Ambassador Said T. Jawad said the troubled Middle-Eastern nation—which became a focus of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts following the September 11 attacks—has struggled to rebuild, as the United States shifted its resources toward Iraq.
“State building became uncoordinated,” Jawad said. “The building of the police force was limited, and the judicial system didn’t receive the attention it deserved.”
“In Afghanistan we did what we could,” he said in reference to rebuilding and anti-terrorism efforts. “In Iraq we did what we must.”
Jawad’s remarks come as President Barack Obama’s nascent administration has signalled an intention to increase its focus on the nation.
The ambassador outlined a series of steps he hoped the Afghan government could implement with U.S. support, including more troops, fighting narcotics growth, and starting negotiations with the Taliban, the terrorist organization that ran Afghanistan prior to the U.S. invasion.
Jawad also said Afghanistan needed better trained and equipped armed forces to maintain domestic order, though he expressed concerns that funding for military training could end up aiding warlords and narco-traffickers if not carefully targeted.
Negotiating with the Taliban, a group that continues to engage in terrorist activities, was another key plank of Jawad’s platform.
Jawad said the government could successfully fight the Taliban’s influence by winning over its impoverished members, many of whom subsist on less than $300 a day—a figure the government could easily double.
The nation’s thriving opium trade, which Jawad said funded many terrorists efforts, must also be curtailed through providing alternative forms of agriculture such as pomegranates. Jawad added that this approach would be more successful than a policy of eradication, which he said would be unrealistic.
Though Afghanistan still faces major problems, Jawad said assistance from the United States has proved crucial in improving life there since the Taliban’s ouster. But he added future improvements rely just as heavily on U.S. support.
“Success of [this] newest strategy depends on how much resources they can allocate,” he said.