tv M. Homayun Qayoumi Discusses the Future of Afghanistan CSPAN March 7, 2017 3:52am-5:29am EST
this year we asked middle and high school students to produce documentaries telling us what is the most urgent issue for our new president and congress to address in 2017? we received over 2900 entries from 46 states, plus the district of columbia, england, germany, singapore, and taiwan. students competed for the chance to win $100,000 in cash prizes in first, second, and third place categories. you can log on the our website 30 minutes before our big announcement to view all 150 winning documentaries at studentcam.org. be sure to watch the announcement of our student cam 2017 grand prize winner, wednesday, march 8th at 8:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. now the chief adviser to the president of afghanistan discusses security and economic development in the country. he also talks about efforts to
fight government corruption. from the center for strategic and international studies, it's just over an hour and a half. >> you have mr. qayoumi's biography and the details. i think what is really critical, however, that he is the chief adviser to president in dealing with infrastructure, human capital and technology. far too often when we talk about afghanistan, we talk about it in terms of tactical events, military encounters, the number of advisers or the numbers of troops. but the future of afghanistan and the success of any kind of counterinsurgency campaign is a matter of dealing with human beings. it is a matter of winning
popular support. it is a matter of mixing security with development and providing the basic needs that people have. the needs that lead them to support the government that provide the kind of sustained capability to actually turn a counterinsurgency campaign into some kind of meaningful victory. and that, i think, is what mr. qayoumi is going to be addressing. what we're going to do is have him provide an overview of some of the key developments taking place in afghanistan. he and i will then have a brief dialogue, and we'll open things up to questions. now, let me repeat that word question. it usually ends with a question mark. it is not a speech, and it has
to be simple enough so somebody can understand the question and answer it. if you look around, you also see that we need to give people the opportunity or as many people as possible to actually ask that question. so one question. and i will ask that when you have the opportunity to please identify yourself so people in the audience know who you are and some idea of your affiliation. with that, mr. qayoumi. >> good afternoon, everyone. such a pleasure to be back at csis and to have a chance to have a conversation about what's going on in afghanistan. first of all, i would like to express on behalf of the afghan people and its government -- express our deep gratitude for
the great support the u.s. government and the u.s. taxpayers have done for afghanistan. a special tribute is always in order to all of the families and all of those fallen heroes that fought side by side with afghan soldiers and made the ultimate sacrifice for in the cause of democracy and the cause of freedom and the cause of fighting global terrorism. the question will be is the fight over. no. unfortunately, if you look at in the past, you know, 15 years after 9/11 how the ecology, pathology, and morphology of global terrorism has really changed. the way it has changed, if you look at its ecology, how we're dealing with networks of terror and net works of illicit activities. if you look at it globally, we're talking about $1.7 trillion of illicit activity
that saw from drug trade to human trafficking to trafficking of antiquities to terrorism, and all of these organizations have been working far more efficiently than we would like to see governments work. secondly, when you look at the pathology of these organizations, you start from al qaeda all the way to daesh, how that whole pathology has changed as we look at groups whose only interest is destruction, whose only interest is denial of people's rights. and if you look at around afghanistan, afghanistan, we -- the government is fighting over 20 global terrorist organizations. and people from russia to china to uzbekistan to tajikistan and many others middle eastern countries are fighting in
afghanistan. people who have no fight against afghan people or the area, but somehow they feel that they are part of this whole pathology of this death and destruction. the final aspect of morphology is how these organizations are moving and becoming more lethal in a far faster level. if you look at, for instance, al qaeda. it took them over a decade to develop the level of lethality that they got to, but by contrast when you look at daesh, it took them a year or two. so when you look at all of these combinations, today the afghan soldiers are fighting that fight not only for defending their own country, but also supporting the entire democratic world. since december of 2015, the afghan soldiers took over that task. all of the fighting that is happening in afghanistan is done by the afghan soldiers.
the foreign forces are there to support on the training and logistical support. despite all the casualties that we're having, they've not had any problem in recruitment because the afghan people know and believe that this is their fight and they should make that sacrifice. so within that one, that gives you in terms of what's been happening on the picture as a whole. but if you look at the number of foreign forces that we have currently in afghanistan, it's less than 10% of what it was in 2014. yet with all of that, in terms of any movements between these insurgencies and government forces, the amount of territory held has not really made any major difference. in there lies the issue on how we can really try to break that stalemate in how we can work towards success.
and if i quote one comment from senator mccain's speech to s.a.c. on february 9th, when he said our concentration over the past several years has been on the number of troops rather than success. and this is where i think looking at success is going to be so much important and the plan on how we can move forward and try to address this not only as an issue of afghanistan but an issue of the fight against global terrorism. we look at the current administration of afghanistan two years ago when it took over. president ghani gave his first major speech in london on self-reliance and basically his speech was how we can really create markets for afghan products. recognizing that, when you look at about 4 billion people in the world, especially when you look at very underserved areas, the
key idea, the key impediment they have is the generation of markets. they do not have access to markets and also access to capital for investment, so concentration has been -- how we can really do that and what are the ways we can proceed in that area because there has not -- i don't think there's a single country in the world that can really only rely on foreign aid. there's not any country that has moved from poverty to prosperity through foreign aid. it's usually investment that can really change a country in a very fundamental way. so within that one, we got to very basics if we're trying to move the economy, how we can really do that. first of all, what are the resources and assets that afghanistan has and how we can use those assets in a most effective fashion. so part of it was to ask these basic four questions. what are the kind of things that
the country should grow improving agriculture? what do we need to extract in the mineral sector? and what do we need to trade in terms of trade and transit? and then finally, what do we need to manufacture? and from that basic questions, we built the economic structure and plans of the country. first in terms of what to grow, afghanistan, a country that has traditionally -- agriculture was always a big element of the country, but the amount of land that has been irrigatable land compared to even 1980s, it's about 20% less while the population has grown more than twice as much. so the first element was how we can really develop agriculture. so developing agriculture had several elements. one, given the fact that we're in a very arid environment, we need to be able to have more
dams and irrigation systems. and one aspect of that is our -- the global warming aspect. compared to three decades ago, the amount of rain -- the amount of the snow actually melts about three weeks quicker than it did three decades ago. in the past, the frozen tundra was the storage. now we get it to liquid form. if we do not store it, it goes away, so building dams became of major importance. in the last year and a half, we have began to design the development and construction of about 29 different hood degree electric -- 29 dam, some of them on hydroelectric capability, but most of them for irrigation purposes. the total capacity of these dams is equivalent to about two and a half hoover dams, so it is sizable.
