Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Afghanistan: The Failure of Leadership as the Main Challenge of Nation Building

Nations are one of the most important parts of modern society.  If one go back into history, we will see that the world used to be divided into empires and kingdoms in the past.
Afghans, as an integral part of the modern world, therefore, are rightly concerned about nation-building. However, I would like to put emphasis on the fact that nations just don’t happen by historical accident; rather they are built by men and women of a country with vision and resolve. Therefore, Nation-building is the product of conscious statecraft, not happenstance.
It is necessary to know that nation-building has many important aspects.  Firstly, it is about building a political entity which corresponds to a given territory, based on some generally accepted rules, norms, and principles, and a common citizenship.  Secondly, it is also about building institutions which symbolize the political entity – institutions such as a bureaucracy, an economy, the judiciary, universities, a civil service, and civil society organizations.   More importantly, nation-building is about building a shared sense of purpose, a sense of shared destiny, and collective imagination of belonging.
Challenges before Afghanistan Nation-building:
Afghanistan faces five main nation-building challenges: 
(1) the challenge from our history; (2) the challenge of socio-economic inequalities; (3) the challenges of an appropriate constitutional settlement; (4) the challenges of building institutions for democracy and development; and (5) the challenge of leadership.  These challenges continue to keep us from achieving our full potential. It is to these challenges that I would like devote the rest of this article.
The Challenge of History
The historical legacies of Ethnical rule creates some challenges for nation-building in Afghanistan.  Ethnical rule divided Afghanistan not only based on ethnicity but also based on the religion of different ethnicities of the people of Afghanistan with different land tenure systems, local government administration, educational systems, and judicial systems. Under these conditions, it was easy for prejudice and fear to thrive. 
The Challenge of Socio-Economic Inequalities
One of the most important aspects of nation-building is the building of a common citizenship.  But how can we have a common citizenship when the person in a certain part of the country has a radically different quality of life from the person in other parts of Afghanistan due to ethnic identity?  Or when the woman in one part of the country is more likely to die than the woman in other certain parts due to ethnic identity?  Through the development of the economy and equal opportunities for all, or through the development of social welfare safety nets, mature nations try to establish a base-line of social and economic rights which all members of the national community must enjoy.
The Constitutional Challenge
Since its independence, the Afghanistan has been facing the challenge of crafting a constitutional arrangement that has the backing of an overwhelming majority of Afghans. In most constitutions of Afghanistan the rights of ethnic groups have been neglected. As a result, it has been one of the main causes of ethnic conflicts in the country and has acted as one of the main barriers to nation building in Afghanistan. However, the new Constitution of Afghanistan, has been developed considering this issue and it has clearly considered this issue in Art. 6: The state is obliged to create a prosperous and progressive society based on social justice, protection of human dignity, protection of human rights, realization of democracy, and to ensure national unity and equality among all ethnic groups and tribes and to provide for balanced development in all areas of the country. However, most provisions of this article has not been translated to action yet.
The Challenge of Building Institutions for Democracy and Development
One of the critical challenges of nation building in Afghanistan is the challenge of institution building.  Whether nations are able to manage their political and social disputes peacefully, without lapsing into conflict, or sustain economic growth without creating huge inequalities, critically depend on the quality of the relevant national institutions.
As a rule, there are three important components to institution building:  setting the rules; hiring persons with the technical expertise and moral competence to interpret the rules or implement the goals of the organizations; and ensuring that the institutions inspire public confidence by being transparent, fair and consistent.Afghanistan, In this regard, needs to create or strengthen institutions that may help achieve the national goals of democratic governance and sustainable development.
The Leadership Challenge
As the research and our leadership experience show, the trouble with Afghanistan is the failure of leadership.  Leadership is a critical factor in nation-building and it should be understood in two important but related ways.  Firstly, there are the personal qualities of integrity, honesty, commitment, and competence of individual leaders at the top.  Secondly, there are the collective qualities of common vision, focus, and desire for development of the elites as a whole.
Nations are built by men and women who have the will and vision to accomplish greatness, not for themselves, their immediate families and friends, but for their country. I believe that if the Afghans can find the will to offer such a leadership, and support it by strong and dependable political and economic institutions, we will find a way to   national prosperity and greatness.