On Monday, April 23, the ministry of foreign affair strongly condemned the recent proposal for change in the current political structure, saying that it was tantamount to interference in the country's internal affairs. Janan Mosazai, the foreign ministry spokesman, expressed that foreigners had no right to propose changes to the system and added that any suggestion from foreigners for changes in the system is interference.
The condemnation follows the recent private meeting between leaders of Afghanistan National Front (ANF) and some US Congressmen who discussed about bringing change in the present political system. After their meetings, the National Front leader, Ahmad Zia Massoud, told a joint press conference in Kabul on April 22, that the only solution to resolve the crises was to switch to a parliamentary system with decentralization of power. In a joint statement, Congressmen and leaders of ANF said comprehensive reforms were needed in the country's political system ahead of foreign troop's withdrawal, arguing the present system was rife with corruption.
The Congressmen vividly supported the position of ANF leaders over system change. However, the US embassy in Kabul on Monday distanced itself from the private meeting, saying the Congressmen did not represent the State Department or any other executive branch. Afghan officials also claimed that one of the congressmen who planned to meet the opposition leaders was not allowed travel to country due to his severe anti-Afghan government status.
Early this year, also number of Afghan politicians held meetings with US congress members in Germany to discuss the political system in the country. The meetings were criticized by Afghan government, however, not to an extent that foreign ministry reacted to the Monday's one. Faizullah Zaki, the spokesman to ANF, said, "The government is over-reacting. These types of meeting are not beyond the normal activities as the United States is the largest stakeholder in the country".
It is noteworthy to mention that it is not the first time that oppositions and political activists raise the issue of system change and decentralization of power. It has been years that these issues are discussed, however, yet no specific definitions are presented for both within the existing political and social ground realities. It is not discussed in detail what are the pros and cons of the above grand move if one day it is realized. Instead, what has been put ahead in favor is experience of other countries that have applied them.
Indubitably, the parliamentary system has been a major topic in social and political circles and organization from the very establishment of a naïve democratic government by the help of international community's deeply involvement. But recently it has been followed with much rigor and has attracted the global attention. Opposition groups deem it as panacea for peace and instability in the future.
But there are major problems that challenge the notion. The first thing which is put by government and its supporters is the lack of political parties. Certainly, we have lots of political groups but it is really hard to define them as modern political parties.
During decades of civil war and instability, huge number of armed political groups formed and fought for political power. These groups all have prefix or suffix of nation and Islam, but the only thing they lack is cross-ethnic or national and Islam-based approaches.
Under the banner of Islam and national unity, they fought for power through including the defeat or complete elimination of another rival ethnic group in the agenda. More importantly, each ethnic group was not united too as there were numbers of armed groups that had their own sets of agenda within a particular ethnic group. Large portion of such groups were bunch of rogue elements merely to find pretext and force common people to follow them and put in practice their commands. They were also taking money by force and common people finally had no choice other than joining this or that ones for their own safety.
Major armed groups which were covering larger community or complete ethnic group did least for national unity and national integrity. Each fought for its own communal interests that also through oppressing rival ethnic groups. Dominance of such situation fuelled communal antagonism and hatred which was clearly portrayed in, for example, Bameyan province and Afshar of Kabul Massacres.
Such communal conflicts have left deep scars in Afghan society and need decades to be restored. Additionally, those communal-based armed groups still exist but they have hidden their weapons or handed them over to the government.
No doubt, there are coalitions and political parties as well, like that of ANF which enjoys striking public influence but still seems fragile. Ostensibly, what have pulled together the potential members of, for instance, ANF is their shared interest against the administration of President Karzai. It is not clear what happens to ANF, which is formed by three major former communal political groups, if by tomorrow that administration of Mr. President undergoes into incurable heart attack.
Would it remain in its current shape and form? Hardly possible! Because the only thing that compels its leaders work and cooperate with each other is opposing President Karzai. I strongly doubt that the interest of the party goes beyond minor issues and they hold together even there are no forces to challenge them.
More dangerously, changes and alterations in the leadership position of the party made no problem till the entire structure of the party of remain intact. Regretfully, here is no such thing. Defection of some potential leaders indeed means giving a poisonous injection to the body. For example, if Gen. M. Rashid Dostum or Ahmad Zia Masood decides to leave the party, it will affect the party top to bottom, because their presence only guarantees the support of their community to the party. Their farewell from the party does not mean the party has lost a potential leader but would lack the support of an entire ethnic group.
In other words, political parties have not yet found its true status and meaning in Afghanistan. Everything still circulates around communal interest and no party succeeded to find cross-ethnic vote bank.
To be continued…