June 05, 2011

The man who would be King: The Challenges to Strengthening Governance in Uruzgan

31 March 2011This report highlights the many problems involved in efforts to achieve effective governance and security in Uruzgan, a crucial issue in light of the continuing deployment of Australian soldiers in this province of Afghanistan.

After the expulsion of the Taliban in 2001 Afghanistan was presented with an opportunity to rebuild the state and its governance institutions. Yet despite concerted international efforts, and funds, to promote good governance, this remains one of the key challenges the country is facing today. This report tries to explore the difficulties of strengthening governance in a conflictual context where the limited reach of the Afghan central government combined with people’s lack of trust in the fledgling state has enabled individual actors in Uruzgan to continue their strongman practices, build constituencies, and realize their own ambitions.

Many actors – traditional elders, ex-jihad commanders and provincial and district authorities – often engage in multiple activities and alliances in order to ensure their own political and economic survival. This frequently means holding government positions while at the same time trying to undermine the state. The Taliban insurgency has capitalized on the inability of the Afghan state to prevent predatory behaviour by key actors; at the time of writing, the opportunity for communities to affiliate with the government is rapidly narrowing and at present there seems little benefit in either affiliating with or opposing any party.

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