Washington, D.C. – As NATO’s International Security Assistance Force’s, or ISAF, mission in Afghanistan comes to a close, this week’s NATO summit provides an opportunity for the international community to discuss the shape of future long-term support for Afghanistan’s people and for its security and governance institutions. Afghanistan has seen real progress since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. However, as the allegations of fraud in its most recent election show, progress toward a viable and stable democracy is still required.
In a new report, the Center for American Progress has laid out some of the challenges facing the next Afghan leader and made recommendations for ways in which the international community can assist in this process.
“While far from perfect, the country is in a better place than it was under Taliban rule,” said report author Aarthi Gunasekaran, Research Assistant focusing on South Asia. “Afghans are in the driver’s seat as they prepare to complete the presidential election audit, to usher in a new government, and to begin planning for the exit of foreign troops. It is now up to the country’s duly elected leaders and the international community to make good on their commitments to tackle the remaining challenges.”
The recommendations include ensuring that the legal framework and responsibilities of a new unity government are clearly defined and openly discussed. Elections and subsequent government formation should be transparent, and all candidates and election officials should institutionalize fraud prevention and detection processes for future elections. The recommendations also include steps to ensure continued commitment to security assistance such as encouraging the next Afghan government to sign the bilateral security agreement to give the international community the ability to remain in a support-and-assist role. Finally, the report highlights areas of economic opportunity by tackling corruption, expanding on local sourcing, and investing in roads with sound engineering and rural infrastructure.