Recently I participated in a workshop held in Ministry of Interior by an NGO aiming to help ministry leaders to develop strategic thinking and increase their capacity to deal with upcoming challenges in the lack of international community's military involvement. The workshop was for the capacity building to senior leaders of the Ministry and to help them cope with issues when foreign forces withdraw and Afghan security forces accept the entire security responsibility across the country.
There, many issues were put forward by participants. Each was talking about the ongoing problems and that that Afghan security forces would not be able to accept the responsibility; as one noticed, "We are saying that we are ready for transition of security responsibility and would be prepared for the entire mission till 2014, scheduled to be the deadline of foreign military presence, but in reality we cannot do so".
"From political point of view, we tell foreign allies that do not worry about the country and it would not fall back again to pre-2001 condition, there is no guarantee avoiding such a reversal progress", he continued.
One of the issues which was discussed and has a lot to do with this article was unemployment, which many believed as the reason of fuelling crime and believed that it directly affects police on duties. They were complaining that high unemployment rate in the country not only enlarges the crime's level but also causes social disorder. The best example is places like the central part of the Kabul city where thousands of people just purposelessly move here and there.
The output is terrible for Kabul residence as well as several other big cities across the country.
There is no day in Kabul to get out and do not remain stuck in traffic jams. It is said that the city was actually designed for only 500 thousand people and now its population has gone beyond three million. Though private and public vehicles have been amplified and Kabul streets are completely filled but meanwhile in the morning as well as in the afternoon people wait for hours to catch a bus, taxi and etc. People run after buses to catch but finally they become filled in a manner that people are asking from drivers, "Do you want to align like bricks?"
Even taxi, whose rent is too expensive for people, when stops at an area like Sar-e-Zamani, individuals rush towards it and push away others to get in first.
To reach on time on duty, people leave their homes hours before for covering the distance of kilometers.
The question is why urban population has increased disproportionately to raising living standard. It is a natural that people from rural areas migrate to urban areas seeking prosperity and convenient living standard. See the most recent example is countries like India and China where the urban population has been doubled almost within two decades. The process is largely the output of astonishing economic development of both countries.
The economic development led into establishment of gigantic factories and development of industries which stoke the employment market and enlarged demands for labors. Thus, tens of thousands of rural population left to find jobs with higher salary.
This is hardly to compare what goes in Afghanistan with the so-called urbanization occurring around the world due to economic growth and development. Though it is ignored that per capita income has increased in the country in comparison to pre-2001 period, definitely the economic growth does not match cities' population burst up. Rather demographic change in the country is proving evil. Presently, the prices of property have been multiplied, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless in the city.
So, large population is forced to pay high for rent which further pushes the price in inflationary record. The prospective of the process seems terrible. As few property owners would emerge high along with entrepreneurs, NGO's employees and the rest of people would remain unable to get rid of poverty. Because most of them are manual workers and they hardly provide their families with essential goods. So, they are not able to save money and finally have a property of their own.
So, the question is, "What is the reason behind it?" Several factors are blamed for the acceleration of process.
During past three decades, due to prevalent turmoil in the country, Afghan people were forced to leave. Presently however the security is not restored, but hundreds of thousands of refugees have returned since 2001. Major part of these families previously accommodated in urban areas in neighboring countries.
Their sons and daughters grew up in urban circumstance. Now when they return, they are not going back to villages which are strange to their sons and daughters. Without considering the exceptions, all refugees have settled down in urban areas, particularly big cities like Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif.
This process can prove fruitful to development and reconstruction if government and its international allies paid due attention and invested enough in the employment sector. The young talented and educated refugees' new generation could meet human resource deficits if corruption and nepotism were uprooted. Unfortunately, it has not gone like that.
Public offices are captured by those who have communal, personal relationship. Talent and qualification matters the least. As there are thousands with degrees, desperately seeking jobs, cannot be recruited. Instead of those unqualified individuals with no educational background recline on chairs and have no idea what to do.
The result is more corruption, inefficiency of administration and retard in development and reconstruction process.