When the shouting on Afghanistan election frauds reached to the years of the Obama administration; it is said that Obama himself called Karzai on the spot and demanded explanation. Karzai overconfidently claimed that everything is under his “control”. He assured Obama that there are some noises from the losing candidates, and everything will be cooled down! Some days passed, but the evidence of fraud and theft spoke more than simple ‘’noises of a losing candidate’’. Sound and video clips as evidences vividly showed the organized fraudulence, in which high officials of the IEC[i] seemed to be involved. People went to the streets, violently protesting to put on trial those accused of the organized election crimes. But the Karzai administration kept quiet. They just watched the situation which was not “under control” anymore.
The IEC could not find any response to the evidence of the immense fraud and finally managed to convince Mr. Ziaul Haq Amarkhail The secretary of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission to resign (as per the primary demands of Dr. Abdullah – the presidential candidate). Mr. Amarkhail resigned but tried to leave the country that made the head of the IEC Mr.Nooristani annoyed as he blamed Amarkhail of escaping the country or being blamed for wrong doings. However, this did not rest the tide and the people who were angry about the mismanagements of the IEC and their shameful frauds, did not stop their protests across the country and abroad.
The IEC took another step to conceal its weakening position against the political pressure endured by people, candidates and the UN. Nevertheless, they finally decided to announce the primary results of the election and showed Dr. Ashraf Ghani receiving about 56% of the votes as the winner of the runoff. Dr. Abdullah who was already demanding the transparency of the votes casted and asked for the delay in the announcement, claimed that 2 million of the votes cast for his rival are fake. He officially withdrew from the vote-counting process, demanding stricter auditing of potentially suspicious votes.[ii]
However, Dr. Ghani’s team defended their superiority by claiming that “they mobilized clerics, provided transport for would-be voters and persuaded many men from his own Pashtun ethnic group to break with conservative tradition and let their wives, sisters and daughters cast ballots for the first time.”[iii] On the other hand, many independent observers believe that the fraud has been extraordinary and it’s done mostly in Mr. Ghani’s favor. For example, one of these reports clarifies: “More than 500,000 votes came from districts with more votes than people and 1.85 million votes came from districts where more than 60% of the population voted… To calculate voter turnout, we assumed that vote totals above 60% of the district population represented 100% turnout and scaled accordingly…These cases suggest instances where vote totals are either being estimated or made up.”[iv]
In spite of serious warnings of Dr. Abdullah’s camp and obvious evidence of IEC’s wrongdoings, it seemed that the Karzai administration had kept quiet or were planning for next steps to deteriorate the situation further. According to New York Times ‘as Western officials scrambled to respond, what was not being said aloud was that the Abdullah camp’s threats had already gone beyond talk to a plan of action. Some of Mr. Abdullah’s backers were preparing to take over the centers of government in at least three provinces, and on his word to march on and occupy the presidential palace, according to several of his supporters and former government officials.’[v] Finally, The Obama administration, decided to send his secretary of state John Kerry to deal with the crumbling situation.
On 13th of July when John Kerry arrived in Kabul he started painstaking talks with both of the candidates. After three long days of discussion behind the close doors, finally both candidates and Mr. Kerry appeared in front of media and announced their agreement of 100% audit of votes. However, what Mr. Kerry and both candidates mentioned in their admissive speeches was a new term in Afghanistan’s political terminology: The government of National unity!
Nobody had spoken about such a government and later on, no details were also given on the term. But what was obvious from that, it was for-sure a political settlement to end the election tension regardless about the electoral rules and regulations. Nevertheless, as we deeply look at this “government of national unity” we would reach to the simple conclusion of another power-sharing mechanism and a continuous policy of the ‘Republicans’ and Karzai’s “national reconciliation” since the Bonn conference in 2001. Based on this policy the power is shared among the tribal leaders and so-called influential political figures that have had a role in 35 years of war-politics in Afghanistan.
However, another important question here is about the results of these allots? a decision will be made based on ballot boxes or simply a power sharing bitter confection is prepared to puts Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on top and make Dr. Abdullah the “chief executive” of his government or vice versa? (So that he become prime minister after the amendments made in the constitution afterwards)
On this, many believe that the Americans weigh the power be in Ghani’s hand, as the ‘time’ writes: “The plan also called for a power-sharing arrangement that would give Abdullah an important role in the new Afghan government, potentially as a kind of deputy national leader. (The details have yet to be finalized and officials called reports of a European-style parliamentary system premature.)”[vi]
The Americans may have this plan in hand. And they may force Dr. Abdullah for final compromises, but that will be a big blow for democracy and people’s choice for free and fair elections. However, people will not simply buy this plot and will show consistent political resistance. Hence, any plan that undermines the true choice of people for selecting their political leadership will reach nowhere as the Karzai’s “national reconciliation” brought nothing but further splits among the various levels of society based on tribal and ethnic lines.
[i] Independent Election Commission (in Afghanistan)
On 2nd May 2014, Afghan people mourned for their more than 2500 countrymen including men, women and children who were buried deeply under thousand tons of mud and soil in Argo district of Badakshan province, as a result of a massive landslide. While another about 3000 affected people who are under severe life threat due to lack of shelter, water, food and medicine. But the government and responsible authorities have been doing almost nothing to start their search and rescue action for those who may have a chance to be pulled out alive from deep under debris. This incident happened after the recent earthquake in Takhar and harsh floods in Jawzjan provinces. However, this has toppled the miseries of those people who have been suffering from never ending war an six years of prolonged drought, affecting over 6 million Afghans across the country.
Afghanistan people have been victims of natural disaster for decades now. Beside the earthquakes, flood and landslides, other common hazards include agricultural pests, such as caterpillars and locusts, and dust and sandstorms. IFRC/RC estimates that natural disasters have killed more than 19,000 people and affected about 7.5 million Afghans since the early 1980s. Hence, the current estimates show that about 100 people die every day due to natural disasters in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s natural landscape has been destroyed due to the centuries of inefficient governance and war. These mainly two reasons have caused the environmental degradation also. The land erosion due to nonexistence of wood and plants are the main reasons for harsh floods, storms and landslides. During the 20th century that the governments with the help of their people were taking important steps to tackle environmental changes and natural disasters all around the world, but the inefficient despotic and tribalist governments of Afghanistan were doing nothing to walk by the world. They have been very idle in providing any help to save their people who have been suffering from natural disasters for decades.
Nevertheless, history suggests that this has not been the case with the country’s environment always. Hence we can claim that the natural environment of this geography has been systematically destroyed due to bad governance and civil conflicts. “…when looking at Afghanistan’s often arid and barren landscapes, that many of them were once covered by woodland and were home to rich flora and fauna. Emperor Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty who captured Kabul in 1504 and had a keen eye for natural beauty, records in his memoirs the rich biodiversity of Afghanistan, home to animals such as cheetahs, tigers and wild asses. Until the middle of the 20th century Afghanistan had much more extensive forest and plant cover than today. This included high-alpine flora, montane coniferous and mixed forests, and open dry woodlands with juniper, pistachio and almond trees, semi-desert scrub and marshlands. Today most of the country’s forest cover has already disappeared or soon will.”
Hence, the destructions to the environment in this world’s most poor country tell us that: among the various factors we can name uncontrolled overgrazing and unsustainable agricultural practices, due to the lack of proper agricultural and animal husbandry policies of the government; combined with lack of any coordination between these policies and environmental priorities of different localities.
Lack of fuel and other required materials for local communities to substitute firewood and other traditional local materials, including cow’s dung (that causes severe diseases), all are leading to massive logging for kitchen use, construction and heating during winter. At the same time, the government has shown no alternatives to help people using other means for cooking, building and heating across the country. The electricity doesn’t exist in most of these communities, gas, oil and other means are too expensive and scarce. Hence the only initiative remaining for the people is intensified timber cutting. The business of wood smugglers who mostly cut the forests and smuggle them to neighboring countries is also on the rise.
More interestingly, this deforestation and cutting woods have had a military purpose also. “Trees have been cut not only for fuel but also to make it harder for competing armies and rebel bands to hide and ambush one another.”Now who can ask the military policy makers in the country to have an eye on environment? And work with people to stop deforestation and bush burning. Instead who to ask to provide people with proper support for defending their communities from insurgent groups who are strengthened due to political reasons in these areas.
For sure, the natural disasters such as earthquakes, recent floods and landslides, due to the environmental degradation can be dangerously fatal. But who bothers?!
The inefficient and corrupt government authorities in Afghanistan including the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), National Disaster Management Authorities (ANDMA) and Ministry of Agriculture and Animal husbandry, who cannot even control the rain water from their office door steps (rain water turns into flood in Kabul city every year); They have only been able to watch people dying under the natural mass grave in Badakhshan. They understand that the population is increasing; cities have no capacity to inhabit thousands of people who come daily in search of employment and work. Un-planned urbanization and lack of housing policy caused illegal land grabbing and pushed poor people to build houses in hazardous natural locations including the mud hills and rough mountains. These ministry officials know everything and recognize that these situations make people further vulnerable to earthquake, avalanches, flood, landslide and other disasters. But on real action, these governmental bodies are far behind to meet with these social and environmental challenges to save thousands of lives every year.
The inefficient ANDMA have not been doing anything so far to support people by early warning mechanisms. As hundreds of people lost their lives in recent floods in northern provinces, ANDMA could simply prevent these losses. According to Engineer Sediq Qiam, a well-known geologist, flood is predictable (in Afghanistan). For example, the rainfalls are mostly coming from the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and North Pole. We can predict them through the weather forecast and communication with the neighboring countries to decrease the level of casualties to the minimum or even to zero percent… The aim of constructing dames and creeks on flood prone areas are to increase the agricultural productivity and extend graze lands and forests. However, due to unknown reasons, the so-called “authorities” in three mentioned governmental ministries would not do anything such as the research, early warning, and prevention to help the 100 per day casualties of the poor people in Afghanistan. They are only busy to think and work for their personal benefits. Besides, when the funds come for such programmes they are the only responsible people for misuse and even theft of money. Or according to Aarozi Samarqandi a famous Persian scientist instead of finding real scientific means to help people during these natural disasters these so-called authorities, propagate only clerical, fortune telling, dream interpretation and ferry tells.
On the other hand, local poor inhabitants, young civil society activists, journalists and people from all walks of life have started to do something since they have heard about the incident. They have collected money, clothes, medicine, jewelry, wood, food items etc and reached to the scene to help with the affected people. They didn’t wait for the “authorities” because they knew that these inefficient people would do nothing to help them, as they hardly have any such desire and compassion. In most of the provinces, youth have raised tents to generate financial support to help people in Badakhshan. But Hamid Karzai, head of the corrupt state in Kabul have not even gone to the area till now. He has no interest to know what exactly is happening, while his deputies just went to show up and returned with only some “nice words”! Nobody has asked to continue the search and rescue attempts for hundreds of children, women and men (May still alive) under the debris. And maybe that is the only activity seems to be difficult for the local people and civil society youth groups to accomplish, due to lack of required machinery and professional personal.
2014’s Afghanistan presidential election is on the way. Hamid Karzai and his “team” who have ruled the country for more than a decade are worried. Their main concern is losing political power. They have long-term strategies for Afghanistan and so to maintain their “tribal” grip on political power is the key for suppressing any democratic movement. However; it seems that their luck is not helping, and their political rivals in “ex-jehadi” groups are gaining more public attention. Afghan people are fed up with the corrupt and irresponsible administration in Kabul. They want to see change, but it is also possible that people may not elect a reliable substitute for a corrupt and inconsistent leader.
Despite of every efforts made by Karzai administration to play with people’s perception due to gain meaningful support for Zalmail Rasoul or Ashraf Ghani Ahamadzai (pro Karzai presidential candidates), it seems that they may not receive a weighty mandate in coming election. Henceforth, Karzai and his followers would start any conspiracy either to deteriorate the security situation through their Taliban “brothers” or to use further corrupt means to change the final results of election in their favor (as they did so during the previous presidential election).
However, the casualties of Afghan National Army soldiers in Kunar and the attack on “Kabul Serena” hotel causing the death of innocent Afghan journalist (Ahmad Sardar), his wife and children made the youth and civil society furious. They came out to street and chanted strong anti-Karzai and anti- Taliban slogans. They questioned Karzai’s loyalty to ordinary Afghan people and blamed him supporting Taliban. Moreover, Fawzia Kofi a female member of Afghan parliament also broke up the silence and mentioned that Karzai would want to disturb the election process to gain his personal interests. At the same time, Afghan media also banned the broadcast of any news concerning Taliban and presented anti-Karzai and anti-Taliban programmes.
Nevertheless, the questions remain here are: what would Karzai and his followers want as a result of these plots? What will happen after election?
As mentioned, Karzai and his team’s main interest are to maintain political power. Democratic turnovers and the result of election would not be in their favor due to the shifts in public opinion against them. Hence, as they have close connections with “talibanist” and “tribalist” militants and political groups; they will definitely chose violent collusions to maintain their grip on power. Election is an option for them, if they failed to obtain political power through it, Talibans 2nd “Emarat” will be their last choice. On the other hand, Karzai’s lack of interest in signing the security treaty with the US and its continuous complaints from the American and Nato policies and conducts portrait him as a godfather to the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Furthermore, he has even gone forward by winking vigorously to Russinas due to sounding in favor of them after the Crimean referendum. Despite the populistic nature of Karzai’s campaigns to present him as a “nationalistic leader” at the end of his second term; it is obvious the he would definitely count on “tribalist” and “talibanist” political companion to remain as a prominent figure in next political set up.
