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Afghanistan: Imperatives of Stability Misperceived

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Shayeq Qassem*
Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies Australian National University


More than seven years have passed since the intervention of the international community in Afghanistan, yet the country has not only failed to achieve stability; it has actually experienced a downward trend on that account. The worsening situation in Afghanistan has occurred despite the fact that the Afghan government and its international partners have allocated unprecedented amounts of resources, increased their security forces and implemented socio-political and economic programs that they deemed were conducive to stability. Why and how this failure did come about? This article challenges some of the underlying assumptions for stability and the notion of political reconstruction that the international community and the Afghan government have implemented so far as being largely responsible for the gloomy state of affairs in that country.

Copyright © The International Society for Iranian Studies 2009

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1 See, for example, “The Situation in Afghanistan and its Implications for International Peace and Stability,” United Nations Report No. A/62/722-S/2008/159, March 2008. Also see “Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan (2001–2007),” United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, September 2007.

2 See, for example, Lieven, Anatol, “Afghanistan: An Unsuitable Candidate for State Building,” Conflict, Security and Development, 7, no. 3 (October 2007): 483489CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 “Afghanistan: The Problem of Pashtun Alienation,” International Crisis Group, Asia Report No. 62, 5 August 2003.

4 See, for example, Patricia, Gossman, “Afghanistan: A Government of Warlords Threatens Kabul,” International Herald Tribune, 16 October 2003;Google Scholar Campbell, Duncan, “Afghan Warlords ‘Bigger Threat Than Taliban’,” Guardian Unlimited (UK), 13 July 2004;Google Scholar Rubin, Barnett, “The Warlords’ Threat: Afghanistan's Vote Could Trigger Mayhem,” International Herald Tribune, 4 August 2004;Google Scholar Schriek, Daan van der, “Warlords Threaten to Wreck Democratization Process in Afghanistan,” Eurasianet, 10 May 2004Google Scholar.

5 See, for example, Sand, Benjamin, “Afghanistan Blames Taleban, Drug Traffickers for Deadly Violence,” Voice of America, 5 February 2006Google Scholar.

6 See, for example, “Karzai Says U.S. Underfunding Afghanistan,” MSNBC and NBC News (US), 24 September 2006.

7 See, for example, “Karzai Blames Pakistan over Taliban Attacks,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News, 19 May 2006.

8 See, for example, Gannon, Kathy, “Taliban Comeback Traced to Corruption,” Washington Post, 24 November 2006Google Scholar.

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12 See, for example, Dar Bara-e Federalism, Bakhsh-e Amozesh wa Farhang-e Hezb-e Kangara-e Milli Afghanistan [Regarding Federalism, Educational Section of the National Congress Party of Afghanistan] (Kabul, 1383 Solar Hejra Calendar), no. 1. Also see Kangara Monthly, Organ-e Nesharati Hezb-e Kangara-e Milli Afghanistan [Official Gazette of the National Congress Party of Afghanistan], no. 1, 5 July 2005.

13 Two main political coalitions, namely the Shura-e Mottahed-e Melli and the Jabha-e Melli which are dominated by, but not necessarily limited to, the non-Pushtun forces, have called for a revamping of the strong centralized political system by proposing a replacement of the Presidential with a Parliamentary system and changing of the laws to make the provincial Governors elected officials rather than direct appointees of the President. See “Mokhalefat Ba Mosharekat-e Moqamat-e Afghanistan Dar Jabha-e Melli ” [Opposition against Participation of High-Ranking Afghan Officials in the Jabha-e Melli], BBC Persian, 9 April 2007. Also see “Shekast-e Eqtesad-e Bazar” [The Defeat of Market Economy], Payam-e-Mojahid Weekly, no. 544, 20 September 2007.

14 See, for example, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powel's statement in the US House of Representatives on 24 October 2001. “Afghan Future, Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” PBS TV (US), 25 October 2001; Clark, Kate, “No Ordinary Homecoming,” BBC News, 17 April 2002Google Scholar.

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42 Fereshta Hazrati's exclusive interview with Younus Qanooni, Radio Women Message, Gutenberg, Sweden, 15 November 2005,, accessed 25 January 2007. The interview was conducted in Persian. The English translation is by the author.

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48 Robinson, “Twenty-First Century Warlords,” 127.

49 Nourzhanov, “Saviours of the Nation or Robber Barons,” 110.

50 Robinson, “Twenty-First Century Warlords,” 126.

51 Giustozzi, “The Debate on Warlordism,” 6–10.

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125 For a discussion of the concept of political stability see Hurwitz, Leon, “Contemporary Approaches to Political Stability,” Comparative Politics, 5, no. 3 (April 1973): 449463CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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