and that would really in a major way impact our agriculture. secondly, we've looked at other elements in terms of -- for instance, in most countries if you do not have the agricultural land very levelled, you lose a lot of water and also your yield is lower. so with that, we're able to reduce not only water consumption by about 25%, but increase yield by about 30%. and then also looking at markets, how we can really look at connecting these elements to the market and looking at the cash crops, such as a few of them have been very successful from saffron to pistachios to pine nuts to a series of vegetables and fruits and whatever in contrast to just growing wheat. we realize we can never compete
with a country like kazakhstan that is not too far from us. we can develop growing vegetables and to develop cash crops in those environments cannot really provide. so that's how we have looked at the agricultural side. on the mineral sense, we have not been as successful as we would like to be. unfortunately, some of the euphoria that started about seven or eight years ago has not really come to fruition. part of it was not having the skill sets on the legal sense as well as understanding those markets very well, had really led to a lot of those false starts. part of our efforts -- and the last element was -- if you look at it sense 2008, the commodity markets has really been low and that has also impacted us. for instance, even some of those contracts that was given when oil was $130. when it dropped to about 40, it
was hard to keep those same companies as interested to do exploration. similarly when -- on a copper mine contract when the standard royalty was about 7 or 8 -- 6 or 7%. and when somebody agrees on a royalty for about 19%, you know, this is too good to be true. usually when those things are too good to be true, that is really the case. so these are some of the kind of challenges that we have gotten ourselves into, so what we're looking at right now is how we can really build that capacity, look at these contracts in a very transparent way. and we've broken that into key elements. first, how we can develop our oil and gas, which usually takes the shortest period of time followed by construction materials. for instance, afghanistan has 50 different kinds of marbles, 42 different colors of marble, some rival italian marbles, so that's one element. from that all the way to
elements such as chromates and barites and others, a tremendous opportunity even in terms of coal, afghanistan has over a billion tons of high quality to anthracite very low sulfur to high quality coal that could be developed. moving on from that one to semiprecious materials, we have plenty which could really be a major job creation for women and less skilled individuals, especially in the rural area, to metals, coppers, and iron to the last area, which is strategic materials such as lithium. afghanistan is one of the major sources of lithium. the two major areas that are not part of the chinese reserves is the one in greenland and
afghanistan, so these are the two areas that we see. the last is we have 14 of the 17 rare earth materials which are strategically important. the next important area of course was movement of goods and the movement of trade particularly. when you look at trade, given the location of afghanistan it's a major asset. and how we can really try to take the geographic advantage that afghanistan has because traditionally we were part of the silk road. but in the last two centuries, rather than become a part of a major thoroughfare, we became a cul-de-sac as the marine trade started. so far our whole effort is how we can make afghanistan to be the roundabout for the region rather than a cul-de-sac. we have concentrated on three key areas. first in terms of movement of goods. afghanistan is part of -- going to be in the main thoroughfare
for the one built one road that china is building. the railroad plan through that one would actually get -- right now, if you look at goods from china to europe, it takes about several months. but through that railroad system it will take seven to eight days. it would be a major change from that point. but also north-south traffic. if you look at all the central asian countries, the closest port to them is north south rather than east-west to be a major element. the second element of that trade is going to be energy. if you look at central asian countries who are endowed with a good level of energy versus pakistan and india that have major deficiencies, just on energy, for instance, pakistan has more than 15,000 it may go a deficit of electricity. i'll give you an example of one
industry, textile industry for pan jab where in 2014 about a $10 billion industry it dropped by $4 billion because of lack of electricity. however, we have adequate electricity, that could be over $100 billion industry. so our hope -- we have already started two projects. one that costs $1,000 to get power from kyrgyzstan, afghanistan. 1,000 megawatts for pakistan. 300 for afghanistan. secondly, there's a project in pakistan that will start 2,000 megawatts of power from turkmenistan and eventually move to 4,000. but the potential is for more than 15,000. that could easily be accommodated. the last area is data. if you look at the data, the internet traffic globally, half
of that is between europe and asia. if you look at those that are familiar with the routing of that, it goes from europe through mediterranean through the swiss canal, the red sea. perhaps around the arabian peninsula, the persian gulf and through india and wraps to china, on the east side of china. that's why data packet takes about 130 milliseconds to send from europe to asia. through these -- of course, those cables have maintenance issues as well as now people who can sniff those data. trying to do those would reduce the cost tremendously. we're talking about one cable that we're looking at which will be part of a gas pipeline that will connect from india to turkmenistan. then there's a similar piece under the caspian sea. from baku, there is one pipeline
already to italy. so we can have this line of italy to india fiberoptics that will rival and would be a great alternative for the transsiberian fiber. by this fiber, we can cut that transmission time by about 35 to 40 milliseconds. every millisecond is worth about $100 million a year. so we're talking about 3 to $4 billion of potential savings in that area. secondly, if you look at china's data traffic as you're looking at no more connection to africa, it's going to be potentially through two areas. one through china to pakistan and then to the gulf and to africa, but also an alternative could be through the corridor in afghanistan and then going down to africa.
so these three elements for afghanistan has the potential of over $3 billion of income within a decade or so, so we see that -- that's the potential of the trade area for afghanistan. and the last one is manufacturing. one of the major dividends for afghanistan is the work that was done by the isa forces. all the bases they built for afghanistan has tremendous asset value over $14 to $15 billion. to give you an idea of the size of those ones, a base that was built in helmand area is bigger than the airport. the one that was built in kandahar housed over 17,000 u.s. soldiers and similarly in other parts of the country. but these ones from the security system to the water and roads and telecommunication, all of that, all of those are hardware
so looking at these sites to be special economic zones for building a lot for the export would be a tremendous advantage. and that basically is what we have been really working on. so having said so, while tell you about some of the things we have done, last year we built the first infrastructure plan for the country where we looked at all of these key areas. we built the railroad structure plan. as well as most of the possibilities. we developed a national power grid for the country. right now power and electricity in afghanistan is nine different islands connecting and only serving about 30% of the population. we are going to be building a national grid in the next five years, but also get us right now 77% of the electricity is imported. in five years, we'll get to self-sufficiency and get to a point that we can actually export electricity.
