The Afghans should reform their government, devolving power away from a central state (and a presidency) that has kept too much of it. The governance system established at the Bonn Conference, in December 2001, has not served Afghanistan well. The Kabul government fails to meet the basic needs of its citizens because most government officials are not responsible to the constituents they serve, but to the system of patronage that keeps them in power.
Most Afghans do not directly elect their provincial governors or local (district-level) leaders: These officials are appointed by the presidency and serve at the president’s pleasure. As a result, they have an incentive to embrace the endemic corruption that plagues all levels of the Afghan state, enriching themselves and their superiors as they work to advance to, or hang on to, positions of power.