The need to this report:
There exist various institutions that annually release reports about the situation in Afghanistan; but these reports are either confined to a particular sector or present either statistics or the findings of surveys about all sectors in Afghanistan. So far, no research and analytical report is released that has analyzed and studied the past 15 years. Therefore, the Center for Strategic and Regional Studies (CSRS) took the initiative and prepared the “Afghanistan in the past one and a half-decade” research and analytical report.
Researchers in CSRS have prepared this research and analytical report in 400 pages using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
In terms of quality, the Academic Council of the center has had 24 meetings in order to evaluate the various sections of the report. Besides that, in relation to some chapters of the report, particularly peace, corruption, migrants, education and higher education and foreign policy, CSRS has interviewed experts and people with firsthand information, which are pointed in the report. In regards to some sections, the center has also organized in-house sessions in order to better analyze the existing data.
In terms of quantity, CSRS conducted a survey, to collect the opinions of the country’s elites, in 1394. In this survey, 701 people were interviewed, 70% of which were men and 30% women. All the interviewees at least held a bachelor degree. The survey included 50 open and closed questions and was conducted in six major cities of the country. The findings of this survey are also included in this report.
While preparing this report, researchers have used the reports, academic papers, books, newspapers and statements of other national and international institutions and other firsthand and secondhand sources which are directly mentioned in 450 references of the report. The report also includes 80 charts and 54 tables with their sources mentioned bellow them.
The purpose of the report:
The main purposes of the report are as follows:
- Expressing the key sectors’ backgrounds;
- Evaluating and presenting the situation of the key sector in the past 15 years;
- Citing the reasons behind the decrease and increase of the statistics of various sectors;
- Showing challenges and problems in each sector;
- Presenting center’s recommendations regarding each sector.
The contents of the report:
The report includes an introduction, a summary, seven chapters and a conclusion. The seven chapters of the report contain the following sections:
- Foreign Policy;
- Migrants and Internally Displaced People (IDP);
- Economy (national economy, trade, energy, industry and agriculture);
- Security and Crimes;
- Education and Higher Education.
The report has discussed the abovementioned sectors because these sectors were mostly focused upon in the past 15 years. Although some other sectors had the same importance, but due to lack of time and resources, CSRS was unable to include them in this report. It is noteworthy that the report has put more focus on 1394.
First chapter; peace:
The included issues in the chapter: the first chapter of the report has studied peace in Afghanistan. First, the background of the peace efforts in Afghanistan (1352-1380) is presented, then peace efforts, from 1380 until now, are studied, in which the most important issues were the formation of the High Peace Council (HPC), Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar, the impacts of the change in the Taliban leadership on the peace talks, Pakistan’s role in the peace process, peace talks with Hezb-e-Islami, and the reasons behind the failure of the negotiations with the Taliban
In addition, the chapter also contains evaluation of the National Unity Government’s (NUG) peace efforts such as Urumqi talks, the Murree talks in Islambabad, quadrilateral peace talks and entering the peace process through foreign policy.
The contents of the report: since 2001, the Afghan government undertook some peace efforts, such as the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program, the formation of Peacekeeping commission and HPC. Although DDR was successful on the papers and the peacekeeping commission later altered to HPC, but still these organs have had little achievements in terms of maintaining peace in the country.
HPC only brought some people under the name of the armed oppositions of the government in the peace process and had confined achievements in regards to the peace talks with the Taliban.
The main obstacles on the way of HPC were, lack of authority and independence, lack of coordination between its members, lack of a defined and specific policy, the issue of the concept of the peace, existence of anti-Taliban individuals in the council, taking advantage of the posts in the council as political bribe and etc.
On the other hand, the Taliban’s political office was opened in Qatar in 2013. Although the office was not recognized by the Afghan government but it played a considerable role in exchanging and releasing the Taliban prisoners, its members participated in international conferences and expanded the Taliban’s relation with foreigners and various groups in Afghanistan.
The Quadrilateral Coordination Group’s (QCG) meetings about the Afghan peace process failed; because neither it brought the Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table nor did Pakistan, one of the four members of these talks, fulfilled its commitments. Therefore, we say that, although the Afghan issue has foreign and regional aspects, but peace cannot be maintained in Afghanistan through foreign policy. The way must be paved for an intra-Afghan reconciliation with the Taliban.
The peace talks between the Afghan government and Hezb-e-Islami (HI) started in 2010 and reached its final levels in 2016 and HI came close to sign a peace deal with the Afghan government. The main reasons why the peace talks with Hezb-e-Islami failed during Karzai’s term were HI’s limited role in the battlefield, political opposition of some Kabul-based groups, tough conditions of HI during the peace talks, lack of international community and particularly US’s support, suspicions in the peace talks and the invidious positions among HI members.
