As the international community shifts its focus to a sustainable state it should move away from short-term fixes that fail to specify concluding end-states. An ongoing assessment of how current approaches will play out in the “build” and “transfer” stages of the engagement should be required, and this will ensure that those stabilization efforts do not undermine the wider goals of representative sustainable governance that can survive the eventual withdrawal of large-scale international support.
The international community must also prioritize domestic revenue generation, including through taxes, so that Afghans can begin reducing their dependency on international resources and manpower. Afghanistan’s domestic natural resources, agricultural sector, and booming telecommunications industry offer potential sources of income but clearer plans need to be established for how the government will able to harness portions of that revenue for public goods. The international community should condition additional aid on meaningful corruption and governance reforms that show would-be Afghan taxpayers that their contributions will not be lost. Finally, it should be cautious about creating security and humanitarian institutions the Afghan government cannot ultimately afford to maintain on its own.
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