In spite of the concern about the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in 2014, Dr. Hakim Asher, a former Afghan official, said he remains optimistic that his country will be moving in the right direction and will prosper peacefully.
In an interview with Chuck Conconi on Focus Washington, a public affairs interview series, Dr. Asher, a visiting scholar at George Washington University and the former Executive Director of the Government Media and Information Center for Afghanistan, said, “The people of Afghanistan do not want the Taliban to return.” He explained that even in the 1990s, the Taliban did not control all of the country and certainly do not have the “momentum” they once had.
Religious extremists, he explained, are not unique to Afghanistan but reflect a “regional problem.” He believes that the future of Afghanistan will depend on America’s involvement, and expressed confidence that the Bilateral Security Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan will be approved and ensure the progress that has been made over the past 10 years will continue.
“The people of Afghanistan, the government, the political parties and all of the different groups are committed to keep the progress, to work for Afghanistan, and not let the Taliban return,” he said.
Dr. Asher expects that some U.S. forces will stay behind to help train Afghan forces. These forces, he said, “will be well-trained and they will be ready to tackle the challenges and problems, especially in the counter-terrorism area.” That will create an economic stability in which local business enterprises can prosper, he added.
That stability, Dr. Asher said, will create opportunities for investment in Afghanistan, a nation with more than $1 trillion worth of minerals. Other economically potential sectors include construction and agriculture. He said that because of significant investment in infrastructure over the past decade, there is must greater mobility throughout the country, a vital factor in attracting investment.
The Afghan government has also been working to attract outside investment, and, he pointed out, the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Finance recently passed laws to make foreign investment easier. Dr. Asher argued that the problem for potential investors is the media, “which do not actually show the real picture of Afghanistan.”