Afghan economy to slow down after 2014: DNI
WASHINGTON (PAN): The economy of Afghanistan is likely to slow down after 2014, when most of foreign combat troops are scheduled to withdraw from the country, a senior US intelligence official said on Tuesday.
Providing an intelligence assessment of the global threat scenario in an unclassified setting, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James R Clapper, said that in his assessment the Taliban-led insurgency has diminished in some areas of the country, but continues to pose challenge.
“Afghanistan’s economy, which has been expanding at a steady rate, is likely to slow after 2014,” Clapper told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Kabul has little hope of offsetting the coming drop in Western aid and military spending, which have fueled growth in the construction and services sectors. Its licit agricultural sector and small businesses have also benefited from development projects and assistance from nongovernmental organizations, but the country faces high rates of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, and poppy cultivation,” he said.
Clapper said the US intelligence community assess that the Taliban-led insurgency has diminished in some areas of Afghanistan but remains resilient and capable of challenging US and international goals.
“Taliban senior leaders also continue to be based in Pakistan, which allows them to provide strategic guidance to the insurgency without fear for their safety. Al-Qa’ida’s influence on the insurgency is limited, although its propaganda gains from participating in insurgent attacks far outweigh its actual battlefield impact,” he said.
“Security gains are especially fragile in areas where ISAF surge forces have been concentrated since 2010 and are now transitioning the security lead to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The ANSF will require international assistance through 2014 and beyond,” he said.
“The Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police have proven capable of providing security in major cities, nearby rural areas, and key ground lines of communication in the vicinity of government-controlled areas. The Afghan Air Force has made very little progress. The National Directorate of Security remains Afghanistan’s premier national intelligence service and likely will play a larger role in regime security over time,” he said.
Clapper said the Pakistani Government has attempted to improve relations with Kabul and ensure that its views are taken into consideration during the transition period. “The military this year continued operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and, as of late 2012, had forces in place for an operation against anti-Pakistan militants in the North Waziristan Agency of the FATA,” he said.
Praising India’s developmental role in Afghanistan, Clapper said that the US intelligence community judges that India sees its goals in Afghanistan as consistent with US objectives, and favors sustained ISAF and US presence in the country.
“India will almost certainly cooperate with the United States and Afghanistan in bilateral and multilateral frameworks to identify assistance activities that will help bolster civil society, develop capacity, and strengthen political structures in Afghanistan,” he said.
Globally, he said, China has both assisted and hindered US policy objectives on such issues as Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and North Korea, and it continues to expand its economic influence and to try to parlay it into greater political influence.
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