Whatever the result of the next election would be; it is quit vivid that the newly born democracy of Afghanistan will suffer. If Karzai and his team succeeded; the upcoming government would definitely serve the political interests of tribalism and Talibanism; it would bring many nondemocratic changes and the civil rights of people will be violated. Women and children will be chained further through conservative and medieval policies.
Notwithstanding of all these pale pictures, there is a hope that the newly emerging civil society, democratic political groups and individuals would not set back. They will commence strong campaigns for civil rights and will try to obtain the human and women rights. The tribalists and Talibanist forces will not be able to suppress the righteous democratic movements for long. People of Afghanistan will struggle for a peaceful and democratic country in which the civil rights of men and women would be ensured.
Throughout its recent history Afghanistan has been ruled by staunch and despotic rulers who have used ethnicity and religion as two sharp swords to cut the neck of any opposition and suppress any rival. This is a true history of governance in Afghanistan since the Pashton dominant rule since 1747 till now. The country has been in turmoil and civil wars among ambitious princes fighting each other over the monarch crown in Kabul.
In twentieth century when the USSR invaded the country and the war provoked by west started for independence and sovereignty there was an attempt to over through the military imposition and a new suppression under the name of socialism and communism, but there were very weak voices of democracy and democratic movements based on justice and civil rights. When the Mujahedeen took power and later when the Taliban tried to establish a medieval Islamic state; there were no news of freedom, justice and democracy as per the modern norms and values.
In 2011 when the west under the leadership of the U.S started its raid to revenge Taliban and Alqaeda attacks in New York; the new invasion had no ideology and slogan except from establishing a democratic settlement and free out the country from the hands of terrorists and oppressors. During the first years people who were ravaged from the war and atrocities of armed criminals and Taliban welcomed the new settlement and agreed what was decided by the west during the Bonn conference. But after the 10 years since then today in 2011 nothing is serving to the common goal of democracy and justice.
Three pillars of the government who ought to work in coordination and solve the critical issues and problems of Afghan population are currently standing against each other and confronting one another without any respect and maturity. They are up with any effort to withdraw each other without thinking that how one of them exists with the other.
This situation burst after the recent parliamentary election that a great number of fraud and misconduct was reported broadly. The results were halt by the election commission to take care of the immense fraud but soon after the election results were announced and not much cases and complaints were put to jury. However, the presidency was not happy about the results, not because of the fraud but due to hidden political agendas and was not willing to inaugurate the new parliament (lower house). Hence, the new parliamentarians started pressurizing him and used all possible means including the international community’s authority to formally inaugurate the new parliament.
President Karzai, took another initiative to start another political pressure on the new parliament in which majority were somehow not dancing on his music. He established a special court to look after the election frauds that according to political analysts’ this was against all constitutional norms. At the same time he forcefully went to the lower house and formally inaugurated it despite a heavy pressure of the failing parliamentary nominates. When the new parliament started working from the day first they started their struggle to close down the special court but their efforts reached no where until 23rd June 2011 the special court finally announced her verdict of blaming about 62 parliamentarians of fraud and announced new members instead of them; which was an unconstitutional verdict by the court according to FEFA.
The parliamentarians on the other hand took the initiative to disqualify the attorney general and head of Supreme Court and blamed the president on national betrayal. Hence, all three pillars of the government on one side and on the other side Taliban and international terrorists are engaged on a murder war and day to day conflict.
Is this what we call democracy? Does democracy promote conflict and war or peace and harmony? Off course such kind of imported and forced democracy result as such. However, if democracy is integrated with social norms and standards and supports the rule of law; if it goes hand in hand with justice and security and becomes traditionalized then we will definitely have a different situation.
Recently there have been tensions on strained relations between two ‘allies’ on US led ‘war on terror’ in the region. The US announced that it is trimming some of its funds to the Pakistani military. According to the Washington Post; ‘President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, William Daley, said Sunday that the U.S. was suspending $800 million in aid to the Pakistani military until the two countries can patch up their relationship.’
It has been since early 2011 that the relationship between the two countries was cropping as a result of the US air raids on northern Pakistani soil to topple cross border terroristic correspondance across Pak-Afghan border. Later on the US strengthened much more military strategic ties with Pakistan’s rival India and there are initiations on strategic relationship with Afghanistan; all of this showed a bit pushing aside Pakistan’s strategic importance to the US. However ‘The relationship took a nose dive on May 2 when U.S. commandos staged a covert raid to kill al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town not far from Islamabad. The raid humiliated the Pakistani military, which ordered U.S. trainers out of the country and reduced bilateral cooperation.’[i]
Now the question is that despite immense interest of the US to maintain its strategic military strongholds in Afghanistan, how she would deal with Pakistan? Ostensibly, the US do not want to lose it’s logistical path to Afghanistan which is provided by Pakistani territory and sell her to it’s historical and potential rivals in the region such as Shanghai pact etc. On the other hand there is increased competetion between India and Pakistan and both are eager to drag the military and monetary leverage towards their side so that to use them against each other; herewith India welcomed US’s fund suspension to Pakistani military in response to Pakistani strategists’ being disappointed on the announcement. Meanwhile ‘in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised Pakistan as a “valuable ally” in the fight against terrorism, but acknowledged the relationship “is not always easy.”[ii] This means that despite the recent tactical shift in their relationship the US will not lose Pakistan that easy but she should be punished to learn her lessons of disobedience.
Among all, the role of Afghan diplomacy have been very tricky; showing some anti-US gestures the Afghan government on the other hand smiles to Pakistan by their humble and human allegations against Pakistani shells and rockets killing tens of innocent children and household in provinces bordering with Pakistan. Karzai administration however wants to show to Pakistanis that we are nothing more than staunch neighbors, let the Americans go… then we can work out something to rule over Afghanistan with our Talib brothers!
The US is watching Afghanistan vigorously also and would not want to lose the control over Afghanistan by punishing directly the Karzai administration, but recent financial crisis and economic tension with locally controlled banks (Kabul bank and Azizi bank) and the rigid stance of IMF and WB shows that the pressure here also comes from the US side to whistle on corrupt and defamed Karzai administration in Afghanistan and make them alert to what their real demand is.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, “Tribalism” is defined as the state or fact of being organized in a tribe or tribes… the behavior and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group. Afghanistan’s society is consisted of many ethnicities. Within ethnic groups there are tribes. The history of these tribes, their battles, coexistence, conflicts and peace is varied from historian to historian and from tell to tell. But what is most important in this era of democracy, after long years of civil war and social conflict, is the understanding of the nature and role of the tribalism as a political stance and its conduct in the course of history till now.
The Duranis built their kingdom based on the unification of various Pashtoon tribes as a form of greater ethnic group and started to establish an ethnic-state by suppressing other ethnicities and social groups in the middle of 18th century. To some extent, they succeeded but their success was more as a result of the disunity among other ethnicities and their lack of desire for political power to challenge the newly established ethnic administration. However, the different tribes within this ethnic kingdom started conspiring and breaking each other’s head, pulling out one other’s eyes, to grab a bit of the power. The legendary lifestyle of the kings, their lust for women and luxury, (as they sometimes held more than 100 women at their disposal), gave birth to many greedy “princes”. As soon as these princes grew up, their demand for power grew even bigger. Every “prince” asked the throne, not less than that. Hence, some of the tribal heads, who had long waited for such an opportunity, used one prince against the other to achieve some power and privilege. This ended with many civil wars and armed conflicts in which people from all tribes and ethnicity endured great losses. However, ordinary people, mostly peasants from all tribes and ethnicities had to bear the burden of war and battles continued by the selfish and avaricious princes.
The tribalism notion based on which Duranies established their administration was fading due to the prolonged war and flammable conflicts between the rival princes supported by emulous Pashtoon tribes. The tribes drag country to medieval decentralized tribe-states and demanded power for their own tribe or even families. On the other hand, two raising empires, the Russians and the British, have always been interested to have a presence in Afghanistan due to the geopolitical importance of the country. The two imperial powers were painstakingly, trying to keep the flames of such civil conflict as shimmering as possible.
Henceforth, the country entered in the nineteenth century; in an era in which new nation-states were emerging. These powerful nation-states basically came to existence in the aftermaths of American and French socio-political and Britain’s industrial revolutions. Inspired by these gigantic social and economic changes, the new nation-states based in Europe and America was strengthening their grip over world’s political and economic destiny.
Britain in the south of Afghanistan who had grabbed immense power over sub-continent and was emerging as an undefeatable empire, entered Afghanistan to occupy the country and threaten its historical rivals on the north. Ordinary people of Afghanistan mostly peasants and small tradesmen who were folded badly due to the high taxes, insecurity and fatal poverty; got to gather from all ethnic groups and tribes to form a resistance and claim the independence of their land. Hereafter, the difference of ethnicity and tribe meant little and everyone was ready to sacrifice for the cause of liberty and independence. After winning all the battles against the British by the blood and sweat of poor peasants – mostly from excluded ethnic groups; the new rulers who belonged to the Pashtoons ethnicity, (claiming to contain the majority of the population) re-established a new despotic and tribal administration. The new tribal-state was ready to suppress any voice of liberty, freedom and civil rights raised once again. The most successful of such a tribal absolutism was formed by Abdul Rahman Khan. He reunited the rival tribes and joined them under a united force of despotic and feudalist power to topple any resistance and citizen’s efforts for freedom. They joined hands with the aristocracy and landlords and suppressed meanly any voice from powerless ethnic groups and poor peasants. This situation was certainly in the favor of the British colonialists who gradually regained their dominion power over Kabul rulers.
After the third Anglo-Afghan war, as a new government was about to born under the leadership of an educated Pashtoon prince, King Amanullah Khan, there was a hope of freedom, open atmosphere and even democracy. Amanullah khan who achieved the throne with great support from the enlightened and intellectuals around him started his reforms to develop the country as per the 20th century demands. However, he never wanted to change the form of governance to provide equal opportunities for different ethnicities, tribes, classes and other social segments to have a choice of electing and questioning their rulers. Hence, soon he was plunged into the luxuriant lifestyle like his ancestors at the cost of the ever high taxes on peasants and landless citizens. Therefore, it was not long that his kingdom was toppled by a famous peasant and poor people uprising, substituting him with an ordinary soldier, Habibullah Khan, who know nothing of any political prejudices practiced by Amanullah Khan and his ancestors to suppress people in the name of ethnicity, tribe, race or religion.
Nadir Khan another tribalist power thirsty Pashtoon commander who belonged to the ruling family of Pashtoon dynasty. Being in India he attracted the attention of the British who didn’t like an independent Afghanistan at their northern borders. Nadir Khan convinced British to help him gain the power and he will serve the British interests afterwards. He managed to achieve the support of the Pashtoon tribes on both sides of the Afghan-India border (Durand line) and started his assault on Kabul. Habibullah Khan, the first non-pashtoon “Amir” since the formation of the “Afghan” state, was soon toppled and assassinated cowardly by Nadir Khan. The Pashtoon tribes, united under Nadir Khan went to fiercely attack non-Pashtoon resistance under the slogan of “Only Pashtoons can rule Afghanisnt”. Hence, Nadir Shah re-organized his tribal forces and re-established another strong tribe-state after Abdul Rahman Khan. This administration continued till the war against the soviet invasion led by Nadir Khan’s family. During the soviet invasion the new pro-soviet leaders who all belonged to Pashtoon tribes could not overcome their desire to keep the track of ethnic-tribal ruling course in spite of their progressive slogans of democracy, socialism and communism.
After the withdrawal of USSR and the establishment of Mujahedeen government, although there was no mention of democracy but there were tendency to change the ethnic and tribal face of the governance with emphasis on “Islamic Unity”. Nevertheless there existed fierce tribalist Mujahedeen groups such as Hezb-e- Islami under Gulbudin Hekmatiar and Hezb-e-Islami under Maulawi Khales who did not conceal their tribal and ethnic-centered intentions in their public speeches and publications. Hence, the civil war started and the Pashtoon Mujahed leaders repeating Nadir Shah’s slogan, attacked Kabul and showed zero tolerance to a non- Pashtoon Islamic state newly formed by Sebghatullah Mujadedi and continued by Burhanudin Rabani.
In mid 1990s a new tribal-fundamentalist and extremist force fabricated by Pakistan and US intelligence, entered in the civil war to demolish all fighting Mujahedeen groups and establish a pure Pashtoon Islamic state. They used all suppressing and propaganda tools against their non-Pashtoon rivals and even threatened them to evacuate Afghanistan because the land belongs to Pashtoons only. They captured Kabul and killed any sign of democracy, human and civil rights. But, after the attack of their International allies on New York on 11th December 2001 and the assassination of their only serious enemy commander Ahmad Shah Massoud; they had to face the anger revenge of the United States and its international companions. Hence, they were forced to leave the power and flee to their hiding caves throughout the “Durand” border line with little or no resistance.
