Friday, November 7, 2008

World Bank E Conference on Afghanistan [2001] - 9

Mon Dec 10 2001 - 12:23:39 EST
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It requires an openness on all sides to work for a common goal and first education about the issues and all possible results have to be laid out. People must also put down their differences, and take ownership for the making of the new government. Women must be equally included in the future of the company and men must be ready to laid aside their egos and look at some concrete plans as to what will work and what are they willing to give and take in order to avoid their country being taken over by other hostile groups while they were sleeping at their post.

Here are some issues worth exploring that are very directly related to the current crisis in Afghanistan:

The tensions between aid/relief workers in Afghanistan and the 'international human rights community', aka 'western feminists'. At a recent meeting between operational and advocacy groups, the workers on the ground were saying, "look, you can work with the communities, the communities ultimately tell the Taliban what they can and what they can't do", but the advocates did not want to hear that, it didn't make good news copy. Similarly, when Diane Sawyer took her veil off in front of Mullah Omar, and he flinched and looked away, it made great TV in the States, but the Taliban closed the only women;'s hospital in Afghanistan that night, and that did not. Responsible advocacy should be emphasized.

Why can't Afghan NGOs work together? I am learning more and more about communication issues every day. There are many groups of young educated Afghans in this area who have their act together, but still, petty differences, little strifes, etc, end up destroying the effort. I think it has to do with lack of conflict resolution skills, along with a terribly primitive propensity to 'lobby' outside of formal meetings, so that votes become rigged, discussions are not really discussions, but only appointed leaders speak, etc. What kinds of incentive systems can be put in place for development programs to MAKE them work together and LEARN to get along? How to improve Pakistan/Afghan ties, there's a lot of misinformation and mistrust on both sides. We have to be the ones to cross that impasseAre universal human rights really universal? or are they culturally relative? For example, there is an article written by Robert Wade on the World Bank that advocates that for certain countries, some of our safeguard policies should not be applicable because those countries are so poor or because it's not part of their cultures....very thought provoking.

The key challenge in the whole Afghanistan aid game with organizations claiming expertise in reconstruction is how to direct the good ones to the resources, and to know how to tell the good ones from the self-serving ones. Any clues?

Homira G. Nassery,
Health Specialist
Mishka Zaman

Sun Dec 02 2001 - 20:39:59 EST
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This note of dissent from Citizen's Peace Coalition, Labour Alliance (a coalition of trade unions and informal sector associations), and other civil society groups in Pakistan, was prepared and submitted on the occasion of a conference organized by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and United Nations Development Program on Afghanistan's reconstruction. Islamabad,
November 27-29, 2001

It may be of interest to the readers with reference to the role of Pakistan in the future reconstruction of Afghanistan. The fact that civil society in Pakistan has taken a stand on the subject, and that this stand is quite different from that of governments and IFIs active in the region, is encouraging. Here are some excerpts from the statement. If you are interested in the full statement, the moderators will forward your request to the contributor of this post."Despite any claims made to the contrary, (the above mentioned) meeting is exclusive and unrepresentative, and reflects the lack of democratic functioning and excessive influence of Northern countries in the decision-making of the host institutions. In general, we are skeptical about the future role of the international financial institutions (IFIs) in Afghanistan, and demand a reevaluation of their policies in Pakistan.

The group expressed the following concerns:

1. Reconstruction and development should be undertaken at a basic level and no long-term decisions should be taken about Afghanistan's future that imposes the will of foreign countries or international institutions:

Conferences such as the one taking place in Islamabad are clearly unrepresentative and long-term decisions taken will be premature... Those who are genuinely able to represent the hopes and aspirations of the Afghan people will come to the fore through a political process...

2. Extremism and neo-liberal economic policies: One of the important root causes of the recent explosion of religious extremism and violent political conflicts is the unjust, monopolistic and undemocratic nature of the global economy, which is closely linked to the neo-liberal policies of IFIs. Pakistan is a perfect example of this relationship... Structural adjustment programs and loan conditionalities from multilateral institutions have created an anti-poor policy environment that exacerbates inequality and injustice, and leads to dis-empowerment and political unrest.

3. Economy of war and militarization: IFIs claim to be committed to the reduction of poverty, economic growth and development. However, they fail to admit and analyze the linkages between underdevelopment and militarization and war. More than one hundred billion dollars were spent in the Gulf war... The influence of the petro-military-industrial complex is the driving force behind the global decision-making system. The on- going US military campaign in Afghanistan is a microcosm of this political economy...

