Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Afghanistan - Way Forward



AFGHANISTAN

S w o t  Analysis and Way Forward

Afghanistan is a virtual heaven on earth created by God.  It is very strategically located, its climate is unique that facilitates growth of high-value dry fruits; it has rich mineral resources, vast sources of sweet water and so on. But, unfortunately, being a victim of human greed and lust for power it has been turned into a poorest of poor country having a GDP (PPP) of just $966 and an HDI of 0.398 today.  Because of its strategic location it is being ravaged by unfriendly foreign powers beginning with Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan.  In the current times it has been ravaged by Russians followed by Americans though they went under different circumstances to destroy Osama bin Laden and Taliban.  With concerted effort by its people and with the help of its immediate neighbor Pakistan and other Saarc members, notably India, it can, over time, become the Switzerland of Asia. 
The objective of this presentation is to find ways and plans to develop Afghanistan into a prosperous State with the contribution of experts and planners of the world in the interest of humanity with no selfish motive.  The writer is only a facilitator and does not claim any expertise in achieving this noble goal. He firmly believes that whole world can grow faster with co-operation and friendship with each other rather than having  animosity and desire to rule and dicatate to weaker nations.


As per Wikipedia -
Afghanistan officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. It has an estimated population of about 29 million, and an area of 647,500 km2 (250,001 sq mi) with a denisity of 43.5 people per sq km.
Strategic Location: It is bordered by Pakistan in the southeast, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast. The territory that now forms Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as 50,000 BC. Urban civilization may have begun in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BC.

The country sits at an important geostrategic location that connects the Middle East with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, which has been home to various peoples through the ages. The land has witnessed many military conquests since antiquity, notably by Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya, and Genghis Khan. It has also served as a source from which local dynasties such as the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Timurids, Mughals and many others have established empires of their own.

Current History: The political history of modern Afghanistan begins in 1709 with the rise of the Pashtuns, when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani's rise to power in 1747. The capital of Afghanistan was shifted in 1776 from Kandahar to Kabul and part of the Afghan Empire was ceded to neighboring empires by 1893. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between the British and Russian empires. Following the third Anglo-Afghan war and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919, the nation regained control over its foreign policy from the British.

Russian Invasion After the 1978 Marxist revolution, the Soviet Union began a 10-year war in which over a million Afghans lost lives. The mujahidin insurgency generated by the Marxist government and the Soviet invasion signaled the first sustained entry of Islam into Afghan politics as the religion served as a force to unify the tribally divided multiethnic population. Taliban was organized by Pakistan with US money and arms to fight Russians.

The 10-year Soviet war resulted in the killings of over 1 million Afghans, mostly civilians. About 6 million fled to Pakistan and Iran, and from there tens of thousands began immigrating to the European Union, United States, Australia and other parts of the world. Faced with mounting international pressure and great number of casualties on both sides, the Soviets withdrew in 1989 but continued to support Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah until 1992.

In addition, Saudi Arabia and Iran – as competitors for regional hegemony – supported Afghan militias hostile towards each other. According to Human Rights Watch, Iran was assisting the Shia Hazara Hezb-i Wahdat forces of Abdul Ali Mazari, as Iran was attempting to maximize Wahdat's military power and influence. Saudi Arabia supported the Wahhabite Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and his Ittihad-i Islami faction.  Conflict between the two militias soon escalated into a full-scale war.

Due to the sudden initiation of the war, working government departments, police units or a system of justice and accountability for the newly-created Islamic State of Afghanistan did not have time to form. Atrocities were committed by individuals of the different armed factions while Kabul descended into lawlessness and chaos as described in reports by Human Rights Watch and the Afghanistan Justice Project. Because of the chaos, some leaders increasingly had only nominal control over their (sub-)commanders. For civilians there was little security from murder, rape and extortion. An estimated 25,000 people died during the most intense period of bombardment by Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami and the Junbish-i Milli forces of Abdul Rashid Dostum, who had created an alliance with Hekmatyar in 1994. Half a million people fled Afghanistan.

In 1994, the Taliban (a movement originating from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-run religious schools for Afghan refugees in Pakistan) also developed in Afghanistan as a politico-religious force, reportedly in opposition to the tyranny of the local governor. Mullah Omar started his movement with fewer than 50 armed madrassah students in his hometown of Kandahar. When the Taliban took control of the city in 1994, they forced the surrender of dozens of local Pashtun leaders who had presided over a situation of complete lawlessness and atrocities. In 1994, the Taliban took power in several provinces in southern and central Afghanistan.