on the roads, we're building a lot of the main arteries between north and south, and on the fiber infrastructure, as i mentioned about the potential opportunities of that one, we broke the government monopoly. so private sector can invest in it. and also the infrastructure as a whole, if you look at the last quarter -- the last half of 2016, we were able to attract a good level of investment, both foreign and domestic. we've attracted over $800 million of investment in the electricity area, and this is building some hydropower plants as well as solar projects, natural gas, and more. so we see the potential of that area to be quite a bit more. right now we have over a dozen other projects in that specific area. but to do all of these
infrastructure projects, just a couple more elements on that one. in terms of infrastructure projects, the number of dams that we have started in the last year and a half is more than what we've done in the prior maybe 200 years or so. if you look at the amount of electricity projects generation that we have started in the last year, it's more than we have done in the prior 60 years. the number of other -- so i think in terms of major changes that we see, the railroad was a dream of afghanistan back from the days of 1880s after finishing the swiss canal talked about a railroad from berlin to bombay. afghanistan became that area that the ruler at that time did not want a railroad. that actually is happening. so i think you can see that there's some major changes in those areas.
but having said so, i think some of the other changes that we have seen i think the economic downturn we saw after 2014 was a very serious one. it was basically a recession bordering on depression. i don't think anybody had really looked at the deep impact that the economy of the country would see because the economy that had been built in the prior decade or so was a pseudo economy based purely on consumption. when the government took over, our imports were 21 times the exports. a country of 30 million having an import of -- i'm sorry, an export of 430 million, how can you sustain any level of employment? we took the government purchasing power to create a lot of exports and employment.
it's been a major effort. in the government contracts we're giving local products 25% preference. as part of that one, there are 9 to 11 key elements. the country has become self-sufficient. i'll give you one of them. not the most healthy one. in you look at 2001, the oosh if you look at 2014, afghanistan was importing $500 million worth of soft drinks. today it is exporting $200 million a year. compared to the data of 2016, the exports -- now the imports are about 13 times as much as exports. a major shift from 2014, but there's a long way to go and the plan is within the next five years to get the balance of payments zero and hopefully can see more and more exports from that point of view. transparency and accountable is
one thing because afghanistan was so much plagued with corruption on all areas of the country. one of the key initiatives was the start of a procurement area where all the major procurements areas done through the national procurement council. the president sits on that one. that's a weekly meeting that starts from 6:00 p.m. and sometimes goes three to four hours, but we have seen major savings there. for instance, just in the ministry of defense, the savings last year was over $250 million. we see similar savings in the ministry of interior. they're far behind than that, but across all of the ministries in the government purchases, we have seen quite a bit of it. the way that -- other changes, for instance, we had to change a lot of the entrenched positions. the government changed over 90
generals in the armed forces that had been there for a long period of time. major changes in the judiciary that happened where i think over 80 judges had to be replaced and also a strong interest in bringing in female judges to the system. over a year ago, the president nominated the first woman justice in the supreme court. ironically, the fact that she lost was eight women parliamentarians not showing up that day because of the threats they had received. but he has made a commitment that next year when it's the new opportunity for him to appoint another justice, he is going to be nominating another woman to be part of the supreme court. so i think we're seeing improvements in many of the positions across the government
in bringing more women into key positions. as part of that one, education and human capital is an area of deep interest. and for that one, we have been working on developing plans not only for the universities, but really getting the curriculum aligned with the needs of the country. but more emphasis on the vocational technical. although in the prior years we developed a lot on the vocational technical, not much was done to align the needs of the industry with the skills that people were given. i mean something unfortunately we have a lot of that challenge in the u.s. as well. we have been adopting the german model of apprenticeship. which we'll have five schools started this next month and reengineer a lot of these two-year associate degree programs to provide the skills that the country really needs.
so i think if i just kind of conclude on some of the key projects that we've done, i think what you'll see is despite all of what you hear in the news, there are some major changes that are happening in afghanistan which are for the long haul, it's going to make a major difference. some of the key projects that have started are projects for the afghan people it was a dream for a long time. i'll give you the railroad. people have been interested in that one since the late 1800s. actually that's happening today. there was one hydroelectric dam that the project had started over 40 years ago, and for the first dam that was completed in afghanistan last year, it was the first dam after 40 years. that was jubilation all over the country, and we have over 6 650 million cubic meters of water. solar production 42 megawatts of power.
a third irrigation project, which is along our south and helmand areas of all place where we got investment from a turkish company, that they're embracing that dam. it will add another 1 billion cubic meters water of storage which will irrigate over 100,000 hectares. but the important element to remember is this is a project that was promised to the people over 70 years ago during the monarchy. and that project has actually happened. i think the key is we're seeing some major changes on those areas. and lastly, i would look at the city of kabul. back in the 1920s, the plan was to move all of the government offices and ministries to one area of the city where we have an old palace. that's actually happening because all of the ministries in one area will free a lot of the
very expensive real estate in the downtown areas, which could be redeveloped and developed for different purposes. and somebody is trying to develop a lot of these basic services, whether it's from cleaning streets or collecting garbage or storm drainage and whatever. in these basic elements the city has really come a long way and we're seeing major changes. with that, i hope i can give you a thumbnail of some of the key elements. does that mean that there are no challenges in afghanistan? absolutely there's a lot of challenges, but i think the commitment and the engagement of the u.s. and the west is in some ways even needed far more because heaven forbid how many of us could even conceive of if all of this fails because it's going to be something far worse than what we saw in 9/11. the forces of global terror are working day and night.
