Since the downfall of the Taliban in 2001, the “elected governments” and the support from the international community has not come up to expectations.  Their attempts at bringing peace to Afghanistan failed on at least the following counts:

  • They disregarded the importance of the Tribes of Afghanistan. This was a major flaw in the policies set forth for Afghanistan by the Coalition Forces and the Government. Historically, the tribes of Afghanistan preserved the peace and the integrity of the Nation, as was demonstrated during the three Anglo Afghan wars of 1842, 1879, 1920 and the 10 year war with the Soviet Red army. During these conflicts, it was the Tribes who fought and won the wars, not the Afghan National Army.
  • Instead of seeking the cooperation of the Tribes and, at the same time, reinstituting the conscript military service, they opted for the creation of the Afghan National Army (ANA) based on the American military system. Paid by the US government, this army has taken the form of a mercenary military force.  The government of Afghanistan cannot afford to pay ANA salaries. Therefore, unless the USA is willing to carry the cost for foreseeable future, there will be no ANA or ANP (Afghan National Police) for that matter.  No pay, no ANA and no ANP.  Reinstating the Conscript service would have been a much better choice and much less expensive. With a salary of AFS 40.00 per month and coupons to purchase goods from military depots, these soldiers protected the Nation with their lives.


  • They have lost ground against the Taliban, not because the Taliban are a major fighting force, but because the Coalition continuously sends the wrong message; a message of weakness, indecision and disarray. The Taliban are attempting to confirm the perception that the coalition forces are an anti-Islamic occupying force. Therefore, support for the coalition forces have declined while Taliban influence and control increased. It is because of this that increasingly large areas of the country have ended up outside of the Government’s control. Today, less than half the population support the Coalition forces.


  • They did not apply the billions of dollars in aid to the best interests of the Afghan people. Aid money was delayed, misappropriated or misspent on unsuitable projects, with little or no effect in creating much needed jobs.  According to USA auditors, over $34 billion has been misspent on military projects in both Afghanistan and Iraq. They concentrated on building roofs on imaginary walls. The walls of Afghanistan are the young generation and the foundation, the Tribes.  Both of these sectors were naively ignored.  Thus the roofs kept tumbling down.


  • They failed to provide honest and effective governance. The Government has earned the reputation of being corrupt, incompetent and unable to deliver the expectations of the Nation.


Therefore, a new leader with a plan that addresses the needs and desires of the Nation is needed.   One who can unite the Tribes and adhere to the rule of law, to deliver better results.


Ordinary Afghans have been disappointed and disillusioned by the last thirty plus years of irresponsive governments and now want a leader that they can identify with and trust; a leader whose first loyalty is to the Country and it’s peoples and who will offer new ideas and create new hope.




Even with a new and better leader, there is a limited window of opportunity for resolving the multitude of problems facinhg Afghanistan.  At the current rate of decline, support for the Central Government and the Coalition forces, whatever is going to be left of it after 2014, is likely to evaporate within a short period of time after the last foreign soldier leave Afghanistan. We could then be faced with the prospects of either a Taliban takeover or Nationwide jihad.  To avoid such an outcome, the new leadership must immediately set a course towards unifying the various tribes and bringing them under the umbrella of the new government. Taking a lesson from Afghanistan’s proud history, the leadership must seek the cooperation of the Tribes to maintain security within the country.




In order to defeat the Taliban and improve governance, it will be necessary to develop a radically new and clearly visible approach to the Country’s problems. Trying to force-fit Afghanistan into a Western template is likely to arouse resistance and, risk failure.  Afghanistan’s history has plenty of examples where reforming zeal has foundered on the rocks of conservatism.  The watch phrase should be evolution not revolution!


We should begin by understanding the flaws in the present approach, and acknowledge the fact that now, just as much as in the past, the most effective way of achieving peaceful stability is not through fighting a war and supporting a weak government, but by talking and listening to the people; and, through the empowerment of the Tribal leaders. 


In support of this view are the facts of Afghanistan’s history.  The Afghan people have never rallied around a social policy or politics, they have always rallied around a strong leader.  Recent events have done nothing to change this situation. If anything, they have reinforced it.


