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Kam bo šel Afganistan zdaj? Intervju z Ahmedom Rašidom

Pakistani journalist and best-selling author, Ahmed Rashid, shares his views on the Afghan economy, corruption, the perceptions of Afghans on the year 2014, and the way ahead.

Where now for Afghanistan

Interview with Ahmed Rashid

Ahmed Rashid, in terms

of the objectives in Afghanistan

General Petraeus famously said

that we were not trying

to create Switzerland.

But as we approach 2014,

what is the measure

of success in Afghanistan?

General Petraeus said that,

but the fact was that in 2001,

Western leaders were all talking

about rebuilding Afghanistan

like a Switzerland almost.

And they promised

a great deal to the Afghans.

I think, you know, one of the very

big mistakes was that it…

The whole issue of nation building,

which meant rebuilding the Afghan

infrastructure, was very slow

and it didn’t really take off

until 2004, 2005,

by which time

the insurgency had started.

It was difficult

to get things done quickly.

And as a result we haven’t

had the economic development

in ten years, which we should have,

considering the funding

that has gone in,

from the West into Afghanistan

on economic development.

The Afghan government

is still generating

only a billion dollars

a year as revenue,

which is pitiful

after ten years of investment.

On the other side, the social sector

has seen a massive improvement.

There’s been a whole

new generation of Afghans,

urban, educated,

semi-educated Afghans

who have grown up

under this Western presence

and have benefited enormously

from this Western presence.

They’re going to school,

some of them have got jobs.

Women have been, you know,

freed from the home, etcetera.

So, you know, it’s a mixed bag.

Do you feel that the Afghanistan

conflict has reached a stage where,

whether your point of view

is positive or negative,

you can find something

to justify your opinion?

Yes, certainly, because it has

not been a resounding success.

The insurgency has not been beaten

or co-opted into the government.

The economic development

has been patchy.

The relations with the neighbours

have been difficult.

So, yes, it is easy to find whatever

you’re looking for in this conflict.

But I think, you know, there are now

certain realities with 2014 coming,

the withdrawal coming, the US,

NATO, the Afghan government,

they all have to make very serious

assessments in the next 18 months

as to what they want to do, where

they want to go, with 2014 coming.

And it’s not just about security, it’s

about a whole host of other issues.

And some of those other issues

may involve economic issues.

How key do you feel

that the economy of Afghanistan is

to the security of Afghanistan?

- Well, I think it’s absolutely critical.

And it’s very worrying for me

that the thousands of Afghans

who work for the Western

security forces as cooks or cleaners,

translators, clerks, typists, whatever,

are suddenly, who have been used

to a certain lifestyle, a certain job,

a certain income,

who benefited enormously,

who have improved

their educational standards,

they’re all going to be out

on the street without a job.

And the economy is not

in a position to absorb them.

So, my question to NATO is: What is

NATO doing to ease this transition,

to create the kind of space

for employment of these people

so that they do not…

number one, join the Taliban

in kind of disgust

and anger and frustration,

or that they just leave the country

and become lumpen refugees,

sitting in Europe

or illegal somewhere else.

So there is

a very critical economic situation

that everyone should be

looking at from now.

That includes the Western powers

and the Afghan government.

After 2014, the support that the West

will be able to give Afghanistan

will largely be in aid contributions.

Do you feel that Afghanistan has

tackled sufficiently the corruption

to guarantee that that aid

can go to the right places?

Probably not.

It’s difficult to see that happening

even in the next 18 months or so.

And it’s even more difficult to see

whether the individual ministries

in the government

are going to have the capacity

to run their own ministries, their

own budgets, and deal with these...

with their ministries fairly,

without corruption

and without Westerners

guiding them as to what to do.

2014 will clearly be

a milestone year for Afghanistan.

How do you feel it is perceived

by ordinary Afghans in the street?

Nobody is expecting Afghanistan

to be perfect in 2014,

but I think that the focus that has

been put by NATO and the US

on creating the ANA,

the Afghan security forces…

We need now a similar kind

of focus and attention and planning

and money to deal with issues like

the economy, issues like corruption,

issues like planning to...

how to end the ethnic divide

that has got worse and worse

in fact in Afghanistan

between Pashtun and non-Pashtun,

and how to deal with this issue

of governance and decentralisation,

because a lot people are demanding

changes in the constitution.

And that could well erupt in 2014,

which is also the year

by the way of election.

In terms of the Taliban, you wrote

a bestselling book about the Taliban,

what do you feel is the role

of the Taliban going forward?