The survey: based on CSRS’s survey, 72.48% of the people believed that the current peace efforts of the NUG would not succeed; because according to the majority of the people (62.16%), the NUG does not make sincere efforts for peace. Most of the people (58.02%) believed that QCG meetings would not have remarkable outcomes and 66.07% of the people have said that HPC plays a negative role in the peace process.
In response to the question who creates most of the obstacles on the way of peace, 68.89% of interviewers have mentioned foreigners (51.08% the United States and 17.81% neighboring countries). But on the other hand, 59.56% of the participants in this survey have said that an impartial Afghan mediator group can pave the way to direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The Second Chapter; Foreign policy:
The included issues in the report: the background of the Afghan foreign policy (in years before 1380), the post-2001 foreign policy, the main points of the Afghan foreign policy in the past 15 years, the background and current relations of Afghanistan with the neighboring and regional countries, Islamic world and the Western and European countries, the NUG’s foreign policy (particularly in 1394) and the challenges and difficulties of the foreign policy are discussed in this chapter.
The contents of this chapter: from 1381 to 1394, the Afghan foreign policy passed through three stages, first, the interim and first term of Karzai’s presidency, second, the second term of Karzai’s presidency, and third, after the formation of the NUG.
The main points of the Afghan foreign policy during these three stages were building relationship with the world, attracting aids to the country, long-term relations (signing strategic agreements), multilateralism, counter terrorism struggle, regional economic integration, security cooperation and etc. The main challenges of the Afghan foreign policy in the past 15 years were lack of the basic lines of the Afghan foreign policy, internal situation of the country, geo-economic changes in the region, lack of balance in relations with each two rival countries- particularly relations with Pakistan, lack of Afghan foreign policy’s influence in international politics, lack of media and press support, dearth of means of publicity, deficiency of expert and professional diplomats and foreign policy makers, cronyism in the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, corruption, tribal and provincial imbalance, uncoordinated policies of the government, lack of coordination between the parliament and the government, lack of precise and professional foreign policy researches, lack of centers for regional studies in the universities and etc.
The survey: based on the survey of the center, 64.91% of the people have evaluated the foreign policy of the country to be improper and the reason behind lack of public trust in the foreign policy according to 87.71% of the interviewees was the lack of balance in relation with each two rival countries. 81% of the people disagreed the signing of bilateral security agreement with the United States.
Third chapter; Corruption
The included issues in this chapter: this chapter contains an introduction of corruption, a glimpse of the corruption in Afghanistan, the evaluation and analysis of the reports and surveys of the national and international institutions about corruption, foreigners’ role in corruption, the undertaken anti-corruption steps, NUG’s anti-corruption policies, the unfulfilled commitments of the NUG, people’s opinion about corruption in 1394 (CSRS’s survey), reasons behind the failure of the government in fight against corruption and the centers’ recommendations.
The contents of the chapter: Transparency International, Asia Foundation, and Integrity Watch Afghanistan have conducted researches and surveys about corruption in Afghanistan since 2005, 2006 and 2007. Based on these reports and surveys, not only corruption did not decrease, but it reached its new heights in 1394. In these years, foreigners were also involved in corruption.
Although, the Afghan government established some administrations and approved some laws in order to fight against corruption, but these efforts were proved inutile. The main reasons why despite many efforts, the Afghan government failed to eradicate or decrease corruption in the country were lack of political determination, weak judicial system, lack of coordination between the government’s anti-corruption institutions and other administrations, lack of reforms, lack of accountability and transparency, official’s involvement in corruption, mafia and powerful people, lack of monitoring, improper management, foreigners intervention, government’s uncoordinated policies and etc.
The survey: based on CSRS’s survey 76.54% of the people believed that the Afghan government did not undertake sincere efforts against corruption. On the other hand, according to 44.58% of the people, compared to the previous government, corruption during the NUG’s term has increased.
Fourth Chapter; migrants and internally displaced people:
The included issues in this chapter: the background of migration of Afghans, the migration of Afghans in modern era, Afghan refugees’ situation in the neighboring countries, the Afghan migrants’ situation in the industrialized countries, internal displacement of people in the country and reasons behind it, migrants repatriation to Afghanistan, Waziristan’s migrants in Afghanistan, previous government’s policies regarding migrants, the challenges of the Afghan migrants and centers’ recommendations in this regard are included in this chapter.
The contents of the report: migration have an ancient history in Afghanistan; but mass migration in modern era had begun after “Sour” Communist coup d’état which hastened the waves of Afghan migrants to the industrialized and neighboring countries and internally displaced Afghans.
