AAN Papers

Governance in Afghanistan in Regional Perspective


In discussions about governance and reforms in Afghanistan, the regional dimension – and in particular Afghanistan’s relative position in comparison with its neighbouring countries – is often neglected. In this paper Dr. Christian Wagner, head of the Asia Research group at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Berlin), compares Afghanistan to other South Asian countries to assess what can realistically be expected.

The regional comparison draws a sobering picture. Although improvement is feasible, in particular compared to the present state of civil war in many parts of the country, the country’s long-term governance prospects are limited and the challenges in state- and nation-building that the Afghan government and the international community are faced with are enormous.

Christian Wagner argues that the social and economic modernisation of multi-ethnic societies such as Afghanistan and its neighbours within a democratic framework is a long and complex process. Group interests dominate the political process and development achievements are often interpreted in the light of competing affiliations and interests. At the same time, democratic competition itself encourages the formation of group identities. Given the experiences of countries in the region, it is safe to say that forms of poor governance are likely to prevail in Afghanistan for the longer term.

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Afghanistan Analysts Network, Discussion Paper 02/2010.

Released 21 January 2010.

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