The Assassination of Democracy

The Afghan nation welcomed the decision to democratize Afghanistan in the face of the harsh medieval rule of the Taleban very early in the threshold of the 21st Century. Events at that time augmented the hopes of the optimists that a full fledged democratic nation will be built on the ashes of quarter century of war in Afghanistan. Steps in that direction were taken in the form of promulgation of a democratic constitution, election of a president, establishment of a two-chambered parliament, and establishment of a Supreme Court. The United States, the United Nations and NATO together with a myriad of governmental and non-governmental agencies took it upon themselves to help Afghanistan with the process of democratization and help the United States in its war against terror. It seems that both objectives have fallen short of being achieved.

When the machinery for democratization was created for Afghanistan all it needed was fuel and expert hands to put it to work. It was then that serious questions arose regarding the machine and the mechanics, regarding the democratic documents and their enforcers, regarding the ability of the engineers and the capacity for acceptance of new ways by a nation that perhaps had lived under conditions of war a little too long and had not been prepared for assimilation of the new democratic system because of the non-existence of its basic prerequisites such as a greater percentage of literacy as well as experienced and educated law makers and law enforcers and law interpreters..

Manning the system both by election and appointment are now found out to have been a failure. Elections for example brought to the fore inexperienced leaders who at first rode on the optimistic aspirations of a suffering nation but later proved to lose themselves and the ideals of the nation in the quagmire of a convoluted system of governance. Elections also brought to power, once again warlords and gunmen whose only expertise was infighting for power and who now cherished a green light to prosper from spoils of war and to benefit from fruits of personal power provided them both by the government and the prevailing laws in a lawless atmosphere.

A rudimentary judiciary lacking security support as well as technical knowledge and hands-on experience, submerged in a sea of corruption that surrounded the government body, proved inefficient and almost futile.

Insecurity produced favorable conditions for lawlessness, overt and covert revolt against the establishment and proved poisonous to progress and development hindering and stopping the country’s march ahead into the 21st Century.

Human rights remained a dream in the dreamland of the educated well wishers of the Afghans. Women and their cause that created hundreds of NGOs and brought millions of Dollars into the country remained a myth that may or may not be broken in decades if situations remain as they are today.

Leaders who were expected and who promised to spare no sacrifice for putting the country in the right path fell pray to avarice, physical and wishful. Trade-offs; alignments and conspiracies created strange bed fellows in the country’s political arena.

All of this helped breed distrust against the government that remained paralytic and indecisive in controlling the situations, the warlords, corruption, narcotics and even honoring democratic principles.

A clear example of the situations leading to an act that is equivalent to the assassination of democracy and democratic endeavor in Afghanistan is the most recent issue of the creation of a bill on personal conduct of the Shiites in Afghanistan, its passage by the parliament, and its endorsement by the president. The conspiracy behind the writing of such a controversial bill, its passage by the parliament where an exemplary percentage in Afghan history of members are women, and its expeditious signing by the president are all pointing to the failure of democracy at all levels of government. It tells the world that Afghanistan has yet to achieve the capacity to appreciate democratic principles and procedures, its law makers are yet to distinguish between the priority needs of the country for rapid economic growth and reparation of its broken infrastructure and exploitation of the grounds for forwarding their own religious and social schemes however divisive and reactionary they may be. It showed the world that in Afghanistan notwithstanding the hypocrisy of the politicians who shout from the podiums and pulpits that Islam treats women equal to men in reality themselves drafted and promulgated laws to do the opposite. The shameful bill that by procedure became a shameful law in Afghanistan stands witness to the need of providing education in the workings of democracy to the whom the world invested so much for the past seven years. There is no shame in amending a broken constitution that has failed to make level of education a prerequisite for becoming a member of parliament, but it is indeed shameful to watch, in this day and age, a return to the dark ages when men used women as slaves serving the whims of men. That the president has stated that the enforcement of the new law is dependent on a new scrutiny by expert committees of the justice ministry shows either he is ignorant of the procedures or that he is merely trying a face-saving plan. He should have known that those scrutinizes needed to be done before he put his signature on the document to perhaps appease the reactionary far right in the Afghan parliament.