Afghan paper criticizes ethnicity-based political parties

Afghanistan is the only country with around 100 political parties, some formed by jihadis.

Afghan paper criticises ethnicity-based political parties

Afghanistan election posters

A man lifts his hands in prayer under a row of campaign posters on a wall in Kabul’s city center August 12, 2009. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Excerpt from editorial headlined “Powerful parties want partisan share” published by Afghan newspaper Rah-e Madaneyat on 3 February

A number of political parties including Jamiat-e-Islami, Hezb-e-Islami led by Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, Mehwar-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan, Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami, Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan, Afghan Millat Party and Hezb-e-Iqtedar-e-Milli Islami Afghanistan have called for amendment to the election laws and a bigger role for political parties [in the country’s affairs].

Based on a statement issued by the above mentioned political parties, amendment to the constitution will pave the way for bigger role of political parties and groups in the coming parliamentary and district council elections [scheduled to be held in July 2018]. Considering political expediency, the stance adopted by these political parties is precisely a political move and falls in the framework of the authority and responsibilities of these political parties.

Afghanistan is the only country with around 100 political parties, some of which are registered with the government, while some are unregistered but continue to carry on their activities. In addition, among all these political parties, there are few political parties, which were established by former jihadi leaders, and these parties have always been active in the country’s political sphere. Despite brining reforms and changes in their mandates, structures and activities over the past one-and-half decade, these political parties still do not follow the requirements deemed necessary for a political party.

Most of these political parties represent and support a specific ethnic minority group. It is quite rare for political parties based in the south to find supporters in north or central parts of the country.

Political parties should take part in the country’s political process as well as elections, and they have all the rights to struggle for achieving [political and administrative] power or have share in power according to the number of votes they secure in elections. However, our political parties have changed into a tool of pressure, which always look for financial concession or other types of incentives under the banner of their party’s name, but only few of them receive these concessions.

Therefore, it would be good if a person takes decision on its own and also allows others to take decisions without any interference from others [Presumably political parties should desist from influencing people’s decision]. People should stop fighting among themselves for securing positions and seats for another person, who describe himself as their leader. If this situation persists, people will suffer more, and they will not be able to take a fair share in power and politics.

Source: Rah-e Madaneyat in Dari, February 03, 2018
© 2018 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Afghan paper says new political groupings in competition

Afghanistan posters

A boy cleans teapots in front of election posters in Kabul, August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Text of commentary by Hosayn Madani, “A glance at new political formation”, published by independent newspaper Payam-e Mojahed on 6 May

The United National Front, which soon changed its name to Afghanistan’s National Front, introduced its presence in the Afghan political arena some time back. Famous jihadi and political figures formed this front. The United National Front introduced itself at a time when there was a vacuum in nongovernmental political power in the country. A large number of parties were formed and collapsed over the past five years and, therefore, failed to impress the government due to a lack of management and weak political system.

Other political coalitions, including the Afghanistan’s Intellectual Front, the National Understanding Front, the National United Council etc, which were established in various situations, did not have a major impact on the government to change or reform its policy. Government officials, however, became worried soon after the United Front was formed. The 4 Hut meeting at the invitation of the jihadi leaders worried the officials further, who later had a critical approach to the issue and after the Front formally introduced presence with its members, including jihadi leaders, famous members of the Democratic Party [People’s Communist Party] and a large number of government officials and parliamentarians.

The first measure taken by the authorities, particularly the president, was to establish a new party called “The Republican Party”, comprising a large number of cabinet members and politicians affiliated to the government. Hamed Karzai might have expected too much by forming this party, but at his first step, these were his vice-presidents who refused his invitation [to join the party]. The first vice-president had formally joined the United Front earlier and the second vice-president – despite feelings tending towards the Front – pursued a conservative policy and refused to have joined the United Front.

The United Front comprises jihadi leaders and independent figures but the Republican Party has been formed by technocrats and those who are westernized and apparently enjoy the West’s support.

On the other hand, another group of westernized people is trying to enter the arena of competition. It is said that the US Democrats are to play a more active part in Afghanistan and the guess is that they prefer Ali Ahmad Jalali [former interior minister] over other Afghan politicians. There are increasing rumours that Jalali and many other technocrats, including Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai [former finance minister], will be back [in the government]. Whether or not these rumours are true, the USA plays a key role in Afghanistan. A number of observers believe the USA plays a significant role in the country’s internal affairs, adding that US officials play an important role in appointing cabinet members, high-ranking heads and government officials.

On the other hand, there is another movement that will join the new political formation. The romantic coalition between Abdol [Abdorrab] Rasul Sayyaf [former jihadi leader and current MP] and Mohammad Mohaqeq [former jihadi leader and current MP] who have kept cooperation with each other due to some reasons, are trying to find an opportunity to appear in the political scene. Some other individuals are attempting to weaken the United Front by entering Golboddin Hekmatyar [jihadi figure allied to the Taleban] pompously like a dummy and forming another front. They may intend to involve influential jihadi figures and the leftists in a clash against each other and start fishing in troubled waters.

Such a policy will strengthen the Republican Party and certainly have a negative impact on the United Front or at least curb the political activities of a number of its members. The Republican Party, which will achieve more success in comparison with other registered parties, will formally present itself in the coming days and in addition to Hamed Karzai, a number of technocrats are the major members of this party.

The cogent reason this party may achieve success is that the USA, particularly the Republican Party, will support it. The supporters will do their best to strengthen the government and the party, bring about reforms in the cabinet to block a parliamentary system and separation of powers and even appoint famous technocrats, including Jalali and Ashraf Ghani to the cabinet and give them more authority in the field of security and the economy. It appears that both the front and Republican Party have been formed on concerns and worries. The United National Front has been formed to tackle the Taleban’s strengthening, possible dealings between the USA and the Taleban and prevent from being marginalized from the scene of politics and power. [On the other hand], the Republican Party has been established to halt strengthening of influential figures under the United Front that may affect its power in the long run.

