Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Problems with Democracy in Afghanistan

Democracy is the political system in which the people of a country rule through any form of government they choose to establish. In modern democracies, supreme authority is exercised for the most part by representatives elected by popular suffrage. The representatives may be supplanted by the electorate according to the legal procedures of recall and referendum, and they are, at least in principle, responsible to the electorate. Democracy demands certain things without which it is unable to work. First of all, it needs a written constitution, a strong one which assures the rights of the people to be guarded irrespective of class, creed, influence and power. Without a clearly written constitution, it is not possible to form the base of a democratic state. 

Democracy needs a parliament of powers. Unlike dictatorship, vested where powers are in one hand, it divides them between people and government. People have the power to question government for any step at any time. Government too is not formed by a single man with the authority to do everything. It has different parts and Prime Minister or President is elected by them by winning the vote of confidence. He is responsible for his decisions, can be questioned any moment and has to work with the co-operation of his cabinet. 

Democracy needs a disciplined election system free of loopholes and corruption. It demands sincerity and honesty from the very lowest to the very highest level. Ideally, a man honestly chooses his representative on sound grounds of ability.

The whole process of election involves giving rights to rule to only those deserving it. 

All well-organized party system is one of the basic components of democracy. Parties having the full knowledge of political system, knowing their duties and rights of people and showing tolerance towards each other are needed. Parties insincere to country and general public and running after their own selfish motives fail to play a vital role in the democratic process.  

Education of all is an essential pre-requisite of democracy because it gives people a greater foresight and helps them to develop a scientific attitude of mind which steers clear emotional approach to life. And above all, a democratic state depends for its successful working upon the corporate efforts of its citizens. Corporate efforts, therefore, require the harmonious fitting in individual aspects for benefit of the whole.
Meanwhile, the functions of democracy are manifold. It's very first function is to produce a man, as the unit of civic life who is individually developed yet socially responsible. It is to develop consciousness of 'rights’ among people for themselves and others both. Not only rights but awareness of duties too is the responsibility of democracy.

When we go through the demands and functions of democracy, the question arises, why democracy is a failure in Afghanistan and how to make it feasible in Afghanistan in future. In order to answer these questions we have to chalk out the factors that are making the future of democracy dark and its feasibility weak in the country. 

For a democracy to flourish, an enlightened educated and politically alert electorate is absolutely necessary. A people plagued with hunger, disease and poverty and steeped in ignorance and superstition form a deplorably shaky and unreliable electorate. Afghanistan has one of the lowest per, capita income in the world. Miserable standards of living and gross inequality in the distribution of wealth are the most unavoidable drawbacks of our social structure. The ordinary man is caught in a vicious circle of ignorance and poverty. 

How can he think of his broader issues of democracy and public opinion when his day to day life is miserable? Uncertain of where his next meal will come from, he can give little thought to high ideals of political freedom and is not interested in national or international affairs, if they do not affect him personally. In such conditions, no democracy can flourish. 

Most of our population live in rural areas. Communications are poor and many villages remain deprived of all mass media and are, therefore, indifferent and unaware to political development and governmental upheavals. 

The proportion of educated and politically conscious people is insignificant. The common man is under the control of his feudal lord and shows traditional loyalty to the tribal chief, landlord or the religious leader of the village. His hopes and desires do not go beyond the boundary walls of his village because his outlook is very narrow and his vision cramped. He cannot imagine a government shaped and controlled by him and working for him. Unless the common man participates, we cannot think of democracy. 

Afghanistan possesses very few politicians who have that sense of public spirit, disinterested service and nationwide vision which are necessary for the working of democracy. Here, most politicians are power hungry. They exploit the people for their own benefits. Political stability is the base of democracy and there is a crying need for leaders who really care for the people and do not simply indulge in shouting empty slogans. Unity among people is required for democracy which is wanting in our country.