After the Bonn Confrance and the establishment of a new government, the world was looking at a new emerging democratic state that had a new constitution and practicing free elections in Afghanistan. However, this democracy was very different from what Abraham Lincoln once described. Soon after, everyone realized that there was no “government of people on people”. There was a government in which “people” didn’t see themselves in it anymore. Even from the first presidential elections a custom of having a Pashtoon president with assistants from other ethnic groups was the dominant principle over any democratic norms of electing the head of the government. Once again the Tribal-state rose with modern connotations of new “tribalism” theorized by new “Afghan Melat” leaders. This revival of tribalism was not accidental; particular groups and political organizations such as “Afghan Melat” and “Hezb-e-Islami” being the loyal Pashtoon monarchists and tribal political actors, changed the track of political opinion of local power holders and their international supporters from a democracy based on social justice and civil rights to a tribal-state in which only “Pashtoons” have a right and obligation to rule…
The course of history as mentioned above, since the establishment of Afghanistan till today as we are in the eve of another presidential election; has shown us that, Afghanistan has been ruled by tribalism as a dominant political ideology of governance, practiced by ethnic-centered individuals and groups. The country has been a safe haven for non-democratic and tribal believes and conducts that obviously contradict with the basics of democracy and social justice. Hence, sooner or later, this tribalism will exchange the trembling democracy with autocracy and despotism. People of Afghanistan and democratic forces around the world need to take action and draw a clear line between tribalism and democracy so that Afghanistan’s path for establishing a democratic and socially just society becomes distinct and smooth.
Today marks the 144th birth day of Mohandes Karamchand Gandhi, a spiritual leader, philosopher and thinker of 20th century. He has been praised by the world as a non-violent democrat campaigner and head of state. I personally think that his personality, his philosophy and his political thinking has many learning points for our new leaders; particularly those who truly believe in democracy and people’s action for civil rights and justice. Young leaders and those who want to do some thing to change the situation in Afghanistan must learn about Gandhi and analyze his thinking, action and compare it with their own situation for further change based strategies and objectives.
Nevertheless, why is Gandhi important for us? How his thoughts are relevant to Afghanistan? These and many other questions rise when we discuss Gandhi, his principles and action. Here I want to move a head to see how Gandhi is linked with us, and how he is needed for a war ravaged and violence stroked country.
Afghanistan is a Multi-ethnic country. In two and a half century since the rule of tyrant tribal dynasties, as the territory is given the name of Afghanistan (land of Afghans or Pashtoons) there have been political and social oppression on other ethnic groups who had to live under this name and banner. They have been forced to accept their destiny under the rule of corrupt, inefficient and selfish princes as the “will of God”. Those who have challenged this political oppression have been brutally dismissed, killed and annihilated. However, these so-called “Pashtoon” rulers (as they proclaimed themselves to be called in the name of ethnicity) have been no good to their own tribesmen either. At the same time, all the foreign powers, imperialist forces and rivals of the nation, who had in interest in Afghanistan, helped this national segregation and ethnic cleansing be more robust and vibrant so that the nation be fragile and easy to conquer. The tribal rulers have been supported to hold political power and suppress other ethnicity. As generally believed and propagated that the Pashtoons maintain majority of the national population, which was a baseless perception as there has been no reliable evidence to support this conception.
Let us now analyze the situation of India in which Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi started his civil rights movement. India was a multi-cultural with most cultures based on religions. The Hindus were the largest group, with most of political and economic power in hand, followed by the Muslims, who constitute a large minority. Then came a much smaller number of Sikhs. Many other religious groups existed, but they were very small in numbers. As the British became established politically and economically, they started an insidious campaign to divide the Indian people along religious lines; especially by planting in Muslims fear of discrimination from Hindus. The British were quite successful in promoting disunity between the Hindus and Muslims, a legacy that to this day engenders hatred and bloodshed. The Sikhs were selected to be the native component of the British-controlled police force. The Sikhs were a large enough minority to provide enough police for British purposes, and yet a small enough group that Sikh police were patrolling and incarcerating primarily Hindus and Muslims. After a couple of hundred years of British encroachment on the cultures, inter-cultural fear and suspicion became the norm.
In late 19th and early 20th century as the British maintained supreme political influence in Afghanistan, during Abdul ur Rahman Khan and his son Habibullah khan’s governments, they had simply bought the Afghan “Amir”s even by providing the salaries of their civil servants; Ostensively they picked the notion of ethnic fragility from the scattered Afghan society. They encouraged Afghan “Amir”s to enforce their power by suppressing other ethnic groups. Hence, the political doctoring of the Afghan ruling class became much clearer, which was strictly based on ethnicity and race. If anyone should be in power in the country must be an “Afghan” which is interpreted by the tribal politicians, a “Pashtoon”. According to this “Afghanized” perception, any king, president and head of state must be Pashtoon. Tajiks (Farsi speakers Soni ethnicity) should be secretaries, assistants and supportive to the Pashtoon “Amir” or king. But Hazaras, Uzbiks, Pashaees, Nooristanies etc, should serve the government as low “caste” citizens.
Now let us see how Gandhi went forward with his India. Gandhi was born a Hindu. The Hindu society is stratified or “calcified” into classes referred to as castes. The caste into which one is born determines the jobs one may have, the education one may pursue, the privileges one is allowed, the places one may gather water, the people with whom one may eat, etc. The highest caste is the Brahmans; the lowest, the untouchables. Outside of these are the outcastes. The outcastes are those who violated the rules of their caste to the extent that the authorities within the caste cast them out. Thereafter, they are to be kept away by others in the caste. No one may help them, they are not allowed to work within the caste, etc. Gandhi was a member of the Bania caste, which participated in business and government in his home state. Even from the early days of his education in Britain, Gandhi proclaimed his rejection to such unjust social system. He never accepted any of this socio-economic and political class segregation and proclaimed his war and struggle for a just and unified society.
However, in Afghanistan since the early days of its establishment in 1747, ethnicity has been a base for social, political and economic opportunity, advantage and privilege. This situation was tenser in the aftermaths of the wars for independence and liberation, as during the war against a foreign invader, people who made sacrifices, did not care about ethnicity, language or race. Thence, the most important elements were homeland and religion.
Nevertheless, throughout its history, Afghanistan has been betrayed by the unfaithful, mischievous and demagogic politicians who divided the nation in the name of ethnicity, language, race etc. They have caused the segregation of the nation and put them in all sort of social and political mistrust and plights. But India has been lucky, because Gandhi took the leadership of Indian independence as a reliable, honest and clever nationalist leader. Gandhi adhered to four fundamental principles familiar to all. Three are truth, non-violence, and self-suffering. The fourth is concerned with means and ends. All campaigns conducted under his guidance were consistent with these principles. However, occasional errors arose due to the experimental nature of the technique and limitations in campaigners’ previous experience.
The first and important principle of Gandhi was “truth”. In today’s Afghanistan even those who are literate and intellectual, believe that politics is based on “lie”. “A liar is a good politician… a dishonest person is a clever campaigner… a thief is a good economist, etc… But Gandhi is the man who stands on the face of lie with his “truth” as a political principle. Gandhi said that he was seeking after truth. He was seeking after it, through socio-political action, just as others might seek after it through a mystical or spiritual path, the study of mathematics, or the creation of art. It seems that the goals of most his contemporaries were much more immediate and concrete.
By his believe on truth and his true policies, he gained remarkable achievements such as: to increase cost-of-living for workers, the right for untouchables to walk past a temple used by Brahmans, the replacement of British rule with home rule, etc. Some of the intermediate goals included things that even the most uneducated, illiterate, and impoverished could grasp immediately, like: (1) Having all Indians weave their own cloth rather than buy British cloth (most Indians made their own clothing) and (2) Repealing a salt taxation and regulation scheme that drove the cost of salt so high that the poor could not afford it. Salt is an essential dietary element in India’s climate and can be collected from India’s ocean beaches or retrieved from inland deposits by anyone after a bit of instruction. The salt laws brought the British significant revenues. However, in recent years, the Afghan new “leaders” introduced the “market economy”. With economic policies based on their “market economy” they killed almost all of national and local productions and have told all of their economic lies and treason in the name of “market economy”.
What is the principle of “truth about? In our country, every politician believes that all truth and reality belongs to him or her. He or she is absolutely true and the rivals and opponents are absolutely wrong. However, Gandhi believed that “no human or group of humans could know the complete truth. No matter how close one thinks one might be to the truth, one could be in error either wholly or in some lesser way that is not immediately apparent. Because of this, he maintained that no one could use violence toward others to press his or her view of the truth forward.” Henceforth, in only recent 35 years of our history, thousands, hundred thousands or even millions of people were simply killed for such absolutism. The power holder has always been “right” and “true” but the others have been “wrong” or “lie”, hence they must have been dead!
On the same trend, next comes the principle of non-violence. We have been the victim of violence all over the history. What exactly Gandhi says about this principle? Gandhi’s principle of non-violence, “however excluded all acts of violence, and his definition of violence was broad. As one might expect, physical violence could not be used against an opponent. He also maintained that there should be no violence in one’s expression and words. The non-violence principle required that an opponent be treated with utmost respect. Smear campaigns aimed at defamation of character were not in his political action toolbox, just as murder of lawmakers, judges, bureaucrats, and police were not in his toolbox. Gandhi’s non-violence is a full antonym for violence. Not only does non-violence refrain from destructive acts, it is aggressively and provocatively constructive. Thus, Gandhi’s campaigns did not seek to defeat an opponent, but instead to convert the opponent to a more just position and to challenge the opponent to act upon the new position. In addition, Gandhi held that there must be an opportunity for an opponent to save face, so long as no fundamental principle or aim of the action was thereby compromised.”
However, by pressing on the principle of non-violence, there comes a question of how to respond to the violent forces who understand no other language but violence? Like the Taliban in Afghanistan or the bigger terrorist groups and governments around the world. Here we may insist on the political principle of self-defense as a challenge to the concept of non-violance used by Gandhi. But Gandhi’s believe on non-violence is not an absolute one, as later under the principle of “self- sacrifices” he explains the limits of all these principles by insisting that one should never submit to the vicious and tyrant forces using the principle of non-violence as a pretext. Though non-violence principle is the strongest political weapon in any civil rights struggle, under civilized circumstances but like any political option the absolutism and non-pragmatic usage of any principle is more than a disaster, as Gandhi himself also believed and acted so.
What is more interesting in Gandhi’s thoughts is the principle of “Sel-suffering”. “Self-suffering is an integral element of Gandhi’s technique and a necessary consequence to provocative non-violent action. Self-suffering can take the form of material and social sacrifice. For example, loss of employment, property, or income as a result of holding to one’s view of the truth is a form of self-suffering. Self-suffering reaches its personal extremes in incarceration, physical injury, and the sacrifice of one’s life. Gandhi wrote: “Suffering injury in one’s own person is . . . of the essence of non-violence and is the chosen substitute for violence to others.” (M.K. Gandhi, “Non-violence in Peace and War,” 2nd edition, Ahmedabad: Navajivan, 1944, p. 49). He also wrote, “Non-violence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering. It does not mean meek submission to the will of the evil-doer, but it means the pitting of one’s whole soul against the will of the tyrant.” (M.K. Gandhi, in “Young India,” August 11, 1920 ). Self-suffering is preferred over submitting to humiliation and provides a way to preserve one’s personal dignity in the face of those who would treat one unjustly.”
Throughout his writings and campaigns, Gandhi emphasized that inviting self-suffering is something that must not be done lightly. One who invites self-suffering must be prepared for the fullest possible sacrifice that may result from one’s actions. However, focusing on our situation; no single politician in today’s Afghanistan can really believe and accept such a principle. This is the main cause for lots of political miseries. Everyone is selfish and act as per their personal agendas. They are ready to sacrifice millions of people for their personal benefits, but not ready to give up even a single hair from their heads for a tiny public interest.
In our political culture it is believed that the “end” is some thing which matters only, no problem what “mean” we chose to reach our “ends”. Even if we chose to betray our comrades, use theft, lie, unmoral deeds etc but we have to achieve the perceived objectives. However, Gandhi believed that “means” do not serve “ends”, rather means create ends. Thus, to attain an end that is positive and truthful, one must use means that are positive and truthful. This philosophy can be summarized by his statement, “the means are the ends in the making.” Means that create ends have two interesting implications. First, one cannot define a just, non-violent end and then use unjust and violent means to attain it, for the end will be in character with the means used. This view precludes taking actions under the philosophy summarized in the statement “the ends justify the means”, a philosophy that seems to permeate all vicious emperors of the past and present. Similarly, while one must always be moving toward a goal of pure truth and justice, the end cannot be defined precisely in advance. Each action one takes creates the next action and that one, the next, each action always in keeping with the last and moving progressively closer to truth and justice. Through actively engaging with fellow activists and the opponent, one grows in understanding of what must be done, a step at a time, to create the most just and truthful end.
This was how Gandhi started and went forward with his struggle for the liberation, unification and construction of a democratic and pluralistic nation. He always focused on the four mentioned principles, although there have been challenges and difficult times that Gandhi needed to choose specific measures that can be debatable for not matching the mentioned principles; But he was committed to his spiritual and political philosophy that he materialized them into his actions. He staunchly believed and acted as a true leader, non-violent and self-sacrificer as he shed his own blood for his political thoughts. Hence, in our country which is scattered, betrayed and ruined by unfaithful politicians and their disciples; the political philosophy of Gandhi, his deeds, his character and his believes must be remembered, analyzed and learned from.
2nd October, 2013
 A Summary of M.K. Gandhi’s Technique for Political Action, By Mary Sibley, February 1995, http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Activist/GHANDI1.HTM
2.3 Aid distribution for various development sectors
2.4 Agriculture prioritization
2.5 Agriculture financing as per the ANDS
2.6 Agriculture in National Budget 1390
3. Accountability gaps in response to agriculture challenges
3.1 Humanitarian responses
3.2 Eradicating opium or the major constraint to licit economy
Agriculture means a lot for economic growth and food security in Afghanistan. Currently, about 85% of the country’s population lives in rural areas mainly surviving by agriculture and animal husbandry. Agriculture accounts for up to half of GDP, but its contributions vary considerably with the weather.
