Afghanistan » Politics » Society

2016 and lack of public confidence in the NUG

Published Date: December 17, 2016

For the past ten days, some remarks are made and the findings of some researches are released about Afghanistan. In the two-day meeting of NATO members’ foreign ministers in Brussels, where the Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabani had also participated, and three demands were made from the Afghan government, one of which was to tackle corruption in Afghan governmental administrations.

In the meanwhile, the Integrity Watch of Afghanistan (IWA) also released its fifth national survey on corruption. According to the survey, compared to 2014, corruption and bribery has 50% increased this year.

On the other hand, Asia Foundation has also released its 2016 survey of the Afghan people, which shows that 29.3% of the people believe that the country is moving in the right direction, the lowest level of optimism since 2004. In response to this survey, the Afghan presidential palace also released its statement saying in some areas people’s trust in the government has increased and this survey was conducted while there is war in the country. “The high level of people’s expectations from international community and the Afghan government plays an important role in people’s perception from the situation… but the Asia Foundation has paid little attention to this aspect,” [1] stated the statement.

 How is the general situation of the country? In which areas people do not have confidence in the government? In addition, how were/are the NUG’s policies in these areas? These are the questions that are answered here.

 

General situation in the country in 2016 and areas of people’s mistrust

Compared to 2015, in 2016, the general situation in the country improved in some areas and deteriorated in some other areas, which are analyzed here:

Economy:

Based on the reports of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, in 2015, the country’s GDP growth was 0.8% and in 2016 it increased to 1.2%. Although in 2015, prices were gradually falling, but in 2016, due to higher prices of energy and food and devaluation of Afghani, prices began to rise. In 2015, the Afghan government’s revenue was equal to the 10% of the country’s GDP; but in the first eight months of 2016, the Afghan government’s revenue was 30% more than the same period in 2015. Even though, no exact surveys and statistics regarding unemployment rate in the country are in hand, but Asia Foundations’ survey signifies that unemployment is the second major problem of the people and the first major problem of youth.

It is due to the above mentioned economic situation that according to Asia Foundation’s 2016 survey 65.9% of the people believe that the country is moving in the wrong direction. After security situation, unemployment (27.5%), deteriorated economy (10.4%), lack of reconstruction (4.8%) and higher prices (2.9%) were the main factors behind people’s pessimism.

Security:

From January to 15 August 2016, approximately 16132 security incidents have occurred in the country, 61.3% of which was armed conflicts and 17.96% was explosions[2]. In 2015 and 2016, the Taliban’s spring and winter operations did not change. In addition, in 2015 and 2016, Taliban’s war tactics changed and besides remote areas, they began to capture cities and tried to keep their control over the captured regions. Based on this tactic, the Taliban captured Kunduz city twice in the past two years and they had almost captured Laghman, Helmand, Farah and Nimroz’s centers as well. That was the reason why the foreign troops were deployed to Kunduz, Helmand and Kunduz to conduct operations.

Furthermore, from January to 30 September 2016, approximately 8397 civilians died and injured, which indicates a 1% increase compared to 2015[3]. On the other hand, in 2015, overall 5000 Afghan soldiers were killed and 15000 others were wounded while in 2016 their casualties have 20% increased and only in July 2016, 900 Afghan soldiers were killed[4].

For the same reason, the Asia foundation’s 2016 survey from the Afghan people shows that security was the biggest problem in all over the country. Based on the survey, 73.6% of the people believed that security is the main reason behind people’s migration from the country.

Peace:

In 2015 and 2016, many efforts were made to ensure peace in the country. In 2015, the Urumqi and Murree direct talks were the most important peace efforts; but in 2016, Quadrilateral Coordination Group’s (QCG) meetings were the main peace efforts. The QCG had five meetings regarding the Afghan peace process, but despite the promises of Pakistan, the Afghan government did not enter into direct talks with the Taliban nor did Pakistan fulfilled its commitments made in the QCG meetings regarding taking tougher measures against the groups that were not ready to join the peace process. Thus, lack of sincere peace efforts resulted in people losing confidence in the government.