By gaining the peoples’ trust, we will also be sending a clear signal of an intended change for the better – a proven approach built on a better understanding of the Country, its people and its history.







Winning Tribal trust and gaining their support and cooperation is the key to finding a solution for peace and prosperity in Afghanistan


Presently the Tribes are very suspicious of the Government’s actions and frustrated with its inactions.  They consider the Government as corrupt, inadequate and ambivalent to their needs.  This leaves them open to exploitation by the Taliban, who are able to present themselves as a better alternative to govern Afghanistan.


Taking advantage of this gap between the Government and the Tribes, the Taliban have penetrated vast regions of the Country. A new leader however, can stop the encroachment of the Taliban only by working with the Tribes, instead of against them.


Greater Tribal cooperation and understanding will allow the Government to appeal to the Taliban nationalists (Afghans), whose only real concern and cause is a free and peaceful Afghanistan.


This golden principle of working with the Tribes whenever one can, applies to nearly all aspects of government – law and order, justice, the organization and use of the police and military, defense strategy, reconstruction and aid.  The failure to do so has been the main cause of our troubles and why the Taliban – who do understand this principle and have followed it with unscrupulous vigor – and have been able to expand so effectively.



The choice of the next president will be critical to the future of Afghanistan.  We cannot afford to make a mistake.


Candidates who may appear to have what is needed but lack a credible capacity to engage with the Tribes – upon whom, better results are dependent – will not be up to the job.


Because building trust takes time, it is preferable to find a leader who is already commanding Tribal support.  This would allow Tribal supported defence planning to start at once and go into effect as soon as a new government takes office.  Such action would take the Taliban by surprise, be a highly visible signal that things were changing and be just in time to avert disaster.


If a revised defence strategy is attempted before the support of the Tribes has been obtained, it would almost certainly flounder. 


Once again, the Afghan people have never rallied around a social policy or politics; they have always rallied around a strong leader. A leader must have the following qualities: The Sword (power); Destarkhan (the cloth used to serve food on, meaning hospitality); and Family History.




My Vision For a New Afghanistan




Without law and order, there can be no effective National Government – only the expensive pretence of one.  Those charged with establishing such have not managed to do so – due to incompetence, graft, corruption and haste to build a new system of government. 




One of the great successes of the Taliban has been their ability to portray themselves representing Law and Order, albeit through fear and threat of death.  They are able to present their politicized version of Sharia law as Islamic law.  Under this pseudo religious cloak, they are able to impose themselves on the Tribes and work to discredit the elected Government. 


Taliban Sharia is not Islamic Sharia.  It is essential that the differences are made clear, and that the distorted Taliban version is labelled as such.




Our current legal strategy is poorly rooted in the fabric of the non-centralized society in which it is to be implemented.  It is perceived as being part of the State apparatus to control and suppress the Afghan people.  As such, it is in urgent need of overhaul.  Individuals are proclaimed guilty until proven innocent.  They are thrown in jail prior to any conviction.


As in the past, true Sharia law can be combined with certain aspects of Western-based law and still retain its Islamic essence.  This could achieve an acceptable balance between centralism and Tribal autonomy and, be an effective counter to Taliban propaganda.


An example to consider:  Within the Tribal domain, Sharia Law could be the first port-of-call for all minor infractions and settled locally through the traditional Tribal systems. Where the offence is of such magnitude that the punishment for those found guilty may be severe, the case then passes into the hands of State Law, where all due process is applied. With acquittal, the case is closed. Where guilt is proven, appeals are allowed. Where appeal fails to reverse judgment, the case is returned to Sharia for further trial under that Law. On acquittal, the case is finally closed. Where guilt is supported in the Sharia trial, judgment is managed under Sharia rules. By such means, the Tribes, under an Islamic banner, would feel an inclusive part of the justice system – not merely the target for its abuses.


Tribal laws could also be formulated into a recognized code of justice that embraces both Tribal and national needs.  The Tribes themselves would be involved in its development and would once again feel themselves to be a part of the legal process. This system was in practice, during the Monarchy regime in Afghanistan.




Whatever laws and systems are finally agreed upon, they must be enforceable, transparent and accountable.


There must also be a media campaign to promote public knowledge of the law and an individual’s legal rights.  This would be the first of its kind in Afghanistan and would do much to break down the perception that the purpose of laws was to suppress and control.




