Afghanistan: A Way Forward

The following report is the Next Century Foundation’s position on Afghanistan prepared by Faria Ahmed who led the NCF Afghanistan working groups

Following previous resolutions on Afghanistan, in particular UNSCR 2489, and in the context of the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the Next Century Foundation welcomes a new mandate and echoes remarks made by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 7th of September 2021 asking for the safety, security, and rights of all Afghans to be respected. 

With more than half a million of Afghans internally displaced due to recent fighting and about 17 million facing food insecurity, the international community has failed to take a substantive stance on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and its new government; this has further contributed to an existing humanitarian crisis. 

The Next Century Foundation recognises that there are several limiting factors to resolve the ongoing issue. 

  • As a first step, the Next Century Foundation believes that the diplomatic status of the country, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, should be recognised by the members of the UN Security Council. Simultaneously, we encourage other members of the international community to not isolate the government. There should be a working relationship between the Afghan government and other international governments to ensure there is peace and stability in the region. 
  • Another focus should be on Afghanistan’s economy. The Next Century Foundation strongly recommends that the U.S Treasury and the International Monetary Fund should take active steps to provide the new government access to the country’s reserves to prevent any further economic collapse. Currently the country faces a rise in food prices and as most banks remain closed, this limits civilians’ access to cash. 
  • Additionally, and most importantly, the Next Century Foundation proposes that the international community should encourage the current government to host a Grand (LoyaJirgha where there is genuine representation of Afghans from all districts and their interest in the future of Afghanistan. The purpose of this Grand Loya Jirgha should be to pass the new constitution and to select the Head of State. The Next Century Foundation recommends that Jirghas take place in all districts of Afghanistan and Khans are selected in traditional fashion by consensus within the local Jirgha. The Khans would then represent each district in the Grand Jirgha. These Jirghas will represent the interest of the people, acting as an Advisory Council to the current government. The selection of Khans and the process of Jirghas will not only capture the trust of the people but also the trust of western allies, and international donors. The Khans hold critical positions in Afghan society today and Jirghas hold significant influence over the different districts. They can address and mitigate current insecurity and any lack of confidence at multiple levels and offer a means by which community members can play an active role in determining policy. Furthermore, women traditionally participate at all three levels of the Jirghas. This system acts as a gateway for women’s voices to be heard, increasing female engagement in the political arena, and thus addressing current concerns about a lack of avenues for female participation in governance and their rights as equal members in society. 
  • The status of women is a crucially important issue of concern not only to Afghans but to the entire international community. The Next Century Foundation believes that far more must be done to address and protect the rights of women regarding their education to university level. Currently, girls/women residing in urban areas of Afghanistan are allowed to go to schools but this attitude towards female education should be implemented across Afghanistan, including rural districts. The Afghan Government must show through their actions that they can keep their promise that all women in Afghanistan should be able to have access to primary and secondary schooling as well as higher education and not to lose out on the advancements made over the last two decades. Further to this, the government should ensure the delivery of services to the people of Afghanistan, all those women employed in the Public Sector should be able to keep their positions as civil servants and return back to work as soon as possible.
  • The Next Century Foundation welcomes the view of the current government in banning and ending the trade on opium. The current drug economy in Afghanistan, makes up some 7 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP, has had adverse impact on the health and wellbeing of Afghan civilians. The current ban on poppy cultivation will force Afghan farmers to crop alternatives such as a wheat which will positively contribute to the both the health and the wealth of the people of Afghanistan. Additionally international subsidies should be offered to farmers who grow alternation crops as a way of reducing incentives for opium farming. The rising prominence of the synthetic drug market is also a concern. The Next Century Foundation believes tougher sanctions must be placed on the development of these designer drugs. 

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