Managing land for agriculture purposes has been a critical issue in Afghanistan as only 8 million hectares of land has been arable. Of this around 5.3 million hectare land was irrigable. However, due to scarcity of water and unpredictability over the snowfall, only around half of this irrigable land was actually irrigated. Meanwhile, the land reform process has not succeeded throught the recent history to help the poor farmer access to land for agriculture. While, on the other hand land grabbing has been a big hurdle in this process as per the official claims about 4 million hectors of land has been seized by ‘powerful’ people backed by the corrupt governance and lack of proper land management procedures.
The thirty years of war caused precise downturn on agriculture productivity. Although the sector has not been much productive even before the thirty years of war, it has not been much better in recent 10 years also, as it is highly dependent on the weather and high proportion of land has been rain fed. Current year which is marked less productivity due to drastic drought, overall cereal production is estimated to be 25% below the last year’s level and 17% below the average volume of 5.2 million MT(2005 to 2009). Cereal production in 2011 is forecast to reach 4.3 million MT, which includes 3.3 million MT of wheat (77%) and barley 305,000 MT (7%).
Lack of proper planning and risk mitigation measures for agriculture sector caused a food insecurity crisis in the current year. In the current year there will be secrecy of cereals due to crop failures; and as per the MAIL compared with 2010, decreases in wheat area and yield are estimated at 14% and 17%. As a result of these decreases, domestic production of wheat in 2011 is expected to be 28% lower than in 2010. In 2011, the area planted with rainfed wheat is 26% lesser than last year and its production is expected to decrease by 77%.
There is a dramatic downturn of agriculture production in recent ten years due to lack of proper programming and adequate support as everything is left upon the weather. As can be observed there is a cereal production decrease every other year but no large irrigation scheme for increasing the agriculture productivity and resilience against drought has been in place yet. Total cereal requirement in MY 2011/12 is estimated at 6.3 million MT, which means that cereal shortfall in MY 2011/12 is going to be about 2 million MT. Despite having good harvest the horticulture production also has not been able to support poor farmers income and help them copping with food insecurity due to crop failure as there have been no good marketing processes and weak exporting facilities.
Another wing of agriculture sector is Animal husbandry. In last ten years animal husbandry and livestock production have been dependent on natural grazing land with little investment in Afghanistan. However, less rain has affected the animal husbandry in the country; as per MAIL’ Net far-reaching effect of these developments will be a serious lack of fodder and supplementary feeding (hay and straw) in this year’s winter. Immediate measures are needed to mitigate this serious problem.
After 10 years of direct intervention of the international community still realization of the fact that how critical Afghanistan’s agricultural sector for development of this country, has been debatable. Food security and distribution is also a major problem and both are sources of vulnerability for the Afghanistan. A Food Security Risk Index of 196 countries released on 31 August by Maplecroft, rates Afghanistan number nine. Both agriculture and food distribution are caught up in the problems raised by Afghan dependence on opium cultivation, extortion and corruption in aid and transport operations at every level, and manipulation by national and local power brokers.
There are different issues apart from the resources and capacity leave the knowledge and understanding on agriculture development vulnerable and one of the stronger one is insecurity.
On-budget and off-budget efforts of donor community and GIRoA have not been able to solve the major problems of agriculture development and food security in Afghanistan after 10 years of intervention. This has been even tense with the situation of farmers as many Afghan farmers do not have enough land on a per capita basis to feed their families – much less earn a living. As agricultural development projects and programs reach part of the population in different provinces, most of them do not have the desired result. The issues are that Aid may benefit some section of the rich farmers at the expense of most vulnerable and poor land less farmers, land laborers and women farmers.
To target the food shortages at the country level while big shocks happen during the heavy droughts or flood etc, than the donors will come forward to provide with food aid to affected population. In current year as per the MAIL, Around 200,000 families have been hit by drought nationwide, andMAIL plans to distribute 50,000 tonnes of cereal to drought-affected people. While this shortage of food happen due to every other year’s drought the GoIRA and donors community have done little to prevent and fight this disaster. This also means that the adequacy of this program is even more critical in the near term than improving agriculture, and should be a key aspect of planning the hold and build aspects of the new strategy.
Agriculture support aid has not been able to address the major structural problems in improving Afghan agriculture raised by water, weather, terrain, distribution, etc. It also uses population data based on an unclear source, and does not address either the growing urbanization of the Afghan population or the impact of Afghan demographics.
On macro economic sphere, strong growth will be required to increase per capita incomes and to provide the necessary investment to provide the employment and income necessary to reduce poverty further. Poverty remains a persistent problem in Afghanistan. The average per capita monthly consumption for this group is only 950 Afs (or US$ 19.60). As Afghanistan’s economy is heavily dependent on donor’s contribution a number of donor countries have so far failed to implement projects they had promised at the Kabul International Conference – the recent international conference on Afghanistan and due the recent issues with a private bank; the Kabul Bank these contributions are lacking. the international community has halted part of its financial aids to Afghanistan following disagreements between the government of Afghanistan and the [IMF] over financial crisis in the private Kabul Bank Whatever the reason might be it is having its most negative impacts on economic development of the country.
There are serious concerns over a delay in the implementation of those contributions, adding that donor countries have so far failed to provide funding for them. Moreover, donors have failed short to meet their commitments generally as there is about 12 billion USD gap between their commitments and disbursements in last ten years.While, donor countries had vowed at the International Kabul Conference to fund some important and costly projects but the recent disagreements between the government of Afghanistan and the IMF over financial crisis in the private Kabul Bank has negatively affected those projects and plans. The international community promised at the Kabul International Conference to allocate 80 per cent of their financial aids to those projects which have national priority; at the same time, some of donor countries also committed to spend 50 per cent of their financial aids via the government’s budget, but the data shows that of $57 billion funding aid to Afghanistan, 18 percent has been spent through Afghanistan’s national budget and the rest 82 percent has been spent directly by them.
Our analysis from last ten year budgets show that the donor community has not been able to fulfill their pledges and commitments despite the fact that they know, Afghanistan’s development funding is highly dependent on their contributions. In SY 1390 ARTF statistics show that there is a big difference between donors contributions/Pledges and actual payments. The total contributions/Pledges are 811 million USD, but the total ‘paid – in’ is only 56.54 million USD with a more than 755 million USD gap. While on the other hand out of 32 donors who pledged to contribute for 1390 ARTF, only 4 of them have paid in with an amount of about 56 million USD out of 111.44 million USD and there is a gap of more than 50% or 55 million USD for SY 1390. in 1390 donors have met only 7% of their pledges to ARTF and this means that almost till the midyear 1390 there is a gap of 86% between pledges and payments. Hence, will they be able to fulfill this gap by the end of the year? Is a question to be responded by the donors.
Aid has had a full concentration on security in recent ten years rather than on development and this imbalance approach caused instability and deteriorated security situation in Afghanistan. Based on MoF statements of all aid, 51% has been spent on security and the rest 41% has been spent on road construction, agriculture, solidarity programmes, power supply, reconstruction of airports and some other sectors. However, despite intensive concentration on security sector through aid money, still the Afghan government lacks a strong and defensive security system to ensure peace and stability of the country.
Agriculture’s place within the national policy frameworks such as ANDS have been changing quite rapidly and within the ARD clustered framework (one of ANDS clusters) have gained the second priority which is a positive move but this is not a more convenient share for ARD due to its importance in sustainable economic development and poverty eradication.
Natural disasters such as drought and flood and illicit poppy cultivation appear as major challenges for agriculture development in the country; but the mechanisms of dealing with these challenges have been under question. Drought and other natural disasters such as flood and pest caused major food insecurity in the country due to the crops failure every year. However as this problem exist since the start of international involvement in recent ten years and Billions of dollars have been sunk into different agricultural programs, durable long-term solutions for natural disaster management such as tackling issues of drought have been a major concern for people.
In 2011 there has been a gap of 137 million USD between humanitarian communities’ projection to fight the drought and actual reimbursements of the donors. Meanwhile, there is a huge gap between funding and actual requirements. As far as agriculture is concerned the gap is about 20% with about 102 million USD for the current year, which may cause many shortages to meet the food requirements and fighting the drought and other agricultural disasters.
National policy documents do not have proper focus on agriculture priority programs such as drought resisting initiatives. As 1390 national budget document do not show any specific drought prone projection. Programs and projects to focus on specific drought management and support poor and women farmers from the direct impact of this natural disaster.
In last ten years, GoIRA and the international community have claimed their highest commitment in opium eradication. But despite having its damaging impact on licit agriculture productivity, this phenomenon is drastically causing agriculture backwardness and promoting poverty in Afghanistan and all intentions and claims for fighting it has had very little impact. Beside the alternative livelihood measures, agriculture and its licit production can provide a special alternative during the poppy eradication processes instead of rapid and unrealistic policies. Agriculture can provide the growth and poverty reduction alternatives needed to develop Afghanistan’s licit economy to get rid of the poppy economy. This is especially important to facilitate a durable shift out of opium poppy cultivation and production.
Major challenges of the agriculture sector:
There is little land for agriculture use, mountainous terrain of Afghanistan means that vast tracts of land cannot be irrigated or cultivated.
Land reform for agricultural support programs have been failing due to corrupt procedures and lack of control.
Thirty two years of war has meant that the agriculture sector has been neglected completely changing from a major source of exports to subsistence level production
There is lack of prioritization for agriculture infrastructure including the irrigation and canals for securing harvest and crops.
The conflict has prevented the growth and development of indigenous techniques while traditional knowledge has been lost and new technology and knowledge is also rare.
Shrinking acreage, silted irrigation channels, lack of inputs and stagnation in techniques has reduced agricultural productivity.
Current efforts in this sector are scattered, uncoordinated and have a piecemeal rather than sectoral approach based on a broader vision.
The big investment required to push Afghanistan’s agriculture out of the cycle of stagnation has not been forthcoming, and centralized administration has caused lack of proper planning and implementation at different levels of the country.
The resources and inputs required for farming have not been made available leaving farmers to rely on exploitative practices in the private sector, While the scant attention paid to agriculture has focused on productivity, there has been little or no focus on post -product ion processes.
No strong alternatives have been planned and implement to reduce the poppy cultivation and release country from illicit poppy cultivation and cropping.
Agriculture programming and funding should have more accuracy with actual requirements of poor farmers and women with long-term scope and consistency in coordination with different actors.
Donors’ commitments to fund MAIL’s priority programs should reached timely to the sector to tackle major food insecurity constraints caused every other year due to drought or every year’s flood. Those projects that have been prioritized and not funded should be focused and funded soon.
In coordination with the MAIL and technical support of NGOs new drought and flood prone programs should be planned and projected to reduce the devastating risk of such natural disasters.
Civil society in Afghanistan should be given more opportunities to help the GoIRA and the donor community to reach exactly to the people in need. They can implement the policies in the remotest communities only if they are consulted and brought forward from the design to implementation process.
Exact expectations of the poor farmers and women farmers should be ensured into agriculture policies to maintain their full participation in the process of policy making and implementation.
The humanitarian community and donors should support the government programs and projects to resist drought and flood during the annual planning and procedure.
Government’s role in leading the development programs for the sector as per the ANDS should be supported in promoting indigenous knowledge and practices as to be aligned with the modern techniques and equipments.
Government should play a role in coordination and they should be supported by donor agencies and other actors in the processes of need assessment, budgeting, resource transfer and implementation.
The government should evolve ways for better tax proceeds to run its own expenses and use the donor money only for the development of the sector.
The provision of alternatives and action against high profile people involved in the trade and trafficking is needed and to discourage poppy cultivation diversified farming options based on agriculture probabilities should be expanded.
There should be proper regulations on the influx of fake medicines for animal husbandry sector. These are areas where government can play a major role in bringing changes in livestock development.
Beside the proper taxation the government needs to focus on economic infrastructural development including the agriculture and animal husbandry as all other sectors are highly dependent on them.
1. AGRICULTURE AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
1.1. Land and cultivation:
Agriculture and allied activities in Afghanistan is the mainstay of the Afghan economy. Currently, about 85% of the country’s population lives in rural areas in scattered hamlets and villages. Agriculture accounts for up to half of GDP, but its contributions vary considerably with the weather. However, only a very small share of Afghanistan’s land (about 15% of around 65 million hectares total land in the country) is arable and only about 6% of the land is actually cultivated.
Afghanistan’s surface area is about 65 million hectares, of which, only 8 million hectares has been arable. Of this around 5.3 million hectare land was irrigable. However, due to scarcity of water and unpredictability over the snowfall, only around half of this irrigable land was actually irrigated. Still, the statistics show that before 1978 the irrigated land area provided Afghanistan with 85% of all food and industrial crops produced. Another 1.4 million hectares of cultivated rain- fed land supplemented the irrigated areas. In the year 1993, around 12% of all land in Afghanistan was used for agricultural purposes (5% irrigated and 7% rain- fed) At least 60% of this arable land is rainfed. In 1987 about 26,600 sq km (or around 2.5 million hectares) of farmland was irrigated. (See Figure-1.)