especially for afghanistan, having a neighbor that harbors these and provides a refuge for them makes the issue that more challenging. that's why the deep commitment of the u.s. is so much appreciated and so much needed, especially at this point. with that, let me stop there and thank you for your patience. >> thank you very much. [ applause ] >> i think you've outlined a very clear set of opportunities for the future. but to get to that future, you have to get through the present. and the last year was one in which significant areas were taken over by the taliban and other groups. there were no military challenges. before the u.s. election, the decision was made that basically
plans to withdraw u.s. advisory groups simply were not practical. this was a decision made before the election by the obama administration, and we went from basically withdrawing advisers in 2016 to keeping them through 2021 without really defining the size of the advisory effort, without any public discussion of the counterterrorism force, and without any discussion of the role of u.s. air power and other allied countries. i think that gets to an obvious question. as you look toward these economic opportunities, are you getting a clearer picture of where we are going in the
security dimension? >> well, absolutely. i think first of all you have to keep in mind the key relationship between security and economic development because they are intertwined in a very major way. first of all, if you go back and look at -- like 2014, 2015, 2015 was really an -- because i think many of the negative forces thought the country after the foreign forces would relinquish their combat role, the country would fall very much like what happened in iraq and the syria area. this would be another major look for isis, like location. unfortunately and specifically one of the other things that really impacted us, in some
strange way the ukraine crisis impacted afghanistan in a major way. that's not really much known. the reason for this is if you go back early on over a decade ago, the decision was made to use rotary helicopters, basically, the mi-35 russian helicopters for medevac in afghanistan. now after the ukraine crisis with the congress sanction, we could not use any u.s. funds to be able to acquire any spare parts on any or repairs or any new ones. so as part of that one, that caused a major crisis for afghanistan. despite all of that one, i think what's remarkable is that our forces were able to hold their ground. and if you look at the situation right now, at best, apparently
36% of the districts is in the government control, about 4%. and the insurgency, and there is that 30% that goes back and forth. that was exactly the situation when we had over 100,000 combat forces from foreign forces, the isa forces fighting in afghanistan, so i think that part of the security has not really changed much. has it been more in the centralization of it? i think yes. if you look at after october of last year when we had the brussels meeting for the fall of the donors at the eu headquarters, we have really seen an escalation of that fight, which is far more than you can say that -- it looks more of an organized army fighting afghanistan.
the level of casualties they were trying to inflict as high casualty as they can. that's why the level of casualty in 2016 ended up to be much higher than the prior decade. so i think just to kind of state some of these challenges that we've had. but i think the other side of it is we're really looking for the first time these development projects to engage local communities. not only immediate job creation, but also providing them opportunities that they see their future connected to these projects. i'll give you an opposite side of that. in the eastern part of the country, not far from the city of kabul where the first hydroelectric plant was built in the 1950s. now those people even until today are not having electricity. if you are living with a kerosene lamp all your life, i
and you see a special lens going above your property or your village, i don't think you have much connection with that. or its existence or its working. what we're trying to do right now is how we can develop these utility or economic corridors so we can have not only roads, power, electrification, canals and whatever to help the local communities. when they see their role and their future to be tied into, that in itself improves i think security in a major way. and then lastly, i think the project that i mentioned earlier that was promised over 70 years ago. it is in the helmand area, one of the most conflicted area. and the locals have really warned the taliban, especially in pakistan that you better stay away from this because this is
our future and this is our livelihood. so the locals are really the ones who are really taking that in warning all these insurgencies coming from pakistan that these projects are vital to our future. so this is going to be a longer term issue, but this is where we see the hope of the future where economic opportunities would buttress the security environment also. >> i think as you look at this it must be somewhat striking that there is virtually no mention of afghanistan by either candidate during the presidential campaign here. you decided not to withdraw the advisers, but you set no goals for what the advisers or air power or counterterrorism force
should be. and no candidate, neither candidate ever mentioned the subject. of all the studies that have been commissioned here to deal with security, none of them have as yet touched on the issue of afghanistan or the levels of aid involved. and as you point out, for there to be a successful structure, security and economics have to have an integration. >> sure. >> is there any point at time which you have as yet had some idea of what kind of security assistance, what kind of plan, the u.s. intends to provide for the future? >> well, i'll first relate to the security report that was
released during the munich security conference about ten days ago. and in that one, what the -- i'm paraphrasing -- where the isis forces as they're seen more under pressure in iraq and syria area, you're telling all of your supporters to concentrate more on afghanistan, pakistan. assuming with a magic wand tomorrow we see basically a repudiating of daesh and isis in that area, i think there's going to be a heavier involvement of these international groups in afghanistan. and not only that. as i mentioned, around afghanistan we have the highest concentration of all global terrorist organizations if you look at it compared to any other parts of the world. every night in the afghan forces are engaged between 10 to 15 different fronts every night,
fighting these international terrorist organizations. and also it's true that a large person -- i'm paraphrasing -- general nicholson whose comment was that 70% of these daesh members are coming from pakistan, from one particular group, one particular clan of tribes. so i think the fight that is happening in afghanistan is part of fighting international terror. that's the biggest part of the fight. it has no element of, you know, looking as people portrayed it ten years ago with fighting with taliban as a civil war issue. when you have all of these groups cultivating such a large part of the poppy growth
globally, and yo could you say are they really freedom fighters or drug cartels? from the drug cartels all the way to the international terror, that has become such an organic element. i think this is where u.s. public and specifically the major, i think, policy, especially in washington, really need to raise that issue as part of this whole change in the ecology of terrorist organizations and how it's really playing a role in afghanistan because that's the fight of all of the -- the u.s. as well as all of the free societies because their whole element is breaking that whole breaking that whole bind between the citizen and their governments which really has become the basis of what daesh
has been really fighting. so i think this is where groups such as csis and others could really play a major role in opening and having the dialogue up because for me i don't think they're that knowledgeable about that deep connection between what's happening in afghanistan and the fight on global terrorism. >> before i turn things over to a broader question, you also touched on the fact that at least in the near term you face really serious economic and population employment problems. i think that there were some warnings as we pulled the troops out the aid would become a problem, but above all an economy based on large amounts of military spending and contractors would collapse almost immediately.
