an unstable Pakistan still
driven largely by its internal problems and tensions with
India.
As for the role of Russia, China, and other regional powers after U.S. and other ISAF forces depart, all outside
and regional powers will have to react to whatever
emerges in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the years that follow 2014. This reaction will not, however, be driven by
some form of idealized regional cooperation. It will be
driven by a game of nations in which both the great
and regional powers react individually to the course of
events as they unfold, driven largely by opportunism and
their own disparate interests.
INTRODUCTION

The near-term future of Afghanistan and Pakistan is not


going to be shaped by cooperation between the Great
Powers: Russia, China, and the U.S. A new Great
Game between the Great Powers may emerge after the
U.S. and its European allies withdraw their forces, and
phase down military spending and aid. However, it is the
way in which the U.S., NATO/ISAF, and major aid donors interact with the Afghan and Pakistani governments
as they transition by withdrawing their forces and cutting their spending and aid that will shape events for the
foreseeable future.
This transition is already underway, but no one can yet
predict how the withdrawal of U.S. and other
NATO/ISAF combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014
will actually play out over time. It is not clear how the
U.S. and its NATO/ISAF allies will actually manage
withdrawal of their forces. It is not clear how much continuing support aid donors will provide to Afghanistan
through 2014 and beyond, or whether the coming massive cuts in military spending and aid will trigger a major
recession or depression during a period when outside
troops will leave and Afghanistans weak government
and forces must go through another election.
The U.S. and its European allies are encouraging a negotiated settlement between the Afghan government and the
insurgents, but this effort is equally uncertain. It seems
unlikely that talks between the Afghan government and

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various insurgent factions can produce any meaningful or


stable agreement.
NATO/ISAF is making significant tactical progress in the
South, and the U.S. is making progress in attacking alqidah and insurgent networks in Pakistan, but they have
not been able to counter the impact of insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan or defeat the libn, Haqqn network, or
Hekmatyr group at the political level and pressure Pakistan into putting an end to their sanctuaries in that country.
As a result, the insurgents may come to treat talks as a delaying tactic, or a means of winning a war through political
means, but they do not feel that they are being defeated
and have reason to believe that all they have to do is outwait NATO/ISAF in a battle of political attrition.
It is all too easy to renew calls for aid and regional cooperation as transition takes place, and this may achieve
some progress. It is unlikely, however, that this will have a
major impact without massive political change and reform
in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and both nations will at best
be minor players in the much broader structure of tensions
and change that will shape the new Great Game in in
Central Asia and South Asia during 2012-2014 and beyond.
More broadly, it is equally impossible to determine how
the broader struggle between India and Pakistan will play
out, or how Russia, China, and regional states will play
the equivalent of the new Great Game to the North of
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
China and Russia do play a more active role in the case
of Pakistan, but the Russian role is limited and China has
carefully limited its commitments as well. It is the tense
relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan that is now
driving Pakistans role in the conflict. More broadly, it is
Pakistans own internal problems that will shape its future role in the region.
Pakistan is caught up in its own political, security, and
economic problems and is drifting towards the status of a
failed state. Its deep political tensions with the U.S. continue to grow, and it seems committed to trying to expand
its own influence in Afghanistan, and counter Indian influence, as U.S. and NATO/ISAF forces leave. At the
same time, its civil government has deep tensions with
the Pakistani military, and is divided by political struggles that sharply limit the effectiveness of a weak structure of governance and one that faces growing internal
political violence throughout the country. There is always
hope that relations with India may improve, but Pakistans military continues to focus on the Indian threat and
to build up Pakistans missile and nuclear forces.
At some point in the coming decade, the outcome of transition will produce a new equilibrium of regional power
between Russia, China, the U.S., the major European
states, and local powers like Iran, the Stans, and India.
This equilibrium will depend, however, on U.S. and European action during the course of transition and will al-

most certainly be an extension of each nations view of its


own national interests and opportunism based on how
transition plays out during 2012-2014 and beyond.
Hope vs. Realpolitik

Hope is no substitute for realpolitik, and creating another


round of unrealistic plans will not help. It is unlikely that
either Afghanistan or Pakistan will achieve enough internal reform, stability, and security during the transition
period in 2012-2014 to become attractive to major outside investment at the scale they need, or will get the level of continuing outside aid they will need either during
2012-1014 or in the decade that follows.
Regional solutions are easy to call for as if they could
somehow deal with the internal problems of each state.
Experts on economic development, and many area experts
as well, focus on regional cooperation as ways of improving the political and economic stability of the different regional states that cover an arc from Iran and the Caspian
states in the West to China in the East, and from the Indian
Ocean in the South to Russia in the North.
Studies by groups like the IMF, World Bank, and Asian
Development Bank do show that it is possible to ease the
impact of transition on Afghanistan and Pakistan by
seeking improved regional development and cooperation
in three different sub-regions:
Central Asia and the Stans to the North of Afghanistan,
Afghanistan and the border areas in Pakistan that affect the Afghanistan-Pakistan war, and
Indian and Pakistani relations within the context of
South Asia and the tensions between India and Pakistan.
There is an economic and political case for regional cooperation between the Stans, Russia, China, India, Pakistan,
and Iran. There is a case for a New Silk Road that seeks to
find ways to develop and stabilize Afghanistan (and to some
degree Pakistan) by making Afghanistan a major economic
transit route and developing its natural resources; and finding some regional solution to the India-Pakistan conflict
usually centered around Kashmir that would help stabilize
Pakistan and reduce Indian and Pakistani conflict in Afghanistan as a side benefit.
The practical problem with such exercises in hope is that
they require changes in the behavior of the states involved that cannot occur in ways that can shape the near
and mid-term outcome of transition and levels of security and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan must largely shape their own destiny,
and will be critically dependent on the level of U.S. and
European aid they receive in the process.
The other Great Powers Russia and China have interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in improving
their stability, but as the discussion that follows shows,

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these interests are limited relative to other higher priority
interests and far more limited than their diplomatic rhetoric sometimes indicates. The probability of actually
reaching and implementing regional solutions at the scale
to have major interest to Russia, China, and the U.S.
and key trading partners like the EU is low. The time
may come when powers like China and Russia will play
a critical future role in the security, stability, and development of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that time is not
predictable and must wait on the outcome of transition.
The Limited Strategic Importance of Afghanistan

The momentum of war should not be allowed to define


strategy. In the real world, Afghanistan has limited strategic importance to any of the Great Powers, and is only one of many priorities for regional powers. Afghanistan was important as a theater of competition during the
Cold War, just as Vietnam was, but only in allowing one
power to obtain leverage over the other a leverage that
is counterproductive for both the U.S. and Russia today.
It is one of many areas where China can obtain strategic
minerals and possible gas and oil in the future, but it is a
sideshow compared to both Chinese and Russian interests
in the rest of Central Asia and the Caspian.
The U.S. went into Afghanistan because of 9/11 and made
mistakes that have escalated into a major regional conflict.
The U.S. has, however, now largely crippled al-qidah in
Pakistan. Neither the U.S. nor ISAF can put an end to an
Islamist extremist insurgency before they leave Afghanistan in 2014, and the U.S. along with its European allies
and other states faces current and potential Islamist extremist threats in many other areas.
The costs in blood have already outstripped the value of
the objective. As for the other costs, the U.S., ISAF, UN,
and international community will have been in Afghanistan for well over a decade by 2014, and will have spent
well over $800 billion dollars since 2001 by the time
transition takes place. The prospects for 2015 and beyond do not promise a secure or stable state, or one with
a stable border to the South with either Iran or Pakistan.
They will have ended military expenditures in Afghanistan that have recently averaged at least twenty times the
revenue earning capacity of the Afghan government and
will probably have made serious cuts in aid.
Afghanistan is not a critical trading partner for any state,
and its economic potential is limited in the near and midterm. This does not mean that there will not be economic
opportunities in Afghanistan for given companies, or that
aid cannot help Afghanistan move forward. It is important, however, to avoid fantasies that exaggerate the
value of given ventures or aid projects, ignore real-world
costs and time frames, promise economic rewards and
benefits that are not realistic, and assume neighboring
states are focusing on Afghanistan as a transit corridor at
a time when they are investing in very different routes
and countries.

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It is even more unrealistic to assume that Russia, China,


the U.S., countries in the EU, private firms, and development agencies will make enough major near and midterm investments in an Afghanistan to deal with the impact of U.S. and ISAF transition in Afghanistan by
2014 or even 2020. This level of investment will not take
place in Afghanistan that is politically unstable, not able
to govern effectively and do so with acceptable levels of
corruption and prospects for stability, lacks military security, lacks a rule of law that secures investment, and that
remains a state where any activity in many regions is affected by criminal networks and power brokers.
Pakistan as a Semi-Failed State

While the U.S. and Europe now focus on transition in


Afghanistan, it is Pakistan that is the real strategic center of
gravity. Pakistan is now a nuclear-armed problem child
that is drifting towards the status of a failed state. Its military still focuses on India and remains the ultimate political
authority in the country. Its civilian political leadership is
ineffective and corrupt. A semi-feudal rural structure, failure at economic and security reform, and growing regional
and sectarian tensions can be influenced in part from the
outside, but Pakistan will either reform on its own or continue to deteriorate on its own. The fact that it has steadily
growing nuclear forces, and a steadily more uncertain military leadership, is chilling.
It is not clear, however, how any external power can deal
with the threat Pakistans military build-up poses, and the
build-up does not make Pakistan a threat to the world or
any Great Power. Pakistan is a nuclear-armed threat directed at a nuclear-armed India. There is potential for a
massive human tragedy, given past wars, Pakistani-India
rivalry in Afghanistan and Kashmir, and Pakistans use
of terrorist proxies in attacking India, but it is a potential
for a localized, self-destructive tragedy in South Asia.
It would take a fundamental change in Pakistans strategic perspective to make it focus on eliminating terrorist
and insurgent groups that operate from its territory that it
feels serve its interests. Pakistan does not see the Afghan
war in U.S. or ISAF terms. It sees it as a destabilizing
struggle that threatens its Western border area, expands
Indian influence in Afghanistan, and potentially denies it
use of Afghanistan as strategic depth. It sees the U.S.
as pressuring Pakistan into a struggle that has increased
its internal security problems, and now as leaving an unstable Afghanistan where insurgent groups with sanctuaries on Pakistani soil like the Afghan libn and Haqqn
network give Pakistan leverage over the Pashtun areas in
Afghanistan and limit Pashtun instability in Pakistan.
The U.S. has countered with the threat of titling towards India, with diplomatic and economic pressure, and with massive aid. The U.S. has now become the largest single donor
of bilateral aid to Pakistan. According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, the U.S. authorized a total of $14.6
billion in security assistance from FY2002 to FY2011, and

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requested another $1.6 billion in FY2012.1 It authorized a


total of $7.7 billion in security assistance from FY2002 to
FY2011, and requested another $1.1 billion in FY2012. The
U.S. Congress also passed the Enhanced Partnership with
Pakistan Act of 2009 or Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill which
provides up to $1.5 billion a year more in economic aid, or
$7.5 billion over five years.2
This aid, however, gives the U.S. only limited leverage
now that it is clear that U.S. and ISAF forces are leaving,
and border incidents like those in November 2011 have
shown that Pakistan is now willing to expel the small U.S.
advisory teams and UCAV bases on its soil, as well as to
suspend U.S. and ISAF use of Pakistani ports and roads
to ship supplies to Afghanistan. The growing tensions between the U.S. military and Pakistani military have made
the prospects for Pakistani support before and after transition even more unstable, as have Pakistani military
and civil politics that have grown steadily more hostile to
the U.S.
There is no clear Great Power counter to either Pakistans internal problems or stability before and after
transition. European aid and influence is limited, as are
European strategic interests. Pakistan has only limited
economic importance to Russia and there are severe limits to its importance to China as Pakistan found in 2011
when it tried to turn to China to seek a replacement for
U.S. aid.
China has been willing to use Pakistan to put pressure on
India, but India is now a growing trading partner, and
China has no interest in Pakistans use of Islamist extremist groups, given its own problems with Islamic minorities in Western China. China still sees Pakistan as a
card to play against India, but its now clear that China
sees any future bases in Pakistan as of uncertain value,
and Pakistan is at most a minor face card in Chinas
overall strategic priorities.
This does not mean outside powers should not seek to
help Pakistan, but there are severe limits to what they can
do until Pakistan has a political system that is far more
capable of helping Pakistan help itself. Until that change
takes place, Pakistans ties to terrorism and Islamic extremism will have to be dealt with largely from the outside or through containment.
Once again, hope is not a substitute for probability. Outside powers can and should do their best to help Pakistan
and India resolve their tensions and end their arms race,
but decades of well-meaning outside diplomatic efforts
have shown that India and Pakistan must assume virtually all responsibility for such efforts to produce any meaningful progress; this would actually reduce the strategic
importance of Pakistan to China, and it would take mas-

sive internal reforms to make Pakistan a secure and stable


basis for major outside investment. There is nothing inherently wrong in letting hope triumph over experience
it is the basic rationale for large international conferences
but this is only true if no one expects anything to actually happen.
Pakistan has potential as does Afghanistan, but that potential will never be realized without fundamental changes in
its present leadership elite, and as long as Pakistans major
exports are blame and responsibility for its own actions.
As is the case in Afghanistan, the end result of an end to
the U.S. and allied role in the Afghanistan/Pakistan war
may well be a divided and/or unstable state still caught up
in confrontation with India and of passing strategic importance to any Great Power. Once again, there will still
be outside investment where the cost-benefits clearly exceed the risks. But, only when these benefits are either truly unique or are so large that they overcome the comparative penalties in cost and risk relative to the return on investment in other areas.
THE ROLE OF THE GREAT POWERS AND
NEIGHBORING STATES

Afghanistan and Pakistan both have the capability fundamentally to change this assessment through better leadership, better governance, better security, and policies that
focus on development and incentives to outside donors and
private investment. No amount of international conferences, regional plans, and outside efforts will, however,
help either nation unless it becomes far more effective in
helping itself a level of reform that simply does not seem
credible in the near to medium term.
Speaking bluntly, and from the viewpoint of realpolitik,
this means that outside powers are likely to play the following roles through 2014 and beyond:
Russia

The U.S. has encouraged both Russia and China to play a


major role in Afghanistan since President Obamas visit
to Beijing in 2009. There are many experts who advocated some form of Russian and Chinese participation in regional economic cooperation and new transit routes for
trade and energy that involve Afghanistan and Pakistan,
and would substitute for U.S., ISAF, and other donor military and aid spending as transition moves forward during 2012-2014. Russia and China may well play such a
role at a limited level, but it is likely to be very opportunistic and very limited.
Russian Activity in Afghanistan
During the Present Afghan War

The U.S. government officially takes an optimistic view


of Russias role in Afghanistan. The U.S. Department of

1 Congressional Research Service, Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2012.
Distributed to congressional offices, August 9, 2011
2 http://www.cgdev.org/section/initiatives/_active/pakistan/numbers

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Defense report to Congress issued on October 30, 2011


states that,1

of goods back through the NDN. Currently, 55 percent of DoD


sustainment cargo goes through the NDN, and more than 76 percent of supplies transiting the NDN flows across Russia.

President Dmitry Medvedev recognizes that Afghanistan remains


a common cause between Russia and NATO-ISAF partners.
For Russia, minimizing the threat an unstable Afghanistan poses
to Central Asia and the Northern Caucasus is linked to the success of ISAFs mission, with the prospect that a stable and secure
Afghanistan will stem the spread of extremism and the flow of
narcotics into Central Asia and Russia.

In reality, however, Russia has provided only token aid to


the security and development effort in Afghanistan since
2001, has seen the U.S. and NATO/ISAF presence in
Central Asia as a potential threat, and now is deeply worried about containing the impact of transition during
2012-2014 and beyond.

Since April 2010, more than 30,000 U.S. containers have been
delivered to Afghanistan via the [Northern Distribution Network
(NDN)]. The United States continues to explore expanding surface transit cooperation agreements with Russia and other countries in the region.
Since the U.S.-Russia-Afghanistan Air Transit Agreement entered
into effect in July 2009, more than 1,400 flights have transited Russian airspace, ferrying approximately 221,000 U.S. personnel to and
from Afghanistan. The Air Transit Agreement allows for up to
4,500 military flights and unlimited commercial flights to transit
Russian airspace en route to Afghanistan each year, and significantly reduces aircraft transit times and fuel usage.
Also of note, with Russias assistance, the U.S. Air Force Air
Mobility Command completed two historic firsts in U.S. efforts
to resupply forces in Afghanistan. In early June, a USAF C-5 cargo aircraft flew from the United States over the Arctic Circle,
then South through Russian and Kazakh airspace to Afghanistan.
Later in the same month, a USAF KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft
flew the same route from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington,
to the Manas Transit Center, Kyrgyzstan. It was the first time U.S.
Air Force aircraft have ever flown this Arctic route.
In May, the U.S. Army and the Russian Federations military export agency concluded a $375M agreement for the acquisition of
21 new Mi-17V5 military transport helicopters for the Afghan Air
Force, along with a comprehensive initial support package that
includes spare parts, ground support equipment, and engineering
support. The first nine aircraft will be delivered by the end of
2011, and the remaining aircraft will be delivered over a two-year
period. The new aircraft will augment the existing fleet of 52 Mi17s already in operation with the Afghan Air Force and the Afghan Ministry of Interior. The establishment of a NATO-Russia
Council Afghan Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund will assist in
maintaining Afghanistans growing fleet of helicopters by funding spare parts, tools, and training for the Afghan Air Force. To
date, Russia has pledged $3.5M towards the trust fund and is
planning to provide intermediate level maintenance training to 10
Afghan Air Force maintainers beginning in September 2011 at a
helicopter maintenance training facility in Russia.
The NATO-Russia Council will also expand its Central Asian
counter-narcotics program, which trains counter-narcotics personnel from Central Asia, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, in
Russia, Turkey, and via mobile training teams.
In addition to security assistance and counter-narcotics cooperation,
Russia continues to support economic development in Afghanistan.
Following up on President Karzais first official state visit to Russia
in January 2011, Russian and Afghan officials met this summer and
pledged to further boost economic ties between the two countries.
During the latest round of talks, Russia pledged to build one million
square meters of affordable housing in Kabul, and also agreed to
provide Kabul with 500,000 tons of petroleum products a year beyond what it currently provides.
Based on a commitment made at the November 2010 NATO
Summit in Lisbon, Russia continues to expand the types of cargo
shipped by rail via the NDN and also permits the reverse transit
1 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security
and Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, p. 124.

Current Russian Strategic Interests in Afghanistan

Russia only has a marginal interest in Pakistan and sees


Afghanistan largely in terms of containment. It has seen
the U.S. and ISAF presence in Afghanistan as both a
threat and as a means of limiting the risk that instability
in Afghanistan could spread North to Central Asia. Russia does not want a U.S. presence so close to Russia or
the Central Asian states, and has no reason to see the U.S.
and ISAF as providing a solution to the problems created
by Afghanistans one major and highly destructive export
to Russia: drugs.
Transition benefits Russia through the withdrawal of
U.S. and other outside military forces, but creates more
problems in terms of the stability of Central Asia, the
strength of hardline Islamic groups and probably more
use of facilities for training volunteers that will affect
Russian and Central Asian security at the margin. Transition pushes Russia towards some form of containment
of Afghanistan, particularly if a split takes place in Afghanistan that ties the non-Pashtun groups in the North
back into some new form of Northern Alliance in Afghanistan with ties to Turkmenistn, Uzbekistn, and
Tajkistn. Such a contingency might also push Russia
back to providing money and arms to the Northern Alliance if it led to violence between it and an insurgent
dominated Pashtun faction.
Russias main strategic interest in Afghanistan and Pakistan, however, is to be able to act as if they did not exist
with the exception of limited cases that benefit Russian
trade and investment, Russias concerns focus on the Caspian, China, and a Central Asia where Moscow would like
to be the dominant country and see the focus of pipelines,
rail systems, roads, and trade flows North through Russia,
or East-West in ways that benefit Russias interests and
produce productive relations between Russia and China.
Russia also has far more important future interests in Iran,
Iraq, and the Gulf than in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This does not mean Russia will not support diplomatic
efforts to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and
Pakistan, or to provide some aid and investment when
this is to Russias advantage. In spite of Russias strong
ties to India, Russia has endorsed a move from observer
status to full Pakistani membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that was founded in
Shanghai on June 15, 2001 by six countries: China, Russia, Kazakhstn, Kyrgyzstn, Tajkistn and Uzbekistn.
Russia has said that it wants materialization of projects

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like the TAPI (Turkmenistn- Afghanistan-PakistanIndia) gas pipeline project and the Central Asia South
Asia Electricity Trade and Transmission Project (CASA
1000) that will benefit states in Central Asia.1
Russia has supported Afghanistans role in the SCOAfghanistan Contact Group that was established in 2005,
and provides a forum for all of the SCO member states
jointly to provide aid for development and stability in
Afghanistan. Perhaps because of U.S. statements about
withdrawal, Russia announced that it would support Afghanistans becoming an observer state in June 2011, and
the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan announced that
Russia would support Afghanistan in becoming a full
member state in October 2011.2
These steps are more political gestures, however, than a
sign that Russia has a desire to resume a major role in either Pakistan or Afghanistan. The Shanghai Cooperation
Organization focuses on Central Asia, and not the role of
peripheral states. It focuses on East-West and Northern
trade, development, and energy projects on a regional
level. It has not been a source of major flows of aid versus loans and investment projects.

China

The Chinese role in Afghanistan and Pakistan is more


complex than that of Russia. Afghanistan offers China
more advantages in terms of mineral exports and potentially in terms of energy exports if Afghanistans energy
and mineral reserves turn out to have meaningful volume
and can be exploited securely and in ways that can meet
Chinas energy needs. China is already investing in Afghan mines, although the benefits to Afghanistan are limited and as is discussed later in this paper reports of
some $1.4 trillion in mineral reserves are unlikely to have
a major impact on Afghanistans economy and needs
through 2020.
Chinese Activity in Afghanistan
During the Present Afghan War

Once again, the U.S. government takes a relatively optimistic official view in public. In its October 30, 2011 report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Defense described of Chinas role in Afghanistan as follows,3
The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) seeks a stable Afghanistan
to mitigate the need for a long-term U.S. presence on China's
Western border. It continues to seek improved relations with, and
stability and security for, Afghanistan, devoting diplomatic efforts to develop an economic relationship focused more on future
raw material access and extraction.

Similarly, the Organization of Central Asian Cooperation


(OCAC) (Central Asian Cooperation Organization, CACO) which Russia founded in 1996 and which led to
the creation of the Eurasian Economic Community in October 2000 focuses on Central Asia, the Ukraine, Moldova, and Armenia and a customs union and economic
integration effort designed to increase Russian influence
in former members of the Soviet Union. There is little
prospect it will be expanded to play a meaningful role in
Afghanistan or Pakistan.

To promote stability in Afghanistan while it sustains its own economic development, Beijing pursues natural resource exploitation,
infrastructure development, and trade based on an outbound model already practiced in Africa and Latin America: gain political
influence, provide an alternative development model that places
higher value on domestic stability than political liberty, and adhere to an official policy of noninterference in the host country's
internal matters. Beijing's interest in Afghanistan and its untapped
mineral wealth is likely to grow, particularly if the security situation continues to improve. However, for the foreseeable future,
China will continue to rely on coalition forces to provide security
to support Chinese projects, as Beijing has no plans to commit security personnel to Afghanistan.

The main focus of the security aspects of the SCO has


been to improve security relations between Russia and
China, and their role in exercises in Central Asia and in
limiting U.S. and outside influence, dealing with drugs,
and dealing with terrorism. Similarly, the focus of the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that
Russia helped establish in October 2002 has been on
Central Asia and the Caspian, and on reasserting Russias
role in these peripheral states. There is little prospect that
Russia will ever reassert a direct security role in Afghanistan or provide major aid to the Afghan government and
Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

Since 2002, China has committed over $180M in aid to the Government of Afghanistan, and in 2009, China announced it would
provide an additional $75M over the next five years. Further,
PRC companies will likely continue to invest in Afghanistan,
most notably in the development of Afghanistans mines and infrastructure. For instance, China is currently involved in bidding
for the rights to develop iron ore deposits at Hajigak in Bamiyan
Province. However, progress remains slow and security concerns
persist, stalling existing projects such as Aynak copper mine
while impeding other investments. In order to further develop the
trade relationship, Afghan and PRC delegations continue to cooperate under the umbrella of the Afghanistan-China Joint Economic Commission. Beijings extension of this invitation underscores
its goal of returning stability to Afghanistan by boosting Kabuls
export market and access to international trade.

See DanwCom World, Russia endorses full SCO membership for


Pakistan, http://www.dawn.com/2011/11/07/russia-endorses-fullsco-membership-for-pakistan.html
See Hakim Basharat, Russia backs Afghan bid for SCO observer
status, Pajhwok Afghan News, June 16, 2001 and . 22 October
2011, Pajhwok Afghan News; and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_ Cooperation_Organisation.

Since the establishment of Afghan-PRC relations, China has


sought to promote friendly relations, providing token official assistance and economic aid to Afghanistan. Both countries exchange regular political visits and seek cooperative bilateral efforts on counterterrorism and counter-narcotics issues; specifically, PRC counterterrorism efforts that focus on the Uighur Islamic
extremist groups with ties to Afghanistan. Beijing has also voiced
3

Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and


Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, pp. 122-123.

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its support for Afghan Government-Taliban reconciliation efforts,
but limits its involvement to prevent possible repercussions from
Uighur extremists.
China and Afghanistan have entered into various bilateral agreements
in the past, although most are symbolic in nature. Beijing continues to
support regional diplomacy, most notably by including President Karzai in annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summits and
forming a SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group. Although Afghanistan is
neither a member nor [an] observer of the SCO, it retains status as a
guest attendee. China sees the SCO as an important platform for the
promotion of stability and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
China is concerned about the security situation in Afghanistan,
including issues such as external support to Uighur separatists,
the safety of PRC workers in the country, and narcotics trafficking into Western China. Although China maintains a strict policy
of non-involvement with ISAF security operations, it has provided ANSF personnel a variety of non-lethal, China-based training
to bolster Afghanistans security and stability since 2006. Training for the ANP conducted at Peoples Armed Police municipal
training facilities has covered core policing skills, crowd and riot
control, criminal investigations, and internal security duties. China has also offered basic, advanced, and senior military courses
for ANSF officers at PRC Peoples Liberation Army military
training colleges and universities.
Chinas Mining and Energy Deals

Chinas state-owned Metallurgical Corp made a deal to


secure access to Afghan copper mines near Mes Kayak,
South of Kabul, in 2007-2008 a deal that will not begin
to provide serious revenues to Afghanistan until 2014.1
So far, this effort also seems unlikely to create anything
like the number of jobs some early estimates indicated,
and much depends on Afghan security at a time when
Afghanistan is effectively abolishing its Infrastructure
Police rather than moving forward to provide security
or deal with a host of legal problems and the impact of
corruption.2
The only other country to sign such major contracts was
India, which signed an iron ore development contract in
November 2011.3 The Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) agreed to extremely favorable terms
that gave Afghanistan up to seventy per cent of profits
from the project, and agreed to pay a fifteen per cent royalty on oil production plus twenty per cent corporate tax.
Afghanistans uncertain energy resources may benefit
China, Russia and the Central Asian states to the North,
1 Maurits Elen, China-Afghanistan oil deal signed as tensions mount in
Middle East, Shanghai List,
http://shanghaiist.com/2011/12/30/china_signs_oil_deal_with_afghan
ist.php.
2 Matthew Rosenberg, and Alissa J. Rubin, Afghanistan to Disband Irregular Police Force Set Up Under NATO, New York Times, December 26, 2011.
3 Tom A. Peter, China wins $700 million Afghan oil and gas deal. Why
didn't the US bid?, Christian Scoience Monitor, December 28, 2011,
www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2011/1228/Chinawins-700-million-Afghan-oil-and-gas-deal.-Why-didn-t-the-US-bid;
Globasl Economic Intersection,
ttp://econintersect.com/b2evolution/blog1.php/2011/12/27/afghan-oilfor-china.

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but this is uncertain. Major transfers of hydroelectric


power may become practical if Afghanistan becomes
more stable, secure, and reliable. At present, Turkmenistn, Uzbekistn, and Iran export power to Northern Afghanistan.
As for oil and gas, there is a tendency to exaggerate a potential that is not yet confirmed and that would take a
decade or more to develop to a major, economic export if
the reserves exist at the proper level just as there is a
tendency to advocate pipeline projects without proper
cost benefit and risk analysis.
Afghan and Pakistani oil and gas will help in meeting
domestic demand, but possible oil and gas reserves like
estimates of mineral resources are notoriously prone either to failing to count real capacity or to gross exaggeration of reserves that either do not exist or have limited
commercial value. Like the mining potential discussed
later in this study, possible oil and gas reserve options are
worth exploring if Afghanistan can make the necessary
change in security, commercial law, and governance over
time, but major economy changing development is a
prospect for 2020 and beyond. Moreover, such changes
are likely to be of more interest to China than oil-andgas-rich Russia, and many pipeline projects depend as
much on Pakistani changes in security, commercial law,
and governance as changes in Afghanistan.
At present, Afghanistan produces a token amount of
crude oil in Sar-i-Pol province and uses primitive retorts
for refining at the field and near Sheberghan. Its
Djarquduk, Khowaja Gogerak, and Yatimtaq natural gas
fields are all located within twenty miles of Sheberghan.
Small diameter pipelines deliver gas locally, and a larger
line delivers limited amounts to a forty-eight Megawatt
power plant in Mazar-i-Sharif.4
The Russians only found some ninety-five million barrels
worth of exploitable oil during their efforts in Afghanistan, and this estimate is not even based on all of the criteria necessary to establish the level of proven reserves.
An Afghan energy profile in glObserver notes that, 5
Between the 1960s and mid-1980s, the Soviets had identified
more than 15 oil and gas fields in Northern Afghanistan. Only
three gas fieldsKhwaja Gogerdak, Djarquduk, and Yatimtaq
were developed in the area surrounding Sheberghan, which is located about 120 kilometers west of Mazar-i-Sharif. Afghan natural gas production reached 275 million cubic feet per day
(Mmcf/d) in the mid-1970s. The Djarquduk field was brought
online during that period and boosted Afghan natural gas output
to a peak of 385 Mmcf/d by 1978. About 100 mmcf/d of this
amount was used locally in gas distribution systems in Sheberghan and Mazar-i-Sharif as well as at a 100,000 mt/y urea
plant located near Mazar-i-Sharif. One oil field, Angot, was de4 glObserver, Afghanistan Energy Profile,
http://www.globserver.com/en/afghanistan/energy, accessed November 24, 011.
5 glObserver, Afghanistan Energy Profile,
http://www.globserver.com/en/afghanistan/energy, accessed November 24, 2011.

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veloped in the late 1960s, but aside from production tests, oil
production was intermittent, with daily outputs averaging 500 b/d
or less.
Northern Afghanistan has proved, probable and possible natural
gas reserves of about 5 Tcf. This area, which is a Southward extension of the highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin, has the potential to hold a sizable undiscovered gas resource
base, especially in sedimentary layers deeper than what were developed during the Soviet era. Afghanistans crude oil potential is
more modest, with perhaps up to 100 million barrels of mediumgravity recoverable from Angot and other fields that are undeveloped.
Outside of the North Afghan Platform, very limited oil and gas
exploration has occurred. Geological, aeromagnetic, and gravimetric studies were conducted in the 1970s over parts of the Katawaz Fault Block (eastern Afghanistan along the Pak border)
and in the Helmand and Farah provinces. The hydrocarbon potential in these areas is thought to be very limited as compared to
that in the North.

Chinas National Petroleum Corporation did become the


first foreign company to sign a contract to develop Afghanistans oil and gas reserves, along with its Afghan
joint venture partner the Watan Group, in late December
2011. It signed a twenty-five-year deal estimated to be
worth some $700 million, and that some sources estimated could be worth $3-5 billion to the Afghan government
within five years. This was the first major contract signed
since Chinas state-owned Metallurgical Corp made a
deal to secure access to Afghan copper mines near Mes
Kayak, south of Kabul, in 2007-2008 a deal that will
not begin to provide serious revenues to Afghanistan until 2014.1
The Chinese oil contract, however, was to develop part of
the oil blocs in the Amu Darya area that are estimated to
hold a total of some 87 million barrels of proven reserves
in three fields in the Kashkari, Bazarkhami and Zamarudsay basins that are located in the Northern provinces of
Sar-e Pul and Faryab. It was a speculative investment
whose scale depends on success in developing fields that
have not been fully explored or characterized to the point
where it is clear what commercial reserves really exists.2
The risks involved were made clear by the fact the CNPC
sharply outbid all competitors, and that U.S. firms did not
bid because of both commercial and security risk considerations. Chinas main efforts in Central Asia are taking
place North of Afghanistan in the form of pipelines that
are routed through Kazakhstn.

1 Maurits Elen, China-Afghanistan oil deal signed as tensions mount in


Middle East, Shanghai List,
http://shanghaiist.com/2011/12/30/china_signs_oil_deal_with_afghani
st.php.
2 BBC, China gets approval for Afghanistan oil exploration bid, December 26, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16336453; Peter Simpson, China begins scramble for Afghanistan's oil reserves,
Daily Telegraph, December 27, 2011,
ttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/89
79038/China-begins-scramble-for-Afghanistans-oil-reserves.html.

Uncertain Afghan Oil and Gas Reserves

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has conducted preliminary surveys that put total possible Afghan reserves
of oil as high as 1.8 billion barrels. This could have a major impact in the years after 2020 if anything like these
reserves prove to exist and can be exploited at competitive prices. The former Soviet Union, however, only
found a total of some ninety-five million barrels of reserves during its efforts in Afghanistan, and these were
estimated rather than proven reserves.
The BP Statistical Review of Energy for 2011 does not
list any proved oil reserves for Afghanistan or Pakistan,
although small reserves do exist. 3 The CIA World
Factbook estimates Afghan proven oil reserves are too
small to count, and puts Afghan proven gas reserves at
49.55 billion cubic meters a figure too small to be of
more than local interest.4 The CIA World Factbook estimates Pakistani proven oil reserves at a negligible 313
million barrels, and puts Pakistani proven gas reserves at
840.2 billion cubic meters a figure that will be needed
to meet future growth in domestic consumption.5
The EIA World Energy Outlook for 2011, the IEA World
Energy Outlook for 2011, and the BP Energy Outlook
2030, all ignore Afghanistan and Pakistan as sources of
future meaningful oil and gas production and key transit routes through at least 2030.6
Like the mining potential discussed later in this study,
possible oil and gas reserve options are worth exploring
if Afghanistan can make the necessary changes in security, commercial law, and governance over time, but major
economy changing -- development is a prospect for
2020 and beyond. Moreover, such changes are likely to
be of more interest to China than oil-and-gas-rich Russia,
and many pipeline projects depend as much on Pakistani
changes in security, commercial law, and governance as
changes in Afghanistan.
Chinas Regional Priorities

In practice, China has much higher regional priorities


than Afghanistan. China sees Pakistan as a counter to India, and as a form of strategic depth in much the same
way that Pakistan sees Afghanistan. It has provided major arms transfer to Pakistan that help Islamabad present
a major threat to India, and helped Pakistan develop nu3 BP, BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2011, pp. 6, 20
4 CIA World Factbook, updated November 14, 2011,
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-worldfactbook/geos/af.html.
5 CIA World Factbook, updated November 14, 2011,
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-worldfactbook/geos/pk.html.
6 The EIA, International Energy Outlook, 2011, is the only document
that provides detailed country projections. The rest are on computer databases. Afghan and Pakistani output is too small to be listed for either
oil or gas through 2035. (See pp. 229-246 for oil and pp. 275-278 for
gas,

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clear weapons and long-range missiles that create a major
threat on Indias Western border. China has signed a series of military cooperation agreements with Pakistan, including setting up regular Defense and Security Talks in
2002 and an expanded cooperation agreement that Pakistans Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Tariq Majid and Peoples Liberation Armys Chief
of General Staff, General Chen Bingde, signed in December 2008.1
China was Pakistans major arms supplier during the period
after the U.S. cutoff aid over Pakistans development of nuclear weapons and before the resumption of U.S. aid after
9/11. China did, however, sell Pakistan arms rather than
provide aid. It has sold systems like F-5 and F-7 fighters, K8 trainers, and T-85 tanks, and has sold Pakistan the equipment and technology for its Pakistan Aeronautical Complex
in Kamra, which it uses to assemble and service Chinese
fighters. SIPRI reports that China has sold Pakistan one
hundred export versions of the F-7MG fighter jet that primarily is an upgraded adaptation of the MiG-2. It has also
sold Pakistan systems like the C-801/C-802 (Yingji Eagle
Strike YJ-8 and YJ-82) anti-ship cruise missile, Red Arrow
anti-tank guided missile, and capability to build the Anza
surface-to-air missile. 2
China has offered Pakistan the sale of JF-17 fighters (also
known as the Thunder fighter jet (FC-1)), which is a multi-role combat aircraft. It has recently discussed the sale
of four Jiangwei-class frigates, and Pakistan seems to
have ordered eight F22P frigates, the first of which was
delivered in July 2009. Chinese weapons exports to Pakistan since 2000 include K-8 lightweight trainer/attack
jets.3 Other reports indicate that China will sell Pakistan
thirty-six advanced J-10 fighters, and the capability to
build submarines.
Sources differ over how much support China has given
to Pakistans nuclear and missile programs, but it is clear
that China has taken many steps to help build up Pakistan as a nuclear threat to India. The Abdul Qadeer Khan
network is reported to have acquired Chinese nuclear
weapons and warhead designs. China helped Pakistan
build two nuclear reactors at Chashma, and promised to
help Pakistan construct two more nuclear reactors at
Chashma in 2008. It has been a key source of nuclear
technology and equipment. China provided Pakistan
with the designs and technology for the Chinese DF11/CCS-7 missile (300 km range), and the equipment for
a missile production facility at Rawalpindi. While China
1 Dr. Monika Chansoira, China's arms sales to Pakistan unsettling
South Asian security, Indian Defense Review, : Vol 25.4 Oct-Dec
2010 | Date: 14 March, 2011.
2 Dr. Monika Chansoira, China's arms sales to Pakistan unsettling
South Asian security, Indian Defense Review, : Vol 25.4 Oct-Dec
2010 | Date: 14 March, 2011.
3 Dr. Monika Chansoira, China's arms sales to Pakistan unsettling
South Asian security, Indian Defense Review, : Vol 25.4 Oct-Dec
2010 | Date: 14 March, 2011; Dr. Rashid Ahmad Khan, The Pakistan-China Strategic Partnership, China.org.cn, http://www.
china.org.cn/opinion/2011-05/20/content_22605398_2.html.

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has since claimed to obey the limits on technology transfer imposed by the Missile Technology Control Regime
(MTCR), U.S. experts feel that China continues to provide technology for Pakistani missile systems ranging
from the short-range Hatf to the Saheen (a 600 km range
system that seems to be a version of the Chinese M-9),
and that Beijing may be supporting the development of
longer range systems.4
Rather than provide economic aid, China has steadily expanded its volume of trade with Pakistan, but on a commercial and not preferential basis. It has helped to finance
some two hundred and fifty projects like Pakistans Thar
coal project, the Bhasha Dam, the widening of the Karakoram Highway, the Gwadar deep sea port and the Saindak gold and copper project. Beijing also has helped finance Pakistans development of a deep-sea port at the
naval base at Gwadar on the coast of Pakistans
Balchistn province that some experts believe China
will eventually use as a deep water port for its navy, and
will become a major energy route once a pipeline is built
to Xinjiang. The real world economics of such a pipeline
do, however, remain highly questionable.5
Afghanistan is on Chinas borders and any sanctuary for
the operations and training of Islamist extremists and
Chinese dissidents in either Afghanistan or Pakistan will
pose at least a low level potential threat and Afghanistan
could become a center for Uighur and other Muslim dissidents. Russia, China (and the world) also share the
problems created by Afghan drug exports although these demand driven problems are unlikely ever to be
changed through efforts to cut off the supply of natural
and synthetic drugs.

4 For a good summary analysis of the issues involved, see the Nuclear
Threat Initiative (NTI), NTI, China's Missile Exports and Assistance
to Pakistan, http://www.nti.org/db/china/mpakpos.htm and NTI,
China's Missile Exports and Assistance to Pakistan,
http://www.nti.org/db/china/mpakpos.htm.
5 For an opposing view, see Dr. Rashid Ahmad Khan, The PakistanChina Strategic Partnership, China.org.cn, http://www.china.org.cn/
opinion/2011-05/20/content_22605398_2.html: The port will allow
China to secure oil and gas supplies from the Persian Gulf and project its power in the Indian Ocean. China has financed 80 percent of
the $300 million cost, and is also funding the construction of a railroad network connecting China with the port through Central Asia
and Pakistan, turning Pakistan into an energy and trade corridor for
China. The oil and gas supply line through Pakistan is a safer, shorter
and cheaper alternative route to the Malacca Straits, which is vulnerable to attacks by pirates and passes through a region dominated by
the United States. The importance of Gwader for China can be
gauged from the fact that China is the largest consumer of oil after
the United States. Its consumption is expected to double by 2025
with 70 percent coming from the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
Gwader offers the closest access point to these regions for China.
Gwader will provide an overland energy corridor to the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, shortening the journey by 12000 miles. The
route will also bring substantial benefits to Pakistan, making it one of
the region's largest energy players. According to one estimate, Pakistan will be earning $60 billion a year in transit fees in 20 years time.

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China and Pakistan

As for Pakistan, it has described China as a key ally in


terms it has never recently used in talking about the U.S.
In 2009, Pakistans President, Asif Ali Zardari stated in
an op-ed in China Daily that, Perhaps no relationship
between two sovereign states is as unique and durable as
that between Pakistan and Chinaseen as a true, timetested and reliable friend that has always come through
for Pakistan.1
In 2011, Pakistan reportedly asked China to replace the
U.S. role in Afghanistan, and also sought major increases
in Chinese aid and support to allow Pakistan to reduce its
dependence on U.S. aid. According to press reports, during a visit to Kabul in April 2011, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told Afghan President Hmid
Karzai that the U.S. had failed them both and that they
had to turn to China.2 Pakistan also made a point during
2011 of describing China as an all weather friend compared to a U.S. that it sees as untrustworthy, leaving the
region yet again, and pressuring Pakistan to act against
its own strategic interests as it departs.

gave $268 million, Saudi Arabia $127 million, the UK gave


$124 million. Other European states gave $63 million, Japan
gave $54 million, and multilateral aid totaled $44 million.
China did offer $217 million in loan disbursements during
this period, but this compared with $1,197 million from the
Asian Development Bank (ADB) and $986 million from the
World Bank.5
Arms sales and loans allow China to use Pakistan as a
relatively inexpensive counter to India, and there is little
prospect that this relationship will change. Limited
amounts of Chinese aid and arms transfers help keep up
Pakistani pressure on India, and focus India on the Pakistani threat. To a limited degree, China can also use its
ties to Pakistan to pressure India over its support of Tibetan exiles. The proxy value of Pakistan is, however,
steadily diminishing as Indias economy expands, India
becomes a major trading partner, and past struggles over
a remarkably unimportant border area diminish in importance. China and India may be rivals as emerging
powers, but largely at an economic level and one where
competition is offset by trade.
Afghanistan and Pakistan as Energy Routes to China

China and Pakistan cooperate in military exercises that


are focused on counterterrorism, and Pakistan is willing
to at least make gestures in helping China deal with the
Uighur-speaking Muslims from the Xinjiang region that
are present in libn-controlled parts of Northwest Pakistan including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement
(ETIM) that China sees as a terrorist group. The Pakistani Chief of Staff, General Kayani stated in 2011 that,
We have done our utmost to eliminate this threat of
ETIM and other extremists for ChinaWe have had a
very close cooperation and we do exchange intelligence."3
China does not, however, keep an active military group in
Pakistan, as distinguished from the advisors linked to Chinese arms transfers. The size of Chinese aid to Pakistan
shows that Pakistan has far more interest in China than China does in Pakistan. Data from the State Bank of Pakistan
show that China provides very low levels of foreign private
and public investment (as does Russia).4 An analysis by the
Center for Global Development shows that China only gave
Pakistan $9 million in grant aid during 2004-2009. The U.S.
1 Sino-Pakistan Relations Higher than Himalayas, China Daily , February
23, 2009.
2 For typical news coverage, see Reuters, China-Pakistan-Afghanistan
building economic ties, April 27, 2011, http:// blogs.reuters.com/ pakistan/2011/04/28/china-pakistan-afghanistan-building-economic-ties/; and
Matthew Rosenberg, Karzai Told to Dump U.S. Pakistan Urges Afghanistan to Ally With Islamabad, Beijing, Wall Street Journal, April 27,
2011, online.wsj.com/article/ SB100014240527487047293045762870
41094035816.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
3 Chris Brummitt, China, Pakistan boost anti-terror cooperation, AP,
November
25,
2011,
http://www.boston.com/news/world/
asia/articles/2011/11/25/china_pakistan_boost_anti_terror_cooperati
on/?page=2.
4 State Bank of Pakistan, http://www.sbp.org.pk/ecodata/index2 .asp,
accessed November 29, 2011.

The lines of communication from the Indian Ocean through


Pakistan and Afghanistan have some limited value to China,
but talk of major pipelines and trading routes seems largely
a triumph of salesmanship by the advocates of given projects over basic economics, geography and terrain.
The Straits of Malacca are a major chokepoint in world
energy movements. The Energy Information Agency of
the U.S. Department of Energy estimated in December
2011 that,6
The Strait of Malacca, located between Indonesia, Malaysia, and
Singapore, links the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and
Pacific Ocean. Malacca is the shortest sea route between Persian
Gulf suppliers and the Asian markets notably China, Japan,
South Korea, and the Pacific Rim. Oil shipments through the
Strait of Malacca supply China and Indonesia, two of the worlds
fastest growing economies. It is the key chokepoint in Asia with
an estimated 13.6 million bbl/d flow in 2009, down slightly from
its peak of 14 million bbl/d in 2007.
At its narrowest point in the Phillips Channel of the Singapore
Strait, Malacca is only 1.7 miles wide creating a natural bottleneck, as well as potential for collisions, grounding, or oil spills.
According to the International Maritime Bureaus Piracy Reporting Centre, piracy, including attempted theft and hijackings, is a
constant threat to tankers in the Strait of Malacca, although the
number of attacks has dropped due to the increased patrols by
the littoral states authorities since July 2005.
Over 60,000 vessels transit the Strait of Malacca per year. If the
strait were blocked, nearly half of the world's fleet would be required to reroute around the Indonesian archipelago through Lombok Strait, located between the islands of Bali and Lombok, or the
Sunda Strait, located between Java and Sumatra.

5 http://www.cgdev.org/section/initiatives/_active/pakistan/ numbers
6 Department of Energy, Energy Information Agency, World Oil
Transit Chokepoints, December 30, 2011, www.eia.gov.

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However, oil and gas shipments to China through Pakistan would present serious risks given Pakistans growing
instability and the fact that they would end in the far
West of China, and would not compete with the Russian
pipelines to China. Transit through both Afghanistan and
Pakistan makes little sense. Ports in Pakistan could only
be a way of avoiding moving energy exports through the
Straits of Malacca and by sea at an immense premium in
cost, and one that could only be justified if China felt a
truly massive investment could actually produce a feasible high capacity route, Pakistan was a secure route, the
energy exports were badly needed in Western China, and
avoiding long movement by sea was a major national security interest.

high-level visits and key leadership engagements to publicly criticize


the presence of the international community in Afghanistan and to
call for the withdrawal of ISAF.
In June, the defense ministers of Iran and Afghanistan issued a joint
statement expressing intent to increase cooperation to counter common threats and to fight against organized crime and narcotics trafficking. This visit the first by an Iranian defense minister since
1979 garnered considerable attention from the Afghan security
ministries before and during the visit. There are already some basic
counter-narcotics cooperation links between Afghanistan, Pakistan,
and Iran including the UN Office of Drug Control-brokered [sic]
Triangular Initiative, which includes nascent Joint Planning Cell in
Tehran, border liaison offices, and joint counter-narcotics operations,
although progress has been limited.
Since 2001, Iran has pledged more than $1B in aid to Afghanistan and
given more than $500M. Irans reconstruction and development efforts
continue, largely concentrated in Western Afghanistan. Irans aim is to
increase its influence with the local population in order to create an
Iran-friendly environment. Iran also wants to expand its sphere of influence beyond border regions into other parts of Afghanistan, particularly Kabul. Iran currently maintains consulates in Herat, Jalalabad,
Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif, and is considering opening additional consulates in Bamiyan and Nimroz Province.

This might happen ten to twenty years in the future, but


this seems unlikely. It is not a current prospect. Moreover,
the EIA notes that, there have been several proposals to
build bypasses to reduce tanker traffic through the Strait
of Malacca. Construction began in 2009 to build a
240,000 bbl/d crude oil pipeline from Burma to China
that could eventually be expanded.1

Iran also continues to provide lethal assistance, including weapons


and training, to elements of the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
Tehrans relationship with the Taliban, though not ideologically
based, is consistent with Irans short to mid-term goal of undermining coalition efforts and an international military presence in Afghanistan. Coalition and Afghan forces have interdicted several
shipments of Iranian weapons since 2007.

Like Russia, China has far more interest in the other


countries in Central Asia than Afghanistan and in EastWest traffic that focuses on Russia, Kazakhstn, Kyrgyzstn, and Tajkistn. Uzbekistn and Turkmenistn are
not on Chinas borders or likely to be areas of more than
marginal, opportunistic interest. Moreover, China has far
more reason to focus on East Asia and its broader interests in international trade than any aspect of Central Asia.

Beyond economic and security issues, the status of Afghan refugees in


Iran continues to be a contentious issue between Iran and Afghanistan.
Approximately three million Afghan refugees currently reside in Iran,
only one-third of which are registered with the United Nations High
Commission for Refugees. In order to limit the impact of unregistered
refugees on the economy and infrastructure, Iran has focused much of
its forced repatriation on unregistered refugees. Current deportation
rates range from 17,000 to 25,000 people per month. With little progress being made between the two countries on the status of the refugees and the rate of repatriation, the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and
Repatriation has begun planning for the full repatriation of undocumented Afghans living in Iran at a rate of 50,000 per month.

Iran

Iran is scarcely a Great Power, but it is now playing


more of a direct role in Afghanistan than Russia and China. Iran is actively supporting the development of
Northwest Afghanistan, and the expansion of road and
other communication systems in Western Afghanistan.
The U.S. official view of Irans role is mixed, although it
highlights Irans current role over that of Russia and China and reports a larger level of Iranian aid to Afghanistan
than has come from either Russia or China.2
Irans attempts to influence events in Afghanistan include overt
support for the Afghan Government; economic and cultural outreach to the Afghan population, particularly to minority populations, and covert support for various insurgents and various political opposition groups, including the provision of weapons and
training. Iran seeks a withdrawal of foreign military forces and
aims to play a dominant, long-term role in Afghanistan and the
broader region.
At the highest political levels, Iran seeks to maintain positive relations with the Afghan Government. Various pro-Iranian Afghan officials continue to welcome and seek further Iranian support despite allegations about Tehrans covert support to insurgents. In addition to
maintaining a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, Tehran often uses
1 Department of Energy, Energy Information Agency, World Oil
Transit Chokepoints, December 30, 2011, www.eia.gov.
2 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and
Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, pp. 121-122.

