By: Dr. G. Rauf Roashan
Abstract: A National Unity Government created with the so-called good offices of the US Secretary of State, John Kerry is expected to work in Afghanistan. It has had many difficulties and flaws so far to succeed. In fact the Afghan throne or the power of government is treated as a lady that is expected to yield to both leaders as her husbands. In Afghanistan-as anywhere else for that purpose, this polyandry is very hard to work.
It so happened that Afghanistan’s throne was to be treated as a Queen because of the prizes she offered to political contenders in the form of a place in history and a good chunk of power. For the power thirsty politicians the conditions in Afghanistan have been ideal for now more than thirty years to fight for the throne.
So to quench this thirst for power of the politicians, a so-called presidential elections produced not one but two presidents, or two kings for the Queen if you will, who both claimed, notwithstanding massive fraud in elections, to have won the election and was to be crowned as president. The dispute got hot and dangerous to the degree that one of the two who had apparently come short in the number of votes threatened mass uprising against the system by occ300upying the streets of the capital.
Then politicians of the international community who had made huge investments of men and money into a so-called democratization process for the country started to worry. They sent a super-diplomat from the US to find a remedy. This he did. For him the remedy came too easy. It was giving both the contenders equal chance to husband Afghanistan’s throne. Then they clapped and celebrated the great success achieved.
But if the test of the pudding were in its taste-every one waited for the taste. I decided to make my judgment there and then and not wait for an obvious taste that would be bitter for many reasons. It is almost four decades that I have engaged my mind into analyses of the Afghan situation. The experience of these four decades as witnessed by about six hundred commentaries on Afghanistan that I have written so far told me that the taste would be bitter because of the megalomania that was apparent in the behavior of the contenders although more apparent in the behavior of one than the other.
I also considered the fact that in the past one century or so no Afghan leader had a chance to govern Afghanistan himself independent of interference by others-persons or situations. Let us begin from the time King Mohammad Nadir Shah played his cards in such a way to become the king of Afghanistan after situations and interferences by national and international circles had led to the defeat of a progressively minded monarch King Amanullah and a period that hoodlums got a chance to proclaim the country’s leadership. Mohammad Nadir Shah was accepted readily as the new King replacing the bandit who had grabbed the throne of Afghanistan. Nadir Shah was welcomed because of his tribal association, experience in government as a minister during King Amanullah’s reign and his obvious superiority to an illiterate gang leader who had assumed power with the help of the enemies of Afghanistan. But King Mohammad Nadir Shah did not rule the country by himself. He had four brothers and a family around him to share the power and help govern the otherwise ungovernable Afghans.
When he was assassinated, his young son who was too young to have any experience of government was selected by the family to replace-only by name, his father while the true power stayed with his uncles one of whom had been selected to continue as the Prime Minister and another uncle as the Minister of War. The result was King Mohammad Zahir Shah had a passive role as the ruler while the country was run by his powerful uncles. This sharing of power continued even when one of his cousins was elevated as the prime minister and another one as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Only during a brief period known in history as the decade of the constitution the King was able to be considered as the sole ruler. This period did not last long as his cousin embarked upon a coup and established the first so-called republican regime in the country. Thus Mohammad Daoud became the president.
President Daoud did not get to rule the country as freely and independently as he would have liked it, because agents of the Soviet Union had surrounded him on all sides and trying to push for leftist policies in the country. I am not embarking on a discussion of his rule here because I just wanted to mention that he too did not have a truly free hand in ruling Afghanistan perhaps also because the West and especially the United States had given up on this country.
But then the Soviet Union found out that Mohammad Daoud was to awaken to his mistakes of throwing himself wholly in the lap of the Soviet Union. They were right and when they sensed the truth of his intentions of mentioning Afghanistan’s right as a free and independent nation, the Soviet Union arranged for a communist coup by its agents who had done their footwork to the full by this time.