An important part of Afghan law should be the recognition and observation of internationally acceptable human rights.  The Government, security forces and population should be educated in the meaning and exercising of these, and taught the need to treat prisoners fairly and humanely.  They should appreciate the fact that abuse is against the tenants of Islam.




`     A properly structured and more effective police force is an essential as part of a new defense strategy to maintain law and order.  Currently, the police appear as part of the problem instead of being part of the cure.


Local police have become symbolic of Government failure.  This is exploited by the Taliban who are able to demonstrate their dominance with attacks on poorly resourced police posts.


As a first step in countering this, the pay for the police should be increased.  At present it is well below the loyalty threshold and when withheld or further reduced by corrupt leadership, the lower echelon policeman – usually the public’s first point of contact – is also forced to be corrupt in order to survive. Abuse of power then becomes endemic.


Rural police should be recruited on a provincial basis under the auspices of the Tribal Elders from areas they are to police, but with the provincial police chief coming from outside of the region for greater impartial authority.  He should, however, have a local deputy, who would have greater local knowledge. City police should have a wider regional and ethnic mix and more women involved.


The force should also be renamed as the Afghan Nation Police instead of the Afghan National Police.  The word Nation sits more comfortably with increased Tribal autonomy and does not smack of centralism in the same way as National does.


For similar psychological reasons, Tribal Police in the province, should be given new uniforms which should include the traditional shalwar (baggy pants and long trousers) of a particular colour. This will show that the police are part of the community and in one with them.





Every effort should then be made to change the public perception of the police.  Faced with a similar problem in 1952, the Malayan Police mounted Operation Service could be used as an example.  As part of the overall Malayan Emergency counter-insurgency plan, this did much to improve their image.




Like the police, the justice system needs overhauling and cleaning up.  This includes the Appeals process.  Members of the Judiciary must be better paid too, as they as well have had to resort to corruption in order to survive.




Despite the superior strength of the Coalition Forces, the war against the Taliban is being lost.  This is because force should not be the prime tool – perception should be.  To win against the Taliban, the fight has to be fought in the psychological arena.


We should begin by not calling it a “war“ at all.  We should call it extreme civil disorder.  Calling the Malayan emergency a civil emergency, shaped how it was eventually managed.


Next we must counter Taliban Sharia law.  This is effective as it works in Islamic disguise and is imposed on an ignorant population, led by poorly educated mullahs.

Even if it is perceived as faulted, it seems better than an anarchic free-for-all.


In consultation with the Tribes and the use of the media, we should conduct an information campaign combined with improved law and justice.


The campaign should show that Taliban rhetoric is politically motivated and is coming from a hard core Taliban cadre that is following a policy designed outside of Afghanistan and outside of the Islamic Religion.  We should make it clear that the expansion of the Taliban is driven by coercion, not popularity, and that its harsh reality is well protected by a ‘bodyguard of lies’.



The Taliban must be challenged on Islam.  They must be shown to have violated Islamic principles and Pushtunwali. (the Pushtun honor code). We should create debate and seed doubt.


Their pillar of presentation, that they are engaged in a war against a non-Islamic occupying force must be vigorously countered.  We must stress that the only invaders are those agitators infiltrating from Pakistan, intent on destabilizing and destroying Afghanistan.  We should also mount a media campaign identifying suicide bombers (mostly Pakistanis and other non-Afghan nationals) and highlighting the hardship caused to the victims – mostly good Islamic members of the civilian population.


We should understand too that the Taliban system is built on individual personalities.  If we can undermine these, trust will falter and their system and influence will begin to unravel.


We need good intelligence on the enemy, but we also need good information on the Tribes.  Tribal mapping will be important, as will knowledge of leading personalities and their historical relationships.  It must be appreciated that the past is relevant and that it is kept alive by oral traditions.


Understanding this will enable us to use oral histories to reinforce traditional values of loyalty and to support right over wrong and to show the Taliban as outsiders.


Following the Taliban example, we should also make better use of TV, radio and the internet.  



The importance of education must be fully realized.  The first shots in the propaganda war are fired in the class room, so immediate steps should be taken to improve the pay and status of teachers.




