Year in Review

Afghanistan 2013: Security Transition

10 Jan, 2014    ·   4244

M. Farshid Hakimyar identifies the security transition and challenges of governance in 2013 as major developments

Afghanistan went through very challenging processes of political stabilizing, economic development and security transition in 2013. The security transition, BSA and the preparation for Presidential elections in 2014 could be identified as three major developments during the last year.
Security Transition
The 0.5 million of Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) took considerable responsibilities of security from 0.1 million International Security Forces (ISF). This transition started as “Kabul Process” in 2010 and will be completed in 2014. Moreover still ANSF totally depend on international aid money moreover there is need for mentorship of ANSF. The threats from terrorists groups are very high and international support is key to sustainability of the ANSF in their struggle for stabilization of the Afghanistan.  
Hakimullah Mehsud Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader; Nasiruddin Haqani, financer of Jalaluddin Haqani Network and a number of other terrorist high and mid ranking leaders were killed by drone attacked during 2013. Moreover, Afghanistan government has initiated a peace process in 2010 to bring Taliban to peace negotiations. In 2013, Taliban agreed for opening a representative office in Doha, Qatar. At early stage, Afghanistan government supported the idea, but soon the Taliban office was closed due to Afghanistan government insistency on lowering Taliban Emirate Flag. President Karzai met with a number of Taliban leaders secretly in 2013 for paving the ground for peace negotiation, but so far, less development is availed. 
Government of Afghanistan, after gaining the control of Bagram military Base prison from ISF— ISF’s biggest insurgency prison-- continued releasing the Taliban prisoners to signal Taliban leaders for agreeing on negotiation. This gesture has been very controversial, even Afghanistan intelligence and judicial officials complained, although political oppositions disagreed with this policy from the very beginning.
Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) 
The ‘drafted by Afghan-US governments in 2013, this is a document that legalize the stationing of roughly 9,000 to 12,000 ISF to remain beyond 2014 for mentoring ANSF and also conducting counterterrorism campaign against Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan. BSA will also provide eight military bases for ISF longterm stay in Afghanistan.
The BSA went through long national processes of consultations. President Karzai organized a ‘Consultative Loya Jirga’ (CLJ) where nearly 3,000 people from 34 provinces of Afghanistan were invited to advice him for approval/disapproval of this document. CLJ with considerable majority supported the endorsement of the BSA asked President Karzai for ‘go ahead’.  Moreover, President Hamid Karzai made a number of diplomatic visits from regional countries and seeked their sight on BSA. Excluding Iran, the rest supported the endorsement; still BSA is not signed yet.
Preparing for 2014 Elections
Afghanistan Independent Election commission (AIEC) took the responsibility of organization Elections in 2009 from international fellows, therefore upcoming 2014 presidential election is the second experience that Afghans are on lead practicing peaceful transferring of political power through free and fair election, 2013 was a very busy year for AIEC. Although the entire process is funded from the international aid and unfortunately Afghans still is not able to finance their election. The total cost of the election is estimated around $130 million.
In 2013, initially though the initial list was bigger, after the relevant processes and vetting, there are only 11 candidates who will contest for presidential election in early 2014.
The four top candidates are: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, opposition leader; Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadizai former Chairman of Inteqal Board; Dr. Zalmai Rasoul, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Qayum Karzai, older and full blood brother of President Karzai. 
Issues of Governance
Afghanistan processes of security and political transitions have created relatively a level of fear among domestic and international investors. Afghanistan witnessed a serious of cash smuggling to abroad in 2013. Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) failed to prevent this. This cost huge level of inflation, unemployment in market. According to statement from Afghanistan Ministry of Finance, still nearly %65 of Afghanistan national budget is from international aid. 
Information communication technology moved upward in 2013. By now, over 70 percent of Afghanistan population that is roughly 20 million people have access to mobile phones. 3G and 4G packages of Internet access through smart phones were another booming market in 2013 especially in big cities of Kabul, Mazar and Herat.
Corruption and Drug cultivation still remains the two major issues in Afghanistan in 2013. Government and international stakeholders failed to decrease its volumes. Both issues are potential threats for political and economic stability in Afghanistan for the years to come. 
Afghanistan national football team defeated India in final match of SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) companionship brought home the victory trophy. This was a great national pride for Afghans. Afghans around the country got out on the streets and cheered up their victory. This great achievement continued with victory of Afghanistan National Cricket in Abu Dhabi matches and ascended to 2015 world cup competition.
2013 was a rough year for Afghan women. A number of serious violence cases, which were cutting lips and noses of women by their family members covered all the national and international medias. Women believed to have a long way to get their rights and to be dealt as equal citizens in this country.