4. Foreign debt: The balance of payments crises that have plagued much of the South over the past couple of decades continue to get worse in Pakistan... Similarly, the World Bank has already started to mention that Afghanistan is still $US23 million in arrears. A war torn country such as Afghanistan will face massive reconstruction costs. If these costs are to be borne through loans from the IFIs, the Afghan population in the future will be paying off debt for generations to come. The overall development paradigm propagated by IFIs also perpetuates debt as borrowing countries are 'encouraged' to hire foreign consultants and spend enormous amounts of money on other overhead costs.

5. Privatization and Liberalization: Privatization and liberalization have been trumpeted by the IFIs as the two main precepts of neo-liberalism. The policies have resulted in a loss to food security of our smallholders and subsistence farmers as a result of abolition of subsidies for basic crops. They have also led to enormous problems for our small and medium- sized enterprises in particular. And they have also led to a decrease in real wages and an increase in unemployment.

The group also presented some 'demands':

a) The interventions of IFIs at present should be limited to immediate relief activities, basic social reconstruction, monitoring of human rights violations, etc. When the said future government is in place, IFIs can be granted a forum to discuss their future involvement in Afghanistan's reconstruction.

b) IFIs should immediately start the process of analyzing the effects of militarization and war on development. The role and influence of rich and powerful countries in determining the agenda of IFIs should be challenged IFIs should stop any funding whatsoever that is utilized for the purchase or manufacture of weapons.

c) Likely future financing for energy development projects and oil and gas pipelines may become another destabilizing factor in Afghanistan and central Asia and IFIs should ensure that the interests of the people of Afghanistan remain supreme in this regard.

d) An immediate writing off of all foreign debt should take place in the region, including any repayments incumbent on Afghanistan...

e) A thorough evaluation of current privatization/ liberalization policies should take place...

f) A system to increase the transparency and accountability of IFIs and simultaneously increase participation of concerned citizens in decision-making on development issues should be devised..."

Mishka Zaman
Washington DC

Wendy Hammond

Mon Dec 03 2001 - 09:19:24 EST
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Regarding Waldemar Kasprzik's interesting comment about reconstruction priorities, another example of an indigenous institution created to set development priorities is the Cambodian Development Research Institute in Phnom Penh. CDRI was developed two years before the arrival of the UN peacekeeping force and transitional authority in Cambodia, very much along the lines of Mr. Kasprzik's model, and still exists (in a much more sophisticated form). The conflicting priorities of international donors and political interests in the onrush of development aid after elections was welcome but disruptive and in many cases counterproductive. Cambodia
is an interesting source of lessons for the immediate future in Afghanistan.

Wendy Hammond
Academy for Educational Development, U.S.A.

Raza Gundapur
Tue Dec 04 2001 - 11:19:36 EST
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Dear Wendy Hammond,

Afghan problem.

Afghans are simple people but vested interests are projecting them as trouble-makers in the world. In 70s it was a nice little kingdom receiving millions of visitors every year. Due to the mischieves of narcotics dealers and some adventure seekers, it stands destroyed today. This Mafia is still active in the area even though US-led coalition is pounding bombs. The old curriculum requires drastic change now. The world humanitarian organizations should come forward and help the comimng generations from utter frustration.


"Wendy Hammond"

Subject: [pak-afg] Re: topic 3
Date: Mon, 03 Dec 2001 09:19:24 -0500

Regarding Waldemar Kasprzik's interesting comment about reconstruction priorities, another example of an indigenous institution created to set development priorities is the Cambodian Development Research Institute in Phnom Penh. CDRI was developed two years before the arrival of the UN peacekeeping force and transitional authority in Cambodia, very much along the lines of Mr. Kasprzik's model, and still exists (in a much more sophisticated form). The conflicting priorities of international donors and political interests in the onrush of development aid after elections was welcome but disruptive and in many cases counterproductive. Cambodia is an interesting source of lessons for the immediate future in Afghanistan.

Wendy Hammond
Academy for Educational Development, U.S.A.

