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Afghanistan’s Renaissance,Opportunities and Challenges: Sultan Ahmad BAHEEN

2014-06-09 17:41:52  来源:未知 【返回列表】

Director General of 3rd Political Department of Afghan Foreign Ministry Sultan Ahmad BAHEEN gave speech in the forum

At the turn of the century Afghanistan was disconnected from the world, had no functional government, and was economically comatose. The arrival of international forces in 2001 marked the start of unprecedented international support. However, after 12 years Afghanistan remains a burden for the international community; and even more so for South and Central Asia.

The day is approaching when Afghanistan will have to stand on its own. To do that, Afghanistan will need to adapt to the dynamics and rules of globalization. The international community and incumbent administration have made a start to this adaptation process. The new administration will have to continue it with stronger commitment and at a faster pace – it has no pretexts to do otherwise.

Over the last twelve years, most media outlets, think tanks and experts have focused on the challenges that Afghanistan faces. Despite serious security challenges that clearly remain, few experts have underlined the fact that Afghanistan enjoys a highly unique convergence of factors that it could potentially seize to develop. Today I would like to highlight the development potential that Afghanistan has.

To begin with, there are a myriad of countries contributing to Afghanistan in a variety of ways: militarily, diplomatically, or financially. The U.S. has allocated an astonishing $100 billion of nonmilitary funds to Afghanistan since 2002, the largest amount the U.S. has ever spent on reconstructing a country. Even after the drawdown of forces this year many states will remain committed: Germany, for example, has committed 430 million euro ($587 million) a year until at least 2016, while major aid organizations like the Asian Development Bank and the UN will also remain dedicated for years to come. This, the international community’s support and attention, is the external advantage Afghanistan enjoys.

Add to this a set of internal advantages. Some of these have been in place for years, while others have emerged only recently. Among the latter are Afghanistan’s democratic political institutions, which permit participation and competition. The election process meanwhile functions as a flushing mechanism for entrenched elites and ossified ideas – on paper at least. Supporting this and giving civil society a voice is a free media: today there are some 35 TV stations, over 100 radio stations and more than 150 newspapers. These are luxuries that civil societies in so many other underdeveloped states can only dream of.

Afghanistan also boasts an astonishing resources endowment worth some $3 trillion. These include massive veins of coal, copper, lithium, gold, rare elements, deposits of gemstones, and substantial natural gas and oil fields.

Afghanistan has nutrient-rich soils for significant agricultural output: some 12 percent of the arable land of the country can annually produce food for up to 160 million people. Investing in this sector could enable food processing and substantial exports. Moreover, while some claim that the nation suffers from the tyranny of geography, it does in fact occupy a unique position connecting landlocked Central Asia with South Asia and the Middle East. This offers potential as a trade and energy corridor and subsequent prospects for downstream industries.

If all of these advantages could be seized, the revenues generated could then be invested in physical infrastructure, as well as social infrastructure such as schools. There is much that Afghanistan can learn from economic success stories such as China, Singapore, South Korea, and to some extent Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Hong Kong was a negligible trading post some 130 years ago, today it is one of world’s leading financial centers. Location, a vision, and access to financial resources made Hong Kong. But it was also the human resources and their discipline that made Hong Kong.
Afghanistan has a youthful labor force (aged 0-25) of some 23 million, representing an incredible 68 percent of the population; they could be the brain and muscle to develop the country.
The cherry on top? Afghanistan has the good fortune of having two manufacturing giants next-door: China and India. Both are captivated by its natural resources endowment. Afghanistan could take advantage of their reemergence and join their economic orbit.

This array of external and internal advantages and its very timing is an opportunity that many other developing states could only dream of. As with all opportunities, it will not linger and Afghanistan will have to quickly embrace it with both hands if it wants to develop – and circumvent looming social disorder. The incredible youth ratio can be an advantage, but it could also be a liability: youngsters who do not have sufficient incentive or a stake in construction might instead lean towards destruction, especially unemployed and frustrated angry young men. Socioeconomic stasis is also a strong motivator for insurgents – the longer socioeconomic development wanders the more confident they will grow and the more appealing their lure to Afghan youth.

Afghanistan needs to realize the enormous development potential it possesses; there is a convergence of factors that will most likely not return for generations. Now is the time to put aside grievances with Pakistan and to embark on a trajectory of common interest and common development. Now is the time to increase economic interaction with China, India and any other actor that believes in economic pragmatism. Socioeconomic development and common prosperity are arguably the best remedy against the cancerous disease that threatens us all: radicalism.
If the new administration lacks the political determination and fails to seize the incredible advantages the country has, and create closer economic ties with its immediate and extended neighbors, Afghanistan will continue to disappoint; and decades hence Afghans themselves will only look back and lament.


Sultan Ahmad BAHEEN
Director General of 3rd Political Department of Afghan Foreign Ministry, Afghanistan’s former Ambassador to China

1979- 1976:
BA of Communication
Law and media course in Oxford/ London

Work Experience:
2013-Present : DG 3rd political division of MFA
2009-2012: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Afghanistan to China
2006-2009 : Spokesman & DG of Media division of the foreign ministry of Afghanistan
Oct 2002-2005
Press and information Officer& Advisor to the UN Spokesman,
Office of Communication and Public Information (OCPI)
United Nation Assistance Mission In Afghanistan ( UNAMA)

Translation of “Lessons from Afghan-soviet War” by Olivier Roy.
-Translation of “War in Afghanistan ”by Mark Urban.
- Translation of “Political Dynamism in Afghanistan” by Olivier Roy.
-Political Relation Of Afghanistan, a research on Afghanistan foreign relation.
-Translation of Biography of Dostoevsky, Russian writer.
-Hundreds of articles on different issues, published in Kabul and abroad
-Translation of a book written by Professor Kaker about Taliban