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The reasons for Iranian behavior are clear. Afghanistan is


primarily important to Iran as a means to secure its Eastern
flank, prevent the flow of illicit weapons, halt narcotics
and migrant flows across its borders, open up trade routes
to Central Asia, and compete with the U.S. presence in
South and Central Asia. Iran maintains close relationships
with Afghanistans Hazra and Tajk Shah about twenty
percent of the Afghan population and houses a large Afghan refugee population, estimated at 1.07 million in 2010
by the UNHCR.3 Although the U.S. and Iran share a common interest in defeating the libn and its associates,
and in the long-term stability of Afghanistan, they do compete for influence both in Afghanistan and the region, and
their mutual antagonism prevents more than limited cooperation.
The Iranian-Afghan border is significantly less volatile
than the Iranian-Pakistani one, but several challenges persist. Iranian relations with Afghanistan continue to improve,
but various sources of tension remain. By some accounts,
3

http://www.unhcr.org/4dfa11499.html

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about ten percent of Irans conscripted armed forces remain deployed along the Afghan border.1
Afghanistans relations with Iran have fluctuated over the
years, punctuated by periodic disputes over the water rights
of the Helmand River. Iran opposed the 1979 Soviet invasion and supported the Afghan resistance, providing financial and military assistance to rebel leaders who pledged
loyalty to the Iranian vision of Islamic revolution. Foremost among these was Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the
Northern Alliance.
Following the emergence of the libn and their harsh
treatment of Afghanistans Hazra Shah minority among
whom Iran had built up major influence Tehran stepped up
its assistance to the Northern Alliance in terms of money,
weapons, and humanitarian aid.2 The Northern Alliances
arms deals with Iran led many U.S. diplomats to view Massoud as a tainted force.3 For Tehran, relations with the
libn deteriorated further in 1998 after libn forces
seized the Iranian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif, executed
eleven Iranian diplomats, and massacred thousands of
Shahs. The subsequent fallout led Iran to mass as many as
300,000 troops along the border, and threaten war. Ultimately Iranian commanders decided against the intervention.
After the 11th of September 2001, the United States
launched a war against the libn regime that had sheltered Osama bin Laden. Supreme Leader Seyed Ali
Hoseyni Khmenei persuaded conservatives in the establishment that assisting the coalition war in Afghanistan
would be in Irans best interest: it would remove the hated
libn, strike a blow against one of Pakistans proxies,
and extend Irans regional reach.
As has been noted earlier, Iran has been a major aid donor
by regional standards. In an arrangement negotiated by UK
Foreign Secretary Jack W. Straw, Iran provided additional
assistance to the Northern Alliance and played a constructive role at the post-war negotiations in Bonn.4 In December 2002, Iran signed a Good Neighbor Declaration, in
which it pledged to respect Afghanistans independence
and territorial integrity. At the time, U.S. action in Afghanistan furthered Irans interests. Since then, U.S. reluctance to deal with Iran, and Irans concern that it is now
surrounded by U.S. bases and allies, not only in Afghanistan but also in Central Asia, has led to steadily rising tensions between the two countries.5
Iran has been active in Afghan reconstruction efforts, particularly in the Western portion of the country in the provinces of Herat, Farah and Nimruz. Tehran is primarily focused on supporting Shah political parties, mobilizing
1
2
3
4
5

Amir Bagherpour and Asad Farhad, The Iranian Influence in Afghanistan, PBS Tehran Bureau, August 9, 2010.
Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan
and Bin Laden, New York: Penguin (2005), p. 345
Coll, p. 431
Ansari, p. 182
Keddie, p. 330

Shah mullahs, and influencing the Afghan media. According to the Afghan Chamber of Commerce, an estimated 2,000 private Iranian firms are active inside Afghanistan, 6 and the Iranian government has funded several
transportation and energy infrastructure projects, including
building roads and railway links, building schools and
funding scholarships at universities, as well as building infrastructure such as Herats electricity grid.7 The Iranian
Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is also believed to
train some units of the Afghan security forces.8
Iran provides aid and investment which is focused on the
Turkmen minority in the Northwest (3% of the population)
and on Afghanistans Hazra minority (9% of the population. 9 Iran also provides main transit routes for the UN
World Food Program, whose aid is critical to some 30% of
the Afghan people, and where such shipments would otherwise have to compete with military shipments through Pakistan and the countries north of Afghanistan. Iran has good
reason to fear a libn/Haqqn/Hekmatyr resurgence in
Afghanistan, or any major increase in the Sunn Islamist extremist presence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On the other hand, Iranian government officials routinely
encourage members of the Afghan parliament to support
anti-U.S. and NATO/ISAF policies and to raise anti-U.S.
talking points during debates. They have sought to increase criticism of civilian casualty incidents caused by coalition forces, convince the Afghan parliament to legalize
foreign forces, and promote Shah rights (including a separate judicial system). To this end, the Iranian embassy has
cultivated relations with members of opposition groups
(such as the United Front), Tajk Sayeds, Hazra MPs, and
MPs from Herat and other Western provinces.
Iran has also used its fuel shipments as a source of leverage
over Afghanistan. It temporarily blocked shipments of fuel
in early 2011, causing significant shortages and price
spikes inside Afghanistan, reportedly instigated by worries
that Iranian supply was being diverted for use by U.S. military forces inside the country.10 Despite this, some analysts,
including the authors of a study conducted by RAND, conclude that the net effect of Iranian influence in Western
Afghanistan has been largely positive, has helped establish
stability and prosperity in the area, and has facilitated the
transfer of control to Afghan security forces.11
According to some sources, including senior U.S. and
ISAF military officials, Tehran still provides some mate6
7
8
9
10
11

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/occasional_papers/
2011/RAND_OP322.pdf
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/13/world/la-fg- afghanistaniran-20101114
Amir Bagherpour and Asad Farhad, The Iranian Influence in Afghanistan, PBS Tehran Bureau, August 9, 2010.
CIA World Factbook, updated November 14, 2011,
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/.
http://www.economist.com/node/18014604
http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/occasional_papers
/2011/RAND_OP322.pdf, pg. 8

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and the Region After 2014
rial support to the libn, in spite of decades of Iranian
antipathy for the libn. General David Petraeus, then
commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, testified to the
U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2011
that Iran had provided some support for libn insurgents through the Quds Force, including an intercepted
shipment of 122mm rockets. Petraeus further stated that
Iran without question provides weapons, training and
funding, to the libn but insisted that such cooperation comes in measured amounts enough to make
life difficult for us, but not enough to actually succeed.1
Iran has also made expanded attempts to ensure its influence in any post-U.S. Afghanistan beyond the Shite belt.
Iranian officials are reported to have made cash payments
to senior Afghan officials, including senior advisors to
President Karzai, in efforts to expand their influence.2
Diplomatic relations between Kabul and Tehran have also been growing. President Ahmadinejd visited Kabul in
March 2010, a gesture reciprocated by President Karzai
who traveled to Tehran in August 2010.3 Several other
Iranian officials have visited Afghanistan in 2010, including Quds Force commander Major General haj
Qassem Suleimani. In mid-June 2011, Iranian Defense
Minister Ahmad Vahidi made a landmark trip to Afghanistan to meet his Afghan counterpart, the first such visit
in ninety-two years.4
Iran has cooperated with several other regional countries,
notably India and Russia, to gain influence in any post-U.S.
Afghanistan. During the Afghan civil war, in the postSoviet period, the three countries constituted the bloc that
supported the Northern Alliance in opposition to the Pakistani- and Saudi-supported libn forces.

Iran, growing Indo-U.S. rapprochement, and continued


delays to the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.7
U.S. and Iranian competition, however, is scarcely the
dominant factor shaping Irans behavior. The porous Afghan-Iranian border affects Iranian security through trafficking in narcotics and weapons, as well as flows of refugees and illegal migrants. By many accounts, Iran has
the worlds worst heroin problem and a growing
HIV/AIDS problem as a result.8 As much as sixty percent of Iranian heroin is sourced from Afghan poppy
fields, according to the UNODC.9 The rise in drug use
has strained Iranian police and prison capacity and
caused serious societal problems. In response, Iran and
Afghanistan have increased counter-narcotics cooperation. Iran is also a transit and destination country for
many trafficked Afghan persons, including young children sold for commercial sexual exploitation.10
Moreover, Afghan refugees in Iran already number about a
million and are an intense strain on the Iranian economy,
particularly given the pressure of U.S. and international
sanctions. Since 2005, Iranian President Ahmadinejd has
stepped up the forcible repatriation of Afghan refugees, often with little advance coordination. Afghan officials report that Iran returned as many as 160,000 Afghan refugees between March 2010 and February 2011.11 These returns have caused tensions, as Afghan officials are ill
equipped to deal with the humanitarian burden, and sometimes accuse Iran of using refugees as a destabilizing
tool.12 The treatment of Afghan refugees in Iran has often
caused anti-Iranian protests in Afghanistan, including five
in a fortnight in May 2010, one of which took place outside the Iranian consulate in Jalalabad.13

Iran and India have sought to counter Pakistani dominance of Afghan trade routes through the construction of
a 220-kilometer road from Delaram in Nimroz to Zaranj
in Iran, which will connect to Irans Chabahar port along
the Indian Ocean. The road, which is entirely financed by
India, will provide an alternate route to Pakistan for overland trade upon completion.5 Iran and India have also
engaged Afghanistan in trilateral initiatives to discuss its
future, in an effort to recover the influence they lose by
being shut out of other discussions due to U.S. and Pakistani sensitivities.6 However, Indo-Iranian cooperation in
Afghanistan has been restrained by U.S. pressure on India, and damaged by Indian support for U.S. sanctions on

The Stans

2
3
4
5
6

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/03/petraeus-doesn't sweat-irans-rockets-in-afghanistan/
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-24/iran-must-notmeddle-in-afghanistan-u-s-says-after-bag-of-cash-reported.html
http://www.insideiran.org/media-analysis/iran-uses-karzai-visit-toshow-regional-support/
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/18/us-iran-afghanistan- visit-idUSTRE75H1FN20110618
http://www.acus.org/new_atlanticist/india-iran-afghanistan- corridor
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/now-an-indiairanafghanistantrisummit/684954/

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In theory, each of the nations on Afghanistans border


Turkmenistn, Uzbekistn, Takjikistan (and Kyrgyzstn
and Kazakhstn to the North) could benefit from an increase in secure trade through Afghanistan. Each also
needs security along its border with Afghanistan, and
each wants to halt the flow of Afghan drugs into its territory. In practice, however, the near and mid-term options
are limited at best.

9
10
11
12
13

http://blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/2010/07/06/in-scramble-forafghanistan-india-looks-to-iran/
http://www.cfr.org/iran/afghanistans-role-irans-drugproblem/p11457
http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/world_drug_report.html
http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,USDOS,,IRN
,,4c1883eb32,0.html
http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2011/02/07/iran-expels-thousandsafghan-refugees
http://www.aei.org/docLib/2010-11-MEO-g.pdf
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8679336.stm

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and the Region After 2014

The Role of the Stans in the Current Afghan War

The U.S. official view of the role of the Central Asian


states stresses the support and aid they have given to Afghanistan, but also reveals how limited their role has been
to date.1
The Central Asian states are host to the Northern Distribution
Network (NDN), which provides multiple ground and air transportation routes into and out of Afghanistan for commercial carriers and U.S. military aircraft. The air and ground Lines of
Communication (LOC) that constitute the NDN provide operational flexibility and increased total capacity that reduce reliance
and stress on any single route into and out of Afghanistan. Officials from some Central Asian countries have supported U.S. efforts to diversify the LOCs, which include new over-flight permissions and expanded ground transit agreements, including reverse transit and transits of wheeled armored vehicles.
Beyond the NDN, the Central Asian states are important contributors to a number of other activities in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan
completed a 75 km railway line from Hairatan to Mazar-e- Sharif in
November 2010; however, due to several unresolved issues, railway operations are not expected to start until the end of this year.
As Afghan infrastructure continues to develop, expanded road, rail,
and air networks such as this will facilitate additional commercial
activity between Afghanistan and its northern neighbors.
Kyrgyzstan hosts the Manas Transit Center, an important transit
point for coalition forces on their way to and from Afghanistan. As
a result of an international agreement signed by the United States
and the Government of Kyrgyzstan, on September 26, 2011, the
United States signed a new fuel contract with the Kyrgyz Republics designated entity, Gazpromneft-Aero Kyrgyzstan (GPNAK).
Under this contract, GPNAK will provide a mutually-agreed percentage of the Manas Transit Centers fuel requirements.
Central Asian states concerns regarding Afghanistan include
both the spread of violent extremism in the region and the threats
stemming from narcotics trafficking and other criminal activities.
According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, the
Central Asian States are a significant conduit for Afghanproduced narcotics, with Tajikistan being the primary route from
Afghanistan to markets in Russia. Border security will remain a
top concern for the Central Asian states, which are closely attuned to the implications for their own countries stemming from
events in Afghanistan and developments in narcotics trafficking.
Few Prospects for Transition

A somewhat optimistic study by the staff of the U.S.


Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued in December
2011 provides a list of some of the improvements in regional cooperation that might be made if Afghanistan accepted the cultural values involved, was relatively peaceful, and could ignore its ethnic divisions. What is most
striking about such suggestions, however, is how little
meaningful economic impact they would have:2
For a relatively small amount of money, such projects can reinforce
cooperation between Afghanistan and Central Asian states and deliver immediate results. These projects could include:

1 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and


Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, pp. 120-121.
2 Committee on Foreign Relations of the US Senate, Majority Staff
Report, Central Asia and the Transition in Afghanistan, December 19,
2011, pp. 9-11 and 11-12

Scaling up cross-border electricity projects, such as Pamir Energy. This public-private partnership supplies electricity to an
estimated 85 percent of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous
Oblast in Tajikistan as well as to several districts in Northern
Afghanistan;
Expanding joint training sessions between Afghan and Tajik
military and law enforcement officials at the U.S.-funded facility in Khorog and the National Border Guard Academy in
Dushanbe, as well as considering similar programs between
Uzbek officials and their Afghan counterparts;
Implementing cross-border community border guarding programs, including more targeted training for populations living
on the border, organizing joint training study tours, focusing
on community policing and cross-border training of border
guards and Ministry of Interior police in the region on vehicle
inspection best practices, crime scene evidence gathering,
emergency response, human rights, and interrogation and interview techniques;
Promoting cross-border working groups with provincial governments in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and
Tajikistan, strengthening sub-national governance on both
sides of the border;
Funding cross-border initiatives to tackle multi-drug resistant
and extensively resistant tuberculosis (TB). The Central Asian
states have some of the highest rates of TB in the world.
Cross-border initiatives could help control TB infection rates
and spur innovative and sustainable programming;
Encouraging cross-border health programs by facilitating the
exchange of medical professionals;
Facilitating exchanges between women-led Tajik and Afghan
non-governmental organizations. Tajikistan has experienced
civil war in the recent past and its people are familiar with the
challenges and opportunities of reconciliation. Women, in particular, can play a critical role in laying the groundwork for a
comprehensive peace process;
Integrating Afghanistans youth into existing programs in
Central Asia that promote economic development, such as
Junior Achievement programs, and expanding vocational
training opportunities to teach vocational and agricultural
skills to populations on the border to provide economic opportunities and help stabilize the region; and
Supporting American-style summer camps for Afghan and
Central Asian youth similar to the successful Camp America
model in the Isfara and Rasht regions of Tajikistan. The curriculum can include sports, English language, leadership, critical thinking, and team building, with a focus on addressing
the roots of terrorism before they take hold in regions vulnerable to extremism.

The Senate study did not find any major near-term benefits
that would help Afghanistan during transition, and raised
questions that cast doubt on the near-term merit of any proposals for a New Silk Road, and concepts like the CACI,
or the Central Asia Counter-narcotics Initiative,3
Some countries like Turkmenistn might benefit from
pipeline projects like the TAPI gas pipeline project that
would run through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.4
3 Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate, Majority Staff
Report, Central Asia and the Transition in Afghanistan, December
19, 2011, pp. 9-11 and 11-12
4 AFP, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan sign energy, transport deals, Apr
28, 2008; Institute for the Study of War, Turkmenistan and Afghan-

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and the Region After 2014
However, the Trans-Afghan natural gas pipeline, or the
TAPI pipeline, is an extremely high-risk project, even if
it can be delivered for a projected cost of around $7.6 billion. It must go from the Dauletabad gas field in Central
Turkmenistn through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India)
along a route from Herat in Eastern Afghanistan and
through Helmand and Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan
to Quetta and Multan in Pakistan, and would terminate in
Fazilka in northern India if it got that far. The entire route
involves very high risks, and current cost estimates seem
likely to escalate sharply in practice. Similar cost and security issues affect efforts to build oil pipelines from
Azerbaijan and Trkmenabat in Turkmenistn through
Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.
In practice, each Stan faces a period of instability as
the U.S. and ISAF withdraw their forces from Afghanistan, reduce aid and spending in states like Kyrgyzstn
(which now houses a major U.S. transit base at Manas).
One way or another, they must deal with whatever political reality and security situation emerges in Afghanistan
during transition.1 They also have very different levels
of security in dealing with Afghanistan. Turkmenistn
has a long border (744 kilometers) and many areas with
relatively open terrain. Turkmenistn has, however, significantly increased border security since 2006. In spite
of a Friendship Bridge and trade across the border, Uzbekistn already has a separation barrier along its 137kilometer border and it is one of the most heavily guarded borders in the world. Afghanistan and Tajkistn have
roughly 1,206-kilometer border passing through rugged
terrain. This border is poorly guarded and protected and
could present problems.2
Moreover, Turkmenistn, Uzbekistn, Tajkistn will
have to deal with the consequences of their ties to their
own minorities in the Afghan population, particularly if
anything like a new Northern Alliance emerges or if
libn and other neo-Salfist extremists are successful
enough in Afghanistan to threaten or occupy the North.
The CIA estimates the split as Pashtun 42%, Tajk 27%,
Hazra 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Balch
2%, other 4%; Sunn Muslim 80%, Shah Muslim 19%,
other 1%; with a spread of linguistic differences that is
Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashto (official)
35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen)
11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai)
4%, and considerable bilingualism.3

istan, http://www.understandingwar.org/themenode/turkmenistanand -afghanistan.); Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, Wikipedia,


http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Afghanistan_Pipeline,
1 Rick Gladstone, Kyrgyzstan Sees Regional instability at End of
NATOs Afghan Mission, November 24, 2011, p. A16.
2 There are significant differences in estimates of border length. These
estimates come from the CIA, World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/
library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html.
3 CIA, World Factbook, revised November 14, 2011, https://www.cia.
gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html.

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Opportunismstan

Each Central Asian state now focuses primarily on its


own internal needs and development, and seeks as much
outside aid, trade, and investment as it can get. Each has
its own problems with governance, corruption, and political stability, and internal security issues including various Islamist movements and tribal, sectarian and ethnic
differences.
Each would like regional cooperation, but on an opportunistic basis, and one that is tied to benefits to its economy and lines of communication. Each now sees the U.S.
and the West as leaving Afghanistan and playing a diminishing role in Central Asia. Each knows Afghan and
Pakistani internal problems all too well, and sees China
and Russia as key partners that are likely to have growing
importance relative to the U.S. and EU states from 2011
onwards. Each can also see the scale of the economic
problems that the U.S. and Europe now face and the fact
that their aid and private investment are likely to drop.
The main goal of each Stan is to use both its neighbors
and outside powers like Russia, China, the U.S. and EU
to its own advantage a set of goals which does not differ all that much in the real world from the goals of Russia, China, the U.S. and members of the EU. This will
sometimes help in transition, but at a limited local
and/or individual project level.
At the same time, however, Turkmenistn, Uzbekistn,
Tajkistn (along with Kyrgyzstn, Kazakhstn, Iran,
China, and Russia) will seek to create buffers within Afghanistan if any major split develops between the Pashtun areas and the North, and will probably supply arms
and aid if such a split becomes violent. All have reason to
push both Afghanistan and Pakistan into denying sanctuary and support to any opposition groups, and especially
violent extremist groups although they may be forced
to focus on containment if the situation in Afghanistan
and Pakistan deteriorates in terms of governance and security operations.
At a minimum, Turkmenistn, Uzbekistn, Tajkistn will
probably focus far more on local ties to specific areas of
northern Afghanistan than to Afghanistan as a nation or
Pakistan. All would support some de facto form of regionalism, particularly along ethnic lines, that served their own
narrow interests. Each will seek to exploit improvements
in the quality of the security and capacity of trade routes
and any pipelines to its own narrow advantage.
THE ROLE OF THE U.S. AND ITS EUROPEAN ALLIES

Whatever happens after 2014, the primary weight of international action during transition in Afghanistan and Pakistan will fall upon the U.S., individual European states,
and major outside aid donors and do so at a time when
they all face economic crises that seem unlikely to end before 2014.

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Figure 1: International Aid to Afghanistan: 2003-2011


(Pledges Through 2011 as of March 2010 in $US Millions)

Sources: Work by the CRS, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. October 2008 report, p. 140;
various press announcements. Figures include funds pledged at April 2009 NATO summit and Japans October 2009
pledge of $5 billion over the next five years.

In practice, the U.S. has been the dominant supplier of


military spending, although though no reliable estimates
exist of either how much U.S. military spending has actually been in Afghanistan, or of the spending of other
ISAF countries. Similar uncertainties exist regarding the
size and flow of international aid, particularly because
the key UN agency that is supposed to coordinate aid
UNAMA has consistently failed in this aspect of its
mission and has never published a meaningful report on
the size, status, and effectiveness international aid during
its nearly ten years of existence.
Figure 1 does, however, provide some useful insights into
the relative flow of aid to the Afghan National Security
Forces, Afghan government and the Afghan economy. It

is clear that U.S. military spending accounts for the vast


majority of such spending, that the U.S. has overwhelmingly dominated the flow of aid and has been the only
member of NATO/ISAF actively involved in Pakistan
and the major donor of aid to that country.
The data in Figure 1 also show why it is the U.S. role
during transition and the level of U.S. spending that
will define the role of the West, although key European
states will also play a role in shaping the pace of reductions in troops, military spending, and aid. Yet, these are
only part of the costs involved.
The Afghan War has cost the U.S. and its allies over
2,700 dead and well over 18,000 wounded. There are no

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reliable estimates of total Afghan casualties since 2001,
but some estimates put direct deaths at around 18,000 and
indirect deaths at another 3,200-20,000. And the war is
far from over.
As has been touched upon earlier, the U.S. Congressional
Research Service estimates that the dollar cost of the war
to the U.S. alone is over $557 billion through FY2012,
and SIGAR estimates that the U.S. and its allies will have
spent some $73 billion on aid much of it again with little lasting benefit. Similar cost estimates are lacking for
Pakistan, but Pakistan has taken significant casualties and
had significant U.S. aid.1
Once again, it is time for realpolitik and not hope and yet
another round of good intentions.
The U.S. and Europe in Transition

It is all very well for senior U.S. officials to discuss


fight, talk, and build, and creating a successful transition before the U.S. and ISAF allies withdraw virtually
all of their combat troops and make massive cuts in the
flow of outside money to Afghanistan. The U.S., however, has yet to present a credible detailed plan for transition that shows the U.S. and its allies can achieve some
form of stable strategic outcome in Afghanistan that even
approaches the outcome of the Iraq War.
Far too many U.S. and European actions have begun to
look like a cover for an exit strategy from Afghanistan, and
the U.S. has never provided a credible set of goals indeed
any goals at all for the strategic outcome it wants in Pakistan. Unless the U.S. does far more to show it can execute a transition that has lasting strategic benefits in Afghanistan and Pakistan well after 2014, it is all too likely to
repeat the tragedy of its withdrawal from Vietnam.
Such a strategic failure may not mean outright defeat, but
this is possible. It is far from clear that the libn and other
insurgents will win control of the country, that Afghanistan
will plunge into another round of civil war, or that Afghanistan and Pakistan will see the rebirth of Al-qidah or any
other major Islamist extremist or terrorist threat.
Some form of success (or limited failure) may still be
possible, but any discussion of the role of the Great
Powers must focus on four areas where the U.S. and its
European allies face major challenges in creating a successful transition:
Strategic failure? The U.S. has not shown that it can
bring to bear enough of the elements required for Afghan
security and stability to create more than a marginal possibility that Afghanistan will have a successful transition
by 2014 or at any time in the near future. It has never announced any plan that would make this possible. It has no
strategic plans or clearly defined goals for Pakistan, alt1 Amy Belasco, The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War
on Terror Operations Since 9/11, CRS, RL33110, March 29, 2011.

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hough Pakistan has far more strategic importance than


Afghanistan
Tactical Success? The very real gains the U.S. and ISAF
have made in the South may not be possible to hold if the
U.S. move forces East, and the U.S. and ISAF are cutting
forces so quickly that it is doubtful that they can achieve
the goals that ISAF set for 2012. ANSF development is
being rushed forward as future resources are being cut,
and it is far from clear that the insurgents cannot outwait
the U.S. and ISAF and win a war of political attrition
without having to win tactical battles in the field. The
ISAF focus on significant acts of violence is a questionable approach to assessing both tactical and strategic progress, and ANSF transition has to date been little more
than political symbolism.
Talk Without Hope: It is far from clear that any major insurgent faction feels it is either losing or cannot outwait
U.S. and allied withdrawal, or that Pakistan will ever seriously attempt to put an end to insurgent sanctuaries in
Pakistan. If insurgents do chose to negotiate it may well
be because they feel that the U.S., allied, and GIRoA position is becoming so weak that they can use diplomacy
as a form of war by other means and speed their victory
through deception and U.S., allied, and GIRoA concessions. They have already used similar tactics in Helmand
and Pakistan, and Nepal and Cambodia are warnings that
talk may do little more than cover an exit.
Spend Not Build? The latest U.S. Department of Defense
and SIGAR reports do little to indicate that U.S. and allied efforts to improve the quality of government, the rule
of law, representative democracy, and economic development are making anything like the needed level of progress. They are a warning that Afghanistan and the Afghan government may face a massive recession as funding is cut, and the dreams of options like mining income
and a New Silk Road are little more than a triumph of
hope over credible expectations. Once again, the very real progress being made in the development of the ANSF
is being rushed as future funding is being cut, and it is
unclear that current gains will be sustained or that the
U.S. has sufficient time left in which to find credible answers to these questions, and build U.S. Congressional,
domestic, and allied support to begin implementing them.
The U.S. is now entering the eleventh year of a war for
which it seems to have no clear plans and no clear strategic goals. The new strategy that President Obama outlined in 2009 is now in tatters.
And, there is always the issue of Pakistan. There are no
obvious prospects for stable relations with Pakistan or for
getting more Pakistani support. The Karzai government
barely functions, and new elections must come in 2014
the year combat forces are supposed to leave. U.S. and
allied troop levels are dropping to critical levels. No one
knows what presence if any will remain after 2014.
Progress is taking place in creating an Afghan army, but
without a functioning state to defend the ANSF could
fragment. Far less progress is taking place in creating the

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police and a justice system. Massive aid to Afghanistan


has produced far too few tangible results, and the Afghan
economy is likely to go into a depression in 2014 in the
face of massive aid and spending cuts that will cripple
both the economy and Afghan forces.
The Factors That Should Shape the
U.S., European, and Other Donor Approach to Transition

As Iraq and Vietnam have made brutally clear, strategic


success is not determined by military victory. It is determined by whether the war produces lasting strategic benefits. In cases where the war is largely optional at least
in the sense that the nations future is not at risk the issue is one of cost-benefits as well. Does the outcome justify the cost? Would other investments in blood and
treasure or more effective and less costly prosecution of
the war produce greater strategic benefits?
The Lack of Meaningful Strategic Goals for the War

Neither President Bush nor President Obama nor any


other senior U.S. official or commander has truly addressed how the U.S. and its allies can achieve a lasting
favorable strategic outcome from the Afghan/Pakistan
conflict. The U.S. has never established a meaningful set
of grand strategic goals for Pakistan, and for what it is
seeking in and from Pakistan after the war. The most important country in the conflict a major nuclear power
has been left in a total grand strategic intellectual vacuum.
We have talked about near term changes in Pakistani behavior in Afghanistan, and have provided vacuous clichs
to describe our goals in providing forms of aid that are
little more than a glorified bribe, but the U.S. has no apparent strategy for producing a stable, secure, and friendly Pakistan at the end of 2014 or over any other foreseeable period.
The situation in Afghanistan is only marginally better.
The U.S. and its allies set broad goals at the start of their
intervention that focused on transforming Afghanistan into a secure, effectively governed, representative democracy with a solid rule of law and human rights that was
well on the path to economic development. It was apparent long before the new strategy was adopted in 2009 that
such goals could not be achieved.
As is shown later in this study, the U.S. now feels that
many such goals are both unachievable and unaffordable
and most of its allies, at least privately, agree. This helps
explain why both President Obama and U.S. Department
of Defense reporting now set relatively modest strategic
goals for the war:
The goal of the United States is to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda, and to prevent its return to either Afghanistan or Pakistan. The specific objectives in Afghanistan are to deny safe haven to al Qaeda and to deny the Taliban the ability to
overthrow the Afghan Government. To support these objectives,
U.S. and coalition forces will continue to degrade the Taliban insurgency in order to provide time and space to increase the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan Gov-

ernment so they can assume the lead for Afghanistans security


by the end of 2014.1

The problem with these strategic goals is that they say


nothing about the probability that Afghanistan will be a
stable, secure, and friendly state after 2014, and there are
few signs that all of the necessary conditions to reach
even the goals set for 2014 can be met.
The Lack of Strategic Progress in Afghanistan

At the time the new strategy was formulated in 2009, it


was clear that any U.S. and NATO/ISAF strategy faced a
significant chance of failure, even at a point when no
deadlines were yet set for withdrawal, the military surge
was supposed to be roughly a third larger than was approved, and cuts in forces and aid were assumed to be
conditions based. It was clear that the U.S. and Europe
confronted a wide range of challenges if they were to win
the Afghan conflict in any meaningful sense, and leave a
stable Afghanistan and Pakistan behind.
It is interesting to reexamine these challenges and the
probability of meeting them:
Dealing with Pakistan. The progress expected in creating
the new strategy in 2009 has not occurred, tensions with
Pakistan have grown. Recent negotiations seem to have
failed essentially giving Pakistan more of a role in talks
between the GIRoA and the insurgents in return for little
more than token action and continued use of Pakistani
LOCs and supply routes.
Decide on strategic objectives in conducting and terminating the war. These objectives not only include the defeat of Al-qidah, but deciding on what kind of transition the U.S. wishes to make in Afghanistan, what goals
the U.S. can achieve in creating a stable Afghanistan,
U.S. goals in Pakistan, and the broader strategic goals
the U.S. will seek in Central and South Asia.
The U.S. and its European allies have no clear strategy
for their post-war goals in Pakistan, Central Asia, and
South Asia. Transition planning consists largely of issuing concepts and statements of good intentions while
phasing down existing efforts by 2014. It is unclear that
credible plans for governance, economic stability, and the
development and sustainment of the ANSF will be in
place in time to seek U.S. Congressional funding for
FY2013 and approval of funding plans up to and beyond
2014 and even more unclear that the U.S. Congress will
actually fund the necessary level of effort.
Defeat the insurgency not only in tactical terms, but also
by eliminating its control and influence over the population and ability exploit sanctuaries in Pakistan and win a
war of political transition.

1 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and


Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, p. 6.

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The U.S. and its allies will cut back their forces before
their planned tactical gains can take place in the East and
before the ANSF are ready. The latest semi-annual report
from the U.S. Department of Defense notes that sanctuaries in Pakistan remain a critical problem, and intense U.S.
pressure has not produced any clear indication that Pakistan will act to eliminate insurgents as distinguished from
continuing to try to use them to achieve its own post-war
goals in Afghanistan.
Create a more effective and integrated, operational civil
and civil-military transition effort by NATO/ISAF, UN,
member countries, NGO, and international community
efforts through 2014 and for 5-10 years after the withdrawal of combat forces.
Only one country, France, has substantially improved its
military efforts since 2009. More broadly, the total number
of caveat nations has increased. Germany and Italy put serious limits on their forces. Canada and the Netherlands
have ceased combat operations, and a broad rush to the exit
has begun with little guarantee of conditions-based support
after 2014.
Build up a much larger, and more effective, mix of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
This is the one real area of progress since 2009, but progress
is tentative and the burden transition places on the ANSF
is likely to be too great and too early for sustained success.
The progress in the army needs several more years of substantial outside support, funding, and partnering than it is
likely to get. While the short-term capabilities of the army
are improving, the long-term sustainability, and loyalty, of
the army are open questions. The police effort is far less
successful, and will not be supported by 2014 with the other
elements of a functioning justice and governance system
necessary for the police effort to succeed.
Give the Afghan government the necessary capacity and
legitimacy (and lasting stability) at the national, regional/provincial, district, and local levels by 2014.
There is little indication that the GIRoA will have the
broad political legitimacy it needs, make significant reductions in corruption and the role of power brokers and criminal networks, create a functioning legislature, build up
provincial and district governance, and create effective aid
programs at anything like the scale required. There is a major risk that the 2012 elections will again raise broad questions about their legitimacy, and that coming massive cuts
in military spending and aid will trigger a major recession
if not depression by 2014-2015.
Shape a balance of post-transition relations with India,
Iran, the Stans, Russia, and China that will help sustain
post-transition stability.
As the previous analysis has shown, there is little evidence
of meaningful, real progress.

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Make effective trade-offs in terms of resources relative to


the priorities set by other domestic and security interests
The U.S. and Europe face a vastly less favorable economic
situation, and far greater domestic funding needs, than was
expected in shaping the new strategy in 2009. The U.S. and
most European countries also face a deteriorating partisan
political process. In the case of the U.S., this may produce
partisan self-paralysis in dealing with key economic issues
at the scale required until a new government becomes
function after the 2012 election if then.
The New Strategy and the Race Towards Transition

During 2011, the U.S. altered its approach to strategy by effectively abandoning conditionality in maintaining its troop
presence. It has focused on steadily hardening deadlines,
and will reduce its troop presence from a peak of 98,000 to
101,000 (depending on the definition) to 91,000 by the end
of 2011, and to 68,000 by September 2012.1 Most European members of ISAF are equally involved in seeking to
withdraw their troops and cut back their role in Afghanistan.
The broad loss of conditionality (tying force and spending levels to the actual conditions on the ground) has had a
growing impact on the role that the U.S. and Europe can
play during 2012-2104 and beyond.
Regardless of ministerial meetings and political rhetoric,
the U.S. and its allies are now in a race to determine whether they can find some credible approach to transition in
Afghanistan and Pakistan before the coming cuts in troops
and money reshape the Afghan war.
U.S. actions will shape the outcome of this race, and determine how much of a transition actually occurs, as distinguished from a de facto rush to the exit. The U.S. also has
little time in which to act. The Afghan conflict is steadily
dropping in terms of U.S. domestic support, and support
within the U.S. Congress. There are divisions within the
White House over the priority of the war and the priority of
President Obamas reelection campaign and domestic
spending. The U.S. Department of Defense cannot really
plan its FY2013 budget submission until the outcome of the
Budget Act is far clearer, and the U.S. Department of State
and USAID are already cutting their future funding levels
for civil programs.
TALK WITHOUT HOPE?

The challenges that the U.S. and its European allies face in
carrying out an effective transition are reinforced by the
current focus on negotiations with the insurgents. When the
new strategy was adopted in 2009, there was little emphasis
on political negotiation with insurgent leaders versus the
hope that tactical victories and improved governance would
lead many fighters and less ideological insurgent leaders to
reconcile with GIRoA and return to civilian life.

1 http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/23/infographic-troop-levelsafghanistan-and-iraq.

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Political Settlement at What Probability, Cost and Risk?

Political settlement has now become a key goal for transition, but one with very uncertain credibility and prospects
for success. It is all very well for the U.S. and its European
allies to try to shift the focus from war fighting and aid to negotiation, but the prospects for any success that really produces a stable and secure Afghanistan seem limited. U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated the goal at
the Kabul Conference in November 2011,
...we can pursue three mutually reinforcing objectives: Were going to continue fighting, were going to be talking, and were going
to continue building Now, some might say, How do you do all
three of those at the same time? And my answer is, under the circumstances we must do all three at the same time. So we want a
very clear message to the insurgents on both sides of the border that
we are going to fight you and we are going to seek you in your safe
havens, whether youre on the Afghan side or the Pakistani side.
They must be dealt with.

It later became clear that the Afghan government, Pakistan, U.S., and NATO were seeking to set up a libn
office in Qatar, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia that might act as
a point of contact. Vice President Joseph Biden went on
to make statements in an article in Newsweek that, Look,
the libn per se is not our enemy. Thats critical. There
is not a single statement that the President has ever made
in any of our policy assertions that the libn is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests.
Karzai formally welcomed these statements on December 31,
2011, I am very happy that the American government has
announced that the libn are not their enemiesWe hope
that this message will help the Afghans reach peace and stability. A senior U.S. official followed up on background by
stating that the U.S. planned to continue a series of secret
meetings with libn representatives in Europe and the Persian Gulf region next year.1
Yet, it is far from clear that the Afghan government can
bring the libn, Haqqn network, or any other major
group of insurgents to the negotiating table on any serious
basis. The September 20, 2011 assassination of
Burhnuddn Rabbn, the Chairman of the High Peace
Council, is just one highly visible sign of the risks involved.
Even if the major insurgent groups do come to the table,
it is unclear why the insurgents would negotiate any
agreement that favored the Afghan government or served
U.S. and allied goals in Afghanistan when they have every reason to hope that they can outlast the U.S. and ISAF.
And, it is unclear why the insurgents would not try to use
such negotiations to their own advantage, and violate any
agreements the moment it is convenient to do so.
This is what libn insurgents have done in the past
with the UK in Helmand and the Pakistanis. It is what
North Vietnam did in the Vietnam War, what the Maoists
1 Afghan president welcomes US remarks that Taliban not necessarily
Americas enemy. Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, December 31,
10:29 AM

did in Nepal, and what elements of Pol Pots supporters


did in Cambodia. Talk is fine when both sides are willing seriously to compromise and stick by their agreements, or when one side is weak enough to have to concede. There is little indication that any major insurgent
group feels this way today.
In short, the insurgents may come to treat talks as a delaying tactic, or a means of winning a war through political means, but they do not feel they are being defeated
and have reason to believe that all they have to do is outwait NATO/ISAF in a battle of political attrition. They
may also increasingly see the U.S. and allied countries as
seeking peace on steadily less demanding terms to cover
an end to the conflict, a weak and vulnerable Afghan central government, and peace negotiations as the way to
win the struggle by non-military means.
Pakistan as a Partner?

Moreover, there is no clear unity in the Afghan government about such negotiations, and Pakistan will seek to
use them to its own advantage. Secretary Clinton raised
this issue in her remarks in Kabul, and made it all too
clear that success not only depends on the willingness of
the threat, but that of a very uncertain Pakistani ally:
were going to be expecting the Pakistanis to support the efforts
at talking. We believe they can play either a constructive or a destructive role in helping to bring into talks those with whom the
Afghans themselves must sit across the table and hammer out a
negotiated settlement to end the years of fighting.
We will be looking to the Pakistanis to take the lead, because the
terrorists operating outside of Pakistan pose a threat to Pakistanis,
as well as to Afghans and others. And we will have ideas to share
with the Pakistanis. We will certainly listen carefully to the ideas
that they have. But our message is very clear: Were going to be
fighting, were going to talking, and were going to be building.
And they can either be helping or hindering, but we are not going
to stop our efforts to create a strong foundation for an Afghanistan
that is free from interference, violence, conflict, and has a chance
to chart its own future.
So this is a time for clarity. It is a time for people to declare themselves as to how we intend to work together to reach goals that we
happen to believe are in the mutual interests of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region.

The U.S. made major progress in attacking Al-qidah and


insurgent networks in Pakistan before the steady deterioration in U.S. and Pakistani relations in late 2011 led to Pakistan expelling U.S. advisors, and closing a U.S. Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) base on Pakistani
soil, and limiting U.S. UCAV flights over Pakistan. The
U.S. Special Forces raid into Pakistan that killed Osama
bin Laden at the end of April 2011, an incident on the Afghan-Pakistani border on November 26th in which U.S.
forces killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers, and a Pakistani
civil-military crisis, dubbed memogate, over claims that
the president of Pakistan sought U.S. aid to avoid a military coup all combined to transform long-tense U.S. and
Pakistani relations into near hostility.

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At present, Pakistan and especially the Pakistani military show few signs of restoring full cooperation with
the U.S. Even Pakistani willingness to allow the U.S. to
use Pakistani supply routes and air space is uncertain
although Pakistani need for U.S. aid may preserve at least
the faade of some aspects of cooperation. Pakistan also
sees the Afghan conflict as one where it needs to do what
it can to gain advantage once U.S. and ISAF forces have
left. There are many signs that Pakistan will seek to exploit U.S. and ISAF withdrawal, and any peace negotiations, to its own advantage and to seek influence over at
least the Pashtun areas on its borders and to use Afghanistan to provide strategic depth against India.
China and Russia do play a role in Pakistan, but the Russian role is limited and China has also carefully limited
its commitments as well . It is the tense relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan that is now driving Pakistans role in the Afghan conflict. More broadly, it is Pakistans own internal problems that will shape its future
role in the region.
Pakistan is caught up in its own political, security, and
economic problems and is drifting towards the status of a
failed state. Its deep political tensions with the U.S. continue to grow, and it seems committed to trying to expand
its own influence in Afghanistan, and counter Indian influence, as U.S. and NATO/ISAF forces leave. At the
same time, Pakistans civil government has deep and
growing tensions with the Pakistani military, and is divided by political struggles that sharply limit the effectiveness of a weak structure of governance and one that
faces growing internal political violence throughout the
country. There is always hope that Pakistani relations
with India may improve, but Pakistans military continues to focus on the Indian threat and build up Pakistans
missile and nuclear forces.
Negotiating the Rush to the Exit?

The risks in negotiation are compounded by the fact there


are strong elements in several allied governments including key governments like Germany that will accept any
agreement that allows them to exit, and elements in virtually every ISAF government that now simply want out of the
war. This doesnt mean that negotiations have to fail, or
are not worth trying. It does mean that at present they not
only are a triumph of hope over experience, they are a triumph of hope over reasonable expectations.
In short, it is all too clear that if talks never occur or fail
to produce a result, it will be impossible to destroy insurgent capabilities because of their sanctuaries in Pakistan
and rapidly declining U.S. and European forces from
2011 on. It is equally clear that if they appear to succeed,
but produce a de facto insurgent victory, a major de facto
split in the country, or any form of North-South civil war,
current plans for transition become moot.

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TACTICAL SUCCESS?

Any form of stable strategic victory in Afghanistan and


Pakistan and any form of successful transition requires
broad security in most of Afghanistan including all major
cities and along all major lines of communication and a
similar degree of stability in at least the border areas of Pakistan that house insurgent sanctuaries and are critical to the
flow of trade from Pakistan to Afghanistan.
The preliminary studies of a successful form of economic
transition by the IMF, World Bank, and U.S. government all confirm this point. No credible amount of aid
can sustain the Afghan economy or make any form of regional development work on the necessary scale without
a high degree of security and stability in virtually every
critical district and city in Afghanistan, without stable
and secure lines of communication in Pakistan, and without a more stable and secure Pakistan and one that puts
an end to the Afghan and terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan.
The military cannot win any kind of strategic victory in
Afghanistan on its own, but civil and economic stability
and progress cannot take place at the necessary scale
without more military success than now seems likely.
Current Claims of Tactical Success

In saying this, it is important to stress that the U.S. and


NATO/ISAF can claim real progress in some aspects of
the military dimension of the war, and the U.S. has
scored major strikes against the leaders of Al-qidah and
Afghan insurgent groups in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. ISAF has had significant success in Southern Afghanistan success that is reflected in a major drop in insurgent-initiated attacks and the number of significant
acts of violence.
The U.S. Department of Defense issued a report to Congress on October 30, 2011 that stated that,
The most significant development during this reporting period is
the reduction in year-over-year violence. After five consecutive
years where enemy-initiated attacks and overall violence increased sharply each year (e.g., up 94 percent in 2010 over 2009),
such attacks began to decrease in May 2011 compared to the previous year and continue to decline.
The successful May 2, 2011 raid against Osama bin Laden
was an important achievement for all partner nations engaged in
Afghanistan and sent a signal to all, including the Taliban, that
the United States is committed to achieving its objective, which is
to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates, and to prevent their return to either Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Nevertheless, the effect that this operation has had on U.S.Pakistani relations, particularly cross-border cooperation, should
not be underestimated.
The security gains highlighted in the previous edition of this report enabled by the surge in ISAF and Afghan forces throughout 2010 have been sustained and expanded during the reporting period. ANSF-ISAF success in consolidating security gains in
previously cleared areas confirms that the civil-military counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy has significantly degraded the insur

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Figure 2: Enemy Initiated Attacks (Monthly Year over Year Change) Part I

Source: Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, p 2, 74.

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Figure 2: Enemy Initiated Attacks (Monthly Year over Year Change) Part II

Source: Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, pp. 77, 75.

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Figure 2: Enemy Initiated Attacks (Monthly Year over Year Change) Part III
The Most Striking Tactical Gains Are in the South -- Security Incidents by Regional Command (April 2011 September 2011)

Source: Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, pp. 77, 75.

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Figure 2: Enemy Initiated Attacks (Monthly Year over Year Change) Part IV

As a result of ANSF-ISAF operations, violence in RC-SW continues to decrease, particularly in central Helmand
Province, which was the first area to receive surge forces last year. In the districts of Marjeh, Nad Ali, and Garm
Ser, violence during the summer fighting season dropped by approximately 70 percent in comparison to the same period last year.
Violence in RC-SW during the last three months of the reporting period was 27 percent lower than last year at this
time, and continues to drop. Violence levels in RC-S appear to be following a similar pattern to RC-SW, likely reflecting the later flow of surge troops into the region.
These trends, however, remain nascent. Violence in RC-E remains 16 percent higher for the summer fighting season
compared to 2010, with the most notable changes in the provinces of Ghazni (11 percent increase in violence), Logar
(76 percent increase), and Wardak (19 percent increase) due to ongoing clearance operations.
The availability of safe havens in Pakistan has enabled this increase in violence, and violence levels are expected to
remain high throughout the remainder of 2011. More than 68 percent of nationwide indirect fire attacks are reported
in RC-E.

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gencys capability, particularly in Helmand and Kandahar.


ANSF-ISAF operations have widened the gap between the insurgents and the population in several key population centers, limiting insurgent freedom of movement, disrupting safe havens in
Afghanistan, and degrading insurgent leadership.
Continued, partnered COIN operations by ANSF and ISAF forces,
complemented by partnered Special Forces targeting of insurgent
leaders, have reduced enemy attacks and violence in Regional
Commands Southwest, West, and North. Overall, year-to-date
enemy attacks nationwide were five percent lower than the same
period in 2010, and attacks continue to decline.
During the reporting period, ANSF-ISAF operations remained
focused on Southern and Southwestern Afghanistan, the heartland
of the Taliban-led insurgency. Regional Command Southwest
produced the most dramatic security progress during the reporting
period, as COIN operations expanded gains in central and southern Helmand Province by disrupting insurgents freedom of
movement, limiting their access to the population, and eliminating key supply routes.
In Regional Command South, Afghan and coalition operations
consolidated gains from Operation HAMKARI, with a particular
focus on the Highway 1 corridor. Insurgent momentum was also
reversed in Regional Commands North and West, where the insurgency had conducted supporting operations during 2009 and
2010 in an effort to divert ISAF resources and attention away
from operations in the south. However, in 2011, increasingly effective partnered military operations reversed insurgent gains
made in the previous two years, reducing violence and enemy attacks and beginning the process of expanding ANSF-led security
into contested areas.
ANSF-ISAF operations continue to reduce the influence and
operational capacity of the insurgency. The disruption of safe havens within Afghanistan, the significant loss of low- and midlevel insurgents, and the disruption of command and control
structures have largely stunted the Talibans spring and summer
campaign, preventing it from achieving a significant strategic effect on security conditions throughout the country. The effective
interdiction of supplies and the reluctance of some Pakistan-based
commanders to return to Afghanistan contributed to the insurgents failure to mount the level of operations that they had
planned and that ISAF had expected.1

These gains are summarized in graphic form in Figure 2,


and enough supporting data and analysis exist to indicate
that they are very real.
Why Such Successes May Not Matter

Neither the U.S. Department of Defense nor ISAF, however, have made a convincing case that such gains can
achieve a meaningful, lasting form of tactical victory. The
unclassified reporting to date leaves a long list of critical
issues unaddressed many of which reinforce the points
made earlier about the lack of a credible strategic objective
for post transition Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Coming troop cuts: The report notes that, during the reporting period, President Obama announced that recent
security progress and the increasing capacity and capability of the ANSF have allowed for the recovery of U.S.
surge forces. Ten thousand U.S. troops will be redeployed by the end of the 2011, and the entire surge force
of 33,000 personnel will be recovered by the end of Sep1 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and
Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, p. 2 .

tember 2012. Approximately 68,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after September 2012, but no further
details of the cuts are available until the deadline of removing all troops by the end of 2014. ISAF is currently
developing a recommendation for future force levels.
Although force levels will gradually decrease, the United
States remains committed to the long-term security and
stability of Afghanistan, and negotiations are progressing
on a long-term strategic partnership between the United
States and Afghanistan. 2 U.S. troop cuts are no longer
conditions-based; they effectively are open ended. They
also are being accompanied by allied troop cuts.
Displacement of insurgents and U.S./ISAF influence is
not a basis for lasting victory. The data issued by ISAF
and the U.S. Department of Defense focus on tactical
clashes between insurgent forces and those of the
U.S./ISAF/ANSF. They do not reflect the level of insurgent activity directed toward control and intimidation of
the Afghan populace or lower levels of violence like assassinations, kidnapping, extortion, night letters, and other measures used to weaken Afghan forces and governance and control of the population. The U.S. National
Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), UN, and Afghan NGO
Safety Office (ANSO) show serious increases in insurgent activity and violence and in the threat to aid teams
and NGOs.
ISAF data also show that the number of IED incidents totaled 15,968 in 2011. This was up 322% over 2008 and
eight percent over 2011. The effectiveness of such attacks did not increase and the number of U.S. killed
dropped to 417 the second highest year in the war, but
ten percent below 2010. U.S. wounded, however, rose to
5,004 in the first eleven months of the year a slightly
higher figure than in 2010.3 The insurgents may not be
attacking U.S. and allied troops as often, but they are
clearly still there.
The validity of these different counts is uncertain, and the
NCTC figures have not been released in detail for 2011 it
is press reports that say the NCTC figures are higher for
2011 than 2010. However, the Secretary General of the UN
reported to the Security Council on September 21, 2011 that,
both violence and casualties had increased in 2011 an assessment that may be more accurate in reflecting the impact
of operations on the Afghan people than the tactically oriented counts by ISAF,4
There were fewer security incidents in July (2,605) and August
(2,306) than in June (2,626). As at the end of August, the average
monthly number of incidents for 2011 was 2,108, up 39 per cent
compared with the same period in 2010. Armed clashes and improvised explosive devices continued to constitute the majority of inci2

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/23/infographiclevels-afghanistan-and-iraq.

troop-

3 Department of Defense, ISAF, and ABC News, January 2, 2011.


4 Report of the Secretary General, The situation in Afghanistan and its
implications for international peace and security UN A/66/369S/2011/590, September 21, 2011, pp. 1-2, 5-6.

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dents. The South and Southeast of the country, particularly around
the city of Kandahar, continued to be the focus of military activity
and accounted for approximately two thirds of total security incidents.
There were 9 suicide attacks in July, the third successive monthly
decrease from a peak of 17 in April. There were 11 suicide attacks in
August. As at the end of August, the average monthly number of suicide attacks for 2011 was 12, a level that was unchanged compared
with the same period in 2010. Complex suicide attacks made up a
greater proportion of the total number of suicide attacks. On average,
three such attacks have been carried out per month in 2011, a 50 per
cent increase compared with the same period in 2010. Insurgents
continued to launch complex suicide attacks in urban centers, including the attacks on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on 28 June,
on the British Council in Kabul on 19 August, in the vicinity of the
United States Embassy in Kabul on 13 September and on provincial
centers, such as the one on Tirin Kot, Uruzgan Province, on 28 July.
The focus of suicide attacks was no longer southern Afghanistan, the
central region currently accounting for 21 per cent of such attacks.
As in the previous reporting period, insurgents continued to conduct a campaign of intimidation, including through the targeted assassination of high-ranking Government officials, members of the
security forces and influential local political and religious leaders.
There were 54 incidents in July and 72 in August, killing 89 and 93
individuals, respectively. The following four high-level persons
from southern Afghanistan were killed in July: Ahmad Wali Karzai,
Head of Kandahar Provincial Council; Hikmatullah Hikmat, Head of
Kandahar Ulema Shura; Jan Muhammad Khan, Senior Adviser to
the President; and Ghulam Haydar Hamidi, Mayor of Kandahar.
News of the assassinations reverberated across the country, raising
concerns for the political stability of the South, given the influence
exerted by those killed and their ties to the Government in Kabul.