Nizar Mecklai

Tue Dec 04 2001 - 15:30:40 EST
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Wendy Hammond makes a very strong case. There are many instances of NGO successes on a small scale, village by village, etc. What is important is the "political:" commitment of the "victors" to compensate the "people" of the countries destroyed. People who had nothing to do with the attitude and politics of their governments. In "democracies" it is a presumptionthat the "elected" machinery "represents" the people who elect them, but still there was the instance of Viet Nam where American people and American government apparently were in conflict.

The immediate need is going to be that the country has to be made safe from mines first and foremost, without which we can have educated students blown up, repaired injureds blown up, if all we can offer them are schools and hospitals. Without action to make the fields "tillable" there can be no agriculture and starvation will become a way of life for them. Even NGO staff will be running major risks.

----- Original Message -----
From: Wendy Hammond
Sent: Monday, December 03, 2001 4:14 PM

Regarding Waldemar Kasprzik's interesting comment about reconstruction priorities, another example of an indigenous institution created to set development priorities is the Cambodian Development Research Institute in Phnom Penh. CDRI was developed two years before the arrival of the UN peacekeeping force and transitional authority in Cambodia, very much along the lines of Mr. Kasprzik's model, and still exists (in a much more sophisticated form). The conflicting priorities of international donors and political interests in the onrush of development aid after elections was welcome but disruptive and in many cases counterproductive. Cambodia
is an interesting source of lessons for the immediate future in Afghanistan.

Wendy Hammond
Academy for Educational Development, U.S.A.
Jon Cloke

Wed Dec 05 2001 - 04:45:34 EST
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It seems to me that there's a tendency here to regard the narcotics issue in particular as some kind of externally imposed factor, whereas globally the experience is otherwise. The example of Cambodia, and indeed the whole of the Golden Triangle, is a good one for envisaging possible future scenarios for Afghanistan.

Opium cultivation in the region has a history going back centuries, and as I understand it what has made the big difference in terms of industrialisation of production has been the increased impoverishment of Afghanistan since the last war, effective civil and economic stagnation up to the take-over by the socialist regime, and a massive increase in demand from the western consumer countries since the 1970s in particular.

When it has come to destabilizing 'hostile' regimes, the US and indeed any western governments have been more then happy to encourage the cultivation of narcotics; thus in the areas surrounding the Vietnam war the CIA happily assisted in the production and transport of Opium by, amongst others, the Hmong peoples, as a way of financing a covert war of resistance against the Viet Cong. Another example of this was the covert protection given to the Contra in the war against Nicaragua in the 1980s, subsequent to the refusal of Congress to sanction further aid to the Contra after Humna Rights abuses.

Contra leaders such as Adolfo Calero and Enrique Bermudez were given protection to use and profit from the Cocaine trade from Colombia by the CIA, through dealers such as Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon, to the extent that pioneering narcotraffic networks to Los Angeles in the mid-1980s received protection from the State Department and CIA, even within the US. The US certainly at least turned a blind eye to Afghan opium production whilst the mujaheddin were fighting the Soviet Union, and the fact that the Taliban government received virtually all of its' funding from the US up until late 1999 would seem to indicate that they weren't going to make any real fuss about the trade whilst perceived US regional geo-political needs were being met.

The problem with this kind of 'good idea', as Ollie North would have it, is that after the immediate problem is 'solved' through such a clever use of narcotics, it inevitably leaves longer term problems that are far harder to solve. It is therefore not very useful to talk about narcotics dealers as though they were some foreign body or illness that 'we' are all against and looking for a solution to. 'They' are part of the establishment, the army, the police, your next-door neighbour, and when it was convenient to do so they were treated as 'honoured heroes in the resistance', and when it became inconvenient to do so they changed into 'narcoguerillas' who now appear on
the famous US terrorist list. How convenient for 'us', and how inconvenient for any long-term social and political solution in Afghanistan.

Cambodia is a desperately poor country that is still heavily under the influence of the opium trade so effectively established by the CIA and their Air America, and which is basically still being run by the same kind of warlords (ex Khmer Rouge, Khmer Serai and Vietnamese-backed government) who are lining up to run Afghanistan again. The difference is that in Cambodia there is still a lot of money to be made as well out of looting timber resources, minerals and other primary products, whereas currently Afghanistan has nothing apart from the drugs trade. There are apparently large resources of gas and oil under the country, but these would take time to develop and anyway under the current oil glut may not be economically feasible to extract.

