In one my previous articles „Afghanistan – not the negatives only”  I highlighted some positive aspects of Afghanistan usually unnoticed by the general public outside this country. Visiting Afghanistan once again this year, it seemed that question – what comes after 2014? – prevails in almost every sphere among locals and, not least, among foreigners living there. However, maybe even more frequently answer to this question is sought not in the security dimension, but in the economic.
Although security situation in Afghanistan is still far from ideal and insurgent attacks are reported frequently, local security forces are gradually taking over responsibility over provision of security and, for example, while visiting Kabul this year, there were almost no signs of presence of foreign armed forces. And, although, local security forces still have significant space for progress, at the same time, quite often their capabilities seem to be underestimated abroad.
Not only further functioning of security forces will depend on foreign aid but also the local economy. Following years of unrest and instability, the local economy was able to develop. However, development of many significant sectors of economy has been substantially supported by foreign capital. Although such sectors as agriculture, mining or telecommunications might develop further with no major impediments, others, like transportation and logistics, which have been largely driven by orders for sustainment of foreign armed forces, most probably will shrink. Also public spending is strongly dependent on international aid and, for example, some employees of the public administration expressed doubts about continuing their duties if their income would reduce.
Thus, financial aid not only for the Afghan security forces but also for sustainment of economy and public spending will be essential for peaceful and stable Afghanistan in short-term perspective. At the same time, international aid to Afghanistan cannot endure forever and current assistance and capacity building initiatives have to be continued and new instruments have to be sought to enable this country in foreseeable future to become financially self-sufficient.
Also Latvia should devote more resources to assistance to Afghanistan. More visible assistance would not only contribute to efforts of the international community to reduce regional and global security risks, but could also bring practical benefits for Latvia itself, for example, by boosting perspectives of commercialization and expansion of the current route of cargo transportation through Latvia to Afghanistan .
Published 09 May 2013