 Afghanistan economic incentives and development initiatives to reduce opium production, Christopher Ward, David Mansfield, Peter Oldham and William Byrd, DFID and World Bank, 2008
 Food for Thought, Analysis of Agriculture financing in Afghanistan, ActionAid, 2009
Land reform initiatives have been tried many times in Afghanistan’s recent history and there have been a number of reform programs since early 1970s although their success is, by and large, debatable. Both the Daoud and the PDPA governments prior to the Taliban regime sought to redistribute significant quantities of land to poorer rural families. Farmer’s collectives and agrarian reforms including the establishment of large-scale, state-owned mechanized farms initiated by The PDPA government mostly did not succeed as they were not backed by farmers due to large interference of Soviet advisors in preparing superficial policies for the PDPA to radicalize and accelerate the reform policy and procedures. However there were positive sides of the reforms also as farmers who were members of agricultural cooperatives were to have easier access to improved seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and equipment as well as better marketing facilities. These cooperatives had an equal role for women and men. This was probably a successful experiment as by 1981 there were 1,211 cooperatives with 191,000 members. The PDPA government also set up agricultural mechanized stations in Kabul, Balkh, Jawzjan, Baghlan, and Herat provinces. These stations were to rent Soviet -made equipment to neighboring farmers. There were also numerous mechanized farms (used both as demonstration farm and production units) scattered throughout the country to produce cereals, cotton, sugar beets, and high-yielding seeds. However, many observers state that the years of war and terror depopulated the rural Afghanistan and the rural economy suffered a lot after PDPA came to power.
Land entitlement and usage for different purposes including agriculture have been an issue of concern for farmers particularly women farmers in the recent years. According to a recent AREU study, ‘in Afghanistan, few if any farmers hold an official title to the land they occupy. Nearly all transactions and adjudications are undertaken within the customary system, which appears to function quite effectively within communities, especially with respect to private land holdings. Under this system, farmers access land under diverse forms of tenure with different associated terms and levels of risk.’Obviously poor and women’s entitlement rights are under severe concern. At the same time, the formal registration processes and widespread corruption makes the land entitlement and usage to farmers and especially women very difficult and opens a window for bribe, embezzlement and land grabbing. As recently announced by MAIL, currently the ‘powerful’ people have captured over 4 million hectares of land forcibly and government’s high-ranking officials are mostly behind these illegal capturing of lands.
1.2 Agriculture production over the time:
Agricultural production which grew at 2.2% per annum between 1961 -78, declined to a growth rate of 0.2% during the years of conflict. Although in recent years (after 2001) there has been some growth in agricultural production, the present agricultural situation in Afghanistan is marred by massive poverty among the rural population. Between 1999 and 2005, agricultural output grew by around 6% in Afghanistan compared to the average world growth rate of more than 15%. The growth of the opium economy, poor utilization of irrigation potential and bad management of other natural resources, weak institutional structure resulting in inadequate facilitation of input -price-credit support, and weak marketing structure for the agricultural output are the major problems of agricultural development in Afghanistan.
The average annual production of cereals around the world increased by around 32%, whereas in Afghanistan it declined by 20% between 1979 and 2000. In the same period, the average crop yield (measured in Kilograms per Hectare) increased by around 41% around the world whereas, in Afghanistan, it declined by 4%. The average yield of cereals per hectare in Afghanistan during 1999-2001 stood at around 1285 Kilograms compared to the world average of 3096 Kilograms.
By 1977, agricultural products accounted for 75% of the total export basket of Afghanistan. By the 1980s output was rising faster than the size of the agricultural labor force, indicating improved productivity, although it was still very low. Many of the raw materials that were essential for an expansion of the industrial sector were also coming from agriculture. However, given the Afghan context, production of some crops for the purpose of industrial use ( like Cot ton, Sugar cane etc.) has also been problematic as these crops often require a considerable amount of chemical fertilizers as well as pesticides and they are also highly water consuming compared to other crops being cultivated in Afghanistan.
Agriculture production has not been much better in recent 10 years as it is highly dependent on the weather high proportion of land has been rain fed. Current year which is marked less productivity due to drastic drought, overall cereal production is estimated to be 25% below the last year’s level and 17% below the average volume of 5.2 million MT(2005 to 2009). Cereal production in 2011 is forecast to reach 4.3 million MT, which includes 3.3 million MT of wheat (77%) and barley 305,000 MT (7%). Paddy and maize will be cultivated later in the year. Milled rice and maize production forecasts for 2011 are 450,000 MT and 301,000 MT. (Table 1)
In the current year there will be secrecy of cereals due to crop failures; and as per the MAIL compared with 2010, decreases in wheat area and yield are estimated at 14% and 17%. As a result of these decreases, domestic production of wheat in 2011 is expected to be 28% lower than in 2010. (See Table 2)
As crop productivity is dependent on the level of rain fall, yield prospects of cereals planted in rainfed areas are highly unsatisfactory this year everywhere including the main growing areas (North, North-East and West). For example, the area planted with rainfed wheat is 26% lesser than last year and its production is expected to decrease by 77%. Irrigated yield that could fill up some of these gaps as ‘the area planted with irrigated wheat in 2011 is almost equal to the area planted in 2010’ is very limited to play its role. However, overall yield of wheat in irrigated areas was also slightly affected by lesser snow cover and lesser water flow in rivers.
There is a dramatic downturn of agriculture production in recent ten years due to lack of proper programming and adequate support as everything is left upon the weather. In 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 cereal production dipped considerably down due to drought, whilst 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010 were years with very good cereal harvest mainly due to favorable weather conditions. This year’s (2011) cereal production is broadly comparable with the production volumes of 2006 and 2008. As can be observed there is a cereal production decrease every other year but no large irrigation scheme for increasing the agriculture productivity and resilience against drought has not been in place yet.
Since last year the shortage of cereals was expected due to the drought, but little have been done to mitigate this risk of food insecurity while 78% of the crops are for human consumption only. Total cereal requirement in MY 2011/12 is estimated at 6.3 million MT, which means that cereal shortfall in MY 2011/12 is going to be about 2 million MT. The shortfall includes 1.9 million MT of wheat and 66,000 MT of milled rice. The share of the total cereal requirements are human consumption (78%), seed (6%), feed (6%) and loss (10%). The deficit in MY 2011/12 will have to be met through four main potential sources: Commercial import, cereal stock held by the Government, imported food aid, and uncovered deficit.
Horticultural productions as major marketing supplier in filling the gap of income generation and major contributor to food security of poor farmers have not been able to find its reasonable place in commercial markets. Horticulture as a sub-sector has been highly profitable expansion of farm income in Agriculture sector in Afghanistan. In 2011 overall production of fruits and vegetables at the national level is expected to be higher in recent years. The areas planted with fruits and vegetables are estimated at 119,000 HA and 128,000 HA in 2011. Almond production is estimated to be 10-15% more than that of last year. Some grape vines have been affected due to storm. Despite all that, the horticulture production has not been able to support poor farmers income and help them copping with food insecurity due to crop failure as there have been no good marketing processes and weak exporting facilities.
1.3 Animal husbandry:
In agriculture sector the other important part beside irrigation is livestock and Animal husbandry. This is a very common practice in Afghanistan for income, food, or fuel. Animal products, including meat, milk, skins, hides, and wool, contributed 7% of GDP and about 15% of exports in 1976. Except during crises like droughts, all the milk consumed in Afghanistan before war was produced domestically. In the post 1991 period, a steep rise in prices of all kinds of fresh milk was observed. This might be due to the increased dependence on meat products and a preference for breeding animals for meat rather than milk. The animal husbandry economy was utilizing more than 40 million hectares of barren and uncultivable areas for foraging and browsing by the shepherds and other animals. In areas with irrigated farming, 3.6 million cattle were maintained. Poultry production was mainly backyard scavenging. The famous and highly valued karakul sheep was also bred in Afghanistan. It is difficult to enumerate the impact of war and fighting on the livestock sector. However, the official estimates claimed an increase in the numbers of sheep, cattle, and goats during the 1980s. The numbers of animal hides and skins
In last ten years animal husbandry and livestock production have been dependent on natural grazing land with little investment in Afghanistan. As per the MAIL reports, livestock production system, which largely depends on grazing, have had profound and disproportionate impact in recent years. Firstly, rich pasture will be rarely available and competition for rangeland use will be intense. Secondly, wheat straw and chaff, which are the main sources of winter feed, will be significantly lesser than last year due to very low level of wheat production. However, less rain has affected the animal husbandry in the country; as per MAIL’ Net far-reaching effect of these developments will be a serious lack of fodder and supplementary feeding (hay and straw) in this year’s winter. Immediate measures are needed to mitigate this serious problem’.
To recover and maintain the livestock MAIL has been able to provide some medical treatment for livestock, but as more livestock rose in villages and due to remoteness there is very little care for rural animal husbandry. The number of livestock that benefited from treatment and preventive measures taken by MAIL is shown in table 3.
1.4 Food security through Agriculture development:
After 10 years of direct intervention of the international community still realization of the fact that how critical Afghanistan’s agricultural sector for development of this country, has been debatable. Food security and distribution is also a major problem and both are sources of vulnerability for the Afghanistan given its 30 year history of violence and given the scale of Taliban and insurgent operations. A Food Security Risk Index of 196 countries released on 31 August by Maplecroft, rates Afghanistan number nine. As the security deteriorates the drought is also another massive hindering factor in food security especially for poor people living in remote villages. According to Oxfam, nearly three million people are facing severe food shortages as a result of drought in 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Eighty percent of the non-irrigated wheat crop, which people rely on for food and income, has been lost. Moreover, both agriculture and food distribution are caught up in the problems raised by Afghan dependence on opium cultivation, extortion and corruption in aid and transport operations at every level, and manipulation by national and local power brokers.
Providing exact data and statistics annually to measure agriculture requirements and needs for proper budgeting and expenditure has been one of the major challenges as there are no reliable statistics virtually any aspect of Afghan agriculture, there does seem to be broad consensus about the scale of the problem. However, civil society organizations have been pioneer in surveys and studies in understanding the real situation of food shortage and issue with agriculture development, as in July, Oxfam conducted a rapid assessment in the provinces of Badakhshan, Daykundi and Kandahar, to understand issues with drought and food shortage. A separate rapid assessment in early July by World Vision in the northwestern provinces of Badghis and Ghor found that lack of rain had seriously undermined the livelihoods of farmers and pastoralists, triggered stress and resulted in negative coping mechanisms like selling available food.
A past DoD report on Afghanistan provided the unintentionally humorous statistic that some 60% of Afghans have enough food some of the time. A form of “spin” that ignored the obvious corollary that 40% of Afghans do not have enough food all of the time, and there was no way to know what part of the 60% had enough food often enough to matter.
Different issues apart from the resources and capacity leave the knowledge and understanding on agriculture development vulnerable and one of the stronger one is insecurity. It says the country faces extreme food insecurity and that a major driver of this is conflict and displacement.
Aid workers in Kabul say insecurity has also hindered access to those in need in various provinces of Afghanistan, killed farmers and livestock owners, and disrupted communities that used to be agriculturally productive.
1.5 Food Aid:
On-budget and off-budget efforts of donor community and GIRoA have not been able to solve the major problems of agriculture development and food security in Afghanistan after 10 years of intervention. This has been even tense with the situation of farmers as many Afghan farmers do not have enough land on a per capita basis to feed their families – much less earn a living. Aid that benefits individual farmers may or may not have enough scale of effect to really improve this situation. Besides the massive corrupt trends with Aid money reaching to core beneficiaries, lack of coordination between donors and GIRoA caused ignorance for strong support to agriculture development sector; for example as GIRoA annually budgets for specific
infrastructure projects but USAID focuses on providing credit and loans for farmers without focusing on annual priorities of MAIL and development budgets and this will have little or no impact on poverty relief and food security in Afghanistan.
As agricultural development projects and programs reach part of the population in different provinces, most of them do not have the desired result. The issues are that Aid may benefit some section of the rich farmers at the expense of most vulnerable and poor land less farmers, land laborers and women farmers.  Instead, big chucks of the money are spent on satisfying the power brokers or insurgent extortion, and pressure from narcotics traffickers and insurgents may limit or cripple the impact of development programs, while Aid have been following the war not vice versa.
To target the food shortages at the country level while big shocks happen during the heavy droughts or flood etc, than the donors will come forward to provide with food aid to affected population. In current year as per the MAIL, Around 200,000 families have been hit by drought nationwide, andMAIL plans to distribute 50,000 tonnes of cereal to drought-affected people. In 2010 the WFP reported that it distributed food to some 9 million Afghans. While this shortage of food happen due to every other year’s drought the GoIRA and donors community have done little to prevent and fight this disaster. This also means that the adequacy of this program is even more critical in the near term than improving agriculture, and should be a key aspect of planning the hold and build aspects of the new strategy. The problem is that WFP reporting — like most aid reporting — does not address corruption, extortion, distribution problems, or any other measure of the effect of its efforts other than a gross number of the Afghans who are supposed to benefit from its programs.