Under any circumstances, the discovery of valuable deposits of hydrocarbons in countries with weak civil societies and a tendency towards autocratic despotism inevitably makes the situation of the vast mass of citizenry worse. Oil and gas act like the smell of rotting flesh on vultures to the elites, who not only have a vested interest in clinging onto power at all costs, they can easily afford the weaponry and secret police forces necessary to do so. Unneccesarily cynical? Then how come Nigeria and Venezuela, after decades of massive hydrocarbon income, are still beset with high poverty rates, and in the case of Nigeria has become a complete economic basket-case where bribery and corruption take the place of effective government?

In terms of effective government, there are obviously other problems. There are numbers of effective and ingenious schemes for developing effective national and local social structures, taking into account local cultural and social differences, but first and foremost amongst the conditions under which that kind of civil development can take place is that the subjects of that scheme a) actually want to change and b) are in full ownership of the scheme, rather than have it forced upon them by external 'experts'.

econdly, and of equal importance, the economic circumstances of the people have to be such that they have the time and energy to devote to reconstructing their local society, rather than merely surviving; intimately mixed in with that, of course, is the question of what they do to survive, and in predominantly rural societies, what they grow.

Having regard for local socio-economic reality in Afghanistan means examining and accepting that warfare, inter-tribal, inter-clan and inter-family, has been a central part of Afghan culture for centuries. Not only that, but the kinds of democratising, grass-roots initiatives being mentioned on this list are entirely alien to a patriarchal, rigidly hierarchical social structure of the kind that is the norm in rural Afghanistan. It may well sooth the conscience of list members to talk about addressing the civil needs of the mass of Afghan rural poor, but those poor and in particular the dominant male family heads, want nothing to do with a lot of western/democratic culture. The 'Talibanisation' of rural Afghan Islamic values may well have been far further than most of them wanted to go, but that by no means makes them incipient democrats. Most rural Afghan males would love to be able to go to the pictures again occasionally, hang around in the bazaar chewing qhat, smoke a pipe of opium or drink some illicit arak or whatever the local version is, but if you suggested the same thing for their women-folk they'd fight you to the death to prevent it. Violence and misogyny have cultural roots in many rural socities extending as far back as memory goes, and without adressing fundamentals like these, all your ideas will be brought to nought. How will you encourage ownership of local participatory development when most of the men hate what it implies and the local mullah tells them it is anti-Islamic and an offence to Allah, as happens in Pakistan and Bangladesh?

Just a few thoughts,

Jon Cloke

Raza Gundapur
Mon Dec 10 2001 - 04:05:53 EST
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Dear Waldemar Kasprzik,

Rooting out terrorism from Afghanistan means rooting out Narcotics from this region. Restructuring of US Department of Justice on strict standards of merit, honesty and loyalty as a model of excellence can help promote healthy institutions in and around Afghanistan. These institution can produce future political, social and economical leadership to the area. Now the ball is in the court of International Community. We can rely on the mutual understanding among US-led coalition to win a comprehensive war against global terrorism.

Narcotics are destroying not only the economies of the developed as well as developing countries but also with the psyches of individuals affected with this menace. Terrorists are using it as weapons against their victims. Borders of Southern districts of NWFP are vulnerable. Talibans are turning to these areas for shelter. International media should avoid playing into their hands and bring these areas into focus to avoid another disaster in the future. What is going on in the schools, colleges and universities in the southern districts of NWFP at the moment? Foreign media is ignorant about it. Educational institutions are producing terrorists and narcotics dealers. Arabs and Afghans are at freedom to defy national and international law here.


Mon Dec 10 2001 - 15:27:59 EST
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Dear Fellows, Friends and Mr. Grandapur:

I am in agreement that the "garden" must be weeded out and the watering and fertilization of the productive plants occur. The Poppies are a cash crop. The distributors of the products from it know it is as good as gold. I suggest that the war on the Taliban and Terrorists ought to include the war on drugs and the war on crime. You may pull out a weed, but seeds exist that soon grow. There is a need for quick action and a long term plan for the control and eradication of that product. Yet, something of equal or greater value must take it's place. If not then I do anticipate something will fill that vacuum, like the seeds that wait for the right conditions to grow. A regional profit center can be a hub for growth and local self esteem. In each region something that is appropriate that addresses Urban and the Agricultural area needs. If profitable, than expansion can be sustained as it will more than pay for itself. The expansion may be to transfer to other supportive or necessary regional operations. Transferred for the common good and good business plans from local individuals. If the individuals do well, we can hope that they have a heart like Mr. Moore formally with Intel. He has donated $261 million for environmental causes recently. It appears he is the antithesis of OBL. One does not need to be a mind reader, but be an action reader. It is by their actions that we know their minds and hearts (if any).

