Afghanistan

USIP has been working to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan since 2002 through programs designed to improve understanding of peaceful dispute resolution, advance peace education in schools and communities, enhance dialogue between leading Afghans and the international community, and promote the rule of law. USIP established an office in Kabul in 2008. This on the ground presence has greatly increased USIP's contact with and understanding of events, programs, and attitudes in Afghanistan, and has strengthened its capacity to execute innovative and effective programs in the country.

Learn more on USIP’s Support for a Successful Afghan Political Transition

Progress in Peacebuilding: Afghanistan (PDF/416.67 KB)

Getting Beyond 2014 in Afghanistan

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 09:00
Fri, 02/28/2014 - 13:00

The U.S. Institute of Peace, Voice of America, and Alliance in Support of the Afghan People hosted a two panel public event that examined the U.S.-Afghan relationship, both its history and its future potential. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador James Dobbins delivered the keynote address.

9:00am to 9:15am | Featured Short Films by Voice of America

  • Afghan Women: The Journey Ahead
  • Afghan Sports: Excellence in Actions

9:15am to 9:25am | Welcome & Introduction

9:25am to 9:45am | Keynote Address

9:45am to 11:00am | Afghanistan and the United States: The Long View

  • Ambassador Marc Grossman
    Former Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State
  • Clare Lockhart
    Director and Founder, Institute for State Effectiveness
  • David Sedney
    Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Alex Thier
    Assistant to the Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Andrew Wilder, Moderator
    Vice President, Center for South and Central Asia, U.S. Institute of Peace

11:00am to 11:15am | Coffee Break & Photo Exhibit by Aga Khan Trust for Culture

11:15am to 12:30pm | The Future of Media in Afghanistan
(This session will be introduced by a segment from the documentary “The Network” by Eva Orner, about Tolo TV, Afghanistan)

  • Peter Bergen
    Director, National Security Program, New America Foundation
  • James Deane
    Director, Policy and Learning, BBC Media Action
  • Danish Karokhel
    Director, Pajhwok Afghan News
  • Najib Sharifi
    Director, Afghan Journalists Safety Committee/Afghan Voices
  • David Ensor
    Director, Voice of America

12:30pm to 12:45pm | Closing Remarks

Things are not as bleak as they seem in Afghanistan, and Afghanistan's future need not be as bleak as some fear. It is true that 2014 begins with numerous uncertainties, including questions about the presidential election and a post-2014 troop presence.

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Getting it Right in Afghanistan

Thu, 01/16/2014 - 09:00
Thu, 01/16/2014 - 11:00
Subtitle: 
Prospects for 2014

The United States Institute of Peace hosted a panel discussion to launch its latest book, Getting it Right in Afghanistan, on what needs to be done in 2014 in Afghanistan. Panelists included Ghost Wars author Steve Coll, former Afghan Ambassador Omar Samad, and USIP’s Moeed Yusuf. The panel discussion was preceded by an introduction by Andrew Wilder, and a brief presentation of the book by Scott Smith..

The upcoming year will undoubtedly be challenging in Afghanistan with a crucial election next April that will lead to the country’s first democratic transfer of power. There is a prevailing climate of uncertainty relating to the drawdown of the international military and assistance presence, as well as over the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States. Support for future assistance is dropping quickly in donor countries, especially in the United States.

  • Andrew Wilder, Introduction and Welcome
    Vice President, Center for South and Central Asia, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Scott Smith, Presentation of Getting it Right in Afghanistan
    Director, Afghanistan and Central Asia Program, U.S. Institute of Peace

Panel Discussion:

  • Steve Coll
    Dean, Columbia School of Journalism and author of Ghost Wars
  • Omar Samad
    Former Afghan Ambassador to Canada and France; Senior Central Asian Fellow, New America Foundation
  • Moeed Yusuf
    Director, South Asia Program, U.S. Institute of Peace
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The Asia Foundation’s 2013 Survey of the Afghan People

Wed, 12/11/2013 - 09:30
Wed, 12/11/2013 - 11:30

The Asia Foundation, in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace, co-hosted a presentation of the findings of the 2013 Survey of the Afghan People.

With the presidential election and the 2014 national security transition approaching, what do Afghan citizens think are the most critical issues facing the country? Now in its ninth year, this survey – based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of more than 9,000 Afghan citizens –  reveals their views on security, national reconciliation, the economy, development and essential services, governance and political participation, corruption, justice, gender equality, and access to information.

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Promoting Equality: The United States’ Commitment to Securing the Future for the Women of Afghanistan

Thu, 07/18/2013 - 10:00
Thu, 07/18/2013 - 11:30

On July 18th, the U.S. Institute of Peace and USAID hosted an expert panel, which highlighted efforts made by multilateral actors within the U.S. Government and internationally, in ensuring a commitment to the empowerment of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Research repeatedly shows that no nation can achieve sustainable peace, reconciliation, stability, and economic growth when half the population is marginalized. USAID and the U.S. Institute of Peace are fully committed to removing constraints on women’s potential -- their contributions to Afghan society are imperative to lasting peace, stability and economic progress.

