Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The Challenges of Integration in Afghanistan

After the defeat of Taliban, it was expected that Afghanistan would leave instability and disorder behind it and would start its journey towards a democratic system. It was also expected that the different ethnicities would strive to forget the bitter history of civil war and would ultimately integrate into a nation. Defeating the insecurity and making honest efforts for this purpose was the most basic requirements; however, they could not be experienced within the ranks of the government and other authoritative officials and as a result now we can observe that insecurity has returned to the country and national integration and harmony are nowhere to be found.
Installation of a National Unity Government (NUG) also proved to be an over-optimistic step in this regard. Soon after its formation, differences could be found prevalent among its members and today they have reached to an alarming level. The members of NUG blame each other of discrimination on the basis of ethnic favoritism. And, these differences are not only between the members of the two teams; rather they are now prevalent among the members of the same team as well. This has done a great damage to the prospects of integration and harmony within the Afghan nation as a whole.
Thus, it is not a secret now that political and other issues seem to be intermingling, and the ambiguities, uncertainties and current distrust have made optimistic thinking very much difficult. It would not be inappropriate or even critical if someone says that the future is dark, the vision is non-existent and the country is heading towards disorder and disintegration.     
A political solution in Afghanistan – which is really important for the integration of Afghan society – is not very close and the present attitude of Afghan government and its Western allies are further hindering the process. The reconciliation with Taliban seems to be out of track and the Afghan people do not appear to be having confidence about the outcome of any such process. On many occasions Western decision-makers have agreed that a lasting solution for Afghanistan is not through war; it is political solution alone that has the hope of stability in the country, yet the measures have not been carried out appropriately in the same direction. Instead of the process being participatory and inclusive, it has been the reason of widening the gap between Afghan people and the Western allies and the current situation is making sure that this gap should keep on increasing. Moreover, the process is also widening the gap among the different ethnic groups within the Afghan society – further disintegrating the society. Though it is not possible that the reconciliation process alone may generate a sort of reintegration within Afghan society, it may, to a certain extent, prove helpful to it, provided that it is handled with prudence. However, at the same time, it must never be forgotten that the integration is quite a different phenomenon and require attention and devotion of its own. It is largely dependent on the political system and socio-economic environment prevalent within Afghan society.
For the reintegration of Afghan society it is necessary that all the major social, political and ethnic groups within the Afghan society must start feeling a sense of attachment with the social, political and economic lives of the country.
The integration of the Afghan society is only possible through a separate process – it can neither be the outcome of a miracle nor the result of reconciliation process alone. At the present scenario, even it seems improbable that the reconciliation process may reach to any sort of viable agreement with Taliban, let alone the integration of the entire nation. For making integration possible, it is necessary to bring about some very basic structural changes within the Afghan political setup. One of the most basic of them is a true democracy within the country that has the capacity to represent different ethnic and minority groups appropriately so that heterogeneous Afghan society must be integrated within a single whole. Different ethnic and minority groups will not be integrated within the society if they are kept away from participating within the affairs of the country and the most crucial decisions of the nation. Therefore, it can be said that the integration process is a two-fold process. Along with making these groups the part of the ongoing reconciliation process, there have to be important political amendments within a short span of time; otherwise, neither integration will take place nor will reconciliation produce any fruitful outcome.
In fact, the integration of Afghan society is a phenomenon that is much wider than the reconciliation process. For it to happen; there has to be consistent efforts and a true democratic system assisted with socio-economic stability and cultural integration. At the moment, it is one of the factors that will have a very important influence on the future of integration process in Afghanistan but it is important that the process must be led keeping the benefits of the nation as a whole in mind. Integrating all the important factions of Afghan society within an effective political system will definitely result in a promising episode in integration of Afghan society.