Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, August 18th, 2017

Governance Issues Overlooked

In the shadow of the growing insecurity in Afghanistan, everything seems dark. There are many important issues in the country that have been overlooked because of the growing insecurity. One of the major reasons that insecurity is considered an immediate threat is that it directly targets human beings in a cold-blooded manner. However, it is important to see that there are many other issues that may not seem to be urgent or directly threatening, but they have much more potential to pave the way for instability and disorder within the society. Ill governance is one of the same type of issues; though it does appear to be an immediate threat, it is far more disadvantageous for a society and the social and political systems.
Therefore, it is imperative for Afghanistan to divert special attention towards the governance issues that it faces. Few years earlier, there used to be certain discussions regarding good governance in Afghanistan and different authorities used to have certain plans in this regard as well; however, recently there is complete silence about it. The officials and authorities are busy in different sorts of tussles that are mostly relevant to insecurity or their political differences. And, there is no one to listen to the voices of the poor people who face issues like poverty, corruption, lack of social and political opportunities and subjugation by the ruling elite.
It is time for the officials to divert their attentions towards the real issues and do not lead the people astray. They have to ensure that they make honest efforts for good governance in the country and provide strong foundations that can guarantee better future for the coming generations. Government stands as one of the most significant actors in good governance. It is the government that chooses whether good governance is realized or not. There are certain important characteristics that must be achieved so as to create it. Good governance has to be participatory, consensus-oriented, answerable, transparent, approachable, effective and efficient, equitable and all-encompassing and pursues the rule of law.
The government, therefore, must strive to ensure that all the important groups of the society are taken into consideration within the decision making process and both men and women are engaged sufficiently. Participation could be either direct or through lawful intermediate institutions or representatives. It needs to be knowledgeable and structured. This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other hand. Unluckily, in our country Afghanistan the decision making is not carried out through proper participation of the representatives of the people. In reality, the decision making process is very much centralized.
Achievement of good governance requires arbitration of the different interests in society to reach a wide consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can be acquired. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human development and how to acquire the goals of such development.
This can only result from an understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts of a given society or community. Afghan government has not been able to build up a strong consensus and the ruling class does not seem much worried about any sort of consensus.
Accountability is a key obligation of good governance. Not only governmental institutions but also the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders.
Afghan government, conversely, has been formed in such a manner that it is complicated to hold the Presidential Office accountable for its policies and actions. It can do whatever it wants without standing accountable to its people. As a matter of fact accountability can be acquired when there is transparency and the rule of law.
Nonetheless, both these characteristics seem to be non-existent in Afghan society. Transparency and rule of law can be maintained when there is proper segregation of power and the different organs of state can function on their own.
In effect, judiciary and law enforcement agencies must be competent to hold the law as the top priority theme. In Afghan political system the separation of powers is not clear and the judiciary is not capable enough to pressurize the Cabinet in true sense. Furthermore, the powerful and the rich are mostly considered above the law and the poor and weak have to go through the ‘quagmire of law and order system’.
Good governance requires that institutions and processes attempt to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe. It means that it should be approachable. In the same way it should also ensure equity and inclusiveness. A society's wellbeing depends on ensuring that all its members sense that they have a stake in it and do not feel barred from the mainstream of society.
This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to get better or maintain their well being but what Afghan government has to offer us is the disregard for the most vulnerable. The minority groups in reality suffer from lack of proper participation in decision making and they find their existence in jeopardy within the society.