While addressing the food needs of the nation, donor community and US largely ignore the full implications of the food aid efforts of Aid organizations such as WFP and GoIRA, and the interactions between agriculture and food supply. Instead they spend far more time looking at the impact of opium and narcotics trafficking without supporting quality agriculture programs to foster food production as a sustainable hindering factor for opium cultivation, through the GoIRA and humanitarian community’s efforts. In aid for agriculture components and reporting the realities of the war, the scale of insurgent influence and control, and the practical problems in implementing aid and addressing poverty in a war zone largely ignores. Hence the impacts of food aid programs or any aspect of the agricultural program forgets to focus on such surrounding matters that can have heavy impact on success and failure of these programs. Agriculture support aid has not been able to address the major structural problems in improving Afghan agriculture raised by water, weather, terrain, distribution, etc. flagged by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It also uses population data based on an unclear source, and does not address either the growing urbanization of the Afghan population or the impact of Afghan demographics. There are limits to how many of these problems must be solved in order to win the war. Afghan expectations are low. Roads, water, education, electricity, basic security, checks on small-scale corruption and elementary forms of prompt justice consistently emerge as the most immediate concerns in both polls and studies of local perceptions. It is also true that none of the numbers quoted by aid organizations are reliable – nor are any other data on the Afghan population and economy. Nevertheless, unclassified reporting implies that there is a massive gap in the focus of the new strategy when it comes to agriculture and food security – one that is not coherently addressed, or really addressed at all, in any current policy statement or report by ISAF, the US government, or the UN.
1. Budgets and financial analysis
Afghanistan’s economic stability has been changing rapidly in the recent years; according to MoF between 1384 and 1388, Afghanistan experienced average annual real economic growth of 11.4%. In this time, per capita income doubled from around US$ 250 per year to US$ 500 per year. Strong growth will be required to increase per capita incomes and to provide the necessary investment to provide the employment and income necessary to reduce poverty further. Poverty remains a persistent problem in Afghanistan. A recent poverty analysis for 2007/08 showed that 36 percent of the population (around 9 million people) is unable to meet their basic needs. The average per capita monthly consumption for this group is only 950 Afs (or US$ 19.60).
Figures show that in 1390 macroeconomic conditions are expected to remain relatively stable. Real GDP growth is expected to be 7.4%, with the services sector contributing over half of the growth. While average inflation for 1390 is projected at 7.8%, inflation is expected to decrease to around 5% by year end.
As Afghanistan’s economy is heavily dependent on donor’s contribution the Ministry of Finance says a number of donor countries have so far failed to implement projects they had promised at the Kabul International Conference – the recent international conference on Afghanistan and due the recent issues with a private bank; the Kabul Bank these contributions are lacking. Ministry of Finance says the international community has halted part of its financial aids to Afghanistan following disagreements between the government of Afghanistan and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] over financial crisis in the private Kabul Bank. Whatever the reason might be it is having its most negative impacts on economic development of the country.
This is obvious that improving democratic governance, economic, infrastructural and agricultural growth, human resources facilities and the security transition process were the important topics of discussion in all international conferences on Afghanistan including the Kabul International Conference and donor countries had promised to fund a number of projects which are implemented by the government of Afghanistan. But according to the Ministry of Finance there are serious concerns over a delay in the implementation of those contributions, adding that donor countries have so far failed to provide funding for them. Moreover, donors have failed short to meet their commitments generally as there is about 12 billion USD gap between their commitments and disbursements as per the figure 3.
It is perceived by the GoIRA that the main problem is with donor countries because we need funding to implement development programs. While, donor countries had vowed at the International Kabul Conference to fund some important and costly projects but the recent disagreements between the government of Afghanistan and the International Monetary Fund over financial crisis in the private Kabul Bank has negatively affected those projects and plans.
The conflict between the GoIRA and the donors over controlling Aid money causes high level of inefficiency on development processes and especially in funding development programs. The international community promised at the Kabul International Conference to allocate 80 per cent of their financial aids to those projects which have national priority; at the same time, some of donor countries also committed to spend 50 per cent of their financial aids via the government’s budget, but the data shows that of $57 billion funding aid to Afghanistan, 18 percent has been spent through Afghanistan’s national budget and the rest 82 percent has been spent directly by them. However, due to disagreements between the government and the IMF, it seems that donors have now halted their financial aids to the government and failed to fund important national projects in Afghanistan without taking into account that the poor beneficiaries of these projects are suffering and there is no reason as they should pay the cost of such irregularities caused by a private bank.
Our analysis from last ten year budgets show that the donor community has not been able to fulfill their pledges and commitments despite the fact that they know, Afghanistan’s development funding is highly dependent on their contributions. Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund which is the most important financial mechanism for Afghanistan national finances face a huge problem of not meeting commitments and pledges by its donors. In SY 1390 ARTF statistics show that there is a big difference between donors contributions/Pledges and actual payments. As can be observed in table 4 the total contributions/Pledges are 811 million USD, but the total ‘paid – in’ is only 56.54 million USD with a more than 755 million USD gap.
While on the other hand as per the table 5 out of 32 donors who pledged to contribute for 1390 ARTF, only 4 of them have paid in with an amount of about 56 million USD out of 111.44 million USD and there is a gap of more than 50% or 55 million USD for SY 1390.
Total Paid in
As per the figure 7 in 1390 donors have met only 7% of their pledges to ARTF and this means that almost till the midyear 1390 there is a gap of 86% between pledges and payments. Hence, will they be able to fulfill this gap by the end of the year? Is a question to be responded by the donors.
2.3 Aid distribution for variance development sectors:
Aid has had a full concentration on security in recent ten years rather than on development and this imbalance approach caused instability and deteriorated security situation in Afghanistan. Based on MoF statements of all aid, 51 percent has been spent on security and the rest 41 percent has been spent on road construction, agriculture, solidarity programmes, power supply, reconstruction of airports and some other sectors.
However, despite such intensive concentration on security sector through aid money, still the Afghan government lacks a strong and defensive security system to ensure peace and stability of the country and according to ICG “As more and more districts come under Taliban control, despite US claims of substantial progress, and the insurgency spreads to areas regarded until recently as relatively secure, displacement and humanitarian needs are also rising,”
2.4 Agriculture prioritization:
On July 20, 2010, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the international community met in Kabul to deliberate on and endorse an Afghan-led action plan to improve governance, social and economic development, and security. Demonstrating a renewed commitment to the People of Afghanistan within the framework of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, the new generation of National Priority Programs presented at the Kabul International Conference on Afghanistan aim to empower all Afghan citizens and government and non-governmental institutions to contribute to improved service delivery, job creation, equitable economic growth, the protection of all Afghan citizens’ rights, and a durable and inclusive peace. In essence, these programs define the Kabul Process.
The ANDS has formally stared functioning as a major macroeconomic and development policy in Afghanistan Since 2008. However, During the Kabul Conference in 2010 ANDS’s previously ARD sector changed to ARD cluster with the membership of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, the Ministry of rural Rehabilitation and Development, the Ministry of Energy and Water, and the Ministry of Counter- Narcotics. Under the development goal for the cluster it says that: “ARD Cluster Goal is the development of prosperous rural and pastoral communities. Achieving this goal stands or falls on whether the government, civil society, and the private sector can trigger dramatic increases in job creation, rural employment, and rural growth. To this end, five objectives are defined that taken together can transform the rural economy:
First, Afghanistan must develop a basic information framework to inform government policies for rural development. Second, it must improve both the production quality and quantity of agriculture outputs where small interventions can have an enormous impact. Third, global experience in developing countries shows that all year road access is among the top drivers of rural transformation. Thus, linkages to markets as well as access to credit must be improved. Fourth, Afghanistan must improve food security and services to create a healthy population able to contribute to productive growth, and fifth, it must establish a better regulatory and enabling environment to counter the effects of conflict, corruption, and the deterioration of Afghanistan’s natural resources.
Finally, rural development has traditionally split between large programs carried out by a central government and highly localized communities that largely bypass government activity. This must change. New partnerships between the Afghan Government, communities, and the private sector are now guiding planning for the country’s Agricultural and Rural Development Cluster.”
2.5 Agriculture financing as per the ANDS:
During the Kabul conference; for ANDS resource mobilization the Government of Afghanistan in consultation with donors, estimated that approximately $10 billion will be available to support core socio-economic development initiatives three years of ANDS period, with additional resources available to support current governance and security sector strengthening priorities. The Government has stated its desire that the international community direct 80% of its total socio-economic development assistance in support of its fifteen socio-economic development National Priority Programs. In this regard, an overall budget ceiling of $8 billion was assigned, with the:
Agriculture and Rural Development Cluster accounting for around 26% of the total (US$2 billion),
The Human Resource Development Cluster around 25% (US$1.9 billion),
Economic and Infrastructure Development Cluster around 49% (US$3.8 billion).
These funds were judged to be incremental and could be added to existing high-performing programs with committed funds and additional absorptive capacity. Draft budgets for the Economics and Social Development and Governance Clusters National Priority Programs are outlined in the Intended Results and Budget Matrices in this volume, as well as further elaborated in Volume II. In addition, the projected budget for the Afghanistan Peace and Reconciliation Program is nearly US$800 million.
So far, as can be observed from the recent ANDS documentation (figure 9) Agriculture within the ARD clustered framework have gained the second priority which is a positive move but this is not a more convenient share for ARD due to its importance in sustainable economic development and poverty eradication.
2.6 Agriculture in National Budget 1390
Afghanistan’s core budget comprises of (a) Operating budget and (b) Developmental budget. The operating budget covers the recurring expenses and is meant for the maintenance of the governance system financed largely through the revenue generated by the government of Afghanistan. The developmental budget is co- financed by the government and donor agencies. The donor contribution to the core budget comprises of the discretionary and nondiscretionary financing based on the conditionality imposed by the donor agencies. Developmental support and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan are channeled through two primary instruments: (a) the Afghanistan Core Budget including the Afghanistan Reconstruct ion Trust Fund (ARTF) 33 and (b) The External Budget.
Agriculture sector’s role in economic development through revenue generation and GDP growth has been significant especially for government budgets and financial support during the annual planning and development provisions. However, agriculture has been largely dependent on weather and natural conditionalities traditionally. Historical data show that if agriculture is doing well than the economy increases because it has its direct links with all other economic sectors such as trade and industry. According to MoF real GDP growth in 1387 was only 3.4 percent. The downturn in economic activity was mainly due to a large drop in agriculture sector output of 21%. In 1388, real GDP recovered and growth was 20.4 percent. The agriculture sector grew by over 50 percent as the country experienced sufficient rain fall and snow, particularly in the north part of the country. It contributed 11.2 percentage points of the 20.4 percent growth. In 1389, real GDP growth is expected to be around 8.2 percent. The agriculture sector is not expected to perform well during the year due to lack of rain fall, and it is expected to reduce real GDP by 1.9 percentage points. However, the service sector is projected to contribute 7.9 percentage points of the 8.2 percent real GDP growth. This means that the traditional agricultural practices in Afghanistan without adequate modernization and man interference largely threaten the economic downturns and much need to be done to change this scenario.
As agriculture’s role in GDP growth has been quite significant in last ten years. In 1390 National Budget it is shown that the service sector is expected to contribute around 4.1 percentage points or (55%) out of 7.4 percent of total real GDP growth, followed by the industry and agriculture sectors. However the trend shows that agriculture’s significance has changed year by year and this has caused serious economic problems in terms of revenue generation as low productivity in raw materials for industry sector caused low productivity and small business as the industry and trade has been largely dependent on agriculture.
Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights
Infrastucture and Natural Resources
Agriculture and Rural Development
Economic Governance & Private Sector Development
Table 6: Share of Development budget for different ANDS sectors since 1388 (Source: MoF)
Budgetary data from 1388 till 1390 show a decrease in development budget allocations for agriculture. Despite several civil society advocacies since 2009 on increasing the development budget for agriculture due to its importance for economic development and sustainability; decrease as such disappoints poor, especially small holders and women farmers across the country.(See figure 11)
1. accountability gaps in response to AGRICULTURE CHALLENGES
Despite many other challenges and issues for agriculture planners and policy makers in Kabul in current year wheat crop failure, especially for poor rural Afghans, stands as a major disaster as the current dry spell sweeping across Afghanistan’s northern, northeastern and western provinces leads to a large-scale food crisis. According to MAIL officials: “Every other year drought or other natural disaster puts millions of people into food insecurity.”
This year drought has emerged as the most severe natural disaster threatening thousands of Afghan lives in the rural areas. Around 200,000 families have been hit by drought nationwide, Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. Officials in MAIL said while wheat crop has been the same compared to last year, but poor harvest of rain-fed wheat in a number of provinces has caused food shortages.
While drought caused crop failure according to Oxfam, nearly three million people are facing severe food shortages as a result of drought in 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Eighty percent (80%) of the non-irrigated wheat crop, which people rely on for food and income, has been lost. Most importantly as per the ActionAid’s finding, persistent droughts in Afghanistan have lessened people’s resilience – many respondents said they use to own livestock before various droughts, and felt it was an investment that could easily be wiped out. Irrigation and water access has also been significantly impacted by droughts, with years of sand accumulation in some canals. A rain-fed irrigation system was seen as unviable for ensuring any form of food security.
Drought and other natural disasters such as flood and pest caused major food insecurity in the country due to the crops failure every year. A Food Security Risk Index of 196 countries released on 31 August by Maplecroft, rates Afghanistan number nine. However as this problem exist since the start of international involvement in recent ten years and Billions of dollars have been sunk into different agricultural programs, durable long-term solutions for natural disaster management such as tackling issues of drought have been a major concern for people.