Corruption:

Before the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG), Afghanistan was ranked the second most corrupt country in the world in the corruption index of Transparency International. But after the formation of the NUG, due to some measures taken by the government, Afghanistan fell in the ranks of the most corrupt countries and was positioned the fourth most corrupt country in the world for better. But later due to unstable and uncoordinated anti-corruption policies of the government, once again, Afghanistan lost scores in fight against corruption.

In addition, IWA released its fifth national report on corruption. The report shows that people have spent $3bn in bribing officials, which signifies a 50% increase compared to 2014[5]. This amount of bribe is more than the amount that the Afghan government has announced to have collected as a revenue in 2016.

The Asia Foundation and IWA’s surveys, therefore, show that after insecurity and unemployment, corruption is the third major problem of the people.

 

Evaluation of the NUG’s policies

The NUG has made some efforts in the above mentioned areas. For instance, the Afghan government had some achievements in economic fields such as TAPI and CASA-1000 projects, Chabahar port deal, trade between Afghanistan and China through railway, the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan railway, the railway between Afghanistan and Iran, the reconstruction of some dams, finalizing the Lappis Lazuli route agreement, the “National Employment Program” to end unemployment in the country. But due to government’s inefficiency, the ongoing situation in the country and environmental reasons, the country’s economic growth level was very low. The Afghan Ministries did not spend their budgets properly and, therefore, 7 Afghan ministers were dismissed by the Afghan parliament. Based on the media reports, up to 14000 posts are still unoccupied while people are migrating to Europe due to high rates of unemployment in the country[6].

The Afghan government’s peace efforts were, to a great extent, regional and mostly relied on Pakistan. The armed oppositions in Afghanistan has strongly opposed and rejected peace talks through regional countries; therefore, the NUG failed in its policy of peace. But recently, it seems that the Afghan government is paving the way for face to face talks with the Taliban. News had been published in the media that the Afghan Taliban have met the Afghan government’s representatives in Qatar. Moreover, uncoordinated peace policies of the NUG were another challenge that the NUG was confronted in its peace efforts.

Concerning its security sectors, the Afghan government still, largely, relies on foreigners, that are why after the first and the second collapse of Kunduz and during the war in Lashkargah in Helmand, the foreign troops returned to the battlefield and saved these regions from falling. The NUG has many failures in areas of security, which are the consequences of poor leadership in military ranks, failure of the peace policies, corruption and incoordination between the government and security forces.

Although the NUG has held some measures to fight corruption, but corruption in the Afghan administrations is yet to decrease. Moreover, the NUG’s uncoordinated and contradictory anti-corruption policies and its failure in delivering its promises have led many people to lose confidence in the NUG’s anti-corruption struggle.

The end

[1] Read the presidential palace’s statement here:
http://president.gov.af/ps/news/288322

[2] United Nations, General Assembly, The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, A/70/1033/-S/2016/768 (7 Sep 2016), p: 4-7

[3] UNAMA released its report on civilian casualties in the first nine months of the years, read more in tolo news’s website:

 http://www.tolonews.com/pa/afghanistan/27886-un-release-new-report-over-civilians-casualties-calls-for-protection

[4] Although these statistics are provided by NATO and no third party has confirmed it, read more here:

AFP, Casualty rate soars for Afghan security forces: NATO, Daily Mail, 25 August 2016, see it online: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3758859/Casualty-rate-soars-Afghan-security-forces-NATO.html; Abdul Wali Arian, Casualties Among Security Forces on the Rise, Tolo News, 1 Sep 2016, see it online: http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/27044-casualties-among-security-forces-on-the-rise;

[5] See IWA’s statement about it 2016 survey here:
https://iwaweb.org/ncs2016u/

[6] Read Kabul News report here: http://kabulnews.af/pashto/index.php/afghanistan/8927-2016-10-01-14-20-23?keepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=&width=40&caption=%D9%BE%D9%87+%D8%AD%DA%A9%D9%88%D9%85%D8%AA+%DA%A9%DB%90+%DB%B1%DB%B4+%D8%B2%D8%B1%D9%87+%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%8A+%D8%A8%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%86%D9%87+%D8%AE%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A+%D8%AF%D9%8A

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