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Globalization in Afghanistan

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1289 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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“It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity”, once said Kofi Annan who is the seventh secretary general of the United Nations. It is interesting to know that globalization has become such a powerful force today that it is compared to gravity. We hear about globalization quiet often these days, ever wondered what globalization has in store for Afghanistan, one of the popular countries on the news today and one of the poorest. This paper will focus on the findings of the affects of globalization in Afghanistan.

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After doing some research on this topic I am surprised to find out that Afghanistan has been affected by the negative forces of globalization. Which according to the Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari stating in his speech on “Transnationalism: Its Impact on South Asian Economy and Politics”, that the negative forces include “transnational extremists, terrorists, and drug traffickers to further destroy Afghanistan and victimize its people” (The Embassy of Afghanistan, 2006). The reason that my initial instinct was a surprised reaction to this finding is because I did not know that these negative forces were a result of globalization, which till now I have perceived globalization as a positive and a beneficial force to many countries.

As we have witnessed China and India being among the winners of globalization due to their flourishing economies, Afghanistan is on the opposite side of the spectrum because there is a substantial amount of corruption involved in every corner of its governance. The leaders and the warlords of Afghanistan are benefitting from the opium trade in the illicit markets around the globe. According to the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Assessment of Corruption in Afghanistan, there has been stated that “ Thirty years of conflict that has weakened underdeveloped state institutions and the country’s social fabric, Afghanistan’s dominant role in worldwide opium and heroin production, and the tremendous size and diversity of international security, humanitarian and development assistance all increase Afghanistan’s vulnerability to corruption” (USAID, 2009).

As globalization reduces inequality in many regions of the world, it also produces winners and losers of globalization. As many people benefit from this, we have to take into consideration that those who lose from this are the ones who live less than one dollar a day which undoubtedly globalization is not effective for them. According to a World Bank Policy Research Report called Globalization, Growth and Poverty it is stated that “Many poor countries with about 2 billion people have been left out of the process of globalization.” In addition the authors have stated some of the reasons for these countries to be left out are the fact that “geographically the countries landlocked and are prone to disease as well as by having weak policies, institution and governance and civil wars”. They also state that “much of the concern about globalization involves issues of power, culture, and the environment” (Collier & Dollar, page 2, Yr: 2002).

Another author, Carol Riphenburg, in the journal from Third Quarterly claims that “Afghanistan is out of the globalization mainstream” (Riphenburg, 2006). She follows stating that, “Afghanistan ranks low on all three indicators of political capacity: extractive capability, institutional credibility, and transparency.” And that is why Afghanistan falls out of the globalization mainstream due to those factors. (Riphenburg, 2006)

For the rest of the world globalization includes the internet, cell phones and the latest gadget communications on the daily basis. And for Afghanistan, although not to underestimate that internet and cell phones also have made their way to some of the larger cities of Afghanistan such as Kabul, Mazare-Sharif and Herat, it is still far away from being part of their daily lives. It has not made their daily basis routines because of many factors but primarily due to the fact that people do not have much access to it. Riphenburg backs this up by stating in her journal that “Although Kabul has as many as four telekiosks, housed in post offices and equipped with new computer terminals and internet access, as well as internet cafes, Afghanistan is overall on the negative side of the digital divide” (Riphenburg, page 511, 2006).

A crucial part of this happening is that there is no electricity in many of the regions. And even if people do have access to the internet, most of the information that is presented online is in English. People would lack this information because of the inability to read or write or simply being illiterate which is due to substantial lack of education. In Riphenburg’s words this would be described as “Use of the internet requires a rather complex set of skills and technology. At the very least, one must have electricity, a communications line, a terminal capable of interacting across the communications lines, and a reasonable fluency in English” (Riphenburg, 2006).

Riphenburg suggest some of the solutions to better the conditions in Afghanistan which includes “Improved security, the rule of law, and an economically viable alternative to poppy farming are needed advances” (Riphenburg, page 522, 2006). Although the facts mentioned throughout the paper incline towards the instability of a Afghanistan, globalization has made at least limited affects on Afghanistan through a competition called “Afghan Star”. Afghan Star was a singing completion where young adults could perform and show their talents in public. Very much alike to what we know in United States as the American Idol. There has been a documentary made based on this competition which is described as such, “After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, pop Idol has come to Afghanistan. Millions are watching the TV series ‘Afghan Star’ and voting for their favorite singers by mobile phone. For many this is their first encounter with democracy” (Afghan Star Documentary, 2008). This film relates to globalization in many ways. The fact that people have risen from the dark and have the courage to perform in public shows a lot in the change and how this is taken from the western culture. To make this event happen there has been many involvements of cell phone companies where they would have to SMS their votes to the participants which is a very democratic way of living and the beginning of globalization.


v Afghanistan in the Globalization Era. The Embassy of Afghanistan. Washington D.C. 2006. http://www.embassyofafghanistan.org/news/news10.html

v Afghan Star (The Documentary Film) 2008. http://www.afghanstardocumentary.com/

v Assessment of Corruption in Afghanistan. United States Agency for International Development (USAID). January 15, 2009- March 1, 2009. http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADO248.pdf

v Collier, P., Dollar D. Globalization, Growth and Poverty. World Bank Policy Research Report. Page 2. 2002. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=p3D_BYtXXQcC&oi=fnd&pg=PR13&dq=losers+of+globalization+afghanistan&ots=GG_pK-7ggp&sig=nq8gB35a3GqgoUGtl5rPHBGwVk0#v=onepage&q=losers%20of%20globalization%20afghanistan&f=false

v Riphenburg, Carol. Afghanistan: out of the globalization mainstream? Third World Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 3. 2006. http://search.ebscohost.com.webadvisor.emmanuel.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&AN=20338552&site=ehost-live&scope=site


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