Best regards,
Sidney Clouston.

Dear friends and colleagues,

I was reminded today of several of the ideas that have emerged from our dialogue and thought I'd share with you some thoughts stimulated by some interesting presentations at the annual Society for International Development/Washington Conference today. irst, Moises Naim, the Editor, of Foreign Policy, talked about how the consequences of September 11 will be determined by people's pre-September 11 ideological perceptions. In other words, we will interpret these events according to our existing "cognitive maps of the world." I think this has played out in the various positioning and debates in our dialogue. The questions we posed in terms of root causes, and implications of the current situation, in particular, have lent themselves to interpretation according to and in reinforcement of our own beliefs about how the world has/does work. My hope is that dialogues like this one will help us to open our minds a bit to expand our cognitive maps of what is possible and acceptable.

One of the challenges of these limiting perceptions is that they prevent us from generating and subsequently realistically considering alternative solutions for where we go from here.Another very interesting line of thought was presented by Benjamin Barber, author of "Jihad vs. McWorld." He made a rather frightening point about globalization and its discontents. He argued that the lack of equity in the promotion of global capitalism is only part of the problem. To quote:

"Our [the US] first great sin may be not sharing our goods; but our second may be sharing them." e was referring to the fact that our exported "monoculture" or McWorld, threatens everything many cultures hold dear. "To think that it's about poverty and social justice," he argues, "is only half of the equation. We need to think about how societies are sustained on the spiritual, moral,
and social sides, not just materially."

So in considering where we go from here, these commentators remind us of

1) the need to begin with our own personal transformations in terms of opening to new possibilities and engaging in mutual dialogues for solution;


2) the need to engage in solution generation, identification, and implementation in ways that are respectful of values that go beyond pragmatic interests and needs and encompass belief systems and priorities with which we may or may not identify as Westerners.

These are nice ideas, one might argue, but how do we implement them? I wish the answer were easy. There are so many competing priorities and interests both internal and external to the region. I propose, however, that we need to give more serious consideration to the underlying principles of how we should be proceeding, if only to generate a language for advocacy. This is something that Mishka Zaman and The Citizen's Peace Coalition, Labour Alliance, and civil society groups in Pakistan have already initiated. I would love to see more such efforts coming from the West and other development practitioners.

Just because the process is unfolding as we interact here, and just because it is seemingly beyond our control and excluding of many important voices, we should not sit back without comment. Many of us are experts from our own experience in and outside of the region as human beings and development practitioners. Now is the time our expertise is most needed. I look forward to hearing more about yours.

With hope for the future,

Jennifer Brinkerhoff
Assistant Professor
Department of Public Administration
George Washington University

Qaim Shah

Tue Dec 04 2001 - 04:57:31 EST
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While concurring with Waldemar suggestions I would like to reiterate my earlier comment that the problem of reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan is not "what needs to be done" but the key issue that needs to be understood and addressed is "how to do it".

If I have understood Waldemar's concluding suggestion correctly, yes grassroots poverty alleviation should be undertaken through separate funding and implementation arrangements from mega communication and other infrastructure rehabilitation. For an effective rehabilitation leading to sustainable development processes there is a need for a very clearly focused, coordinated and area based grassroots development approaches.

There is also a need for a simultaneous and coordinated undertaking of emergency rehabilitation assistance for repatriating refugees/IDPs and sustainable community development programme. Communities will require emergency food security and social services during the rehabilitation of
sources of livelihood. Coordination arrangements are required to be spelt out very clearly right from the onset of initiating any activity.

Experiences from multi-agency implemented multi sectoral projects and programmes shows that this aspect is often ignored at the design stage and once implementation gets underway it becomes extremely difficult to put effective coordination mechanisms in place. As they say everyone talks about coordination but no one wants to be coordinated.

And more importantly the key for a coordinated development approach would be appropriate unified implementation mechanisms at central, provincial and local level. Choice of institution would also play an important role in the success or failure of particularly grassroots development initiatives. There will not only be a need for appropriate institutions for the overall management of development assistance but also to identify institutions and resources with hands-on experience in planning and implementation of sustainable participatory development approaches, for management of projects/programme at least in the in the initial stages. I am afraid there aren't many such institutions because most of the donors are used to the arrangements where government institutions are involved in planning and implementation, which in the case of Afghanistan are non-existing at the moment.