3.1 Humanitarian responses:
In 2011 as per the severity of drought, humanitarian organizations and NGOs projected more than 142 million USD to respond this national disaster on agriculture; but they have been able to receive a commitment or contribution (always confusing terms are used by donors) of only less than 5 million USD to meet about 3 percent of the requirement as per their projection with a huge gap of about 137 million USD.(figure 12)
As per the figure 13 the funding for humanitarian affairs at all levels has been very tricky. This means that a total of commitments plus contribution which doesn’t help much to understand how these donors met their commitments especially during the times of such sever natural disasters in the county.
It has been a trend that the donors provide little for the required budget to tackle humanitarian issues despite the heavy appeal of humanitarian actors and NGOs. As shown in figure 14 there is a huge gap between funding and actual requirements. As far as agriculture is concerned the gap is about 20% with about 102 million USD for the current year, which may cause many shortages to meet the food requirements and fighting the drought and other agricultural disasters.
As can be observed from OCHA data, figure 14 – the big proportion of 20% gap or difference between actual appeal as per the requirements of food security and agriculture cluster and donor’s response. In such a national crisis that about 80% of poor villagers suffers from food insecurity, this gap is very disastrous.
Ideally during the national budget planning there should have been specific projections to response effectively to most possible droughts as it is experienced obviously from every other year trend. However the 1390 national budget document do not show any specific drought prone projection. Programs and projects to focus on specific drought management and support poor and women farmers from the direct impact of this natural disaster. Meanwhile irrigation projects also do not have enough strength to decrease the severe implications of drought. Instead the GoIRA just starts talking about new demands when the disaster is upon the threshold of the poor afghan population as to distribute wheat for affected people. MAIL is planning to start grain distribution to destitute people from northern Jowzjan province, which seems to have been hit by drought. ‘Under the plan MAIL will distribute 50,000 tonnes of cereal to drought-affected people’. The International Community will also be urged to help supply food to hardly-hit regions. “The outreach programmes will first begin in regions where cultivation of rain-fed wheat has been severely hit by drought,” Agriculture Minister, Mohammad Asef Rahimi, said.
According to predictions made by MAIL, Afghanistan this year (2011) needs more than six million tonnes of cereal to overcome drought.’Meanwhile the WFP has to provide some of these wheat requirements and the traders should manage to import wheat from neighboring countries to fill this gap. Hence as can be observed, the response from both humanitarian community and government has been late enough to mitigate the risk of food crisis in the country.
1.2 Eradicating opium or the major constraint to licit economy Opium:
In last ten years, GoIRA and the international community have claimed their highest commitment in opium eradication. But despite having its damaging impact on licit agriculture productivity, this phenomenon is drastically causing agriculture backwardness and promoting poverty in Afghanistan and all intentions and claims for fighting it has had very little impact. As per the AREU ‘Poverty, poppy and insecurity are intrinsically, linked in Afghanistan. While opium poppy has been cultivated in a wide range of areas and by varied socioeconomic groups, it has tended to be most concentrated in areas with limited access to irrigated land, high population densities and limited off- and non-farm income opportunities—or where insecurity is greatest. Opium production is deeply embedded in the rural economy and has a strong multiplier effect in terms of creating employment and off-farm opportunities. In the absence of careful targeting, rapid, large-scale decreases in poppy cultivation generate significant negative impacts, whether achieved by eradiation or pressure on farmers to not plant.’
On the other hand, in the given geo-climatic condition of Afghanistan, it is the easiest crop to grow and also the most profitable one. In the background of the drought conditions that is there in Afghanistan for almost for a decade, opium poppy is a drought resistant crop, easy to transport and store, and, unlike many crops like fruits and vegetables, does not require any sophisticated storage technique like refrigeration. Besides, the decrease and increase in opium cultivation and production is dependent highly on its market rates and selling patterns.
Being a profitable and mainstay crop in most of the province to cop with drought impacts on crop productivity even in recent years or months, people returned to opium cultivation in some provinces. As AREU reports, besides, a rise in opium prices has played an important part, a range of contextual factors including power, insecurity, social identity, agro-ecology and location are also important in explaining the crop’s re-emergence, as well as the patterns of difference within and between the provinces . AREU who has surveyed Balkh and Badakhshan provinces in 2011 says that ‘opium poppy cultivation has re-emerged in Balkh and Badakhshan. In Badakhshan, it has spread across several districts in rainfed areas and, according to informal estimates; the cultivated area has doubled from official figures of 1,100 hectares (ha) in 2010 to around 2,200 ha. In Balkh—which was declared “poppy-free” in 2006—opium’s return has been more location-specific; it is currently being planted openly on a small scale in Chimtal District’.
There have been little focused programs to provide alternatives for opium cultivation in Afghanistan. While studying the opium situation in Helmand province, AREU reports that “In the current circumstances it is clear that wheat is not a viable and sustainable alternative to opium poppy for most farmers in Helmand, and that some source of cash income is required from livestock, cash crops or wage labour. It remains a daunting challenge that in response to an increased ANSF/ISAF presence in central Helmand and associated pressure to reduce opium production since 2009, wheat has become the dominant crop in the canal command area. By contrast, the amount of land allocated to perennial or annual horticultural crops remains rather limited beyond the environs of Lashkar Gah and Gereshk. In the 2010-11 growing season, many farmers in the canal command area face the prospect of being self-sufficient in wheat but lacking the necessary cash income to meet their other basic needs. The full impact of the ban on opium will ultimately depend on the other shocks that households and communities are exposed to in the 2010-11 growing season, as well as the assets households can draw on when required.”
The issue of livelihood diversification as the main way for rural households to accumulate assets and manage risks, have been argued rapidly but have had little attentions; while this includes on-farm diversity—the maintenance or expansion of a spread of crop and livestock production activities—as well as employment in the nonfarm sector. Diversification can give households the flexibility to respond to risks as they materialize. While some households may actively diversify their livelihoods as a way to build resilience to future hazards, others may diversify as a coping strategy after a shock has occurred. Beside the alternative livelihood measures, agriculture and its licit production can provide a special alternative during the poppy eradication processes instead of rapid and unrealistic policies.
Agriculture can provide the growth and poverty reduction alternatives needed to develop Afghanistan’s licit economy to get rid of the poppy economy. This is especially important to facilitate a durable shift out of opium poppy cultivation and production. Current policies of putting a ban on opium cultivation can affect the food security and livelihood opportunities of poor farmers, but growth through licit agriculture cultivations such as saffron, wheat and horticulture for the rural economy can change this scenario to fight ‘poverty and food insecurity as two of the main drivers of opium poppy cultivation’.
If there is a political will and proper support, agriculture productivity and growth has the potential to resolve the issue of poppy in Afghanistan. However, market can play its role and import/ export mechanisms are relatively important to fill in the gap of production through value chine right from the first stages of production to distribution and consumption locally and internationally.
Despite the mentioned challenges and problems the GoIRA on the policy side is committed to improve agriculture particularly to tackle the opium disaster in national economy. However, macroeconomic conditions that has been far from stable; and little sentiment within donors’ policies for subsidies on prices, credit or inputs; collaterally increases the risk of policy implementation to uplift the rural agriculture productivity and marketing opportunities in this trend.
Since 2009 that ELBAG has been studying the agriculture sector the inconsistency of policy formulation and implementation with regards to agriculture is still continued. Agricultural master plans and strategies have been changing from 7 programs now to 4 programs to align with the ANDS. Donors committed to fund MAIL’s priority programs but these funds have not reached timely to the sector to tackle major food insecurity constraints caused every other year due to drought or every year’s flood. However, such programming and funding have little accuracy with actual requirements of poor farmers and women generally. While on the other hand these programs and funding are tiny and inconsistent with little coordination of different actors.
Policy makers and donors have little focus on agriculture as a mother sector in economic growth and development. Hence as we have been monitoring in recent years most investment projects are of very short duration with the primary motive of exhibiting some quick results whereas the specific sector of agriculture demands long term investments. As agriculture projects require at least three years duration or one crop cycle; and despite the fact that agriculture activities are very seasonal but the design of Agriculture projects have little match to this necessity. If this seasonality is not kept in mind then the agriculture activities will have no impact; for example to distribute seeds after the snow season, or instead of providing irrigation facilities, providing fertilizers during the drought.
Majority of donor agencies and supporting countries are in an escape mode due to the transition process. They want projects of quick impact or some think that Afghanistan’s security won’t allow them to implement long term agricultural projects. This mentality and thinking have affected the agriculture sector a lot. As there are only chunks of money to respond to the natural disasters such as drought and flood; without pointing to the root causes of such disasters causing major food insecurity for Afghan population. Major national programs such as the NSP, BPHS etc that are inline with ANDS and facilitated by NGOs should be prioritized and supported by the GoIRA and donors instead of small scale and little impact projects. This is the only way of sustaining poor people’s livelihoods and preventing them to shift sides with the AOGs or wander around in the neighboring countries for employment. Civil society in Afghanistan can help the GoIRA and the donor community to reach exactly to the people in need. They can implement the policies in the remotest communities only if they are consulted and brought forward from the design to implementation process. They can manage to receive the exact expectations of the poor people into agriculture policies and maintain their full participation in the process.
As about 80% of people survive with agriculture there is a big requirement of developing this sector and bring it out of a vicious circle by combining it with the indigenous processes as per the exact conditions of the country’s agro- economy. Government’s role is very critical in leading the development programs for the sector as per the ANDS. However, promoting indigenous knowledge and practices should be aligned with the modern techniques and equipments.
Coordination and mutual cooperation of different actors in agriculture financing, programming and policy making is the key for success in the process of investing on agriculture and its development. Scattered efforts and activities currently have affected agriculture sector in recent years. There is lack of comprehensive understanding of the investment needs of the agricultural sector. If the government is given the role of leadership in this coordination process, they should be supported by donor agencies and other actors in the processes of need assessment, budgeting, resource transfer and implementation.
Like every other sector if the donor agencies do not fulfill their commitments in order to facilitate the completion of the programs and projects the sector will fail drastically. They should immediately meet their commitments as per the requirement of the agriculture sector proposed by MAIL and other implementing agencies including the NGOs. Those projects that have been prioritized and not funded should be focused and funded soon and in coordination with the MAIL and technical support of NGOs new drought and flood prone programs should be planned and projected to reduce the devastating risk of such national disasters.
Humanitarian community including the NGOs has not been able to prevent natural disasters highly affecting the food security of poor Afghan people. This is because all of them have had little to do with the core budgets and national priority programs of the GoIRA. Hence the humanitarian community and donors should support the government programs and projects to resist drought and flood during the annual planning and procedure.
As GoIRA is highly dependent of donors’ money and is not even able to mobilize enough resources for its own operating expenses. A part of the resources meant for carrying out agricultural development programmes is actually being spent to run the governance system in the sector itself. This is not a sustainable way of addressing the issue. The government should evolve ways for better tax proceeds to run its own expenses and use the donor money only for the development of the sector.
The available information on budgets suggests that over last three years, there has been a decline in the prioritization of the agriculture sector. Despite the advocacy and lobbying of civil society and international supporters, The decries in development share of agriculture sector has been obvious in 1390 budget documents also as the share is declined more than 3% comparing with two years back. A careful study of the public finances of agricultural sector points fingers to the declining commitment of the donor agencies as a reason for the shift in priority. This is a disturbing trend and the government in consultation with the donor agencies should try to correct this anomaly at the earliest. Given that the sector provides livelihood security (even at a subsistence level) to around 4/ 5th of the population in the country, the issue of prioritization needs urgent attention by all different actors.
Moreover, the budget analysis of the recent year show that other economic support sectors such as infrastructure also show little attention by reduction of funds and their share in development budget. Meanwhile the economic governance and private sector development sector has also experience dramatic decrease comparing to other sectors in development budgets.
Food security which is highly dependent on agriculture is completely devastated and is currently in a crisis situation. Current year due to the drought the crops have failed and 200 thousand families are hit by drought only in the northern parts of the country, and thousands of others lack proper food facilities. This is because rapid reconstruction projects have completely ignored the critical requirement of sustainable development especially via agriculture. Besides, at the local level there is no clear vision for policy makers of how to mobilize resources for sustainable development. Communities and local authorities are happy by providing wish lists and the central line ministries have their own different priorities, and at the end of the day there is no proper programming and proper implementation to solve major agricultural issues and constraints such as irrigation, poppy eradication and food security through proper livelihood options.
While in recent past, there has been an increase in the proportion of defense expenditure without any marked improvement in the security situation, there has not been a substantial focus on other sectors including irrigation. Even in the ongoing ANDS, the investment focus for irrigation sector is meager with an overall apathy for the agriculture and rural development sector. This has been always argued by poor farmers that the key to agricultural growth and expansion of productive employment opportunities in Afghanistan lies in expansion of the irrigation coverage followed by the increased use of technological inputs facilitated by improved access to formal credit and extension services. The government does not have a presence in the areas where extension workers from many civil society organizations are operating. There is hardly any system of quality control certification by the government. There is hardly any regulation on the influx of fake medicines for animal husbandry sector. These are areas where government can play a major role in bringing some change.
Despite the heavy claim of fighting poppy in Afghanistan, there is a strong tendency among the poor farmers towards poppy cultivation as per its market prices. However, the provision of alternatives and action against high profile people involved in the trade and trafficking is needed and to discourage poppy cultivation diversified farming options based on agriculture probabilities should be expanded.
Formation of agricultural cooperatives with women inclusion in them, need urgent policy attention with more investment. Such a chain of agricultural cooperatives can be utilized for marketing of agro-produce as well as inputs for agriculture. A systematic training and capacity building of the members of agro-cooperatives can be undertaken to further develop and propagate modern variants of indigenous technology in Afghanistan.
