Governance, Sanctuaries Still Problematic for Stability in Afghanistan

While security gains have been made in Afghanistan as a result of the US military surge that ended earlier this year, an unstable border with Pakistan and safe havens for insurgents inside Pakistan are impeding progress, states a congressionally mandated Pentagon report released on Dec. 10. Taliban attacks are now taking place away from main population centers, states the report, which covers the six-month period between April 1 and Sept. 30. “Security dramatically improved in most of Afghanistan’s five most populous districts,” reads the document. For example, attacks in the first nine months of 2012 dropped 22 percent in Kabul, 62 percent in Kandahar, and 13 percent in Herat compared to 2011, states the report. Still, there’s been mixed progress towards increased stability, especially in regard to the effectiveness of Afghan government and security forces. The Afghan government is limited due to “widespread corruption, limited human capacity, lack of access to rural areas due to a lack of security,” and other factors. Pakistan-based sanctuary for insurgents, such as the Haqqani network, and the financial and operational support they receive keep the situation along the Afghan-Pakistani border “volatile,” states the report. (Section 1230 report; caution, large-sized file.) (See also transcript of briefing on report.)