There were four waves of migration from Afghanistan, but most of the migration occurred in the second wave, which was during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, some Afghan refugees repatriated to Afghanistan; but still when the civil war began in the country, once again, the migration waves started. In post-2001 years, when the new Afghan government was formed and efforts for economic development was undertaken, some refugees returned from the neighboring countries, but later insecurities, deteriorated economic situation and unclear future of the peace process influenced the repatriation of the Afghan refugees and also increased the Afghan youth’s migration to Europe. The main reasons behind the increased migration of the Afghans in the past few years and particularly in the past year were insecurity and war, unemployment, easy conditions for acceptance of asylum applications, economic factors and political instability in the country. In addition, the main reasons behind the internal displacement in the country were insecurity, armed conflicts, armed groups, better job opportunities in cities and natural disasters.
Lack of security and stability in the country, lack of good governance, economic challenges in the country, political disagreements, ideological conflicts, and facilities in host countries (health, education and other services) are the main reasons why Afghans do not return to Afghanistan.
Not only the Afghan government but also the Afghan migrants are confronted with many challenges. The main challenge of the government in regards to the migrants are corruption in the migration process, lack of a specific plan regarding migrants, the need for further investment in some sectors due to the repatriation of the migrants, brain drain from the country and increased pressure in the cities due to the return of refugees and etc.
On the other hand the main challenges of the Afghan migrants are as follows: reintegration in the society after their return to the country, cultural challenges in western and other host countries, risks on the route to European countries, violation of their fundamental rights, being used in proxy wars, lack of financial security, confined job and education opportunities, forced repatriation and etc.
On the other hand, the migrants are a good opportunity for both the Afghan government and neighboring countries. Sending money to the country, the Afghan migrants can put positive impacts on the Afghan economy (thus investments and demands in markets would increase). In addition most of these migrants are professional, educated and expert people.
The migrants can also be beneficial in increasing the host countries’ soft power in Afghanistan. They can cause good relations between the host countries with Kabul. In regards to economy, they can provide cheap labor force and increase demand in host countries.
The survey: based on the center’s survey, 50.9% of the people believed that the current situation in the country persuades people to migrate and according to 58.4% of the people the current government pursues a worse policy regarding the migrants compared to the previous government.
Fifth chapter; economy:
The included issues in this chapter: this chapter has studied the economic situation of the country dividing it into five sections: national economy, trade, energy, industry, and agriculture. These sections include growth domestic product (GDP), economic growth, investment and reason behind its reduction, the value of Afghani and reasons behind its devaluation, the background of trade in Afghanistan, Afghanistan’s membership in World Trade Organization (WTO) and its impacts on the country’s economy, challenges on the way of trade in Afghanistan, energy sources and capacity in the country, internally generated electricity, imported electricity, regional energy projects and challenges that Afghanistan confront in terms of energy, situation and challenges of industry in the country, a glimpse to agriculture and livestock, significance of agriculture and livestock in the Afghan economy, the challenges in agriculture and livestock sector and etc.
The contents of the chapter: after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, the foundation of a new regime was put in Afghanistan and the country adopted free market economy. Generally, economic statistics have risen in the past 15 years. These statistics such as statistics of economic growth, investment, the value of Afghani, and unemployment are related to insecurity, political instability and foreigners’ support. Whenever the insecurity and political instability increase, it put negative impacts on these statistics.
The level of trade was increasing in Afghanistan since 2001. The main challenges in the trade sector in the country are increased trade deficit, transit issues, and lack of attention to agriculture and industry sectors.
Most of the Afghans gained access to electricity after 2001, but since the internally generated electricity was insufficient, the country imported electricity from neighboring countries, and thus spent $973m to importing electricity from 2007 to 2015. Although, Afghanistan has a great capacity to produce energy and electricity, but has little profited from its capacity and, in this regard, have made lesser developments.
Some efforts to implementing major energy projects and constructing pipelines were made and practical work on the TAPI, CASA-1000, TUTAP, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan-China (TATC) projects were started. But the main challenge in the energy sector was insecurity due to which practical work on the Amu oil field and some other energy projects did not start and due to the same reason investors might not invest in major energy projects in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is still to be connected with a united electrical grid and sign water sharing agreement with its neighbors (except Iran).
Afghanistan’s economy as well as the development part of the Afghan national budget mostly relied on foreigners’ aids in the past 15 years. Agriculture and livestock, which are the backbone of the Afghan economy, were paid lesser attention and the task of country’s industrialization was also put in the hands of private sector. Due to insufficient attention to these sectors, Afghanistan was importing its needed industrial and agricultural goods. Furthermore, insecurity, war and political instability also put negative impacts on the economic situation of the country. But still there were signs of developments in some aspects such as constructing streets and highways and developments in services, but these developments were not at levels that could mark major economic developments in the country.
