The Need for a Political and Economic Transition Strategy in Afghanistan

Aug. 23, 2011, 5:16 p.m.

The report on Afghanistan published by the Center for American Progress looks at the current situation in Afghanistan and the steps that need to be taken to ensure a successful political and economic transition strategy.  The report is written by John Podesta, Brian Katulis, and Caroline Wadhams based off of a trip to Afghanistan in July 2011. Currently fears exist that President Karzai will attempt to stay president past 2014 further decreasing the democratic reforms taking place within the country.  Checks and balances are almost nonexistent.  Criminal patronage networks as well as corruption are major concerns and issues that need to be dealt with.  Too much emphasis is being put on strengthening the security forces within Afghanistan at the expense of democratic and economic reforms.  All three areas are essential for a successful transition to a fully democratic government in Afghanistan. 

We found that the Afghan state is in crisis, with a broad range of Afghans warn­ing that their country’s fragile democratic institutions are crumbling. A number of obstacles to a successful political and economic transition exist, including unchecked executive power, serious discord among those political forces that accept the Afghan constitution, and many unanswered questions about the path forward to achieve a sustainable political settlement with the Taliban. If the cur­rent trajectory continues, the ANSF may have no state left to defend.

The report provides five major recommendations:

  1. Reset the relationship with President Hamid Karzai while still using leverage to advance reforms.

  2. Clarify the message.

  3. Support and invest in democratic institutions and forces.

  4. Support a more inclusive peace process.

  5. Shift from a development strategy to a sustainable economic strategy.

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