The army must reflect the society it belongs to and be self-sustaining.  It should also capitalize on Afghanistan’s military traditions and special abilities.  Afghanistan has never had large conventional armies.  It’s genius has been irregular warfare with small groups of fast moving, lightly equipped guerrilla forces.  With these, it has been highly successful against both the British and the Russians.  This factor should influence organization, equipment and tactics.


The army should be renamed as the Afghan Defense Force – a name which better reflects the role it should play.  Like the Police, it should be given new uniforms which would include the traditional shalwar.  We should remember the precept, ‘the less we look like them, the less we are able to bond with them’.


The army should be organized into regional regiments.  This will make it look less like a sponsored mercenary force, and capitalize on the fact that its recruits are culturally programmed to prize their regions above all others, So, by nature, they are more likely to perform better in defense of their home region than any other.


The army should be of a limited size – so that it can be more easily sustainable and be able to be better trained and its participants better paid.


Emphasis in training should be on fast response and aggressive and relentless pursuit.  To this end, equipment should be lightweight and of high quality and include armored vehicles. There should be a full range of air mobility means with good and reliable ground/air communications and there must be tight supporting fire control.


Priority should be given to the training of combat medics.  These will better ensure the care of battlefield casualties, but also be of great assistance in winning the hearts and minds of the local people.


There should be a well trained corps of engineers, who when not engaged in working directly for the army, could be employed on visible public works projects.


To prepare soldiers for civilian life, attention should be paid to education and training in technical or engineering skills, including carpentry, plumbing, electronics and etc..


To further army recruiting, and as an important facet of the government’s ability to afford a large army, conscript military service must be re-established as in the past. Afghan youth, when reaching the age of 18, must be drafted into service. Young men of 18, while still in school should be given the time to finish their education before draft. Those who are not in school or are drop outs must serve in the service for a period of 18 months.  High school graduates to serve for 12 months and college graduates to serve their time of 6 months as volunteers in their line of work, in the provinces.  All those serving in the military should be trained as part of a wider school based program, self discipline, citizenship and employment skills.   In times of defending the Nation, they will be called upon by the government to give assistance.




We should see what lessons we can learn from other counter-insurgency campaigns.  For example:-


  • The Malayan emergency – which as well as teaching the importance of the political dimension, taught the value of understanding the enemy and identifying their weak spots. It also taught the value of well trained, well led indigenous forces as most of the jungle patrolling was done by locally recruited para-military police with the mainly British military in support.


  • Much as they are doing now, the Taliban drive to power in 1994-96 successfully used the Tribal fabric to gain support.




The newly structured ADF and ANP should be used in escalating layers of defence.  First point of contact should be the Tribe, then the police, and then the army.


Giving early warning of anti-government activity should be Tribal ‘rangers’ from the new tribal police force – but geared as listening posts more than combat units.  They should be the forward scouts monitoring hostile activity.


Following up should be the Afghan Tribal police, drawn from the Tribe, backed up as required by quick reaction forces from the provincial police.


Behind this should be a home-borne quick reaction force and conventional units from the regionally recruited ADF.


Finally there could/should be the coalition forces.




  1. DRUGS


Despite spending vast amounts of money on eradicating the drug problem, production has soared.  The worldwide export value of illegal opiates now has reached about $70 billion.


The Taliban thrive on the drug trade.  They finance most of their activities through the sale of opium and/or heroin. By getting rid of drug production, we will reduce Taliban and Al Qaida activities inside Afghanistan.  Drug money feeds the insurgency.


Upto now, both the Government and the coalition forces have been pussy-footing with this major serious problem.


Eradication of opium is not a difficult task.  Afghan opium does not enjoy the aerial cover as the cocaine crops in Colombia.  The jungle provides camouflage for the coco fields whereas the desert does not provide any cover for growing opium.


There are chemicals available which are harmless to humans, land and soil, but which can eradicate this killer crop in no time. 


A part of the opium crop could be cultivated under strict control, for medicinal purposes.





  1. AGRICULTURE: as the initial important step for economic development.


Prior to the Soviet invasion, 87% of the population of Afghanistan was involved in farming.  Afghanistan produced more than its domestic agricultural requirements with the balance available for export.  The economy was based on agro/economy.


