Afghanistan in Hope and Fear
As the departure of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan gets ever nearer, there are fewer hopes and more worries in the hearts and minds of Afghans for their future. The present government of Hamid Karzia backed by western allies failed in controlling the violence, bloodshed, corruption and injustice. With growing insecurity, violence, instability and lack of confidence the Afghans are not optimistic about the future after 2014. Instead they are worried that an era of civil war might start if the international community withdraws without solving these issues. The quick and unplanned withdrawal from Afghanistan would be another disaster for the country.
After 9/11, people in Afghanistan were hopeful that the presence of the international community would bring stability in the country. The Afghan government in cooperation with the international community would resolve Afghan issues; instead the international community gifted an engineered election and a government plagued by corruption. The international supporters share some of the responsibility for the looting of aid supplies coming for the Afghan people. The latest reports of Transparency International in which Afghanistan is at the top of the list for corruption is another important issue for the Afghan government and its foreign supporters. They failed to come up with the main issues with Afghanistan which is peace, stability and consensus with all groups on political issues.In The last ten years the Afghan government and asllies have failed to present a grand plan for the future of the country. They failed to understand why war persists in Afghanistan, the Afghan government blamed others for its failure. There is no real plan to negotiate and to bring the opposition into mainstream politics. The government of Afghanistan failed to articulate a foreign policy which best suited the interests of Afghanistan and address the concerns of the neighbors. The fight, talk, build and ‘whack them’ policy has failed. Afghanistan needs real reconciliation with all stake holders of peace and stability. Due to the reasons above and many other reasons, Afghanistan has lost its track to became a peaceful, democratic and progressive state.
The winter season is in its full swing in Afghanistan, it is calm before the storm. Taliban are waiting for US and allied forces to leave. The Afghan government with the help of US and NATO forces are trying to build an army which will be in a position to compete Taliban after 2014. US diplomats have been involved in their political game to get more concessions in the strategic agreement from Karzia government. Due to public pressure at home the Europeans are happy to wind up the mission in Afghanistan. The international community and the Afghan government are without a plan and vision after 2014.
The presidential election has been scheduled for April 2014. In such tumultuous conditions the 2014 elections will be plagued by widespread fraud and vote rigging. The security is deteriorating day by day meaning there are less opportunities for people to go to the polling stations. More than fifty percent of the country is in the shadow of instability and chaos. In such a situation, how credible will the election be?
The business class lost its faith in government and about the future course of actions. The business community and investors in different projects are quietly planning their departure, the aid and the money that have kept the country afloat in the last decade will go with them. Certainly, this will have negative impact on the already fragile confidence of the Afghan business community
The youth which is the backbone of progressive society, have also lost their hope in Afghanistan. The upper class and well-educated Afghans are leaving the country for European and other countries to safeguard their future.
Warlords and commanders are preparing themselves for the future. During the last ten years the resources were in their hands. They used their influence to get more from the government and international community. Now they have resources to buy guns and bullets to kill rival Afghans for their political ambitions. Well known commanders are distributing money and encouraging their supporters to buy weapons and ammunition.
The secret diplomacy and contacts have no positive outcomes; instead these efforts will create confusion amongst different groups. The efforts and secret diplomacy of the APC (Afghan Peace Council) will not have fruitful results because of its combination and mandate. With regard to his recent visit to Pakistan and US, Salahuddin Khan Rabbani ,the the head of Afghan Peace Council, said: “I am not fully sure about the fulfillment of the promises made by US and Pakistan.” The Afghan peace processes are not coordinated, different quarters are trying to mend the Afghan issue, which is beyond their ability and capability.
Since 2002, the Afghan government and the international community have been doing their utmost to defeat Taliban and other opposition forces, but failed to win the war. To the contrary, the armed opposition forces also failed to gain success and credibility. This situation only affected the life of ordinary people. The Afghans lost their loved ones, whether to one side or the other. The war industry filled the bank accounts of the leaders whom are involved in this game of death. The way out from this situation is to show some seriousness from the international community, Afghan government and the armed opposition forces. Due to years of wars the Afghans are fed up with this situation. The international community, the Afghan government and most of the Taliban are in favor of peace. So let’s give peace a chance! The following are suggestions that may be useful for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
First of all there is a need for confidence building measures between both sides, the international community should address the concern of the Taliban and release some of the key members of Taliban whom are in US custody. The United Nations must clear the names of the opposition forces from the UN black list. The United States must not exist for a long term basis in Afghanistan because it is against the wishes of the majority of Afghans and against the interest of the region. If their presence does persist in Afghanistan, the opposition and their supporters will use the slogan of Jihad against the presence of foreign forces in Afghan soil, and the war will continue in one form or another.
There should be two conferences under United Nations before 2014; the time and place of the conference must be decided by consensus, one between Afghans, in which the representatives of government, political opposition, Taliban and other armed groups be invited. In this conference Afghans should be given free reign to decide their future. There should be no interference from the outside. The Afghans have the audacity to solve their issues as they did for centuries. Afghans can seek ways to be independent and find solutions for their future. So let’s give them the chance to make peace!
Parallel to the Afghan to Afghan conference there should be an international conference in which the main actors of the international community, regional powers and Afghanistan’s neighbors must promise to respect and accept the decisions of the Afghans. It is the responsibility of the western powers to invest in Afghanistan in a positive way and should avoid a ‘king-making-policy’.The Afghans, the neighbors, the regional powers and the international community are responsible for the continuation of war in Afghanistan. Now it is the time for all those who share responsibility for peace - they should pledge to stop playing power games and proxy wars. Instead they should compete in economic development, which might be the only way out from the crisis.
In short: the last three decades, the Communists, the Mujahids, the Talibs and democracy failed in Afghanistan. It is because these forces followed the policy of suppression and defeating the opposition. From its birth in 1747, Afghanistan’s politics were based on Afghani Jirgas and Afghani Loya Jirgas. Throughout history, puppet leaders and puppet Jirgas have failed to deliver in Afghanistan. The only way forward for Afghanistan after 2014 is real Afghani reconciliation with full regional and international support and cooperation.