In late 1994, most of the militia factions (Hezb-i Islami, Junbish-i Milli and Hezb-i Wahdat) which had been fighting in the battle for control of Kabul were defeated militarily by forces of the Islamic State's Secretary of Defense Ahmad Shah Massoud. Bombardment of the capital came to a halt. The Islamic State government took steps to restore law and order. Courts started to work again. Massoud tried to initiate a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation and democratic elections, also inviting the Taliban to join the process but they refused.  The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995 but were defeated by forces of the Islamic State government under Ahmad Shah Massoud.

The Taliban's early victories in 1994 were followed by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses. Pakistan provided strong support to the Taliban. Many analysts like Amin Saikal describe the Taliban as developing into a proxy force for Pakistan's regional interests which the Taliban decline. On September 26, 1996, as the Taliban with military support by Pakistan and financial support by Saudi Arabia prepared for another major offensive, Massoud ordered a full retreat from Kabul.  The Taliban seized Kabul on September 27, 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They imposed on the parts of Afghanistan under their control their political and judicial interpretation of Islam issuing edicts forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school, or to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.  "To PHR's knowledge, no other regime in the world has methodically and violently forced half of its population into virtual house arrest, prohibiting them on pain of physical punishment."

According to a 55-page report by the UN, the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacres against civilians. UN officials stated that there had been "15 massacres" between 1996 and 2001. They also said, that "hese have been highly systematic and they all lead back to the [Taliban] Ministry of Defense or to Mullah Omar himself." The Taliban especially targeted people of Shia religious or Hazara ethnic background. Upon taking Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998, about 4,000 civilians were executed by the Taliban and many more reported tortured. The documents also reveal the role of Arab and Pakistani support troops in these killings. Bin Laden's so-called 055 Brigade was responsible for mass-killings of Afghan civilians. The report by the UN quotes eyewitnesses in many villages describing Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf – then as Chief of Army Staff – was responsible for sending thousands of Pakistanis to fight alongside the Taliban and bin Laden against the forces of Massoud. In total, there were believed to be 28,000 Pakistani nationals, many either from the Frontier Corps or army, fighting inside Afghanistan. An estimated 8,000 Pakistani militants were recruited in madrassas filling the ranks of the estimated 25,000 regular Taliban force. A 1998 document by the U.S. State Department confirms that "20–40 percent of [regular] Taliban soldiers are Pakistani." The document further stated that the parents of those Pakistani nationals "know nothing regarding their child's military involvement with the Taliban until their bodies are brought back to Pakistan."

From 1996 to 2001 the al-Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri became a state within Afghanistan.  Bin Laden sent Arab recruits to join the fight against the United Front. 3,000 fighters of the regular Taliban army were Arab and Central Asian militants. In total, of roughly 45,000 Pakistani, Taliban and al-Qaeda soldiers fighting against the forces of Massoud, only 14,000 were Afghans.

On 9 September 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated by two Arab suicide attackers inside Afghanistan and two days later about 3,000 people became victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Then US President George W. Bush identified Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the Al-Qaeda organization as the perpetrators of the attacks. The Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden to US authorities and to disband al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan. Since 1990, when the communist Najibullah government had still been in power up until the dawn of the US intervention, over 400,000 Afghan civilians had died because of the wars in Afghanistan.

The country still remains one of the poorest in the world due to the decades of war, lack of foreign investment, ongoing government corruption and the Pakistani-backed Taliban insurgency.

According to a report by the United Nations, the Taliban and other militants were responsible for 76% of civilian casualties in 2009, 75% in 2010 and 80% in 2011.

"In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership but Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence. They may believe that by using these proxies, they are hedging their bets or redressing what they feel is an imbalance in regional power. But in reality, they have already lost that bet."