ANSO does not broadly distribute its data and requests


that it be used by NGOs only. It does report on its web
page that, By the end of June 2009, and on the eve of
the arrival of the U.S. surge troops, there had been an already significant 3,271 opposition initiated attacks that
year. By the end of June 2011, as those same troops prepare for withdrawal amid cautious applause, the Q2 attack total has grown by a staggering 119% to 7,178 attacks or approximately 40 per day. Its map of attacks in
Afghanistan as of the third quarter of 2011 on its general
web page also showed that the level of daily attacks was
still extreme in four border provinces in the South and
East, and high in five provinces in the South and East and
one in the Northwest. It showed moderate levels of attack
in eight other provinces. It showed low levels in two
provinces one in the East and one in the North, and
negligible levels only in the center and far Northeast.1
This reflected what seems to be a general impression
among NGOs, country aid teams, and UN analysts that
the risks to aid workers and NGOs increased nationally
during 2011.
Rising civilian casualties do not bring loyalty, even when
the insurgents are the major cause. Polling data are ambiguous but do seem to show a steady decline in Afghan
popular support for U.S. and ISAF operations since 2004.
Other polls show a growing tendency to blame the U.S.
and ISAF for a disproportionate amount of the casualties
that Afghan civilians suffer in the fighting. The U.S. Department of Defense reports that in March 2011,

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approximately 87 percent of Afghans polled described security


as either "fair" or "good." As of September 2011, this percentage
decreased slightly to 85 percent. Although this is not a statistically significant difference due to the sampling error of the survey,
fewer Afghans responded "good" and more Afghans responded
"fair" to the survey question about security. Additionally, the percentage of Afghans who described their security environment as
"bad" increased from 11 percent in March 2011 to 15 percent in
September 2011. This is likely due to the increase in combat operations due to the Summer fighting season as well as the Afghan
population's perception of decreased freedom of movement due to
insurgent-emplaced IEDs, the number one cause of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.2

UN reporting provides a further warning about the shift


in focus in insurgent operations and the impact of U.S.
and ISAF operations,3
Concerns about the protection of civilians increased with the rise
in civilian deaths and injuries. In its mid-year report on the protection of civilians for the first six months of 2011, UNAMA
documented 1,462 civilian deaths, an increase of 15 per cent over
the same period in 2010, with anti-Government elements responsible for 80 per cent of the deaths, an increase of 28 per cent
compared with the same period in 2010. Pro-Government forces
were responsible for 14 per cent of civilian deaths, a decrease of 9
per cent over the same period in 2010. In 6 per cent of cases, the
civilian deaths could not be attributed to either party to the conflict.
From June to August, UNAMA documented 971 civilian deaths
and 1,411 injuries, an increase of 5 per cent in civilian casualties
compared with the same period in 2010. Anti-Government elements were linked to 1,841 civilian casualties (77 per cent) and
pro-Government forces to 282 (12 per cent). The remaining casualties could not be attributed to either party to the conflict.
The increase can be attributed, in the context of overall intensified fighting, mainly to the use by anti-Government elements of
landmine-like pressure-plate improvised explosive devices and
suicide attacks, in violation of international humanitarian law.
Improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks accounted for
45 per cent of civilian casualties, an increase of 177 per cent
compared with the same period in 2010. In a disturbing development, anti-Government elements attacked two hospitals and several mosques, places protected under international law. On 25
June, a suicide attack against a hospital in Logar Province killed
25 civilians, including 13 children, and injured 25 others. Targeted killings of high-profile Government officials and individuals
associated or perceived to be associated with the Government
and/or ISAF occurred throughout the country...
Air strikes remained the leading cause of civilian deaths by proGovernment forces, killing 38 civilians in July, the highest number
recorded in any month since February 2010. The number of civilian
deaths from ground combat and armed clashes increased by 84 per
cent compared with the same period in 2010. UNAMA documented
38 civilian deaths (7 per cent of all deaths) due to military search
operations, a 15 per cent increase over the same period in 2010. Civilian casualties from air strikes and night raids continued to generate anger and resentment among Afghan communities towards international military forces.

2 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and


Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, p. 71.
3 Report of the Secretary General, The situation in Afghanistan and its
implications for international peace and security UN A/66/369S/2011/590, September 21, 2011, pp. 1-2, 5-6.

1 http://www.ngosafety.org/index.php?pageid=67

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and the Region After 2014

Figure 3: Over-Ambitious Goals for 2012 Given Progress in 2011 & Coming Troop Cuts

It is unclear that lasting gains are occurring in the field


even in the South and secure areas in the East. The
U.S., ISAF, and PRTs do seem to win the support of the
Afghan people in areas where they clear, hold, and build.
What is far less clear is whether the weak and corrupt
mix of Afghan governance and police forces is establishing any loyalties that will endure when foreign forces and
aid workers withdraw. U.S. and UK victories in Helmand
are an example. Real as these tactical victories are, they
affect populated areas still under de facto allied occupation and funded directly by allied aid. Even in Helmand,
the libn have made a major recovery influence in oth-

er areas where former sharecroppers now cultivate new


areas outside the river lands where they grow opium.
There are no reliable estimates of the size of the areas
ivolved, or the population involved, but opium production has risen an estimated seven percent in Afghanistan
in 2011, and the new growth areas have libn protection in resisting eradication efforts and power broker efforts to profit from the crop. Poppy cultivation only
shrank by three percent in the food zone in Helmand in
2011 versus one third in 2009 and seven percent in

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
2010 and grew nationally for the first time in four
years.1 Moreover, working maps of Afghanistans 403
districts show that the insurgents still control the courts in
many areas and that the expansion of Afghan government
services outside a few well protected areas lags far behind goals set in 2008-2009.
Sanctuary in Pakistan: After more than ten years, the U.S.
has yet to show that it can persuade Pakistan to give up
its influence over the libn, Haqqn network, and other insurgent groups, and to stop using them as tools to secure its own influence in Afghanistan and counter India.
This is a critical failure. As the DoD report notes,
Although security continues to improve, the insurgencys safe havens in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan Government, remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security
gains into a durable, stable Afghanistan. The insurgency remains
resilient, benefitting from safe havens inside Pakistan, with a notable operational capacity, as reflected in isolated high-profile attacks
and elevated violence levels in eastern Afghanistan."2

Inadequate forces to Both Sustain Victory in the South


and Win in the East: The levels of U.S. and ISAF forces
were significantly lower than was requested in shaping
the new strategy, and are dropping sharply. It is far from
clear that there will be enough ISAF troops to both hold
on to gains in the South and make the needed gains in the
East and the rest of Afghanistan that are called for in
Figure 3. This could leave Afghanistan vulnerable along
the border where the insurgency now is strongest, and the
DoD report notes that,
The security situation in Regional Command East, however, remains tenuous. Cross-border incidents have risen during the reporting period as a result of the sanctuary and support that the insurgency receives from Pakistan. In Regional Command Capital, the
ANSF has established a layered defense system in and around Kabul, which has resulted in improved security, and the ANSF continues to respond effectively to threats and attacks. Nevertheless,
Kabul continues to face persistent threats, particularly in the form
of high-profile attacks and assassinations.

Uncertain Rates of U.S. and ISAF Force Withdrawal:


U.S. and ISAF commanders have sought to slow the rate
of force withdrawal to maintain as high a force presence
as possible until withdrawal in 2014, and to retain strong
advisory forces after 2014. As yet, there is no firm commitment to such a withdrawal by the U.S. and allied governments, and the rate of individual force reduction is unclear. This problem is compounded by slow or inadequate compliance with pledges of trainers and advisors,
caveats on national forces that limit their combat capabilities, and growing uncertainty as to the rate and timing of
reductions the PRTs necessary to create successful aid efforts in governance and economic recovery.

1 Alissa J. Rubin, In Afghanistan, Poppy Growing Proves resilient,


New York Times, January 2, 2012, p. A1, A8.; Discussions with
U.S. and German experts.
2 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and
Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, p.1, 68-69.

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The ANA development effort is being rushed, funding is being cut, there are trainer and partner shortfalls, and the
end result may be unsustainable. The ANSF are making
progress, particularly the ANA. There are sharp differences, however, as to how much progress is really being
made, and no agreed plan as yet exists for shaping and full
force development through 2014 or afterwards. Major cuts
have already been made in future near term funding. There
are important ethnic differences in the ANA that could affect its future loyalties, and there are serious problems with
loyalty to powerbrokers, corruption, and in leadership.
These could all be corrected with time, the needed number
of foreign trainers and partners, and adequate funds but
none may be available at the levels and duration required.
The total current revenue generating capability of the Afghan government is also only about one-sixth of the U.S.
and allied spending on the ANSF in 2011. ISAF and
NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) reporting
sharply downplay these problems, but they are all too real.
The Afghan Air Force will not be ready until 2016-2020, and
will then have very limited combat and IS&R capability.
The ANP are not supported by the effective rule of law
in terms of courts, detention and the rest of the legal system. The most effective element, the ANCOP, has an unacceptable attrition rate. Other police units have major
problems with leadership and corruption. The border police are particularly corrupt. The Afghan Local Police
work as long as they are supported by large elements of
Special Forces, but these forces are not large enough to
meet current expansion goals, and it is unclear what will
happen when SOF advisors leave.
Political Restrictions Imposed by Afghan Politics. The
build up of Afghan forces has not ended ties to local
power brokers and the current equivalent of warlords,
and promotion, force allocation, and loyalty in office
have strong ethnic ties. Moreover, president Karzai has
taken measures that potentially limit the success of ISAF
security efforts like demanding an end to the night raids
that have been critical to successful actions against insurgents as a precondition for agreeing to future bases and a
Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) with the U.S.3
Karzai has also sought to end all private security operations, without creating the conditions for effective substitutes, and to abolish local infrastructure and police elements in the non-Pashtun areas within the North while
tolerating unofficial local police in areas with power brokers loyal to him.4

3 Matthew Rosenberg, US Pulls Public Relations Advisors from an


Afghan Government Media Center , New York Times, December
28, 2011; Joshua Patrlow, Hamid Karzai calls for partnership with
U.S., but with conditions, Washington Post, November 16, 2011,
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/karzai-calls-forparternership-with-america-but-withconditions/2011/11/16/gIQAHIYUQN_print.html
4 Matthew Rosenberg and Alissa J. Rubin, Afghanistan to Disband Irregular Police Set Up Under NATO, New York Times, December
26, 2011.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

Future year cuts in funding, equipment, trainers, and


problems with the sustainability of aid could easily lead
to a repeat of the problems that occurred in Vietnam. Until mid-2011, plans called for levels of aid through 2024
that now may not be provided through 2015.
As Figure 3 shows, the U.S. and ISAF have also set very
ambitious goals for 2012. These plans originated when
the size and timing of U.S. force cuts were still conditions based, and it is far from clear that they can be
achieved with the ongoing cuts in U.S. and other ISAF
forces. At the same time, rushing the development of
ANSF forces is far from a convincing answer.
The practical problem is that the U.S. and ISAF must
achieve major success in 2012 if they are to provide the
lead times necessary to establish a stable and successful
Afghan government civil and military presence. As the
U.S. experience in Iraq showed, it is all too easy to formally transfer responsibility for security to the host government. It is a totally different thing to create a stable
and enduring basis for such transfers and to conduct them
only when all of these conditions are met.
The Insurgents Do Not Need to Defeat ISAF;
Just Outlast It in a War of Political Attrition

As has been touched upon earlier, these problems are only part of the story. The U.S. and ISAF analyses of tactical success focus on significant acts of violence and casualties, not the overall impact of the fighting. The same
report that described the progress listed above also notes
that,
...the Taliban-led insurgency remains adaptive and resilient with a
significant regenerative capacity. As insurgent capacity to contest
ANSF-ISAF gains erodes, insurgents have turned to asymmetric
efforts in order to avoid direct engagement with ISAF and ANSF
forces, including the increased use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), high-profile attacks, and assassinations of Afghan Government officials.
These tactics require less infrastructure in Afghanistan and do not
need the support of the Afghan people; however, they do require
command and control, training, and logistics support from safe havens, which the insurgents have in Pakistan. For example, IED material storage and construction facilities formerly based in Afghanistan have now been moved to Pakistan, specifically in the border
town of Chaman, Baluchistan Province. The assassinations and attacks directed from the safe havens in Pakistan especially the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas of North Waziristan and the
settled area of Chaman while reflecting the weakness of the Taliban in Afghanistan, have the potential to have a significant political effect in Afghanistan as well as coalition countries. With the
continued disruption of key insurgent safe havens in Afghanistan,
safe havens in Pakistan has become the most important external
factor sustaining the insurgency, and continues to present the most
significant risk to ISAFs campaign.1

It also notes that,


Safe havens in Pakistan remain the insurgencys greatest enabler
and have taken on increased significance as ANSF-ISAF opera1

Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and


Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, p. 6.

tions continue to clear key insurgent safe havens in Afghanistan.


Safe havens in Pakistan, which directly support insurgent operations in Afghanistan, have grown more virulent during the reporting period, and represent the most significant risk to ISAFs campaign.
The majority of insurgent fighters and commanders operate in or
near their home districts, and low-level insurgent fighters are often well integrated into the local population. Out-of-area fighters
comprise a relatively small portion of the insurgency; typically a
source of technical expertise, these fighters tend to be more ideological in nature and less tolerant of local norms.
Taliban senior leaders remain capable of providing strategic guidance to the broader insurgency and channeling resources to support their operational priorities. Pakistan-based senior leaders exercise varying degrees of command and control over the generally
decentralized and local Afghan insurgency. Within Afghanistan,
leadership structures vary by province. In general, the insurgency
is led by a shadow governor and a military commander at the
provincial level, who oversee district-level shadow governors and
lower-level military commanders. Due to the success of ISAF and
ANSF operations, particularly in the key provinces of Helmand
and Kandahar, the insurgency continues to adapt its tactics, techniques, and procedures. To preserve resources and avoid direct
confrontation, insurgents have increased their use of IEDs, which
remain one of the most potent and efficient weapons. High-profile
attacks have also increased, and insurgents have begun to increase
terrorist-type attacks on soft targets, particularly in Kabul. The
attacks on the Intercontinental Hotel in June, the British Consul in
August, and the U.S. Embassy and ISAF Headquarters in September demonstrate the insurgencys determination to attack the
national capital in order to achieve strategic effects as they seek
to undermine ISAF, the ANSF, and the Afghan Government.
Despite the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May, the
Talibans relationship to al Qaeda continues. Although the personal
relationship between Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and
bin Laden represented one of the most important and influential links
between the two groups, al Qaeda leadership continues to view the
Taliban and the conflict in Afghanistan as integral to the organizations continued relevance and viability. Al Qaedas global agenda,
however, does come into conflict with the Talibans domestic and regional goals.
As a result, the Taliban has publicly sought to distance itself from
al Qaeda; following bin Ladens death, Taliban leaders emphasized the indigenous nature of the insurgency and stated the insurgency would not be weakened. Al Qaedas most significant
enabler in Afghanistan remains the Pakistan-based Haqqn Network, which will likely leverage this relationship as they continue
to seek relevance in Afghanistan.

As has been the case in many other insurgencies, the


libn, Haqqn network, and other insurgent groups do
not have to win direct fights in the field. They can disperse, concentrate on intimidating the population and
controlling it, stay safe in sanctuaries, use high profile
bombings and attacks, attack indirectly by using IEDs
and rockets, assassinate key figures and kidnap others,
tax villages and roads, use narcotics income, work with
criminal networks, and go underground using reconciliation procedures.
U.S. and ISAF unclassified reporting sees this as a weakness, talks about leaders that stay safe in Pakistan, and
the fatigue of fighters all statements made about the
Chinese Communisis, Vietcong, Algerian FLN, North
Vietnam, Castros forces, and other successful insurgents
in the past. Moreover, the U.S. and ISAF focused on such
tactical measures during 2003-2008, before the adoption

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
of the new strategy, at a time when the libn made
massive gains in political influence even though they suffered serious tactical defeats.
The most recent unclassified reporting has also ceased to
show areas of insurgent influence and GIRoA control,
and shows sharply different patterns from both UN reporting and the reporting by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, which does count some lower level acts
of terrorism.1
For example, as quoted at length above, the UN Secretary
General reported to the Security Council on September
21, 2011 that, both violence and casualties had increased
in 2011 an assessment that may be more accurate in reflecting the impact of operations on the Afghan people
than the tactically oriented counts by ISAF, 2
More recent reporting shows that the insurgents pose a
steadily growing threat to movement in Afghanistan. It also shows increases in Haqqn and Al-qidah death squad
activity, and increases in activities such as night letters
and various forms of violent intimidation.3
This does not mean that ISAF and the U.S. are not scoring tactical military gains in key areas, and have not reversed insurgent military momentum. It does mean that
there are not enough credible unclassified indicators to
show that the insurgents cannot simply outwait the U.S.
and ISAF, as well as GIRoAs cohesion and funding.
Colonel Harry Summers once noted in a conversation
over the Vietnam War that he had been talking to a North
Vietnamese officer after the war and had stated to him
that the U.S. had won virtually every battle. The Vietnamese officer paused, and then said, Yes, but this was
irrelevant. Afghanistan (and Pakistan) are not going to
be won by military force alone, and tactical victories can
be all too hollow.
SPEND, NOT BUILD
(AND THEN STOP SPENDING)?

There is a new Great Game being played in other parts


of Central Asia, but neither Russia nor China has predictable incentives to engage in Afghanistan or Pakistan at levels that will ease the problems the U.S., Europe, and other
ISAF and donor states face during transition. In the real
world, the success of transition will depend on U.S., Eu1

Graphic estimates of the differences in these reports, as well as in estimates of casualties are summarized in a report entitled Afghanistan:
Violence, Casualties, and Tactical Progress: 2011, which is available
on the CSIS web site at: http://csis.org/ files/ publication/111110_AfghanViolence_n_CivCas.pdf This report shows that
estimates of the security impact of US and ISAF tactical victories in
given areas is very different from the patterns in major attacks.

Report of the Secretary General, The situation in Afghanistan and its


implications for international peace and security UN A/66/369S/2011/590, September 21, 2011, pp. 1-2, 5-6.

3 See State Department warnings to travelers in December 2011, and


Ray Rivera, Sharifullah Sahak, and Eric Schmidt, Militants Turn to
Death Squads in Afghanistan, New York Times, November 29,
2011, p. A1.

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ropean, and other existing countries that already have forces or donate significant aid to Afghanistan.
The success of such U.S., European, and donor efforts is
highly uncertain. Studies by the World Bank, and ongoing studies by the IMF, the U.S., and key European governments show that transition requires massive levels
of continuing aid to avoid triggering major security and
stability problems. President Karzai requested some $10
billion a year through 2025 at the Bonn II Conference in
December 2011, or roughly $120 billion over the entire
period.4 This total seems minor compared to a total cost
of the war to the U.S. and ISAF which reached some
$140 billion in FY2011. It also is almost certainly is too
low to both cover the cost of funding the Afghan National Security Forces during transition and beyond, and to
give Afghanistan the resources to cope with the loss of
U.S. and ISAF military spending during 2012-2014 and
the probable cuts in donor civil aid.
Yet, many U.S. and European actions have already begun
to look like a cover for an exit strategy from Afghanistan.
Development aid from U.S., the largest aid donor,
dropped from $3.5 billion last year to about $2.0 billion
in 2011. Aid to support democracy, governance and civil
society dropped by more than fifty percent, from $231
million to $93 million. Aid for rule of law dropped
from $43 million to $16 million.5 Many aid agencies and
NGOs are already making major cuts in their programs,
and some are already having to eliminate programs or
withdraw from the country.6
While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
joined her European colleagues in pledging continued aid
at the Bonn II Conference in December 2001, no longterm pledges were made in concrete terms. The conference which Pakistan did not attend and the libn
stated would further ensnare Afghanistan into the flames
of occupation focused on vague calls for aid and regional cooperation.
The speeches at the conference also called for Afghan reforms, and reductions in corruption, in ways that implied
new conditions for aid that Afghanistan may well not be
able to meet. They discussed continuing past security and
economic aid, but did not deal with the massive impact of
ending U.S. and European military spending in Afghanistan as each ISAF countrys forces depart spending
4 Karen DeYoung, Afghanistan says it will need outside aid until
2025, Washington Post, December 4, 2011, http://www. washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghanistan-says-it-will-needoutside-aid-until-2015/2011/12/04/gIQAZtp6TO_print.html.
5 Julian Borger, Afghanistan conference promises support after troop
withdrawal, The Guardian, 5 December, 2011,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/05/afghanistanconference-support-troop-withdrawal.
6 Ibidem; Rod Norland, Aid Agencies in Afghanistan Fear Reversals
New York Times, December 6, 2011, p. A1; Steven Lee Myers and
Rod Norland, Afghans Say Assistance Will Be Needed for Years,
New York Times, December 6, 2011. P. A14.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

which totaled $4.3 billion for U.S. military direct contracts with Afghans in FY2011 which was only a small
portion of U.S. military spending in the country.1 At the
same time, president Karzai called for continued aid and
promised vague reforms without any clear plan for using
such aid or justifying his request. As Louise Hancock,
Oxfam's Afghanistan policy officer, put it, Its been another conference of flowery speeches: big on rhetoric and
short on substance.2
Moreover, the U.S. has never provided a credible set of
goals indeed any goals at all for the strategic outcome
it wants in Pakistan. Unless the U.S. and Europe do far
more to show they can execute a transition that has
lasting strategic benefits in Afghanistan and Pakistan
well after 2014, the U.S. all too likely to repeat the tragedy of its withdrawal from Vietnam.

enforce security and govern in significant parts of the


country.
The current Afghan-Pakistan war began in 2001 in a
failed state divided by decades of civil conflict and external interference. No military action alone could have
hoped to produce a stable result, and some level of armed
nation building was inevitable if the U.S. was to achieve
a stable and favorable outcome from its intervention.
Some form of nation building effort was necessary if the
U.S. was to do more than intervene quickly and decisively against Al-qidah and then leave Afghanistan to its
own devices. This may have been an option that might
well have been desirable in retrospect, but was not seriously considered at the time.
Building on a Weak Foundation

The situation in terms of improvements in Afghan governance, economics, and rule of law lags far behind the
uncertain tactical gains being made in the field. The U.S.,
its European allies, and all other donors face the reality
that military spending and aid efforts to date have not
brought anything like the expected benefits and level of
progress, and are unlikely to do so in the future. At the
same time, outside aid will be critical to the Afghan government if it is to maintain security and stability, and will
be equally critical to any hope that Pakistan can make the
progress it needs.

The problem since 2001 has been that a U.S., allied, and
UN effort, with little or no real world capacity for nation
building on the scale required, failed to help the Afghans
restore an Afghan government on Afghan terms. A fragmented international effort with no effective UN coordination instead attempted a sudden, comprehensive transformation of Afghanistan into a unitary state with a
flawed, over-centralized constitution and system of government that was to operate according to U.S./Western
values of representative democracy, human rights, and
rule of law.

A successful transition will require massive amounts of


continuing civil and military aid. Politics may force U.S.
officials to deny that Afghanistan is an exercise in nation
building, but the reality is that the U.S. has led an international nation building effort in Afghanistan ever since
2002. In some ways this effort has been justified.

This effort ignored the realities of Pakistani and regional


competition and interests. The U.S. attempted to conduct
national transformation, rather than nation building,
on the cheap by dividing much of the task among its allies, delegating key responsibilities for them to fund, and
setting impossible goals for near and mid-term economic
development. Finally, it ignored the real world consequences, the failures in the U.S. and international effort,
the failures in Afghan governance, and the seriousness of
the rebirth of the libn and other insurgent movements
during 2003-2008.

In the real world, classic COIN is an oxymoron. No


one insurgency is ever the same as another, and most
longer insurgencies involve constant adaptation in tactics
and civil-military operations. Serious insurgencies arise
when states fail to meet the needs of enough of their people at the political, economic, and security level needed
to maintain popular support, avoid driving key factions
towards violence, and where states lack the capacity to
1 Julian Borger, Afghanistan conference promises support after troop
withdrawal, The Guardian, 5 December, 2011,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/05/afghanistanconference-support-troop-withdrawal;
UN
Secretary-General's
statement to Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn,
http://unama.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1741&ctl=Details&
mid=1882&ItemID=15874; Rod Norland, Aid Agencies in Afghanistan Fear Reversals New York Times, December 6, 2011, p. A1;
AFP/Reuters, Bonn conference: Afghanistan assured conditional
aid
for
another
decade,
December
5,
2011,
http://tribune.com.pk/story/302502/bonn-conference-us-lifts-holdon-development-funds-for-afghanistan/,
2 http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/oxfams- reaction-2011bonn-conference-afghanistan.

Unready to Move Forward After a Decade of Experience

Unfortunately, far too many elements of this exercise in


strategic hubris and denial still affect the civil effort in
Afghanistan. Donor governments and UNAMA are all
fond of claiming civil progress using factoids taken out
of the context of Afghan perceptions and needs, and
drawn from sources of uncertain credibility. They report
spending as if the amount of money was a measure of effectiveness, and rarely make an attempt to tie such spending to its effectiveness.
A Crippling Afghan Dependence on Outside Spending

As noted earlier, there is no way to know how much U.S.,


Europe, and donor military and aid spending actually occurs in Afghanistan and stays there. Groups like Oxfam

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and the Region After 2014

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Figure 4: World Bank Estimate of the Dependence of Afghanistan on Outside Funding

Domestic revenue collection reached US $1.65 billion in


2010-2011 (doubled since 2007/2008) as a result of a
significant effort by the MoF although much indirectly from outside spending

The Core Budget (Domestic revenue + budget door aid


was US $4.6 billion)

While the MoF estimated that donor financed budget


expenditures were US $8 billion, the World Bank indicates they could be as high as $16 billion)

Total International military spending in Afghanistan is


unknown, but could be many times greater than domestic revenue. Most such spending is spent largely
outside Afghanistan, but is so large that even the part
spent in Afghanistan is a major source of growth has a
critical impact

Source: World Bank, March 14, 2011

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Sustainable
for Afghanistan
Objective
1: Total
PublicStrategies
Expenditures
European 1
and the Region After 2014
Strategy Forum

About 79 Percent of Afghanistan Public


Figure 5: GAO Estimate of the Dependence of Afghanistan on Outside Funding I
Expenditures
Were Off-Budget (SY2006-SY2010)
79% Dependence of Public Expenditures on Off Budget Sources

3 Domestic Revenues
Objective 3:

Afghan Domestic Revenues Fund Varying


Percentage of Public Expenditures (SY2006-2010)

Note: For SY 2010 expenditures derived from OECD Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) data, last quarter estimates are based on last quarter actuals in SY 2009. See enclosure II.

Source: GAO analysis of data from Afghanistan Financial Management Information System, Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (includes contributions from Afghan National Army Trust Fund, including in-kind contributions), Law
and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, OECD Development Assistance Committee (includes data for Commanders Emergency Relief Program and Provincial Reconstruction Teams), India Development Assistance, and U.S.
Department of State (State) International Military Equipment and Training (IMET). See Enclosure II for further information.

Afghan Revenue as a Share of Expenditures

Source: GAO, Afghanistans Donor Dependence, September 21, 2011, pp. 5, 8. 9 , 18.
Note: For SY 2010 expenditures derived from OECD Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) data, last quarter estimates are based on last quarter actuals in SY 2009. See enclosure II.
Notes: Total
Public Expenditures Funds spent to provide public services to the Afghan population; the sum of on-budget and off-budget expenditures. We
Source:
GAO analysis
of data from expenditures,
Afghanistan Financialnot
Management
Information
System, Afghanistan
Security
Forces Fund
(includes contributions
from Afghan
National Armythat
Trust Fund
in-kind contributions),
based our
analysis
on reported
on budget
estimates.
On-Budget
(Core)
Expenditures
Public
expenditures
are including
in GIRoAs
budget Law and
Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, OECD Development Assistance Committee (includes data for Commanders Emergency Relief Program and Provincial Reconstruction Teams), India Development Assistance, and U.S.
funded byDepartment
domestic
revenue
and donor
contributions,
such(IMET).
as donor
contributions
for wages and salaries of government employees. Off-Budget (External)
of State
(State) International
Military
Equipment and Training
See Enclosure
II for further information.
Expenditures Public expenditures that are outside of GIRoAs budget and are 100 percent donor funded, such as infrastructure projects.

18

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Objective 2
2: Donor Funding

Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014

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99

U.S. Funded about 90 Percent of Afghanistan


Figure 5: GAO Estimate of the Dependence of Afghanistan on Outside Funding II
Total Security Expenditures (SY2006-SY2010)
Dependence on US for 90% of Past Security Expenditures: Other donors have funded 4%, GIRoA has only funded 6%

3 Domestic Revenues
Objective 3:

Afghan Domestic Revenues Fund Varying


Percentage of Public Expenditures (SY2006-2010)
Dependence on US for 39% of Past Security Expenditures: Other donors have funded 47%, GIRoA has only funded 14%

Source: GAO analysis of data from Afghanistan Financial Management Information System, Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (includes contributions from Afghan National Army Trust Fund, including in-kind contributions),
Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, and U.S. Department of State (State) International Military Equipment and Training (IMET). See Enclosure II for further information.

13

Note: For SY 2010 expenditures derived from OECD Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) data, last quarter estimates are based on last quarter actuals in SY 2009. See enclosure II.
Source: GAO, Afghanistans Donor Dependence, September 21, 2011, pp. 13-14
Source:
GAO analysis
of data from Afghanistan
Information
Afghanistan
Security
Forcespopulation;
Fund (includes contributions
Afghan Nationaland
Armyoff-budget
Trust Fund including
in-kind contributions),
Notes: Total
Public
Expenditures
FundsFinancial
spentManagement
to provide
publicSystem,
services
to the
Afghan
the sum from
of on-budget
expenditures.
We Law and
Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, OECD Development Assistance Committee (includes data for Commanders Emergency Relief Program and Provincial Reconstruction Teams), India Development Assistance, and U.S.
based our
analysis
on (State)
reported
expenditures,
notand
onTraining
budget
estimates.
On-Budget
(Core) Expenditures Public expenditures that are in GIRoAs budget
Department
of State
International
Military Equipment
(IMET).
See Enclosure
II for further information.
funded by domestic revenue and donor contributions, such as donor contributions for wages and salaries of government employees. Off-Budget (External)
Expenditures Public expenditures that are outside of GIRoAs budget and are 100 percent donor funded, such as infrastructure projects.

18

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Figure 6: U.S. Assistance to Afghanistan

Source: SIGAR, Quarterly Report to U.S. Congress, October 30, 2011, pp. 46-47.

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Figure 7: Little or No Progress in Development in Many Areas

Development

04#Feb#10
6
16
47
40
10
3

29#Apr#10
7
19
46
41
7
2

indicate that more than forty percent of the aid targeted


towards Afghanistan is not actually spent in country as
aid. A World Bank study in November 2011 found that
some $15.7 billion worth of aid went to Afghanistan in
2010/2011, and $13.8 billion was spent outside the Afghan national budget. The study also estimated that only
10-15% of $8.6 billion in external security aid and 2025% of $5.2 billion in civilian aid actually was spent in
country.
Figure 4 shows a working estimate of total Afghan dependence on outside spending dating back to the Spring
of 2011. Figure 5 shows the level of dependence estimated by the U.S. General Accountability Office.
A later World Bank study that did not attempt to estimate
the impact of military spending as well as aid, estimated
that the total Afghan national core budget was $3.8 billion, of which $1.9 billion was also aid. It estimated that

Governance3Assessment
Development
Assessment
Sustainable3Growth
Dependent3Growth
Minimal3Growth
Stalled3Growth
Population3at3Risk
Not3Assessed
estimated that 90-95% of the security aid actually
reached Afghanistan but substantially less than 70% of
the civil aid. The study stated that the,1
cumulative U.S. spending for the Afghanistan mission is estimated to be as high as $444 billion ($118.6 billion in FY2011
alone)But most of that spending does not reach Afghanistan because it primarily funds salaries of international soldiers, purchases
of military hardware, and the likeAnd not even all aid spent in
Afghanistan feeds into the domestic economy, as it goes out in imports of goods and services, expatriated profits, and remittances.

1 World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan Looking Beyond 2014, November 21, 2011, pp. 6-7.

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Figure 8: Uncertain Progress in District Governance: 2010-2011

Source: ISAF 5/2011

Figure 9: Proportion of Afghan Civil Service Positions Vacant in Selected Provinces (in Percent)

Source: SIGAR, Quarterly Report to U.S. Congress, October 30, 2011, p. 89.

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Wasting Past Aid and a Highly Uncertain Future

It is now the eleventh year of the war and the UN, the
U.S. Department of State and USAID, other donor nations, the World Bank and the Afghan government have
never published a meaningful assessment of the total
flow of aid to Afghanistan, the overall impact of the civil
and security aid programs, an assessment of how aid and
outside spending have impacted on the trends in the Afghan economy, and how to develop credible measures of
the effectiveness aid efforts.
The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) does make some assessments of U.S.
effectiveness. Unlike its Iraqi counterpart (SIGIR), however, SIGAR focuses almost exclusively on U.S. spending and makes little effort to validate plans and requirements for civil and security aid efforts versus traditional
audits which can do little more than document past failures.
Figure 6 shows the cumulative appropriations for U.S.
aid efforts to date. It shows just how massively the flow
of aid has increased in recent years increasing Afghan
dependence and the problems in transition along with
each years increase. These data which only cover U.S.
spending provide a grim warning of the sheer scale of
the spending and the erratic funding patterns that have
taken place in the past. They warn how drastic the impact
could be of sudden funding cuts for the ANSF and civil
sector before Afghanistan can adapt to the loss of donor
aid that is some nine to fourteen times its current revenue
earnings, and spending on military operations in inside
Afghanistan which is at least another twenty to thirty
times the revenue earnings of the Afghan government.
Moreover, while ISAF has stopped reporting progress in
development by Afghan district, Figure 7 shows that past
trends are anything but reassuring. As has been described
earlier, UN reporting indicates that security for both aid
activity and Afghanistan governance is still lacking in
many of Afghanistans 403 districts, and the aid reporting
that does come from individual districts is often based on
the success of limited projects in a small part of the district or city grossly exaggerating the impact of aid.
It is far from clear how the withdrawal of U.S. and ISAF
forces and aid teams in the field will impact on security
in many Pashtun and border areas, as well as key urban
complexes and lines of communication like the ring road.
Many current development models tacitly assume that
Afghanistan will be both secure on a nationwide basis by
the end of 2014, that the impact of criminal networks and
power brokers will not place critical limits on governance
and development, and that Pakistan will be a willing and
secure economic partner.

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Current Problems in the Political, Governance, Security and


Economic Aspects of the Build Effort

The challenges to the U.S. and Europe go far beyond


providing aid. They involve major problems in security,
in Afghan governance and society, and in structuring and
funding effective Afghan national security forces to replace US and allied forces.
The October 2011 U.S. Department of Defense report on
progress in the war describes a wide range of ongoing aid
efforts (As well as presenting the tenth annual set of new
concepts and future good intentions for reshaping future aid
on the part of the U.S. Department of State and USAID.)
Figure 8 shows that the Afghan government is expanding its
capacity at the provincial and district levels in some areas,
although others are less capable and the overall rate of progress is far too slow to guarantee a successful transition.
At the same time, passages throughout the DoD report
warn how many aspects of the build effort are already
in trouble, that achieving enough progress for a stable
transition by 2014 is unlikely, and that future outside
aid will have to be carefully targeted and limited to Afghanistans ability to absorb aid effectively on its own
terms if it is to be more successful:
four conditions are evaluated when considering an areas eligibility to begin the Transition process. First, the security environment
must be at a level that allows the population to pursue routine daily
activities. Second, the ANSF must be capable of shouldering additional security tasks with less assistance from ISAF. Third, local
governance must be sufficiently developed so that security will not
be undermined as ISAF assistance is reduced. Finally, ISAF must
be postured properly to thin out as ANSF capabilities increase and
threat levels stabilize or diminish.
Once an area enters the Transition implementation process,
NATO and ISAF support continues through four stages, ranging
from support to strategic overwatch. The security of the Afghan
people and the stability of the government will be used to judge
the readiness of the province to move to each successive stage of
Transition implementation. Although a province can enter Transition implementation as soon as any part of its area is eligible, the
province will not exit Transition until all its areas meet the required criteria.
governance and development capacity remain the most challenging aspects of Transition. The first tranche of provinces and
municipalities to Transition has been slow to develop the necessary service delivery and governance structures to underpin security gains, yet arguably these are the most difficult capacities to
develop and grow. Efforts by the Department of State, U.S.
Agency for International Development, and PRTs are focusing on
the development and expansion of Afghan capacity in governance,
rule of law, and service delivery, as well as linkages between national and sub-national governance structures. The development
of these sectors will reinforce long-term stability and ensure that
Transition is irreversible, as well as encourage the Afghan people
to rely on the Afghan Government, rather than Taliban shadow
governments, for necessary services.
the capacity of the Afghan Government has been limited by a
number of issues, including the political dispute in the Lower
House of the Afghan Parliament, the continued absence of an International Monetary Fund program, widespread corruption, and
the lack of political progress in enacting key reforms announced
at the July 2010 Kabul Conference. Setbacks in governance and

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development continue to slow the reinforcement of security gains


and threaten the legitimacy and long-term viability of the Afghan
Government. The United States and the international community
continue to work closely with their Afghan partners to address
these challenges.
During the reporting period, the Afghan Government made only limited progress in building the human and institutional capacity necessary for sustainable government. The most notable developments were efforts to build the human capacity necessary to
extend governance throughout the country; merit-based appointments of senior civil servants continued, and a civil service recruiting campaign, focused on less-secure provinces, maintained
momentum. However, the extension of effective governance in
Afghanistan continues to face significant challenges, including:
difficulty linking sub-national governance structures to the central
government, the continued lack of an International Monetary
Fund (IMF) program, minimal progress on Kabul Conference
commitments, widespread corruption, and delays in the legislative process resulting from the September 2010 Wolesi Jirga elections.
the capacity of provincial governors offices and provincial
line departments remains fairly low and largely dependent on
contractors. This is due in part to difficulties of recruiting qualified individuals and a lack of resources for a basic operating
budget for maintenance and repairs. Another challenge facing the
continued development of sub-national governance capacity is the
difficulty of linking provincial planning exercises into the national budgeting cycle. Provincial governors and provincial line departments all have limited roles in the process due to the highly
centralized system of governance in which they have limited service delivery and budget execution authority. This centralized
system adversely affects the provincial governors ability to lead
provincial line departments, since their reporting chain is through
the central ministries.
Despite effective programs and signs of progress, several challenges persist that limit recruiting and retention of qualified civil
servants. Standardized pay scales are low in comparison to the
technical assistant salaries offered by donors, and heightened
threats and targeting of government officials also hamper recruiting efforts. Public administration reforms and capacity-building
programs are essential for the development of sufficient human
and institutional capacity to deliver governance and basic services
to the Afghan people.
Overall, there continues to be little progress in the development
of Afghanistans justice sector. Plans to expand the justice sector to
underserved areas, particularly in the Pashtun regions of Afghanistan, are ongoing, but have yet to yield results, and the fraud allegations of the 2010 Parliamentary elections stopped progress on necessary legal reforms for several months. Furthermore, the capacity
of the justice sector continues to be limited by a lack of infrastructure and the inability to offer salaries sufficient enough to attract
and retain trained legal personnel.
Corruption and organized crime present a significant threat to the
success of the ISAF mission and the security and stability of the
Afghan state. Corruption undermines the effectiveness, cohesion,
and legitimacy of the Afghan Government; it alienates elements
of the population and generates popular discontent from which
insurgent groups draw strength; it deters investment, encourages
the diversion of international assistance, and impedes licit economic growth; it enables criminal networks to influence important state institutions and functions; and it facilitates the narcotics trade and other transnational threats emerging from Afghanistan. Counter-corruption efforts are essential to strengthening Afghan institutions and to consolidating gains in the wake of
improved security, and will grow in importance as the process of
transition continues.
The limited capacity of the Afghan Government continues to impede reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan. The
availability of essential services remains mixed, and the govern-

ment has yet to develop a comprehensive economic growth strategy or plan for private sector-led economic development.
Beyond security concerns, governance and development capacity
remain the most challenging aspects of Transition. The first
tranche of provinces and municipalities to Transition has been
slow to develop the necessary service delivery and governance
structures to underpin security gains, yet arguably these are the
most difficult capacities to develop and grow. Efforts by the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development,
and PRTs are focusing on the development and expansion of Afghan capacity in governance, rule of law, and service delivery, as
well as linkages between national and sub-national governance
structures. The development of these sectors will reinforce longterm stability and ensure that Transition is irreversible, as well as
encourage the Afghan people to rely on the Afghan Government,
rather than Taliban shadow governments, for necessary services.

Many of these assessments track closely with the reporting


that is provided in the SIGAR Quarterly Report for October 30, 2011, and conversations with UNAMA personnel
and aid experts from other countries. They also track with
the many NGO and international estimates of the ongoing
impact of corruption, power brokers, criminal networks
and lack of supervision by donors and ISAF military forces
over how contract and aid money are used.
Corruption is a critical problem. Transparency International ranks Afghanistan 176th in a survey of perceptions
of corruption where the worst country ranked 178th.1 (Pakistan was marginally better: It ranked 143rd) Working
with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Royal United
Services Institute (RUSI), it issued the following warning
in May 2011:2
Many major international organizations have been witnessing and
helping shape the transition to Afghan Leadership since 2009, when
President Obama announced a new strategy for Afghanistan. Konrad
Adenauer Stiftung, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and
the Defense and Security Programme at Transparency International
UK believe the Afghan transition can be successful. After a round of
seminars with over sixty experts and officials from the Governments
of Afghanistan, the UK, Germany, NATO, the UN, and other experts on governance and development, they put together the 28 detailed recommendations in the report Afghanistan in Transition: ReShaping Priorities for 2015 and Beyond, which will be launched on
May 13th in Berlin.
Besides other important issues, the report makes 3 key recommendations regarding corruption which are interlinked:
First, corruption threatens the success of the international Mission
in Afghanistan. The vast public anger against corruption and the
damage that it is doing to Afghan society need to be harnessed
and channeled into a force for change. Afghan citizens are well
aware of many of the current injustices and would be ready to
participate in efforts to promote change. Leadership from the Afghan Government would catalyze this process.
Second, the President of Afghanistan must embrace these recommendations as his own mission. The Afghan Government
must also make counter corruption work a centerpiece of its transition strategy. Measures to reform Afghanistan institutions, build
integrity, and curtail corruption need to be scaled up immediately
and
dramatically,
to
halt
the
current
decline.
1 http://www.transparency.org/ policy_research/surveys_indices
/cpi/2010/results.
2 http://www.transparency.org/news_room/latest_news/press_ releases_nc/2011/2011_05_18_afghanistan_in_transition

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Figure 10: Post Crisis Aid - Killing the Golden Goose As Soon as Possible

Development Assistance Levels Before


and After Troop Reductions

Source: USAID, USAID Afghanistan: Towards an Enduring Partnership, 28 Jan 11


Third, the international community contributes to the problem.
It must radically and urgently change the way it handles its financial flows, especially the money associated with massive
security operations and the way it offers contracts for goods
and services. In particular, it must direct more effort into contracting with Afghan companies, and it must do so in ways that
improve national economic capacity.

cial and local level, corruption and reliance on power brokers make this questionable. These problems are not solvable, however, unless the U.S. and its allies are willing to sustain high levels of civil and security aid through 2014 and
fund very significant aid from 2015 to at least 2020 and
more probably 2024.

Corruption, weak institutions and a lack of economic development pose a fatal threat to the viability of Afghanistan. It is
increasingly becoming part of the political dynamic of the
country and entwined with organized crime. This threat has
been consistently and seriously underestimated, both by the
Afghan government and the International Community" stresses
Mark Pyman, Director of the Defense and Security Programme
at Transparency International UK. At the same time, weak and
dysfunctional political institutions, lack of respect for the Afghan constitution and a slow economic process are posing major risks for Afghanistans future development.

This level of consistent future aid and commitment seems


highly questionable. The U.S. and Europe are under intense pressure to cut any military and civil spending that
does not help their own economies as soon as possible.
Many donor countries have failed to meet their aid commitments since 2002, and Figure 10 provides a grim
warning of how quickly donor fatigue occurred in past
crises.

Like the DoD report, the SIGAR report again describes


progress and plans for new activity, but it also provides a
summary warning of the lack of adequate progress to
date. (pp. 86-87) It also notes that, as of September 18,
2011, only sixty percent of civil servant positions were
filled in the fourteen most insecure provinces, according
to USAID. Southern and Eastern provinces faced the
most difficulties in staffing, as shown in Figure 8. This is
an improvement from April 2011, when fifty percent of
positions were filled. Lack of security and candidates
lack of experience and education continued to pose challenges in filling local positions.
Dealing With the Pressures of a
Global Economic Crisis and Donor Fatigue

Some of the current problems in the U.S., European, and


other outside donor build effort may be solvable over time,
although the lack of Afghan political progress, increases in
capacity of government, effective governance at the provin-

A November 2011 World Bank study of future Afghan


funding and aid needs provides the same warnings:1
Abrupt aid cut-offs lead to fiscal implosion, loss of control
over security sector, collapse of political authority, and possibly civil war (Somalia)
Political stability and state consolidation (based on building
inclusive enough coalitions) are critical for successful
transitions (Mozambique, Rwanda, Cambodia, Mali)
Fragmented, short-term oriented factionalism, political
marketplace (Sudan) can lead to endemic high levels of
violence, and regional spoilers can perpetuate conflicts
(Democratic Republic of Congo)
Effective transitions are generally associated with robust
economic growth (for example, Mozambique, Rwanda)
less successful transitions with slower or negative economic
growth
1 World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan Looking Beyond 2014, November 21, 2011, p. 24

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Figure 11: The Role of PRTs in Aid Activity in the Field

Source: SIGAR, Quarterly Report to US Congress, October 30, 2011, p. 88.

These lessons indicate the importance of a well-managed


transition and highlight the sense of urgency.
Trying to Make Aid Work as PRTs are Eliminated and With
Inadequate U.S., European, Donor, and UN Structures

The aid effort and the ability to conduct joint civilmilitary efforts in the field seem likely to be a major
casualty of transition. The civilian surge that was
supposed to be part of the new U.S. strategy has lagged,
had uncertain organization and quality, and already
faces funding cuts in FY2012. The DoD October 30
report notes that major cuts are already planned in key
aspects of the civil effort like the Provincial Reconstruction Teams: Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) led
by coalition partners have made a significant contribution to Afghanistan's peace and stability. However, the beginning of the Transition
process and the Afghan Government's assumption of its full responsibilities country-wide requires the evolution and ultimate dissolution
of these entities. In June 2011, PRT-contributing nations reaffirmed
that as a part of the transition process, and in recognition of Afghan concerns regarding parallel structures, PRTs would evolve and
phase out based on a set of six guidelines, which include:
1. Evolve, reinvest, and phase out. By the end of their provinces
transition period, PRTs will methodically hand-off their functions and phase out. Each PRT's evolution plan will depend on
Afghan priorities, the unique circumstances in its province,
and the PRT's capabilities and structure.
2. Incentivize Transition. PRTs should support governance and development efforts that promote the transition's sustainability.
3. Set the conditions to make Transition irreversible. PRTs
should focus on supporting and building capacity.
4. Shift to technical assistance, build capacity, and improve national and sub-national linkages.

5. Network and reach back. PRT nations should exchange information and share expertise amongst one another to meet needs
in Afghanistan.1

SIGAR reports that the entire Provincial Reconstruction


Team effort may phase out before 2014 which is a date
long before the Afghan government will have the capacity it needs in the field:
Early in 2011, President Karzai said that PRTs must be dismantled as the Afghan government takes over responsibility for the
country in the transition processAs of September 30, 2011,
DoS was reviewing the composition of the U.S. civilian presence,
and no decision had been made on the disposition of PRTs. The
review was conducted to ensure that the U.S. presence reflects the
U.S. goals and mission and aligns with the two nations strategic
partnership. U.S.-led PRTs operate in 12 provinces, most of them
in the east and south of the country, as shown in Figure 11; 12
coalition partners lead the other 14 PRTs. DoS noted that PRTs
and DSTs focus primarily on building government capacity.2
Trying to Rely on the Afghan Central Government

The withdrawal of U.S. and ISAF forces, and aid teams


in the field, also highlights the problems in trying to carry
transition by funneling aid through a corrupt central
government with limited capability to spend its budget,
much less develop effective programs, implement them
without massive waste and corruption, control contractors, and measure the effectiveness of the project as distinguished from how much money has been spent on it.
It is far from clear that the Afghan government will have
the combination of capacity and integrity it needs before
some point well beyond 2020, if at any time in the near
and mid-term. Currently, corrupt government officials are
1 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and
Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, p. 56 .
2 SIGAR, Quarterly Report to US Congress, October 30, 2011, pp. 8788

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legion. The government lacks capacity at every level, its


planning and spending efforts are grossly overcentralized, and its provincial and district organs often
have only tenuous capacity to absorb and use money effectively.

Strengthening public financial management systems, improving budget execution, and increasing revenue collection, including phased implementation of a value-added tax;

The World Bank is necessarily polite about the limit to Afghan central government capacity to use outside funds and
aid, but a November 2011 analysis notes that,1

Creating a strong enabling environment for private sector investment, including public-private partnerships in social and
economic development, supported by adequate regulatory and
institutional reforms and a robust financial sector; and Working closely with the International Community to develop strategies to reduce overall security costs.

To maintain and increase on-budget spending and service delivery, urgent action is needed to build the core capacity of line
ministries, and ensure that skilled staff can be recruited and retained by the government in the medium term.
While large amounts have been spent on capacity building, it
has created a fragmented second civil service of an estimated 7,000 skilled Afghan consultants managing projects,
without building sufficient government capacity.
In nine ministries, externally funded staff (EFS) make up only 5% of positions but 40% of payroll costs. Reductions in
EFS positions in transition would compromise service delivery as the burdens on government increase.
Donors should support efforts to reduce inflated salary
scales and build government capacity in a strategic and targeted manner by transferring capacity from the second civil
service to the core civil service. This would be more costeffective and provide greater stability.
Development budget execution increased in absolute terms, but
flattened out at below $1billion over the last four years, largely
due to capacity constraints, unrealistic budget formulation, and
donor earmarking and funding delays.
While the execution of the operational budget has been historically high, Afghanistan does not have capacity to handle
large O&M expenditures (O&M only accounts for roughly
$335 million, or 10% of total core expenditure), which are
expected to increase to $4.8 billion by 2015/16.
There are problems with efficiently allocating funds from
the center to provinces/districts and considerable weaknesses
in government capacity at sub-national levels.
Investing in government capacity in budget management
therefore remains an important priority.

The good news is that the Afghan government publically


acknowledged the scale of the problem at the Bonn II
Conference in late 2011,2
The Government of Afghanistan is committed to building a secure,
prosperous, democratic Afghanistan based on fiscally sustainable
private sector-led economic growth, well-governed and transparent
government institutions, and mutually beneficial regional economic
cooperation. We will set priorities and take difficult decisions to embrace reform and make effective use of international assistance, in
accordance with the following objectives:
Increasing Government capacity and building on structural reforms to improve public service delivery;

1 World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan Looking Beyond 2014, November 21, 2011, pp. 14.
2 Towards a Self-Sustaining Afghanistan, An Economic Transition
Strategy. Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and
dated November 29, 2011.

Increasing transparency and accountability to prevent corruption;

Progress towards the achievement of these objectives is


vital. They will help us to reach shared goals for improved security, governance, and development. The Government believes that clear, mutually agreed targets, pursued with the International Community, are the best
means for monitoring our joint performance. For these
reasons, and with the support of the International Community, the Government commits to:
Improve Afghanistans ranking in the Transparency Internationals Corruption Perception Index, moving from a current rank of
176 to a rank of 150 within three years,
Improve by 15 positions on the IFCs Doing Business Survey
within three years, and maintain or improve our ranking on each
of the ten indicators,
Grow the ratio of revenue collection to GDP from 11% to 15%
within four years, and to 20% by 2025,
Within five years: to improve the management of public funds
as measured by the PEFA assessment by 20%, to improve transparent accountable use of public funds measured by the Open
Budget Index to 40% and to improve budget execution to 75% ,
and
Improve our score in the UNDP human development index by
25% in the next three years; and by 50% in the next ten years.
The Government of Afghanistan believes that with the support of
the International Community these commitments are realistic and
achievable The Kabul Process, initiated at the London Conference January 2010 and formalized at the Kabul Conference July
2010, provides the framework for partnership and mutual accountability for the Afghan Government to assume full responsibility for
security, development and governance and the realization of a secure country with a sustainable economyThe Government will
continue to employ the Kabul Process including increased donor
engagement to channel international support for the specific activities that can further these over-arching objectives. These activities
will support the Government of Afghanistan to develop policies
and undertake programs aimed at: (a) achieving financial sustainability through future revenue streams by creating critical infrastructure that is sustainable and can be supported by Afghanistans
budget, (b) reforming and creating critical institutions for effective
governance, (c) increasing productivity in agriculture and rural areas for growth, poverty reduction and increased food security, (d)
strengthening rule of law, and continuing improvement to Afghanistans legal framework, (e) establishing an enabling environment
for private sector-led growth and private investment, including a
strong financial sector, secure access to capital and transparent responsible regulatory environments, (f) building skilled human
capital, (g) achieving economic and social stability through increased access to improved job opportunities, (h) strengthening regional economic integration through initiatives such the New Silk
Road vision and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation
(CAREC) Program to promote trade, facilitate transit, expand market access and support economic growth.

