Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Entering Parliamentin Afghanistan; A Big Dream for Gaining Unlimited Power


Entering Parliamentin Afghanistan;  A Big Dream for Gaining Unlimited Power

With the advent of the issue of guaranteeing individual freedoms in the society, the limitation of the absolute power of the rulers and the division of power between people and the government is raised. The division of power is used as one of the means by which people achieve a kind of political, social and civil liberties. Basically, the notion of creating a parliament also originates from thisstimulus, and for this reason, the parliament is considered an institution of the people’s will.
In Afghanistan, for the first time, the idea of creating a parliament that was more inspired by the developments in the region and the world was initiated at the time of Shah Amanullah Khan. In other words, the ground for the National Assembly in Afghanistan is pertaining to the era of Amanullah Khan, whose initial foundations were laid down in his Basic Rulebook – Nezamnama Amanullah. But the first contemporary parliament that was rampant in the international community, was based during the reign of Mohammad Nader Shah in 1311. It had two Houses, the House of Representatives (Wolesi Jirga) and the Senate (Meshrano Jirga). The Afghan National Assembly, also known as the legislature of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is the supreme legislative institution in Afghanistan. The Afghan National Assembly from its inception until the Dawood Khan coup, all its members were appointed by the King rather than being selected by the people’s votes. Later during Najibullah’s reign, the National Assembly again began working after 14 years. This parliament continued only for one period, with the collapse of Najibullah’s government and the establishment of the Mujahidin’s regime and the Taliban until the current Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Afghanistan lacked the legislative power (National Assembly).
When Hamid Karzai got the power, Afghanistan was replete with numerous economic, social, political problems along with security challenges, and still it is struggling with various problems. Among all the prevailing challenges in Afghanistan, the Afghan weak, dysfunctional, and ineffective parliament is more disappointing than any other issues. Because this is a legislative institution, in other words, the most supreme body in a country. Unfortunately, studies and reports conducted by national and international research institutes echo that Afghanistan’s parliamentarians are steeped in misusing their jurisdiction, illegal extractions of mines, and other unauthorized activities. The current paper aims to briefly analyze some of the most abusive and unauthorized instances carried out by representatives over the past years. 
Afghanistan’s Parliament and Corruption Involvements
The Afghan parliament, along with its responsibility to oversee the functions of the government, has a major responsibility to fight corruption. But it seems that the Afghan parliament itself is engulfed in corruption. In a recent report on corruption in Afghanistan, the United Nations says that the over past years, despite the efforts of the government and the justice sector (the judiciary) of the country, the Afghan parliament has not done anything to fight corruption. The United Nations Office of the Representatives of the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report echoes that corruption in Afghanistan is massive, inhuman, and embarrassing. The volume of corruption and the serenity of those who perpetrate the consequences of illegal, financial and social scandal have paralyzed the entire Afghan government’s body. Even UNAMAgoes beyond this issue and argues that the Afghan parliamentitself is part of the corruption problem.
In addition to being involved in corruption, the Afghan Parliament milieu is anti-democratic values. Several times, very obviously, the Afghan Parliament stood and even voted against democratic voices and reformists political discourse. The most salient and harsh one is referred to Malalai Joya’s removal from parliament because of her critique regarding background and performances of her colleagues in parliament. She was fired from the parliament on May 21, 2007.The Afghan parliament suspended the membership of Malalai Joya for three years, for her critique regarding the Afghan parliament. Later on, MalalaiJoya, who was illegally fired by the Afghan Parliament, told an interview with Swedish International Radio on March 22, 2010, that the Afghan parliament is against democratic values. The Afghan parliament is replete with mafia groups and corrupt warlords. The majority of representatives in the parliament are gunmen who are accused of violations of human rights. They are drug traffickers. There are many such instances related to Afghan parliament’s stanceagainst democratic and human rights-oriented voices.
In the Afghan Parliament, there are many prominent, scholarly, and sympathetic representatives; however, over the course of time, the government, with the use of money and governmentalleverage, greatly reduced the independence and authority of the parliament, and the voices of these reformists got weaker and weaker too. Furthermore, the number of democrat and honest servants of the people in the Afghan parliament is a handful. So, since they are minority, it is hard to expect the Afghan parliament to fulfill their promises that they give to their adherents during their election campaigns or act as per the international and democratic principles.
Afghanistan’s Parliament and Job Dereliction
According to the article 90th of the Afghan Constitution, the National Assembly (both Lower House and Upper House) of Afghanistan as a legislative power has the following authorities: (a) Ratification, modification, or abrogation of laws and or legislative decrees, (b) Approval of plans for economic, social, cultural, and technological development, (c) Approval of state budget, permission for obtaining, and granting loans, (e) Creation, modification of administrative units, (d) Ratification of international treaties and agreements, or abrogation of the membership of Afghanistan to them. AndArticle 81 of the constitutional law stipulates that the Wolesi Jirga (lower house), “as the highest legislative body, shall manifest the will of people as well as represent the entire nation.”
Butthe previous and current parliament’s performances project that the Afghan parliament has been so lagging behindits duty. Mostly the members of parliament don’t attend the parliamentary meetings. When they are present, they are busy with routine issues, talking about redundant and repeated topics, and leaving the meetings amid discussions. The most important criticisms regarding Afghanistan’s parliament performances is this that the Afghan parliament, as a democratic structure, failed to monitor the proper functioning of the governmentas their main duty, let alone tackling corruption, poverty, unemployment, or defend the principles and values of democracy and human rights. Moreover, it is argued that the absence of representatives from parliamentary sessions, their foreign travels and internal disputes among the members has prevented the parliament from performing its duties properly. It is also alleged that some of the delegates did not regularly contact their clients to hear their problems and needs.Allegation charges against drug trafficking and corruption have also been raised against a number ofAfghan parliamentarians. Therefore, one can strongly argue that the Afghan parliament has not functioned in practice beyond the enactment of laws and voting for nominees.
Given the above-mentioned issues, Afghan citizens believe that their preventatives are enjoying unlimited authorities, luxurious lives, limousine vehicles, tight security, excessive wealth, and expensive business inside and outside Afghanistan while they are struggling with poverty, insecurity and unemployment – just to name some of the problems in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, those who voted to these representatives did not experience sustainable and dynamic changes in their lives whereas the representatives’ lives changed overnight upon entering the parliament even if it happened once in their lives. Additionally, passive reaction or even overlooking of the judicial power over the representatives’ anti-law deeds such as not attending parliamentary meetings, usurping land and obtaining money from the government’s proposed minister made them more bold and bestowed unlimited authorities and power. Therefore, it can of one of the main reasons that almost anyone who has some friends and to some extent pretty financial supports, nominated themselves for the upcoming parliamentary election in order to enjoy unlimited power upon entering the parliament. 

Hamidullah Bamik is a Fulbright Scholar and Graduate Student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia, USA. He can be reached at hamidullahbamik@mail.missouri.edu

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