After Russian retreat, again devastated courtesy Osama bin Laden – a non-Afghan
Osama bin Laden managed to control Afghanistan in association with Taliban.  Osama bin Laden turnd on to its mentor US and attacked US itself in 2001. To destroy Osama bin Laden, in October 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in which teams of American and British special forces worked with commanders of the United Front (Northern Alliance) to remove the Taliban from power and dispell Al-Qaeda. At the same time the US-led forces were bombing Taliban and al-Qaida targets everywhere inside Afghanistan with cruise missiles. These actions led to the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif in the north followed by all the other cities, as the Taliban and al-Qaida crossed over the porous Durand Line border into Pakistan. In December 2001, after the Taliban government was toppled and the new Afghan government under Hamid Karzai was formed, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to help assist the Karzai administration and provide basic security to the Afghan people. The operation has ruined Afghanistan and turned it into khandhar.

In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help maintain security in Afghanistan and assist the Karzai administration. While NATO and other countries are rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, terrorist groups such as the Haqqani network are actively involved in a nationwide Taliban-led insurgency, which includes countless assassinations and suicide attacks. According to the United Nations, the insurgents were responsible for 75% of civilian casualties in 2010 and 80% in 2011.

Climate: The country's highest point is Noshaq, at 7,492 metres (24,580 feet) above sea level. It has a continental climate with very harsh winters in the central highlands, the glaciated northeast (around Nuristan) and the Wakhan Corridor, where the average temperature in January is below −15 °C (5 °F), and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the Sistan Basin of the southwest, the Jalalabad basin in the east, and the Turkestan plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over 35 °C (95 °F) in July.
Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs, large parts of the country are dry. The endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world.  Afghanistan does not face water shortages because, aside from the usual rain falls, it receives plenty of snow during winter in the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains, and the melting snow in the spring season enters the rivers, lakes, and streams.  However, two-thirds of the country's water flows into neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. The state needs more than US$2 billion to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water is properly managed.

The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range, in and around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, is in a geologically active area where earthquakes may occur almost every year.

Rich in Natural Resources: The country's natural resources include: coal, copper, iron ore, lithium, uranium, rare earth elements, chromite, gold, zinc, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, marble, precious and semi-precious stones, natural gas, and petroleum among other things.  In 2010, US and Afghan government officials estimated that untapped mineral deposits located in 2007 by the US Geological Survey are worth between $900 bn and $3 trillion.

People: Over 99% of the Afghan population is Muslim: approximately 80–85% follow the Sunni sect, 15–19% are Shi'a, and 1% other. Until the 1890s, the region around Nuristan was known as Kafiristan (land of the kafirs) because of its inhabitants: the Nuristanis, an ethnically distinctive people who practiced animism, polytheism and shamanism. Other than Muslims, there are thousands of Sikhs and Hindus found living in different major cities of the country.

The Afghan culture has been around for over two millennia, tracing record to at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire in 500 BCE. It is mostly a nomadic and tribal society, with different regions of the country having their own tradition, reflecting the multi-cultural and multi-lingual character of the nation. In the southern and eastern region, as well as western Pakistan which was historically part of Afghanistan, the people live according to the Pashtun culture by following Pashtunwali, which is an ancient way of life that is still preserved. The remaining of the country is culturally Persian and Turkic. Some non-Pashtuns who live in close proximity with Pashtuns have adopted Pashtunwali in a process called Pashtunization (or Afghanization) while some Pashtuns have been Persianized. Millions of Afghans who have been living in Pakistan and Iran over the last 30 years have been influenced by the cultures of those neighboring nations.

Afghans display pride in their culture, nation, ancestry, and above all, their religion and independence. Like other highlanders, they are regarded with mingled apprehension and condescension, for their high regard for personal honor, for their tribe loyalty and for their readiness to use force to settle disputes. As tribal warfare and internecine feuding has been one of their chief occupations since time immemorial, this individualistic trait has made it difficult for foreigners to conquer them. There are an estimated 60 major Pashtun tribes, and the Afghan nomads are estimated at about 2–3 million.

Rich Past with Budhism influence: The nation has a complex history that has survived either in its current cultures or in the form of various languages and monuments. However, many of its historic monuments have been damaged in recent wars. The two famous Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous. Despite that archaeologists are still finding Buddhist relics in different parts of the country, some of them date back to the 2nd century. This indicates that Buddhism was widespread in Afghanistan. Other historical places include the cities of Herat, Kandahar, Ghazni, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Zarang. The Minaret of Jam in the Hari River valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A cloak reputedly worn by Islam's Prophet Muhammad is kept inside the Shrine of the Cloak in Kandahar, a city founded by Alexander and the first capital of Afghanistan. The citadel of Alexander in the western city of Herat has been renovated in recent years and is a popular attraction for tourists. In the north of the country is the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, believed by many to be the location where Ali was buried. The Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture is renovating 42 historic sites in Ghazni until 2013, when the province will be declared as the capital of Islamic civilization. The National Museum of Afghanistan is located in Kabul.

