عنوان مقاله [English]
After the fall of the Taliban and the establishment of a democratic power structure in Afghanistan, the country was expected to witness an economic development in the light of political development. This article examines the state of Afghanistan's economic development during the era of democracy. To this end, while examining the developments in the establishment of democracy and macroeconomic development programs in Afghanistan, theoretical approaches to the relationship between democracy and development as well as statistical analysis of economic development indicators have been used. This paper attempts to answer the question of whether political development and democratization brings about political development while assessing the state of Afghanistan's economic development in the process of political and democratic transformation. Our study shows that the indicators of economic development have not changed significantly from 2001 to 2017. These findings suggest that during democratization, Afghanistan came to terms with economic problems by addressing the economic growth rather than the economic development issue. While quantitative indicators such as Gross Domestic Product and urbanization rate have seen improvement, qualitative indicators of development such as poverty alleviation, per capita income growth and equitable distribution of wealth, human development,and industrialization have not grown as much. Therefore, given the vast amount of international community support, efforts to establish democracy in Afghanistan have not led to an improvement in qualitative indicators of development as expected. In fact, in the post-Taliban era, government achievements were mainly concerned with political democracy rather than with economic development. Democracy in Afghanistan, being associated rather with insecurity, corruption, financial mishandling, electoral fraud, rentier economy,and the escalation of urban and rural disparity, has had an incompatible relationship with economic development.
Democracy is considered the most important and crucial political evolution in Afghan modern history. The context of Post-Taliban Afghan politics and geography was able to connect to the new world order through the establishment of democracy. Democracy entailed many commitments of the West towards this country. Therefore, Democracy as the first and foremost international treaty on the political history of government formation in Afghanistan and its link to the modern world order is considered in the aspects of good governance, security and economic development. In reality, this political model (democracy) is considered as the only version of development in the Post-Taliban era. For this reason, some scholars believe that democracy has been considered an exogenous phenomenon in Afghanistan. This development is seen as the best opportunity for the Afghan elites in terms of regional and global consensus on democracy to solve the biggest political problem of post-Taliban Afghanistan. As mentioned, at the national and global levels, important features and objectives of democracy in Afghanistan were defined, including security, civil liberties, political participation,and economic development. Seventeen years after the outset of the democratization process in Afghanistan, it is seen as an opportune time to examine the status of these expectations.
The applied study of the political economy of democracy in Afghanistan is a good measure of the contribution of political development (with emphasis on democracy) to economic development. Indeed, many studies have been conducted in various countries to assess the relationship between democracy and economic development and its application, but none of them has examined Afghanistan. This article investigates Afghanistan’s economic development situation in the era of democratization. For this purpose, theoretical approaches to the relationship between democracy and development and the statistical analysis of economic development indicators have been used.
Most scholars have focused on the socio-political issues of democracy in Afghanistan and have paid little attention to the relationship between democracy and economic development as the central axis. Although some scholars have considered and accepted democracy as the only solution to the establishment of a political system in Afghanistan, they still have a skeptical approach to its consolidation and concrete achievements, especially in the economic field; this point has been emphasized in this research.
The research question focuses on the status of Afghanistan in terms of economic development during the period of democracy and the question is as follows: In the process of democratization (from 2001 to 2017), what evolutions have the economic development of Afghanistan experienced? To answer this question, a quantitative and correlation method has been used.
Based on our study, Afghanistan has already witnessed two periods of development: the first period/decade (2001-2011) and the second period/decade (from 2014 onwards). In these years, security and political sectors of democracy (freedom and public participation) took precedence over its economic sector. Indeed, political development has accelerated much more than economic development. The process of economic development in Afghanistan, especially massive plans of development such as the National Solidarity Program (NSP) and the National Development Strategy (NDS) are backed by external support under the direction of transnational institutions. The exogenous component of economic plans has hurt the process of economic development of Afghanistan, as much as the international aid has been spent by the central government and economic planners in Kabul, which has contributed to the financial corruption. On the other hand, thefate of Afghanistan’s development and democracy has been fettered by foreign rents.
Democracy has exacerbated five already known crises: electoral fraud, corruption, rent economy, insecurity,and fundamentalism in Afghanistan. Each of them has harmed the economic development process. The insecurity that has been the cause of Afghanistan’s underdevelopment so far is the most controversial within the context of democracy. In recent years, it has failed to bring security given the inability to incorporate the Taliban into the political structure or to legitimize the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the eyes of people of Afghanistan.
In recent years, Afghanistan has fared better in the quantitative indicators of development than qualitative ones. Unequal distribution of wealth has also exacerbated the severity of social inequality in Afghanistan, including urban-rural and social class divide (increasing the proportion of the poor). Accordingly, Afghanistan has been on the path of growth rather than development. Our study shows that the economic development indicators in these years have not changed significantly. Also, the national economy has experienced economic growth while falling short of economic development. In this country, quantitative indicators such as the growth of Gross domestic product (GDP) and urbanization rate have improved. But, qualitative indicators such as poverty, per capita income,and equal distribution of wealth, human development, and industrialization have significantly been compromised. Therefore, democracy and political development in Afghanistan have not yet resulted in economic development. In effect, economic growth should be considered a positive sign of development since economic growth is the first medium of economic development. However, this optimism is acceptable as far as it leads in the long run to the development of Afghanistan.
The relationship between democracy and economic development in recent years cannot be regarded as a wholly contradictory or compatible one. Democracy has been coupled with the unequal distribution of wealth and the abovementioned five crises. What makes these two variables mutually connected and consistent is the efficiency and strengthening of the state institution and the bureaucratic system, free from the controversies arising from the form of the political system. Therefore, the institutional model would be more appropriate and pertinent in explaining the problems of economic development in Afghanistan.