The international coalition cannot defeat the Taliban without a strengthened Afghan state. It should work through the Afghan government—rather than international agencies—to increase economic opportunity and foster effective political institutions at the district and province level.
Visiting Washington after Afghanistan, UK Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander told an audience the Carnegie Endowment that Afghans need to see their government, rather than the international coalition or non-governmental organizations—or the Taliban—delivering improvements if the Afghan state is going to be viable in the long-term.
He cited improved security and increased access to justice as the top development priorities, with health, education, and other basic services as critical but secondary. Alexander also called on the international community to support Pakistan’s efforts to combat extremism in the provinces bordering Afghanistan.
Alexander identified concrete ways for the international coalition to reinforce the capacity of the Afghan government to secure the population and provide necessary services, which include:
“Security and justice matter as much if not more than the provision of other basic services in the eyes of many ordinary Afghans,” Alexander concluded. “Only a stronger state at local and national level can deliver this basic security. Far from being peripheral to our shared mission, actions to strengthen the capacity of the state to deliver security and basic services to the population—including a stronger economy in which they can make a decent living—are central to our task. Such a comprehensive approach is needed to convince Afghan population to reject the Taliban and embrace a different future for their communities and country.”
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