Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Islamic Emirate VS. Democracy

Democratic discourse will be challenged in the intra-Afghan dialogue, which yet to be brokered. The Taliban negotiators are likely to bargain over the establishment of the “Islamic Emirate”, which will necessarily curtail women’s freedoms, put the constitutional principles at stake, and undermine democratic gains. The Taliban are seeking a government more concerned about religious beliefs of the public rather than social and political challenges.
If concerns about religious beliefs overshadow social and political issues in an administration, a myriad of problems will emerge. Establishment of religious and ideological governments have backfired in Afghanistan as political figures constantly capitalized on public religious sentiments leading the country to civil war. For example, the Taliban group still spills the blood of Afghan civilians, including women and children, under the cover of religion. The group seeks to continue exploiting religion through establishing an Islamic Emirate, which would be beyond criticism. That is, if an Islamic Emirate is founded, the Taliban will color all their cruel practices and parochial mindset with the brush of religious tenets and any criticism will follow severe punishment.
On the contrary, many believe that democracy is a system of government which will not interfere in the religious affairs of a country. Without regard to the individuals’ beliefs or ideology, democracy gives equal rights and freedoms to citizens and does not discriminates one the grounds of their caste, color, or creed. In a democratic state, officials are less likely to be able to capitalize on religious tenets.
According to the Taliban, however, religion, coupled with politics, should dominate all spheres of individual and collective life and the ruler should interfere in private issues of the masses. During its regime, the Taliban group was involved in the most private issues of Afghans’ life to the extent that social and political issues were considered less important. 
It is self-explanatory that the Islamic Emirate intended by the Taliban is based on Sharia Law with radical interpretation, somehow similar to that of Saudi Arabia, and Taliban’s vision. In the Sharia Law with the Taliban’s interpretation, one will be discriminated on the grounds of their gender, beliefs, and creed. In such a government system, there are second-class citizens, there are women judged on the basis of their gender, there are infidels, etc. It will not treat all individuals equally or on the basis of being human. In such a government, women are inferior to men, Muslims are superior to non-Muslims, and religious figures as well as their practices – be it radical – will be beyond criticism. In other words, the Taliban seek to establish a government in which religiously radical figures will be able to exploit religion for their own interests and people’s participation and their votes will carry no weight at the government level.
To view the public belief in the Afghan society, the bulk of the masses and ethnic groups support democratic government in which their votes should be counted and their will matter. Women are the staunch supporter of democracy so that they could have their rights and freedoms ensured and their social and political activities guaranteed. Meanwhile, since the Taliban belong to one certain ethnic group, their monopolization of power is likely to marginalize other ethnic groups, besides women, from power and the government, which is not acceptable to women or ethnic groups. With this in mind, the Taliban should neither insist on monopolization of power nor on establishment of Islamic Emirate. In short, as Talibanic Sharia Law poses threat to women and ethnic minorities – for carrying ethnocentric vision and discriminatory rule – it will generate further problems and challenges in the country and will not ensure peace and prosperity. Thus, if the Taliban insist on their demand for the establishment of Islamic Emirate, a comprehensive referendum should be held whether Afghan citizens support democracy or Taliban-styled government and the decision should be taken accordingly.
Afghans’ support for the current constitution, which is approved on the principles of democracy and human rights, indicates that they back democratic system, which does not necessarily mean to be against religious tenets as some believe in Afghanistan. In the endorsement of Afghanistan’s post-Taliban Constitution, Afghan clerics played crucial role with their participation in the Loya Jirga and with having their say. Thus, democracy does not narrow the room for religious practices and a nation can practice democracy besides being religious.
Afghans’ active participation in elections despite the insecurity and Taliban’s threat is a clear indication of their support for democracy. Afghan men and women paid heavy sacrifices within the last two decades for supporting democracy and still define their red-line in the peace negotiations and voice their concerns over the return of the Islamic Emirate. They have constantly called on the government not to compromise their rights and freedoms or their democratic gains at the negotiating table.