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Effective Foreign Assistance and National Security: A View from Congressman Adam Smith

Fri, 07/19/2013 - 09:00
Fri, 07/19/2013 - 10:30
Subtitle: 
A USIP Congressional Newsmaker Series Event

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, offered his views on how foreign assistance preserves and promotes the country’s national security.

Drawing from his extensive experience assessing U.S. military capabilities, strengths and needs, Congressman Smith spoke about the importance of strengthening American diplomacy and development capabilities, as well as defense.

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Afghanistan: The Next Generation

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 10:30
Fri, 06/28/2013 - 12:00

A new generation is emerging in Afghanistan that is more educated, more connected with the world, and more hopeful about the future than previous generations. The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a public event on the opportunities and challenges youth face today, and their perspectives on the country’s future.

Experts: 

In a country where an estimated 70 percent of the population is under 25 years old, youth are often excluded from decision-making processes at the community, provincial, and national levels. The withdrawal of foreign troops and the increasing disengagement of the international community present both a source of concern and opportunity. Afghanistan’s budding democracy and the creation of institutions have opened a political space that is being filled by this generation.

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Civil-Military Relations in Afghanistan: Lessons Learned from a Ten Year Engagement

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 14:00
Wed, 04/24/2013 - 15:30

The intervention in Afghanistan in many ways redefined how civilians and military personnel work together in conflict zones. International military forces perceived the provision of aid and economic development as a key part of their ultimate objective of state-building through stabilization. Aid agencies tended to view military efforts as short-term and lacking a true developmental perspective or understanding of  humanitarian principles. For many years these efforts co-existed in a state of tension, or often reluctant cooperation, with neither side fully understanding the others concerns. As international assistance, both military and civilian, begins to decrease in Afghanistan, it is time to ask whether anything has been learned from this decade-long, uneasy cohabitation.

The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) hosted a panel discussion on Wednesday April 24th from 2:00pm – 3:30pm on the newly published Overseas Development Institute (ODI) report “Search for Common Ground: Civil-Military Relations in Afghanistan, 2002-12” and provided an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned over the past 10 years in Afghanistan with a roundtable of experts stemming from the research, military and NGO communities.  

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A Rough Guide to Afghan Youth Politics

Afghan politics today are shifting in response to a growing youth population and an increasing number of young political leaders. Youth are critical to the future of the country, and what they think of the transition period since 2001 matters. Understanding their goals; how they network, organize, and mobilize; and their aspirations for the April 2014 presidential and provincial council elections reveal how they are looking to reshape the political culture. And perhaps the most significant single element in this equation is the relationship between today’s youth and the old-guard political elite and provincial power brokers.

Gran Hewad and Casey Garret Johnson

Summary

  • The growth of subnational youth political organizations since 2001 is in many cases synonymous with the emergence of a civil society in Afghanistan. Youth see civil society organizations as one route to political power.
  • Youth politics in 2013 is still deeply tied to old-guard political networks. In many provinces, power brokers use youth organizations to maintain political control. Continuing dominance of the old guard will likely prevent the emergence of a youth bloc or a youth vote in the upcoming elections.
Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:19
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Afghanistan 2014: Election Observations

On April 5, 2014, a nine-person observation team, accredited by Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) and composed of USIP national and international staff, travelled to 18 polling centers in the Nangarhar, Kunduz and Kabul (the outer districts) provinces to observe Afghan citizens casting ballots for the presidential and provincial council elections. 

Casey Johnson and Lillian Dang

1. Overview

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 13:49
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Palwasha L. Kakar

Palwasha
Kakar
Senior Program Officer, Religion and Peacemaking

Please submit all media inquiries to interviews@usip.org or call 202.429.3869.

For all other inquiries, please call 202.457.1700.

Palwasha L. Kakar is the senior program officer for Religion and Peacemaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). Kakar joined USIP after four years with The Asia Foundation where she was the Afghanistan director for Women’s Empowerment and Development. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kakar led the Gender Mainstreaming and Civil Society Unit in the United Nation Development Program's Afghanistan Subnational Governance Program managing a small grants program for Afghanistan's civil society initiatives.

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Articles & Analysis

April 10, 2014

On April 5, 2014, a nine-person observation team, accredited by Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) and composed of USIP national and international staff, travelled to 18 polling centers in the Nangarhar, Kunduz and Kabul (the outer districts) provinces to observe Afghan citizens casting ballots for the presidential and provincial council elections. 

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By:
Gran Hewad and Casey Garret Johnson
Afghan politics today are shifting in response to a growing youth population and an increasing number of young political leaders. Youth are critical to the future of the country, and what they think of the transition period since 2001 matters. Understanding their goals; how they network, organize, and mobilize; and their aspirations for the April 2014 presidential and provincial council elections reveal how they are looking to reshape the political culture. And perhaps the most significant single element in this equation is the relationship between today’s youth and the old-guard political elite and provincial power brokers.
On April 5, 2014, a nine-person observation team, accredited by Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) and composed of USIP national and international staff, travelled to 18 polling centers in the Nangarhar, Kunduz and Kabul (the outer districts) provinces to observe Afghan citizens casting ballots for the presidential and provincial council elections.