• Sustainable Engagement – BAAG and Chatham House add to the debate with new report

Sustainable Engagement – BAAG and Chatham House add to the debate with new report

13 December 2013

Journalists, academics, policy makers and numerous other pundits have expressed their opinions this year on Afghanistan’s future.  Various scenarios have been promulgated, ranging from Doomsday predictions of civil war to optimistic predictions of sovereign development and investment.   In addition, The Asia Foundation’s recently launched 2013 Survey of the Afghan People reveals the issues and concerns most important to Afghans themselves.

BAAG collaborated with the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House to consider these matters with a panel of Afghan experts.  The report of their discussion and recommendations is now available in our Resources section.  

These experts - most of whom were Afghans, many of whom were women – discussed numerous subjects pertinent to the challenges faced by Afghanistan currently.  These included the ongoing insurgency and proposed Taliban peace talks, the role of civil society and 2014 election procedures.  

Encouragingly, the overall impression was that Afghans could be cautiously optimistic about their future – though Afghan perceptions may not match Western ones of “successful” Afghanistan development.  
Complex and ingrained issues, such as widespread unfamiliarity with concepts of governance, may complicate Afghan and international development efforts.  Yet Afghans have become increasingly knowledgeable, and now vocal, about the priority issues to be tackled by their government – and are demanding progress and accountability.

The panel echoed BAAG’s concerns that an overly negative media portrayal of Afghanistan is both frustrating Afghans and may reduce future international support.  Responsibility for providing a more balanced picture lies with Afghan and international media alike.  BAAG are currently exploring this situation, specifically within UK media outlets, and hope to base future activities on their findings.   

Following the event, BAAG and Chatham House continue to discuss opportunities for further exploration of these themes.