and it's interesting a study done by the aga foundation shows an almost direct correlation between that withdrawal and how afghans saw the national mood. support for positive view that afghanistan was going in the right direction peaked in 2013 before the withdrawal at about 58%. at the end of 2016 popular faith that the country was moving in the right direction dropped to 29%. and that correlated very sharply to the economic problems as well as the security problems. looking at this the good news was that popular support for armed opposition groups actually dropped very sharply during the
same period by more than 50%. and 77% of afghans show no support at all, but that takes me to the problem of government and politics. and i don't wish to put too much pressure on you, but i'm going to put some anyway. >> i'm feeling it already. so. >> satisfaction with government performance dropped from something around 78% to 50% over those two years. and the perception of corruption, which had always been a problem at a national level, rose very sharply at the local level. the political -- the basic problems of governance remain critical, and i wonder if you could talk a little more about how you are trying to deal with
these present issues as well as the broader development problems which, as you've timed it or discussed the time frame, produce results five to ten years in the future. >> sure. well, first of all, i think if you look at -- going back to 2014 time frame with the withdrawal, if i go back even to 2010, 2011, at that time i was working on the transition plans and the economic downfall is part of it, but i don't think anyone expected the level of downturn we saw because in a way the economy that had been developed under the prior administration of afghanistan was very much a consumptive economy. an economy that was totally an aid-based economy. an economy from a country that was at least from an agricultural point of view not only self-sufficient, but always was an exporting agricultural
country where to a point we developed a dubious distinction of food going from the cities to the countryside. a country getting poultry from places as far away as brazil. i don't think the poultry requires such a big infrastructure or know-how or whatever. so i think the former administration of afghanistan created such a consumptive economy that the jobs that were there were such a big part of the industry and really became the jobs that was supporting the armed forces. and the indirect impact is what people were seeing as better employment and a better way of life. i recall the first time -- this is in 2015 -- when i went there
and i was on a helicopter ride over the city of kabul with the habitat. when i came back, the president asked me what did you see. one of the questions was where people are really working because the whole country, the whole city of kabul with 5 million population, looks like a bedroom community. you don't see any area population because all of them were working as service sector for supporting the armed forces. so that's why the drop was far more than anybody predicted. as far as what we have been building right now is more sustainable economy. in 2000, the data from 2016 is that we are built -- we had 2.6% economic growth and the projections for the 2017 is somewhere between 4 to 8. the reason i say 4 to 8 because they our economic activity as growth has been connected to the amount of snow and rain we get.
the snow we got this year is the highest that we have had in 21 years and the last time we had this kind of snow the economic growth was 12%. so that's one of the elements that in the more immediate one. in terms of people's perceptions and whatever, when you have -- when people, like 70% of the population are making $2 or less and even at 30% or so about around a dollar, that means a large number of people are getting at most one or two meals a day. when somebody's stomach is empty it's kind of hard to keep them satisfied with the government. it's kind of hard to keep them happy with the situation. in terms of corruption absolutely, there's still a lot of corruption. but i think with some of the changes that has also happened if you look in the 2016 -- 2015 transparent was one of the
lowest in the prior administration, part of the bottom 3 to 4. it moved up eight notches. the potential is when 2016 comes it will go much higher. that's not enough. afghanistan has to get itself into not only the higher-ups but ideally to the upper quartile. so changes have been made and have moved forward but maybe not to the speed that people's expectation have been i think that entitled to have those expectation from the government. but i think if you go back to the fact that when we have the large number of returnees what country in the world this year accepted more than 1.1 million people over and above its own population? it was all the returnees from
pakistan and iran came back to fans. afghanistan. when you look at 2017 we'll have similar numbers. so when -- what country in the world where they are fighting 10 to 15 different fronts every night from fighting terrorists from over 20 countries. you have to look at all of those elements. and yes, within that context that's how we look at it. but as far as the general population, do they deserve better? absolutely. are some of the plans the government is work on to make lives better? absolutely. have we achieved the level of success that we would like to as quickly as possible? no. but again, part of it has been the multitude of awful these different issues. that has -- and in the last will be is the whole nature of the
unity government. makes it that much more difficult. and getting anything moving because it requires so much more consultative effort. which is not really the case in a normal election process. so i think those are some of the things. by i think what we see the prospects to the future looks hopeful, not as fast as we would like but at least the gaze we are making is more sustainable than the short term. >> thank you very much. ladies and gentlemen, i'm going to open up for questions. we do have microphones. please wait for the microphones. once again, if you would identify yourself and ask one question, ending in a question mark, we would be very grateful. let me begin with the gentleman in the second row there.
>> my name is saeed -- >> wait for the microphone, please. >> [ inaudible ]. . and we discussed the mineral problem -- >> pick up the mike. >> you brought up two excellent point -- it's on. >> it's on, yes. >> i can shout. two excellent point. one was that a country cannot put back on its feet by donation only. so investment is important. in the second point for the locals the locals want to help. now my question to you was, that you have deposited in afghanistan that you can start today in less than two years you have the product. the small mining. and if you have these projects, the people will help for the
security because it is a job maker and helping the area. how close you are to start small mining in afghanistan? >> well first of all, thanks for the question. the great service and help that you studies have provided for afghanistan i think data that came out several years ago, give new sense of optimism but also the success that afghanistan can have in the future. i think in terms of the mining what we have really realized is the approaches we have given in terms of a legal framework, that we can do these things in a very transparent way, in a way that would really have a level playing field. those are the kind things we have not had. have we given a lot of contracts
in the last several years? yes, over 400. but how many of them have really been transparent? how many of them was really given to a point that would really give fair market value and how much of that was done through less than transparent way? so i think our hope right now is at this point to get to a better legal regime for extraction because in the extractive world it's the least transparent world anyway. for a country that had limited legal it's even more. specifically in our mining ministry with the leadership changes and challenges and lack of adequate staff, qualified staff. i'll give you an example. this is about six months ago. less than six months ago.
