The demise of Osama Bin Laden, the longest American war in history (10 years and continuing) and President Barack Obama's military draw-down schedule -- it seems that this is an appropriate time for the U.S., the Afghan leaders and international community to launch a program in Afghanistan that would leave a legacy of the highest order in terms of a common goal and assisting the people in the post-war era of Afghanistan. At this time, an economic approach may substitute war for peace and it is in accordance with the wishes of an overwhelming majority of the Afghan people.
Re-building Afghanistan calls for a realistic approach that one would have to be cognisant of several factors.
One, EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC GROWTH. The strategy of creating EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC GROWTH will most likely rapidly end the war.
Second, SHARED RESPONSIBILITY. The task would have to be apportioned among concerned parties. Shared responsibility falls on the shoulders of the central and provisional governments of Afghanistan, the private sector of Afghanistan, the contending groups and parties, the international donors, and the new enterprises of Afghanistan.
Third, LIMITED RESOURCES. Resources are limited in view of the dire economic conditions of Afghanistan and the limited wherewithal of donors in light of many obligations and the current economic conditions in the United States and in Europe.
The essence of this approach is to make EMPLOYMENT (the current unemployment is over 50%) as a means to get rid of political discord and to create jobs and earnings for Afghans, including the Taliban who would put down their arms. In the process of re-building, the young labor force in Afghanistan will have an opportunity to launch a development process and lift up the country through Afghanistan's internal resources, including its vast and valuable minerals resources, agricultural production, and development of tourism, building infrastructure, training and education. The theme will be self-reliance, dedication, discipline, hard work and candor re-capturing the traditional values of mutual respect, dignity and service to people and country.
DONORS' participation and shared responsibility is expected to assist with provision of capital equipment, financing, technology, training and management on a mutually beneficial basis. The interaction of donors with Afghans in Afghanistan will be based upon mutual respect, dignity, candor, accountability and transparency. The donors will understand that the Afghans will take charge and be in the "drivers' seat" in all matter of affairs. This means that all projects will be designed to become Afghanized, i.e., the Afghans will take over from foreign companies the implementation of projects as quickly as feasible.
It is the broad expectation that post-war Afghanistan will be a peaceful environment and it will attract many ex-patriot Afghans from all over the world to return and visit Afghanistan for the purpose of investment, employment, starting a business, raising a family, transferring music, plays, the arts and sciences and contributing to the quality of life. This will be the transformation of Afghanistan through economic means.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
Rebuilding Afghanistan through economic/employment transformation: a shared responsibility.
1. Transition from war to peace via employment and earnings
2. Creation of economic transformation -- massive public and private employment opportunity
3. Shared responsibility of investment, cost and effort
a. The government of Afghanistan (central and provisional governments)
b. Afghanistan's private sector participation
c. Donors' assistance, provision of subsidy for new employment and participation
d. New entrepreneurial activities
4. Inclusive participation by all groups regardless of party and group affiliations -- the Taliban will be invited to participate.
5. Employment Enhancement -- Focused Training and Vocational Education -- A combination of training on the job (learning by doing), short term vocational education, and concurrently holding jobs and acquiring training and education
6. Job creation through Afghanistan resources -- re-building the country through Afghanistan's internal resources including mineral exploitation, agricultural production, tourism, infrastructure and others plus DONORS' participation
7. Donors' Shared Responsibility -- Subsidy for New Employment -- Donors provision of subsidy for the cost of new labor employment is estimated at one billion dollars, a fraction of what is being spent there now. ($2,666 direct cost including overhead/worker/yr. or Donor's subsidy of 75% -- $2,000/worker/yr. for 500,000 worker/yr. =$1 billion/yr. or $6.1 billion during first five years assuming annual cost increase of 10%. Estimates of total project costs are not included). Total employment creation will be more than 500,000 due to multiplier effect. This is a fraction of what the donors are spending in Afghanistan now.
8. Building up institutional foundations of employment and jobs at the university level, vocational training and on the job participation.
9. INDICATORS for re-building Afghanistan -- Socio-Economic and political gamut -- intermittent progress report -- re-evaluation and modification.
10. CONCLUSION -- A ROAD MAP WHERE TO GO FROM HERE