Given the current circumstance in Afghanistan and rule of warlords due to decades of upheaval, what is required is that development resources and inputs be used as means to promote local level development and political institutions and empowerment of communities. Unfortunately despite the lessons learnt over the past decades and availability of tons of literature on successes and causes of failure of poverty alleviation efforts, one still find projects/programmes with typical target oriented approaches where communities are organised and involved to achieve the targets and objectives of projects/programme.

On the issue of development model and institutional development, the Afghan society is not alien to the present day participatory approaches. There has always been a tradition of settlement of disputes, collective decision-making and collective management of natural resources through Jirga and Maraka (consultation) - by the way Jirga is not a Muslim World system, it is an indigenous Afghan institution which is also practiced by most of the Pashtoons in Pakistan. Despite the war and displacement of millions of people, Jirga system is still strong and is in practice. The often talked about local level institutional vacuum in participatory development context, is not there in the case of Afghanistan because of these strong traditional systems. The issue is to understand these systems and based on the existing local practices, formulate the right kind of approaches/methodologies that would warrant genuine involvement of communities for triggering sustainable development processes. Any attempt to impose solutions would amount to getting the resources into the hands of warlords and the feeling of abandonment, discontent and disenchantment among the Afghan would continue.

Qaim Shah
Chief Technical Advisor, Human Development Initiative Support Project

Tue Dec 04 2001 - 10:27:49 EST
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I would like to add some thoughts to the dialogue on governance and accountability, stimulated in part by the message from Anis Dani, as well as other messages. It is clear that a major challenge facing post-Taliban Afganistan is establishing governance structures that incorporate some degree of accountability of those who govern to the governed. This basic principle applies at all levels of government, from local to national (and, in this world of globalization, beyond to the supranational level as well).

Anis talks about the need to replace extremism with good governance, and to develop a new social contract for oppressed minorities. As many observers of Afghanistan and the region have noted, the volatile mix of local ethnic/religious politics, the legacy of the "Great Game," and present-day geopolitics creates infertile conditions for finding sufficient common ground upon which to establish a social contract. Yet, without some common ground for a social contract, Afghan citizens are unlikely to have a government that incorporates accountability and responsiveness, thus jeopardizing prospects for both socioeconomic development and political stability and peace.

It is perhaps worth recalling from where today's notions of accountability derive. They owe much to the 18th century European Enlightenment political philosophers who argued for the ascendancy of individual rights over those of the state. These thinkers posited that state-society relations should be characterized in terms of a social contract whereby citizens cede their natural right of self-governance to the state in exchange for the societal benefits derived from state sovereignty. The idea of the social contract shifted the balance of power away from the absolutist state, where the state, embodied in a monarch or authoritarian leader, ruled over citizens as subjects, toward government by consent of the governed. Further, the Enlightenment principles of universal individual rights, such as liberty and freedom of association, formed the basis for the conception of civil society as a societal entity distinct from the state.

The emergence of civil society as an autonomous, countervailing force in the dialectic relationship between the state and the citizen contributes importantly to the nexus of checks and balances that is essential to accountability, both conceptually and operationally. learly, not all countries share the political philosophical tradition that characterizes the governance systems of Western democracies, where accountability is an important feature of governance. In the developing world, those countries with a colonial legacy have governance systems that reflect the upward accountability to the colonial metropole and the inforcement of authoritarian structures. Colonial powers tended to reinforce executive agencies while neglecting legislatures, parties, and local councils. For example, in the African Sahel, the British system of indirect rule and the French system of "association" coopted traditional chiefs as instruments of central control, and instituted new laws on the selection and powers of chiefs. At independence, many of these chiefs were absorbed into the civil service as local administrators.

