On a trip to Brussels last week I came across two research papers on rebuilding Afghanistan from the East-West Institute, which point out interesting strategies for Afghan reconstruction and security. Both papers emphasize the need for international co-operation for a regional solution for Afghanistan. The first of these stresses the importance of co-operation on water sharing, already a big security issue in South Asia.
The almost total absence of bilateral or regional cooperation on water between Afghanistan and its neighbors is a serious threat to sustainable development and security in the region. The ever-increasing demand for water, the unpredictable availability of water, and the inefficient management of water resources combine to form a complex but solvable challenge to regional security and development. Currently there are hardly any spaces in which to cooperatively address trans-boundary water issues. There are hardly any forums for dialogue or bilateral or multilateral agreements, and possibilities for data sharing or joint action are limited. (Full report here)
The other report points out how Gulf states could contribute to development in the region by promoting immigration from Afghanistan, especially for blue-collar workers, a lot of whom they already draw from South Asia
The potential of remittances to enhance economic development in poor developing nations is highlighted by the many successful examples of remittance flows to Asian countries, whose workers are based in member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In that context, the volume of remittances sent home is, for many developing countries, the largest source by far of external capital. In many cases migrant labor contributes considerably to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of recipient countries. (Full reports here)
These reports point to sustainable development strategies that are often ignored in conflicts. Water scarcity which feeds conflicts from Darfur to Kashmir, and addressing it is one of the easiest ways for the international community to alleviate them. And while I have yet to come across previous evidence of it, immigration has proven to be helpful in poverty reduction and hence presents an opportunity to ensure human security.
Further reading on Af-Pak: I would also like to point to two blogs that I find extremely informative for their detailed analysis on main-stream media reports, as well as military strategy in AfPak. The Afghan Analysts Network Blog, from the eponymous think-tank in Kabul, provides analysis and reviews of Western policy in Afghanistan on the basis of ground reports and research. Registan.net provides excellent analysis of media reports on Afghanistan based on the authors experience of Central Asia, and a sustained engagement with Western policy in the region. Both these, IMO, are excellent advocates for the need for military strategists to engage with academic research, especially ground-based anthropological and sociological research, something which has been consistently been found to be lacking in AfPak.
Previously: A Video, and My Two Bits, on Afghanistan