Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

The Shaky Pillars of Democracy

Democracy plays a crucial role in upholding the rights and freedoms of a nation. In democratic states, all individuals are born with natural rights which should be respected without considering one’s race or religion. Since democracy is defined as “the government of the people, for the people and by the people”, people’s role is prominent in political aspects and they send their representatives to parliament, through election, to protect their natural rights, raise their voice against injustice and raise their red cards if a law is not in favor of the public.

Parliament is said to be the “beating heart” of democracy. No wonder, parliament or legislative power approves the law which has to be in accordance with a country’s beliefs, cultural values and social norms. With the establishment of parliament, the power of the state will be decentralized and the nation will not suffer from the destructive role of monopoly or absolute power. Moreover, the parliament is not supposed to necessarily approve the law but also supervise the state. So, parliament restricts the state’s power and represents a nation.

It is believed that democracy is impossible without a constitution. Constitution is the mother of all law and the full-length mirror of a nation which reflects its religious tenets, cultural values and social mores. However, there are also some symbolic constitutions which are approved under the close supervision and in accordance with the satisfaction of rulers. For example, Afghanistan’s former rulers gathered people in Loya Jirga (Grand National Assembly) to endorse constitution but it granted big authority for rulers. The point is that all constitutions do not reflect democracy but a democratic state must have a constitution based on a country’s necessities.

The post-Taliban Afghanistan is also democratic with parliament and constitutions. The Constitution of Afghanistan, in which the rights and freedoms of the nation is valued, is approved immaculately. Based on this constitution, the state is supposed to uphold the rights and dignity of men and women and no one is to be discriminated on the grounds of their ethnic, social or religious backgrounds. The government has also vowed to form a civil society void of oppression, atrocity, discrimination as well as violence, based on rule of law, social justice, protecting integrity and human rights, and attaining peoples' freedoms and fundamental rights. Article 24 states, “Liberty is the natural right of human beings. This right has no limits unless affecting others freedoms as well as the public interest, which shall be regulated by law. Liberty and human dignity are inviolable. The state shall respect and protect liberty as well as human dignity.”

Moreover, violence has no room in the Constitution as it is said, “Persecution of human beings shall be forbidden.” Men’s natural and inviolable rights are recognized in this law and the government is to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and United Nation’s Charter.

Despite having democratic constitution and parliament, the rights and liberty of the nation are violated to a great extent. The beating heart of democracy does not work out properly and effectively as it is supposed to do. The legal period of parliament is over without conducting parliamentary election. The constitution is not implemented and a large number of people’s rights are trampled upon with impunity, especially when the violators are from the authoritative groups. In some cases, Members of Parliament cannot represent the will of the nation. In other words, the legislative, executive and judiciary powers are not moving organically.

Constitutionally, “The state shall respect and protect liberty as well as human dignity”. Nevertheless, people’s liberty is curtailed in one way or another. For instance, terrorism is a serious threat to the nation’s freedoms. After all, women’s liberty is restricted not only in social life but also within the four walls, mainly in the tribal belts. In a nutshell, violence persists in one’s social and individual life which is a strong barrier before freedom.

It is believed that whenever one’s fundamental rights, i.e. the rights to life, liberty and property, are disregarded in a society and people are discriminated or killed on the basis of their case, color and creed, there will be no room for democracy. The so-called democracy in Afghanistan is really vulnerable. In other words, there are many barriers which slow down the growth of democracy in Afghanistan. On the one hand, the escalated militancy and terrorism and on the other hand, corruptions or negligence in government’s apparatus hamper democracy and people are not able to exercise their rights freely.

Forming a civil society, where the public rights are protected, is not possible without upholding the bases of democracy in the country. The three aforementioned powers should work organically and the parliamentary election must be held soon transparently. No one is supposed to be beyond law. The law-breakers, be it officials or common people, must stand on trial. The constitution will have to be enforced without considering one’s position or power – this is highly instrumental in supporting democracy. It is hoped that the government will pave the way for democracy through protecting the nation’s rights and liberty and adopting effective strategy in combating terrorism. Now considering the shaky pillars of democracy in the country, can one call Afghanistan a democratic society?