Saturday, October 03, 2015

An analysis of the deteriorating Security in Kunduz Province

In the series of analysis about the situation in Konduz I have set to look at factors that have led to the current precarious condition, in this post I going to have a brief look on the global political trends and its translation to Afghanistan situation and come to a conclusion based on the analysis offered in this series.  

International support for increasing local influence of the state

The state is the most effective way of organising the security and well-being of a population. International consensuses seem to emerge that identify lack of central authority as the obstacle to ensuring global security and prosperity. The challenge is to identify economic, military and political measure that can enhance the capacity of states in low-income countries to perform the functions that define them as states. Achieving well-governed sustainable states requires long-term preventive engagement with a wide range of policy instruments. One major policy challenge is to overcome the differences between a range of actors in understanding how to achieve the right balance between security, development and governance policies, through use of political dialogue, development assistance, trade agreements and military forces.[1]

International intervention in Afghanistan has primarily been concerned with security and has always taken that narrow approach to stability. In exchange for nominal control of regions international players have offered regional Strongmen key functions of the state. The Clientele state over time serves the interests of few and fails to meet its duties toward the public. The organisaiton of state was to maintain ethnic and tribal balance and provide roles for strongmen. The state in Afghanistan as built by the US led coalition is not intended to be a sovereign charged with the welfare of the public and establish monopoly of violence.


A strongman administers district and even village or cluster of villages since the fall of monarchy who is heavily armed and has replaced the traditional landowners. Strongmen are connected with the grassroots through informal and personal networks and affiliated to politico-military organization, generally organised along ethnic lines, but loyalties are shifting and elusive. The strongmen carries out and exceeds in what are the functions of Afghan state, services provided by external institutions include healthcare by INGO while administration of primary education is carried out by local elders. As such Afghan state is not a reality for Afghans living in the countryside. This sociopolitical environment sustains poverty and non-urban patchwork of fiefdoms that is tribal ethnographically and ultraconservative in character.

The strongmen regularly use a range of covert, coercive and agitative measures to obtain political and financial rewards from the state; strongmen also quarrel among themselves over financial, political and military interests. This game of survival of the fittest wrongs many and has huge collateral damage, such violations decree expiation for expedience and public concern of morality, but the state is unable to administer justice. The long-term impact of such dynamics creates community fragmentation, erodes national identity and prevents the creation of unitary nation.

The most successful institution to reign in the strongmen and stop them from tearing the country apart was Taliban. Their effort was spearheaded by disarmament and integrating the main body of militia into their ranks. The presence of foreign troops altered the dynamics and made the competition among strongmen less violent by means of military pressure, monetary and political reward and taking out the irreconcilable ones under the label of Taliban. The majority of strongmen targeted by the US and allies were Pashtuns and over the years they have gone after sub commander too. This vicious cycle of violence, ethnic conflicts, injustice and creation and propping of a new elite class has had destabablising impact, pitting some who seek vengeance against some who protect their interests.

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