Afghanistan and The Way Forward: Incorporating Indigenous Knowledge into Policymaking

Moheb Jabarkhail

Our paper "Afghanistan and the way forward: Incorporating indigenous knowledge into policymaking" has been assigned to Vol 14, Issue 1 of the Global Policy Journal. The Global Policy Journal is an innovative and interdisciplinary journal at Durham University bringing together world class academics and leading practitioners to analyses both public and private solutions to global problems and issues.


Following up on an in person event at the Swiss Peace, in this paper, we discuss the current developments in Afghanistan, explain causes for the surprising western and democratic Afghan Governments’ failure in Afghanistan, and propose possible policy direction for practitioners grappling with Afghanistan issues.

Taking a historical context into consideration, in this paper, we explain that in recent history, wars in Afghanistan are also guided by external policies and interests, both regional and global. The wars have worsened human security and development dynamics in the country and there has never been a systematic peacebuilding and human security building effort underway that would encourage bottom-up conflict resolution mechanism and engrain sustainable peace in the country.

In the recent 20 years long Western engagement in Afghanistan after the 9/11 events, Western interference in Afghanistan overwhelmingly focused on war and counter-terrorism efforts from traditionalistic and state-centric perspective. It prioritized the use of hard power/war to quell dissent in Afghanistan and support a state apparatus that had limited local legitimacy or accountability. Human security of the people in Afghanistan remained a less important factor all through the 20 years. The Taliban group exploited this vulnerability and used it to consolidate their position and power in rural Afghanistan. As an alternative to the Western engagement in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s propagated their version of religious doctrine to herd resentment among rural Afghans into their ranks and use that support for dismantling the Western backed government in Kabul. With the Taliban back in power after the US withdrawal in August 2021, Afghanistan has reverted to the pre-2001 situation when Taliban rule 95% of the country. Now, policy makers and humanitarian agencies find themselves concerned about the socioeconomic gains—especially education and gender rights—made during the two decades of coalition presence in the country.

The paper concludes that Western disengagement is not in the interest of the international community and neither the people living in Afghanistan. Instead, the world may need to reestablish an in person footprint in Afghanistan, promote national dialogue in an inclusive Afghan led and managed Kabul Process for sustainable peace, and encourage and support the broader ongoing development and human security agenda in Afghanistan with an emphasis on gender equity and positive peace building in the country.

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