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...Successful implementation of this strategy will be a gradual process and the Government of Afghanistan seeks continued support
from the International Community in both security and nonsecurity assistance to achieve shared objectives in governance
and development. This will involve implementing existing commitments and directing diminishing international resources towards
the most effective and efficient channels for expenditure of aid
funds. The Government, therefore, urges the International Community to fully implement best practices in aid effectiveness as
agreed at the London and Kabul Conferences.

The bad news is that nothing to date indicates that the


Afghan governments ability to make promises, and state
good intentions, matches its ability to implement them.
As a whole new range of reporting in late 2011 indicated,
no progress is yet being made. Senior Afghan officials
ranging from key anti-corruption officials to the head of
Afghans orphanages see critical problems in government
behavior and leadership, and handling of human rights. It
is all too clear that reform of the Afghan central governments contracting effort may be impossible or only possible with different leadership and that long after 2014.1
A decade of anti-corruption efforts has produced little
more than the occasional scapegoat and a constant reshuffling of positions for corrupt and incompetent officials and police officers that have political influence.

fice, and a number of in-house reviews by European governments.


It is all too clear that U.S., NATO/ISAF military spending and aid donors have operated in ways that were intensely corrupting and must take at least as much of the
blame as the Afghans. What is not clear is that any effective reform will be possible as the U.S., NATO/ISAF,
and donors cut both their spending and presence in the
field, and many Afghans have come to fear transition
so much that their main goal becomes leaving the country.
This raises a whole new set of questions about how to
manage transition during 2012-2014, and when and
whether any effective Afghan and international program
can be developed to deal with the post 2014 transition
period.
A major cutback in the size of civil aid efforts seems inevitable, but so far, the emphasis seems to be on cuts and
not finding some functional approach to phasing the civil
efforts down that offers a reasonable path toward a stable
transition. The civil surge is on a path where it will be
replaced by a rush to the exits.

The Corrupting Effect of Military and Aid Spending Without


Proper Planning and Controls

The Death of the Afghan Compact and


National Development Plan

At the same time, U.S., European, and other donors have


not shown that they can convincingly substitute for the
Afghan governments lack of capacity. They have consistently thrown money at various aid tasks without adequate analysis of requirements, planning, coordination,
and measures of effectiveness that go beyond the ability
to throw money at a project.

More broadly, Figure 12 shows that the U.S. has abandoned any real world hope that the U.S., Europe, and
other donors can finance the ambitious aid plans called
for in the Afghan Compact and Afghan Development
Plan. The U.S. did so early in 2011 long before the current budget crisis began to force major changes in U.S.
aid plans and help speed the pace of US military withdrawal. It is a warning on just how decoupled past and
ongoing aid and development plans were from reality before the current focus on transition.

A 2010-2011 ISAF task force led by Brigadier General H.


R. McMasters found that this lack of management had
led to massive contractor waste and fraud, and had had an
equally massive corrupting and inflationary impact on
Afghans and outside contractors who took money that
was never properly controlled. These conclusions have
been confirmed by a variety of audits by the U.S. Special
Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, other U.S.
inspector generals, the U.S. General Accountability Of1 See David Alexander, Afghan security contractor oversight poor:
Senate report, Reuters, Washington, Fri Oct 8, 2010 6:58am EDT;
Ray Rivera, Obstacles Hinder Formation of Afghan Security Force,
Report Says, New York Times, November 1, 2011; and Moshe
Schwartz, Congressional Research Service, Wartime Contracting in
Afghanistan: Analysis and Issues for Congress, November 14, 2011,
http://www.scribd.com/doc/73041739/Wartime
Contracting-inAfghanistan-11142011; Rod Norland, Orphans Defender Jostles
With Afghan Corruption, New York Times, December 31, 2011; Justin Elliot, Corruption in Afghanistan: Worse than you thought; A
new report suggests up to 30 percent of U.S. taxpayer money spent
on certain aid projects is stolen, Salon, November 19, 2011; Julian
Borger, Afghan anti-corruption watchdog threatens to quit; Hamid
Karzai warned corrupt senior officials must be prosecuted to end
stalemate in battle with Taliban; The Guardian, December 4, 2011;
Patricia Grossman,. Kabul's Stealth Attack on Human Rights, New
York Times, December 26, 2011.

It is now likely that cuts in military and outside aid


spending will plunge Afghanistan into a major recession,
and possibly depression, just as U.S. troops exit.
Creating an Aid and Afghan Budget Crisis by 2014:
The Year Troops Leave and a Presidential Election is
Supposed to be Held

All of these issue raise critical challenges for the U.S.,


Europe, and the Afghan government in dealing with the
probable impact of the cuts in donor spending on civil
and security programs, along with the massive cuts that
will occur in U.S. and ISAF military spending as combat
forces withdraw. Working level estimates by the IMF and
World Bank, as well as U.S. and British officials, warn
that the end result could be a major recession or depression by 2014 the same year Afghanistan is scheduled to
hold and election and rely fully on Afghan forces for its
security.

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Figure 12: The Pre-Transition Crisis in Aid and Development Funding

GIRoA Spending Expectations Inconsistent with Future Budget Restrictions

12

Requested ANDS
Resource Ceiling**

US Dollars Billions

10

8
GIRoA Estimated Total Spending*
(On Budget NOT INCLUDING ANSF Spending)

6
4

FY2010

Civilian Assistance

FY2011
Senate Level

60% of P eak Budget

0
2008/09

40%

GIRoA Revenues
2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

20%

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

Source: Source: GAO, 10-655R, June 15, 2010 and USAID, USAID Afghanistan: Towards an Enduring Partnership, January 28, 2011

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Figure 13: Domestic Revenues Projected to Increase, but Spending Likely to Grow Faster
(Total Budget Expenditure and Revenues)

Source: World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan: Looking Beyond 2014, November 21, 2011, p. 9

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Figure 14: Managing the Financing Gap in 2021/22


Financing Gap with and without Security (% of GDP, Excluding Grants)

Source: World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan: Looking Beyond 2014, November 21, 2011, p. 11

The World Bank Warning

A November 2011 World Bank estimate of the impact


of transition on the Afghan national budget driven
by estimated cuts in is shown military spending and
limited cuts in aid is shown in Figure 13.1
The key points in the World Bank analysis of these
trends are:2
Domestic revenues are projected to increase from 10% of GDP
to 17.5% by 2021/22, driven largely by the planned value added
tax and mining revenues
But over the same period, operating spending on:
Security: Wage bill to increase from 7% of GDP to 10% to
reach 352,000 troops and Operations & Maintenance (O&M)
from 1% to 10.5% of GDP ($3.5 billion annually in 2011 prices)
by 2014/15
Non-security: Civil service wage bill will increase from 5% of
GDP to 9%, and O&M spending required to sustain donor capital investments from 1% to 4% by 2014/15 ($1.3 billion in 2011
prices)

The World Bank estimates that Afghanistans domestic


revenues will continue to rise, but that operating costs
will rise much more quickly than revenues. It estimated
that security costs could reach seventeen percent of
GDP and that other governmental wages, operating
costs, and maintenance costs could reach another fourteen percent of GDP. The current Afghan budget projects some $2.5 billion in outside aid for 2012-2017, but
this ignores large amounts of off-budget donor aid. If
all such expenditures were included in the cost of replacing items currently covered by the external budget,
the total deficit could reach some 25% of the GDP
($7.2 billion in current 2011 dollars)

Combined, these operating expenditures will be almost twice the


size of domestic revenues by 2021/22

Other working level studies indicate that foreign spending will total some forty to seventy-five percent of Afghan GDP in 2011. No one can currently predict just
how serious the drop in outside spending will be by
2014, or in the year beyond, but estimates of the cut in
current military spending in Afghanistan range from
seventy to ninety percent.

1 World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan Looking Beyond 2014,


November 21, 2011, p. 9.
2 Ibidem, p. 11.

While it must be stressed that the World Bank is forced


to make rough estimates because of a lack of accurate
data on military and aid spending, the implication of the

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de facto level of Afghan government spending, and the


inability to predict future security and Afghan government capacity the implication is that these problems
will almost certainly outpace the level of aid the U.S.,
Europe, Russia, China, and other donors will provide.
These estimates are shown in Figure 14, and the key
points in the World Bank analysis of future Afghan
need for aid are:1
25% of GDP ($7.2 billion in 2011 prices) would still be needed
to bridge the gap even in 2021/22
o While aid could finance any combination of these expenditures,
a reasonable option to fill the gap could be:
o The Afghan budget funds civilian O&M ($1.3 billion) and a
contribution to the security wage bill at 2010 level
o Donors absorb the additional increasing security expenditures
(that is, security wages plus security O&M)
o Donors increase on-budget contributions by around 11% in development budget grants
Non-security services are threatened by reductions in projectbased donor funding and/or by continued underfunding of O&M
o Risks vary between sectors:
o Transportation and health are highly vulnerable due to high reliance on donor-funding and low O&M spending
o Electricity is less vulnerable, due to potential recovery of costs
through user fees
o Although less reliant on donors, O&M in education is underfunded
Tough expenditure choices need to be made (both by the Government and donors) in dealing with the civil sector:
o Choosing investment projects that are growth-enhancing and affordable and that can be operated and maintained
o Prioritizing O&M spending, which will require inter- and intrasectoral trade-offs
o Maintaining social spending and delivering basic services (education, health, rural livelihoods)
o Revenue collection needs to improve to reach planned targets.
To minimize leakage:
o Forcefully implement customs reforms
o Enhance capacity in tax administration to implement the valueadded tax
o Establish robust accountability mechanisms for managing mineral revenues
o Government capacity to implement on-budget financing needs
to improve

While this may seem reasonable to the World Bank,


it is far from clear that anything like these totals will
come from the outside, and the failure to provide them
would cripple the Afghan government in both its security and civil operations. Moreover, this level of aid
would only meet Afghan budget requirements. It does
not attempt to compensate for the economic impact of
massive cuts in spending on military operations.
Transition without Growth and Producing a
Possible Recession or Depression

Afghanistan is not Iraq. It cannot fund transition, and


massive economic problems will occur during 20142020 if aid is not phased out in ways that allow Afghanistan to ease the impact. These years will be critical
since there are literally hundreds of thousands of armed
Afghans dependent on outside funding, in addition to
1 Ibidem , pp. 13-16.

the fact that the Afghan government must fund a presidential election in 2014 the same year U.S. and ISAF
troops are to withdraw.
There is broad agreement at the working level in the
World Bank, IMF, and donor governments that most of
the growth in Afghan GDP since 2002 has come from military spending and donor aid, and not from sustainable
growth in the Afghan economy. Some experts believe that
cuts in foreign spending could reduce Afghan GDP by
some fifteen to forty percent during transition the same
year that combat troops will be gone and a presidential
election is schedule to take place.
It should be stressed that the ability to conduct such analysis suffers from the fact that the UN, U.S., other donors,
and other international institutions never created a truly
credible model of the Afghan economy during ten years of
war, estimates of the size and impact of all forms of outside spending, or models that examined the situation that
given groups of Afghans faced by sector, region, and class
of employment and income distribution. They never based
their aid programs on an effective model of the economy,
the impact of existing levels of aid, or the impact of outside nationals and NGO aid.
Similarly, UNAMA failed in its mission of coordinating
the overall aid effort, and has never produced a meaningful public analysis either of the economy or of the
aid effort. The World Bank has largely operated from
outside the country. While it has attempted to produce a
recent analysis of the economy, this analysis is not currently available to outside researchers.
Moreover as has been noted earlier the U.S. Department of Defense, ISAF, and other ISAF member
countries do not have reliable estimates of the portion
of total military spending that is actually spent in Afghanistan. And, these problems are further compounded
by the inability to know how much domestic revenue
collection actually comes directly or indirectly from activity that is only possible because of vast foreign
spending. The World Bank also warned in March 2011
that only about thirty percent of the Afghan budget was
actually discretionary, and that some seventy percent
was non-discretionary carry forward and new expenditure.2 These rigidities will further limit Afghan ability
to respond to outside funding cuts.
In spite of these uncertainties, however, it is all too
clear that the Afghan economy could plunge into recession and depression if U.S., ISAF, and donors make
sudden, crippling cuts to their military and aid spending.
It is also clear that efforts to disguise this fact by focusing on optimistic estimates of the direct impact of
spending cuts that ignore the total direct and indirect
impact of cuts in aid and military spending are misleading to the point of being actively dishonest.

2 World Bank, March 14, 2011.

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These are issues that no amount of obfuscation, conceptual


PowerPoints, and political dodging around the issue can
deal with. Any U.S. government, UNAMA, or other document that does not explicitly model the full set of risks
involved, and set forth a detailed spending program to
minimize their impact goes beyond political spin. It is a
fundamental failure in ethical behavior and basic professional competence on the part of anyone involved.

Declining aid is likely to aggravate underemployment more


than unemployment
Research suggests that most aid-financed jobs are casual
(last less than 6 months)
Estimates suggest that a $0.5 billion decline in the external
budget could affect 11,00018,000 job opportunities (sixmonth basis)
The job impact will be felt by low-skilled workers in construction, transportation, and retail as well as by higher skilled
technical professionals who directly work on aid projects

This is clear both from recent working studies by individual governments, work now in progress by the IMF,
and work that has been published by the World Bank.
The World Bank notes how dependent Afghanistan is
on aid for growth as well as for security and stability:

A separate World Bank document issued in November


2011 provides further insight into the potential impact
of spending and aid cuts on the Afghan economy:1

Afghanistan remains one of the least developed countries


Average GDP growth over FY 2003/0410/11 was 9.1%
(8.4% without outlier years)
Private investment (8.5% of GDP) and exports (2.5% of
GDP) have been low; GDP growth has been mainly driven
by consumption
Severe constraints to future growth: conflict, landlocked,
and narrow economic base
A nation of 30.6 million people with a per capita GDP of
$528 in 2010/11, among the poorest 10 countries
In 2008, 36% of the population lived below the poverty line; more
than half of the population is considered vulnerable
Infant mortality (134 per 1,000 live births) is highest in the world
Life expectancy is 48.1 years
75% of the population is illiterate
With population growth at 2.8%, Afghanistan needs strong
economic growth to reduce poverty and improve development outcomes
A growth rate of 6% a year would be required to double Afghanistans per capita GDP in about 22 years (in about a
generation)

The World Bank does not explicitly examine a worst


case scenario where the U.S. and other outside powers
do not provide significant aid, but Figure 15 does show
several cases that warn how much aid transition will
have to be managed in order to be successful. Figure 16
also provides a rough estimate of the impact of a rapid
scale-down of aid although it should be stressed that
the World Bank does not tie the analysis in either figure
to a case where Afghanistan still faces major military
challenges in 2014 and beyond, and/or problems in
dealing with Pakistan or its own internal divisions.
Even if one only takes account of classic economic effects from cuts in growth which can only tell part of
the story in Afghanistan, the World Bank warns that,
Disruptions in service delivery will be felt by most households
across all provinces
Direct impact of declining aid on the poor is likely to be modest. Likely reasons:
Only a fraction of aid reaches the poorThe majority of aid
was directed not to reducing poverty but to improving security
and governance
Aid has not been well targetedDirect benefits of aid flows
appear to have accrued disproportionately to provinces with
less poverty and higher income households
Impact is expected to be uneven across provinceslarger in
conflict provinces and urban centers because they received
most of the aid

The extremely high level of current annual aid (estimated at $15.7 billion in 2010) is roughly the same dollar amount as Afghanistans GDP and cannot be sustained. Aid has funded the delivery of essential services
including education and health, infrastructure investments, and government administration. There have been
substantial improvements in the lives of Afghans over the
last 10 years as a result of this effort. But these inflows,
most outside the Afghan budget, have been so high that
inevitable waste and corruption, aid dependency and use
of parallel systems to circumvent limited Government
absorptive capacity have impeded aid delivery and the
building of a more effective Afghan state.

The level of public spending -- both on and off budget -that has been financed by such high aid flows will be
fiscally unsustainable for Afghanistan once donor
funds decline. Lesser amounts, matched by more effective aid delivery could, in the end, lead to some more
positive outcomes. The key issue is how to manage this
change and mitigate the adverse impacts, and put aid and
spending on a more sustainable path for the longer-term.
International experience and Afghanistans history after
the Soviet military withdrawal in 1989 demonstrate that
violent fluctuations in aid, especially abrupt aid cutoffs,
are extremely damaging and destabilizing.

Large financial inflows outside the Afghan budget and


fragmented aid in a situation of weak governance have
been major sources of rents, patronage, and political
power. This has inadvertently exacerbated grievances and
conflicts as the relative strength of elite groups in Afghan
society shifted. As aid declines, reliance on the opium
economy and other illicit activities could increase. Ensuring that increasingly constrained public funds are well
used reinforces the need to maintain and improve upon
the significant progress made by the Finance Ministry in
establishing public financial management systems and a
robust Afghan budget process.

The impact of declining aid on economic growth may be

less than expected. Why? Because most international


spending on Afghanistan is not spent in Afghanistan,
and much of what is spent in Afghanistan leaves the
economy through imports, expatriated profits and outward remittances. Nevertheless, projections suggest that,
under even favorable assumptions, real GDP growth may
fall from 9% a year over the past decade to 5-6% during
201118. Given Afghanistans annual population growth
of 2.8%, this would mean only limited improvement in
average per capita income, continuing high rates of underemployment and little progress in reducing poverty.

1 World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan: Looking Beyond 2014,


Executive Summary, November 2011, pp. 1-2.

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Figure 15: Security is Critical for Economic Growth

Source: World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan: Looking Beyond 2014, November 21, 2011, p. 20

Figure 16: How a Scale Down of Aid Would Affect Growth

Source: World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan: Looking Beyond 2014, November 21, 2011, p. 2

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Only growth at the very maximum of the range of plausible


scenarios would enable Afghanistan to achieve meaningful
reductions in poverty and high er average per capita incomes. For example, with real GDP growth of 6% a year,
average per capita income currently one of the worlds
lowest at $528 dollars would take 22 years or about a generation to double.

Economic growth is much slower under less favorable


scenarios. The growth projections are based on a set of assumptions (scenarios) related mainly to security, sources of
growth, aid levels, and changes in investment climate. If the
assumptions in the less favorable scenarios come to pass
for example, if agriculture performance is poor, if major
mining investments (Aynak for copper and Hajigak for iron
ore) do not materialize, or if aid declines precipitously over
the period then growth could drop to 3-4%. Deteriorating
security and governance would lead to further economic decline. The underdeveloped financial sector and low rates of
financial intermediation leave little scope for helping Afghan businesses adjust to slowing growth. Conversely, the
decline could be partly mitigated by reducing aid in a gradual, planned manner and by increasing the amount of aid
that is actually spent within Afghanistan that would result if
more aid channeled through the Afghan budget.
Underemployment will increase because the activities affected by declining financial inflows (services, construction) are relatively labor-intensive. Unemployment and especially underemployment in Afghanistanrespectively estimated at 8% and 48%are already high, even with todays rapid economic growth. Roughly 610% of the working population has benefited from aid-financed job opportunities, most of these in short-term employment. Declining
aid, therefore, can be expected to exacerbate underemployment levels (with fewer casual labor opportunities and lower pay for skilled employees).
The impact of the decline will affect some groups more than
others. Aid has not been evenly spread across the country. Because of the choices made by donors, and the predominant role
of stabilization and military spending, the conflict-affected provinces have had significantly higher per capita aid than the more
peaceful (and often poorer) provinces. As a result, the slowdown in aid will be felt more acutely in the conflict-affected areas and in urban centers. If aid declines gradually so that it can
be partly offset by growth of the security, mining, and civilian
public sectors, the impact could be softened and spread over
time. This would allow labor markets more time to adjust.
The direct poverty impact of declining international spending might be limited if aid becomes more equally distributed across provinces and the composition shifts toward development programs rather than short-run stabilization
activities. Aid disproportionately devoted to the more conflict-affected provinces has had only a modest impact on
poverty. Households in the conflict-affected provinces were
less poor on average to begin with, so this concentration of
aid inadvertently increased inequality amongst provinces
and between groups. National programs delivered through
the Government, such as NSP, have benefitted Afghans
more equitably.
The worst impact of transition will be on the fiscal situation with a projected financing gap of 25% of GDP by
2021/22. Even assuming ambitious targets for robust growth
in domestic revenue are met (with a projected rise from
10% of GDP to more than 17% of GDP a decade from
now), there will be an unmanageable fiscal gap. This gap
arises primarily as a result of operations and maintenance
(O&M) spending and the wage bill for security that together
will be 17.5% of GDP by 2021. The civilian wage bill will
increase to 9%, the non-security operation and maintenance

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(O&M) expenditure to 4%, other operating spending to


2.5%, and the core development budget to 10% of GDP.

Working studies by the World Bank and IMF, as well


as by several ISAF governments, recognize that a major
planning effort is needed, and make several generic
suggestions to mitigate the impact of cuts in outside
spending:
Channel more aid through the budget and increase Afghan
capacity to absorb and use aid effectively by reducing corruption and enhancing financial management;
Design smaller development contracts with a far larger share
for Afghan contractors;
Sustain military assistance transfers and aid to the ANSF
even as troops draw down;
Afghans should take steps to increase revenues through taxes
like VAT, by reducing corruption, and strengthening public
financial systems;
Strengthening the banking system by resolving the banking
crisis and developing a more stable banking sector capable
and willing to increase credit; and,
Integrate regional markets, and open U.S. and other Western
markets to Afghan exports.

No effort has yet been made, however, to quantify the


impact of such measures, and it is far from clear that
they will be adequate. Much will also depend on
whether Afghanistan can maintain and grow its service
and financial sectors, and achieve enough stability, security, rule of law, and governance to grow its agriculture, power output, and supply of water. Various studies
indicate that all three areas have potential, particularly
urban services and agriculture.
The Afghan Response

The Afghan government acknowledged the risks inherent in such dependence at the Bonn II Conference in
December 2011, and outlined a potential transition plan
for the Afghan civil sector in broad terms, 1
Afghanistans fiscal gap is significant, and unless it is addressed
the good work of the past ten years will come undone. The Government and the World Bank have examined the financial position of Afghanistan as it moves beyond Transition and the results, shared in the joint World Bank - Government report, show
that even under ideal conditions the Government will not be able
to cover spending pressures4. In the preparation of this document Government closely examined the costs associated with
delivery of its planned strategy. It used the same economic
models as the World Bank, but made slight modifications in the
fiscal assumptions.
Government chose to exercise additional restraint on forecast spending on recurrent costs, incorporated modest increases in minerals related revenue and invested the proceeds in development. The prima1 Towards a Self-Sustaining Afghanistan, An Economic Transition
Strategy. Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and
dated November 29, 2011.

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ry difference between World Bank and MoF models is that the MoF
forecasts continued projections to the future, to understand what
would be required to achieve sustainability.
This internal analysis has not been independently reviewed by
donors, but calculates the estimated cost of continued nonsecurity related on-budget development through the NPP
framework is equal to 14% of GDP in 2015, with an estimated
9% of GDP coming through off-budget channels. The total cost
of security is 26% of GDP. The civilian wage bill, O&M and
other recurrent non-security Government costs is equal to 13%
of GDP. The total forecast for required on budget spending is
therefore equal to 53% of GDP in 2015 and 62% when projected
off-budget development spending is considered. Substantial
funding cuts in any of these areas undermine our ability to
achieve our shared goal of a secure, sustainable Afghanistan.
Included in these estimates are the costs of absorbing the results
of more than ten years of generous external budget assistance
programs. Of the estimated $57 billion spent on Afghan reconstruction only $6 billion has been channeled through the national development budget, with the full ownership of Government.
In spite of this, the Government will ultimately need to absorb,
utilize and maintain much of this infrastructure. It realizes that it
must face difficult decisions about which assets can be accepted.
Further, Government will inherit funding responsibility for externally funded technical advisors that are essential to the delivery of donor-funded programs. Long-term success in Afghanistan requires that the anticipated shortfall in security and development spending be met.
The Governments strategy to address this involves a recommitment by the Afghan Government to economic growth,
key reforms and increased efficiency in revenue mobilization.
The IMF forecasts that Afghanistan will collect $2.0 billion in
revenue in fiscal 201112, corresponding to just over 11% of
GDP. By fiscal 2016 we believe that a 15% revenue to GDP ratio is achievable. This is comparable to Nepal (15.7%), the Philippines (13.4%), and Sri Lanka (14.6%) and well above many
other post-conflict, least developed nations where data is collected7. Succeeding would mean that the Government would
collect $4.4 billion in 2016, and would reflect an average revenue growth rate from 2009 of more than 30%.

It is important to note, however, that the Afghan government did not provide a clear plan for using aid and
for Afghan economic development, and did not address
the future shape and costs of the Afghan National Security Forces which have been by far the most expensive aspect of donor aid to date. The government instead focused on the past hopes of the Afghan national
development plans and its National Priority Plans
(NPPs), although it stated that the status of such efforts
was highly uncertain, warned that aid costs might rise,
and it made no attempt to assess their impact on the Afghan economy,1
More than 60% of development activities in the NPPs are currently underway. They are 35% funded with existing, programmed money. The unfunded portions of the NPPs are
aligned with donor priorities, reflect the experience of the donor community shared with us in extensive consultations and
are already being considered for funding by our partners. The
NPPs are our national priorities and will form the basis of government programming well beyond transition, implemented in
a way that is sustainable with available resourcesAnalysis of
the long-term costs of continuing implementation of these programs is ongoing.
1 Towards a Self-Sustaining Afghanistan, An Economic Transition
Strategy. Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and
dated November 29, 2011.

We anticipate a gradual reduction in capital spending and a


shift toward increased program operation costs, but with only
small decreases in funding requirements over time. The exception to this trend is the creation of physical infrastructure. Here,
capital costs are anticipated to rise once program planning
phases are complete and construction begins. This corresponds
to the phased completion of transport corridors envisioned in
the National Resource Corridor Program and the New Silk
Road vision.

The Afghan government did call for reforms to


strengthen outside and domestic investment, although it
again tactically assume a high level of security in 2014
and success in reform,
The Governments strategy to address this involves a recommitment by the Afghan Government to economic growth,
key reforms and increased efficiency in revenue mobilization.
The IMF forecasts that Afghanistan will collect $2.0 billion in
revenue in fiscal 201112, corresponding to just over 11% of
GDP. By fiscal 2016 we believe that a 15% revenue to GDP
ratio is achievable. This is comparable to Nepal (15.7%), the
Philippines (13.4%), and Sri Lanka (14.6%) and well above
many other post-conflict, least developed nations where data is
collected7. Succeeding would mean that the Government
would collect $4.4 billion in 2016, and would reflect an average revenue growth rate from 2009 of more than 30%.
To achieve this, the Government has committed to an aggressive program of efficiency and reform, agreed with the IMF on
November 14th, 2011. The key elements of this program include
measures to increase the efficiency of our customs and
revenue departments,
expanding the Governments ability to enforce the Afghan
tax law,
improved governance of our state-owned enterprises and
corporations, including strong measures for the elimination
of subsidies, and clear time-bound plans to turn over nonessential functions to the private sector,
increase capacity and an improved institutional framework
to respond to economic crime,
implementation of a series of reforms to strengthen the financial sector, ensuring access to capital for legitimate investors, and
a phased implementation of a value-added tax providing
for tax efficiency and a more progressive, pro-poor taxation.
The impact of private sector investment in Afghanistans
extractive industries is forecast to have a substantial impact
on government revenues. Though the challenges of producing an accurate forecast of mineral related revenue cannot
be overstated, optimistic scenarios predict that from 2016
annual receipts could reach more than $1.5 billion per year
and grow to more than $3 billion by 2026. Though Government will continue to aggressively pursue this potential
revenue, it has taken a more conservative approach to revenue planning.
Beginning in 2016, internal estimates forecast revenue contribution of $500 million per year and grow steadily afterwards. This
combined with increases in efficiency in tax and customs would
push our revenue to GDP ratio to an estimated 21% by 2030.
These estimates forecast minerals-related revenues to grow at an
annualized rate of 17% per year between 2016 and 2030.
Achieving this scenario would require a significant positive
change in security and the Afghan business climate leading to
increases in direct local investment. In addition to the measures
described in this paper the Government re-commits itself to the
principle of transparent, responsible use of mineral sector revenues.

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The basic Afghan response, however, was to call for
more aid. President Karzai requested some $10 billion a
year through 2030 for a program that set ambitious
goals for both security and development, called for
equally ambitious reforms and improvements in governance, and called for the Afghan government to
achieve full independence from outside support in
2030:1
By 2015 Afghanistan will have taken over full responsibility for its own security, and will be leading development initiatives and processes with the confidence to make critical
foundational investments that will lead to economic growth
and fiscal sustainability.
By 2025 Afghanistan will have eliminated its dependency on
international assistance for funding to non-security sectors
and will only receive support consistent with all other least
developed nations. A robust and growing extractive industries
sector will have developed. Through effective development
and, improved delivery of Government services, the root
causes of insurgency will be reduced and, in consultation with
international partners, plans will have been put in place to reduce the size of the ANSF.
By 2030 Afghanistan will be funding a professional, highly
effective ANSF. Achievements in development and governance will see Afghanistan emerge as a model of a democratic, developing Islamic nations.

The increases in revenue were very ambitious. They


called for revenues to rise $2.0 billion in fiscal 201112,
corresponding to just over eleven percent of GDP, to
$4.4 billion, or fifteen percent by 2016, an average annual revenue growth rate from 2009 of more than thirty
percent. The requirement for outside aid was described
as follows,2
Based on our initial analysis we must look to donors to finance
approximately 47% of GDP or approximately $10 billion in
2015. At first glance, this figure may look enormous. However,
it reflects a 40% reduction from current aid levels, and it is expected to decline over time. The Government takes the challenge donors will face in maintaining this level of assistance seriously, but notes that when compared to the current spending of
the International Community it is small. The current estimated
cost of the international military presence in Afghanistan is
$140 billion per year; 7% of total 2011 security costs is sufficient to fund the entire gap. This cost savings can facilitate Afghanistan's passage to a future that is not aid-dependent. A longterm funding commitment by the International Community, declining over time and ending in 2030, would provide the necessary stability in financing to allow Afghanistan to arrive at a
stable and prosperous future. Based on current analysis the
Government of Afghanistan believes it will be necessary for the
donor community to fund the cost of the Afghan security forces
through 2025.
To be successful, this financial support should be defined in two
categories: security assistance and non-security assistance.
Security assistance. Based on current analysis the Government
of Afghanistan believes it will be necessary for the donor com1 The details were provided in a separate paper circulated in addition
to the Presidents statement entitled, Towards a Self-Sustaining
Afghanistan, An Economic Transition Strategy. It was issued by
the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and dated
November 29, 2011.
2 Ibidem

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munity to fund the cost of the Afghan security forces through


2025. The Government will continue to contribute to the recurrent cost of maintaining the security forces. The Government
commits to work closely with the International Community to
develop strategies to reduce the number of troops, and their recurrent maintenance costs.
Non-Security assistance. We ask the International Community
to work with Government to implement the NPPs in a manner
that creates conditions where strong economic growth is enabled
and the root causes of insurgency are diminished. Donor funds
will used to achieve the commitments laid-out in this document
and to achieve our shared goals of improved public financial
management, reduced vulnerability to corruption, broad political
and institutional reform, improved public service delivery, a
strong enabling environment for growth, and direct poverty reduction.

These Afghan requirements for future aid are valid to


the extent they reflect the very real requirements described in World Bank and other donor studies. At the
same time, they seem to be based on assumptions about
future security, the pace of reform and improvement in
governance, increases economic development and activity, and increases in government revenue that are optimistic to the point of being unrealistic. As a result,
they almost certainly understate the level of outside aid
need to achieve Afghan goals. Aid levels of roughly
$120 billion over the entire period are almost certainly
too low both to cover the cost of funding the Afghan
National Security Forces during transition and beyond, and to give Afghanistan the resources to cope
with the loss of U.S. and ISAF military spending during
2012-2014 and the probable cuts in donor civil aid.
Why Mismanaging Transition Could Create Even Worse
Conditions for Post Transition Stability

Gross economic impacts are also only part of the story.


The agricultural part of the Afghan economy will be extremely vulnerable to weather problems during this period.
Some thirty to forty-five percent of Afghanistans GDP
comes from agriculture, and a drought in 2008 reduced
overall GDP growth from ten to fifteen percent. This is
particularly important because narcotics output continues
to increasesome ten percent of narcotics revenue continues to go to insurgents and up to seventy percent goes to
distributors and criminal networks. In spite of the relatively high price for wheat and some other crops, marketing
and distribution are improving very slowly at the national
level, and they will remain high-risk crops relative to drugs
well beyond 2014.3
Spending cuts could cripple much of the service sector
especially construction and transportation that now
account for some fifty percent of GDP. This would
have a major impact on urban areas, where political unrest and security problems are most likely to arise from
a recession or lack of growth.
3 Alissa J. Rubin, In Afghanistan, Poppy Growing Proves Resilient,
New York Times, January 2, 2012, p. A1, A8.; Discussions with
U.S. and German experts

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Security Problems and Regional Impacts

Cuts in spending will hit the hardest in the least secure


areas. ISAF and U.S embassy estimates indicate that
more than three quarters of U.S. assistance goes to the
Southeast, and Southwest the largely Pashtun provinces. These are also the areas that receive most of the
military funding that is actually spent in Afghanistan
(the World Bank estimated that external aid to Helmand
totaled $350 per person in 2010). At the same time,
sensitive urban centers also receive disproportionate
spending. The Kabul district got $480 million of $850
million in U.S. aid disbursements from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011.
As has been stressed throughout this analysis, much
will depend on how serious the security threat is in
2014 and beyond. Some working estimates indicate that
estimates that the total annual budget deficit could easily reach twenty to twenty-five percent by 2014 and
twenty-five to thirty percent by 2021, if Afghanistan
funds the ANSF and its security efforts at the necessary
level, but there are no estimates that focus on regional
and district level impacts.
The previous analysis of tactical trends warns, however,
that it is unlikely that U.S., other ISAF forces, and the
ANSF can secure enough of the eighty-one critical terrain districts, and forty-one districts of interest, that are
the focus of the current ISAF strategy. It is equally unlikely that Pakistan will be fully secure in its border areas, will fully cooperate with the Afghan government,
and will give Afghan development high priority.
This is particularly important in the case of combat areas. Some working studies indicate that some eighty percent of the total mix of aid and military spending goes
to conflict areas in the South and East of Afghanistan.
In many cases, such aid is tailored to immediate operations and not to lasting development.
Such aid is managed by PRTs and military forces, and
not by the Afghan government. Removing outside forces and civil-military aid teams will impact far more
heavily on such combat districts than the country as a
whole, it potentially could lead large numbers of armed
men to react to cuts in funding and support, and it is
questionable whether Afghan government will be able
to cope.
The Impact of Demographics

Most transition models do not account for demographic factors that the World Bank and U.S. working
studies have shown will be critical:
Growth: With a current population of about 29-31 million,
population growth will be roughly 2.5% annually.
o US Census Bureau estimates that the Afghan population has
grown from 8.2 million in 1950 to 26.1 million in 2010 in spite
of 30 years of crisis and war.
o Growth is estimated to reach 32.6 million in 2015, 36.6 million
in 2025, and 41.1 million in 2025.

Urbanization:
o About 76% of the population lives in rural areas with an annual
urbanization rate of 5.4% due in large part to job availability
and internal displacements.
o Note: Kabuls population is about 3 million (500,000 during the
Taliban era).
Unemployment:
o With a labor force of 15 million people, unemployment will increase from its current level of about 35-40% (31% in agriculture, 26% in industry, 43% in services).
o The World Bank estimated in November 2011 that unemployment and especially underemployment in Afghanistan
respectively estimated at 8% and 48%are already high, even
with todays rapid economic growth. Roughly 610% of the
working population has benefited from aid-financed job opportunities, most of these in short-term employment. Declining aid,
therefore, can be expected to exacerbate underemployment levels (with fewer casual labor opportunities and lower pay for
skilled employees).1
o Almost 43% of the population is under 15 years of age, leading
to a bulge in employable people.
o The lack of jobs, resulting from slowing economic growth, will
cause flight from Afghanistan.
o Annual population growth will outpace job creation.
o Best case for full implementation of the New Silk Road and
other new aid efforts is creating 150,000 jobs over next three
years.
o CIA estimates annual increases in labor force may outpace best
case impact of NSR over three years. 2010 Estimate is growth
of 392,116 males and 370,295 females
Literacy: 28% literacy of population over 15 years of age (43%
male, 12.6% female)

These studies tacitly assume that there is no increase in


the negative economic impacts of the insurgency and civil violence following U.S. and ISAF withdrawal. They
ignore the impact on drug production, and the behavior
of criminal networks and large numbers of armed men
who will suddenly be unemployed. There is a clear need
to do far more to assess the impact on given levels of aid
and spending of the facts that Afghanistan is still at war,
has hundreds of thousands of armed fighters, and faces
an unstable Pakistan and insurgent sanctuaries that
seem all too likely to survive transition.
The Human Impact of Transition on a
Sub-Subsistence Economy

It is equally important to give gross econometrics a


human dimension. Some aid reporting implies Afghanistan has begun to move towards broadly based, stable
development. The UN World Food Program (WFP)
provides a far more realistic picture of the fact that, absent significant external aid, many Afghans still live below the subsistence level. The WFP reports that:2
Afghanistan faces enormous recovery needs after three decades of war, civil unrest and recurring natural disasters. Despite recent progress, millions of Afghans still live in severe
poverty with a crumbling infrastructure and a landscape that is
suffering from environmental damage. This rugged, landlocked
1 World Bank, Transition in Afghanistan: Looking Beyond 2014,
Executive Summary, November 2011, p. 2.
2 UN World Food Program, ww.wfp.org/countries/ Afghanistan/Overview

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country remains one of the poorest in the world, with more
than half the population living below the poverty line. Nearly
one-third of Afghanistan's people are food-insecure, which
means they cannot get enough nutritious food to support an active, healthy lifestyle.
The 2007-2008 National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment
(NRVA) found that 7.4 million people nearly a third of the
population are unable to get enough food to live active,
healthy lives. Another 8.5 million people, or 37 percent, are on
the borderline of food insecurity. Around 400,000 people each
year are seriously affected by natural disasters, such as
droughts, floods, earthquakes or extreme weather conditions.
While life expectancy has increased slightly to 44.5 years
for men and 44 for women, many of the countrys health indicators are alarming. Along with a high infant mortality rate,
Afghanistan suffers from one of the highest levels of maternal
mortality in the world (1,600 deaths per 100,000 live births).
More than half of children under the age of five are malnourished, and micronutrient deficiencies (particularly iodine and
iron) are widespread.

The WFP also notes that aid cuts are already having a
major human impact: Starting this month, WFP is cutting school meals, food-for-training activities and foodfor-work programs in about half of Afghanistans thirty-four provinces. WFP hopes to resume these activities
in the near future, if funding becomes available. WFP,
which is one hundred percent voluntarily funded, had
originally planned to feed more than seven million people in Afghanistan in 2011, but a shortage of donor
funds means the agency will now only reach about 3.8
million people this year.1
These reports are supported by the recent reports of the
UN Secretary General and by the CIA World Factbook,
which states:
Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid,
agriculture, and trade with neighboring countries. Much of the
population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean
water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity,
weak governance, and the Afghan Government's inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. Afghanistan's living standards are among
the lowest in the world. While the international community remains committed to Afghanistan's development, pledging over
$67 billion at four donors' conferences since 2002, the Government of Afghanistan will need to overcome a number of challenges, including low revenue collection, anemic job creation,
high levels of corruption, weak government capacity, and poor
public infrastructure.2

The CIA has never revised its estimate that indicates at


least a third of the population is unemployed and lives
below the poverty line.3 Moreover, no meaningful estimates now exist of the number of internally displaced
persons and the number of Afghans driven into marginal, urban-based lives by security problems, water issues,
and population growth.
1 http://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/wfp-support -hungryafghans-hit-funding-shortfalls
2 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/ the-worldfactbook/geos/af.html
3 Ibidem

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Narcotics, the Grey and Black Economy, Power Brokers,


Criminal Networks and Transition Flight

It does not make sense to assume that transition is going to encourage broader reform of the economy in
ways that allow planners to ignore the impact of narcotics, the gray and black economies, the roles of power
brokers and criminal networks, and the inevitable flight
of some rich Afghans and Afghan capital out of the
country.
There will be obvious incentives for Afghans to seek
larger earnings from narcotics, and there already are
some shifts in this direction. UNDOC reported on October 11, 2011, that:4
Opium poppy-crop cultivation in Afghanistan reached 131,000
hectares in 2011, 7 per cent higher than in 2010, due to insecurity and high prices, said the 2011 Afghan Opium Survey released by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) and the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). "The
Afghan Opium Survey 2011 sends a strong message that we
cannot afford to be lethargic in the face of this problem. A
strong commitment from both national and international partners is needed," said the Executive Director of UNODC, Yury
Fedotov.
Farmers responding to the Survey cited economic hardship and
lucrative prices as the main reasons for opium cultivation. In
2011, 78 per cent of cultivation was concentrated in Helmand,
Kandahar, Uruzgan, Day Kundi and Zabul provinces in the
south, and 17 per cent in Farrah, Badghis, Nimroz provinces in
the west, which include the most insecure provinces in the
country. This confirms the link between insecurity and opium
cultivation observed since 2007.
In 2010, opium yields fell sharply due to a poppy blight,
which was a major factor behind the price rise. In 2011, however, yields were back to around 45 kg per hectare, potentially
raising opium production to 5,800 tons - up 61 per cent from
3600 tons produced in 2010. Buoyed by higher speculative
prices arising from volatile security conditions, the farm-gate
income of opium farmers rose markedly. With dry opium costing 43 per cent more today than in 2010, the total farm gate
value of opium production is set to increase by 133 per cent:
from $605 million to $1,407 million in 2011.

It does not take much vision to calculate what will happen to narcotics, criminal networks, and corruption if the
Afghan economy is driven towards recession or depression as part of the transition process. Moreover, power
brokers may well shift to a regional and ethnic effort to
exploit aid, and the gray and black portions of the economy to their benefit. It is also all too likely that many
Afghans will not stay and investthey will take their
wealth and leave the country.
The U.S., ISAF, and Afghanistan Cannot Rely on Mines and
the New Silk Road for Transition

Both the Afghan government and outside organizations


and donor governments put far too much faith in devel4 http://www.unodc.org/afghanistan/en/october/2011/opium- production-in-afghanistan-shows-increase.html. The full details can be
found in UNDOC, Afghanistan Survey 2011, Summary Findings,
October 2011

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opment goals whose potential importance to transition


has been sharply exaggerated. Transition cannot be successful if it relies on either mining income or a set of
projects called the New Silk Road.
A Mining Option for the Future, Not Transition

The mining option has long-term benefits, but saying


that Afghanistan has $900 billion to $1.4 trillion worth
of resources in the ground says nothing about what can
done during transition and short and mid-term gains
are likely to be limited. A stable, secure Afghanistan
with improved lines of communication may be able to
generate a major increase in mining revenues over time.
The resources shown in Figure 17 have significant mid
to long-term potential although similar estimates have
grossly exaggerated real-world commercial potential in
past cases.
The practical problem is that Afghanistan is not stable,
is not secure, and does not have the lines of communication required for large-scale rapid investment at the
level required. Nor can it physically create major mine
output and earnings in the short period of time necessary for transition.
Working studies of the potential of the Afghan mining industry warn that growth will be slow, and Russia, China,
the U.S., and Europe are likely to be cautious about investment. An analysis of the prospects for Afghan mining
found that the entire sector now accounts for less than one
percent of GDP, with public revenues of only $32 million
in 2010. Construction material quarries account for virtually all employment tens of thousands of Afghans while
the employment impact of mines like Aynak which require investments of billions of dollars and five to ten
years to develop is negligible.
The near term increase in earnings from all extractive
industries would total around $20-$25 million by 2016.
Even assuming full security and rapid investment and
development, the maximum increase by 2020 would be
around 90,000 jobs (most indirect) and $500 million in
added national income.
It will take ten to twenty years of steady investment and
development on the ground to have a major impact, although important progress could be made in five to ten
years in peaceful and stable areas if Afghanistan can create an investment climate attractive to outside investors.
Afghanistan currently ranks 167th out of 183 countries in
the World Banks 2011 index for ease of doing business,
and ranks worst in the world for protecting investors and
trading across borders.
The New Silk Road is a Poor Cover,
Even for an Exit Strategy

Unfortunately, some experts have rushed forward to


promote a concept called the New Silk Road without
adequate analysis, and in ways that suggest they are far

more interested in finding a political cover for a rapid


exit than a credible approach to reducing the problems
of transition.
There is nothing wrong with the concept of building up
lines of communication and transport to both develop
the Afghan economy and create regional development.
Preliminary studies, however, provide a clear warning
that even extremely favorable assumptions indicate that
the New Silk Road has no practical prospect of dealing with the near and perhaps mid-term problems of
transition.
A study entitled Afghanistan & Regional Economic
Cooperation, Economic Impact Assessment (Phase I,
June 7, 2011) illustrates the challenges involved in
making such analyses:
It assumes a state of peace, effective and relatively honest
governance, and the ability to implement projects without
criminal or political interference. None of these assumptions
seem credible until well after 2014, if then. (See p. vii, 56,
64-65) the study summarizes other critical limitations on p.
11
The study examines 15 tangible projects and five sets of improvements and reforms in government (p. ii). Many of the
15 projects have no plan or cost benefit analysis as of yet.
The five projects involving government require major improvements in governance, legal reforms, reductions in corruption, and levels of security and stability that are highly
unlikely to exist. (pp. 50-55.).
The study does note the need for future critical path analysis
(p vii), but uses timescales (p. 8) that sometimes are extraordinarily optimistic, particularly given the fact that five of the
15 tangible projects are not yet scoped to the point where
meaningful scheduling and cost benefit analysis is possible.
It is not possible from the study to clearly determine benefits
for Afghanistan versus benefits for outside workers, investors, and countries (p. vi, 2-4).
The study recognizes that the success of a number of projects
is dependent on cooperation from neighboring governments
and their development policies but does not analyze whether
this is the case in critical countries like Pakistan where it
does not seem to be Pakistani policy (e.g. p. 5, 63).
Estimates of job creation are uncertain, and generally involve large multipliers of indirect impacts based on examples drown from other countries, most of which seem to have
been more developed, stable, and peaceful (pp. 7, 10). The
benefits are reported in terms of jobs create within five years
and after five years, although there are now at most three
years to transition. If one looks at the details, only 148,988
new jobs would be created even with these assumptions
within three years, and the maximum of 824,709 jobs shown
for 5+ years could take 10-15 years to create (p. vi and see
individual project analyses) .
These issues are critical, because the study notes that (p. 7)
investments need to add 100,000-200,000 new jobs to the
economy each year if the unemployment rate is to reduce
well below the 35% mark where it is currently stuck. However, CIA World Factbook reports 392,116 males and
370,295 females reached job age in 2010. The US census bureau estimates a population increase from 32.6 million in
2015 to 36.6 million in 2020 which means an increase of
roughly 4 million during the five years in the study estimate
versus creation of 824,709 under best case assumptions.

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Figure 17: Hopes for a Rich Future are Not a Plan: Mining Potential

Source: SIGAR, Quarterly Report, July 2010, pp. 102-103


The study claims significant increases in national per capita
income without supporting analysis of the entire Afghan
economy, demographics, or economic trends other than the
activity in the New Silk Road (pp. vi, 10, 58, Annex 2).
The Economic Internal Rate of Return (12%) only finds the
projects would be viable under market based financial conditions, and this assessment seems to ignore corruption, problems in government capacity, and security risks in assessing
rates of return (pp. v, 56, 59-60).

A CENTCOM summary of some of the key data involved is shown in Figure 18. CENTCOM recognizes
the need for extensive additional analysis to determine
the cost-benefit of such concepts, and the new timeline
and funding conditions created by transition. It sets
forth the following needs for planning and analysis:

Human terrain analysis of PIPs.

Assist the Afghan government to complete an Afghan rail plan.

Expand map and gap analysis.

Economic consequences of the provincial transition.

Assess the economic impact of the drawdown on


the Afghan economy.

ANSF Development as a Key Element of


Build and Transition

ISAF and its training mission, NTM-A, have made major progress in developing Afghan forces since 2009,
and this progress has accelerated over time. It may be
possible to expand all the different elements of the
ANSF to over 352,000 men during the period of transition. Successful transition will depend, however,
on whether the U.S. and its allies are willing fully to
fund the necessary development effort through 2014
and for as long as it takes after this time to achieve lasting security and stability a truly massive funding effort that so far has dominated total aid expenditures in
Afghanistan.