With wheat and corn as the staple crops, the Government built silos in different provinces to store excess crops.  During off-farming season, when prices were high, the Government released the stored crops to the market to stabilize prices.


Today, these Silos are standing empty and in need of repairs.  The Silos should be reactivated to once again store these vital crops.


The Ministry of Agriculture must re-establish its policy of buying the excess crops directly from the farmers.  Furthermore, the Agricultural Banks must be re-opened so that, as in the past, farmers can have a source from which they can borrow money for agricultural development such as purchasing seeds, equipment, fertilizer and livestock.



Irrigation ducts must be repaired and the (Mir Aab) water master must be re-activated.  It was the duty of Mir Aab to distribute the irrigation water according to a schedule set forth for each farmer in a village.  No one argued with the Mir Aab.


All previous active farms such as the Olive Groves of Jalalabad, the Cotton farms of Helmand and the North, the citrus farms of Nangarhar, the Sugar Cane plantations of Nangarhar and others must be re-activated.


Cold Storages must be built in various strategic farming locations so that our staple crops such as potatoes and onions are not shipped to Pakistan, only to be brought back and sold at 10 times the price during off season. These Cold Storages could serve the same purpose as the Silos.


Saffron production in Herat has proven to be one of the best cash crops in Afghanistan.  Today, thousands of Jareebs of land are dedicated to this crop. Those farmers who are ready, willing and able to convert their activities from producing opium to such a cash crop, should be given priority in receiving the right amount of funds.


Sorting and packing facilities must be built for exporting Afghanistan’s agricultural products.




Before the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan was known as the Fruit and Vegetable Basket of Central Asia.  Various types of fresh and dried fruits and vegetables were exported worldwide. Afghan Red Raisins could be found as far away as California, USA.  Afghanistan produced 120 varieties of grapes, various varieties of apples, pears, peaches and berries. Afghanistan was also among the top producers of pistachios, walnuts, cherries, apricots and pomegranates. The list went on and on.


Today Afghanistan produces a fraction of what it produced 30 years ago. The Taliban and Al-Qaida cut down thousands of mature fruit trees in the Parwan Province alone.


Thousands of tons of oranges, lemons, grapefruits and other citrus fruits were exported to Russia from Jalalabad. Today you hardly find a tree. Unfortunately, Afghanistan has become an importer of fruits and vegetables. These horticulture farms must be brought back to their former days of glory.


Processing plants for the production of fruit juices and jams must be built. Packaging facilities must also be established.


            16:  INDUSTRY:


The entire industrial base of Afghanistan was destroyed during and after the Soviet invasion. Industrial facilities for Textile, Cement, Leather Works, Shoe Factory,

Slaughter House, Sugar Factories, Cotton Plants, Pre Fabricated Housing, Wool Industry, Metal Works, Cooking Oil plants, Pharmaceutical Plant, etc. etc. were all destroyed during this period.


All of these industries are now sitting idle.  With the proper amount of investment and management, all of these industries could be rekindled and thousands of jobs created.




One of the major problems facing Afghanistan is the re-settlement of the returnees.  . 


It is time that our fellow countrymen returned to the motherland.  However, due to poor security, high unemployment and housing problems facing Afghanistan, it is necessary to ease refugees into the Afghan Society in small groups, to give the Government time to provide proper procedures and programs for the resettlement of the returnees. 


The returnees must be provided with proper housing and a resettlement program that would entail job creation at local and national level.


One solution is creating farming co-operatives, where the returnees are allocated about 200sm of land for housing and large tracts of government land for agriculture development, where the Government and Donor Nations to provide the funds, expertise, seeds and equipment to the farmers.  The farmers are to work the land on a communal basis and the government is to purchase the crops directly from the farmers and transport the products to the silos or cold storage facilities.


In this, the Pakistani and Iranian governments must help in sending the returnees home in an orderly fashion so that they would not become possible recruitment targets for terrorists.


A defeated Taliban, empowered Tribes, established law and order, loyal and effective security forces will all greatly reduce the problems in Afghanistan and make the remaining ones much easier to solve.


18: AID


The whole Aid effort has lacked unified direction, clarity of purpose, adequate accountability or clear integration into defence needs as part of a unified defense strategy. These failings should be remedied.


