The transition in Afghanistan is going to enter into its second phase, which is going to be announced officially by President Hamid Karzai on November 2, 2011, at a conference in Istanbul. In the second phase of transition the charge of 17 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces will be handed over to Afghan forces. This handover will be partial in some of the areas while in others it will be complete. The transition period started in July, when control of 7 provinces was transferred to Afghan authority, and it is expected to end in 2014, when the control of all the provinces will be handed over to Afghan forces. 2014 is the year when the international forces are due to withdraw from Afghanistan completely.
The provinces that have to come under the control of Afghan authorities in the second phase of transition period include Helmand in the south, Nimroz in the southwest, Ghor and Herat in the west, Daykundi in central Afghanistan; Balkh, Parwan, Takhar, Badghis, Sar-e-Pul, Samangan and Badakhshan in the north and Kabul, Ghazni, Wardak, Laghman and Nangarhar in the east.
The names, which have been mentioned, clearly show that the areas mostly belong to northern and western Afghanistan; whereas, the eastern and southern areas are not included. These areas are not so far very much peaceful and there are serious concerns of security about them.
But the areas that are going to be transitioned are also not entirely excluded from the possibilities of serious security threats. Though Abdul Khalik Farahi, director of the Afghan department on local governance, while announcing the names of the provinces, seemed very much optimistic and announced, "Afghanistan is passing a historical moment and opening a new page of history," yet there are serious concerns about the areas that have to be transitioned.
Lately, there have been many incidents in some of the mentioned areas that show that terrorists have the capacity to target the areas at their will. They have been successful in reaching even those areas that have been considered as very much secure, and they have even targeted the very important personalities in the country without much difficulty; the point of concern is that they have been doing them in the heart of capital.
Few days earlier a bomb hidden in a fuel truck in Parwan province exploded and killed about 12 people and injured many others. The bomb exploded when the people had gathered around a truck that was leaking fuel as it was earlier targeted by a magnet bomb.
The important thing is that the explosion occurred only about 25 miles north of the capital, Kabul. Earlier in the west, the intelligence chief of Faryab province, Sayed Ahmad Sadat died as he could not sustain the injuries that were incurred because of a suicide attack on his vehicle on October 17, 2011.
There are clear indications that security situation is deteriorating in the country and in all those areas that have been nominated for the second phase of transition. Studies even suggest that the areas that were transitioned to the Afghan authorities in the first phase of transition have experienced corrosion. Therefore, the future of the provinces that are going to be transitioned also seems ambiguous.
With the news of second phase of transition there is somewhat exaggerated excitement by many of the Afghan authorities, but at the same time there are concerns and complains by some others about the incapacity of Afghan troops to guarantee peace and to counter the growing wave of terrorism.
Some of the governors of the provinces that have to be transitioned in the second phase have complained clearly about the quantity and quality of police, soldier and equipment. Governor Musa Khan Akbarzada has reportedly said, "There has to be more modern equipment," and "After the transfer, we need to have modern weapons immediately."
The governor of Takhar in north, Abdul Jabar Taqwa has mentioned his concern, "There is a big need for police and equipment. A lot of appeals for more have been made." The governor, Karim Barawi, of Nimroz province, bordering Iran in the southwest, has asked for more Afghan Border Police and has mentioned that of 236 kilometer border with Iran, only 36 percent is protected.
Though there have been promises by Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi - he has mentioned that as soon as the second phase of transition begins, the government will start moving more troops and equipment to areas that need them, yet the concerns remain intact.
There are serious questions about the capability of Afghan forces to tackle with the growing terrorism in the country masterfully. Moreover, the corruption and lack of motivation in the forces further incapacitate them in the war against terrorism.
The number of troop members leaving the force has had an increasing trend, while the number of the members involved in different issues of corruption has also been increasing; add to it the lack of latest technology. Another important concern is the budget that would be required for maintaining Afghan army and police after the international forces withdraw from the country.
There have been indications that Afghan economy does not have the capacity to afford an army that is needed against terrorism without huge support from international community that does not seem in the position to do that.
Another important aspect of the transition period is that it must end in a stable Afghanistan. Though the security transition has been going in accordance to the programmed schedule but the political transition does not seem to be taking place.
The peace process and political stability that have to be transitioned as well, are no where to be seen. The political structure seems to be lacking the capacity to form a political integrity in the country, and the peace process seems to be going no where.
After the death of Burhan ud din Rabbani, and the growing tensions in the region, the peace process seems orphan and crippled. The vista of a peaceful Afghanistan does not seem very clear. The government and the international community while carrying on the process of security transition should also make sure that the political transition should also be kept continued and measures should be carried out before the transition period is over.