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Figure 18: USCENTCOM Summary Data on the New Silk Road


Costs

Key Projects

Source: USCENTCOM, August 2011

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Transition and the Regular Armed Forces

Success will also be dependent on creating major training and partnering efforts that last well beyond 2014
and possibly to 2020. This is critical to give Afghan
forces quality as well as quantity, limit the impact of
corruption and power brokers, create an Afghan Air
Force that is not scheduled to have even basic force size
and equipment before 2016, and give the Afghan Army
the time necessary build up its overall structure, command and control capability, infrastructure and sustainment capability, maintenance and other services.
As the U.S. Department of Defense Report on Progress
Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan for October 30, 2011 makes clear , however, there are still
many limitations to the ANSF and force development
effort for the Afghan Army and Air Force:
Even with this progress, the growth and development of the
ANSF continues to face challenges, including attrition above
target levels in the ANA and some elements of the ANP,
leadership deficits, and capability limitations in the areas of
staff planning, management, logistics, and procurement. The
ANSF continues to require enabling support, including air
(both transport and close air support), logistics, ISR, and
medical, from coalition resources to perform at the level
necessary to produce the security effects required for Transition. The influence of criminal patronage networks on the
ANSF also continues to pose a threat to stability and the
Transition process. Further, the drawdown of U.S. and international forces increases the risk of a shortfall of operational
partnering resources, which could reduce the ANSF-ISAF
operational partnership and may impede ANSF development
(p. 12).
Successful Transition of the lead for security responsibilities
to the ANSF is heavily dependent on a healthy, sustained
partnering and advising relationship. These security assistance relationships create the conditions by which ANA and
ANP forces can develop and become effective in defeating
the insurgency, providing security for the local population,
and fostering legitimacy for the Afghan Government. These
relationships provide the ANSF with the ability to operate in
a complex, counterinsurgency environment while also
providing operational space and timing to man, equip, and
absorb critical training. As the ANSF continues to grow and
the U.S. and coalition forces begin to draw down, the gap between the requirements for partnering and available resources will grow. This gap threatens to undermine force development and may pose a risk to the Transition process. As
a result, IJC is currently reviewing all partnering relationships to align with projected force levels and ensure resources are used to the greatest effect in the areas where they
are most needed. As of September 30, 2011, there are seven
critical shortfalls for the ANA and 88 shortfalls in the ANP
in focus districts (31 AUP, 22 ANCOP, and 35 ABP). These
shortfalls do not account for U.S. forces departing theater
without backfills due to the ongoing surge recovery, and
shortfalls are expected to increase as U.S. and coalition forces continue to draw down (p. 40).
As of September 2011, the MoD is assessed as requiring
some coalition assistance to accomplish its mission (a rating
of CM-2B, a status it achieved in October 2010). Overall,
NTM-A/CSTC-A anticipates the MoD moving to CM-1B by
early 2013, with full Transition of most offices and functions
to CM-1A by mid-2014 (p. 16).
Although progress is being observed and assessed in a number of areas across the MoI, challenges remain that must be

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addressed. Civil service reform, both in personnel management and pay, is a recurring deficiency, both in the MoI and
the MoD. The September 3, 2011 Ministerial Development
Board recommended that Public Affairs be held in the CM1B testing phase until civilian pay reform is achieved. The
MoI Civil Service Department remains behind schedule
largely because it lacks a permanent director and empowerment to effect change, as well as adequate office space, logistical support, office equipment and Internet connectivity
needed to accomplish its basic functions. The Civil Service
Department also requires support from the MoI senior leadership to implement the Afghan Government Public Administration Reform Law and to include conversion to the reformed pay scale. A strong partnership with provincial governors is required to improve hiring at the provincial level.
The challenges surrounding civil service reform have already
impeded Public Affairs advancement and could obstruct
overall MoI capacity, progress, and sustainment (p. 18).
Shortfalls in the institutional trainer requirements set forth in
the CJSOR still exist and continue to impede the growth and
development of the ANSF. CJSOR v11.0 is the current document supporting trainer requirements. As of the end of the
reporting period, the shortfall in institutional trainers is 485,
a decrease of 255 from the March 2011 shortfall of 740, with
1,816 deployed trainers currently in-place against the total
requirement of 2,778. The United States currently sources
1,331 non-CJSOR trainer positions. In order to temporarily
address the NATO CJSOR shortfall and fill the U.S.-sourced
non-CJSOR requirements as quickly as possible, the United
States has implemented a series of requests for information
from other coalition partners, including unit-based sourcing
solutions to address short-term training needs. (p. 18-19).
In order to maintain the accuracy of personnel figures, NTMA/CSTC-A continues to review and revise the end-strength
reporting process. During the reporting period, this constant
review process highlighted a failure to report training attrition, which has resulted in a large discrepancy between actual and reported ANA end-strength numbers. After agreeing
upon an accurate end strength for September, NTM-A and
ANA leadership implemented new policies and procedures
to ensure training base attrition is accurately reported in the
future. Strong leadership within the ANA Recruiting Command (ANAREC) and effective and mature processing within National Army Volunteer Centers, which induct recruits
into the ANA, has enabled adjustments to current recruiting
plans in order to prevent delays in achieving the objective
end-strength levels. NTMA/ CSTC-A continues to work
closely with and support the ANA in rectifying manning issues to ensure growth to the JCMB-endorsed ANA endstrength goal of 195,000 personnel by the end of October
2012 (p 22).
Although recruiting and retention are continuing at a strong
pace, if the high levels of attrition seen during this reporting
period continue, there is a risk that the ANA will not be able
to sustain the recruitment and training costs currently incurred to achieve the October 2012 growth goal. Historic
trends show that attrition is seasonal, rising in the fall and
winter and declining in the spring. The main causes of attrition in the ANA are poor leadership and accountability, separation from family, denial of leave or poor leave management, high operational tempo, and ineffective deterrence
against soldiers going absent without leave (AWOL) (p. 22).
Nevertheless, President Karzai issued a decree in April 2011
renewing the policy of amnesty for AWOL officers, NCOs,
and soldiers who return to their units voluntarily until March
2012. This extension has the potential to impede the ANAs
ability to decrease attrition.
The ANA is projected to still have only 57,600 NCOS to
meet a requirement of 71,900 in November 2012.
The AAFs long-term development strategy includes the cre-

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ation of an air force that can support the needs of the ANSF
and the Afghan Government by 2016. This force will be capable of Presidential airlift, air mobility, rotary and fixedwing close air support, casualty evacuation, and aerial reconnaissance. The AAF also plans to be able to sustain its
capacity through indigenous training institutions, including a
complete education and training infrastructure. The air fleet
will consist of a mix of Russian and Western airframes. Afghan airmen will operate in accordance with NATO procedures, and will be able to support the Afghan Government
effectively by employing all of the instruments of COIN airpower. This plan, however, is ambitious, and is indicative of
the tension between Afghan Government aspirations, necessity, and affordability (pp. 31-32).
In August 2011, the total number of reporting ANA units in
the field increased to 204, and the number of units achieving
an operational effectiveness rating of Effective with Assistance or higher was sustained at 147; alternatively, 37 units
(18 percent) of fielded ANA units are in the lowest assessment categories, Developing or Established, due to an
inability to perform their mission or the immaturity of a
newly-fielded unit. Even the ANAs highest-rated kandak,
2nd kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps, which achieved the
rating of Independent, remains dependent on ISAF for
combat support and combat enablers. In locations without a
large ISAF footprint, the ANA has exhibited little improvement and there is little reporting on their operational
strengths and weaknesses. These units are typically located
in the west and far northeast regions (p. 43).
Transition and the Police Forces

The Department of Defense Report on Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan for October
30, 2011 also makes it clear there are far more serious
limitations to the development effort for the various
Afghan police forces:
Despite indicating positive developments in ANP force generation, NTM-A recently determined that 3,940 officers and
6,733 patrolmen were filling NCO billets; large numbers of
officers and patrolmen placed against vacant NCO positions
overstates the development of the NCO ranks. Removing officers and patrolmen from NCO-designated positions would
result in an actual officer strength at 102 percent, patrolmen
strength at 113 percent, and NCO-assigned strength at 66.7
percent against authorized positions. NTM-A and IJC, along
with ANP leadership, will focus on growing the NCO corps
by 12,700 in order to close this gap (p. 34).
Untrained patrolmen remain the biggest challenge for the
AUP and NTM-A/CSTC-A, and the MoI continues to push
the recruiting base in order to ensure all available training
seats are used. As of September 2011, the AUP had a total of
11,919 untrained patrolmen and NCOs. AUP attrition remains the lowest of all police pillars at 1.3 percent, and has
consistently remained below the monthly attrition objective
of 1.4 percent for the last 11 months (November 2010 September 2011) (p. 36).
As of September 2011, the Afghan Border Police (ABP) end
strength was 20,852 personnel. The ABP remains on schedule to meet all growth objectives for officers and patrolmen,
but remains short of NCOs, with only 3,800 of an assigned
total of 5,600. This shortfall, as well as the shortfall of untrained patrolmen, remains the primary focus for training efforts.
Although overall attrition in the ANP has remained near target levels for the past year, high attrition continues to challenge the ANCOP in particular, which has experienced an
annual attrition rate of 33.8 percent; although this has decreased significantly from 120 percent annual rate in No-

vember of 2009, it remains above the accepted rate for longterm sustainment of the force. As a national police force rotating from outside areas, it has avoided the corruption that
was once seen in other police pillars. Although ANCOP
units effectiveness initially suffered from runaway attrition
that stemmed largely from extended deployments and high
operations tempo, the adoption of a 12-week recovery and
retraining period between deployments has improved this
situation.
Building a capable and sustainable ANP depends on acquiring the equipment necessary to support the three basic police
functions: shoot, move, and communicate.
Accordingly, significant equipment uplift for the ANP began
during the reporting period, which is expected to increase the
ANPs on-hand equipment to approximately 80 percent by
the spring of 2012. Despite progress, however, the ANP remains underequipped as a result of fielding challenges. Due
to these shortages, the MoI has developed fielding priorities
based on operational requirements. To address the delay in
processing supply/equipment requests, the MoI Material
Management Center established a Customer Care Center in
April 2011. This single point-of-entry clearing house for
supply/equipment requests has been a success, significantly
reducing response times (pp. 37-38).
The ANPs logistics system remains particularly limited,
both in facility development and in assigned and trained logistics personnel. The biggest challenge in developing logistics support to the ANP is the hiring and training of civilian
personnel, as civilians make up 50 percent of the logistics
workforce. Civilian hiring will continue to be a challenge until the MoI institutes civil service reforms (p. 39).
Successful Transition of the lead for security responsibilities
to the ANSF is heavily dependent on a healthy, sustained
partnering and advising relationship. These security assistance relationships create the conditions by which ANA and
ANP forces can develop and become effective in defeating
the insurgency, providing security for the local population,
and fostering legitimacy for the Afghan Government. These
relationships provide the ANSF with the ability to operate in
a complex, counterinsurgency environment while also
providing operational space and timing to man, equip, and
absorb critical training. As the ANSF continues to grow and
the U.S. and coalition forces begin to draw down, the gap between the requirements for partnering and available resources will grow. This gap threatens to undermine force development and may pose a risk to the Transition process. As
a result, IJC is currently reviewing all partnering relationships to align with projected force levels and ensure resources are used to the greatest effect in the areas where they
are most needed. As of September 30, 2011, there are seven
critical shortfalls for the ANA and 88 shortfalls in the ANP
in focus districts (31 AUP, 22 ANCOP, and 35 ABP). These
shortfalls do not account for U.S. forces departing theater
without backfills due to the ongoing surge recovery, and
shortfalls are expected to increase as U.S. and coalition forces continue to draw down (p. 40).
In August 2011, the total number of reporting ANA units in
the field increased to 204, and the number of units achieving
an operational effectiveness rating of Effective with Assistance or higher was sustained at 147; alternatively, 37 units
(18 percent) of fielded ANA units are in the lowest assessment categories, Developing or Established, due to an
inability to perform their mission or the immaturity of a
newly-fielded unit. Even the ANAs highest-rated kandak,
2nd kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps, which achieved the
rating of Independent, remains dependent on ISAF for
combat support and combat enablers. In locations without a
large ISAF footprint, the ANA has exhibited little improvement and there is little reporting on their operational
strengths and weaknesses. These units are typically located
in the west and far northeast regions (p. 43).

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The ANP has demonstrated improvement in its ability to


conduct limited, independent policing operations and to coordinate operations with other ANSF elements. These improvements are largely attributable to a number of exogenous factors, including low insurgent threat levels in the given operating environment and ISAF enablers. ISAF mentor
reporting shows that the majority of ANP units still rely
heavily on coalition assistance, especially in contested areas.
As with the ANA, the operational performance of ANP units
is also suffering from U.S. and coalition force reductions.
Each of the three ANP pillars saw an increase in the number
of units that were not assessed due to recently-fielded units
that are not reporting or not partnered due to lack of available coalition forces. Within the ABP, 11 of the 12 units were
not assessed due to long standing partnering shortages. Additionally, four ANCOP kandaks located throughout theater
were not assessed. Finally, within the AUP in key terrain
districts, 17 of the 22 units not assessed were in RC-C (p.
44).
Currently, the MoI Force Readiness Report is the Afghan
system for reporting ANP data. Unfortunately, at this time,
the report only focuses on the statistics for personnel and
equipment: shoot, move and communicate. There are no ratings associated with the data and no commanders assessment or narrative comments to describe issues and challenges. The positive aspect of the report is that the MoI collects,
aggregates, and builds its own reporting products with minimal coalition oversight (p. 46).

And as the analysis of tactics has stated the entire police development effort is limited by the lack of progress
in governance, creating the other elements of the rule of
law, the permeating climate of corruption, interference
by power brokers, and the impact of criminal networks.
Moreover, political pressure is already growing that can
divide the ANSF by ethnicity and may be a prelude to
post withdrawal power struggles.
These are not casual issues, and here the present compartmentalization of the police development effort, and
efforts to improve governance and the rule of law may
be fatal. Police forces cannot operate in a vacuum. They
need a successful government presence and popular
governance to win the support of the people and support for their justice efforts. There must be prompt justice of a kind the people accept and find fair enough to
support or tolerate. Incarceration must set acceptable
standards and jails must not become training and indoctrination facilities for insurgents and criminal networks.
The present systems for reporting on progress in the police are almost solely oriented towards force generation
and support of counterinsurgency. They are not tied to
the weak, ineffective, and/or corrupt patterns in governance and the justice system in far too many of Afghanistans 403 districts.

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days political and budget climate, while the race to


withdraw U.S. and allied forces is already underway.
NTM-A and ISAF have already taken steps to adapt to
the new timescale and funding levels they face. They
have cut the future level of resources, but they have not
yet openly changed force goals that are highly ambitious, may not be fundable after 2014, and may stress
the entire system. SIGAR notes that the force strength
of the ANSF, as of August 2011, was 305,198 (169,076
in the ANA; 136,122 in the ANP). In June 2011, the
Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) approved an increase of the ANSF strength to 352,000
195,000 in the ANA and 157,000 in the ANP.1
This leaves three options:

Fund and support the ANSF plan in something approaching its current character for as long as it
takes to defeat the insurgents, if as now seems
almost totally unlikely this proves possible.

Act immediately to reshape the ANSF plan to create more realistic goals and costs without false optimism, and seek U.S. Congressional and allied
support for a smaller, cheaper, and still effective
force.

Go on to force NTM-A and ISAF to downsize resources while keeping the current force goals, and
create a hollow force that will be unsustainable after transition repeating the mistake made in Vietnam on a very different level.

On the one hand, it would be tragedy not to build on the


progress made by NTM-A and ISAF. On the other, it
should be stressed that the worst option is to gradually
create a faade of an exit strategy by cutting funds, time,
and people even further. As is the case with every element of transition, there is no point in succeeding in
one part of transition if a plan cannot be funded and
executed that deals with all of the problems of strategic
failure listed at the start of this analysis.
The Problem of the Local Police &
Other Forms of Security Forces

ISAF has made real progress in selected areas in combining efforts to create local police that do respond to
1 SIGAR, Quarterly Report to the U.S. Congress, July 30, 2011

Is Successful Transition Still Possible for the ANSF?

It should be stressed that the same DoD report also provides a long list of areas of progress, and that all the critical problems in the ANSF may well be solvable with
time and funds. Figure 19 shows, however, that past
funding levels and plans are grossly unsustainable in to-

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Figure 19: ANSF Funding Levels: Past and Projected


Past and Current Spending on ANSF

Pre-Transition Plans for ANSF Aid Spending During 2013-2024

Source: SIGAR, Quarterly Report, July 2010, pp. 92-93, and Quarterly Report, October 2011, p. 48

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the regular police and government, and where the creation of such security forces is part of a broader effort to
create civil governance and economic aid efforts. As a
U.S. official report indicates, this effort goes far beyond
simply creating a militia, and potentially offers a key
way to address the critical transition problems in
providing effective security and reasons to be loyal to
the central government at the local and district levels.1
The Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A) began conducting Village Stability Operations (VSO) in February 2010. VSO is a bottom-up COIN initiative that establishes security areas around rural villages to
promote local governance and development. VSO uses Afghan
and ISAF Special Operations Forces embedded in the community full-time to help improve security, governance, and development in more remote areas of Afghanistan where the ANSF
and ISAF have a limited presence.
Each VSO consists of a 12-man team that embeds in a village
and regularly engages local Afghans, enabling a level of situational awareness and trust otherwise unattainable. VSO teams
are supported by a Village Stability Platform (VSP), which includes a range of enablers and supporting elements. Along with
medical, air, civil affairs, and military information teams, VSPs
also include units focused on linking the district and provincial
levels of governance and development to the national government. Further, Provincial
Augmentation Teams, in partnership with Provincial Reconstruction Teams, help VSPs to build local governance and improve development. In districts with VSO, Afghan satisfaction
with access to essential services has uniformly increased over
the last three months. Further, analysis of attack levels before
and after a VSP is established indicates, after a brief increase in
insurgent attacks, a steady improvement in security conditions
throughout the community. The VSO initiative has resulted in
such noticeable improvements in security, governance, and development that Taliban senior leaders have identified the VSO
initiative as a significant threat to their objectives.
Significant success has prompted the program to expand. The
VSO initiative began with five VSPs covering 1,000 square kilometers; as of this report, CJSOTF-A has 6,000 personnel in
103 locations throughout Afghanistan, covering approximately
23,500 square kilometers. To support this growth, the VSO initiative now supplements Special Forces with conventional forces. Currently, the 1-16th Infantry and the 1st/505th Parachute
Infantry Regiment are augmenting Combined Forces Special
Operations Component Command Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A)
presence to enable the expansion of VSO sites across the country.

There also are now more that forty-eight operational


Afghan local police sites, and more than fifty more
pending. 2
Established in August 2010 by President Karzai, the Afghan
Local Police (ALP) program is part of the VSO initiative. ALP
is a village-focused MoI initiative that complements ISAFs
COIN strategy by training local Afghans in rural areas to defend their communities against threats from insurgents and
other illegally armed groups. The ALP program is a complementary component to the VSO program; although not all VSO
sites have ALP units, all ALP units are a part of an existing
VSO site. In the latter phases of a VSO, village elders may,
1 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and
Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, pp. 66-67
2 Ibidem

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through a shr, elect to establish an ALP unit.


These prospective ALP sites are validated by the MoI, which
conducts an evaluation and officially approves the district for
ALP development. A district is considered officially validated
when the Afghan Government officials meet with the local officials to formally agree that the given district demonstrates
both a need and a desire for an ALP unit. The MoI has approved 100 districts for ALP units as of September 2011; of
those, 48 districts have been validated by their district shr
and collectively represent a force of about 8,100 ALP. In conjunction with counsel from U.S. Special Operation Forces and
IJC, the Afghan Government has authorized an ALP endstrength of 30,000 patrolmen.
The MoI requires ALP candidates to be 18-45 years of age.
They must be nominated by local community shrs, vetted by
the MoI, and biometrically enrolled in the ALP program.
Weapons must be registered in order for the ALP unit to receive the MoI funding provided for authorized program positions. ALP members sign one-year service contracts, work
part-time, and are paid approximately sixty percent of the basic
salary for an ANP patrolman.
U.S. Special Operations Forces currently conduct a threeweek ALP training program that introduces basic security and
policing skillsAs a purely defensive force, ALP units are not
equipped for offensive operations nor are they permitted to
grow beyond the size in their tashkil, which amounts to approximately 30 patrolmen per village and 300 per district. ALP
patrolmen have detention but not arrest authority, and conduct
investigations under the direct supervision of the Deputy District Chief of Police.
Despite these limitations, ALP units have proven effective in
disrupting insurgent activities by denying them safe havens and
limiting their freedom of movement; the improved security enables development and governance projects for the communityEach ALP unit coordinates its operations extensively with
the ANSF, coalition forces, local shrs, and Afghan Government officials, which helps build and strengthen the link between local governance and the central government. The units
are also overseen by the village shr that originally sponsored
them, as well as U.S. Special Operation Forces. This extensive
oversight by both Afghan and coalition members helps to ensure ALP operations are effective and conducted in accordance
with Afghan law.
The ALP program continues to increase in strength and effectiveness, and the ALP have proven to be a significant threat to
the insurgency in key areas throughout Afghanistan. In response to this, insurgents have engaged in intimidation campaigns and targeted assassinations against ALP members and
their families. These attacks have largely failed to intimidate
ALP forces and local communities, which continue to defend
their villages effectively against insurgent attacks.

The problem with these efforts is that they cannot be set


up without a major presence from high skilled SOF,
military, and aid workers in the field. Their history is
also one of relatively rapid collapse when that presence
(and money) leaves and all of the problems in governance, local corruption, and local custom return. They
also have already led to extensive copycat units that
are abusive, corrupt, and tied to local power brokers. As
the Department of Defense Reports,3
3 Ibidem; Senate report, Reuters, Washington, Fri Oct 8, 2010
6:58am EDT; Ray Rivera, Obstacles Hinder Formation of Afghan
Security Force, Report Says, New York Times, November 1, 2011;
and Congressional Research Service, Wartime Contracting in Afghanistan:
Analysis
and
Issues
for
Congress

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Despite its significant success, the ALP program faces a number


of challenges. The program is heavily dependent on Special Operations Forces for training, mentorship, and oversight. The approved expansion to 30,000 ALP patrolmen will likely strain the
capacity of the coalition Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan, and may require additional conventional forces in order to
adequately support projected ALP growth.
Further, the proliferation of independent, non-sanctioned militias
outside the VSO framework threatens to undermine the legitimacy and progress of the ALP program. Although limited in
number, these unauthorized groups exacerbate the concern that
the ALP program risks empowering local strongmen who will
either use the ALP program to incorporate their own militias into
the government structure, or will brand their militias under the
ALP title to further their own illegal interests. Illegally armed
militias in Kunduz Province, for example, posing as ALP patrolmen, have been collecting illegal taxes and have engaged in a
number of armed conflicts with other local groups, degrading local security conditions and fostering negative perceptions of the
ALP program. Also during the reporting period, a Human Rights
Watch report accused some ALP units of abusive practices. ISAF has undertaken to investigate these allegations. The ALP is
also challenged by ethnic tensions; although shrs are largely
effective in ensuring fair tribal and ethnic representation in ALP
units, some units actively resist recruiting certain ethnicities,
which can create significant ethnic tension in rural villages

President Karzai has reinforced the problem of ethnic divisions within Afghanistan by disbanding another force
called the Critical Infrastructure Police that was set up by
ISAF in Afghanistans four Northern (and largely nonPashtun) Balkh, provincesKunduz, Jowzjan and Faryab provinces. Elements of these forces were certainly
corrupt and supported Northern leaders like the governor
of Balkh Province that had little loyalty to Karzai. They
had some 1,200-1,700 members per province and were
paid as much to not to extort the population as to give it
security. Nevertheless, the net effect was to compound
ethnic tensions particularly as Karzai did little to deal
with the corruption and abuses of regular and local police
that were Pashtun or more directly under his control.1
Karzai has created another, potentially greater problem by
trying to rush the disbandment of private security forces in
ways that seem more oriented toward enhancing his power
over security contracting and key aspects of government,
military, and aid spending than security. The U.S. Department of Defense reported in October 2011 that Private
Security Companies (PSCs) in Afghanistan are responsible
for securing ISAF sites and convoys, diplomatic and nongovernmental organization personnel, and development
projects. ISAF and diplomatic missions, along with their
development partners, employed some 34,000 contract security guards from PSCs, of which some ninety-three percent were Afghans.2

http://www.scribd.com
/doc/73041739/Wartime-Contracting-inAfghanistan-11142011.
1 Matthew Rosenberg and Alissa J, Rubin, Afghanistan to Disband
Irregular Police Force Set Up Under NATO, New York Times,
December 26, 2011.
2 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and
Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, pp. 66-67

No one doubts that such forces are a problem, but so is


setting impossible standards for replacing them and putting security functions into the hands of new, corrupt,
and incapable central government forces. The Department of Defense reports that, 3
By 2010many PSCs were operating outside of Afghan law
and customs as well as U.S. Government requirements, and PSC
performance was often marked by poor discipline and safety. As
a result, President Karzai issued Presidential Decree 62 in August 2010 directing many PSCs to be disbanded by December
2010 and replaced by the Afghan Public Protection Force
(APPF). Although the decree included exceptions for Embassies and diplomatic personnel, it soon became clear that the
APPF could not adequately replace PSCs in such a short time
period. In order to allow time for the APPF to develop, the Afghan Government, together with the international community
and ISAF, developed a 12-month bridging strategy for the further implementation of Decree 62.
The strategy is divided into categories to address the three distinct types of PSC operations: diplomatic, development, and ISAF. Diplomatic entities are exempt from Presidential Decrees
and associated regulations applicable to PSCs. In contrast, at the
conclusion of the bridging period, development entities and ISAF are expected to contract for their security services through
the APPF. The 12-month bridging period began on March 22,
2011, and terminates on March 20, 2012. At the end of this period, as determined by its capacity and capability, the APPF will
increasingly assume responsibilities, in priority order, for the security of ISAF and ANSF construction sites and for ISAF bases.
In the event the APPF does not possess the capacity or capability
to assume this responsibility, there is a conditions-based extension in the bridging strategy to allow PSCs to continue to provide services for an additional 12 months. The bridging strategy
also called for disbanding seven PSCs due to close ties with Afghan officials. During June and July 2011, ISAF replaced all
contracts held by these seven PSCs, which included 34 contracts
and nearly 4,000 guards.
Of the 46 remaining PSCs, 43 PSCs have renewed licenses and
have been certified as compliant, while the remaining three continue to work with the MoI to become relicensed. All remaining
PSCs, however, barring the extension of the current bridging
strategy, will be disbanded by March 2012, with the exception of
those PSCs providing security services to diplomatic activities,
which will continue to operate indefinitely.
ISAF and the U.S. Embassy are assisting the MoI to develop
the management and command and control necessary for the
APPF to meet the needs of the coalition and the international
community. The APPF currently has a guard force of approximately 6,400, and is expected to integrate approximately 14,000
guards who are expected to transition from existing PSCs to the
APPF, while also generating additional forces of no fewer than
11,000 guards. In total, approximately 25,000 guards will be required by 2012 in order to support ISAF and implementing partner security requirements.
Key observations from the initial assessment indicated that the
APPF was unable: 1) to execute and maintain the business operations necessary to remain a viable and solvent business; 2) to
man (recruit, vet, train), pay, equip, deploy, and sustain guard
forces to meet contract requirements; 3) to negotiate and establish legal and enforceable contracts with customers for security
services; 4) to command and control security operations across
Afghanistan; 5) to meet the requirements of the bridging strategy.
Additionally, the APPF has not created an operational StateOwned Entity to support business operations essential to manage
and execute contracted security services.

3 Ibidem

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In sum, the APPF is not on track to assume the responsibilities
for security services performed by PSCs, which, barring the extension of the current bridging strategy, are projected to be disbanded on March 20, 2012. Combined planning efforts are ongoing to resolve the identified issues in a timeframe that is consistent with President Karzais original directive.

The problems involved would be far smaller if they did


not coincide so directly with efforts to create a broad
transition to ANSF security operations far more
quickly than previously planned, if they did not lend
themselves so easily to central government abuse, and
if there was a clear transition plan to sustain aid and
advisory activity in the field as U.S. and ISAF forces
are withdrawn and aid workers and PRTs are removed.
One of the critical problems in many civil aspects of
transition plans is they do not take account of the
probable level of security in given areas as outside
military and aid workers depart and of who can provide
security for domestic and internal ventures. Such planning efforts border on the absurd. There are few prospects of anything approaching local security in much
of Afghanistan until long after 2014 barring some
peace arrangement that gives insurgents de facto
control over high threat areas. No aid or economic plan
that ignores the fact the nation is at war and key areas
are likely to remain so long after 2014 has the slightest
value or credibility.
THE PROBLEM OF PAKISTAN

At some point the U.S., UK, and other ISAF nations


will have to come to grips with the fact that it now
seems highly uncertain that Pakistan will take decisive
action against the Afghan insurgent groups and sanctuaries in Pakistan, or cease to try making at least Southern and Eastern Afghan a zone of Pakistani influence,
during transition from 2012-2014 or at any predictable point from 2015 onwards.
Continued Tension and Insurgent Sanctuaries

It may well be true in the abstract that Pakistan has as


much to fear over time from its support of extremist
groups as Afghanistan or its neighbors, and badly needs
outside aid in development. It is equally true that the
India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir has done immense
harm to its development, and that in theory some
form of settlement over both its tensions with India and
over its border with Afghanistan would be to Pakistans
advantage.
There is little near term prospect, however, that Pakistans politics will permit this, or that anything more
can be done than negotiations that have already been
going on for years and produced little more than rhetoric, gestures, and new rounds of meetings. Transition
and its aftermath cannot be planned or implemented on
the basis of hope. As has been discussed earlier, Pakistan has had different strategic interests in Afghanistan
from the start and now sees the U.S. and ISAF as leav-

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ing the region. Moreover, the military tensions and


problems the U.S. now faces with hostile Pakistani politics and political parties are not ones that the U.S. has
any clear way to counter.
As has been discussed earlier, the U.S. made major
progress in attacking Al-qidah and insurgent networks
in Pakistan before the steady deterioration in U.S. and
Pakistani relations in late 2011. This progress came,
however at a time when U.S. and Pakistani relations
steadily deteriorated. The Department of Defense reported in October 2010 that,1
events during this reporting period have put the relationship under significant strain, most notably the May 2 U.S. raid in Pakistan
which led to the death of Osama bin Laden.
Despite persistent attempts to improve relations by focusing on
mutual security interests, the relationship deteriorated further in
late July following several incidents of indirect fire from the Pakistani military, particularly in Kunar and Nangarhar Provinces.
ANSF and ISAF forces reported a sharp increase in enemyinitiated cross-border attacks21 in Paktika, Khost, and Paktia Provinces; from January through July 2011, enemy-initiated crossborder attacks increased more than five-fold compared to the same
period in 2010. The border situation began to improve towards the
end of the summer, and cross-border attacks subsided throughout
August and early September, but had begun to increase throughout
September.
Despite the apparent progress in limiting the effects of crossborder attacks, high-profile attacks executed in Afghanistan near
the end of the reporting period were directly attributable to insurgents within Pakistan. A series of attacks, including the September
13 complex attack on the U.S. Embassy, ISAF Headquarters, and
Afghan Government buildings; the suicide attack on September 10
against Afghan Chief of Police Sayed Abad in Wardak Province;
and the August 13 attack on the British Consul were carried out by
the Haqqn Network and directly enabled by Pakistani safe haven
and support. Addressing insurgents emanating from Pakistan is
critical to the success of ISAFs campaign and Afghanistans future

A further set of incidents after that report led to Pakistan expelling U.S. advisors, and closing a U.S. Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) base on Pakistani soil, and limiting U.S. UCAV flights over Pakistan. An incident on the Afghan Pakistan border on November 26th where U.S. forces killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers, and a Pakistani civil-military crisis,
dubbed memogate, over claims the president of Pakistan sought U.S. aid to avoid a military coup all combined to transform long-tense U.S. and Pakistani relations into near hostility.
At present, Pakistan and especially the Pakistani military shows few signs of restoring full cooperation
with the U.S. Even Pakistani willingness to allow the
U.S. to use Pakistani supply routes and air space is uncertain although Pakistani need for U.S. aid may preserve at least the faade of some aspects of cooperation.
1 Department of Defense, Report on Progress Towards Security and
Stability in Afghanistan, October 30, 2011, pp. 68-69 .

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Table 1: U.S. Aid Appropriations & Military Reimbursements to Pakistan


(Rounded to the Nearest Millions of U.S. Dollars)

Source: U.S. Congressional Research Service, Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2012. Distributed to congressional offices, August 9, 2011

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Pakistan also sees the Afghan conflict as one where it


needs to do what it can to gain advantage once U.S. and
ISAF forces have left. There are many signs that Pakistan will seek to exploit U.S. and ISAF withdrawal, and
any peace negotiations, to its own advantage and to
seek influence over at least the Pashtun areas on its
borders and to use Afghanistan to provide strategic
depth against India.
Barring some major and unpredictable shift in Pakistani
policy, the U.S. and its allies can expect tense and uncertain relations indefinitely into the future. It is unclear
that this will ever fully close the U.S. and ISAF supply
routes through Pakistan, but Pakistan does seem likely
permanently to expel the small groups of U.S. forces
that have been in country, as well as close the U.S.
UCAV base in Pakistan.
The Impact of U.S. Aid

U.S. aid does give the U.S. some leverage, and Table
shows that the U.S. authorized a total of $14.615 billion
in security assistance from FY2002 to FY2011, and requested another $1.6 billion in FY2012.1 It authorized a
total of $7.72 billion in security assistance from
FY2002 to FY2011, and requested another $1.1 billion
in FY2012. The U.S. Congress also passed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 or Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill which provides up to $1.5 billion a year more in economic aid, or $7.5 billion over
five years.2
An analysis by the U.S. Congressional Research Service shows that Pakistan has gotten major arms transfers through this aid:3
Major post-2001 defense supplies provided, or soon to be
provided, under FMF include:
- Eight P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and their refurbishment (valued at $474 million);
- About 5,250 TOW anti-armor missiles ($186 million; 2,007
delivered);
- More than 5,600 military radio sets ($163 million);
- Six AN/TPS-77 surveillance radars ($100 million);
- Six C-130E transport aircraft and their refurbishment ($76 million);
- Five refurbished SH-2I Super Seasprite maritime helicopters
granted under EDA ($67 million);

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- One ex-Oliver Hazard Perry class missile frigate via EDA


($65 million);
- 20 AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters via EDA ($48 million, 12
refurbished and delivered);
- 121 refurbished TOW missile launchers ($25 million).
Supplies paid for with a mix of Pakistani national funds and
FMF
include:
- Up to 60 Mid-Life Update kits for F-16A/B combat aircraft
(valued at $891 million, with $477 million of this in FMF, Pakistan currently plans to purchase 35 such kits);
- 115 M-109 self-propelled howitzers ($87 million, with $53
million in FMF).
Notable items paid or to be paid for entirely with Pakistani
national funds include:
- 18 new F-16C/D Block 50/52 combat aircraft (valued at $1.43
billion; none delivered to date);
- F-16 armaments including 500 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles;
- 1,450 2,000-pound bombs;
- 500 JDAM Tail Kits for gravity bombs; and 1,600 Enhanced
Paveway laser-guided kits, also for gravity bombs ($629 million);
- 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles ($298 million);
- 500 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles ($95 million);
- Six Phalanx Close-In Weapons System naval guns ($80 million).
While the Pentagon notified Congress on the possible transfer
to Pakistan of three P-3B aircraft as EDA grants that would be
modified to carry the E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning
suite in a deal worth up to $855 million, this effort has not progressed beyond the notification stage. Other major EDA grants
since 2001 include 14 F-16A/B combat aircraft and 39 T-37
military trainer jets. Under Coalition Support Funds (part of the
Pentagon budget), Pakistan has received 26 Bell 412 utility helicopters, along with related parts and maintenance, valued at
$235 million. Finally, under 1206, Frontier Corps, and Pakistan
Counterinsurgency Capability Fund authorities, the United
States has provided helicopter spare parts.

Nevertheless, the U.S. budget crisis and growing U.S.


tensions with Pakistan make it increasingly unclear that
the U.S. Congress will sustain anything like the maximum levels that have flowed in the past or called for in
the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of October
2009. Moreover, Pakistan almost certainly sees U.S. aid
as ending or being reduced to far smaller levels as the
U.S. disengages from Afghanistan.

1 Congressional Research Service, Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2012.
Distributed to congressional offices, August 9, 2011
2 http://www.cgdev.org/section/initiatives/_active/pakistan/ numbers
3 K. Alan Kronstadt, Major U.S. Arms Sales and Grants to Pakistan
Since 2001, Congressional Research Service; CRS Report
RS22757, U.S. Arms Sales to Pakistan, and CRS Report RL33498,
Pakistan-U.S. Relations http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/pakarms.
pdf, and Federation of American Scientists,
ttp://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/pakarms.pdf.

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Figure 20: The Flow and Ebb of U.S. Aid to Pakistan: 1948 to 2011

Source: Global Center for Development, Aid to Pakistan by the Numbers, http://www.cgdev.org/section/initiatives/_active/pakistan/numbers;. Nancy Birdsall, Wren Elhai, Molly Kinder, Beyond Bullets and Bombs, Fixing the U.S. Approach to Development in Pakistan, Report of the Study Group on a U.S.
Development Strategy in Pakistan Center for Global Development, June 2011, p. 18

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No One Can Help a Pakistan That Will Not Help Itself

CONCLUSIONS

There still is a case for the U.S. and Europe to use aid
to focus on the future stability of Pakistan. This would
mean using aid, and trade and investment incentives, as
part of a carefully planned and managed effort to support Pakistani civil government and enhance Pakistani
economic stability, rather than use a military aid dominated program as a de facto bribe to influence Pakistani
policy towards to Afghanistan or seek regional solutions that ignore Pakistans needs and deep internal
problems in using aid.1

There is a new Great Game being played in other


parts of Central Asia, but neither Russia nor China has
predictable incentives to engage in Afghanistan or Pakistan at levels that are likely to lead them to take the
kind of action that will ease the problems the U.S., Europe, and other ISAF and donor states face during the
transition from now to the end of 2014.

Once again, however, this requires major internal shifts


in Pakistans politics and leadership. The problems the
U.S. faces in using aid and diplomacy are further complicated by the fact that the U.S. and Pakistan have been
through this cycle before although Pakistan conveiently ignores the fact the past cut offs in U.S. aid occurred because it drove a nuclear arms race with India,
knowing for years that U.S. legislation would cut off
aid if it pursued this path. Figure 20 shows how the
timelines and levels of U.S. aid to Pakistan ebbed and
flowed in the past. Pakistan may be right to say that U.S.
aid has been linked to U.S. strategic interests; but it is
scarcely honest in claiming to have been abandoned and
has no right to assume that U.S. aid will flow if U.S.
and Pakistani strategic interests come into conflict.
This raises a key issue for U.S. and allied policy in the future. It is all very well to continue seeking regional solutions, but decades of effort are a warning about future success. Regional economic cooperation can offer some benefits. However, as the previous analysis has shown, the
work of the IMF, World Bank, and Asian Development
Bank does not offer the prospect of major successes that
will have a major impact on Afghanistan and Pakistan in
the time before transition in 2014, or in the real world
until after 2020-2024 at the earliest. Moreover, studies that
focus on Afghan needs generally ignore the fact that Pakistani development has many higher priorities and is focused on China and exports by sea.
Pakistans nuclear status, and the fact it remains a sanctuary for Islamist extremists and terrorists, also give it a
strategic importance that is both substantially greater and
very different in structure than Afghanistan. The U.S.
and Europe will have to work out transition and future
Afghan-Pakistani relations as best they can. What is
steadily more questionable is that U.S. and European relations with Pakistan will reach full agreement and cooperation on Afghanistan.

1 See the analysis in Nancy Birdsall, Wren Elhai, Molly Kinder, Beyond Bullets and Bombs, Fixing the U.S. Approach to Development in Pakistan, Report of the Study Group on a U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan Center for Global Development, June
2011

In the real world, the success of transition will depend


on U.S., European, and other countries that already have
forces or donate significant aid to Afghanistan. Transition requires major levels of continued aid and assistance that may not be forthcoming. And, even if such aid
is provided, the end result is unlikely to meet either current Afghan goals or those of the U.S. and its allies.
Afghan Hopes and Ambitions

There are major political, security, and governance


challenges in creating any effective form of transition.
It seems highly unlikely that insurgent groups like the
libn and Haqqn network will reach any form of
political reconciliation with the Afghan government before the U.S. and other allied forces leave unless they
feel that they can use such agreements to win. It seems
equally unlikely that Pakistan will cease to seek its own
objectives in Afghanistan and put an end to insurgent
sanctuaries in Pakistan. Tactical gains against the insurgents matter but it is far from clear what level of security they can win on a political level, and sustain once
U.S. and allied forces leave. The quality of Afghan
governance at every level is critical to popular support
as transition takes place.
The most critical immediate challenge that outside
powers face, however, is to support a transition plan
that will allow the Afghan government to function as
aid and outside spending are cut, and sustain the progress being made in developing and sustaining Afghan
National Security Forces.
Studies by the World Bank and Afghan government
and ongoing studies by the IMF, the U.S., and key European governments show that transition requires
major levels of continuing aid to avoid triggering major
security and stability problems.
President Karzai requested some $10 billion a year
through 2025 at the Bonn II Conference in December
2011 for a program that set ambitious goals for both security and development, called for equally ambitious reforms and improvements in governance, and called for
the Afghan government to achieve full independence
from outside support in 2030:2
2 The details were provided in a separate paper circulated in addition
to the Presidents statement entitled, Towards a Self-Sustaining Afghanistan, An Economic Transition Strategy. It was issued by the

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By 2015 Afghanistan will have taken over full responsibility


for its own security, and will be leading development initiatives and processes with the confidence to make critical
foundational investments that will lead to economic growth
and fiscal sustainability.
By 2025 Afghanistan will have eliminated its dependency on
international assistance for funding to non-security sectors
and will only receive support consistent with all other least
developed nations. A robust and growing extractive industries sector will have developed. Through effective development and, improved delivery of Government services, the
root causes of insurgency will be reduced and, in consultation
with international partners, plans will have been put in place
to reduce the size of the ANSF.
By 2030 Afghanistan will be funding a professional, highly
effective ANSF. Achievements in development and governance will see Afghanistan emerge as a model of a democratic,
developing Islamic nations.

These Afghan goals seem to be based on assumptions


about future security, the pace of reform and improvement in governance, increases economic development
and activity, and increases in government revenue that
are optimistic to the point of being unrealistic. As a result, they almost certainly understate the level of outside aid needed to achieve Afghan goals.
The Karzai government requested aid totaling $120 billion over the period through 2025, but this figure seems
too low to both cover the cost of both funding the Afghan National Security Forces during transition and
beyond, and of giving Afghanistan the resources to
cope with the loss of U.S. and ISAF military spending
during 2012-2014 and the level civil aid in will need to
achieve unity and stability.
U.S. and European Realities

Yet, it far from clear that the Afghan government can


obtain the level of aid it requested at the Bonn II Conference, particularly over a period that extends far beyond 2014. Many U.S. and European actions have already begun to look like a cover for an exit strategy
from Afghanistan.
Development aid from U.S., the largest aid donor,
dropped from $3.5 billion in 2010 to about $2 billion in
2011. Aid to support democracy, governance and civil
society dropped by more than fifty percent from $231
million to $93 million. Aid for rule of law dropped
from $43 million to $16 million.1 Many aid agencies
and NGOs are already making major cuts in their programs, and some are already having to eliminate key
programs or withdraw from the country.2
Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and dated November 29, 2011.
1 Julian Borger, Afghanistan conference promises support after
troop withdrawal, The Guardian, 5 December, 2011, http://www.
guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/05/afghanistan-conferencesupport-troop-withdrawal.
2 Ibidem; Rod Norland, Aid Agencies in Afghanistan Fear Reversals

While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined her


European colleagues in pledging continued aid at the
Bonn II Conference in December 2011, no long-term
pledges were made in concrete terms. The conference
which Pakistan did not attend and the libn stated
would further ensnare Afghanistan into the flames of
occupation focused on vague calls for aid and regional cooperation.
The U.S. and European speeches at the Bonn II Conference also called for Afghan reforms, and reductions in
corruption, in ways that implied new conditions for aid
that Afghanistan may well not be able to meet. U.S.
and European foreign ministers discussed continuing
past security and economic aid, but did not deal with
the massive impact of ending U.S. and European military spending in Afghanistan as each ISAF countrys
forces departs spending which totaled $4.3 billion for
U.S. military directs contracts with Afghans in FY2011
which was only a small portion of U.S. military
spending in the country.3
As for other actors, Pakistan did not attend, and Russia,
China, and Iran seem remarkably unlikely to support either Afghan government hopes or the U.S. and Europe
in funding transition. As Louise Hancock, Oxfam's
Afghanistan policy officer, put it, Its been another
conference of flowery speeches: big on rhetoric and
short on substance.4
Prospects for Transition in Afghanistan:
The Problem of Resources

This mix of Afghan needs, U.S. and European funding


pressures, and popular war fatigue presents major
problems for a successful transition. U.S., IMF, and
World Bank working studies do indicate that continuing
flows of carefully focused U.S. and European aid might
lead to a stable transition if the war makes major progress in defeating the insurgents at the political as well
as military level, if Afghan forces become effective
enough to replace the U.S. and ISAF, if Afghanistan
can achieve enough political stability and reduce corruption, if Afghan governance improves at every level,
and Rod Norland, Afghans Say Assistance Will Be Needed for
Years, New York Times, December 6, 2011. P. A14.
3 Julian Borger, Afghanistan conference promises support after troop
withdrawal,
The
Guardian,
5
December,
2011,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/05/afghanistanconference -support-troop-withdrawal; UN Secretary-General's
statement to Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn, http://
ma .unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1741&ctl=Details&mid=1
882&ItemID=15874; Rod Norland, Aid Agencies in Afghanistan
Fear Reversals New York Times, December 6, 2011, p. A1;
AFP/Reuters, Bonn conference: Afghanistan assured conditional
aid
for
another
decade,
December
5,
2011,
http://tribune.com.pk/story/302502/bonn-conference-us-lifts-holdon-development-funds-for-afghanistan/,
4 http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/oxfams- reaction2011-bonn-conference-afghanistan.

New York Times, December 6, 2011, p. A1; Steven Lee Myers

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and if insurgent sanctuaries and Pakistans actions in


Afghanistan do not have a crippling impact.

both tactical and strategic progress, and ANSF transition has been little more than political symbolism.

The practical problem is that the U.S. and Europe must


begin to act almost immediately to deal with the near
term challenges Afghanistan faces. There are only three
years left before transition in 2014, and there are no
magic bullets that offer rapid growth and prospects for
stability before 2020. Aid and development plans must
focus on Afghanistans real world problems and capacities begin to be implemented in 2012 and then be consistently implemented for at least half a decade at levels
the U.S., Europe, and other donors may be unwilling to
spend and require far more demanding levels of action
and reform from the Afghan government than it has
provided to date.

Spend Not Build? The latest U.S. Department of Defense, SIGAR, and World Bank reports do little to
indicate that U.S. and allied efforts to improve the
quality of government, the rule of law, representative
democracy, and economic development are making
anything like the needed level of progress. They are a
warning that Afghanistan and the Afghan government may face a massive recession as funding is cut,
and that the dreams of options like mining income
and a New Silk Road are little more than a triumph
of hope over credible expectations. Once again, the
very real progress being made in the development of
the ANSF is being rushed as future funding is being
cut, and it is unclear that current gains will be sustained or that the U.S. has sufficient time left in
which to find credible answers to these questions,
build U.S. Congressional, domestic, and allied support, and then to begin implementing them. The U.S.
is now entering the eleventh year of a war for which
it seems to have no clear plans and no clear strategic
goals. The new strategy that President Obama outlined in 2009 is now in tatters.

Some form of success (or limited failure) may still be


possible, but little that the U.S. and European governments have done to date raises a high probability that
this will be the case. There are four critical areas wherein any lasting level of success is now unlikely:
Strategic failure? The U.S., ISAF, and donors have
not shown that they can bring about enough of the elements required to create Afghan security and stability in a way that creates more than a marginal possibility that Afghanistan will have a successful transition by 2014, or at any time in the near future. They
have never announced detailed plans and funding
programs that would make this possible. They have
no strategic plans or clearly defined goals for Pakistan, although it has far more strategic importance
than Afghanistan.
Talk Without Hope: It is far from clear that any major
insurgent faction feels it is either losing, or cannot
simply outwait, U.S. and allied withdrawal. Nor is it
clear that Pakistan will seriously attempt to eliminate
insurgent sanctuaries within its borders. If insurgents
do chose to negotiate it may well be because they feel
that the U.S., allied, and GIRoA position is becoming
so weak that they can use diplomacy as a form of war
by other means and speed their victory through deception and by obtaining U.S., allied, and GIRoA concessions. They have already used similar tactics in Helmand and Pakistan, and Nepal and Cambodia are
warnings that talk may do little more than cover an
exit.
Tactical Success? The very real gains the U.S. and ISAF have made in the South may not be possible to
hold if the U.S. moves forces East, and the U.S. and
ISAF cut forces so quickly that their ability to achieve
the goals that ISAF set for 2012 is cast in doubt. ANSF
development is being rushed forward as future resources are being cut, and it is far from clear that the
insurgents cannot outwait the U.S. and ISAF and win a
war of political attrition without having to win tactical
battles in the field. The ISAF focus on significant acts
of violence is a questionable approach to assessing

Prospects for Transition in Afghanistan:


Other Critical Uncertainties

The U.S., its allies, and aid donors need realistically to


assess the cost-benefits of their future actions and decide whether it is worth taking the risk of making commitments for yet another decade. Even if the U.S. and
Europe do act quickly and effectively, success is uncertain. Afghanistan may have even less success than Iraq
in building a functioning democracy with effective control over governance, economic development, and security. Worse, Pakistan is far more strategically important
and is drifting towards growing internal violence and
many of the aspects of a failed state.
If Afghanistan does get enough outside funding to
avoid an economic crisis and civil war after U.S. and allied withdrawal, it is still likely to remain a weak and
divided state dependent on continuing U.S. and outside
aid through 2024 and beyond, confining any strategic
role to one of open-ended dependence. As Pakistan is
far more likely to be a disruptive force in Afghanistan
than a constructive one, there are no obvious prospects
for creating stable relations with Pakistan during the
transition process.
The Karzai government barely functions in much of
Afghanistan, and new elections must come in 2014
the year combat forces are supposed to leave. U.S. and
allied troop levels are dropping to critical levels. No
one knows what U.S. presence if any will remain
after 2014.
It is far from clear that the present U.S., allied, and UN
focus on building up the central government will make

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transition possible. The West must take the blame for


driving the drafting of a constitution that grossly overcentralized power and vested control of funds in the
president, and must now do far more to encourage effective government at the provincial and district level,
and find ways to provide aid and contracts directly at
the local level.
Success may well require some form of de facto federalism the reflects the major differences between Southern
Pashtun, North Pashtun, and the ethnic minorities in the
North a new form of Northern Alliance operating
within the government. It must act to protect Afghanistans Hazra Shite minority, and recognize that local
justice systems, approaches to human rights, and law enforcement will remain a reality in many Afghan districts.
Progress is taking place in creating an Afghan army, but
without a functioning state to defend, the ANSF could
fragment. Far less progress is taking place in creating
the police and justice system. Massive aid to Afghanistan has produced far too few tangible results, and the
Afghan economy is likely to go into a depression in
2014 in the face of massive aid and spending cuts that
will cripple both the economy and Afghan forces.
Mobilizing U.S. and European support for the war and
continued aid to and support of Afghanistan is already a
critical issue. It is also an issue where success will depend largely on the U.S. If the U.S. is to have any hope
of bringing its European allies along at the required
level of effort, it must show them and Afghanistan
and Pakistan that it has the domestic support to act.
This means that the U.S. needs a meaningful action
plan that the U.S. Congress, the media, area experts,
and the U.S. people can debate and commit themselves
to supporting no later than U.S. Congressional approval
of the FY2013 U.S. budget. If President Obama cannot
provide such a plan within several months, and then
win the support necessary to implement it, any hope of
salvaging lasting success in the war will vanish.

Afghanistan, however, is only part of the story. A nuclear-armed Pakistan is both the real strategic center in
the Afghanistan-Pakistan war, and its most dangerous
wild card. Pakistan is slowly devolving towards the status of a failed state, and becoming progressively more
unstable regardless of U.S. aid and actions in Afghanistan. Any de facto exit strategy that suddenly cuts off
U.S. aid to Pakistan, or produces an even more serious
level of confrontation between the U.S. and Pakistan
during the entire transition process will make this future almost inevitable.
It is easy to talk about regional solutions, as decades of
previous efforts have shown. In practice, Pakistans internal problems are more likely to block any progress in
Indian and Pakistani relations than to push Pakistan towards a settlement.
As for the other Great Powers, Russia has little strategic interest in taking on Pakistans problems now, and
will have even less if Pakistan continues to devolve towards a failed state. China will take a more active interest, but will keep a careful distance.
Rhetoric aside, China has been careful to stay away
from any major aid effort or attempt to help a Pakistan
whose civil and military leaders seem so incapable of
helping Pakistan help itself. China will want to keep
Pakistan as a counterweight to India and to prevent it
from becoming a base for Islamist extremist threats to
China and its interests in the region, but China knows
all too well that any major Chinese intervention is unlikely to be any more successful than past outside aid
efforts.
Muddle, Uncertainty, and Unpredictable Future Great
Power and Regional Roles as a Non-End state

These challenges do not mean a worst-case outcome


in Afghanistan, or that Pakistan cannot move forward if
it gets a more competent civil and military leadership.

Prospects for Stability in Pakistan

The U.S. and its key European allies also face a more
critical strategic challenge. The U.S., European aid donors, and NATO/ISAF have focused on Afghanistan
and have dealt with Pakistan largely in terms of its role
in the Afghan conflict. They must now define a credible
set of goals for the strategic outcome they want in Pakistan.
This must involve dealing with Pakistans impact on Afghanistan. Pakistan will complicate U.S. and European
efforts in helping Afghanistan move towards transition.
Even if U.S. and ISAF relations with Pakistan do not
continue to deteriorate, or remain so tense as to be nearly
dysfunctional, Pakistans efforts to advance its own interests in Afghanistan, and its inability or unwillingness
to deal with Afghan insurgent sanctuaries, will threaten
or undermine any successes inside Afghanistan.