Look, I think there is

a very serious attempt

by some of the older leadership

from the nineties,

which includes people

around Mullah Omar,

who would like to see a settlement.

There are many reasons I can give

you why they want a settlement,

but the most compelling reason to me

is the fact that they understand

that they failed

at governance in the nineties

when they were ruling the country.

And that if they were to rule again,

they would probably fail again

because they would be abandoned

by the international community.

There would be no money, no aid.

So in their thinking it’s much more…

it would be much more appropriate

for their own survival

to go in

for a power-sharing agreement

with somebody like Karzai or

whoever the government is in Kabul,

go in for a power-sharing agreement,

come to an agreement

so that they would get a share

of power, they would be able to rule

perhaps in some of the provinces

where they are traditionally from.

But they would not alienate

the neighbours, the West,

and the aid would keep coming.

If we imagine that kind

of government, that kind of coalition

coming to fruition, what would an

Afghanistan ruled that way look like?

Would it roll back the advances

of the last ten years?

Well, that would be

an overriding demand by the Afghans

and by the West

that the concessions to the Taliban

on issues like education,

women, on all the social advances

and even entrepreneurship,

businesses, etcetera, you know,

those are really not up there to be

bargained away or to be rolled back.

One issue which the Taliban

would probably want

and what a lot Afghans want, is

decentralisation of the government.

Afghanistan is too centralised.

The President has too much power.

And maybe that was a need in 2004

when the Constitution was made,

but Afghanistan has gone on

and people want power devolved

to the provinces, to the local areas.

And so you could foresee

a Taliban that is moderate enough

to actually concede that some

of the strictures of the nineties

should not be re-introduced?

The Taliban have conceded

some of those things already.

Already there is an official edict by

the Taliban allowing girls education.

This has been operational

for about two years.

There is a very firm direction

by Mullah Omar

not to burn down schools, you know,

and attack schools

and schoolteachers.

It hasn’t been fully applied

because rogue commanders and all

are still doing that kind of thing.

The closest we’ve seen recently

was a commitment not to allow

terrorists on a future Afghanistan,

which implies that what

the Americans have been demanding,

that they distance

themselves from al-Qaida.

Given the fact that we don’t have

a peace process at the moment

and we really don’t

have negotiations,

the Taliban have made

already some concessions.

Ahmed Rashid, thank you very much.

- Thank you.

Where now for Afghanistan

Interview with Ahmed Rashid

Ahmed Rashid, in terms

of the objectives in Afghanistan

General Petraeus famously said

that we were not trying

to create Switzerland.

But as we approach 2014,

what is the measure

of success in Afghanistan?

General Petraeus said that,

but the fact was that in 2001,

Western leaders were all talking

about rebuilding Afghanistan

like a Switzerland almost.

And they promised

a great deal to the Afghans.

I think, you know, one of the very

big mistakes was that it…

The whole issue of nation building,

which meant rebuilding the Afghan

infrastructure, was very slow

and it didn’t really take off

until 2004, 2005,

by which time

the insurgency had started.

It was difficult

to get things done quickly.

And as a result we haven’t

had the economic development

in ten years, which we should have,

considering the funding

that has gone in,

from the West into Afghanistan

on economic development.

The Afghan government

is still generating

only a billion dollars

a year as revenue,

which is pitiful

after ten years of investment.

On the other side, the social sector

has seen a massive improvement.

There’s been a whole

new generation of Afghans,

urban, educated,

semi-educated Afghans

who have grown up

under this Western presence

and have benefited enormously

from this Western presence.

They’re going to school,

some of them have got jobs.

Women have been, you know,

freed from the home, etcetera.

So, you know, it’s a mixed bag.

Do you feel that the Afghanistan

conflict has reached a stage where,

whether your point of view

is positive or negative,

you can find something

to justify your opinion?

Yes, certainly, because it has

not been a resounding success.

The insurgency has not been beaten

or co-opted into the government.

The economic development

has been patchy.

The relations with the neighbours

have been difficult.

So, yes, it is easy to find whatever

you’re looking for in this conflict.

But I think, you know, there are now

certain realities with 2014 coming,

the withdrawal coming, the US,

NATO, the Afghan government,

they all have to make very serious

assessments in the next 18 months

as to what they want to do, where

they want to go, with 2014 coming.

And it’s not just about security, it’s

about a whole host of other issues.

And some of those other issues

may involve economic issues.

How key do you feel

that the economy of Afghanistan is

to the security of Afghanistan?

