Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, May 26th, 2017

Strengthening Democracy in Afghanistan

Achieving a satisfactory democratic system that has the will and support of the people in its essence is a difficult task. There are various requirements that must be achieved in this regard. All of them stand paramount in nourishment of democracy and must not be neglected by the nations of the world.
The first and foremost prerequisite for growth of democracy is unanimous acceptance of the sovereignty of people. Perceptibly, democracy is about such a concept of sovereignty and its realization. The sovereign people elect representatives from amongst themselves to rule the country with power the 'sovereign' delegates to them for a limited period. It is conditional that those representatives would rule to the fullest satisfaction of the 'sovereign' people. If they do not come up to their expectations, in the next general elections those elected representatives can be voted out of government. No one else has a right to dismiss elected representatives. 
Obviously, the 'sovereign' could delegate power towards a well-defined end. In this case it is good governance as it ensures that the solution of the problems the people face is ensured effectively only when they themselves have political and social awareness. Hence, the higher the literacy rate, the more powerful the electorate is. 
What makes democracy effective is the democratic political process whereby every political party or entity strictly abides by inner partly democracy and party elections. The first requirement is, democracy at grass-roots level – neighborhood and village where partly cadres work among the people, provide better learning of the problems. The people face and share the problems with the political workers who are one among them and one of them.
The other aspect is the people's participation and their empowerment to directly handle things in their day-to-day affairs. One of the biggest means is democracy working at lowest administrative level with cities and rural areas both being administered by elected representatives, not by self-imposed individuals. A city is best administered by an elected mayor with the help of an elected corporation and a rural area by elected district council heads and their staff members.
Democracy has not been able to have strong roots in Afghanistan because of a number of reasons; the foremost being that no effort was ever made to politically educate the people. The very foundation of democracy and political education of the people remains weak due to mass illiteracy and extremely low standard of education.
Secondly, hardly any one of the national political leaders is from among the common people. They are mostly elite – tribal lords, religious leaders, and even warlords. Another reason that democracy is not able to nourish properly in Afghanistan is the absence of democratic political process. Basically, it is the result of non-existence of democracy within the political units or entities that have been in power. The elections in Afghanistan have been the witness to this fact. The political alliances that were made were not on political basis and the different groups that were formed did not have any attribute of a political party. In fact, there has not been any healthy evolution towards forming strong political parties and running elections based on party politics; the process has only paved the way for dependence on individual attributes and attractions. Another unfortunate fact is the failure of political leaders to acquire political education themselves, let alone educating masses politically. 
The problems regarding evolution and growth of democracy that Afghan society faces are many but some of them, the most daunting ones are mass illiteracy, divisions on linguistic and ethnic basis, subdivisions into castes and tribes, suffocating grip of feudal culture with disdain for those doing manual work, respect for parasites and a worried business class. There are many more such problems that our society faces. But none has been known to political leadership or they have turned their faces away from them and instead concentrated on prolonging their rule and acquiring their personal benefits. 
It is important to look at the countries that have excelled in their democratic development for guidance. The developed democracies in the world respect their constitutions, strengthen their democratic institutions and hold regular, timely and fraud-free elections, which have triggered a political process and educated and trained the political leadership. The result is that majority of members in national and state legislatures are working politicians, who come from middle and working classes. They, therefore, understand their duties properly and also understand how to run the political affairs in the country. They are also closer to the common people and can understand their actual problems. Therefore, they are in better position to work for the country as a whole.
On the other hand, the political leadership in Afghanistan is mostly elected by the help of wealth and power. Even the people who do not have any prior education, training or experience regarding democracy can contest for election and may even win it. The institutional arrangements that are very much imperative for the democratic process and development is nowhere to be seen and the result is a democratic system that lacks the true spirit and attributes of democracy. Democracy in Afghanistan still revolves around personalities and depend on them, much like a feudal or dictatorial system.