Aid development should be regarded as a defence ‘weapon’ and used accordingly.  Wastage should be deemed unacceptable, as every dollar wasted is another dollar’s worth of Taliban propaganda.


A new government body should be established that would be administered in close collaboration with outside western consultants, drawn from the business world rather than aid oriented backgrounds. Their brief should be to regard Afghanistan more as a failing company than a failing country, and to offer sustainable business oriented fix-it solutions rather than non-sustainable aid oriented patches.


Military personal, with appropriate business understanding, should serve in this body to assist in improved coordination between civil and military needs in the joint campaign.


Projects that create employment should be given high priority, as these offer an immediate visible change in the lives of those who become employed. At present, aid gives priority to ‘capacity building’ and the creation of Afghan company structures, which seldom live up to the promise of the proposals. As a result, development aid fails to reach those who need it most.


More visible results could also be obtained by having agricultural and reconstruction projects undertaken by the Afghans themselves, and as wanted by them, with the resources, rather than funds, for the projects, being given directly to the Tribes.  This would not only allow them to see a real benefit from foreign assistance, but encourage them to believe that they are stakeholders in a resurgent economy.


Projects should relate to real needs and be of immediate benefit to the population e.g agricultural products, roads, drainage and sewage systems etc.  Ill considered ones like the $12 million milk processing factory in Kunduz (without milk) and the $40 million ‘Mazzar Foods’ fiasco (on desert land without water, dubbed ‘Bizarre Foods’ by the media) only rebound against the government and fuel Taliban expansion.


A better example of what is urgently required and would be much appreciated is the provision of electrical power to the wider population.  This could use both conventional energy sources (hydro power, oil based fuel etc) and renewable sources (solar, wind power etc).  Using solar power for outlying locations would reduce the need for power lines – an attractive and traditional insurgent target, while improved power supplies in the cities would encourage industrial growth.  This would be a high visibility project of immense local benefit. 


Emphasis too, should be placed on projects that benefit the youth of the Country.






PAKISTAN:  a Muslim nation commanding common strategic interests with Afghanistan. They share not only an extensive border inhabited by a large Pushtoon population with close cross-border ties; they share what binds them indivisibly together, with a common history.


The terror activities presently afflicting both Pakistan and Afghanistan,  represent a significant threat to both Nations and contains the capacity to spill over our borders. If that is allowed to happen it will lead to wider regional instability and erosion of security. That cancerous affliction is in no one’s interest but the terrorists’.


Political, economical and social cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan based on national interest, must be based on mutual trust, respect and understanding.  Together, as partners, they hold the keys and the potential to forge a better future. As two Central Asian Nations, peace and harmony within both Pakistan and Afghanistan are strategically vital not only to Central Asian countries, but also to the world at large. 


It now falls to both Nations to work together as a team to bring about and maintain peace within the region. In that bold and noble endeavor, the cure for their troubles is their history. This is the foundation which ensures the essential, mutually supportive determination to face up to the present security challenges together and binds that determination to the political commitment necessary to ensure success. Upon the decisions now being made, history will judge both Pakistan and Afghanistan.


At the root, the most viable solution to the Central Asian security issue lies in ensuring significantly improved employment opportunities as the foundation to greater shared financial security. This works to support the social order favoring stability. Where the general population feels direct benefits from improved conditions, it generates a sense of stake-holder ownership which ensures stability and conditions continue to improve.


The fast track to ensuring the right foundation is the creation of a common market system embracing the six Islamic Nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.  Within that winning alliance, Afghanistan would be a Free Trade Zone, once again becoming an economic gateway between the East and West through which all of its neighbors would benefit from the resulting trade traffic. The railroad system from the neighboring five nations should be extended into Afghanistan.  To facilitate trade opportunities, the populous living within the enhanced economic zone of the new ‘Central Asian Common Market’ would be allowed cross border movement with agreed ID cards .


IRAN: an important neighbor, with a mutual history.


Similar agreements must be reached with the government of Iran.  They must be assured that any future government of Afghanistan would honor Iran’s need for fresh water and would work with them to ensure that each nation gets its appropriate requirement of this most crucial resource.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s