Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

Karzai meets Obama: How will they shape a post-2014 Afghanistan?

< 1 min

Christian Science Monitor
, 8 January 2013
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert contradicts assumptions of a post-2014 collapse in Afghanistan: ‘There is now a sense [among foreigners] that the lights are going to go out in 2014, that the sun is going to stop shining. In the early years, they had this overly rosy picture, but since then there has been this decline and increasing pessimism. Both are over-estimations of the international role.’ She adds that ‘[t]here is a Western point of view that we have done so much all this time, that we have tried so hard to build up this government, that it’s still in such bad shape, that it must be impossible for it to roll on and continue to exist without our help. [Yet,] the actual locally relevant governance and politics that went on was often not that visible to the foreigners here. This will probably continue.’ Often classified as dysfunctional, that system ‘has defused a lot of the possible violence. The complexity of it might be uniquely Afghan. It’s very much a personalized, patronage-based society…. Your relationships are the main capital you have, and also the greatest threat: Who is your friend and your enemy is the most important thing in life. And with all the turnovers over the decades, things have become ever more complicated, [leaving] you with layers of multiple loyalties. Anyone who’s anybody, politically or socially, even on the village level, has to engage in complicated, almost mathematical relational calculations all the time – that’s what politics are made of here. Also, it’s very brutal: It’s easy to get killed or beaten up. So you’re constantly engaging in actions to defuse that.’

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