Finally, for fiscal sustainability and economic governance, the GoIRA can not always depend on donors support for its development budgets. Beside the proper taxation the government would need to focus on economic infrastructural development including the agriculture and animal husbandry as all other sectors are highly dependent on them. Current market economic policies run by the GoIRA is not responding to the economic requirements of the poor people. GoIRA and its international partners need to reconsider a realistic macro economic policy direction as per the specific condition of a land lock, insecure and instable environment to accelerate the economic growth, based on the agriculture and animal husbandry development; parallel to mining sector to generate more resources for its development requirements.
Christopher Ward, David Mansfield, Peter Oldham and William Byrd, Afghanistan economic incentives and development initiatives to reduce opium production, , DFID and World Bank, 2008
Food for Thought, Analysis of Agriculture financing in Afghanistan, ActionAid, 2009
Lorene Flaming and Alan Roe, Opportunities for Pro-Poor Agricultural Growth, AREU, 2009
OPIUM POPPY STRIKES BACK, The 2011 Return of Opium in Balkh and Badakhshan Provinces, AREU, July 2011
 (OPIUM POPPY STRIKES BACK, The 2011 Return of Opium in Balkh and Badakhshan Provinces, AREU, July 2011)
 Agricultural transformations in the recent past, such as the Green Revolution in Asia, have largely emerged through a combination of rising productivity, rising demand and strong state support for rural commodity markets through subsidies on prices, credit and inputs. These have helped reduce the risks around markets for smallholders and increase the volume of transactions and the density of market networks. Fundamental to this process is a long history of prior investment in core public goods, including irrigation infrastructure, roads and electricity.63 Two further preconditions are also necessary for growth, though not necessarily causal factors.64 The first is confidence in and security of property rights; the second is competitive, suitably regulated but internationally open markets operating under stable macroeconomic conditions. (OPIUM POPPY STRIKES BACK, The 2011 Return of Opium in Balkh and Badakhshan Provinces, AREU, July 2011)
 Agriculture Minister, Mohammad Asef Rahimi, August 2011 20:14 Written by TOLOnews.com
 Lorene Flaming and Alan Roe, Opportunities for Pro-Poor Agricultural Growth, AREU, 2009
 Food for Thought, Analysis of Agriculture financing in Afghanistan, ActionAid, 2009
 In Afghanistan, Phillips reports that once wheat becomes too expensive or too difficult to purchase, farmers will reduce the amount of land planted with poppy and increase wheat production to ensure food security. (David Mansfield, Alcis Ltd & OSDR, Managing Concurrent and Repeated Risks August 2011 Explaining the Reductions in Opium Production in Central Helmand Between 2008 and 2011, AREU)
 (OPIUM POPPY STRIKES BACK, The 2011 Return of Opium in Balkh and Badakhshan Provinces, AREU, July 2011)
 Total donor pledges for SY1390 amount to US$811.96 million, of which US$481.71 million (59%) are without preference and US$330.25 million (41%) are with preference. Table 1 reflects total donor pledges including those amounts already paid-in for StY1390. Pledges remain uncertain for SY1390 (Source:ARTF Administrator’s Report on Financial Status, As of August 22 2011 – end of Sonbola – 5th month of SY1390)
 Finance Minister Hazrat-e-Omar Zakhilwal, Tolo TV, Kabul, in Dari 1330 gmt 18 Sep 11
 Developmental support and reconstruct ion funds for Afghanistan are channeled through two primary instruments: (a) the Afghanistan Core Budget including the Afghanistan Reconstruct ion Trust Fund (ARTF) and (b) The External Budget. The ARTF was established at the 2002 Tokyo Conference with contributions by around 27 countries. The management of the Fund is supervised by the World Bank and decisions are jointly taken through a consultative process of the World Bank, UNDP, ADB, Islamic Development Bank, Government of Afghanistan and the Special Representative of the Secretary General. The primary objective of the ARTF is to cover the recurring costs of the Afghan budget including wages and salaries of the civilian staff in ministries and provinces. However, the government is not in a posit ion to take decisions regarding the ARTF money. Since, it finances the Government machinery, we can at best call it a financing mechanism such as taxes and non- tax revenues and not a priority area for government intervention. Government does not decide upon the fund flow into the fund and does not decide how to use the funds. So far, it is not a direct budget support to the Government of Afghanistan. (Food for Thought, ActionAid Afghanistna, 2009)
 Finance Minister Hazrat-e-Omar Zakhilwal, Tolo TV, Kabul, in Dari 1330 gmt 18 Sep 11
 80 % of the resources are coming from donors for the country s development programs. Hundreds of NGOs are working for the development of communities. Many NGOs are working in relief mode. Very few NGOs are actively working in development mode. In villages like any South Asian country there are landlords, big farmers, small and marginal farmers, and landless agricultural labourers…( A Study on way forward for effective management of rural infrastructure and rural livelihoods in Northern Afghanistan, by: Akunuri Murali, ActionAid Afghanistan)
 All contracts issued by the US government must adhere to “overall Afghanistan Counter Insurgency (COIN) goals”, and where US dollars go “is as important – possibly more important – than the product or service delivered”, the US embassy in Kabul said in a statement on 23 November (http://www.irinnews.org/report. September 2011)
 Saturday, 27 August 2011 20:14 Written by TOLOnews.com
 Lorene Flaming and Alan Roe, Opportunities for Pro-Poor Agricultural Growth, AREU, 2009
 Major challenges exist in establishing the formal registration of land title in Afghanistan. There is very little useable information on land holdings, little capacity to gather it, and the prevailing uncertainties and ambiguities surrounding land ownership make it difficult to determine final title. However, Afghanistan could learn much from other countries that have confronted the problem of land registration in post-conflict situations (source: Lorene Flaming and Alan Roe, Opportunities for Pro-Poor Agricultural Growth, AREU, 2009)
 Minister of Agriculture Mohammad Asef Rahimi’s statement reported by ARIANA TV, September 2011
 Opium poppy cultivation has re-emerged in Balkh and Badakhshan in 2011. In Badakhshan, it has spread across several districts in rainfed areas and, according to informal estimates; the cultivated area has doubled from official figures of 1,100 hectares (ha) in 2010 to around 2,200 ha. In Balkh—which was declared “poppy-free” in 2006—opium’s return has been more location-specific; it is currently being planted openly on a small scale in Chimtal District. While a rise in opium prices has played an important part, a range of contextual factors including power, insecurity, social identity, agro-ecology and location are also important in explaining the crop’s re-emergence, as well as the patterns of difference within and between the two provinces. (OPIUM POPPY STRIKES BACK, The 2011 Return of Opium in Balkh and Badakhshan Provinces, AREU, July 2011)
 Food for Thought, Analysis of Agriculture financing in Afghanistan, 2009
A response to the Article: “Can Afghanistan learn from Northern Ireland? by Peter Taylor”
Since the start of the US and NATO military action against Taliban in Afghanistan on 2002, many western journalists, writers and commentators have tried to shape an image from Taliban that show them freedom fighters with nationalistic agenda. This has been far from the exact realities of such terrorist insurgent group and provided false pictures about the realities of war and peace process to the outside world. However, some foreign and Afghan journalists and national advocates for peace and security raised a different voice to change this image building for realistic analysis of the warring rivals and the consequences of war and peace in the country.
Henceforth, some western journalists have tried to follow similarities by comparing the war and peace in Afghanistan with those in their own societies with little focus and analysis on exact realities on the ground. Mr. Peter Taylor a BBC reporter and the author of Talking to Terrorists, wrote for ‘Afghanistan Times’ on 16th July 2012 about the similarity of the Taliban’s struggle with the Irish war of liberation from the Britain with focusing on surrender and peace results of two movements. Mr. Taylor writes: “… The result is military stalemate. This usually happens when the insurgents are under intense military pressure, in Afghanistan from the SAS and their US equivalents and in Northern Ireland from the SAS and undercover units…”
This is quite obvious that since the start of the US military campaign in Afghanistan until now, Taliban have never felt to be ‘under pressure’. They have not been in the mode of withdrawal from their aggressive positions and if there is a question of ‘stalemate’ this suits US and NATO but not appeared to be expressed by Taliban in Afghanistan. On the other hand, Karzai Administration has always given a high moral to insurgents and has indirectly helped them to come out of any military ‘pressure’ and open their way from the so-called ‘stalemates’ of the NATO and their Afghan allies, by showing a weak military and political position and crying rigorously for peace without any word of justice. However, in Northern Ireland the situation has been different. There were an organized movement of freedom fighters who organized war against the British military forces with an aim and slogan of independence and freedom. The Irish freedom fighters who fought for many years with strong support from large segments of Irish people; neither share their aim with Taliban insurgency nor they are similar with defamed and brutal movement of Talban who do not obtain the support from even one percent of country’s population till the moment. Moreover, Taliban just think about violence and war with no political solution to end the deadly war.
In his attempt to show the similarity between Taliban and Irish war against their enemies with relevant agenda, Mr. Taylor writes: “ After pursuing their ‘armed struggle’ for 20 years, the IRA recognized they were not going to drive the ‘Brits’ out of Northern Ireland and achieve their holy grail of a united Ireland by physical force…” This is all about the vision and aims of two mentioned military dissident forces that make them distant from eachother. As far as the Ireland struggle is concerned, they were fighting against ‘Brits’ to emancipate their land with a national unity agenda; however, it is completely different in Taliban case. The group do not have such a nationalistic and independence agenda in mind; besides it has been quite obvious that Taliban was designed by the neighboring country’s intelligence ( ISI) to gain control over the territories of Pakistan’s historical rival, who claims some of its main lands and with home Pakistan has border dispute similar as they have with India. Furthermore, Taliban do not care about ‘independence’ and freedom of their homeland from foreigners, they brought thousands of Pakistanis, Arab, Uzbek and Chechen militia and welcomed the personal and material support of Pakistani armed forces in the war against their own people. Taliban are not bothered with the presence of any invaders as far as they reach to their goals that are very close with the desires of Islamabad and Alqaeda. Hence, I believe that Ireland movement was different with their independence and clear nationalistic agenda and cannot be compared with Taliban in this sense.
Mr. Taylor believes that Taliban commanders really have reached the same conclusion as the IRA – that they are not going to win…He continues: “Taliban leadership know they cannot prevail over the power they confront…” A Talib commander may have said this, but this is not obviously their believe to lead them changing their strategy and turn to peace by dropping their guns. Just recently they have re-escalated their terrorist assaults by suicide assassinations of Hanifa Safi, director of Laghman province’s women affairs department, MP Ahmad Khan in Samangan and Najeeba accused of adultery in Parwan province. This shows clearly that Taliban with their allies such as Hezb-e-Islami and Haqani network are still in aggressive mode trying to win their ‘war’.
Taliban’s war against US and NATO is not Afghanistan’s war and neither Taliban are representing Afghanistan nation in such a brutal insurgency; hence it is completely different from the case with Ireland. While, It is pretty clear that if it was not because of the Taliban, Alqaeda and their violent and inhuman policies, US and its allies would not have had any pretext to invade Afghanistan, but Ireland’s history shows quite a different picture. In the article of Mr. Taylor we read “…The veteran IRA Belfast commander, the late Bren dan Hughes once told me much the same as the Taliban commander when reflecting on the IRA’s decision to cease hostilities and enter the peace process… ‘Prominent IRA people came to the conclusion that the British military machine could not be defeated and there had to be negotiations… Otherwise the only alternative we (to carry on) a failure war’…”
Taliban has not shown any interest with peace talks and in last ten years whenever Karzai Administration and its NATO allies raised the voice of peace, they were responded not only by rejection but by killing of more innocent civilians through a suicide attack, a bomb or open fire. Moreover, this is not the Taliban who have ever talked vividly about their desire to stop insurgency and accept Afghanistan laws; on the contrary President Karzai have cried many times with his tears in the eyes to show ‘weakness’ against the killer enemy; received enemy’s response with more bloodshed as slapping his face. Hence, Taliban do not believe in ‘failure war’ instead they insist to carry on their terrorism to win the war. However Mr. Taylor believes differently as he writes: “…he says (the Taliban commander) that the Taliban’s dream of re-establishing their former emirate under Sharia law is now shelved and the Taliban will have of function ‘as an organized party within the country…”
These words make no sense in the practice of Taliban. The group do not have any political agenda to come in the country and be active as a civilized political party, because they have committed inhuman crimes and have thousands of enemies among the poor victims of their crimes; besides they are also aware that the relatives and family members of those who have been beheaded, brutally killed and tortured by their soldiers across the country, will always think about their revenge and will not let them survive peacefully. Similar to this we are hearing the news of murder and assassination of those ‘Mujahedeen’ commanders who have killed innocent people and perpetrated crimes against civilians from different spots of the country. Hence neither they have any political agenda and peaceful return plan nor are they welcomed by the terrorized and victimized communities of Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, as far as it is concerned with Afghanistan people (ousting the Taliban); they surely believe in peace and security as they are tired of war and destruction. They would welcome any peace process in which justice, women rights and human dignity prevails. This desire is of course similar with those of the Irish and people around the world but from an insurgent terrorist group who are fulfilling the desires and agenda of international terrorism and neighboring intelligence such as ISI, how can we expect to show such goodwill, as to put down arms and start negotiation for a political solution? Hence, Talban movement is unique in stubbornness, strictness and brutality they cannot be compared with IRA and any other independence struggle movements around the world.