Although literacy level is low, classic Persian and Pashto poetry play an important role in the Afghan culture. Poetry has always been one of the major educational pillars in the region, to the level that it has integrated itself into culture. Some notable poets include Rumi, Rabi'a Balkhi, Sanai, Jami, Khushal Khan Khattak, Rahman Baba, Khalilullah Khalili, and Parwin Pazhwak.

Media: The Afghan mass media began in the early 20th century, with the first newspaper published in 1906. By the 1920s, Radio Kabul was broadcasting local radio services. Afghanistan National Television was launched in 1974 but was closed in 1996 when the media was tightly controlled by the Taliban. Since 2002, press restrictions were gradually relaxed and private media diversified. Freedom of expression and the press is promoted in the 2004 constitution and censorship is banned, though defaming individuals or producing material contrary to the principles of Islam is prohibited. In 2008, Reporters Without Borders listed the media environment as 156 out of 173, with the 1st being most free. 400 publications were registered, at least 15 local Afghan television channels and 60 radio stations. Foreign radio stations, such as Voice of America, BBC World Service, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcast into the country.
Most Afghans are accustomed to watching Bollywood films from India and listening to its filmi hit songs. Many of the Bollywood film stars have roots in Afghanistan, including Madhubala, Feroz Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Fardeen Khan, Sohail Khan, Celina Jaitley and many others. In addition, several Bollywood films such as Dharmatma, Khuda Gawah, Escape from Taliban and Kabul Express have been shot inside Afghanistan.


Afghanistan Economy -
(as per CIA data)
GDP - composition by sector:  
Agriculture: 31.00%
industry:  26.30%
services:  42.10%
note: data exclude opium production 
Labor force:   15 million
Labor force - by occupation:  
agriculture:  78.60%
industry:  5.70%
services: 15.70%
Unemployment rate:   35%
Population below poverty line:   36%
Investment (gross fixed):   n.a.


Budget:
 
revenues:  $1.58 bil
expenditures:  $3.3 bil
Taxes and other revenues:   8.80%
of  GDP (2011 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):   9.60%
of GDP (2011 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):   7.70%
Commercial bank prime lending rate:   15.70%
 
Current account balance:
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-$2.475 bil
Exports:
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$571 mil
Exports - commodities:
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opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
Exports - partners:
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Pakistan 25.9%, India 25.5%, US 14.9%, Tajikistan 9.6%, Germany 5% (2010)
Imports:
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$5.3 bil
Imports - commodities:
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machinery and other capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
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US 29.1%, Pakistan 23.3%, India 7.6%, Russia 4.5%, Germany 4.2% (2010)
Debt - external:
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$1.28 bil
lion (FY10/11)
Exchange rates: (2011)
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45.37



Now let us make SWOT analysis of Afghanistan  :

Strength
Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution explains that if Afghanistan generates about $10 bn per year from its mineral deposits, its gross national product would double and provide long-term funding for Afghan security forces and other critical needs. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated in 2006 that northern Afghanistan has an average 1.6 billion (bn) barrels (bbl) of crude oil, 15.7 trillion cubic feet (440 bn m3) of natural gas, and 562 million bbl of natural gas liquids.  Other reports show that the country has huge amounts of lithium, copper, gold, coal, iron ore and other minerals.

One official asserted that "this will become the backbone of the Afghan economy" and a Pentagon memo stated that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium". Another 2009–2011 USGS study estimated that the Khanashin carbonatite in Helmand Province contained 1,000,000 metric tons  of rare earth elements. Another 2009–2011 USGS study estimated that the Khanashin carbonatite in Helmand Province contained 1,000,000 metric tons  of rare earth elements.

  • Low External Debt: The nation has a very low external debt and is recovering by the assistance of the world community.

  • Fast Growth: The Afghan economy has been growing at about 10% per year in the last decade, which is due to the infusion of over $50 billion dollars in international aid and remittances from Afghan expats.