- Well, I think it’s absolutely critical.

And it’s very worrying for me

that the thousands of Afghans

who work for the Western

security forces as cooks or cleaners,

translators, clerks, typists, whatever,

are suddenly, who have been used

to a certain lifestyle, a certain job,

a certain income,

who benefited enormously,

who have improved

their educational standards,

they’re all going to be out

on the street without a job.

And the economy is not

in a position to absorb them.

So, my question to NATO is: What is

NATO doing to ease this transition,

to create the kind of space

for employment of these people

so that they do not…

number one, join the Taliban

in kind of disgust

and anger and frustration,

or that they just leave the country

and become lumpen refugees,

sitting in Europe

or illegal somewhere else.

So there is

a very critical economic situation

that everyone should be

looking at from now.

That includes the Western powers

and the Afghan government.

After 2014, the support that the West

will be able to give Afghanistan

will largely be in aid contributions.

Do you feel that Afghanistan has

tackled sufficiently the corruption

to guarantee that that aid

can go to the right places?

Probably not.

It’s difficult to see that happening

even in the next 18 months or so.

And it’s even more difficult to see

whether the individual ministries

in the government

are going to have the capacity

to run their own ministries, their

own budgets, and deal with these...

with their ministries fairly,

without corruption

and without Westerners

guiding them as to what to do.

2014 will clearly be

a milestone year for Afghanistan.

How do you feel it is perceived

by ordinary Afghans in the street?

Nobody is expecting Afghanistan

to be perfect in 2014,

but I think that the focus that has

been put by NATO and the US

on creating the ANA,

the Afghan security forces…

We need now a similar kind

of focus and attention and planning

and money to deal with issues like

the economy, issues like corruption,

issues like planning to...

how to end the ethnic divide

that has got worse and worse

in fact in Afghanistan

between Pashtun and non-Pashtun,

and how to deal with this issue

of governance and decentralisation,

because a lot people are demanding

changes in the constitution.

And that could well erupt in 2014,

which is also the year

by the way of election.

In terms of the Taliban, you wrote

a bestselling book about the Taliban,

what do you feel is the role

of the Taliban going forward?

Look, I think there is

a very serious attempt

by some of the older leadership

from the nineties,

which includes people

around Mullah Omar,

who would like to see a settlement.

There are many reasons I can give

you why they want a settlement,

but the most compelling reason to me

is the fact that they understand

that they failed

at governance in the nineties

when they were ruling the country.

And that if they were to rule again,

they would probably fail again

because they would be abandoned

by the international community.

There would be no money, no aid.

So in their thinking it’s much more…

it would be much more appropriate

for their own survival

to go in

for a power-sharing agreement

with somebody like Karzai or

whoever the government is in Kabul,

go in for a power-sharing agreement,

come to an agreement

so that they would get a share

of power, they would be able to rule

perhaps in some of the provinces

where they are traditionally from.

But they would not alienate

the neighbours, the West,

and the aid would keep coming.

If we imagine that kind

of government, that kind of coalition

coming to fruition, what would an

Afghanistan ruled that way look like?

Would it roll back the advances

of the last ten years?

Well, that would be

an overriding demand by the Afghans

and by the West

that the concessions to the Taliban

on issues like education,

women, on all the social advances

and even entrepreneurship,

businesses, etcetera, you know,

those are really not up there to be

bargained away or to be rolled back.

One issue which the Taliban

would probably want

and what a lot Afghans want, is

decentralisation of the government.

Afghanistan is too centralised.

The President has too much power.

And maybe that was a need in 2004

when the Constitution was made,

but Afghanistan has gone on

and people want power devolved

to the provinces, to the local areas.

And so you could foresee

a Taliban that is moderate enough

to actually concede that some

of the strictures of the nineties

should not be re-introduced?

The Taliban have conceded

some of those things already.

Already there is an official edict by

the Taliban allowing girls education.

This has been operational

for about two years.

There is a very firm direction

by Mullah Omar

not to burn down schools, you know,

and attack schools

and schoolteachers.

It hasn’t been fully applied

because rogue commanders and all

are still doing that kind of thing.

The closest we’ve seen recently

was a commitment not to allow

terrorists on a future Afghanistan,

which implies that what

the Americans have been demanding,

that they distance

themselves from al-Qaida.

Given the fact that we don’t have

a peace process at the moment

and we really don’t

have negotiations,

the Taliban have made

already some concessions.

Ahmed Rashid, thank you very much.

- Thank you.

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