The survey: based on CSRS’s survey, 72% of the people do not trust the NUG in the economic fields and the main reasons behind this mistrust according to the survey were lack of good governance, high prices, lack of jobs opportunities and etc. 67% of interviewees have said that they were in worse economic situation under current government compared to the previous government and in the meanwhile 45% others believed that the economic situation of the country would further deteriorate.
Sixth chapter; security and crimes:
Included issues in this chapter: this chapter is divided into two parts: security and crimes. the backgrounds of war and crimes, the security strategy of the United States in Afghanistan, Afghanistan’s security situation in 1394, casualties of the Afghan and US forces and civilians, expansion of war to the north of the country, collapsing of districts and reasons behind it, challenges of the Afghan forces, reasons behind the increasing crime incidents, and violence against women and reasons behind it are included in this chapter.
The contents of this chapter: political instability commenced after Dauod Khan’s 1352 coup d’état and security instabilities after the 1357 communist coup d’état. In 1381, these instabilities were relatively ended. After 1384, insecurity was annually increasing in the country. In 1388 and then after 1393, political instability increased in the country and reached its heights in 1394.
During the security and political instability in the country, civilian casualties were increasing every year. On the other hand, the casualties of the US an NATO forces were also on the rise until 1390, but after security transition to the Afghan forces, gradual withdrawal of US forces and their reduced role in the battlefield, the casualties of foreign forces began to decrease.
Two major steps were held to maintain security in the country in the past 15 years: the implementation of the DDR program and forming and equipping the Afghan security forces. Although the DDR program seemed successful but some groups are still armed. Lack of equipment, reliance on foreign aids, corruption, increased casualties, and soldiers flee from the army and police ranks are the main challenges of the Afghan security forces.
The survey: based on CSRS’s survey, 46.01% of the people believe that insecurity would further increase, 25.96% believed that no change would occur in the security situation of the country and 14.28% other believed that insecurity would decrease. Based on this survey the main factors behind insecurity are foreign troops (41.39%) and neighboring countries (19.59%).
Seventh chapter; education and higher education
The included issues in this chapter: this chapter is also divided into two parts: education and higher education. The background of both sectors, challenges in these sectors and people’s opinions are included in this chapter.
The contents of the chapter: since 2001Afghanistan had remarkable development in areas of education and higher education, compared to other sectors. For instance, in 1386, there were 9017 schools in all over the country, in which more than 149 thousand teachers taught more than 4.5 million students. While in 1394, more than 203 thousand teachers taught more than 7.2 million students. Developments in regards to technical and Islamic studies were also marked which are brought in details in this chapter.
On the other hand, developments were made in areas of higher education as well. For instance, the number of universities, faculties, students and teachers increased year after year. In 1388, there were 22 public and 12 private universities in the country with 121 faculties in the former and 32 faculties in the later and around 3 thousand teachers were teaching more than 55 thousand male and 12 thousand female students in these universities. In 1394, these statistics unprecedentedly increased and now there are approximately 36 public and 109 private universities in the country with 223 faculties in the first and 378 faculties in the second. More than 12.5 thousand teachers are teaching more than 280 thousand student in these faculties.
If one studies the situation of education in the country in the past 15 years, one will find out that this sector has developed in terms of quantity but had lesser development in terms of quality. Alongside the quantitative development, there were some challenges in this sector in the country as well, such as forge and corruption in education sectors, imaginary schools and teachers, closed schools, security situation of the country, lack of professional cadres and infrastructures, old curriculum, lack of researches or low quality researches, the Kankoor crisis and poor management in general and etc.
The survey: based on the center’s survey, 62.59% of the people believed education had a poor quality in the past 15 years, but 66.28% have said that it had developed in terms of quantity. 83.68% of the people believed that the education facilities were not equally distributed among the various province of the country. The participant of the survey believed that the main reasons behind the low quality of education in the country were lack of professional cadres (34%), sub-standard exams (14%), insecurity (16%), lack of access to books (9%) and etc.
Moreover, the majority (74.6%) of the participants of the survey were not satisfied with the program of enhancement of teachers’ capacity and believed that this program was not properly implemented. According to the interviewees the main challenges of education in the country were poor curriculum (35%), low quality (25%), poor management (28%), lack of infrastructures (6%), and some other factors (6%).
In the meanwhile, the participants of the survey have mentioned old curriculum (22%), lack of professional cadres (16.5%), weak administrations (12%), lack of infrastructures (4%), corruption (14%), all the mentioned factors (27%) and some other factors (4.72%) as the main challenges of higher education in the country.