Voices of a new Afghanistan

Originally published


The Post-Conflict Reconstruction (PCR) Project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has developed an integrated method to measure progress in stabilization and reconstruction operations that draws heavily on ordinary citizens’ perceptions of progress and where their country is heading. The PCR Project evaluates the reconstruction effort across the five areas of security, governance and participation, justice and accountability, economic opportunity, and social well-being. Voices of a New Afghanistan is a synthesis of 1,060 conversations that 12 Afghan researchers carried out with 1,609 Afghans in 20 of the country’s 34 provinces from April 16 to April 28, 2005.

Principal Findings

Although Afghans consistently voice support for changes that have occurred in their country since the fall of the Taliban, these improvements are happening too slowly and not benefiting all Afghans. In particular, the presence of corrupt and predatory local government officials is a major impediment to progress in the reconstruction efforts.


Security continues to be a major concern, although crime -- primarily kidnapping, murder, and robbery -- is the most significant security threat. Taliban and al Qaeda are seen as less of a threat, and largely discredited. People throughout the country fear that without the international military presence, Afghanistan will erupt into violence. The Afghan National Army (ANA) is regarded favorably and seen by Afghans as capable of providing stability, while the Afghan National Police (ANP) receives more mixed reviews.

Governance and Participation

Afghans support the central government, and equate it with President Karzai. This support coexists with the criticism that the central government has not produced enough visible results. Afghans do not trust or rely on local and provincial government due to widespread corruption. Local warlords, particularly in the west, south, and east of Afghanistan, continue to flout the rule of law and undermine governance.

Justice and Accountability

There is no functioning, formal justice system in Afghanistan. Bribery and corruption are rampant in the formal justice sector. Individual rights are poorly understood and poorly protected, especially for women.

Economic Opportunity

Reconstruction efforts have not succeeded thus far in creating enough jobs for Afghans. Poppy growing provides a viable livelihood for some, but a majority of

Afghans believe poppy is bad for the development of their country. Inadequate salaries for government workers and Afghan police create incentives for corruption.

Social Well-Being

While many communities in Afghanistan have seen improvements in health care, education, service provision, and infrastructure, significant gaps remain in all these areas. There is no clear consensus among Afghans, however, about which needs are priorities. Afghan expectations remain high.

Overall Averages for 1609 individuals

© The Center for Strategic & International Studies
Center for Strategic and International Studies
© The Center for Strategic & International Studies