  • Improvement of transportation system and agricultural production, which is the backbone of the nation's economy. The country is known for producing some of the finest pomegranates, grapes, apricots, melons, and several other fresh and dry fruits, including nuts.
  • Current marble exports are estimated at $15 million per year. With improved extraction, processing, infrastructure, and investment, the industry has the potential to grow into a $450 million per year business.
·        Improved Revenue collection: Government revenues increased 31% to $1.7 billion from March 2010 to March 2011.
  • Banking Sector Reorgnization: Since 2003, over 16 new banks have opened in the country, including Afghanistan International Bank, Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Pashtany Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, First Micro Finance Bank, and others.
  • Repatriation of Expatriates: One of the main drivers for the current economic recovery is the return of over 5 million expatriates, who brought with them fresh energy, entrepreneurship and wealth-creating skills as well as much needed funds to start up businesses. For the first time since the 1970s,
  • Construction Industry: Afghans have involved themselves in construction, one of the largest industries in the country. Some of the major national construction projects include the $35 bn New Kabul City next to the capital, the Ghazi Amanullah Khan City near Jalalabad, and the Aino Mena in Kandahar. Similar development projects have also begun in Herat in the west, Mazar-e-Sharif in the north and in other cities.
·        Industrial and Business activities: a number of companies and small factories began operating in different parts of the country, which not only provide revenues to the government but also create new jobs. Improvements to the business-enabling environment have resulted in more than $1.5 billion in telecom investment and created more than 100,000 jobs since 2003. The Afghan rugs are becoming popular again and this gives many carpet dealers around the country to expand their business by hiring more workers.
·     International Association:  Afghanistan is a member of SAARC, ECO and OIC. It is hoping to join SCO soon to develop closer economic ties with neighboring and regional countries in the so-called New Silk Road trade project.
·        Opium production in Afghanistan has soared to a record in 2007 with about 3 million people reported to be involved in the business but then declined significantly in the years following.  The government started programs to help reduce cultivation of poppy, and by 2010 it was reported that 24 out of the 34 provinces were free from poppy grow.
·   Network of Airports: Afghanistan has about 53 airports, with the biggest ones being the Kabul International Airport, Bagram Air Base, followed by Kandahar International Airport in the south, Herat Airport in the west and Mazar-i-Sharif Airport in the north. Ariana Afghan Airlines is the national carrier, with domestic flights between Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif. International flights include to Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Delhi, Islamabad and a number of other Asian destinations.

There are domestic and international flight services available from the locally owned Kam Air, Pamir Airways and Safi Airways. Airlines from a number of regional nations such as Turkish Airlines, Gulf Air, Air Arabia, Air India, PIA and others also provide services to Afghanistan. Flights between Dubai and Kabul take roughly 2 hours to reach.
·   Rail and Road Transport network: The country has limited rail service with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in the north. The government plans to extended the rail line to the capital and then to the eastern border town of Torkham by 2014, connecting with Pakistan Railways.  Long distant road journeys are made by private Mercedes-Benz coach buses or various types of vans, trucks and cars. Newer automobiles have recently become more widely available after the rebuilding of roads and highways. They are imported from the United Arab Emirates through Pakistan and Iran. As of 2012, the government has a ban on import of vehicles that are older than 10 years. Afghanistan's postal and package services such as FedEx, DHL and others make deliveries to major cities and towns.
·   Health Services: It is once again improving, which is due to the vaccination of children, training of medical staff and establishment of new hospitals. Many hospitals and clinics have been built over the last decade, with the most advanced treatments being available in Kabul. The French Medical Institute for Children and Indira Gandhi Childrens Hospital in Kabul are the leading children's hospitals in the country. Some of the other main hospitals in Kabul include the 350-bed Jamhuriat Hospital and the Jinnah Hospital, which is still under construction. There are also a number of well-equipped military controlled hospitals in different regions of the country.

