The Caravan of Peace


Frustration with the terrible conditions in Afghanistan has led to a proposal announced by Ariana Afghanistan TV to constitute a caravan of peace. This article takes a look at the proposal and discusses whether it is viable or useful.

The Ariana Afghanistan TV Director, Nabil Ghamin Miskinyar, whose TV is based in California has recently started to push for a project it calls “The Caravan of Peace.” Towards that end, he has announced names of more than fifty outstanding Afghan personalities, mostly his own choice, in the Diaspora to constitute the Caravan and for the Caravan to travel to Afghanistan pursuing a path for peace and finding a solution to the long-standing Afghan crisis. He has further stated that only a small group of the people on the list has communicated its agreement to join the Caravan and that the majority of others have been either silent or have given a variety of excuses for not being able to join.

His proposal shows how much he loves his native country and his frustration with the existing conditions in Afghanistan. I congratulate him for his persistence and share his frustration. However I am hesitant to subscribe to his proposal as it stands. This article will expound my reasons.

This is not the first time that he has made an attempt to propose a solution in the form of constituting a committee of known Afghan personalities to seek a remedy for the ills of his native country. His first attempt more than a year ago, when he was able to get a group together by seeking views and votes of his TV audiences, failed drastically without achieving any of its stated goals. Nobody has openly analyzed the reasons for the failure of the earlier attempt. At that time, this column had given its reasons for not being optimistic about the results of that endeavor.

Today, Afghan crisis has reached new heights. The so-called presidential election that took place in August is still to announce a clear winner. Security has drastically declined. Kabul the capital and many provincial cities in all corners of the country have witnessed violence in the form of suicidal attacks and explosions like never before. The insurgency is gaining power and becomes united with the passage of every day. The government becomes weak and weaker by the hour. The UN, the US, NATO and the forty or so member alliance are confused in how to deal with the situation. President Obama is facing one the toughest decisions of his presidency yet in choosing whether to send an additional forty thousand troops to Afghanistan. The Afghan government is unsuccessful in gaining the trust of the citizens in that it has failed to bring any relief to the problems of the people. Corruption, drug-trafficking, and insecurity play havoc with people’s daily lives. Therefore it is obvious that there is a need for a radical solution. Such a solution needs to originate from within the framework of the prevailing laws in the country. The legal system in Afghanistan is in shambles. The only law that could be relied on is the Constitution as the legislature has failed to prioritize its law making responsibilities and create laws that would address the urgent needs of the society. The Constitution does not authorize any haphazard groupings to claim representation of the people or to make decisions regarding the country’s problems and nor does it say that resolutions of such groupings would be binding. Even if these resolutions were adopted by the group and listened to by the government, which is an unlikely event, who would enforce them?

On the other hand, using terms such as peace, reconciliation, national interests, unity etc., alone cannot bring solace to the grievances of Afghanistan. These are attractive terms and should be used along with a well thought plan of action which would constitute clear cut objectives, a plan of action based on a time schedule and expected results. The plan should contain methods of implementation of the resolutions of the participants who are for the most part among the most educated and experienced personalities in the Diaspora. The plan should call for participation of an even larger membership to the so-called caravan from inside the country and from among elements whose hands are not tainted with the blood of the innocent or whose consciences are clean and whose personalities are not corrupt.

As it is, the caravan lacks a plan of action and it seems it attempts haphazardly on something to be done, but does not explain what or how. It seems to be based on wishful thinking in that it counts on a situation that everybody would agree to whatever this group with most of his members living abroad would come up with and would listen and obey to the findings of it.

We should learn from history and base our decisions not on haste, but on a consideration of the realities on the ground. Only then could such an effort, which is otherwise a noble thought, would assume significance. Until then let, the intelligentsia, inside and outside the country consider effective remedies for the country’s ailments, share it with the public inside and outside the country and prepare the grounds for a more effective action within the framework of legal possibilities and conditions. We should let reason prevail over our emotions. Emotions are good only when they are paired up with effective action based on well thought plans. 10/10/2009