the president has these meetings with different ministries. everyone at the general director level and above was the ministry. the president was quite taken back and said what i realize is that such a small level of capacity, professional capacity is really there in the ministry. either we have those who went to the polytechnic soviet style school that started back and these ones have more than 30% have hardly been outside their country or some who are recent graduates of the kabul university. very few who have knowledge specifically in the extractive industries or in legal sector being trained abroad. so part of what we've been trying to do is at least build some of this framework hopefully soon. but also work on some of the contracts that we currently have, whether it's -- especially
in the oil and gas sector as well as construction material which some of them find in the artisanal level in a much more open way. but our hope is within the next year we see some significant changes. >> the gentleman in the second row. >> hello. russian is flirting with the taliban in afghanistan. reports has been everywhere. why it is doing that? what the timing tells you. and it appears that afghan officials are not happy with that. and what you are doing concretely to stop it. thank you. >> i think it's unfortunate that russians' role in afghanistan on the security side had really
took a change after the ukraine crisis. i think the news that they have been collaborating with taliban or supporting taliban has been quite unfortunate and unfortunately they are doing it. i think part of it is any country recognizing or differentiating between good terrorists and bad terrorists is making a major folly and a major mistake. there are not good and bad terrorists. there are only terrorists. and trying to -- and for russia trying do this under the folly that, well, this is the way that they can stop daesh, you know, when you look at the taliban groups among all these 20 terrorist organizations all of these groups compete but as well as collaborate in different individual areas. so i think this is a very bad thing. and it's basically when you have countries that are becoming part
of sponsoring terrorism it's not only good for the region, eventually it's not going to be good for russia as a whole and our hope is that russia would really begin to see the light in such activities. >> the gentleman in the fourth row there. >> thank you. my name is mohamed al sharwi. i'm with american university. dr. homayun qayoumi, you've talked about ambitious projects in afghanistan and tremendous opportunities. you talked about ambitious project in afghanistan. do you agree that it is still fragile in the light of of the terrorists the recent terrorists attacks in kabul that continuous insurgency and do you think it's inevitable to have peace talks with taliban because the american foreign assistance
under trump administration will be -- or it's prone to be substantially cut for afghanistan. so what is your perspective? >> well, first of all, the government of afghanistan has been interested in all parties who feel they have a fight in afghanistan to come to the table and have discussion without any preconditions. that's how the government was able to basically achieve peace with one of those groups that have fought the -- for the guld-minute hekmatyr group. a year ago that gesture was made again with the taliban. unfortunately, none of the groups came forward. so i think part of it would be to what extent maybe those individuals and those groups feels that they can win in a war
rather than sitting down in a negotiation. is that part of it or the motivation of their sponsors and those that provide refuge for them. those are the questions that need to be asked. because whenever you provide refuge for terrorist organizations who are involved in the largest drug cartel in the world are you really providing -- are you really helping your own country when you do that one? so i think that part with the taliban is president ghani has made the changes many times and has said it's open without any preconditions to have discussions. but they have to accept some basic facts, the government of afghanistan, the constitution of afghanistan, and the role of women, which is the third element of the constitution of afghanistan. those ones are not negotiable. beyond that one there are no preconditions. interest in talk. but unfortunately the sponsors,
i don't think their sponsors have really allowed them to talk. >> my name is michael alvin. i'm an independent researcher. thank you. my question is for both of you. do you see after a month of the new administration do you see answers to the questions we're asking about directions both militarily and in the development sphere, are we seeing a policy, are we seeing a strategy being developed here in washington? >> you want to take that first? >> i think it is important to note that general nicholson has -- he's the commander in afghanistan. come back to both testify to the congress and meet with the secretary of defense and with the joint chiefs. there certainly has been a
discussion of providing a stronger advisory effort. again, the details of any changes in the counterterrorism force or in the air component have not been made public. there's a 60-day effort to redefine in broad terms u.s. strategy. exactly what the content of that will be has not been defined. on the aid side the u.s. has already made commitments. it is very unclear that there will be differences. there obviously is a discussion of the overall level of foreign aid. but whether that's tied to afghanistan is something that has not been made public. and i think in fairness we sometimes expect a little too much. after more than half a century of working with transitions, you
almost never really get a change in strategy, force plans and defense that lasts in less than three to six months. but some of the immediate issues which we'll deal with this campaign season have been addressed. we don't see as yet clear decisions on the outcome. that's something that may take a while. but the administration does seem to be committed to providing a stronger train and assist mission and potentially other elements. >> well, from what dr. crosby said and couldn't have stated it as eloquently as you stated it, i think we've been very much heartened by the current administration's focus on the issue of the global terrorism. i think that's quite important. and also i think they're really seeing the potential economic opportunities in afghanistan as
to how it can really help the afghan people, specifically as to deals with the extractive industries. i think the commitments that we've seen on general terms have been very positive and that makes us hopeful. >> the gentleman in the second row. >> thank you, very much. my name is -- washington. my question is very simple and straightforward. tofrom obama administration to trump administration where do you go. and finally the triangle of india, pakistan, and afghanistan, what really pakistan is playing and what role do you think india is playing because india had invested more than $3 billion in the development of afghanistan. thank you, sir. >> first of all, our relationship with india has been a very historic relationship.
it has been more than a millennia in terms of its length. the relationship with afghanistan and india has been strictly an economic and cultural relationship. and afghanistan has no secret agreements with india on any topic. all of our relationship has been very much transparent and very much on economic and regional cooperation. and the afghan people are very thankful to the support that they received from the government and people of india. the projects that they have supported in afghanistan has been the development projects. as i mentioned, the hydroelectric dam, that was the first dam that close after 40 years. that was supported by the indian government. right now the package of eight
that they have promised afghanistan is about a billion dollars. for a series of projects, it's going to be resettlement and hospitals, human capital as well as a number of other infrastructure projects. so the relationship that we have with india is a very strong relationship. and it's based on building a better and more secure area for the region where we can have better economic conditions for all -- right now as the borders -- last year, one of the things -- one of the challenges that we've had with pakistan, whenever it's the period of the year when our fruits ripen that somehow mysteriously they close the borders. the agreement that was made last year with india where they
waived a lot of the tariffs, well, we are airlifting a lot of that fruits from afghanistan to india. now, as it relates to pakistan, unfortunately pakistan has been trying to drag at least -- the issues and challenges they have with india as afghanistan being part of that issue. afghanistan has no linkages, no opinions or whatever on those issues. that's the bilateral issue between india and pakistan. i'll give you one example of an issue that could really help the issue as a whole in the three countries. there's a strait of land between pakistan and india in the waga atari border, about six kilometers, less than four miles, where when we get the trades from afghanistan to india it has to go through -- it has to stop and reload -- unload
everything at the waga, put on trucks and then pick it up in atari, which is really adding so much cost. if we can get some agreements as part of that whole relationship, it will enhance trades for the three countries that will have a major impact on poverty reduction in pakistan. pakistan, a country of over 200 million people, having an economy smaller than israel really gives you an idea of how many lost opportunities that country has and how people have been kept down in terms of potential economic prosperity they can have. as i mentioned earlier, the whole example of the textile industry where 10 billion and they lost 4 billion, which actually could be $100 billion.