After five years of poor programmes, the jihadi figures and leftists established the United Front and joined heroes and popular figures of war and politics. There are a number of competent strategists in the front who are able to launch proper plans in the field of economy, politics, security and culture. They disapprove of presidential system and thus try to restrict the president’s authority through parliamentary system. Despite ideological disagreements, there are common and shared interests and goals that have gathered together [the Front’s members]. Nevertheless, there is still a possibility that this coalition will collapse like former coalitions because of these ideological and party differences.

Anyway, formation of strong political parties, coalition among parties and moving towards this system is much appreciated. But it is more important to protect the country’s independence and prevent from the foreign interference in Afghanistan’s national policy.

Source: Payam-e Mojahed, Kabul, in Dari, May 06, 2007
© 2007 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Afghan paper criticizes choice of candidates on basis of tribal affiliation

Kabul posters

People walk past election posters in Kabul, August 6, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Text of article by Afghan weekly newspaper Eqtedar-e Melli on 1 August

Following the 9/11 incident and after years of crisis and tension, the interim government and the transitional state were established as a result of the Bonn Conference based on some tribal, language and regional realities and compromises. The tribes and the social groups were given the chance to be present and occupy the government positions based on their claims regarding their population.

At that time, social justice was and still is defined as each tribe and group sharing positions of power proportionate to the population size of their tribe and group. Aside from the question as to whether such a justice has been administered over the past three years or not, there is another question: Has this approach worked? If it has been based on the realities of three years ago, can it be used as a criterion for our actions forever and can it lead society towards its ideals?

There is no doubt that big schisms have appeared among the country’s tribes over the past three decades of crisis. To gain power, there were people who rebelled against another tribe on different pretexts such as defending the tribe’s rights. Some people tried to suppress others to maintain the superiority of their tribe.

The consequences of such conduct were nothing but encouraging extremist tribalism and tribal divisions in the country. The end products of such hostilities are still witnessed in society. The administrative corruption, preference of ties over regulations and ignoring qualification and competence of the individuals can be given as examples of this.

Instead of relying on tribal support, the Afghan authorities were expected to get out of their tribal shell, base their conduct on the universal principle of meritocracy and give priority to the process of nation building.

Unfortunately, we have not witnessed any work in this regard over the past three years. Still, some of the actions of the groups, political parties and some government authorities can be evaluated through the viewpoint of tribalism. We can mention the presidential election as an example. Most of the candidates have built their elections campaigns on provoking tribal sentiments.

Another interesting points is that some individuals, who are really members of a team, have nominated themselves for the post of president or his deputies.

The Joint Electoral Management Body announced a list of the presidential candidates and their deputies last week. Looking at the list, one can see that tribalism and regionalism still speak loud. Here are some examples:

– Hamed Karzai (Pashtun), Ahmad Zia Masud, his first vice-president (Tajik), Mohammad Karim Khalili, his second vice-president (Hazara)

– Mohammad Yunos Qanuni (Tajik), Taj Mohammad Wardag, his first vice-president (Pashtun), Sayd Hosayn Alemi-Balkhi, his second vice-president (Hazara)

– Mohammad Mohaqeq (Hazara), Nasir Ahmad Ensaf, his first vice-president (Pashtun), Abdol Fayaz Mehrayin, his second deputy (Tajik)

– Abdossattar Sirat (Uzbek), Qazi Mohammad Amin Waqad, his first vice-president (Pashtun), Abdol Qader Emami, his second vice-president (Tajik)

As one can see, the esteemed candidates have chosen their vice-presidents from among different tribes. It is quite evident that the selection of these individuals has not been based on qualification or competence or even the harmony of their programmes, but because they belong to a different tribe. In doing so, they think they can win the votes of the other tribes, as well.

What does this mean? Are the qualifications and competence of individuals not important? Is the harmony between the ideas of the president and the vice presidents not important? And a more fundamental question: By adopting such an approach, can we anticipate a bright future for a country called Afghanistan? And, can we expect the Afghan nation to forcefully replace the divided tribes living in a geographical unit?

Throughout the world, the president chooses his team members from among the people who hold the same opinions and programmes. And, since the president himself is engaged in political activities, he chooses as his deputies those who are competent and are specialized in economic, social and military fields.

Has the esteemed candidates paid attention to such standards? Or, without knowing them, they have chosen individuals from other tribes just based on coercion and pretending to be patriotic?

Attracting the different tribes of Afghanistan to encourage them to a bigger participation in the elections and win their votes to reach the intended posts is not an inappropriate act. The candidates can do that in different ways, including choosing deputies from different tribes. However, they should bear in mind that qualifications and competence should not be sacrificed in favour of tribal and factional affiliations.

We do not mean the candidates cannot choose his deputies from among the other tribes, but, the qualifications and the competence of the individuals and the harmony of the team members should be also taken into consideration.

The experience of the past three years show that membership of the cabinet and particularly the heads of departments and their deputies based on tribal backgrounds cannot solve the problems. On the contrary it wastes opportunities.

If such an experience is repeated over the next five years, we cannot be so optimistic about the performance of the government in the future. The future president and his deputies can win if, beside popularity, they have an agreement over a common programme and objective and adopt similar tactics. Unfortunately, we cannot witness this [standard] in the list of candidates just announced. It seems that the esteemed presidential candidates have chosen their deputies based on coercion and compromise, rather than on qualification.

Source: Eqtedar-e Melli, Kabul, in Dari, August 01, 2004
© 2004 The British Broadcasting Corporation [date of publication]. All Rights Reserved.

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