Ali Jalali lays out the three things the Karzai regime needs to do to survive
By April Labaro Best Defense bureau of Afghan political affairs What exactly is Afghanistan transitioning to in 2014? This question is central in the ongoing (and going) debate about "Afghanistan 2014," which has given everyone involved a case of "’transition fatigue," according to Professor Ali J. Jalali. Jalali, a former interior minister of Afghanistan, gave ...
By April Labaro
By April Labaro
Best Defense bureau of Afghan political affairs
What exactly is Afghanistan transitioning to in 2014? This question is central in the ongoing (and going) debate about "Afghanistan 2014," which has given everyone involved a case of "’transition fatigue," according to Professor Ali J. Jalali.
Jalali, a former interior minister of Afghanistan, gave a lecture recently at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies about his personal assessment of the upcoming transition in Afghanistan. When it comes down to it, he believes that the best that anyone can hope for is the survival of the regime.
To ensure that outcome, Jalali outlined three key areas that should be addressed during the transition:
- The first is the state of security post-withdrawal. Jalali emphasized the importance of ensuring that the Afghan army has the capacity to provide security after all international forces have left and warned that the number of tanks and arms left behind does not mean greater security.
- The second point, one just touched on, was the economy. The main worry here, he said, is that around half of the workforce is currently in the service sector and most of these jobs will be lost when international organizations leave. But Jalali remained optimistic, saying the projects to be put in place over the next two years, specifically in the mining industry and railroad construction, will create more jobs over time.
- Lastly, but most importantly, is the regime’s ability to demonstrate its political will. The election being viewed as fair and free is, above all, the biggest factor in ensuring the survival of the regime. But is Afghanistan ready for a fair and free election? In addition to addressing challenges with technical and logistical readiness, Jalali said he believes that the most important step towards demonstrating political will is the establishment of both a strong and independent election commission and a process for dealing with complaints. Legislation on election rules and the establishment of an office to handle complaints must be passed before the commission can even begin to implement its operation plans for the upcoming election.
Jalali summed up his points by concluding that "the snapshots are bad, but the video is different." In other words, this transition through 2014 and beyond is fragile and riddled with serious doubt and potential breaking points. But with a strong national agenda and the regime’s publicly confirmed political will, it is possible for Afghanistan to hold a free and fair election and transition to a stable and secure state. Time seems to be on the side of the government for now, but we can’t afford to forget that, as Jalali put it, if the Afghan people don’t win, everyone will lose.
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