by Honorata Zapaśnik
Francisca Bostyn has been a political advisory officer for NATO since 2006. Four years before she went for the first time to Afghanistan. She sees great progress but still a lot of challenges.
NATO is a political and military organization and the Senior Civilian Representative, the SCR is a political representative group working for NATO. “SCR is in fact the ears, voices, and eyes of the Secretary General of NATO in Afghanistan” Francisca Bostyn explaines.
Unfortunately theSCR has no military power or funding lines and are therefore unable to implement projects. The SCR does how ever play a monitoring, observing, facilitating role and try to bring different actors together. “We also communicate with the Afghan people. For example we travel a lot to our provinces and talk to their authorities. We are very active in transmitting NATO messages to the citizens”.
Three of the biggest challenges in Afghanistan according to Bostyn are security, building up a strong government and the relationship with neighboring countries. “In Afghanistan we don’t have a secure situation. We have problems with many anti-national armies working against a secure state. We must therefore try to strengthen the Afghan army”. She doesn’t think that more international troops are the solution since soldiers can’t fight suicides and kidnaps. Instead she wants a larger investment in the police and security sector.
“Security is not something that can be built up without a deep connection to a well working parliament”, she continues. Many politicians in Afghanistan today are unsure of their role and limitations and as a result the decision-making processes along with important discussions take time. The politicians are unable to deliver all basic services to the citizens, especially in the rural areas but if this improves the support for the governing system would most likely increase.
The drug industry has a big impact on security and corruption and the government fights a hard battle against it. Bostyn is although positive; “A lot of internal problems could be solved if we put more attention on neighboring countries like Pakistan in which we share common problems”. In her opinion good social relationship between countries, both economical and political could provide stabilization to the whole region.
NATO agreed to support the country by running projects, enabling and monitoring Afghanistan. They created Provincial Reconstruction Teams; PRT’s which includes military services and civilian experts. “A lot of PRT I visited are military dominated. They are from different countries but coordination still exists. We do how ever have a PRT handbook which explains how PRT should work”.
The situation in the provinces is really insecure but almost 90 percent of the territory is today secure enough for PRT elements. “PRT can cooperate with Afghans and show them solutions but as Bostyn concludes, “NATO should not stay any longer in Afghanistan than what is absolutely necessary”.