On April 23 SASNET organized a panel discussion on statebuilding in Afghanistan in a global context. The panel consisted of Professor Robert Crews (Stanford University), Anna-Karin Johansson (formed General Secretary of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan), Dr. Admir Skodo (SASNET, Lund University), and Professor Sari Kuovo (Gothenburg University and Afghanistan Analysts Network). The panel was moderated by Professor Ted Svensson (Science, Lund University).
The panelists shed light on this hotly debated topic from different perspectives. Crews pointed out that current Western policy perspectives on Afghanistan are informed by colonial and neo-colonial ideas about the Afghan state which do not reflect historical reality and the beliefs Afghans themselves have about political legitimacy. Kuovo pointed out numerous challenges to the statebuilding project, including an electoral system designed by Western countries which favors individuals over parties. Johansson addressed the fact that development aid works in favor of cities over the countryside, thus rendering the Kabul government suspect and corrupt in the eyes of the countryside. Skodo addressed the historical and contemporary importance of Afghan migration for the Afghan state and Afghan politics. He pointed out that many ideas of reform and patterns of conflict are deeply intertwined with both forced and voluntary migration.