Thus, local government, rather than looking to village communities as constituents to whom it was accountable, looked upward to central authority.Other countries trace their administrative heritage to the Russian, Chinese, or Ottoman empires where elaborate bureaucracies developed. These bureaucracies were not designed on principles of a social contract with citizens, but to enable rulers to maintain, protect, and extend their domains. Although many of these countries have subsequently made the transition to more ostensibly democratic forms of governance, their administrative structures and cultures retain elements of these earlier functions, which inhibit the development of accountability mechanisms and of a strong civil society. In these transitioning countries, the veneer of modern governance is thin, and public officials' and citizens' behaviors and attitudes often owe more to their long autocratic histories than to their relatively short experience with democracy. Though we should not think that change is impossible; as one contributor reminded us in citing the modernization experience of Turkey under Kamal Attaturk.So in thinking about the way forward in establishing good governance in Afghanistan, it is important to seek out and build upon those elements of the country's social and political culture that can form a starting point for a social contract and accountability, as well as to build upon international best practices for good governance. Without these, the risk of a "culture of impunity," where leaders operate with wide latitude to pursue their own interests, will be high. This kind of power can create corruption problems, especially given the large influxes of external assistance for Afghanistan that will flow once the military conflict phase of the crisis is over.

Building on what I said in my earlier posting to the dialogue, I see progress toward establishing a social contract and accountability being made in many small and iterative cycles of restoration, reform, and consolidation rather than sweeping "big push" governance programs. International agencies, particularly the UN, are already thinking about governance structures for Afghanistan, and their resources and expertise can be helpful. However, the voice and commitment of Afghan citizens, including the amazing resources embodied in the country's women, will be critical to creating legitimacy for accountable and responsive governance, and developing a constituency for change.

Derick W. Brinkerhoff
Principal Social Scientist
Abt Associates Inc.


Wed Dec 05 2001 - 05:37:20 EST
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Quaim, it is good to hear from you.

Yes, you understood my concluding suggestion correctly that "grass root poverty alleviation should be undertaken through separate funding and implementation arrangements from mega communication and other infrastructure rehabilitation."

Last year I had the opportunity to assess over six months the contribution of German governmental and non-governmental agencies to the global poverty allevation. One finding was, that too many programmes and projects sail under the label of poverty alleviation for the simple reason to legitimise the funds. And I met great difficulties in identifying the positive impact on the poor. All agencies resort to global figures of performance, which are hard to verify.

Yes, we need a "simultaneous and coordinated undertasking of emergency rehabilitation assistance..." Donors have such difficulties to coordinate themselves in any specific country. Their regard their joint sessions as 'horror meetings' or as simply boring, because nobody is willing to be coordinated. The job must be done by the country concerned.

I have been managing a refugee trasnsport fleet of 200 trucks in the aftermath of famine and civil strife in Ethiopia. This experience convinced me, that we need coordination and basic operational rules. Otherweise even emergency relief operations continue to be nothing more than plain business for the big international NGOs (and the wheat dealers and shipping companies).

Thank you for correcting me on the jirga system.
Waldemar Kasprzik
Institutional Development

Nizar Mecklai

Wed Dec 05 2001 - 09:22:51 EST
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Good Governance is the "hope" of all civilized society including "developing" societies. After 54 years, Pakistan is plagued with "suspect" governance, today the newspapers even accuse the Canadian leadership of "inadequate accountability " and no doubt the same could be applied, in
varying measure to the "administrations - executive and political" of U.K., U.S.A. et al.

It must be recognized that except for a period when "externally" installed "feudal" kings were able to exercise "central" control most regions have to depend on their local "wits", even in the U.K. the "municipal" govts. exercise sufficient power to be prepared to occasional "tolerate" central direction in areas agreed upon.

It would appear to be "too early" to install a "central" govt. in Afghanistan which will only result in competing for control and corruption. Much better to allow the so-called feudal tribals to resume their systems and only direct assistance of a humanitarian nature to prevent starvation, and install schools and hospitals and economic activities in those are as willing to provide acceptable governance.

Nizar Mecklai

W. Kasprzik

Wed Dec 05 2001 - 05:37:21 EST
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Dear Raza Gundapur,

I remember a time when a famous drug dealer from Peshawar offered the Pakistan government to buy a fighter jet if the government would abstain from intervening in his business. I have no idea, if the deal was struck.To me, NWFP and the border region of Baluchistan to Afghanistan and Iran and down to the sea always seemed to be an 'ungovernable' region. And yet, in this region you are hosting at least 3,5 million refugees, a fact largely unnoticed by the international community. As messy as the institutional set-up seems to be, people manage to survive. And we should start with their capacities and potentials to build a decent life and see to it that they get their indigenous institutions.