right now, for instance, the cotton that they get for the textile industry from uzbekistan goes to turkmenistan, to iran, to the barge on the persian gulf. put on the boat. goes all the way to karachi. then it gets on the train and gets to faisal abbad in punjab. while the same thing from uzbekistan on the truck could take a day and a half to get to those places. and actually, this is one of the elements we offer to uzbekistan, that we would rather do that one. it would be helpful for all of those countries. i'll just give another example of that. when we were trying to get the gates from india to afghanistan, pakistan did not allow -- did not want to allow any product from india -- to afghanistan to
go through pakistan. it had to actually be gone and floated through iran and some parts even through azerbaijan and got to afghanistan and took about six months. that was a hydroelectric dam which i don't think hydroelectric dams have a lot of military purposes. it was irrigating land and it was producing electricity for the rural area. so our hope is that pakistan sees that stable and prosperous afghanistan adds to the stability and prosperity of pakistan, rather than seeing this win-lose situation which is not helping pakistan and not helping the whole area. >> i may follow up. you mentioned earlier the -- you used the word "returnee" -- >> yeah. >> -- from pakistan and iran.
as far as i know, they are actually expelled. >> yes. >> and sometimes with very little notice and without any support. >> and this was over a million last year. you face a similar level of expulsions this year. >> yes. i think after the spring the numbers will start. as far as the government is concerned they're all afghans. they are nationals. they're welcome in the country. and within the resources that we have we're trying to see what we can do to accommodate them. that's their country. and actually one of the things that pakistanis, what they're trying to advertise in many of their mosques, calling them hindu brothers, that basically has become the word they're
trying to use just to develop local kind of explosion in hatred toward afghan communities that have lived in those areas for some of them maybe for two decades or more than one generation. >> the gentleman in the sort of back row there. >> my name's a.j. kaczynski. associated with the university of maryland school of public policy. my question was about domestic political legitimacy specifically related to delayed parliamentary elections and also with the infrastructure projects coming forward what concerns there may be what concerns there are to retain legitimacy if the projects are not well disbursed and to what extent is the parliament contributing to the mass infrastructure planning. >> just to make sure i understand what you mean in terms of legitimacy of those infrastructure projects. could you elaborate a little bit
on it? i want to make sure i understand your question correctly. >> yes. my question was just to what extent the parliament was providing input and consent toward the infrastructure plan that was being developed. >> parliament, all of the annual budget of the projects that we have, it it goes through the parliament. and even the aid that we get which has been off budget, one from various sources, one of the elements that the government has been interested is to move more and more of them on budget. so actually, that way the parliament has more say-so and oversight on those projects. in terms of the election has made the commitment that they'll have the parliamentary elections this year, and it's going to happen. >> the gentleman there in the second row. third row, i guess. >> hi.
my name is luke wilson. i'm with the center for water security and cooperation. you spoke about some of the legal challenges facing the mining and extractives industries. can you talk about some of the legal challenges surrounding water in general in afghanistan? even after the 2009 water law. thank you. >> you know, afghanistan being the upper right -- for five or six neighbors, while we only have agreement with one of our neighbors, primarily iran, that agreement took a long period of time in the making and before it was made it was actually signed over four years ago and up till now we've not had the means to actually implement that one and enforce, it which hopefully one dam we're looking at to hopefully start soon, it could happen in a few years.
transboundary water, that's one of the most difficult and politically charged areas. that particular agreement had roughly 100 years of studies and negotiations before it was actually signed. now, i hope that other ones would not take 100 years. >> trying to develop a way that the water that leaves afghanistan -- ripparian, afghanistan is very committed in keeping those. but at the same time population
is growing global warming has not been a friend to that area. afghanistan is a country -- has the lowest carbon footprint. but it's one of the most susceptible countries in terms of the global warming impacts. those impacts are really coming. but part of it would be it's not only for afghanistan but all of the countries in the area to begin using water in a more judicious way. i think for many water is looked at as a resource that has no value and it's kind of like oxygen. that's not the way that water can be looked at. we recognize that water is one of our most important resource and also something that we have a leverage on. but part of that is hopefully we can use that leverage in a way that we could improve and
increase bilateral and regional cooperation. which could be a win-win for not only afghanistan but the region as a whole. just one example, a simple example that i mentioned, just by leveling agricultural land you can reduce water consumption by 25% and increase yield by 30%. wouldn't that be something good to do rather than really use more and more of it? >> the lady in the second row. >> meg kolandowsky with nav i star defense. we are an m rap and truck manufacturer. and actually assembled trucks in afghanistan in the late '60s and early '70s. i was interested in your comment on increasing vocational and technical education. i was wondering if you could elaborate more on where you are with that and how that's been implemented throughout the
nation. >> the vocational technical as i said, over the course of the prior 13 years or so they had started 300-some-odd programs. but the way it was structured was doomed to failure any view. part of it was the way it was structured we have developed -- maybe in all countries but specifically afghanistan, an expectation that everybody will go to high school, they go to universities, they graduate and then become unemployed. when we have over 67% of our college graduates being unemployed, what does that mean? either it means they do not have -- they do not get any skills or the skills that they get is irrelevant. so in order to provide some relief politically for those who
are applying for the entrance exams at universities, they created, you know, some relief valve and the relief was, well, those who do not pass the entrance exams to go to universities will take these individuals and they can enroll in these vocational technical programs. well, these individuals had no interest in going to vocational technical. that becomes a two-year program -- the service -- 97.5% of them was not interested in pursuing areas that they're being trained at. many of them were from well-to-do families who were trying to run the family business. why not spend all of that money and educate them in an area that either they will try to go through some fly by night private school and kind of get a piece of paper that says bachelor's which means nothing or we need to look at it quite differently.