According to the Human Development Index, Afghanistan is the 15th least developed country in the world. The average life expectancy is 43.8 years. It is the most dangerous place for a child to be born, with the highest infant mortality rates in the world.  About 1 in 5 children dies before the age of five, and 1 out of every 8 women dies from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. While these statistics are tragic, progress is being made. It was reported in 2006 that nearly 60% of the population lives within two hours walking distance of the nearest health facility, up from nine percent in 2002. Infant mortality has decreased by 22% and child mortality has dropped by 26% since 2003. The Afghan Ministry of Public Health plans to further cut the infant mortality rate from the current 1,600 to 400 for every 100,000 live births by the year 2020. Demographic and Health Surveys is working with the Indian Institute of Health Management Research to conduct a survey in Afghanistan focusing on Maternal death, among other things.

  • Education: Education in the country includes K-12 and Higher Education, which is supervised by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education.  The nation's education system was destroyed due to the decades of war, but it began reviving after the Karzai administration came to power in late 2001. More than 5,000 schools were built or renovated, with more than 100,000 teachers being trained and recruited.  It was reported in 2011 that more than seven million male and female students were enrolled in schools.

As of 2011, about 82,000 students are enrolled in different universities around the country. Kabul University reopened in 2002 to both male and female students. In 2006, the American University of Afghanistan was established in Kabul, with the aim of providing a world-class, English-language, co-educational learning environment in Afghanistan. The capital of Kabul serves as the learning center of Afghanistan, with many of the best educational institutions being based there. Major universities outside of Kabul include Kandahar University in the south, Herat University in the northwest, Balkh University in the north, Nangarhar University and Khost University in the eastern zones, as well as a number of others.

In 2010, the United States began establishing a number of Lincoln learning centers in Afghanistan. They are set up to serve as programming platforms offering English language classes, library facilities, programming venues, Internet connectivity, educational and other counseling services. A goal of the program is to reach at least 4,000 Afghan citizens per month per location.


The military and national police are also provided with mandatory literacy courses. In addition to this, Baghch-e-Simsim (based on the American Sesame Street) was launched in late 2011 to help Afghan children learn from preschool and onward.


Weakness
  • Irrigation system needs to be rebuilt: Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs, large parts of the country are dry. The state needs more than US$2 billion to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water is properly managed.
  • The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range, in and around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, is in a geologically active area where earthquakes may occur almost every year.
  • War Damage: The nation has one of the highest incidences of people with disabilities, with an estimated one million handicapped people. About 80,000 citizens have lost limbs, mainly as a result of landmines. Non-governmental charities such as Mahboba's Promise assist orphans in association with governmental structures.

Threat

  • Corruption: According to Transparency International's corruption perceptions index 2010 results, Afghanistan was ranked as the third most-corrupt country in the world. A January 2010 report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime revealed that bribery consumes an amount equal to 23 percent of the GDP of the nation. A number of government ministries are believed to be rife with corruption, and while President Karzai vowed to tackle the problem in late 2009 by stating that "individuals who are involved in corruption will have no place in the government", top government officials were busy stealing and misusing hundreds of millions of dollars through the Kabul Bank.
According to a 2009 news report, large percent of the police officers are illiterate and are accused of demanding bribes.


  • Illegal Drug Trade: Reports in 2011 suggested that up to 3 million people are involved in the illegal drug business in Afghanistan, many of the attacks on government employees and institutions are carried out not only by the Taliban militants but also by powerful criminal gangs. Drugs from Afghanistan are exported to Iran, Pakistan, Russia, India, the United Arab Emirate, and the European Union. The Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics is dealing with this problem.

  • Abject Poverty: Afghanistan is an impoverished and least developed country, one of the world's poorest. The nation's GDP stands at about $27 billion with an exchange rate of $15 billion, and the GDP per capita is about $900. Its unemployment rate is 35% and roughly the same percentage of its citizens live below the poverty line. About 42 percent of the population live on less than $1 a day, according to a 2009 report.
Opportunity
  • Higher return on investment as there is virtually no competition and labor cost would be low.
  • Pakistan stands to benefit most being immediate neighbor if it transforms its desire from controlling Afghanistan through Taliban to co-operating with legally established Government of Afghanistan in mutual interest.


Way Forward
  • Development of Infrastructure through Public Private Participation model of development:
-          Development of fast trek roads
-          Development of Power
-   Establishment of modern educational institutions to impart latest scientific and business knowledge
-          Provision of Houses, Drinking  water, sanitation and health services in rural and urban areas

●          Development of Mining exploration and establishment of processing industries.
●          Development of Food processing industry

(to be continued….)




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