Waldemar Kasprzik
W. Kasprzik
Wed Dec 05 2001 - 07:22:09 EST
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your invitiation

1) to begin with our own personal transformations in terms of opening to new possibilities and enduring in mutual dialogues for solution and

2) to engage in solution generation, identification and implementation in ways thate are respectful of values that go beyond pragmatic interests and needs and encompass belief systems and priorities with which we may nor may not identify as Westerners is a bold one. I like it.

But how to go about it, especially when you are an office holder in one of the development agencies? Isn't the majority of the people working there 90 percent agency and only 10 percent an authentic person? Who in the agencies does really care about your personal 'positioning'. Wouldn't you be advised to get your job done and please don't become sentimental.

I hasten to add, that the present discussion surprises me in a very positive way, as some participants from the World Bank and the IMF did take very clear positions. They did not mince their words. Chapeau!

On the hand do I have the impression that a number of development agencies are in a sort of crisis. The pioneering spirit has dried up. One tries to hibernate in the routine. But unfortunately it is a routine, which creates an increasing uneasiness. There too many 'non-dits', things which should be made transparent, be put on the table, but are not, especially in relationship with the partners in the developing countries. To give you some examples:

* Will the present design of programmes and projects carry us safely into the next decade or do they need a thorough re-designing?

* Do we need so many international long term experts out there or are there enough good local brains to do the job? And in case we need the expatriates shouldn't their assignments be more specific (clearing agent, funding agent, advocacy agent, subject matter specialist, etc.)?

* Is the claim of a partnership more than a token claim or are we serious abount sharing?

* Can it still be tolerated (with the Asian financial and economic crisis at hand) that the governments of very poor developing countries are used as 'last resort' for international lons(public and private ones) or has the time come that investors (foreign and their local counterparts) create their own emergency / rescue funds and regulatory frameworks how to cope with financial and economic crises (triggered off by them and not the common folk)?

* Can we overbome the 'pense unique' (the one-dimensional thinking) of the market economy as the only deliverer of our economic kismet (destiny) and allow ourselves thing a multiple economy?

* Are we ready to take poverty alleviation serious beyond the "helper's syndrome" as an economic, social and cultural system in its own right. The ppor don't like to be labelled as poor. It has to do with a respect for a basic dignity.

Waldemar Kasprzik
Institutional Development

Nizar Mecklai

Wed Dec 05 2001 - 09:49:13 EST
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It's a question of "lesser" evils. Unfortunately the problem is "which" bureaucracy gets the funds, the International Governmental, International Non-governmental, the local governmental -which usually has the "clout", the local non-governmental - which is more socially responsible. The intended beneficiaries usually get the last 5% of funds which remain.

Nizar Mecklai

Wed Dec 05 2001 - 10:16:54 EST
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Bravo Waldemar. Nice to hear from you.

Yes, my propositions are bold. Yes, there is no doubt that the international evelopment agencies are in dramatic need of reforms and reorientation (isn't that a constant state?). And part of this need for reform does, indeed, stem from the internal incentives for staff to think beyond one-dimension and to think with synergy between heart and mind.

However, while I could easily slide down this depressive slope, as a teacher who prepares graduate students for careers in international development, I have to maintain some hope for the relevance of the field for them, as well as myself. One could see the glass as half empty or with lots of room to fill, building on some existing volume.

We likely all agree with your comments about the internal dynamics of aid agencies. But I also want to point out that we also all likely know of people within those agencies who strive to be different. Many of us have worked directly with such actors; many who are participating in this dialogue ARE such actors. I often tell my students that it is much more difficult to create change from within an institution, than to promote it from the outside; both approaches are necessary. So, I respect those who reside within those agencies and strive to promote their own agendas for change or just different ways of approaching development. While I am very cynical about recent reforms (e.g., the PRSP, CDF, etc.), I also see them as providing a potential structure and sanction for those who already have an inclination to pursue development in inclusive ways that promote human development.

Now more than ever we need such champions. Their work is made so difficult by the many disincentives and I fear that especially in this context the political dynamics will make their job all the more difficult. But let's hope that some of these individuals will end up in key positions in the coming reconstruction and development efforts in the region.I guess what I'm pointing to here is that the "solutions" we're discussing entail more than just policy and structures. They also will necessarily build on individuals and their commitment, values, and passion.


Jennifer Brinkerhoff
Assistant Professor
Department of Public Administration
George Washington University


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