The coup produced the success of the communist party’s both wings of Khalq-the people and Parcham-the banner. The leaders of the two versions of communist party behaved pretty much like Afghanistan’s so-called two leaders of today. Their government began much like the government of the national unity that many people know of as the creation of the US Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry while the communist government was put together by the Soviet Union. Well, it did not work as Afghanistan’s throne did not behave as a woman who would tolerate two husbands during the Soviet era and neither does it today. The two communist party leaders schemed and conspired against each other and the referee, the Soviet leadership was not able to bring them closer together. As a result assassinations and expulsions of the leaders took place leaving the country open to the great uprising of the Afghan nation who fought both the government forces as well as the Red Army and won its freedom fight. This was a unique achievement by a small nation that changed the balance of power in Afghanistan and later served as the beginning of the end ot the Soviet era in Russia.
Soon the nation that had won the war lost the peace due to the greedy individuals’ selfish stands, the grab of power and allowing ethnic, tribal, linguistic and regional as well as personal differences to develop. The result was no individual, although many tried it in earnest, could attain indisputable leaderdrship and the country lapsed into anarchy and chaos. There was no one individual leader who would rule the country. Selfish neighbors of Afghanistan each pushed its own supporting group and also its own political interests upon politicians who were naive, inexperienced and arrogant because of the victory over the Soviet Union which was one of the superpowers of the day.
The phenomenon Taliban then surfaced. Taliban was created by the Pakistani spy agency the ISI and some commentators say with the cognizance of the US government. Taliban movement was welcomed by the nation as it promised security, the only sure thing it could provide and did. But Taliban also had to share power with its Pakistani creators. Inexperienced and extremist in governance it relied strongly on the government of Pakistan and its agents to run the country including the day to day operations of the ministries. Taliban was an ignorant group that emphasized only one thing-that its members had learned in Pakistani religious schools and it was intolerance to any and all human rights and civil liberties as they believed Islam was the best system of government upholding peoples’ rights. It was unaware or fully ignorant of other issues that must be considered when you run a government and also it did not understand diplomacy, administration and or living as equals among a community of naitons. In short it shared its power with Pakistan.
It was on such a background that the US and a few other Western powers brokered establishment of a democratic government for Afghanistan and at a meeting in Bonn chose a leader for such a government during transition and gave that leader a cabinet of their choice rather than the choice of the selected leader. This leader-Mr. Hamid Karzai thus took the reigns of the government that had not been chosen by himself and shared power with a lot of individuals- one dead and the rest alive, and a coalition military that came to fight a war on terror. Poor Karzai a rather young leader was faced with the greatest dilemma of his life. He even had to share power with a dead individual-Ahmad Shah Masoud. Were he more mature he might have refused the offer of the leadership or placed conditions on it.
And now that Karzai is gone the so-called winner of the last presidential elections has to share power with the loser of the same elections and is not even allowed to say that at least the number of votes in his favor was much larger than his rival and has to accept another administration under his rival fully staffed and all being paid for from the coffers of the government as his par and as the CEO in the country. This now is a throne-a wife, with two husbands. Unfortunately the system is impractical and highly expensive for a poor country and a comedy show in front of a world audience. Let me allude to only one example of this comedy: President Ghani had authorized awarding a medal for services of a foreign diplomat. The medal had to be pinned to the lapel of the recepient dignitary. CEO Abdullah did not want to give up his share in pinning of the medal and as a result there were two sets of hands-four in all that pinned the medal on the lapel of the surprised recepient.
It seems to be in the stars for Afghanistan to have a leader that is forced to share power with other individuals. Luckily Abdullah is a living indidvidual with whom Ghani has to share power and unlike Ahmad Shah Masoud a dead individual with whom Karzai shared power for a long time and it seems even today Masoud’s ghost is lurking around centers of power in Kabul claiming his part.
That is in part some of the reasons I am not optimistic about the national unity government in Afghanistan or its effectiveness. On the contrary I am worried about Afghanistan. May 30, 2015