Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, October 25th, 2020

Assessing Democratic achivements of Afghanistan

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Assessing Democratic achivements of Afghanistan

Yesterday, September 15, was  coincided with the World Democracy Day. This pertinence gets more important when it links to the current historic  dialogue in Doha which is to discuss about destiny of democracy in Afghanistan. The Doha meeting, which is considered as a first meeting between a legitimate government and armed opposition group, will discuss about type of political system and mechanisms of power rotation in Afghanistan. In Doha meeting, the main rival of democracy is emirate which already experienced from 1995 until 2001 in Afghanistan. This period is also known as dark era in Afghanistan because most democratic and humanitarian values such as human rights, women rights, freedom of media, civil rights and so on were entirely perished. However, this era was the worst for women  as they were considered as aliens of the time not letting them educate and seek their ideal life. No constitution existed to give their fundamental rights, the right to liberty, equality and pursuit of happiness. In short, the socio-political functions of women had been cut to zero and as half of  population of the country, they were fully isolated at homes.
In 2001 when the international community came into Afghanistan with slogan of democracy, all Afghans welcomed it as they were tired of emirate system. Now, after two decades of democracy practice, we need to assess the past and plan for the future answering some important questions such why our democracy has not been able to overcome the challenges in last two decades?  Why it did not satisfy the needs of people? According to political theories, there are five important indicators which measure the quality of  democracies. These basic indicators consist of “Election and pluralism”, “Government performance”, “Political participation”, “Political culture” and “Civil liberties” .The growth rate of each indicator shows level of strength and stability of democracies and, conversely, the low graph of each indicator shows the weakness of democracy.
In regard to the first indicator, there  are  a lot political seditions which may even burst in to a civil war.  Everyone believes in elections, but no one believes in the election results. According to experts, there are several factors behind this issue but the most important factor is lack of institutionalization of electoral democracy through educational and cultural system. It means, democracy is still young in Afghanistan and so it needs time and attention to become part of local tradition and practices. Secondly,  there has not yet created a functional mechanism or method to ensure transparency of election in the country. Because of this issue the election commission has repeatedly faced hurry-scurry in few last elections. they abruptly changed one method to another while their personnel were not trained and unaccustomed to the new system and methods.
As to the second indicator, which pertained to government function, there are also many weaknesses to be addressed.  Given the cultural and ethnic diversity in Afghanistan, the government must make more efforts to improve social and political justice to pave the way for a national oneness in the country. if the government institutions fail to be far from ethnic and religious bias, it would be impossible to succeed in nation building or state building in this era. If the top governmental positions are distributed on the basis of personal or ethnic connection, no democracy will grow in the country. Thus, the government needs to pay more attention to administrative sector which is widely blamed for corruption. This issue created huge distance between people and government institutions and also  government and international community. In past international conferences, the international partners warned that their aid is not as white check  and required the government to take serious actions against corruption in the country.
When we talk about the third indicator, which is political participation, there are many questions about political participation and distribution of government positions. For example, If we look at the past election, not more than a million participated while Afghanistan has nearly 37 million population.  Unfortunately, the farther we go from the first days of our democracy, the less people participate and trust in democratic processes. People will not come to ballot  box if they feel the election is not transparent. And accordingly, we cannot reach democracy unless everyone feels free and equal regardless of traditional belongings such as race, religion, language, gender, color of skin and other differences. According to Huntington, no nation will reach real democracy unless cross from identity crisis.
The most important principle of democracy is meritocracy and free competition. Therefore, the national and democratic oneness cannot be obtained unless everyone is judged on the basis of meritocracy and free completion principle.
If we discuss about the forth indicator, which belong to the political couture,  it is based on the political inequalities of the past , and its foundations are highly ethnic. In the other world, the political culture of Afghanistan is highly in paradox to democratic standards because the nature of our political culture stems from the highly traditional and hierarchical culture of the past, and  there are less signs of democracy and macro-narratives of the modern age in this culture. In addition to this, the inflexible  interpretation from Islam and Islamic values such as Talibanistic or Salafistic interpretation of Islam is also incompatible to democracy though the majority of Afghan people belong to Hanafi and Shia that both are moderate and compatible with democracy. Therefore, the government needs to create alternative options to prevent Afghan youths from joining extremist religious seminaries in neighboring countries.
Given the aforementioned democracy indicators, Afghanistan has no  good position in global level. In 2017 Afghanistan ranked 149th out of 165 countries. This rating shows that we are still at the beginning of the road and our young democracy is vulnerable against emirate and other challenges. In this stage, all people of Afghanistan must know that there is no alternative for democracy and so not allow to deal it a chip price. 

M. Hashemi is the emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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