While no one can predict so uncertain a future, the most


likely post-2014 outcome is unlikely to give the libn
and other insurgents control of the country again, even if
the Afghan insurgents do succeed in keeping their sanctuaries in Pakistan and outwait the U.S. and Europe during transition. The most likely post-2014 outcome in
Afghanistan is a situation where the insurgents control
and operate in some Pashtun areas, while others are controlled by the Northern Pashtuns. Other Afghan ethnic
factions are likely to create some new form of the Northern Alliance, and the central government in Kabul is either likely to play some limited role, or become a key
player in a limited form of civil conflict.
The most likely case in Pakistan is that it will drift further towards the status of a failed state until some coup
or leadership crisis produces an new leadership that actually begins to react to Pakistans internal problems ra-

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ther than focusing on its own power, living in denial


when it can, and exporting blame when it must. Outside powers can encourage change and reform using a
mix of diplomacy, aid, and pressure but Pakistans
problems go far beyond the war in Afghanistan and no
faction has yet visibly emerged that offers serious hope
of the level of reform that can only come from within.
In short, the most probable result of result of transition
will not be what some U.S. policymakers have come to
call Afghanistan good enough a stable democratic
state nor will it be a stable Pakistan. It will be Afghanistan muddle through, next to an unstable Pakistan still driven largely by its internal problems and tensions with India.
As for the role of Russia, China, and other regional
states after U.S. and other ISAF forces depart, all outside and regional powers will have to react to whatever
emerges in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the years that
follow 2014. This reaction will not, however, be driven
by some form of idealized regional cooperation. It will
be driven by a game of nations in which both the great
and regional powers react individually to the course of
events as they unfold, driven largely by opportunism
and their own disparate interests.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
Militant Islam in South Asia:
Past Trajectories and Present Implications
Sumit Ganguly
Rabindranath Tagore Chair in
Indian Cultures and Civilizations
Professor of Political Science, Indiana University
Die ich rief, die Geister, werd ich nun nicht los!1
Introduction

Political Islam in South Asia is a complex phenomenon


shaped by Indias colonial past, periodic military rule in
Pakistan, decades of civil war in Afghanistan, Indias
mis-governance of the segment of the portion of Kashmir
it controls, and particular U.S. foreign policy choices toward the region. It is not represented by an organizationally or ideologically unified movement, but is embodied
in a variety of groups and institutions, both state and nonstate. It is characterized by great religious, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity. Some Islamic organizations, such
as the Tabligh-i-Jamaat, emphasize individual and social
reform, purification of religious practices, peaceful Islamic propagation and definition of clear boundaries between
Muslims and non-Muslims.2 Others also seek to mobilize
South Asian Muslims for violent struggle variously
against Muslim heretics, non-Muslim minorities, the Pakistani state itself, as well as non-Muslim military powers
oppressing the brethren outside of Pakistan. In this article,
we focus on the activities of these Islamic militants with
varying degrees of relationship to the Pakistani state in
five specific venues: the insurgency in Kashmir, sectarian
and anti-minority violence in Pakistan, the insurgency in
Afghanistan, and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in Pakistans tribal agencies. First, we trace the origins of these
various movements, their organization, and their development over time. We then pay particular attention to
their goals and strategies, and their attitude toward the
Pakistani state, India, and the U.S. presence in the region.
Finally, we describe their relative success up to date and
discuss the likely impact that a reduced U.S. military
presence in Afghanistan will have on their future viability.
We argue that the Pakistani militarys preoccupation both
with India and with militant Islam as a useful tool to defeat
democratic and secessionist opponents has strengthened existing militancy and spawned new forms of it. Increased
funding and ideological influence from state and non-state
sources in the Gulf beginning in the 1970s, the anti-Soviet
war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and the Kashmir insurgency from 1989 onwards have helped create a militant milieu
that can no longer be easily manipulated by the Pakistani
state. This milieu has served to deepen the interconnections
between global jihd entities and local extremist organizations, further embedding the former in Pakistani society, and
1 From the spirits that I called, Sir, deliver me! Johann Wolfgang
von Goethe The Sorcerers Apprentice
2 Metcalf (2001) Traditionalist Islamic Activism: Deoband, Tablighis,
and Talibs

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internationalizing groups that were heretofore focused only


on domestic sectarianism or on the insurgency in Kashmir.
While the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has augmented already existing radicalism and anti-Americanism on both
sides of the Durand Line, it is unlikely that the withdrawal of
U.S. troops in 2014 will do much to weaken the pull of Islamic extremism. Rather, it will probably decrease the pressure on Pakistan to crack down on militant groups on its soil.
As long as Pakistani political institutions remain subservient
to the military, the government will continue to ignore the
interests of ordinary Pakistani citizens, and it will continue to
pursue a foreign policy that will not secure its national interests, but will entrench Pakistans role as the center and safe
haven of global Islamic militancy.
The Origins & Trajectory of Political Islam in South Asia

The rise of Islamist extremism in South Asia occurred in


four distinct phases, which we describe in more detail below.3 Up until the 1970s, Islamists were periodically
coopted by the state for strategic purposes, but had little
influence on government policy and generally found
themselves in the opposition. The second phase began
with General Zia-ul Haqs 1977 coup and the concomitant political prominence of the Islamist Jamaat-i-Islami
(JI) and its client groups in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
The rise of the Taliban in 1995 signaled the apex of Deobandi dominance through its broad Jamiat-i-Ulema-iIslam (JUI) umbrella organization and various militant
offshoots in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir.4 In the
most recent phase, beginning in September 2001, the Pakistani government has felt immense pressure, particularly from the U.S., to crack down on extremists groups. It
has acted against groups threatening sectarian violence
and even the Pakistani state itself, but continues to support others that are useful for its strategic interests in Afghanistan and Kashmir.5
The key development in these four phases has been the
gradual change in preponderance from first generation Islamism to second-generation neo-fundamentalism. Islamists seek to change the law of the land through the political activism of a select group of educated committed lay
cadres. They accept the parameters of the modern nationstate and seek to modernize traditional Islamic practice,
but in order to develop an alternative Islamic system that
is purged of Western influences.6 Islamist groups, like
Jamaat-i-Islami, have generally eschewed sectarian politics and have focused on creating an elite consensus to
bring about political revolution from above.7 The Pakistani state switched its patronage from Islamists to neo3 Jalal (2008) Partisans of Allah: Jihd in South Asia p.273,274; she
refers to three phases, but does not count the pre-Zia period.
4 Haqqani (2005) The Ideology of South Asian Jihd Groups p.2023
5 Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.2
6 Nasr (1994) Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution p.8
7

Waseem (2004) Origins and Growth Patterns of Islamic Organizations in Pakistan p.27

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fundamentalist groups in the early 1990s for a number


of reasons, a decision it may well come to regret, if it has
not done so already.1 Neo-fundamentalism, according to
Olivier Roy, describes the lumpenization of Islamism:
the traditional ulem become politicized, take over
leadership of Islamic mobilization, and broaden the narrow educated urban Islamist base to include broad swaths
of the rural and urban migrant population. Neofundamentalists focus on Islamization from below rather
than from above, and they generally lack any kind of sophisticated intellectual interaction with modernity.2 Second-generation neo-fundamentalists are less interested
in political participation within the framework of the nation-state per se, but more ideologically committed to
sectarianism, the purification of society, as well as jihd
as an individual duty as opposed to a collective national
endeavor. 3 In Pakistan, these local neo-fundamentalist
groups have developed considerable organizational synergy with internationalist jihdi organizations like alqidah, which is clearly at odds with the Pakistani state.
They also have deep roots in the Pashtun tribal belt on
both sides of the Durand Line, and pose a considerable
threat to both the Afghan and Pakistani states from relatively inaccessible mountain strongholds.
Up until the 1970s, only the Islamist Jamaat-i-Islami
was continually seeking an active political role through
the electoral process, street agitation, and the development of a select cadre that was active in Pakistans universities, professional middle classes, and government
bureaucracies. It failed, however, to garner much support
beyond the educated classes because it never sought systematically to address the grievances of the illiterate poor,
which have always constituted the majority in Pakistan.4
The Pakistani government, dominated by the military,
supported Jamaat founder Abul Aala Maududis Islamic rhetoric in order to legitimize military rule domestically and agitate against India, but made sure to keep the organization sidelined and irrelevant as an autonomous political force.5 Successive governments from the 1950s to
the 1970s, whether directly or indirectly dominated by
the military, relied on hostility towards India and Islamic
nationalism to deflect domestic criticism of pro-Western
policies and brand regional parties or democratic movements anti-Islamic. Ayub Khan, for instance, who did not
exhibit great personal religiosity, had government friendly ulema declare Fatima Jinnah, the consensus opposition candidate in the 1965 presidential elections, to be
displeasing to God.6 During the crisis of 1971, General
Yahya Khan relied on Islamist parties to help suppress
1
2

Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.289,290.


Roy (1994) The Failure of Political Islam p.75ff

Jalal (2008) p.291-294; Waseem (2004) p.27

Nasr (1994) Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution p.81-85

Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.43

Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.44; Fatima Jinnah


was the sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Interestingly enough, the
Islamist Jamaat supported her candidacy, albeit somewhat hesitantly.

Bengali secessionism and bolster military rule in West


Pakistan.7 Even the ostensibly secular Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,
faced with growing political difficulties, had sought to legitimize his rule by creating a ministry of religious affairs,
acquiescing to legal discrimination against the Ahmadiyya community, and spearheading the creation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).8
Zia ul-Haqs coup in 1977 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 allowed Islamists to achieve a measure
of political power for the first time and greatly boosted
their organizational and financial capacity. Zia sought to
legitimize his government and extend the reach of the Pakistani state through his well-known project of state-led
Islamization. This included funding Islamic institutions,
encouraging graduates of madrasas to pursue careers in
the Pakistani bureaucracy, and in turn supporting the participation of bureaucrats and of rank-and-file members of
the military in various kinds Islamic organizations.9 Zias
regime also involved the Jamaat-i-Islami in channeling
international material and human resources to the Afghan
resistance, a role it reprised in the early years of the
Kashmir uprising after 1989. However, the organization
was torn between its ideological support for Zias Islamization campaign, and its political strategy of achieving
political influence and control through the electoral process. While initially supportive of the Zia coup and Bhuttos execution, it gradually distanced itself from the military regime, which had shown little sign of reinstituting
democracy.10 As a result of its desire to retain autonomy,
the Jamaat was supplanted by other organizations connected to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith networks that
proved to be more pliable in the hands of the Pakistani
security apparatus.11
Followers of the Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith schools of
thought, both of which are described in greater detail below, comprise only a minority in Pakistan. The majority
of Muslims, particularly rural Punjab, identify themselves
with the traditionalist Barelvi tradition characterized by
intense devotion to Muhammad, folk practices, and shrine
rituals. Barelvi ulema, and their political umbrella organization Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP), have usually
followed an accommodationist approach to politics with
little concern for the ideological purity of the state as long
as it does not interfere with the traditional Muslim way of
life. 12 In contrast, Deobandi ulema, which are more
strongly rooted in the Northwest Frontier Province
(NWFP) and Baluchistan, emphasize scriptural but not
mystical guidance, purity from non-Sunn practices, and
7

Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.79,80

Richter (1979) The Political Dynamics of Islamic Resurgence in


Pakistan p.553-555; Haqqani (2005) Mosque and Military p.107

Nasr (2000) The Rise of Sunn Militancy in Pakistan p.145,146


10 Nasr (1993) Islamic Opposition to the Islamic State p.270,271
11 Nasr (1993) Islamic Opposition to the Islamic State p.272-276;
Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) Islamist Networks: The AfghanPakistan Connection p.26; Shaikh (2009) Making Sense of Pakistan p.169,170;
12 Robinson (1988) Varieties of South Asian Islam p.8

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autonomy from the state.1 Until Zias coup in 1977, Deobandi groups mobilized primarily for explicitly religious
and sectarian causes.2 Their aim was not to take control
of the state, but have the state recognize them as the
guardian of Pakistans religious life. 3 Before partition,
Deobandi ulema organized in the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-iHind (JUH) had opposed the creation of Pakistan due to
the perceived secularism of Muslim League leaders.4 The
minority of Deobandi ulema who had supported the
Muslim League formed their own organization, Jamiat
ul-Ulema-i Islam (JUI), and moved to Pakistan after partition.5 Scholars in the smaller Ahl-i-Hadith movement
emphasize religious purity and ritual rigidity even more
than Deobandis, and tend to denigrate the religiosity of
other Muslims. Theologically, they are closely aligned
with Wahhabis on the Arabian Peninsula.6 Unlike Deobandis and Barelvis, Ahl-i-Hadith ulema do not adhere
to medieval Hanafi jurisprudence but choose to rely only
on the Qurn and the Hadth. Religious leaders in this
tradition remained largely aloof from South Asian politics
until recently, although politically active followers, who
tended to hail from the educated urban middle classes,
generally supported the Jamaat-i-Islami before the rise
of political groups associated with Ahl-i-Hadith after
Zias coup.7
For a number of reasons, the conservative Deobandi and
Wahhabi religious movements, which had little history of
radical mobilization, spawned radical offshoots in the
1980s that have been engaged in violent political contention ever since. First of all, the rise of sectarianism following the Iranian revolution and increased Saudi influence in Pakistan spurred sections of the JUI to form militant organizations like the Sepah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
dedicated to purging Shah influence in society, with the
tacit encouragement of the Pakistani state.8 Furthermore,
young Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith veterans of the war in
Afghanistan returned home radicalized and ready to form
their own militant groups within their larger umbrella organizations.9 Pakistani officials in Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) used this as their opportunity to increase their
control over the Kashmir insurgency by marginalizing nationalist organizations, most notably the Jammu and
Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), and fractionalizing the
insurgency as a whole.10 As a result, the Islamic militant
organizations multiplied, decreasing the influence any
1 Robinson (1988) Varieties of South Asian Islam p.5,6
2 Nasr (2000) The Rise of Sunn Militancy in Pakistan p.172-176
3 Binder (1961) Religion and Politics in Pakistan p.33
4 Binder (1961) Religion and Politics in Pakistan p.28
5 Binder (1961) Religion and Politics in Pakistan p.30,31
6 Robinson (1988) p.6,7
7 Nasr (1994) Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution p.83
8 Nasr (2000) The Rise of Sunn Militancy in Pakistan p.155-157
9 Abu Zahab and Roy (2004) Islamist Networks: The Afghan-Pakistan
Connection p.27,28
10 Hussain (2008) Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam
p.25

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one group could have on politics, but increasingly radicalizing Pakistani society as a whole.11 In the following
sections, we describe in more detail the trajectory of political Islam in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We pay particular attention to events after the September 11th attacks,
and ponder the impact of the planned U.S. military drawdown after 2014.
Militant Sectarianism in Pakistan

The increasing influence of conservative Islamic organizations, reflected in the growth of madrasas in the country, is
perhaps the most important consequence of Zias Islamization project.12 In Punjab province, from 1975 to 1996, the
number of madrasas connected with all Muslim groups
grew from about 700 to over 2,400, of which 750 were
considered aggressively sectarian.13 Zia had actively encouraged this development as a way to strengthen state capacity in rural areas by attempting to increase the reliance
of Islamic umbrella organizations on government funding.
These organizations welcomed state patronage, but resisted
state control over the management of madrasas, as they increasingly began to view their religious constituencies as
jagirs, or fiefdoms, that they needed to rely on as their involvement in Pakistani politics increased. As each sectarian organization sought to consolidate its authority over
various madrasa networks, the boundaries between them,
particularly across the Sunn - Shah divide, hardened.14
While sectarian agitation has a long history in Pakistan,
particularly against the Ahmadiyya minority, anti- Shah
militancy picked up only in the 1980s.15 This was partially a result of increased funding and propaganda from Saudi
Arabia and other state and non-state actors from the Persian Gulf seeking to make Pakistan into a Sunn wall
against an increasingly assertive Shah Iran. 16 It also
stemmed from domestic Sunn apprehensions that Pakistani Shah were becoming increasingly threatening, particularly after large scale Shah mobilization in 1980 to
protest Zias proposal to implement the Islamic zakt
tax.17 Increasing anti-Shah activity within Deobandi circles was brought to a head by a fatwa of Deobandi ulema
in Lucknow denouncing the Iranian revolution and declaring Shiism to be non-Islamic.18 In Pakistan, the Deobandi
Maulana Haqnawaz Jhangvi formed what would later become the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), aiming to vilify
Shah Muslims as oppressive and licentious economic
elites that form a fifth column in Pakistan, and advocating
11 Stern (2000) Pakistans Jihd Culture p.118
12 The much discussed Islamization of Pakistans legal system, on the
other hand, seems to have been largely cosmetic: see Kennedy (1990)
Islamization and Legal Reform in Pakistan.
13 Nasr (2000) p.142
14 Nasr (2000) p.155,166
15 Abou Zahab (2000) The Regional Dimensions of Sectarian Conflicts
in Pakistan p.115-118
16 Nasr (2000) p.157
17 Zaman (1998) Sectarianism in Pakistan p.693,694,
18 Nasr (2000) p.162,163

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anti-Shah violence.1 The SSP, and its violent offshoot


Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, which formed after Jhangvis assassination by militant Shias, were responsible for a spate of
sectarian violence that included the killing of the attach to
the Iranian cultural center in Karachi.2
The SSP also sought to gain a foothold in electoral politics by appealing to the grievances of lower middle class
urban residents and the Sunn peasantry against politically
dominant Shah landlords in Punjab. It has sought to
turn rural Punjabi opinion against the political establishment by maligning the founders and subsequent leaders
of Pakistan as overly Anglophile, secular, and Shah influenced. Its success has heretofore been modest, even
though it has formed part of the Punjab provincial government at times. The SSP did however gain a permanent
foothold among lower income urban migrants. 3 More
significantly, SSP and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi leaders attended
the same JUI madrasas in the NWFP and Karachi as the
Taliban, operated training camps in Afghanistan during
the Taliban period, and hosted Taliban remnants fleeing
Northern Alliance and NATO forces in October 2001.
Both the SSP, and its parent organization JUI, which officially renounces anti-Shah violence but in reality largely
shares its membership with SSP, have therefore developed extensive contacts with Muslim extremists from all
across the globe. The Deobandi madrasa network in Pakistan has now become an international epicenter of
global Islamic militancy by training hundreds, if not
thousands, of religious students from across the world but
Southeast Asia in particular.4
Though Zias military regime had used them as a weapon
against Shah revolutionary fervor, subsequent Pakistani
governments became increasingly uncomfortable with the
rising sectarian violence. General Pervez Musharraf
banned both the SSP and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, eight years
after Nawaz Sharif tried and failed to pass an antisectarian bill in 1993.5 As a result, these organizations
changed their names, shifted their base of operations into
the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) 6 and
increasingly focused their attention on aiding the insurgency in Afghanistan. The more recent government
crackdown has also served to draw the ire of these sectarian groups against Pakistan itself and resulted in an alliance with the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). They have
helped the TTP stage numerous attacks against targets in
Pakistans heartland, including the March 2009 attack on
the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. This Punjabi Taliban has been estimated to have around 3,000 active
fighters, and as many as 100,000 members.7
1

Zaman (1998) Sectarianism in Pakistan p.700

Nasr (2000) p.164

Nasr (2000) p.165-169

Nasr (2000) p.179

Waseem (2004) p.25

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) encompass the


Pashtun belt adjacent to the Afghan border.

Abbas (2009) Defining the Punjabi Taliban Network

The Kashmiri Jihds

The Pakistani military has always viewed Islamic proxy


forces in Kashmir as an indispensable weapon against Indian conventional military supremacy.8 However, prior to
1989, military efforts to create a permanent base of Islamic insurgents were hampered by Jamaat-i-Islamis
collectivist understanding of jihd: it should be waged on
behalf of a Muslim nation-state if threatened by a nonMuslim state. However, since the Pakistani leadership often did not declare war before authorizing guerilla operations, Maududi did not believe this kind of jihd was theologically justifiable.9 General Zias eleven-year rule, the
Afghan war, and the beginning of the Kashmiri insurgency in 1989, allowed the Pakistani state further to diversify
its relationship with Islamic militancy in Kashmir. Under
Zia, the ISI had drawn up a detailed plan to gradually foment insurrection in Kashmir and create an untenable situation for the Indian state. This involved training potential insurgents that would in turn be able to recruit the local disgruntled population to a form a movement that
would weaken Indias control and open a window of opportunity for Pakistan to step in.10 Events in Kashmir,
however, rendered these plans obsolete, Pakistani decision-makers quickly decided to use contacts with jihd
outfits involved in the Afghan jihd, thereby connecting
anti-Soviet guerillas with a different theater of war to defend the interests of Muslims against their non-Muslim
oppressors.
The Kashmiri nationalist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation
Front was the main driving force behind the uprising, but
Pakistani policy-makers did not like the JKLF and shifted
support away from the organization because of its insistence on Kashmiri independence rather than accession to
Pakistan. Instead, Pakistan backed Jamaat-i-Islamis affiliate in Kashmir, Hezb-ul-Mujahideen, which was much
more amenable to Pakistans strategic interests, and
helped destroy the professedly secular nationalist resistance movement by providing tips to the Indian army.11 However, Pakistani decision-makers came to feel
that Hezb-ul-Mujahideen also operated too independently
due to its largely Kashmiri membership, and its unwillingness to widen the conflict into India proper.12 Consequently, Javed Nasir, ISI chief in the early 1990s and a
member of the ostensibly non-violent organization
Tabligh-i-Jamaat, invited Deobandi religious schools to
organize jihd outfits under ISI patronage.13 As a result,
members of the Harakat-ul-Jihd-i-Islami, a Deobandi
organization formed in 1988 to channel Pakistanis into
the anti-Soviet jihd, created the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen,
later renamed Harakat-ul-Ansar, under the leadership of
Fazlur Rehman Khalil, to send militants, largely from the
8

Ganguly and Kapur (2010) The Sorcerers Apprentice p.49

Jalal (2008) p.291-294


10 Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.273
11 Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.289,290
12 Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.53-55
13 Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.291-293

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Pashtun areas of Pakistan, to fight in the Kashmir insurgency. In 1999, Masood Azhar, a Punjabi member of the
Harakat-ul-Ansar, was released from an Indian prison in
exchange for a hijacked airliner, and subsequently split
off to form Jaish-i-Muhammad (JiM). Some say this
move was encouraged by the ISI as a way to keep Taliban
elements away and give the Kashmiri insurgency a greater Punjabi face.1 Jaish-i-Muhammad militants are closely
connected to the sectarian SSP and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi,
and in many ways simply represent the external jihd
wing of the same Punjabi Deobandi network, which is
sometimes referred to as the Punjabi Taliban today.2 JiM
militants are suspected to have been involved in the Daniel Pearl killing, attacks against several Christian targets
in 2004,3 and in conjunction with Lashkar-i-Tayba (LiT)
claimed to have organized the attack on the Indian parliament as well as the Kashmiri legislature in late 2001.4
Lashkar-i-Tayba represents the other major militant organization operating in Kashmir and beyond. Its roots do
not go back to militant Deobandi Islam, but rather the
Wahhabi Ahl-i-Hadith movement. In 1987 Hafez Muhammad Saeed, whose parents had fled from Northern
India during partition, founded the Markaz Dawa wal
Irshad (MDI) together with the Palestinian Islamist and
bin Laden mentor Abdullah Azzam, setting up a large
sprawling campus at Muridke near Lahore. Their goal
was to create a model Islamic town free from state interference and secular influence. Markaz Dawa wal Irshad
is dedicated to purifying South Asian Islam of Hindu influences and to motivating individual Muslims to engage
in holy war on behalf of oppressed Muslims all over the
world.5 It helped organize Pakistanis to go to Afghanistan
in the late 1980s, and developed close links with fellow
Wahhabi movements in the Northeastern Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. 6 After the start of the
Kashmiri insurgency, it in turn brought militants from
Kunar and Nuristan to fight in Kashmir.7 Its social profile
mirrors that of non-commissioned officers in the army:
unlike other militant organizations, Lashkar-i-Tayba,
MDIs armed wing, does not rely on the rural Deobandi
madrasa network for recruits, but in addition to Wahhabi
sympathizers in rural Punjab and Sindh, focuses on the
public Urdu education system, young urbanites with few
job prospects, and also disaffected university students.8
Pakistani government officials favored Lashkar-i-Tayba
because it sought to foment Islamic uprisings all across
1

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.55

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.30

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004 p.31

Ganguly and Kapur (2010) p.51

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.32-34

Tankel (2009) Lashkar-i-Taiba: From 9/11 to Mumbai p.18. Interestingly enough, the Wahhabi organization in Kunar, Jami`at alDa`wa al-Quran wal-Sunna, was aligned against the Taliban and
supported Karzais bid for the presidency.

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.38,39

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.36

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India, not just Kashmir, and it was not interested in sectarian violence in Pakistan or in challenging the Pakistani
state itself, unlike the extremist Deobandi groups.9 Government officials regularly visited the Markaz headquarters and lauded the spirit of jihd and sense of sacrifice
among the students in their support of Kashmiri freedom
fighters.10 After September 11th, when the Pakistani government took measures to restrict the activities of other
extremist organizations, LiT largely escaped these sanctions. LiT was set to be banned by the government, but by
dissolving its political arm, MDI, replacing it with a preexisting charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and shifting official
LiT activity to Azad Kashmir, it protected its financial
assets, and was allowed to keep operating its Muridke
campus and various training camps across the country.11
This preferential treatment by the state allowed LiT to
grow at the expense of the Deobandi militant organizations, which had deeper social roots, leading it to become
the focal point of anti-Indian violence in Kashmir in the
last decade.12 The Musharraf government, not wanting to
give up its strategic asset in Kashmir, regularly arrested
LiT figures as a result of international, and particularly
U.S. pressure, but usually released them shortly thereafter.13
According to Hussain Haqqani, until recently Pakistani
ambassador to the U.S., the Pakistani government regularly pays severance money to Hafez Muhammad Saeed,
Fazlur Rehman Khalil, and Masood Azhar, in order to
keep them contented and quiet for the time being. 14
However, the combined effect of increased Pakistani restrictions on their activity in Kashmir, and the presence of
U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have increasingly
drawn their attention to involvement in the Afghan insurgency as well as terrorist attacks in India and beyond.15
Lashkar-i-Tayba, although it has a relatively narrow Ahli-Hadith social base, developed extensive popular support
after the 2005 earthquake in Northern Pakistan in which it
served as the lead actor to bring much needed relief support.16 This has made it more difficult for the Pakistani
government to crack down on it, if it so desires, even
though the attacks on Mumbai in 2008 have signaled its
espousal of global jihdism and a desire to strike at Western targets.17

Jalal (2008) p.286; Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.42


10 Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.299
11 Tankel (2011) Storming the World Stage p.115,116
12 Tankel (2009) Lashkar-i-Taiba p.7,8; Tankel (2011) Storming the
World Stage p.171
13 Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.301-303
14 Haqqani (2005) Between Mosque and Military p.306
15 Tankel (2009) Lashkar-i-Taiba p.16-22; Tankel (2011) Storming
the World Stage p.193,194
16 Tankel (2009) Lashkar-i-Taiba p.17
17 Tankel (2009) Lashkar-i-Taiba p.23-29

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The Insurgency in Afghanistan

There has been much talk about the role of Islam as a


mobilizing force in Afghan politics. Original Afghan Islamists, however, have either been integrated into existing political arrangements, or play a rather minor role in
the insurgency. The two dominant Islamist organizations
during the 1980s and the subsequent civil war period,
Jamiat-i-Islami and Hezb-i-Islami, were formed by a
group of younger scholars in the Sharah Faculty at Kabul University, and the Muslim Youth movement led
primarily by students of the applied sciences at Kabul
university.1 Before the Communist coup, Islamist political organizations were continually in danger of fissure,
and potentially unifying leaders were imprisoned, killed,
or died of natural causes at inopportune times.2 A poorly
executed Islamist coup attempt in 1975 and subsequent
disagreements about the proper strategy presaged the
competition for leadership between Burhanuddin Rabbani,
a professor of Islamic law, and the Muslim Youth cofounder Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a division further deepened by an educational, generational, and ethnic gulf between the two men and their respective followers.3 The
Pakistani-sponsored anti-Soviet jihd temporarily
changed Islamist fortunes for the better. The Pakistani
government entrenched Rabbanis Jamiat-i-Islami and
Hekmatyars Hezb-i-Islami as two of seven officially
sponsored resistance organizations, the latter of which enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the Pakistani
Islamist Jamaat-i-Islami founded by Maududi. When the
Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan and the Communist
government was finally toppled, however, latent conflict
between the resistance groups, particularly Jamiat and
Hezb, led to a protracted struggle for control of Kabul and
full-fledged civil war.
The Taliban movement stepped into this temporary state
of anarchy and swept the old Islamist groups from power.
Its leadership had extensive connections with the Deobandi Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) religious leaders in
Pakistan, and the Taliban rank-and-file was largely drawn
from JUI madrasas on both sides of the border.4 Deobandi Islam had made inroads into the Southeastern belt
of Afghanistan well before the Soviet invasion, establishing networks of madrasas stretching from Kandahar to
Ghazni. Just as their Pakistani counterparts, Afghan Deobandi ulema were not politicized to begin with. Their
main goal was to purify Islamic practice from what they
thought were traditional folk accretions.5 During the antiCommunist struggle, however, the Deobandi networks
became militarized as they served as primary recruiting
grounds for the smaller traditionalist jihd organizations
including Muhammad Nabis Harakat-i-Inqilab and
1

Olesen (1995) Islam and Politics in Afghanistan p.231;

Edwards (2002) Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihd


p.207

Edwards (2002) p.216-218, 235ff.

Maley (2002) The Afghanistan Wars p.224,225

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.13

Yunus Khalis Hizb-i-Islami.6 As a result of the extensive


Afghan refugee population in Northwestern Pakistan, individual commanders in these outfits also developed
much closer connections with the JUI madrasas in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan, and Binori Town, Karachi.7 The Taliban drew on these connections in their drive
to establish the writ of Sharah all across Afghanistan in
the mid 1990s. Because of their cross-border Deobandi
connections, the Taliban also developed close relations
with various Pakistani extremist organizations and international jihdists like Osama bin Laden, which ultimately
proved their undoing in the wake of the September 11th
attacks.8
The widespread assertion that the current insurgency represents a recurring nationalist or primordial tribal resistance against foreign invasion9 is only partially true.
Instead, the Taliban represent the increased prominence
of religious leaders at the expense of tribal elders.10 Giustozzi estimates that up to fifty percent of core insurgent
forces stem from the Afghan or Pakistani madrasa system, and not simply traditional tribal communities.11 Village mullahs have always served as the only supracommunitarian actors able to promote collective action
among rival clans in the remote tribal areas of Afghanistan. Decades of war, massive displacement of Afghans
to Pakistani refugee camps, and the proliferation of madrasas in the NWFP weakened these traditional tribal networks to a large degree, thereby permanently augmenting
the ability of religious figures to transcend tribal divisions
among Pashtuns, and more recently even ethnic boundaries between Pashtun and non-Pashtun Sunnis.12 The insurgency has been particularly successful in Southern Afghanistan, and pockets of Southeastern and Eastern Afghanistan, where tribal structures had been gradually
eroded over decades by the Afghan monarchy. Evidence
suggests that the Taliban had trouble reasserting itself
precisely in those areas where tribal society remains cohesive or where religious institutions, particularly Sufi
networks, have been adamantly opposed to Deobandi influence. 13 In the greater Paktia region of Southeastern
Afghanistan, for instance, the Taliban enjoy very little
support in remote tribal areas, except for the Zadran arc
where the Haqqanis have been able to develop a strong
madrasa network with the help of Arab financing. 14
Hezb-i-Islami commanders retain greater influence in
these less accessible regions, but they are usually more
6

Edwards (2002) p.274,275

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.59,60

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.14

Pape To Beat the Taliban, Fight from Afar [op-ed], New York
Times October 14th, 2009

10 Dorronsoro (2002) Pakistan and the Taliban p.162


11 Giustozzi (2007) Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop p.42,43
12 Giustozzi (2007) Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop p.44,45
13 Giustozzi (2007) Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop p.45,52-53
14 Trives (2009) Roots of the Insurgency in the southeast p.90,91

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hesitant and less effective at organizing lethal operations
against government or international targets.1
What are the implications for the Western counterinsurgency forces in Afghanistan, particularly in view of
the impending withdrawal of forces in Afghanistan after
2014? Recently, some commentators have emphasized
the need to focus on the threat presented by the Haqqani
network from its safe havens in Waziristan and Southeastern Afghanistan. In particular, they cite NATO successes against the Taliban around Kandahar as proof that
international attention now needs to shift to the Haqqanis
due to their extensive contacts with Pakistani and international jihdists, their military capacity, and their operational sophistication.2 Others point to the relatively limited tribal base of the Haqqani network and argue that the
Taliban organization concentrated in Southern Afghanistan but operating all over the country is the only group
that could conceivably generate national support. These
analysts emphasize the importance of striking against
Taliban headquarters in Quetta in cooperation with the
Pakistani security apparatus.3 Both of these perspectives,
however, overemphasize the efficacy of a military solution and overlook the key characteristic of the insurgency,
its religious foundation. While organizationally distinct to
a certain extent, all of the insurgents, except for Hizb-iIslami, share the same Deobandi connections and particular ideological outlook. The Haqqanis have pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar as their spiritual leader. Both
groups have developed a somewhat symbiotic relationship where the Haqqanis focus on conducting larger scale
attacks against Western and Afghan government targets,
and the Taliban seek to control and govern villages and
entire districts.4 In this regard they have exploited the
biggest weakness of the Karzai regime: its inability or
unwillingness to stem the corruption, ineffectiveness, and
callousness of local officials has turned popular opinion
against the government, and has given the Taliban inroads into previously secured areas. As long as there is no
improvement in government performance, and no real attempts are made to address the clerical, as opposed to
simply tribal, foundation of the insurgency, any shortterm military gains will be wasted.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan

The Pakistani Taliban have risen to prominence for similar reasons as their Afghan counterparts. Tribal mechanisms that had previously been able to provide peace and
security have gradually been undermined by the militarization of the Afghan-Pakistani frontier during the 1980s,
the proliferation of madrasas during Zias Islamization
drawing in the local youth, and the lack of adequately responsive political institutions in the Federally Adminis1 Trives (2009) Roots of the Insurgency in the southeast p.92
2 Dressler (2011) "The Haqqani Network and the Threat to Afghanistan.
3 Jones (2011) Why the Haqqani Network is the Wrong Target.
4 Ruttig (2009) Loya Paktias Insurgency. p.72,88

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trated Tribal Areas. In fact, the sidelining of traditionally


cantankerous tribal and clan elders has enabled the clergy
for the first time to mobilize members of rival clans and
tribes within the same groups for long-term collective action.5 Already in 1994 a group of black-turbaned Pashtun
religious students under the banner of Tanzim Nifaz
Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM) and led by Maulana Sufi
Muhammad clamored for the imposition of Sharah law
both in tribal Bajaur agency and adjacent Malakand and
Swat districts in NWFP proper.6 Pakistani military operations against al-qidah and other militant operatives
fleeing Afghanistan after September, 2001, further alienated the tribal population and helped to entrench more
radical elements in tribal leadership. In the wake of the
Lal Masjid siege in Islamabad, July 2007, various groups
affiliated with the Afghan Taliban in each of Pakistans
tribal agencies finally did join together in an umbrella organization, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, on December 13th,
2007. This alliance was formed in order to pool the resources and manpower of Pakistans Taliban to fight in
self-defense if the security forces of Pakistan attacked
their areas and also to extend help to the Afghan Taliban
against NATO forces.7
The Taliban has been active in each of Pakistans tribal
agencies, and has made periodic inroads into neighboring
districts, most famously in the temporary imposition of
Taliban rule in Swat in 2007. Nevertheless, despite the
ascendancy of the mullahs, tribal and strategic differences
prevent greater unity in the TTP. From the very beginning, the Pakistani government has attempted to exploit
these differences, often using the presence of Central
Asian fighters as a wedge issue to divide potential allies.
Thus in 2004, two factions of the Ahmedzai Wazir clan
were vying for supremacy in South Waziristan, allowing
the government to attempt to manipulate one leader,
Mawlawi Nazir, against the more stridently antigovernment Nek Mohammad.8 A few years later, the Taliban leader in North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who
had just agreed to a truce with the Pakistani government
that was brokered by the Afghan Taliban, condemned attacks on the Pakistani military by followers of the now
deceased Baitullah Mehsud from South Waziristan in early 2008. Encouraged by Mullah Omar, Bahadur opposed
the presence of Central Asian militants of the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan in Baitullahs territory, and
sought to redirect TTP energies towards Western targets
in Afghanistan. These strategic differences were in turn
reinforced by the rivalry between Bahadurs Wazir and
Baitullahs Mehsud tribal support in North and South
5 Giustozzi (2007) Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop p.39;
6 Yusufzai (2009) A Who's Who of the Insurgency in Pakistan's
North-West Frontier Province: Part Two FATA excluding North
and South Waziristan. The NWFP, of course, has since been
renamed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
7 Yusufzai (2008) A Whos Who of the Insurgency in Pakistans
North-West Frontier Province: Part One North and South Waziristan; (2009) The Impact of Pashtun Tribal Differences on the Pakistani Taliban.
8 Franco (2009) The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan p.278

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Waziristan.1 While TTP factions often patch up their differences after a significant fall-outs, the reduction in
Western military forces in Afghanistan could very well
exacerbate strategic differences between the various factions, as proponents of taking on the Pakistani state can
no longer be distracted by Afghan affairs. It may also
make it more difficult in general for the government to
manipulate tribal elements in the Taliban to its advantage.
The various groups united in the TTP have emphasized
unity with the Afghan Taliban and have at least nominally pledged loyalty to Mullah Omar, under whom many of
them served directly in the late 1990s. The Afghan Taliban, in turn, consider the TTP elements to be an extraterritorial entity of the same movement.2 After all, the
Taliban is not a disciplined and bureaucratic organization
where detailed central commands are carried out on the
ground. Rather, it is a decentralized ideological movement, ideally suited for the low-intensity guerilla warfare
it is now engaged in, which issues directives and advice
to relatively independent local commanders.3 Nevertheless, some key differences remain. The Afghan Taliban
largely focus on goals parochial to Afghanistan, maintain
crucial links to the Pakistani security apparatus, and have
gone to some length to reassure Afghanistans neighbors
of their limited territorial ambitions. On the other hand,
the TTP espouses global jihadist rhetoric aimed not only
at U.S. forces in Afghanistan but particularly at the Pakistani state, and regularly suggests that it might expand its
operations beyond the limited Af-Pak zone.4 This is not
surprising given the much larger numbers of surviving alqidah operatives, Central Asian militants, and Punjabi
extremists that find shelter on the Pakistani side of the
border. It remains to be seen how the TTP will continue
to handle the tension inherent in both loyalty to Mullah
Omar, who is connected to the Pakistani state apparatus,
and the al-qidah guests, who have repeatedly called for
an uprising against the political establishment.5
Conclusion: Pakistan as Nexus of Global Jihd

This article has traced the development of militant Islam


in South Asia, honing in on the decline of first generation
Islamists and the rise of second-generation neofundamentalist groups. Pakistani policy-makers increasingly switched their support to the latter because they
found them easier to utilize in Pakistans strategic interest. While temporarily aligned with Pakistani policy, these groups were less wedded to the state in their pursuit of
jihd than the earlier Islamists. The twin pressures of
U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and limited Pakistani suppression have constrained the mobility of these
militant groups since 2001. However, these pressures
1

Sulaiman (2009) "Hafiz Gul Bahadur: A Profile of the Leader of the


North Waziristan Taliban."

Franco (2009) The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan p.271

Franco (2009) The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan p.286

Anzalone (2011) The TTPs Hybrid Insurgency

Franco (2009) The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan p.284,285

have also served to strengthen links between various factions, thereby internationalizing heretofore domestic sectarian groups while further entrenching international extremists in Pakistani society. To be sure, these links existed before 9/11 occurred. For instance, Sheikh Omar
Saeed, the Harakat-ul-Ansar operative who was responsible for Daniel Pearls killing, was connected to Jaish-iMuhammads Masood Azhar, al-qidah, and the ISI.6
Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, deceased leader of the wellknown Deobandi Binori town mosque in Karachi, had
previously hosted both Osama bin Laden and Mullah
Omar. He was a member of the Pakistani delegation that
travelled to Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, ostensibly to
persuade the Taliban to give up bin Laden, but most
probably encouraging them not to give in to U.S. pressure. 7 Nevertheless, these interconnections have grown
stronger in the last ten years. Thus al-qidah elements,
fleeing the U.S. military in late 2001 and early 2002,
were aided by Pakistani militants in the tribal agencies.
Many of these figures then relocated to other parts of Pakistan with the help of militant Punjabi organizations,
moving to the settled districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,
Punjab, and the messy metropolis of Karachi.8 Osama bin
Ladens stay in Abbottabad was most probably facilitated
by Harakat-ul-Ansar leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil, who
remains at large in Pakistan.9
That does not mean, however, that all of the militant
groups in the region are moving together to become a
bounded entity with one coherent guiding ideology. In
fact, they resemble a complex overlapping, at times even
contradictory, patchwork of connections and alliances.
Thus the Afghan Taliban, the TTP, and the Kashmiri
Harakat-ul-Ansar are connected through their common
ethnic Pashtun bond and underlying Deobandi roots. Deobandi Punjabi militant organizations, like the Sepah-iSahaba Pakistan, Jaish-i-Muhammad, and Lashkar-iJhangvi have made common cause with TTP elements,
particularly when Pakistani military pressure has forced
them to seek shelter in the tribal agencies.10 Lashkar-iTayba has strong ideological affinities and personal connections with al-qidah bin Laden reportedly spoke at
the annual Markaz-i-Dawat wal Irshad conferences over
the phone throughout the 1990s. 11 Lashkar-i-Tayba,
however, has had a fairly benign attitude towards the Pakistani state, in stark contrast to al-qidah.12
It is clear, however, that the Pakistani government cannot
control militant Islam for its own strategic purposes in the
same way it did before 2001. A drawdown of the U.S.
6

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.58,59

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.59,60

Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.64-67

"Seized Cell Phone Offers Clues to Bin Laden's Pakistani Links."


New York Times, 24 June 2011, A1.

10 Abbas (2009) Defining the Punjabi Taliban Network


11 Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.60,61
12 Abou Zahab and Roy (2004) p.44; Haqqani (2005) The Ideologies
of South Asian Jihd Groups p.24

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military presence in the region will not likely assuage extremist anger in the region. It might very well increase the
temptation for Pakistani policy-makers to reenergize their
dangerous Kashmir policy, particularly as they face a
restless militancy shifting its focus from Western targets
in Afghanistan to the Pakistani state itself. As long as the
Pakistani military seeks to externalize domestic discontent by championing the Kashmir insurgency and demonizing India rather than building up democratic and re-

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sponsive political institutions in the country, radical Islam


will no doubt continue to flourish, further destabilizing
the region. Similarly, notwithstanding short-term U.S.
and Pakistani military gains, the Taliban will continue to
gain ground in Pakistans tribal areas and Afghanistan as
long as the national governments remain unwilling or unable to provide basic necessities, clamp down on corruption, and become more accountable to the local population.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
Afghanistan between Democratization and Civil War:
Post-2014 Scenarios1
Thomas Ruttig
Co-Director, Afghanistan Analysts Network
It is impossible to sketch possible scenarios for post-2014
Afghanistan the period after the planned western disengagement, the so-called enteqal2, or handover of responsibilities without an analysis of the causes of conflict, the main mechanisms with which have been tried to
tackle them and the factors that shape the environment in
which they play out. Afghanistans development i.e.
scenarios for after 2014 highly depends on its development before that crucial year. Therefore, the transition
strategy agreed upon by the international community and
Kabul as well as its potential for success also needs to be
scrutinized.
Often, the activities of the armed insurgency movement
of which the Taliban are by far the strongest actor are
perceived to be the main cause of the current crisis in Afghanistan. Without any doubt, they have indeed contributed to the almost linear deterioration of the security situation in most parts of the country between 2002 and 2011
as a result of which access for national as well as for international, for governmental as well as for nongovernmental reconstruction actors has been shrinking.
But the surge of the insurgency is more a symptom than
the cause of a set of deep crises in Afghan society that
underlie the current conflict situation and which have
been, in many aspects, aggravated instead of alleviated
by the flawed intervention of the international community. (This latter term itself is a euphemism because
there is no unity of purpose and actions among international actors involved in Afghanistan; we come to that
later.)
First of all, the current situation of crises is a result of the
failure fully to implement the 2001 Bonn agreement. The
failure to disarm the civil-war-era militias proved to be
key. The pledge that the Afghan groups participating in
Bonn would withdraw all military units from Kabul and
other urban centers or other areas in which the UN man1 This paper draws on other papers I have authored or co-authored before: Citha D. Maa und Thomas Ruttig, Afghanistan vor neuem
Brgerkrieg? Entwicklungsoptionen und Einflussfaktoren im Transitionsprozess, SWP-Aktuell 2011/A 40, Berlin, August 2011,
http://www.swp-berlin.org/fileadmin/contents/products/aktuell/
2011A40_mss_rut.pdf; Thomas Ruttig et al, The International
Community's Engagement in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Afghanistan
Analysts Network, Discussion Paper 03/2011, Kabul, December
2011, http://www.aan-afghanistan.org/index.asp?id=2290; Thomas
Ruttig, The Failure of Airborne Democracy: The Bonn agreement
and Afghanistans silted-up democratisation, in: Afghanistan Analysts Network E-Book (forthcoming). Quotes from there are not
highlighted here.
2 The spelling in official (NATO and Afghan) documents is inteqal.

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dated force is deployed never did materialize. Instead,


whole former mujhideen units commanders and their
fighters were integrated into the new national armed
forces. This kept these fighters loyalty with their old
commanders alive instead of turning it into loyalty towards the new institutions. In 2006, the UN still spoke of
1,200 to 2,000 Illegal Armed Groups (IAG) with 120200,000 members and over 3.5 million weapons throughout Afghanistan. In 2008, around five hundred highranking members of Afghanistans administration still
belonged to the unofficial UN GOLIAG category (Government Officials Linked to Illegal Armed Groups); that
is 1.2 such persons per district, on average. The vetting of
candidates for the 2004-05 election cycle for links to illegal armed groups was sabotaged by the very factional
commanders of the armed forces who sat on the vetting
commissions. Around 1,000 of the 2,838 candidates for
the 2005 parliamentary elections were suspected of links
to IAGs and 255 were included on a so-called UN yellow list but finally only 11 were disqualified for IAG
links all small fry and no major commanders. 82 of the
249 MPs elected in 2005 had been commanders of armed
groups; eighty per cent of all MPs maintained links to
IAGs, according to the Afghanistan Independent Human
Rights Commission (AIHRC). With these elections, those
commanders and some of the warlords finally added political power to their military and economic power, obtained first through U.S. financial support for their participation in the fight against the Taliban, then through their
expansion into the drug trade and, from there, into legitimate economic activity. As a result, a coalition of representatives of all former warring parties from communists to mujhideen and even ex-Taliban in parliament passed a self-amnesty in 2007 for all past war
crimes.
As a consequence, Afghanistans institutions were renewed in theory only and have effectively been handed
over to armed factions that already had failed in running
the country in the 1980s and that have no interest in the
establishment of a pluralist society, as stipulated by the
Bonn agreement, via a process of democratization which
they perceive as a danger to their monopoly on power.
The implementation of the Bonn agreement was further
undercut by U.S. military interests and, in the first years
after the Taliban regime the famous window of opportunity by an under-resourced political and reconstruction process. Over the last years, in particular, complicating the situation, a social gap has widened to a degree
unprecedented in this countrys history. Although Afghanistan has experienced significant economic growth,
this has mainly benefitted a new oligarchy comprising a
number of political-economic networks often protected
by leading politicians. Meanwhile, the larger part of the
population in rural as well as in urban areas struggles
with unemployment, rising prices and rents and a lack of
social benefits.

The use of an i and then of an e for the same vowel in this Dari
word is difficult to explain.

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


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I. The Context
The Roots of the Conflict

The Soviet invasion over the 1979 Christmas period, that


put Afghanistan on the political map as the hottest conflict of the Cold Wars final period, was not the real starting date of Afghanistans crisis, with its ensuing civil, or
better factional, wars that determined the following almost three and a half decades of its history.
The Soviet invasion was preceded by a chain of lessernoticed domestic events that contributed to the environment in which the crisis festered and finally broke out:
the coup dtat of Sardar Muhammad Daud on July 17th,
1973 that ended the Afghan monarchy established in
1747 and, after forty years of internal peace, set the precedent for violent regime change; the seizure of power, in
another military coup, by the left-leaning Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) on April 27th, 1978;
Pakistans support for armed Islamist insurgents since the
mid-1970s in a context of mutual Afghan and Pakistani
support for insurgent groups on each side of the disputed
Durand Line border; and last, but not least, the decision
of the U.S. government clandestinely to support the
armed resistance of the mujhideen (who had their roots
in earlier groups) against the PDPA regime even before
the Soviet invasion.3
These events, in turn, were shaped by a domestic and international environment socio-economic/demographic,
environmental and political (sometimes with ethnic undertones) that had slowly but profoundly changed Afghanistan over decades. First, the education reforms
started by reformer-King Amanullah (ruled 1919-29) and
continued under his successors led to the exponential
growth of the educated class, but this development was
not matched by a sufficient modernization of the government and economic system to provide this group with
employment. The economy continued to rely on subsistence agriculture, the administration was conservative,
corrupt and ineffective; jobs were allocated through connections not qualification.
This young, educated, but unemployed, cohort became a
recruiting ground for radical political movements. Although Afghanistan had become a constitutional monarchy in 1964, political parties remained banned. As a consequence, the increasingly restless youth did not find legal ways to make its interests heard. Many joined radical
underground groups, both of Islamist and leftist leanings.
These groups infiltrated Afghanistans armed forces and
engaged in a number of competing plots. In 1978, the
leftists gained the upper hand.
3 Interview with the then U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew
Brzezinski, Le Nouvel Observateur, 15-21 January 1998. An English
translation (How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen) can
be found here: http://www. counterpunch.org/ 1998/01/15/howjimmy-carter-and-i-started-the-mujahideen/.

The first coup, in 1973, was facilitated by a grave failure


on the part of the monarchist government. When the crops
failed in large parts of the country in successive years in
the early 1970s and international food aid arrived, the government proved unable to distribute it to the famineaffected areas. As a result, no one made any effort to defend the monarchy when the coup occurred. (This was
supported by the fact that the new president came from the
royal family himself, therefore the change was not perceived as very grave by the population.) The drought itself
was a result of a gradual, decades-long desiccation of parts
of the region, including Eastern Iran and parts of Afghanistan. Ground water levels in the Kabul basin decreased by
about ten meters between the 1970s and 2005. While the
Afghan capital had fifty-eight days of precipitation annually in the early 1970s, the average over the past eleven
years was only twenty-seven daysa worrying decrease
of over fifty per cent. Large parts of Afghanistan still face
frequent drought and famine problems; there is a hunger
belt that consists of several provinces stretching from the
Northwest (Badghis) to Southern Helmand and Kandahar.
The door to foreign interventions was opened by: the
failure to absorb the young educated generation; the
change in the Afghan political landscape since the mid1960s; and the legitimization of the use of violence in the
political sphere. Before the Soviet invasion, in 1978, Pakistan was the most important actor. Pakistan had been
entangled in a conflict with Afghanistan since its emergence as a state in 1947 when Afghanistan, as the only
member country, voted against Pakistans UN membership. Pakistan further felt and still feels threatened by
Afghanistans close relations with India (Pakistans own
Pashtun nationalist movement also enjoyed close relations with the Indian Congress party), Kabuls never
abandoned territorial claims over Pashtun areas now located in Pakistan and by Afghanistans frequent support
for armed insurgencies amongst Pakistans Pashtun and
Baluch minorities. The emergence of an armed Islamist
movement in Afghanistan since around 1973 gave Islamabad the chance to pay Kabul back in its own currency.
This movement later evolved into the anti-Soviet mujhideen movement.
Last but not least, the Cold War context lifted internal
Afghan conflicts to a new level and dimension. On the
one hand, Western support for the anti-Soviet resistance
of the mujhideen provided the latter not just with access
to modern weaponry but also to intelligence, better training and direct advice, that also raised the intensity of violence used in intra-Afghan conflicts. On the other hand,
local conflicts over resources (access to agricultural land,
water etc.) were politicized, with local communities in
conflict with others joining mujhideen organizations in
order to get access to weapons and political support. In
the Northern province of Balkh, for example, communities that had been involved in an upstream/downstream
water conflict joined different mujhideen parties.

