One Cow Many Butchers

Afghan politics are getting more complicated by the day. Governance in Afghanistan is in a crisis. Afghan politicians are confused, afraid and perplexed for a variety of reasons, some selfish others otherwise. The new American administration is yet to proclaim its much awaited policy guidelines on its role regarding the war on terror in Afghanistan and its intentions regarding the country’s presently failed status and the future of the war that, notwithstanding international involvement, has not achieved any significant success as well as the issue of democratization.

Pakistan has also been widely affected by the new wave of Pakistani Taleban, once favored by its government because of its sponsorship of Afghanistan’s Talebanization. As a matter of fact Pakistani politics is becoming increasingly complex. Its government is getting increasingly confused in its relationships in the region and on the international arena and its policy regarding extremism more complex. Internal Pakistani politics have reverted to the old rivalries for power, old conspiracies for neutralizing rival politicians’ strives for grabbing power. The repercussions of the above on Afghan issues are great and grave.

Iran, on the other hand, with its hegemonic attitude sees a political opportunity in getting further involved in Afghan politics. A pro-Iranian government in Afghanistan would immensely strengthen Iran’s position on regional and international issues both in South Asia and in the Middle East. It would make it a copartner with the US and the West regarding assistance to Afghanistan. It is therefore that it is actively weighing and adjusting its options for its own political gains rather than helping solve the Afghan problem.

President Obama’s administration has been conducting studies, convening meetings, doing research, and consulting some of the so-called experts on Afghan issues, contacting the Afghan government directly and indirectly to devise a new strategy that is yet to be announced. It is stated that the new strategy would in addition to the already decided increase in US troops by 17 thousand, might include issues such as talks with Taleban, arming of tribal militias to defend their regions and considering political solutions parallel with the military operations. In a way, the US may draw parallels between Iraq, where arming of the militia and military surge contributed to some degree of security. It ignores the fact that these two countries, notwithstanding some superficial similarities are very different and any parallels that are drawn by politicians must be drawn very carefully and after due consideration of facts and recognition of local traditions and historical standing.

The reported distance between the administrations of President Obama with that of Mr.Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has not narrowed down. President Karzai who was a favorite of former President Bush is looked upon differently by the democratic administration in Washington. Afghan Ambassador to the US who sang praises of the US involvement in his country’s rebuilding and democratization is now loudly criticizing the West for its failures in helping the Afghan government achieve its goals.

Inside Afghanistan confusion reigns. Application of constitutional provisions has faced difficulties. The status of the Independent Elections Commission regarding the decision by the president of Afghanistan came under question. The Commission had decided earlier that due to security situations especially in the south of the country elections needed to be postponed until August. While President Karzai initially supported the proposal, soon he found out that the opposition who had also readily agreed to the postponement of elections wanted him out of office by Mar 21st as provided by the Constitution and there was talk of the need for parliament to choose a care taker government to rule the country between May and August. President Karzai therefore reconsidered and came up with a decree of his own calling for elections to be held before May as devised by the Constitution. The US has throughout supported the idea of postponement of elections. The Independent Elections Commission has now rejected the decree of the president on the basis of its previous explanations as well as the independent nature of the Commission. What a nasty dilemma for Afghan internal politics!

On the other hand, a considerable number of people have expressed their readiness to run for president in Afghanistan. They come from all corners and ideologies, from inside Karzai’s government, from remnants of royalty-grandsons of an Emir and a King, from warlords and from groups of people with ethnic, religious and regional affiliations. All of this because it is so easy to challenge a government that has drastically failed in wiping out corruption, in reigning in warlords, in achieving palpable economic successes and above all in providing security in collaboration with military personnel from an alliance of more than forty countries.

The Afghans have a saying that where there are too many butchers, the cow would end up impure in its meat. Afghanistan today seems to be like that cow and the many butchers, who don’t even have legitimate butcher’s license, are busy poking their knives into its already wounded body.

It is high time that for the sake of peace, for the sake of putting American foreign policy on an international course that would regain world confidence in the US, the United States should come up soon with guidelines for its new strategy on Afghanistan. This strategy should favor befriending Afghans rather than alienating them. It should stress the need for economic development. It should highlight the importance of education of improving health and well being of the Afghans. It should emphasize giving more responsibility to the Afghan government and it should make the US a collaborator rather than an occupying force.