Afghanistan reconstruction: A strategic balancing act

By Liana Barcia 07 September 2015

A view of Ghazni, Afghanistan, taken by the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team. How will the elevated instability and insecurity affect reconstruction efforts in the country? Photo by: James May / ResoluteSupportMedia / CC BY

After two rounds of voting hit a political deadlock, the 2014 Afghan presidential elections — the country’s first democratic transfer of power — resulted in a U.S.-brokered power-sharing agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and the government’s CEO Abdullah Abdullah. The precarious political situation, paired with the surge in violence that followed the withdrawal of most NATO and U.S. troops late last year, has provided a challenging backdrop to development and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

The new national unity government, described by Vanda Felbab-Brown, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, as a “very troubled, problematic beast,” has been off to a shaky start. Former political rivals Ghani and Abdullah are now unsurprisingly struggling to agree not only on appointments of cabinet members — one year later, the country is still without a defense minister — but also on what the extraordinary political arrangement entails.

Political wrangling has also postponed the parliamentary elections, which were scheduled to happen in April this year, to 2016. Because of this, the loya jirga or constitutional assembly, which aims to reform the country’s political and electoral process, will also be delayed.

To add a deadly dimension to the Afghanistan conundrum, Taliban violence has spiked. With already more than 5,000 civilian casualties, 2015 is well on its way to becoming the most violent year for Afghan civilians since the Taliban regime’s fall in 2001.

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About the author

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Liana Barcia

Liana is a Manila-based reporter at Devex focusing on education, development finance and public-private partnerships and contributing a wide range of content featured in the Development Insider, Money Matters and Doing Good newsletters. She draws from her experience in business reporting and advertising to generate coverage that is engaging, insightful and relevant to the Devex community.

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