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and the Region After 2014
Sometimes, this development, this also had ethnic dimensions.
This chain reaction of regime changes, foreign interventions and resistance to them deepened social and political
gaps in Afghanistan, made conflicts more violent and
created a vicious circle of revenge and mistrust that finally tore apart the very fabric of Afghan society. The current phase of the conflict can only be fully understood in
this context.
Outlines of the Current Conflicts
1. The Insurgency as a Symptom, Not a Cause

The latest phase of Afghanistans conflicts started at the


end of 2001 when the Taliban regime was toppled but the
Taliban movement remained undefeated. While the regime disbanded quickly after the U.S.-led coalition started its strikes after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Talibans
top leaders were able to escape to Pakistan, while midlevel commanders and foot soldiers were able to take refuge in their respective communities. Unsure about their
political future, they waited while someboth at the top
and the mid-leveloffered to cooperate or even participate in the new political regime. But, with a few exceptions, they were all rejected.
Increased repression by OEF troops, in cooperation with
the Northern Alliance-dominated Afghan forces (mainly
NDS), under the rubric of mopping up Taliban remnants, against former Taliban officials, alienated them,
and often their communities, from the new government.
In other areas, mainly in Southern Afghanistan, the marginalization of whole tribal or sub-tribal groups in the
competition for political power and access to external resources by the often repressive and predatory subnational personnel of the Karzai government and its allies
created a broad recruitment basis for the insurgents.
Many of the alienated individuals and communities
joined the Talibans top leaders in Pakistan after they had
started reorganizing the movement. This process was
generally complete by 2004-05.
In that situation military and domestic political polarization (Taliban vs. Karzai/ISAF and Karzai vs. former mujhideen), the political middle ground, and the leverage of
pro-democratic forces, was further limited. Every political
challenge was perceived as a challenge playing into the insurgents hands by the Kabul government. Relations with
the ex-mujhideen deteriorated, they started to fluctuate
between positions in the government and opposition
often both at the same time. Pro-democratic elements and
their parties were excluded from running in the 2004-05
elections under their name, although it was actually permitted by statute. Civil society organizations and students
were discouraged from involving themselves in politics;
political activity on university campuses was banned.

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Today, the insurgency is active or present, albeit at differing levels, in all provinces of the country and influences the behavior of the population more intensely than
the forces opposed to it. The Taliban as the Islamic
Emirate of Afghanistan have established parallel, quasi-state structures and present themselves increasingly as
a government-in-waiting that in their perception has
been pushed from power by an illegitimate foreign intervention. In this process, they have made use of increasing
self-de-legitimization by the Kabul government (due,
amongst other facts, to massively manipulated elections
and the failure to provide even basic social services to the
population) and by international troops (due to behavior
that often resembled that of occupiers).
Starting from their strongholds in Southern Afghanistan,
the Taliban managed to extend their influence gradually
and systematicallyincluding, for the first time, significantly beyond the Pashtun population. In the North and
Northeast, they profit from support from among the conservative Islamic clergy. The increasing foreign military
pressure, starting with the U.S. troop surge in early
2009 and the resulting escalation in fighting (particularly
SOF kill-or-capture operations) led to an asymmetric
backlash (suicide and IED attacks, and targeted assassinations) by the Taliban on the one hand, and to an ideological homogenization of the insurgency as a countrywide national Islamic anti-occupation movement on the
other. This has built bridges to and connected with sectors of Afghan society that do not sympathize with the
Taliban but have also started to oppose the Western military mission in Afghanistan.
At the same time, as mentioned above, the insurgency
developed in an environment that had been socially and
politically fragmented and polarized over more than thirty years of internal (and sometimes internationalized)
armed conflict. The Afghan population experienced eight,
sometimes extremely violent, regime changes from
monarchist to communist, Islamist and finally semidemocratic during which old elites were sidelined, partially eliminated (physically and by mass emigration) and
replaced by new elites. But the respective new elites
failed to lead the country out of war and into a period of
peaceful reconstruction. As a result, the social fabric and
social institutions including those of conflict resolution
were weakened and even disintegrated. The majority of
the people were traumatized, creating an atmosphere of
mutual distrust, deep into families and into political relations. The failure to address these issues after 2001 by allowing a culture of impunity to take root in the new institutions suppressed these conflicts but did not resolve
them.
Meanwhile, one can continue to doubt NATOs claimed
progress in degrading the insurgency. The alleged decrease in the number of security incidents is based on a
methodology that is not comprehensive, and the UN and
Afghan human rights institutions have come to different

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conclusions. And, in the Summer of 2011, leading U.S. generals admitted that the progress achieved is not yet sustainable. Key districts, which have reportedly been turned
around (Arghandab, Panjwai and Zhari in Kandahar, Musa
Qala, Sangin, Marja and Nawa in Helmand, Chahrdara in
Kunduz etc.), still have a wait-and-see Taliban presence and
are still vulnerable to Taliban attacks from their periphery or
from neighboring districts. Often, ISAF and government
control does not extend beyond district centers.
2. The Wests Lack of Cohesion and Strategy

With each year, the international intervention has been


increasingly confronted with its inbuilt strategic contradictions and errors. First, there was a contradiction between the declared purpose of the intervention and the
manner in which it was implemented. While the language
of humanitarian intervention (defending human and in
particular womens rights; establishing a democratic and
pluralistic political system) was used, a counterterrorism
strategy, in the framework of Presidents Bush War on
Terror, in fact prevailed. The U.S. initially avoided the
use of its own ground troops and relied on Afghan allies,
the delegitimized mujhideen. The inclusion of mujhideen political leaders in new political institutions devalued these institutions from the outset. Security was
put above justicei.e. dealing with the war crimes that
the aforementioned leaders had been responsible for. The
antiterrorism strategy also blocked the deployment of UN
or other multilateral forces that could have policed the
transition from the Taliban regime to a new democratic
order when the security situation still was favorable, as
prescribed in the 2001 Bonn agreements. What were initially planned as Provincial Security Teams were turned
into Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).
Ironically, Germany, as the first country that deployed
ISAF troops outside Kabul and established a PRT, was
significantly responsible for this dilution of the ISAF
mandate. By propagating its reading of concepts such as
the comprehensive approach and civil-military cooperation, the government in Berlin turned the Bundeswehr into a surrogate aid organization (or at least tried to
create this impression with an increasingly hostile domestic audience). On top of this, the Bundeswehr was
unable to implement larger infrastructure projects that
would have changed the social situation in the region it
covered. Instead, it often concentrated on projects (roads,
bridges) that were important for its own mobility. This
became the approach of the PRTs of some other nations,
as well. The population of Kunduz paid for this approach
when the Taliban established a strong presence right under the noses of the German troops, that was only fought
back after U.S. special forces, in cooperation with Afghan forces, and highly ambiguous new militias, labeled
Afghan Local Police (ALP), were called in and a more
aggressive German approach was finally adopted.
As a recent study by Philipp Mnch of SWP Berlin soberly describes, NATO countries and the alliance itself

lack a clear military strategy for Afghanistan. This has


led to a pragmatic ad hoc approach determined by the
forces on the ground, which influential U.S. generals
dominate:4
A closer look indeed shows that political decision-makers in the
states participating in this [the Afghanistan] mission take decisions about the course of action on the national and international
levels which they call strategies. However, as a general rule, this
planning does not have the character of a strategy because either
it does not include the purpose and aim of the measures envisaged
or the way chosen and the means that are to be used are insufficiently defined. [] It becomes obvious that, because of the consensus principle that is valid in the alliance, no agreement
amongst the twenty-eight member-states about a clear political
goal in Afghanistan is possible. [] Because the lack of a strategic consensus cannot be overcome, either in the military or in the
political part of the alliance, the solution of the problem is delegated downwards. As a result, valid guidelines [for the troops on
the ground] only emerge at the level of the U.S.-dominated ISAF
headquarters that, in fact, is only supposed to be an operative institution []. Because of the enormous political weight of the
U.S., the guidelines mainly reflect the official U.S. national
American strategy.

For the same reasons, i.e. the strategic dominance of the


U.S., ISAFs roll-out into the provinces started years too
late. Germany was the first non-U.S. nation that took over
a PRT in Kunduz, in October 2003 (fully operational in
2004); the more volatile South and Southeast was only
covered in 2005-06. By then, the window of opportunity
for establishing functioning institutions, for which the ISAF troops would have provided a secure environment and
support where needed, had closed and the insurgency used
the intervening power vacuum and the absence of functioning governance in many rural areas to reorganize. As a
result, the insecurity of the repressive Taliban regime and
the 1994-2001 factional war was simply replaced by another repressive regime, dominated by returning warlords,
aggravated by the resurgent insurgency and trust in the
newly-created institutions was undermined. In this process,
from around 2005 onwards, even the Karzai camp, which
initially followed a reform agenda, started behaving like
the older factions, thwarting hopes for better governance
and meaningful reform. This includes the use of new official and unofficial militias that fight alongside U.S. Special
Forces and CIA troops.
The Western approach to the drug economy in Afghanistan is amongst the most bizarre outcomes of this (lack of)
strategy. While efforts to curb poppy production have
been central to any political mandate, and a lead-nation,
Great Britain, was even put in charge, UK troops were
instructed not to act against drug producers and traffickers. The reasons: the farmers might join the insurgency
when losing their livelihood (eleven per cent of the countrys population is involved in the drug economy) while
many of the traffickers were allies in the fight against the
4 Philipp Mnch, Strategielos in Afghanistan: Die Operationsfhrung
der Bundeswehr im Rahmen der International Security Assistance
Force, SWP-Studien 2011/S 30, November 2011, http://www.swpberlin.org/de/produkte/swp-studien-de/swp-studien
detail/article/
bundeswehr_strategielos_in_afghanistan.html. (My translation.)

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Taliban. Their involvement in narcotics production, although known, was ignored. This was combined with a
communication strategy describing the insurgents as the
main profiteer from the drug economyan assertion that
became more and more untenable as officials in the Afghan administration and their relatives increasingly pocketed shares of the drug revenues in the country.
The, in practice, incomprehensive approach led to all
kinds of haphazard mini-strategies being carried out unilaterally by some actors: from Britain financing compensation for farmers to highly corrupt and parallel Afghan
anti-narcotics commissions (one of them was later dissolved) which resulted in farmers not receiving money
and resuming poppy growing on a larger scale but commission members becoming rich through to the U.S.
approach of spraying drug plantations, as in Plan Colombia. (One U.S. ambassador to Kabul went under the
moniker Chemical Bill.) The latest example is the UNs
declaration of drug free provinces and the handing out
of reward payments to their governors while drug free
is defined only in terms of the size of the poppy growing
area and hashish cultivation and drug trafficking are
completely neglected under this approach. (One of the
drug-free provinces, Balkh, has become a major hashish growing area, while Afghanistan as a whole has regained its position as the worlds largest producer of this
drug.)
With the insurgency spreading, the room for civilian-led
reconstruction shrunk and the raison dtre of the PRTs
became increasingly obsolete. But only thereafter did
Western nations particularly the U.S. start throwing
enormous sums at this sector. As a result, this type of reconstruction became a component of the Counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy, often targeting communities
where incidents happened while peaceful regions remained underfunded. (E.g. the Lithuanian PRT for Ghor,
the Polish one for Ghazni, the Hungarian one for Baghlan
or the Spanish one for Badghis with their comparatively
limited resources.)
In the U.S. case, resources were allocated through Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds
controlled by PRT commanders in certain provinces,
which dwarfed the budgets available through the Kabul
government. The rising security costs made reconstruction more expensive, and PRT-driven projects often
contracted to profit-oriented companies with no experience in the development sector and its standards of sustainability became vulnerable to insurgents who perceived them, sometimes correctly, as COIN measures.
(There are a number of cases where U.S. forces did not
respect the neutrality of NGO institutions and even misused NGO number-plates for their vehicles.) The insistence of some governments, including Germany, that
NGOs either cooperate with the military or be excluded
from state funding blurred the line between governmental

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and non-governmental actors. It also made independent


projects and aid workers a target.
Despite the European Commission having been almost
on par with the U.S. as a donor during the first postTaliban years, EU countries were not able to develop a
strategy of their own, in contrast to the U.S. military-first
strategy, in particular on institution and democracy building. This was prevented by fears of potentially undercutting the Karzai government by working with other political actors and of confronting Washington.
Frequently, the Western strategy is criticized for its socalled light footprint, a term that often is defined as a
lack of troops beyond Kabul. Indeed, as described above,
initially there was too light a military footprint. This
changed only after the insurgency was already in full
swing. The consequent troop surge, starting in early 2009,
only led to an escalation of violence and a stalemate at a
higher level of violence, with an increasing number of civilian casualties. At the same time, from the very beginning of the Bonn process, the international footprint in the
political sector has not been light at all.
While the 2001 Bonn conference itself already had substantial democratic deficits, 5 manipulations, mainly by
the U.S. that were not resisted by other governments,
continued to taint the post-Bonn political process. It
started in mid-2002, during the Emergency Loya Jirga
(ELJ), with the forced exclusion of the former Afghan
King Muhammad Zaher from the field of contenders for
head of state in favor of the U.S. favorite Hamid Karzai
and the forced inclusion of fifty disqualified persons in
the ELJ, most of them commanders who acted as provincial governors, police and intelligence chiefs. It continued in early 2004 with the pushing through of a centralized presidential system against the wishes of forty-five
per cent of the members of the Constitutional Loya Jirga
who supported a parliamentary system (and included manipulations of the text of the constitution). It did not stop
during the 2004 presidential elections when, after Karzai
failed to secure fifty per cent of the votes in the first
round, the major defeated candidates were arm-twisted
into foregoing a second round of voting. While before the
2005 parliamentary elections, the registration of political
parties was delayed and a Single Non-Transferrable Vote
(SNTV) voting system (plus multi-seat constituencies)
was chosen that further undermined political parties role
and favored armed factions that were well-entrenched in
certain voting groups. Finally, political-party-based parliamentary factions were even banned. Consequently, the
West pushed Karzai into a coalition with the warlords.
Today, dubbed the jihd leaders, they constitute a
powerful part of the inner but extra-constitutional circle
of advisors of the president. Because of their religious
5 Including the arm-twisting of the Rome Group delegation during internal elections voting for Karzai as presidential candidate and the
exclusion of the fifth delegation comprised of representatives of
the pro-democratic underground and exile groups.

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self-legitimization, they are difficult to challenge politically.


The parallel, excessive and obviously misleading use of
Afghan-led rhetoric by Western governments contributed to a sense of political disempowerment that extends far
beyond the ranks of the insurgencys sympathizers. The
balance of pro- and anti-democratic political forces in Afghanistan that had still been rather open in mid-2002 was
turned around to the detriment of democratic actors and institutions, as had been the case in Mubaraks Egypt or Ben
Alis Tunisia. Afghans perceptions of democracy have
turned from hope in 2001 to cynicism today. This is the real defeat that the West has suffered in Afghanistan, and it
will take decades for this scar to disappear. In fact, Western collusion with the Afghan warlords, in favor of a stability that never developed, killed the democratization of
Afghanistan before it even started.
By now, the West has maneuvered itself into a sovereignty trap that prevents if from putting reform pressure
on Karzai. This process was completed when the West,
for political reasons, recognized Karzais victory in the
flawed 2009 presidential election with its millions of
false voter cards. Basing itself on its threadbare sovereignty (with its survival standing and falling on the presence of foreign troops and its budget filled by foreign resources at a current rate of ninety-seven per cent, according to the World Bank), the Karzai government now resists most genuine reform initiatives. (The dismissal of
three critical AIHRC commissioners and an announced
change of a number of members of the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) over Christmas 2011 are only
the latest examples of the direction in which the wind is
blowing.) It is difficult to resist the impression that particularly the U.S. is following an approach of domestication through corruption saturation of certain political actors, hoping that providing them with income - legitimate
and illegitimate - will make them cooperate and submit to
the rule of law later, as during its own period of state
consolidation.
In wake of the announcement of the enteqal strategy, international political will to engage in Afghanistan is waning further while the topic has started to retreat from the
world medias front pages. With declining attention and
returning soldiers, resources will also decline. USAID,
the biggest donor in the development sector, is already
cutting down from $4bn (2010) to $2bn (2011) and an
expected $1bn in 2014. Only a few countries among
them Britain, Sweden and Finland have announced that
they will maintain their current Overseas Development
Assistance (ODA) spending for Afghanistan; the EU and
Germany have expressed their willingness to try the same.
The dominant approach in Western capitals, though, is to
scale down expectations to Afghan good enough
governance etc. which means tolerating some corruption to cut costs and disengage while developing a nar-

rative of relative success (Afghanistan is not Switzerland). This has resulted in the decline of pressure for reform by international actors, the encouragement of corrupt and predatory governance and in resignation vis-vis vital gaps in the political system, including the lopsided balance between the three state powers, the lack of
implementation of existing law and the creeping penetration of Islamist anti-democratic and anti-reform thinking
into state institutions.
3. The Role of the Neighboring Countries

Most of Afghanistans immediate or far neighbors (Pakistan, Iran, the Central Asian republics, China as well as
Russia, India and Saudi Arabia) do not currently play a
(fully) constructive role in Afghanistan. The position of
some of these countries vis--vis Afghanistan, and Western involvement there, has changed since the late 2011
Bonn II conference. Two factors have led to this situation:
first, long-standing and unalleviated bilateral problems that
make the Afghanistan issue secondary for these governments, and, second, the Afghanistan missions morphing
from an international to a Western one, from being UN-led
to being NATO-led. Most of them reject the deployment of
NATO troops in Afghanistan and the establishment of
NATO supply bases in neighboring countries.
Among the regional problems, and problems beyond, are
the following: the unresolved border dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan (the Durand Line), conflicts between India and Pakistan over Kashmir (accompanied by
a nuclear arms build-up), and the strained relations between the U.S. and Iran and Pakistan on the nuclear issue.
There has so far been no concerted political process to
manage regional disputes that have contributed to instability in Afghanistan. Consequently, there is still no formal practical framework, or forum for dialogue among
Afghanistan, key regional stakeholders, and the main international actors, by which to develop a political agenda
for constructive regional cooperation. The recent Istanbul
conference, organized by Turkey, whose aim was to rebuild confidence and, possibly, develop a regional mechanism to alleviate the Afghan situation, was only a first
step on this still long road. Hopes of bringing in China or
India to take over some political or even military responsibility are in the first case illusionary and in the second counterproductive. Beijing cannot be interested in
being associated with the NATO mission in Afghanistan,
and will not pull the Wests chestnuts out of the Afghan
fire. While an Indian military involvement, even in training, will raise Pakistans suspicions and might block any
constructive involvement on Pakistans part. Concepts
like the New Silk Road collide with current security
problems and, in case these are resolved, will be made
difficult to implement for reasons of topography alone.

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II. Enteqal: Finally a Strategy?

The latest incarnation of the Western strategy for Afghanistan or the first coherent one, as some observers
sarcastically point out is called transition or, in Dari,
Afghanistans lingua franca, enteqal. This strategy
consists of handing over security and political responsibilities to the Afghan Government by 2014, thereby indirectly admitting that so far Afghan sovereignty has mainly existed on paper only. The handover includes as the
final statement of Bonn II stipulates the phasing out of
all Provincial Reconstruction Teams, as well as the dissolution of any structures duplicating the functions and authority of the Afghan Government at the at the national
and sub-national levels. Facing the unsustainability of
Afghanistans institutions, a post-2014 ten-year period of
transformation was added to the strategy during the recent Bonn II conference. In Bonn, assurances of further
financial and developmental support were secured from
the international community. They are supposed to be
spelt out further in a donor conference in Tokyo in July
2012.
In practice, however, the enteqal approach still overemphasizes of the military aspects of the problem and
takes a hands-off approach on governance issues. Focus
is on the further expansion of the ANSF while, with
PRTs being dismantled an expected result of the UNAMA mandate review (demanded by Kabul), is that instruments to watch governance, in particular on its subnational levels, will disappear. In fact, this is a capitulation
vis--vis undue Afghan demands and shows that enteqal
is the Western alliances exit strategy from the country.
To date, the West has failed to show what is supposed to
be transformed (beyond the form of Western engagement
in Afghanistan) and how this will happen after 2014.
Which of the scenarios laid out below will play out, finally depends on three crucial factors linked to the enteqal
strategy:

Whether there will be a substantial stabilization


by 2014 both of the ANSF (quality, cohesiveness) and of Afghan political institutions;

What role the remaining U.S. forces will play; and

How the international community will really engage after the end of transition in Afghanistan.

1. Pre-2014 Institution building

On the political side, Afghanistan currently is characterized by an over-centralized presidential system in which
the executive, often using extra-constitutional mechanisms (the jihd leaders or the ulem councils, newly
formed judicial commissions), has subdued both the legislative and the judiciary and sidelined alternative social
and political actors, among them civil society and politi-

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cal parties. Genuinely independent media also face an


onslaught comprising a lack of access to government information, disappearing funding, blatant violence against
journalists and self-censorship; most independent television stations, many radio stations and print media are
funded by former warlords. (President Karzai gave his
first ever television interview to Afghan stations in December 2011.) Critical bodies like the AIHRC, the IEC
and the non-governmental election observer coalition
FEFA are under pressure both from government officials
and warlords while the government increasingly tries to
inject allies into civil society. As a result, functioning
checks and balances are missing. The whole institutional
system cannot be described, and we concentrate on a few
examples only.
On the legislative side, an institutional crisis triggered by
the presidents unhappiness over the 2010 election outcome has paralyzed the lower house of the Afghan parliament, the Wolesi Jirga (WJ) for almost a year. After massive electoral fraud committed by almost everyone involved in the September 2010 parliamentary elections, the
president grossly interfered with Afghanistans independent electoral institutions and challenged their findings. He
created additional judicial bodies while there still is no
independent Constitutional Court that partially reversed
the election result and undermined the actual election and
the electoral complaints commission. Claims and counterclaims have led to a situation in which one can no longer
say who won and who lost in the 2010 polls. It must be
doubted that the vote of the populace is reflected in the
current WJ composition. As a result, parliament was only
able to resume its work with its public standing and that
of democratically elected bodies in general seriously cast
in doubt.
The still unchanged character of the parliament itself further aggravates this situation. An extremely complicated
electoral system, which further splits the vote in an already
fragmented political landscape, is still being used. Although provided for by statute, political parties are still unable to field lists of candidates and to establish parliamentary groups. The lack of factional discipline also fragments the parliament itself, makes the voting behavior of
individual MPs unpredictable and encourages the use of
manipulation (bribes and pressure) to win votes. Electoral
reform, although already demanded by national and international monitors (including the EU) after the first election
cycle of 2004-05, has been blocked, not least by the failure
of the UN and other international actors to act expeditiously. (Before the 2009-10 elections, an attempt at reform was
only made once the one-year period during which the electoral law cannot be changed had already commenceda
fact that had apparently been overlooked.) The new parliament elected in 2011 is more depoliticized than the previous one. The role of political parties has decreased further. Many active MPs who left their mark on the first legislative period were not re-elected and the number of businessman and inexperienced young deputies has risen. The

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strengthening and reform of the justice system as well as of


potential oversight organs that are themselves corrupted
and/or politicized still remain unresolved problems.
Given the limited resources the Afghan government is
likely to have at its disposal before and beyond 2014, the
international community should strive to ensure that, in
the first place, the core functions of the state are strengthened. To this end, governance support should focus on
consolidating the governments financial and oversight
systems; simplifying and rationalizing procedures and
regulations; prioritizing basic government services;
strengthening the justice sector and mechanisms to combat corruption; devolving responsibility for administration, planning and budgetary issues away from the center
(which does not mean federalism); and exploring
means of obtaining greater external leverage. Wellplanned conditionality together with monitoring of all
funding may be the only means of ensuring Kabuls
commitment to governance reforms. Insisting on the independence of the legislature and the judiciary (as well as
of the existing independent commissions) on the basis of existing law would counter the increasing monopolization of power by the executive and make it more
responsive and accountable vis--vis the Afghan population. In terms of institutional reform, as well as necessary
supportive adjustments to the legal and political system,
improving the electoral system and establishing an efficient and accountable presidential office are crucial. It
remains to be seen whether the international community
can regain the appetite to tackle these crucial but complicated issues.
Despite a different official narrative, recent developments
on the military side of things also do not bode well for successful enteqal. Major actors in this field realize this fact,
but cannot, however, contradict political priorities.
The standing up of the ANSF, which is supposed to be
part of the solution of Afghanistans security problems, is
increasingly turning out to be part of the problem itself.
This is particularly the case as Western governments
concentrate on the ANSFs quantitative growth while
quality continues to be lacking. The figures provided do
not even seem to reflect the whole picture. NATO member-states have approved an overall ANSF size of
352,000, to be reached by the end of 2013. According to
the latest available figures from November 2011, there
were altogether 308,000 personnel (up from 270,000 in
January 2011), with some 170,000 soldiers and 130,000
police. According to one source, the true size of the Afghan army [was] at perhaps 100,000 personnel on duty
at that time.6

6 Graeme Smith, Canada's Quest to Turn Afghanistans Army of


Phantoms into Fighters, Globe and Mail, 14 December 2011;
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/canadas-quest-toturn-afghanistans-army-of-phantoms-into-fighters/article2271703/.
Available figures on the ANSF vary slightly.

New personnel are inducted after training courses of only


six weeks duration. In January 2011, the Special Inspector
General for Afghan Reconstruction of the U.S. Congress
reported that twelve per cent of soldiers and seventeen per
cent of policemen had been Absent Without Leave
(AWOL) at that point. The attrition rate between November 2010 and November 2011 losses and desertions
was thirty-two per cent. This means that in order to make
the army grow by the then still needed 36,000 men, 83,000
had to be recruited and trained. Only four out of ten soldiers and three out of ten policemen remained in the forces
after their usually three-year contracts ended. Only
fourteen per cent recruits were able to read and write (on a
3rd grade Afghan level); even in the officer corps in the
countrys South only half were literate. There were drug
problems with nine per cent of all uniformed forces. Only
twenty-three per cent of ANA and twelve per cent of ANP
units were able to operate without foreign instructors, and
none above company level. (Here it has to be added that
NATO operational standards may not be the right ones to
apply.) Furthermore, the army in particular has an ethnic
problem: Only four per cent of all recruits (and 1.5 in 2009)
were Southern Pashtuns, i.e. inhabitants of the most insurgency-stricken part of the country whose families fear to
be associated with the Kabul government. After this fact
was revealed, the NATO training mission in Afghanistan
changed the way it counted them.7
Assassinations of foreign trainers and the suicide attack
on the Afghan MoD on April 18th, 2011, when an assailant wearing an ANA uniform made it up to the ministers
anteroom, point to grave vetting and internal security
shortcomings and they undermine the trust between
Afghans and their international trainers, with implications for the recruitment of the latter.
The decision to expand, parallel to the ANSF, militia-like
units the so-called Afghan Local Police and others also points to an obvious lack of trust vis--vis the legitimate security forces in NATO. But for the ALP, training
and vetting are even weaker. Furthermore, the creation of
another parallel institution channels away resources that
could be used for the improvement of the quality of the
ANSF which are recruited from the same personnel
pool anyway and undermines their legitimacy. Here,
again, short-term gains (in fighting the insurgency) are
preferred to long-term solutions (the establishment of
sustainable institutions).
Exactly because Afghans have sufficient experience with
the longevity of similar militiassome of which were created by the Soviets and still exist while official Sovietcreated forces broke up and joined different factionsthey
fear a repetition of this development after 2014.

7 Ibid.

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2. U.S. Troops and Bases

As in Iraq, U.S. troops will also remain in Afghanistan


after enteqal is completed in 2014. While most combat
forces will withdraw, with the exception of Special Forces and other unconventional units, the mission will be
morphed into a training and mentoring mission. It can
be assumed, though, that some conventional combat
troops will just be relabeled. Some of these mentors, the
so-called Oversight and Mentoring Liaison Teams (OMLTs), are already embedded with Afghan units and accompany them into combat. Leaving a grey area between
training/mentoring and combat.
There is still a discussion going on, at least in public,
about what these troops mandate will be. The U.S. government seems to prefer that they keep out of domestic
armed violence, i.e. factional fighting (green-on-green)
and only act as a last resort to prevent regime collapse, i.e.
the fall of Karzai or a possible successor; and fulfill a
counter-terrorism mission only, mainly centered on alqidah. This is sometimes called a beyond the horizon, i.e. a back-up role, as is the case with the ISAF
troops in areas where security responsibility has been
handed over to Afghan forces already. One example of
how this can work is the province of Nuristan where U.S.
troops were withdrawn in 2010 only to return during
2011 when local Afghan forces showed signs of fragmentation and were in danger of being defeated. This leaves
open the question: what is the best possible moment to
intervene? There is a chance that it can be missed if there
is a general reluctance to intervene. But historical evidence from Afghanistan shows that local fighting can
spread and be beyond control before anyone is able to react. On the other hand, the threshold for intervention will
be lower if troops remain inside the country, simply because the soldiers cannot isolate themselves in a handful
of bases and ignore what is happening outside of them,
even more so when groups of insurgents will consider
such bases (under whatever branding) as a continuation
of the occupation, as their main reason for fighting, and
will likely attack their supply routes.
These troops reaction, and the timeliness of it, also depends on where they are deployed. There clearly is a
preference to keep possibly five military bases in the
country. This is the subject of ongoing U.S.-Afghan negotiations about a future strategic partnership. Since the
Afghan government and public opinion are against outright U.S. bases over which they exercise no sovereignty,
in a compromise solution U.S. troops would receive temporary rights to use such bases that formally remain under the control of Afghan forces. Bases on Afghan territory, however, will be a matter of grave concern. At least
some groups of insurgents, and even other forces, will
perceive them as a prolongation of a foreign occupation
and are likely to continue attacking them. (The lack of
legitimacy of the Afghan government strengthens such
challenges.) Such bases also need to be supplied, and the
supply routes through unreliable ally and more or less

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hostile states (Pakistan, Russian and the Central Asian


Republics) are already vulnerable. Not least, neighboring countries might feel encouraged to support attackers
even after a possible political solution with the Taliban.
Another option would be to deploy these troops with the
U.S. fleet in the Arabian Sea. Washington argues that this
would prolong reaction time unduly.
Maintaining U.S. bases on Afghan soil in whatever form,
therefore, will negatively impact regional dtente (because
all near and far neighbors, perhaps with the exception India,
are against them) and a peaceful solution that includes the
Taliban. To make matters even more complicated, a U.S.
eschewal of bases might be read by some neighbors as an
invitation to resume (or upgrade) their regional competition
over influence in Afghanistan (Pak/Iran, Pak/India) and to
engage in another Afghan proxy war.
The location of these bases besides Bagram, Kandahar
and Mazar-e Sharif, Jalalabad and Shindand, close to the
Pakistani and Iranian borders (and the disinclination to
withdraw to the fleet) lead to the possible assumption that
these bases main mission will not be Afghanistan anyway, but rather to remain close to the nuclear installations
of Afghanistans neighbors both ti the West and to the
East.
3. Future International Engagement

Despite the assurances emanating from Bonn II, it is too


early to say how extensive the future engagement of the
U.S., its Western allies and other international actors after 2014 will be. Realizing the unsustainability of Afghan
institutions when relying on Afghan resources only (not
only in the case of the ANSF but of all others), and facing a 1992 reloaded8, the U.S. in particular will try to
use the planned Tokyo 2 conference in 2012 to secure
concrete commitments from other governments. But the
Western countries face a number of crises and challenges
themselves that will make it difficult to fulfill promises
that were made too early: the U.S. budget problems, the
Euro crisis with its bailouts for large banks and whole national economies, the Arabian Spring and needs for reconstruction there, not to mention global warming and
the need to restructure energy sector after the nuclear disaster of Fukushima. It is clear that revenues from mining
Afghan mineral resources and the development of a comprehensive regional trade system (the New Silk Road)
can become mid-term solutions only, i.e. will take much
longer to implement than by 2014.
It is also clear that Afghanistan as one of the five countries with the lowest UN Human Development Index in
the world will be dependent upon foreign resources for
a long time to come. But even if current levels of re8 Afghanistans government forces under President Najibullah only
collapsed in that year after the new Yeltsin government of Russia
decided to stop resource transfers (money, foodstuff, weapons, fuel)
to Kabul, as promised by the previous Soviet leadership.

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source flows are not too drastically decreased, to a more


appropriate level, it is essential that their effective use is
guaranteed, i.e. to improve the general living conditions
of a majority of Afghans in a balanced way between the
North and the South of country, to name only one dimension. It is also possible, at the same time, that increasing
political disengagement (that makes Afghanistan more of
a normal third world country) might lead to more appetite to use conditionality on ODA for Afghanistan.
It is illusory, though, to believe that an emerging world
power like China or regional powers like Russia will step
in to rescue a regime that they perceive as an U.S. puppet
or that those countries will be part of an effort that is still
NATO-led, a situation that diametrically stands against
their own interests of gaining (or regaining, in Russias
case) influence in this particular region. They will likely
be ready to engage more only when Kabul moves out of
the U.S. sphere of influence.
All in all, the current enteqal strategy has given up tackling any of the underlying causes of conflict in Afghanistan. The country will be handed over to unstable, unsustainable, incompetent or unwilling Afghan institutions
that operate in an increasingly militarized, politically,
ethnically and socially fragmented environment. As a
consequence, enteqal means the washing of Western
hands of a political obligation undertaken towards the
Afghan population in 2001 before it has been fulfilled
and the window-dressing of this withdrawal with the
rhetoric of progress without any real success. This is a
recipe for a possible disaster in which Afghanistans history of the 1990s will repeat itself.
III. Post-2014 Scenarios
Scenario 1a: Oligarchic Power
(Without Taliban Participation; Muddling Through)

The currently ruling neo-oligarchy consisting of different


politico-military patronage networks (the Karzai camp
and various mujhideen-related ones) supported by the international community remains in power until the completion of the transition process in 2014, without integrating major insurgent groups. President Karzai completes his
term of office, manages to continue to balance the power
ambitions of the co-opted regional strongmen and their clienteles. Up to 2014, this is likely because the international
community / West will continue to channel the necessary
resources to Afghanistan. This can even lead to some form
of power consolidation, although it is likely that key issues
that fuel (recruit for) the insurgency will continue to influence the situation.
So far, Afghanistans factions have maintained a minimal
consensus aimed at preventing internal power struggles
and organized crime from developing into full-fledged
civil war. The oligarchy could continue to maintain this
consensus after 2014 if the monetarization of their political power is guaranteed, which in turn requires contin-

ued international funding, income from the drug trade


and the shadow economy, and a future share in the exploitation of Afghanistans rich natural resources. This
would guarantee that nobody in the political setup gains
the upper hand, but everyone reaps political benefit as
well as economic profits from the power cartel. A fragile
oligarchical system evolves based on mutual interdependence.
On the relationship with the Taliban, it is possible that
talks will start between now and 2014 but will remain
under way by then, or have not started by 2014 (participation rejected by at least one major party to the conflict),
or have failed. The two latter cases would likely result in
a renewed, possibly strengthened onslaught by insurgents.
This, in turn, would require that ISAF continue to support
the Kabul government, until the ANSF are ready to defend the government on their own (likely much later than
2014 which, in turn, increases external costs and decreases the willingness to do so). To further provide against
any contingencies, the Kabul power oligarchy has the option of pursuing informal agreements with local insurgency leaders (i.e. no formal power-sharing, except, possibly, on the community level).
This situation would more or less resemble the current
situation: The comparatively medium-intensity war continues, with all its negative repercussions on the civilian
population. The Kabul government and its allies continue
to control the capital, the larger populations centers and
at least during daylight most of the major transport
routes, while its influence and presence is weak and challenged by insurgent presence or sometimes non-existent
outside of many district centers. The population sits on
the fence between the warring parties, and the situation
probably continues to undermine the governments
strength more than that of the insurgents.
But this scenario, without necessary governance and political system reforms, will not be more than a continuation of the current muddling-through. It might be perceived from outside as the best achievable option, but the
population will continue to be excluded from political
decision-making and to suffer from the socio-economic
results of this: a widening social gap and economic marginalization due to corruption.
A point of crisis will be reached when outside resource
flows and military support (through bases, deployed
troops under whichever branding) are significantly decreased or completely halted.
The future role of President Hamid Karzai is only a secondary factor. His second, and last, term of office ends in
2014. He has to organize orderly elections in order to
maintain an element of legitimacy for the Kabul government. Karzai has already announced that he is looking for
a suitable successor; there are indications that this might
be a family member (the dynasty option). Names men-

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tioned are two of his brothers, Qayyum and Mahmud
Karzai, a former MP and the member of the family who
has been the most prominent economic actor in the Karzai family so far.
Although Hamid Karzai has stated that he will stick to
the constitution, there are also ways that would leave him
in power: an amendment or change of the constitution
that would allow a third term or, as in some neighboring
Central Asian states, dropping all limitations which could
be passed by a Loya Jirga or imposed through a state of
emergency. Taking such a step, however, would provoke
opposition among his current allies.
This, however, can be circumvented if extraconstitutional agreements with former jihd leaders, regional strongmen and other power brokers are made that
allow Karzai to simply remain in office after 2014 without constitutional changes, under some legal pretext.
Both options would rather increase internal instability
and diminish external support. Under current circumstances, it is more conceivable that Karzai allows himself
to be replaced by another member of the oligarchy.
Finally, considering the surge of targeted high-profile assassinations carried out by insurgents and non-insurgents,
a pre-2014 transition triggered by violence also cannot be
excluded. In this case, First Vice President Muhammad
Qasim Fahim will become the interim head of state and
will need to organize the election of a new head of state.
This would put Fahim into the position of the favorite
since the last two election cycles have shown that the incumbent, who controls most institutions, is best able to
achieve victory, whether by legitimate or illegitimate
means. The installation of a new Northern Alliance-led
regime will likely provoke Pashtun opposition beyond
the Taliban.
Scenario 1b: Oligarchic Power
(With Taliban Participation)

The opposing factions within Afghanistan agree on a


power-sharing arrangement (while preserving the territorial integrity of Afghanistan). The Taliban and other insurgent groups are formally integrated into the government, thus forming an extended oligarchical system. The
time frame for this development depends on the pace of
process of dialogue with the Taliban.
This scenario might not play out too differently from
Scenario 1a, if talks prove to be successful and in particular if the Taliban (leaders) are satisfied with sharing power and gaining access to resources. The latter is less likely,
though. It is far more likely that they see power sharing
(a) as a transitional stage to establish exclusive power or
(b) their dominance, without formally ejecting other political actors from power. The latter would maintain a faade of pluralism and, possibly, some international support while the former would be difficult to tolerate for the
West, particularly if todays red lines are violated (safe

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haven for terrorists, links to al-qidah). The Taliban


leaders ability to enter into a possible power-sharing
agreement and, more importantly, stop the armed insurgency also depends on how successfully the insurgencys
foot soldiers can be socially reintegrated. The negative
experience from the earlier Disarmament Demobilization
and Reintegration (DDR) / Disbandment of Illegal
Armed Groups (DIAG) processes is a bad sign for this
scenario. During the 2002-04 DDR program, only one
fourth of all former fighters involved remained in permanent employment, either in the ANSF or the civilian sector.
In both of these power oligarchy scenarios, the political
system would continue to be burdened by inefficient, corrupt governance, a fragile balance of power, rampant
crime, and the constant threat of civil war. Scenario 1b
would entail further risks: the reconciled Taliban could
either be drawn into the corruption spiral themselves or
destabilize the new government by effectively fighting
corruption. Dissident groups could continue the fight
against the Kabul power oligarchy.
After 2014 the Taliban, whether inside or outside the system, could also increase military pressure on the government in order to force a power-sharing arrangement in
their favor (see Scenario 2).
This scenario has been compared with the current situation in Lebanon and the inclusion of izbullh in the political system. Lebanon differs, however, in a few important respects from the situation in Afghanistan. While
izbullh per se claims to speak for the Shah minority,
the Taliban claim a supra-ethnic all-Afghan status
through their Islamic ideology, which is based on belonging to the Sunn majority while explicitly having changed
their original pre-2002 anti- Shah position. izbullh
also is more experienced and has been more successful in
governance than the Taliban.
Scenario 2: Civil War
(Somalia)

Despite overriding economic and profit interests, the ethno-political polarization intensifies to such an extent that
the army and the police collapse/split, followed by a
breakdown of the Karzai government. Local warlords and
insurgent groups fight each other, possibly on multiple
fronts and in shifting alliances, possibly accompanied by
crime spiraling out of control. Central power ceases to
exist even in nominal terms. This war everyone fighting
everyone might not see a winner over years and would
be a repetition of the post-1992 developments that were
only ended by the Taliban establishing their power.
Such developments could be fuelled by several tendencies towards the end of the transition phase in 2014: the
build-up of Afghan army and police by the United States
and ISAF proving unsustainable; the Afghan Local Police and other quasi-militias, which saw a massive expan-

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sion in 2010 and 2011, exercising arbitrary authority; political reconciliation with insurgent leaders failing. At this
stage a local power struggle would be enough to spark
widespread violence across Afghanistan. External actors,
including neighboring countries, might be prompted to
rearm their allies within Afghanistan, destabilizing the
entire region and leading to a repeated proxy civil war.
A scenario proposed by some observers in the West as
the best achievable, like Biddles delimited warlord
rule with a new set of bargains between Kabul and
provincial powerbrokers9, is rather a way to recognize
and institutionalize fragmentation and even quasipartition and might lead to civil war instead of toward
stabilization. An Afghanistan split into a number of warlord fiefdoms will be much more difficult to control because an increased number of sovereign statelets with
their own quasi-sovereign actors will not be more inclined to follow internationally accepted rules than those
currently part of the Kabul-centered system. (It also
needs to be said that such a scenario is only palatable for
non-Afghans since most Afghans are aware of and have
experienced in the 1990s what carte blanche for the warlord means. Their rule without any law which was more
unpredictable than even the rule of the Taliban brought
about the emergence of the latter.)
Scenario 3: Islamic Emirate of the Taliban Reloaded
(Emirate 2)

Taking advantage of the drawdown of NATO troops and


possible regime collapse in Kabul, the Taliban take control of the capital and large parts of the country, the Karzai government and the ANSF disintegrate, Western military trainers and the majority of civilian aid workers
leave the country. Anti-Taliban factions take control in
parts of Afghanistan or take up guerrilla warfare.
This extreme case could arise if U.S. troops remaining on
military bases fail to intervene in a timely fashion in internal power struggles (or intervene too late), and/or if the
non-Pashtun warlords of the Northern Alliance do not resist the Taliban as robustly as expected. Some of them
might also join the Taliban for opportunistic reasons.
This development is unlikely to kick in before 2014, as
the Taliban are not in a position to achieve a comprehensive military victory as long as NATO/ISAF troops are
present. After 2014, however, this scenario could become
more probable, especially if the Taliban make political
concessions by abandoning al-qidah and guaranteeing
a modicum of human rights (which could make a new
Taliban regime palatable for the West), and provided

9 Stephen Biddle, Leaving Afghanistan to the Warlords An Unpalatable Prospect, But the Least Worst Option, 15 December 2011,
http://cpost.uchicago.edu/blog/2011/12/15/stephen-biddle-leavingafghanistan-to-the-warlords-an-unpalatable-prospect-but-the-leastworst-option/.

they continue to be supported by Pakistan during the attempt to take over power.
Freak Scenarios
Scenario 4: Military Coup

A successful military coup is unlikely and I will not


discuss its political desirability here. The Afghan National Army is not cohesive enough. Defense minister Rahim
Wardak is a Pashtun, with not much real direct control
over the units. This lies with the unit commanders who
are mainly non-Pashtuns, like the whole officer corps
the only ones who, from a purely military perspective,
would be able to organize a coup. But even to them it
will be obvious that army and police are far from cohesive under a single command. Consequently, they will
not be able to take over key installations all over the
country, particularly not in Pashtun areas, and this would
immediately ethnicize the conflict. The result would not
be full control and stabilization under military auspices
without much civilian resistance, as some might think (a
Musharraf 1999 scenario), but the army and police
splitting up along ethnic lines. This would be another entry scenario into a civil war or into de facto partition,
with the Karzai and a larger Pashtun camp possibly retreating to Kandahar where they could rely on their network of quasi-militias and security companies.
Scenario 5: Partition

This is mainly a scenario proposed from outside Afghanistan. The most striking partition proposal came from U.S.
ambassador Robert D. Blackwill who, in 2010, proposed
handing over Afghanistans Northern and Western regions to a federation of non-Pashtun warlord-led militias
propped up by 40,000 to 50,000 [U.S.] troops and turning the predominantly Pashtun rest, i.e. Southern and
Eastern Afghanistan into a virtual free fire zone:
[T]he sky over Pashtun Afghanistan would be dark with manned
and unmanned coalition aircraft targeting not only terrorists but,
as necessary, the new Taliban government in all its dimensions [he
apparently foresees the Taliban taking over there]. Taliban civil officials like governors, mayors, judges and tax collectors
would wake up every morning not knowing if they would survive
the day in their offices, while involved in daily activities or at
home at night.

This will not be acceptable, neither to common Afghans


nor to any significant Afghan political actor. On the contrary, whenever the sacrifice of national unity or independence was imposed from outside or proposed, Afghans reacted with unanimous rejection. This happened
during the repeated British attempts to colonialize the
country, during the Soviet occupation as well as in the
late 1980s, when one of the mujhideen leaders, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, proposed an Afghan-Pakistani confederation. It has to be taken into consideration that despite, or
maybe even because of, Afghanistans weak and precarious state, a sense of common Afghan statehood and togetherness has developed over the past 100 years, with

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the Soviet occupation adding a joint experience of being
targeted and resisting together to it. No Afghan actor of
any significance proposes or has ever proposed even
a temporary split of the country. And one may add that
proposals like the one made by Blackwill will even embolden them in their stance.
As indicated above, a temporary de facto split might occur under some scenarios where two or more power centers emerge as result of a civil war without clear winners,
as a result of a Taliban take-over, with their opponents
still controlling large areas outside Kabul, or after a
(Northern) takeover by a military coup and Pashtun forces retreating to the South. But one can predict that, even
in such a case, all forces involved will avoid declaring a
formal split. Current increased lobbying by some political
factions in the North for a federalization of Afghanistan
should not be confused with separatism. The danger of a
federal system under the current circumstances lies in the
fact that this would bring about multiplied warlord power
and fragmentation and further reasons for conflict.
Scenario 6: Direct Americanization

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cal institutions are a recipe for disaster. Muddling through


is an illusory option because the effects of the underlying
conflicts tend to pile up to a point where they may become
unbearable and, even before, undermine the populaces
identification with the government. See the famous Chinese proverb: If you dont row against the current, you
drift back.
The economic interests of the various sectors of the current oligarchy, that also partly transcend ethnic boundaries (i.e. their unwillingness to enter into a round of new
civil war that likely will cost them their internal investments), might be the strongest factor that could prevent a
civil war. But the high number of actors (through the diverse ethno-political factions and sub-factions) makes the
emergence of one or a few spoilers that could make logical considerations obsolete likely, in particular when the
cake that can be distributed shrinks after 2014. A spark
(i.e. local fighting) caused by such spoiler(s) could trigger a prairie fire of fighting throughout large parts of the
country, forcing other factions with countrywide representation to take sides.

This scenario was in the cards before the 2009 presidential elections when former U.S. special envoy and ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who was born in
Afghanistan, sent messages of interest in running for
president. This was followed by a mobilization among
civil society and pro-democratic actors, some of whom
believed that direct rule by an American (even if he
would have had to renounce his U.S. citizenship to satisfy Afghan constitutional criteria to run) would be preferable to indirect U.S. rule, not least because a head of state
with excellent connections in the U.S. would find it easier able to mobilize the necessary resources for the country. Khalilzads final decision not to run caused consternation and disillusionment among those who had supported him. It is not conceivable that this episode could
be repeated in 2014, not least because the U.S. will probably not be persuaded to revoke its decision to disengage
in particular with a Democrat in the White House.
(Khalilzad is a Republican.)
Why No Best-Case Scenario?

Currently, there is little reason to conclude that the preconditions for a positive change of trend towards more stability in Afghanistan will occur in the medium term. E.g. a
cessation of the asymmetric warfare between the U.S.-led
ISAF and the insurgency as well as a transition to better
governance by means of serious reform of the current political regime. The premature announcement of the Western (partial) withdrawal has both emboldened the Taliban
(to wait out the current Kabul government) and reduced
the Kabul governments willingness to reform, which it
perceives as external interference, but many ordinary Afghans do not. The increasing re-militarization, both of the
legitimate ANSF and extra-constitutional militia forces,
coupled with the weakness of most civil society and politi-

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Sustainable Strategies for Afghanistan


and the Region After 2014
Scenarios for Afghanistan and for the Region and
Political Options for the International Community
Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh
Sciences Po (Paris), PRIO (Norway)
Afghanistan needs an internal process of political reconciliation, and externally it needs to be embedded in
good partnerships with its neighbors.
Angela Merkel
Bonn daily General Anzeiger,
December 2, 2011

German Chancellor Angela Merkels statement projects


three levels of distinct assumptions about the possible
future of Afghanistan:
1. A successful internal political process of reconciliation;
2. Peaceful partnership in the region; and
3. Supportive role for global partners
To what extend are these scenarios possible after the U.S.
and NATO leave in 2014 and are we heading in the right
direction? The paper looks at the two extremes of the
most positive and negative scenarios, before analyzing
the assumptions that inform policy makers from the U.S.
and its coalition partners, and, finally, suggests a number
of possible steps forward.
The main argument put forth using these cases is that the
international community, with the U.S. in the lead, assumes that it has the power, the responsibility and the
right ideas about fixing Afghanistan. Yet, many of these
are based on their own limited understanding of the wider
forces at play on the one hand, and their insistence on
leading, despite omnipresent references to Afghan-led
and regionally-led political processes. At best, the international community therefore may want to embark on a
general course of inaction, letting natural processes take
place, as conflictual as they may be. Otherwise, it will not
be the withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO troops in 2014,
but the misguided actions of the international community
that leave conditions for worst-case scenarios to materialize.
PART I
A SUCCESSFUL INTERNAL POLITICAL PROCESS
OF RECONCILIATION?

The most positive scenario possible is that the coalition


partners leave behind conditions that ensure the sustainability of the state and a smooth political process whereby
national reconciliation can or has taken place. Power is
shared between various political-cum military factions,
ethnic groups and political parties. The institutions of the
state are capable of delivering public goods such as protection, welfare and empowerment so that Afghan citizens
contribute to their nation by participating in its future.