one of the people who have done excellent work in that area was a german doctor who really evaluated our vocational technical program, especially the old traditional guild model which was an environment in the traditional skills. and he really realized the model that we have there is the one that actually provides the largest number of our vocational technical people roughly, training over a million people on a continual basis with zero government support and that model is so much similar to what germany had 150 years ago. and if we could modernize that system, that's what would really help us in providing the vocational technical with some changes, how we can really give those -- first of all, that model takes a person five to seven years to get people from an apprentice to master journey
level. how that could be shortened. how we could give those individuals some literary and num rah cy skills. we're starting five of those schools as a pilot in about a month or so. the capital to the city of mazor in the north. also how we can bring women to the vocational technical area. a lot of these traditional ones have been male dominated. and secondly, for that 13th and 14th year first we've been working with the dutch on agricultural vocational technical but also tried to develop them around the key areas that the country needs and our key areas are agricultural, mining, logistics, health care,
basic business and a few more. and i tried to work with industry. even in the u.s. that has been the vocational -- that has been a failure because it's almost accepted globally that anglo-saxon model of vocational technical has been a failure. and the model we really see a success globally is the german model, which is used by half a dozen countries in europe from swiss to holland and even to give you one example of that one, every country it touts finland as having the best k through 12 system because on scores they have also scored the highest. but finland has 21% youth unemployment rate. by contrast, switzerland has 4.8. and that's the same for natives as well as immigrants.
so there is almost a correlation between youth unemployment and the level of apprenticeship program that there are. so what we are trying to do is adapt more a german vocational technical model in getting the industry involved and giving the training competencies we need in working with the world bank. and the plan is for 2017 to train a lot of the teachers. and then the next year is to try to start some of these programs in the new model. that's where we are for the 13 and 14. but those who will be beginning the nine grade in this new model will start in about a month or so. >> i know you have two more meetings together. >> actually four more. >> four more. already. do you have time for another question or two? >> sure. by all means. i'll try to be -- the questions are short, i'll make -- i'll
give short answers also. >> the gentleman in the second row there. >> hi. my name is austin nix. i'm from firman university but i'm studying up here this semester. my question is how effective is the government being at transitioning afghan farmers away from opium to other sorts of crops? >> i think that program has not been successful at all. because what with all of the partners they have worked on it's not only that opium is $10 and why don't you grow this product for $5. but building the whole infrastructure in the supply chain system on how they could really get loans, how their products could get to the market, what are the value-added steps and things that needs to be hang. that's the part that
unfortunately has been missing. the second part is if you look at countries that produce opium, or drugs as a whole you're talking about countries with a gdp of below 700. one of the easiest problem is if we can raise everyone's economic standards they'll not be growing opium. so the programs that we've had has not been successful and my comments about that about a month ago in the program was if you do exactly what we have done in the past and expect a different results we know what we call that. and that's exactly what we have on that front. >> the third row, the young lady there. >> amanda tal from the university of new hampshire. i was wondering what is being done to encourage women and girls to become educated especially in rural parts of the country.
>> well, i think i'll mention a number of steps that would improve. first of all, if you do not have a lot of women teachers it's kind of hard to get kids interested. especially after elementary school. that's where we see a lot of the drop-off. part of what we're trying to do is see how we can build more of these women -- teachers training programs at the regional level not only in the center. but when you talk about those programs, then we've seen a big difference between places where they have dormitories for girls versus where they don't have dormitories. and what we've seen in the schools getting back to the basics how many actually have restrooms these girls can go to versus -- so there has been a number of these elements that we're really looking at to be able to change the situation and
provide more tuns opportunities. but the other part is when we look at education with today's technologies and even afghanistan 89% proliferation of cell phones, to what extent we can provide education and using technologies in ways that will be more effective. unfortunately a lot of the international consultants have zero clue about them because they still would like to use the models the way they were trained in the 19th century. but this is where i think use of technology and also for them seeing opportunities. the opportunities that we really see is how we can really train more entrepreneurs. train them more -- not only how many girls can get in government jobs. i think one program that we have started in 17 provinces last year and we're trying to do that in the other 17 this year is called table gardens where we're developing small agricultural
projects at the home level where women can not only meet their own needs and help nutritional fortification for the family but also they can sell some of their products to the local markets. as well as a series of those kind of programs, one of the other programs we're hoping to do, it's still in the early stages, it was done in africa. it's called cyber girls -- not cyber girls. i think solar girls or something along that line where people can actually have these solar lanterns which they charge and then they can distribute throughout the village. it's one type of program but those are the programs we're interested to see how we can bring a sense of entrepreneurship and self-starting businesses rather than how they can just become part of a bureaucracy or
[ room noise ] >> thank you very much. >> i had one quick question. where do you think china -- [ inaudible ] >> i think there's a lost of opportunities for china and afghanistan to work very closely. the relationship is very good. and we're already collaborating with them. >> you think there will be more
investment? >> i think so. that's what we're hopeful too. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> i just wanted to say hello, introduce myself. can you implement the justice sector support program in afghanistan for the state department. >> thank you. >> and the question that i was trying to ask, and i will follow up when i'm in afghanistan, is what are the top legal problems that you face that you would want assistance from the afghan lawyers who work with us? >> okay. i'll keep that in mind. >> keep that in mind. so next time. >> absolutely. >> thank you. >> i just wanted to thank you so much for -- i eventually want to work in afghanistan in development. and just out of curiosity, what's some advice if i'm going to go into that? >> it all depends on what particular area of interest that you have. even more basic what interests
you, why are you interested in afghanistan? i think that kind of answers some of that. but this is the right time to be because that's where you can have the most linkages. and go into many of these programs to find the right condition. >> again, thank you so much. it was a pleasure. >> [ speaking foreign language ]. the senate judiciary committee holds a confirmation hearing tomorrow for the nominees picked to serve as deputy and associate attorney general. you can watch that on c-span.
in the afternoon ukraine's foreign minister joins five other diplomats from central and eastern european countries to testify on russia's influence in the region. that's live at 2:15 eastern here on c-span 3. and later in the evening a look at efforts to improve health care access for veterans with va secretary david shulkin and senate armed services committee chair john mccain. they're teflg before the veteran affairs committee live at 7:30 p.m. eastern on c-span 2. >> i do think the super apps who make it to the very top and stay there are not primarily motivated by money. they want to have standing and status. they want to be respected and want tore power. >> sunday night on "q & a" beyond global founder and