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On the other side of the spectrum is the negative scenario, whereby civil war breaks out after NATO hands over
security responsibilities, with the Afghan police and army unable to avoid or contain it. Among coalition partners, predictions for civil war come from two fears: (i)
memory of the civil war that broke out when the Soviet
Union pulled out following its own less-than-successful
attempt to pacify the country in the late 1980s, and (ii)
the fear that, once withdrawal is complete, leaders of the
insurgency who are in Pakistan would return to Afghanistan and wage war against President Hmid Karzais
government.
False Assumptions

The assumption is that the international community may


not be able to beat back the libn sufficiently by 2014
to enable Afghanistan's military and police forces to maintain control afterwards, or alternatively, may not be able
to ensure the integration of the libn into the political
system so as to decrease their incentives to wage war.
In this paper, we shall however argue that the main reason why we are moving towards the negative scenario is
that national reconciliation is not being sought in Afghanistan, while much of the focus has been put on a
separate and much more limited goal, that of integrating
the libn into the political process. The course taken
by the Coalition makes two sets of false assumptions:
One set about the libn themselves, and the other
about the overall political process.
The Taliban as the End and Means of the Political Solution

Since 2001, there have been two different views of the


libn among the international community: as an external entity and as a movement endogenous to Afghan
society. The libn-as-external-entity view assumes
that the libn is composed of a network of militants
trained in Pakistani madrasas who are then infiltrated
across the border. The implication is that the libn are
essentially outsiders to the community, and the U.S. led
coalition is engaged in a fight to liberate Afghanistan
from foreign (or foreign-backed) forces. This view was
perpetuated as late as 2010 when the libn were seen
as a group entering a region from elsewhere (either from
Pakistan or from different parts of Afghanistan), to occupy territory they did not hold before, such as for example their foray into Kandahar or into Northern areas.
The other view is that they are ordinary Afghans, namely
Southern and Eastern Pashtuns, embedded in their own
community. In this sense, a defeat in terms of an eviction makes little sense.
By 2011, the coalition had moved towards this second position, evident in a number of new strategies it adopted
towards the libn, accepting them as part of Afghan society but attempting to divide them at the same time.
A first strategy was to separate the libn from Alqidah. The death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011

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was seen as creating conditions for a hastened political


settlement by making it easier for the libn to sever
their thirty-year ties with Al-qidah without betraying
their loyalty. The U.S. then demanded that the libn
give up all affiliations with Al-qidah as one of three
pre-conditions for negotiations. In June 2011, the UN
Security Council decided to split its sanctions committee
set up pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989
(2011) into two: a 1988 Committee to deal exclusively
with sanctions related to the libn and associates, and
a 1267/1989 Committee to deal exclusively with sanctions related to Al-qidah and its associates. Efforts
were also made to reach out to top libn leaders by
striking them off the UN sanctions list.
The second strategy of the coalition was to separate the
libn into a moderate faction with whom it was
possible to cooperate, and hardline elements that it
could only defeat in battle. Lower and mid-level moderate libn could be tamed by promises of jobs and reintegration, which the international community announced
in the form of a package presnted at the London conference in January 2010. Karzais government obliged,
drawing up a plan for luring in low- to mid-level militant
fighters with promises of jobs, literacy and vocational
training and development aid for their villages during the
Peace Jirga that took place in June 2010. In parallel, the
international community believed that it could engage
some libn in diplomatic talks. Four key individuals,
who had exposure to the international arena during the
libn regime, became representative of the moderate
libn as possible mediators between Karzais government, the Coalition, and the armed libn. They included Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, the libn regime's
Foreign Minister, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, their former ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Hakim Mujahid,
their ambassador to the UN, and Mawlawi Arsala Rahmani, their Minister of Education, the latter two were
even integrated into the political structure of the High
Peace Council by Karzai. The U.S., UK and the UN (notably former Envoy Kai Eide) put trust in these individuals even though they had been living in Kabul for most
of the past decade and may have had little contact with
the military arm. Sure enough, the armed libn,
through one of their spokesmen, made it clear that these
individuals did not represent them, and that they were no
longer members of the Islamic Emirate.
With strong resilience proving the failure to appease the
insurgencies with jobs or diplomatic talks with selected
individuals, the international communitys third strategy
was to warm up to the idea of negotiations directly with
the armed factions. This third stage came to undo the previous view that had led to the surge in U.S. troop numbers that U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama approved
shortly after coming to office, i.i. that the libn must
first be weakened, if not actually defeated, before serious
negotiations could succeed. It also meant abandoning
hopes that that the Pakistani military and intelligence
would act as the trusted go-between with the Quetta Shr

or even the Haqqani network. By August 2011, the U.S.


had secretly met with the Haqqani network and the U.S.
and Germany had made overtures to the Quetta Shr.
President Karzai, in an attempt to make his views felt,
publically shunned negotiations with an entity that did not
have an address after the killing of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani in September. By the end of December,
however, Karzai had dropped his opposition after the
High Peace Council issued a set of eleven requirements
for negotiations for the militant group to adhere to before
talks could take place. By January 3, 2012, the problem of
the address (political infrastructure) was solved when
the libn spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that
the group had reached a preliminary agreement to set up
an office in Qatar in return of the return of libn prisoners held at Guantnamo.
At the same time, political leaders in Western countries
began diffusing statements in the mainstream media to
undo in the public mind the image of the libn as the
enemies of the West. Angela Merkel was quoted as saying not everyone who at one point fought for the
libn stands permanently in the way of a peaceful development. Many of these people can and should contribute to a stabile future for Afghanistan. In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Obama's Vice President
Joe Biden claimed that ... the libn per se is not our
enemy, which prompted President Karzai to endorse the
view in a speech in late December 2011: I am very
happy that the American government has announced that
the libn are not their enemies. We hope that this
message will help the Afghans reach peace and stability.
A first fundamental critique of the latest strategy of the
U.S. is its contradictory insistence on showing strength
in the battlefield while making overtures for a political
dialogue, embodied in the U.S. approach to fight, talk,
build. The political approach also has its own shortcomings. So far, the focus of efforts has been on talks
about talks and on trust building rather than on actual
negotiations over concrete proposals and counter proposals. Much of the future of the peace process is predicated on the public commitments by the U.S, and the
libn to enter into peace talks and on the creation of
an address in the form of a libn office in Doha.
While these factors have all come into place by early
2012, there is still little optimism about the successful
outcome of negotiations. This, specifically, because of a
number of assumptions that the international community
has been making about the libn and their role in the
political process in Afghanistan. Among them, the main
four fundamental ones can be outlined as such:
1. That they are united: It remains unclear how united
the Haqqani network, the Quetta Shr and Gulbiddin
Hekmatyars Hizb-e Islami are in their appetite for negotiation as a cohesive front. For the moment, each
group has conducted its own separate negotiations either with the international community or with President Karzai directly. A Hizb-e Islami delegation,

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which seems to be consistently left out of international
community efforts, is reported to have visited Kabul
with its fifteen-point peace plan. If a deal is struck
with any of these groups separately, it is conceivable
that the others would act to spoil the plan. The fact
that the libn also disclaimed responsibility for
Burhanuddin Rabbanis killing in September 2011 (by
issuing a statement of no comment) also shows the divisions within the insurgency.
2. That they are not motivated by ideology: The international community assumes that the motivation of the
libn is political power for the leadership and economic goods for the lower ranks. The implication is that
ideology does not play a decisive role, and even if there
were one, it would be domination over Afghanistan of a
Pashtun group, which would, by implication, separate
them from the motivations of the Tehrik-i-libn Pakistan (the TTP) waging war on the Pakistani state, or
the Central Asian extremist groups such as the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) seeking the domination of an Islamic order to challenge the rule of secular
regimes in the wider region, a goal they supposedly
share with the Arab Al-qidah. Yet, this presumption
betrays (a) genuine knowledge about the degree of indoctrination of the libn with the other militant
groups and (b) most importantly, the failure to see that
struggle against occupation by foreign troops is in itself
the main ideology that the libn may prioritize over
access to leadership positions in Afghanistan.
3. That the Afghan government has the same interests in
negotiated outcomes: In the past few years, President
Karzai has repeatedly shown his discontent with being
upstaged during different overtures by the U.S., UK
and the UN. It is not that in principle he is against negotiations, but that he would like the Afghan government to be dictating their terms. The degree to which
the government would be appeased depends on the
specific demands of the libn, so far unknown, including on the need to change the constitution or the
so-called red lines and compromises that have to be
made. These may or may not be the same red lines
as those of the international community, i.e. human
rights, womens rights, democratic process etc. Given
the fragmentation that exists within the Afghan government, and its growing internal opposition, to which
we shall return later in the paper, it is not inconceivable that the red lines are more related to power politics
than to principles.
4. That the general public accepts the negotiations: This
final assumption is crucial for adhering to the principles of social cohesion, citizen participation, and trust
which the international community has advocated as
part of its democratization drive since 2001. Yet,
without a consistent broad-based mechanism to gauge
public views, assumptions have been made that the
Afghans would accept negotiations with the libn in
the name of peace. The June 2010 National Consulta-

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tive Peace Jirga convened by President Karzai may


have been one way to bring together tribal elders, officials and local powerbrokers from around the country
to discuss ways to go about making peace. Yet, it is an
open secret that there is enormous suspicion on the
part of many Afghan minorities, civil society groups,
and political liberals of negotiations led only by President Karzai and his strongmen supporters to bring the
militant outfit into the mainstream. Not only is there
concern that Karzai might cut a deal with the libn
in order to hold onto office, but there is also fear of
what the libn could represent, be it religious or
ethnic fundamentalism.
Prelude to Contestation: Forestalled Reconciliation

Let us consider the negative scenario of civil war from


another angle than the one that concerns the international
community: negotiations and integration of the libn
can actually be a scenario for the start of the civil war, if
other political groups feel that Karzai has cut a deal with
them to bring them back to power, or resent the domination of the Pashtuns.
Some of the political parties outright reject talks with the
libn. The killing of Rabbani resulted in further alienating the non-Pashtun minorities and members of the
Northern Alliance from the political process. In fact,
weeks after the killing, those who had more reason to
lose from talks with the libn created a new political
movement the Jabha-e Milli-e Afghanistan (the National
Front of Afghanistan), consisting of former Afghan Vice
President Ahmad Zia Massoud, the Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum and the Hazara leader Muhammad
Muhaqiq. The Front is emerging as an anti-government
opposition group, much like the Coalition for Change
and Hope of the former presidential candidate Abdullah
Abdullah, but with the difference that all three leaders
have armed groupings behind them and have experience
in armed struggle as part of their collaboration within the
Northern Alliance. In early January, the head of the National Front Ahmad Zia Massoud denounced the governments attempts to integrate the libn into his political system and reiterated the Fronts call for political
reforms as preconditions to talks. The Front advocates
for a parliamentarian regime, and for a fairer, more distributive and more accountable system of governance
that prevents the possibility of one-off deals.
When Karzai failed to appoint General Abdul Rashid
Dosums allies in cabinet positions, the latter returned to
the opposition and is now trying to move his Jumbish-e
Milliy-e Afghanistan movement under the wing of the
Front. The Turkmen minority within the Jumbish however may reject this, leading the way to more splintering.
As an excellent analysis of emerging political parties by
the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) notes, frequent alignments, re-alignments and gatherings among
different networks of politicians appears prompted by
the need to organize before the 2014 presidential elec-

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tions, but at the same time, it is also a recognition that


they must prepare for a future which is unclear.
Although non-Pashtun leaders are emerging into the
camp of the opposition, and the fear is, ultimately, Pashtun domination, the Front is not in practical terms an
ethnic coalition, as it includes Haji Amman who represents an Eastern Pashtun constituency. In this sense, it is
not ethnicity that informs Afghan politics, but ambition
for power, or put the other way, fear of losing out. In
fact, during the past decade, ethnic groups in Afghanistan have not had separatist ambitions for a variety of
reasons. Their ambitions were more for gaining power
over other ethnic groups within Afghanistan than for
joining other countries with whom they shared ethnicity
but little else. Neighboring countries to the North also
have not encouraged disintegration, especially as they
themselves harbor multi-ethnic populations. In a way,
the assumption made about the libn holds for all Afghan political leaders: that positions (and positioning)
matter more than ethnic standing, but ethnicity becomes
the basis of the constituency that props up leaders. The
exception, ironically, is president Karzai himself who
does not have the full support of Pashtuns, something
that is substituted by backing from a new tribe, the international community.
Aprs Moi le Deluge

Power politics among political parties and their coethnic constituencies mirror the highly centralized presidential system embodied in the constitution drafted with
the help of the international community. It was not as
much the presidential system that was imposed on Afghanistan in 2001, but its adaptation in the context of a
diverse country that had not yet healed from the injustice
perpetuated by different groups (and not just the
libn), as well as contradictory incentives provided by
external actors in their War against Terror that created a
system of impunity. Thomas Ruttig et al aptly recognize
today a system where political inclusiveness is limited
and where antransparent, small inner circle of former
warlords (Jihdi leaders) and presidential advisers have
become the core of consultation and decisionmaking.
Civil society has become dependent on donor-driven finances, political parties delegitimized and marginalized,
beginning with the ban of political factions in parliament
and on party lists during elections. So far, democracy
has been built on persons rather than institutions and
systems, and power is derived by positions and loyalty,
and not accountability.
It would be too easy, although it comprises the mainstream Western narrative, to blame the Afghan government for manipulating the democratic ideals laid out by
the Bonn Conference in 2001 to favor its own interests,
for instigating a debacle through corruption and capture.
What also needs to be examined is the way that the international community implanted democracy as an experiment, top-down and outside-in, with a set of check-

lists, precise timetables, and sequencing guidelines.


Back in 2001, the liberation/liberalization agenda was
meant to show the benefits of so-called universal and
cosmopolitan values and rights while improving the everyday life of people. The international community tried
to do so by building formal institutions against rushed
timetables with a set of formidable props as background:
a military intervention, partly aimed at regime change
and partly at an international war against terror; a substantial and often uncoordinated international presence
and aid; massive poverty and illiteracy; and a deeply traditional and religious society.
The vast bulk of the population started losing faith in the
benefits of participation in political processes, such as
elections that ignored their traditional methods of consultation and their modern political parities, and instead
became a jockeying ground for legitimizing candidates
in external capitals. Democratic institutions were formalist and top-down, remaining remote from the daily realities of the people to gain popular buy-in. Afghans
were also keenly aware of the instrumentalization of
democracy for purposes of international security that
robbed the focus on the population as the primary recipient of democratization. As Nazif Shahrani has rightly
argued, contradictory policies and practices of liberal
state building led to a dysfunctional, sovereignty-based,
person-centered, Kabul-centered and kin-based political
culture to the exclusion of more inclusive governance.
As a result, trust eroded between subjects and state authorities and among traditional communities (jamaat).
Under these circumstances, the notion of citizenship became meaningless.
While much focus was put on the democratization agenda, marketization robbed ordinary Afghans of economic
security. The sudden opening up of markets had the inevitable immediate negative impacts of inequality, poverty, competition from imports, inflation, rise of prices
of staple goods, capital flight, etc. The lack of tangible
development and welfare gains in the everyday lives of
the Afghans, especially when it was public knowledge
that the international community had spent massive
amounts of money in Afghanistan, eroded trust. There
was also little evidence to support the underlying assumption that aid projects, such as building schools,
clinics, and roads, won the hearts and minds of Afghans,
giving them more faith in their government, and turn
them away from the libn. Instead of contributing to
stability, in many cases aid contributed to conflict, instability and massive corruption, which further eroded the
legitimacy of the government.
Afghans had only seen the negative effects of the socalled Liberal Peace: rising inequality, the mafiazation of the economy, disrespect for laws, capture of the
state and the market. This made them even more expectant of a type of state that should protect and provide
for them through social justice and social responsibilities.
Yet, instead of dealing with the dysfunctionality of Lib-

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eral Peace imposed as conditionality under the adverse
conditions of war, the international community began
reversing its charter and embracing all that was traditional. After a few years of centralizing state building in
the capital, the rural areas, the domain of local culture,
traditional governance structures, tribal police and subnational governance, so far ignored or feared, were rediscovered. The 2002 assertion by two Carnegie analysts, Ottaway and Lieven claiming that the state in Afghanistan had never commanded the full loyalty of its
own citizens, was interpreted by policy makers to mean
that long-term capacity building of the central government should make way for short term goals, and informal methods of governance should be recognized. Seth
Jones of RAND argued that the strategy of building a
centralized state is doomed to fail in a land of tribes. Rural Afghans, especially in Pashtun-dominated Southern
and Eastern Afghanistan, were said to reject a strong
central government actively meddling in their affairs, as
a foreign entity.
Going local was seen as key to stabilizing Afghanistan,
but the local was full of clich illiberalism that the international community reluctantly had to swallow. In
2006, an Asia Society poll claimed that eighty percent of
Afghans preferred the traditional justice system to formal institutions. Instead of asking if formal institutions
had properly delivered, the cultural flag was raised in international debates analyzing the findings. When the
Hazaras decided to introduce the particularly illiberal
Shah marriage law through Afghanistans national assembly, it just came to prove to voters back home what
difficulties NATO had in winning a war in defense of
universal values.
The international community sought to abandon the ideals of the Liberal Peace as an exit strategy, but did so
while blaming Afghans as a convenience: the government for corruption, Afghan culture for being fundamentally illiberal, and Afghans vision of order and loyalty
for being fragmented. By implication, the modern state,
which expects to command the full loyalty of its own citizens, was deemed too distant from what the Afghans
deserved. Afghan culture was essentialized as antimodern, static and with exotic indigenous and traditional practices that were incompatible with modernization. Yet, this ignored any kind of internal dialogue and
dynamic that was taking place in Afghanistan in the
mass media and in bazaars. Peace building was deemed
problematic for the international community because it
was seen from the beginning is an external project with
which internal players have to be better aligned, instead
of understanding that it is about the dynamics of a local
society to which external actors should adapt.
The result has been a fundamental simplification of the
Afghan political culture, fit for digestion by the Western
public, but far from reality. Not a surprise then, that a
simplistic formula of negotiation with the libn is advocated as the political solution for peace, instead of

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full-scale reconciliation, political reforms, and sustainable mechanisms for broad dialogues, and not simply a
ritualistic, ad hoc and instrumentalized Loya Jirga.
More worrying, however, this simplification of the incapacity of the Afghan state and society bestows more responsibility on the international community to defeat the
libn or to integrate them as a benchmark before their
departure, and even to give assurances that key civil and
political rights will not be sacrificed in such a scenario.
In contradistinction, however, the reality is also simple:
the international community can negotiate but only Afghans can maintain a peace.
A more honest strategy would be for the international
community, instead of constructing and then dismantling
a liberal centralized state and democracy-cum-market
system, to engage in self-critical reflection on its own
position of power and the assumptions made in the drivers seat. In a listening mode, an Afghan order could
emerge that is less encumbered by idealistic prescriptions and more locally resonant. A post-2014 order in
Afghanistan needs to be renegotiated based on better understanding of a dynamic society, the root causes of its
resistance and the aspirations of ordinary Afghans. It
would mean investing the time and effort needed to
launch a genuine political process for national unity and
wide scale reconciliation, instead of deciding with whom
to negotiate over a local peace.
Undoubtedly, the international community is in a precarious position. Political reforms, a culture of democracy,
accountable institutions, mechanisms for dialogue, etc. all
are long-term goals that, ideally, take decades, and not
single digit years to implement. Yet, if the U.S. and
NATO coalition stay longer in Afghanistan, they will continue to fuel the fire of insurgency, because, after all, the
libn are mainly at war in reaction to the presence of
foreign troops in Afghanistan. According to a survey by
the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, sixty percent of Afghans
fear that the country will descend into civil war once
NATO forces leave, but over half see the Western alliance
as occupiers. More important, however, is that if they
stay heavily (and militarily) involved beyond 2014, they
also rob the Afghan state and society of the opportunity to
develop their own defense mechanisms. By this, we do
not mean building up the military and police in Afghanistan, which are already too expensive to sustain and contribute to the militarization of Afghan society beyond
global norms. The defense mechanisms are the inner
workings of what makes a state worthy of its name, not
only, as Weber would have it, with a monopoly on violence to protect its citizens, but also with the experience
necessary to provide for and empower them.
What It Takes:
Afghan-Led Political Process, Even if Conflictual

If the above discussions seem more philosophical than


practical, it is because this author believes that a fundamental rethinking of Afghanistan is necessary instead of

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tactical step-by-step recipes to follow before or even after 2014. In fact, it is precisely rushed timetables and illusions of the ability to build a state, in the midst of conflicted interests, that created the Afghanistan that we
have today. All benchmarks in the shape of international
conferences have come and gone, with pundits offering
guidelines of what to achieve before them, with the end
result being the same.
What Afghanistan needs, more than a political settlement
that brings the insurgents and key political and social
forces, including civil society on board, is a political process. Such a political process from which a nation-state
can be born, has at least three fundamental requirements:
(i) time, seen from a long-term perspective; (ii) ownership; and (iii) disputes and conflicts. Not all conflicts have
to led to fully-fledged civil wars. It might be worth reminding those worried that Afghanistan will fall into civil
war, as it did in the 1990s, of the contribution of the existence of arms, ammunitions, money and covert clientalism
left over by global powers in a proxy war that fueled the
fire. Political conflicts exist in all democratic societies of
the West and it would be short of racism to assume that
the Afghans would not be able to handle thorny political
questions without reverting to arms, if left alone. To do so
would also mean recognizing that the international community has been a bad parent in teaching about democracy for the past decade.
The political options ahead are therefore for Afghans to
decide on a number of remaining questions that are
grander than negotiations and integration of the libn
or even reconciliation between ethno-political groups, or
even the minimal red lines in terms of respecting womens rights and human rights. To name a few among the
more neglected areas:
1. How Much Space Should be Given to Ideology in Politics?

It is wrong to assume that the left and the right do not


exist within Afghan political culture. A glance at newspapers run by leading intellectuals and the agenda of different political parties and civil society organizations
unearths strong ideological positions. Within the political process, ideology-based discussions are a sign of
healthy debates.
2. What Should be the Role of Religion?

It is wrong to assume that Islam cannot be the guiding


principle of a democratic society based on virtue, ethics
and justice. Most respondents of research this author
conducted through a joint Sciences Po-University of Kabul study in 2007-2008 argued that a genuine Islamic
peace, where rights and freedoms exist but are limited by
akhlq (morality) and mn (faith), was in fact superior
to Liberal Peace, based on individualism, and traditional
peace, based on hierarchy and authority. Yet, understanding religion as a principle of organization was not
unfortunately recognized in the past decade, when it was
relegated to the past domain of fundamentalist libn

rule or ignored by an international community steeped in


a Western rationality that long ago displaced religion.
The political process needs to discuss openly what type
of Islam would be acceptable by the Afghan population.
3. What Should be the Role of Justice in Society?

As most Afghan civil society agrees, peace can only based


on justice. For some, this requires addressing the so-far
ignored question of transitional justice, the culture of impunity and addressing the plight of victims of war and
violence, past and present. How should the values of social justice and empathy be impregnated by institutions?
4. What Should the Role of the State be?

Should the future Afghan state take liberalism as its


model (whereby it is reduced to protection of citizens
rights and to the unleashing of their entrepreneurial capacities, including in the economic sector)? Should it
adopt a welfare model and intervene in markets, or a traditional state model that bestows authority, hierarchy
and tribal rule? Or should it adopt an Islamic model
based on justice and equality but not separated from religion? If up to now the minimal state of the AngloSaxon liberal model has been flagged as the only recipe
for peace by the international community, global experience, including in post-conflict countries, has shown that
other models are not only possible, but desirable.
By not means is this an exhaustive list of issues that
need to be discussed between the Afghan state and society. Dialogue takes time and may be conflictual, but it
has to be owned genuinely.
PART II
PEACEFUL PARTNERSHIP IN THE REGION?

Turning now to the scenarios about the future of the region, the rest of the paper discusses the options ahead.
The most positive scenario was articulated by the demand of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
made of regional countries to respect Afghanistans
sovereignty, which means agreeing not to play out their
rivalries within its borders, and to support reconciliation
and efforts to ensure that Al-qidah and the syndicate of
terrorism is denied safe haven everywhere. She further
claimed, during testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, that the U.S.
is working to help secure commitments from regional
countries to respect Afghan sovereignty and territorial
integrity and to support Afghan reconciliation.
In the worst-case scenario, regional countries refuse to
cooperate and in fact interfere actively (overtly or covertly) in the political system and an eventual peace process by supporting various factions according to their
own interests. In the worst-case scenario, they enter
Afghanistan to fill the power vacuum once the U.S.,
NATO and their allies leave. They could also, as journalist Akmal Dawi writes, make Afghanistan pay dearly

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for its partnership with a superpower and for allowing its
territory to be used for flying drones over Iran, bombing
Pakistan, and sending conflicting signals to other regional powers.
Zbigniew Brzezinksi, in his predictions for geopolitical
endangered species in 2012, writes that a rapid U.S.
troop disengagement brought on by war fatigue or the
early effects of American decline would most likely result in internal disintegration and an external power play
among nearby states for influence in Afghanistan. In the
absence of an effective, stable government in Kabul, the
country would be dominated by rival warlords. Pakistan
and India would more assertively compete for influence
in Afghanistan with Iran also probably involved.
The assumption is that Afghanistan will not only become
a haven for international terrorists once again, but also the
ground for an Indian-Pakistani proxy war. After all, India
has accused the ISI of using the Haqqani network more
than once to attack Indian diplomatic targets in Afghanistan, and the Pakistanis suspect that Indian consulates are
used for Indian intelligence operations aimed at their
country. According to some Western strategists, the vacuum created after 2014 could lead to an open confrontation
between India and Pakistan within Afghan territory.
Avoiding the Deluge Aprs:
Western Attempts to Induce Cooperation

The international community adopted two parallel initiatives to try to avoid the negative regional scenarios and
induce cooperation among regional partners in preparation for the Bonn II Conference: economic incentives for
cooperation through a New Silk Road strategy and a
political confidence-building measure unleashed at the
November Istanbul conference for Heart of Asia countries. The vision behind both projects was that cooperation was supposed to not only decrease the destructive
behavior of non-state actors (i.e. terrorist, insurgents /
extremists and drug traffickers from Afghanistan), but it
could also lead to positive externalities, such as economic dividends when Afghanistan was transformed into a
land bridge, a hub for trade and transit in the region.
Both initiatives, however, failed to obtain regional buyin at the Istanbul conference.
A New Silk Road Full of Bumps

The New Silk Road was introduced pragmatically as the


U.S. administration searched ways to sustain finances
for Afghanistan beyond its withdrawal in 2014. The
strategy primarily focused on turning Afghanistan into
an Asian roundabout instead of a permanent U.S. protectorate, a crossroads for a network of economic and
transit connections, executed regionally, locally owned
and driven by the private sector. An increase in regional
trade, those behind the New Silk Road initiative believed,
would, in principle, create a powerful lobby for peaceful
relations within the region. It was also an attempt by the
U.S. to foster free trade regimes and encourage political

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liberalization in the wider region, all as part of a sustainable exit strategy from Afghanistan. The New Silk Road
bag of goodies included, among other initiatives, the revival of the TAPI pipeline, a national railway system for
Afghanistan supported by CENTCOM, and the CASA1000 project to transfer electricity from Kyrgyzstan and
Tajikistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Nonetheless, the initiative has a number of limitations that
can prevent this vision from turning into reality. A first
practical hurdle for the realization of the project is the
question of financing. The U.S. positioned itself as not the
financer but the political broker for mobilizing risk guarantees, new investments and public-private partnerships
from the IFC, NATO, ADB, G-20 and private investors. If
the U.S. is not to finance this, there is skepticism by other
countries, including China, Russia, Iran and some Central
Asia countries of the benefits of a regional fund when bilateral projects can be more beneficial.
The idea of free trade in the New Silk Road vision has
also been challenged by every day practices in Central
Asia. Uzbekistan, the major transit hub, used a policy of
higher tariffs for trucks crossing its borders throughout
2010 and 2011, instigating a railway blockade and expanding its de facto trade embargo against Tajikistan.
That led to a chain reaction when Tajikistan upped the
charges for freight heading to Afghanistan. Kazakhstan
has been busy negotiating terms as part of a new Russian-led Customs Union/Eurasian Economic Community
gaining strength in the North. Trade barriers in the region are not likely to come down soon.
A more important challenge is that such a grand economic strategy fails to consider political impediments,
both in Afghanistan and around it. Transport and transit
issues in the region have long been the subject of
(geo)politics, not just economics, and no technocratic
project can escape that reality, even less so when it was
introduced by an external power. Political impediments
include the question of the long-term stability of Afghanistan, which has so far inhibited investments to
complete the TAPI project. The electricity import
schemes proposed in the CASA-1000 project are also
rife with political problems given the Central Asian
countries own crisis over water and electricity swaps
between upstream and downstream countries. Even
though the projects make economic sense, unless the
structural political issues are solved, the New Silk Road
will not likely reach its destination.
It came therefore as no surprise that the New Silk Road
initiative met objections during the Istanbul meeting and
did not feature as such in the final communiqu. China,
Russia and Iran preferred to see regionally initiated bilateral projects not coordinated from outside. Pakistan
came out strongly against regional projects in general.
The Uzbeks refused to sign the final declaration. For
skeptics, the New Silk Road may have been a way to
challenge the dominant position of China and Russia in

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Central Asia and to gain direct access to the vast mineral


resources of the region through communication links
that bypass Russia and Iran. In any case, geopolitics
trumped economic considerations.

ing with conceptual problems and the rest with political


impediments.

A Heart Which Refuses to be Monitored

The Heart of Asia vision has two limitations precisely


because it stems fundamentally from a conception of a
post-Westphalian order where states are supposed to cooperate when faced with common security dangers
stemming from non-state actors.

If the New Silk Road vision failed to get full buy-in


from regional countries, so did the parallel political Afghan-Turkish initiative, backed by major Western donorsthe Heart of Asia confidence-building measure.
The Heart of Asia was not supposed to be just an appeal
to a large conglomeration of states: Afghanistans immediate neighbors, India, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia,
Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and all the Central
Asian republics. It was also supposed to be a new security paradigm for the region. The Afghan government
wanted to obtain a binding non-interference agreement
under the aegis of the UN, which would include a mechanism to verify commitments. The U.S. and the EU
wanted to use the OSCE model to suggest a new confidence-building mechanism.
The final communiqu of the Istanbul meeting, entitled
the Istanbul Process on Regional Security Cooperation
for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan, turned out to be a
watered down declaration that did not propose any new
confidence-building mechanisms, similar to the original
2002 Kabul Declaration which had been signed by regional countries a decade earlier. It instead referred to
follow up steps (instead of mechanisms) to institutionalize meetings of senior officials from regional countries. Although agreements were reached to continue
regular follow-up meetings and come up with a concept
paper, in reality the communiqu came up with neither
binding agreements nor a verification regime.
In essence, Western (and Turkish) efforts at forging conregional consensus on the future of Afghanistan fell
short of realization. Regional countries proved unwilling to collaborate with the U.S., preferring to give prominence to the UN after 2014. During the Istanbul meeting,
Pakistani, Iranian, Russian and some Central Asian delegates expressed many reservations concerning the establishment of any security apparatus or new regional
organizations, which from their point of view would duplicate the work of at least ten other existing organizations. Instead, they wanted broad principles for cooperation. They pointed to the fact that there were several
mechanisms and trilateral or bilateral forums already
available that could be utilized or strengthened for the
same purpose. In essence, they were interested in reviving the 2002 Kabul Declaration on Good-Neighborly
Relations which set out the principles including noninterference in each others internal affairs and respect
for Afghanistans territorial integrity, but which had no
built-in verification mechanisms.
In the final analysis, the Heart failure was perhaps due to
five major structural misconceptions, two of them deal-

Conceptual Problems

First, this approach underestimates the potential for noncooperation among states, even if they share a common
concern for dangers emanating from non-state actors.
Although many of Afghanistans direct and extended
neighbors view the existence of Al-qidah, the libn,
terrorism, extremism and criminal trafficking as critical
threats to their national interests, they are often locked in
various types of security competition with one another,
resulting in their larger rivalries subordinating the common interest in fighting threats from non-state actors.
Other scholars have also hinted at parts of this problem.
Ashley Tellis and Aroop Mukherji of the Carnegie Endowment have argued, for example, that while Afghanistan is important to many of its neighbors, its importance
usually derives from how it impacts other strategic goals.
Because these goals are often competitive, the success of
a regional approach is inevitably impeded.
Second, by assuming that there is a large region where
interests in cooperative security merge, the argument for
a Heart of Asia also neglects to break down the security
dynamics within sub-regions. Yet, it is within subregions that states form patterns of enmity or amity
based on their core security dilemmas. Relations / interactions between states within Regional Security Complexes (RSCs) dictate conflict and cooperation dynamics
in the region. The conceptualization of Afghanistan as a
Heart may have been indeed what Thomas Ruttig called
full of romantic but unrealistic Orientalism, and it may
have indeed made sense from an economic point of view
and from the perspective of the interests of U.S. and
NATO in Afghanistan. But it failed to recognize the existence of three different sub-regions around Afghanistan,
each with its own dynamic not necessarily related to
what happens in Afghanistan. The extent of the engagement of neighboring states in Afghanistan is primarily a
reflection of existential security concerns within their
own region, i.e. the South Asia Regional Security Complex, the Central Asia RSC and the Persian Gulf RSC.
Case in point is that much of what Pakistan objected to
was related to its discomfort about sharing benefits with
India. Central Asian countries were also curbing their
enthusiasm for full support to the U.S. (including for being part of the Northern Distribution Network) in consideration of their deference to Russia and China who in
turn provide for their security and provide economic
guarantees. For the these countries, like much of the others in the immediate neighborhood of Afghanistan,
trans-border threats do represent an area of concern, that

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is likely to increase after 2014, but internal security dynamics/rivalries within their sub-region and with the
global powers interested in it trump concerns for threats
from Afghanistan.
Political Impediments

Conceptual problems aside, the Heart of Asia initiative


failed to consider a number of political bottlenecks:
The first political problem was related to the sequencing
of the peace process: From regional partners points of
view, the U.S. had begun negotiations with the libn
without consulting with the region, and after failing to
get results, it had tried to get commitments of noninterference from regional countries. Even former U.S.
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger criticized the sequencing when he told a panel discussion at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in November 2011 that the U.S. should talk to Afghanistans
neighbors before the libn and any negotiations with
the libn should take place within the framework of
multilateral regional negotiations. It wasnt only the late
opening up to the region that was problematic, but also
the fact that it came on the heels of failed negotiations
within Afghanistan. This explains the comments of Maleeha Lodhi, Special Advisor to the Jang Group/Geo and
a former Pakistani envoy to the U.S. and UK who wrote
in the Pakistani newspaper The News that the Istanbul
conference made a curious reversal of the order of
business necessary to establish peace and security. Progress in the process of reconciliation with the insurgency
ought to have preceded declarations of support and cooperation by regional states. Central Asian countries,
Russia and Iran shared the view that stability needs to
come through reconciliation between different fractions
within Afghanistan, and not just talks with the libn.
Instead, Western partners tried to get regional buy-in
first via an economic incentive when it was already too
late (as the region had to be consulted from the beginning) and too early (as they had so far failed to reach a
peace deal with insurgents within).
Second, the idea of a new security paradigm in the region was a politically risky proposal to begin with, and
as the dissenting delegates pointed out in Istanbul, regional security is best handled by the countries of the region, while extra-regional powers can only act as facilitators and not initiators. The Central Asian countries, for
example, despite their enthusiasm for the New Silk Road,
cautiously responded to the plans for the various mechanisms and consultation groups that had been proposed in
the lead up to the Istanbul meeting. Prompted by Russia,
they remained wary of the U.S. attempts to cast Western
powers, NATO and the EU as the lead actors of a new
regional security architecture in South and Central Asia.
Instead, they preferred to work through the UN or
through existing mechanisms, including tripartite ones
(such as the Iran-Afghanistan-Tajikistan one) or quadripartite ones (Afghanistan-Pakistan-Russia-Tajikistan).
They also shared Russias view that states of the region

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dont need new agreements to improve cooperation as


they are already cooperating through existing regional
institutions of cooperation. Russia and China, and the
Central Asia countries thus hoped that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) would take a more prominent role in Afghanistan.
Third, and most important, none of Afghanistan's neighbors would commit to anything until clarity was shed on
the precise content of the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic
Framework Agreement. After all, all neighboring countries are against a long-term U.S. military presence in the
region, and they needed to know the details of the future
U.S. presence before making any commitments. Even India, which had a much less critical voice than the immediate neighbors during Istanbul, has proven cautious. On his
way back from Moscow on December 17th, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was quoted as saying that the U.S.
has announced that their forces will quit Afghanistan after
2014, but whether they will pull out their entire team or
leave behind some people is not clear so far.
The Elephant in the Room: U.S. Long-Term Presence

The worst-case scenario, from the two immediate neighbors perspective, is in fact that the U.S. and NATO
troops stay in Afghanistan in order to use that territory to
launch attacks on Pakistan and Iran. Internal dynamics
within Afghanistan could threaten the countries neighboring Afghanistan in ways that they become engulfed
in them, but unlike the Talibanization scenario, it would
be the presence of U.S. and NATO troops permanently
stationed in Afghanistan that could pose a security threat
to the neighboring countries. The continued presence of
the U.S. military after 2014 may not only boost libn
propaganda that international forces are occupiers, but
it would also lead to more antagonism from regional
countries, even if it is a desired long term goal of Afghans interested in security guarantees from the U.S.
against their neighbors while continuing to benefit from
attention, aid, support to their armed forces, etc.
The argument for a long term U.S. presence seemed to
become more justified in the aftermath of the operation
that killed Osama bin Laden. The need for stealth and
speed dictated launching the operation from an airbase in
Afghanistan (Jalalabad). The potential need for similar
counter-terrorism operations after 2014 would require
bases for technical intelligence and warfare in Afghanistan, the only country in the region, which welcomes the
presence. The Afghan government and some Afghan
public opinion argue that although the U.S. may have its
own geostrategic and economic interests, the long-term
engagement of the U.S. military, as well as its government, is beneficial for Afghanistan. Their arguments appeal to the U.S.s moral responsibility not to abandon
Afghanistan once again, to contribute to capacity building and training of troops, and to eliminate the sanctuaries and bases that exist in Pakistan. The argument is
pragmatic as well: the U.S. is stronger and certainly

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richer than any neighboring power, and it pays, literally,


to be on the winning side. Afghanistan can sell its geopolitical situation, and in return, obtain security guarantees and sustained aid.
For neighbors, however, the subtext of a Strategic
Framework Agreement is a pretext for permanent U.S.
military bases, a presence that violates the principle of
Afghan neutrality. The Iranians are the most outspoken
in connecting the persistence of insecurity in the region
with the prolonged presence of U.S. troops. From various international platforms, including at the Istanbul and
Bonn conferences, they have been reiterating that the
U.S. presence in Afghanistan is detrimental to regional
security. For them, occupation and meddling in the internal affairs of countries are some of the factors contributing to the emergence and escalation of terrorism.
Any talk of a long-term presence of U.S. troops also
makes the demand that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton issued to regional countries to respect
Afghanistans sovereignty, which means agreeing not to
play out their rivalries within its borders appear hypocritical. Sovereignty remains a sacrosanct principle in
the region. The SCO, for example, to which Pakistan,
India and Iran aspire for membership, has as its core the
principles of respect for non-interference, sovereignty
and territorial integrity. That is why the violation of territorial sovereignty, implicit in the raid on Osama bin
Ladins compound in Abbottabad deeply alarmed regional countries. If regional countries are expected to
abide by the principles of non-interference in Afghanistan, the long-term presence of U.S. troops does not provide an example to follow.
Scenarios Ahead

A number of different scenarios can be envisaged for the


future of the region:
1. Alliance against the U.S. in Afghanistan

One concrete outcome of the concern over a long-term


foreign military presence in the region has been a scurry
of diplomatic shuffling and alliance building among regional players with a heavy penchant towards economic
cooperation. Leading this group has been the rapprochement between Pakistan and China, which concluded a
strategic dialogue on expanding cooperation on counterterrorism and Afghanistan at the end of April. Both Russia
and China realize that Pakistan is key if they are to play a
more active role in the region, and concessions must be
made to ensure Pakistans good will and interests. Pakistan has also been pressuring Kabul to rely more on China
in case Washington abandons it.
While the U.S. has proven its superiority with intelligence and security hardware, an alliance with China and
Russia offers a strong economic incentive for regional
countries. China has assertively moved forward on economic investments in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pa-

kistan, with its four billion dollar investment in the copper mine at Aynak in Afghanistan, agreeing to take over
the operation of the port of Gwadar, and even expressing
a willingness to build the TAPI gas pipeline that it had
hitherto opposed. Although it has been wary of the New
Silk Road Initiative, Russia has also lent support to the
TAPI project and announced during the SCO summit in
Saint Petersburg in November 2011 that it would contribute $500 million to the CASA-1000 electricity project, both key projects of the initiative. By coopting the
projects of the New Silk Road away from financing by
Western private companies, the two giants could in fact
derail the U.S. vision to their own benefit.
Another instrument that can be used is membership in the
SCO, fast emerging as a giant regional institution, which
seeks a bigger role in Afghanistan, something that the
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi reiterated during
the Bonn II Conference. Pakistan and India are expected
to soon gain membership, and Afghanistan is set to gain
observer status in the organization. The SCO further developed its position towards Afghanistan through the
adoption of a 2009 Moscow Declaration and an Action
Plan of SCO Member States and Afghanistan on combating terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime, and
the creation of a SCO-Afghanistan bilateral commission.
Pakistan is hoping that its close alliance with China will
allow it to gain favorable support for full membership in
the SCO, the same way that India is counting on its warm
relations with Russia as the legacy of the Indo-Soviet
friendship. Irans interest in the SCO is colored by its
search for ways to frustrate Washingtons policy of containment. It is therefore waiting eagerly for an upgrade of
its observer status into full membership, a move not likely
to happen in the near future given SCO rules that no
member should be under UN sanctions.
An expanded SCO could include cooperation in the region motivated by a number of mutual interests: eliminating the threat of extremism, terrorism and separatism
(the so-called three evils indoctrinated in the essence of
SCO) and combatting narcotics trafficking, which is also
a specific concern to Iran. The two global powers China
and Russia are also united in their interest in eliminating,
or at least diminishing the U.S. military presence, given
their common resentment against a unipolar system
dominated by the U.S. and their fear of encirclement. It
was under Chinese and Russian pressure that member
states of the SCO called on the U.S. and its allies to establish a timetable for withdrawing from their bases in
Central Asia in July 2005, which subsequently led to the
closure of the Khanabad base in Uzbekistan. Mutual interests warrant for now a marriage of convenience. In the
long-term, however, the potential for rivalry for influence over the region is high, especially with the more assertive entry of China into the pipeline politics of the region driven by its needs for energy resources. The rivalry, however, would most likely be of an economic nature.
Militarily, China is more cautious and is unlikely to engage in the region or allow the regional organizations in

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which it dominates, notably the SCO, to take up a military position, something that Russia pursues independently through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
2. A Sino-U.S. Strategic Deal

At least one analyst, the Indian commentator Bhadrakumar, sees another possibility developing, that of a SinoU.S. alliance against Russia. His thesis is that the core
agenda of U.S. policy is to create a wedge between Russia
and China and it suits the U.S. regional strategy that China is increasingly competing with Russia in the energy
sector. His evidence lies in the U.S. (and Norwegian) supported construction of the Dusti Bridge over the river
Pyanj separating Tajikistan from Afghanistan in 2007. By
doing so, the U.S. is supposedly following up on a strategy to facilitate an efficient access route for China that
leads to the markets in South Asia and the Persian Gulf
while bypassing Russian territory. According to Bhadrakumar, the thrust of the U.S. regional strategy is to pull
Central Asia towards South Asia and away from Russia,
with Afghanistan acting as a hub. This strategy however
needs to appease the Chinese by providing incentives. The
U.S.-funded bridge in Tajikistan acts as such, allowing
China's Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region access to a
communication link with Karachi port through the newly
developed roads in Tajikistan, which the Karakorum
highway cannot provide. However, evidence against Chinese complaisance with any such U.S. plans was its official reaction to the New Silk Road initiative, which essentially rejected the idea in favor of bilateral economic developments in the region.
3. Enduring Indo-Pakistan Rivalry

A most likely scenario in the future is enduring rivalry


between India and Pakistan. In principle, the growth and
emergence of India, and its superiority in terms of indicators of power (territory, population, economy, forces),
on the one hand, and Pakistans weakening from internal
challenges, induced by rising militancy, social fragmentation and economic woes, on the other, could have
transformed the rivalry, the unevenness of the two parties making the conflict irrelevant. The conflict has indeed become progressively more asymmetric with the
two countries increasingly differentiated through characteristics of strength/weakness, unity/fragmentation and
security/insecurity. Yet, this asymmetric power relationship and rivalry endure because a number of factors mitigate and reduce their disparity, among them: the nonresolution of a territorial dispute in Kashmir where insurgency-style operations and tactics prevail; the opening up of new fronts, strategies and tactics of warfare by
means of terrorism (including that outsourced to foreign
lands); the nuclear capabilities of both states; and Pakistans blocking of transport routes for Indias supply to
Afghanistan. These factors mean that while India may
have global superiority, and have more possibilities to
divorce the region and become a key global power or
at least compete with China, at the local level, it is still

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bogged down by a defining relationship of rivalry with a


much weaker Pakistan within the South Asia Regional
Security Complex.
The rivalry may be exacerbated by worries over Afghanistan but is larger than what happens there. In the post-U.S.
scenario, it is possible that Pakistans establishment will
have little or no leverage with the libn, as they have
increasingly taken a more independent role from their
former allies and have denounced Pakistani involvement
in instability in Afghanistan. The more the rift between
the Pakistani security establishment and the Islamic and
Pashtun groups within Pakistan widens, the more their ties
with the Afghan libn would be similarly broken. Pakistan fears Indian involvement in Afghanistan, and the loss
of its strategic depth, while India fears both Chinese and
Pakistani influence there. Yet, neither Pakistan nor India
is indeed capable, even if interested at least in the case of
Pakistans desire for a friendly government in Kabul, in
establishing its hegemony over Afghanistan. If both want
influence there, it is more because they seek solutions to
their own insecurities, as well as guarantees from the U.S.
against each other.
The U.S. administration sees improved relations between
India and Pakistan as a key piece of the puzzle ... the
heart of the deal in Afghanistan. It has however not
tackled their bilateral differences so far. And, as Karen
DeYoung writes, attempts to woo India and Pakistan
separately have served largely to increase eachs suspicion of the other and of U.S. intentions. The entry of
U.S./NATO forces into Afghanistan and the rise of China could have acted as external catalysts for transformation of the India-Pakistan conflict, but uncertainties
have kept them both insecure and in persistent rivalry.
Pakistan and India both aspire to recognition by the U.S.,
as both a global economic and military leader and as a
real and present regional actor after its entry into Afghanistan. At best, rapprochement with the U.S. gives
each country an added advantage over the other. At
worst, it prevents the formation of a coalition against
each other. Yet, the lack of clarity about long-term U.S.
intentions in the region, coupled with an ambiguous policy of engaging with both partners at the same time, contributes to their insecurities and in fact exacerbates their
conflictual relationship by increasing both countries
vulnerability to back door deals, rivalry and mistrust.
The U.S. has in fact so far maintained the balance of
power between Pakistan and India by cultivating both
good and cautious relations with both.
4. Strike On, or a Deal with Iran

A final scenario to consider is the future of U.S.-Iran relations. A strike on Iran, orchestrated by the U.S. or Israel (or both), would transform regional dynamics as it
would potentially rally regional countries, with the possible exception of Afghanistan, together on the side of
Iran. Despite U.S. pressure, Central Asian countries,
Russia, China, and to an extent even Pakistan, have
maintained good relations with Iran. The countries of

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Central Asia are for example concerned about the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons especially given
their own commitments to nuclear disarmament. But a
more immediate concern is the possibility of hostilities
between the U.S. and Iran forcing them to choose sides
and be caught in a new conflict on their borders. For the
landlocked countries of the region, Iran also represents
the shortest route to the open seas, and hence access to
world markets, a factor that comes into the equation of
choosing sides. All therefore favor diplomatic means of
resolving the standoff between the U.S. and Iran over the
latters nuclear program.
Not to be dismissed as too unlikely is also the alternative
scenario, proving difficult to conceive today in the midst
of mounting rhetoric about imminent war, but proven
possible in the past, of a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement,
whether overt or covert. Iran and the U.S. have much in
common on Afghanistan, a realization that led to cooperation when the Iranians provided logistical support to
U.S. troops during the initial stage of the intervention in
Afghanistan in 2001, only to be met with President
Bushs Axis of Evil label shortly thereafter. The shortest and the most practical route for U.S. and NATO supply remains via the Chabahar port, an option that has
been discussed with NATO in the past but abandoned
for now. Perhaps Tehran and Washington will realize the
importance of opening a new dialogue on regional security. For that, however, Iran needs reassurances that the
U.S. base in Shindan will not be used against it. Iran also seeks recognition for its regional leadership ambitions,
which, if granted by the West, would put it at odds with
the other regional powers, starting with Pakistan and
ending with Russia. Such a scenario, admittedly, is a
long way from realization, especially in the current hostile atmosphere, which is forcing Iran to lead the dissent
in the region vocally.
Regional Solutions

The different scenarios above all point to the fact that for
the next few years, the regional security situation will be
dynamic. But they also reveal that this this dynamism
has less to do with the instability within Afghanistan
than what happens in terms of rivalries and alliances between the states of the region and extra-regional powers.
By implication, the regional appetite for entering Afghanistan once the U.S. leaves is less than for insulating themselves from Afghan domestic politics and concentrating on other stakes. This, however, does not mean
regional powers are disinterested in a stable Afghanistan.
It means that state-to-state dynamics are going to be
largely dictated by their reaction to the U.S. long-term
presence in their midst.
Having examined the impediments to the failed regional
solutions proposed so far, as well as a number of scenarios, what political options lie ahead for the international
community to contribute positively to regional coopera-

tion on and around Afghanistan? We offer six possible


strategies:
1. Involving the Region

A first conclusion is that regional countries need to be


(and feel) involved in the process of finding a solution
for Afghanistan. This means that they should not be
served up a package of pre-conceived ideas and visions
to which they are asked to subscribe. Creative consultation is necessary from the outset.
So far, Pakistan has been the only regional player that
has mattered, due to the assumption that it can influence
the libn. The international community has not approached other countries to play the role of facilitator in
reaching out to warring parties, because of the suspicion
that they could play spoiler cards through their relationships with non-Pashtun former leaders of the largely Tajik and Uzbek Northern Alliance members and by influencing the delegates of the Wolesi Jirga (parliament).
India, Russia and Iran and to an extent the Central Asian
countries have also been united in their rejection of the
talks, not least because of their fears of Pashtun domination of other ethnic groups which they have historically
supported. India does not want to see an expansion of
the influence of Pakistan in Afghanistan, and has been
historically aligned for this purpose with the nonPashtun Northern Alliance. Russia has on numerous occasions objected to the delisting of the libn from the
1267 Committee at the Security Council. The Iranian
Shah continue to mistrust the libn as Sunni extremists because of ideological / Islamic differences and the
massacre of Iranian diplomats by the libn in Mazar-i
Sharif in 1998.
However, as the return of the libn to the political
scene increasingly becomes imminent, all have been softening their opposition to the talks. All of these countries
would learn to live with reconciliation and reintegration,
as long as the process is Afghan led. In this pragmatic
calculation, they wouldnt want to make enemies out of
libn, and have organized their own covert openings
to them to keep options open. Iran, for example, invited
a libn delegation to the September Conference on Islamic awakening, which Burhanuddin Rabbani attended
a few days before his assassination. Turkmenistan and
Uzbekistan would be the most favorable Central Asian
countries, the same way that they had dealings with the
libn in the 1990s. Uzbekistan, because it fears the
IMU more than the libn, and Turkmenistan, because
of its interest in developing the TAPI pipeline.
Yet, they are all also aware that in the absence of genuine national reconciliation in Afghanistan, where all major ethnic groups agree on a framework for reconciliation, peace remains elusive. National reconciliation and
power sharing is preferred to an ad hoc solution that
brings in selected elements of the libn into the government. The alternative, as they see it, is complete state

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failure and the fragmentation of Afghanistan, which presents concrete dangers for them as neighbors. In the
event of internal ethnic conflict in Afghanistan, the Central Asian countries would want to create a buffer zone
in Northern areas, and Iran in the West, to stop the advance of the libn to their frontiers. The failure of national reconciliation in Afghanistan would also increase
the probability of regional tensions. In the short term, it
would lead to the influx of refugees into Tajikistan, Iran
and Pakistan. Given that these countries share the same
concerns for containing instability, and given their own
relations with ethnic groups within Afghanistan, there
are opportunities to be explored for the involvement of
these countries as facilitators for a genuine regional and
national reconciliation.
But the agenda for regional cooperation should also not be
limited to reconciliation in Afghanistan, or even to the
principle of non-interference and sovereignty for Afghanistan, issues that cannot be solved until clarity is shed on
the long-term intentions of the U.S. and NATO. A precise
and more limited confidence-building road map is necessary on areas where there are common interests, such as
cooperation on narcotics production and trafficking, border management, counter-terrorism, trade, energy swaps,
water distribution etc. These can be entry points that lead
to confidence-building for regional cooperation.
2. Leaving the UN to Do the Job

Genuine reconciliation between ethnic groups within


Afghanistan and concessions and security guarantees at
the regional level between countries need an overall strategic plan and not ad hoc backroom deals. The plan is
also very sensitive and requires a legitimate, neutral actor to lead the diplomatic shuffle. The late Richard
Holbrooke, former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was apparently interested in a
diplomatic solution, a peace deal process led by the U.S.
but including all regional players. Having the U.S. lead
the process, however, is a contentious issue. The U.S. is
currently enmeshed in military operations in Afghanistan
and is considered a party to the war. Moreover, regional
players question its legitimacy and long-term intentions.
The viable solution would be for the United Nations to
create a Special Envoy or facilitator solely engaged in
shuttle diplomacy, something that the Report of the Afghanistan Task Force of The Century Foundation (TCF)
suggested as part of its comprehensive solution. The
proposed UN role has not, however, yet been supported
by the U.S. or its European allies. In the meantime, the
political clout of successive heads of UNAMA/ Special
Representatives of the UN Secretary General (SRSGs) in
Afghanistan has been limited by design or by virtue of
being overshadowed by more powerful U.S. envoys and
U.S. and NATO commanders
Such a solution requires a complete revamping of the UN
mission in Afghanistan. The UNAMA mission has been

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consistently underfunded while its responsibilities by


mandate have increased progressively, to the point of having become an executive operation involved with a range
of issues starting with aid coordination, sub-regional development, justice, human rights etc. In fact, the UN has
been sidelined from the political process in recent years,
buried under the weight of op