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AFGHANISTAN: Change in Setup Necessary for Peace

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By Dilawar Sherzai *

With the rise of current controversy between Afghan Presidential Office and the opposition party, it should now be very much clear that Afghan and International authorities have to divert their attentions towards the issue of the future form of government apart from the transition period and reconciliation process. There are many politicians and political thinkers who believe that both transition period and reconciliation process may not prove to be fruitful unless there are important changes within the current political setup in the country.

 In fact they insist for political amendments before the reconciliation process is completed, as they fear that the political rights of the opposition party and the ethnic groups (non-Pushtuns) it represents may be violated if reconciliation process is carried on with the same political setup.

Moreover, as opposition is being denied any major participation within the reconciliation process, its concerns are really very much genuine. It has a very bad history of relations with Taliban and it believes that Taliban's return and larger share within the current political setup may harm its interests.

The groups forming the opposition rightly claim that they have been more peaceful and have more contribution in formation of a democratic system in the country but Afghan and US authorities are giving the indication that Taliban are more important for the future of stability than them.

Even after the negligence of Taliban to participate in the negotiations, Afghan and US authorities have kept on welcoming them with open arms. President Karzai, on various occasions – even after the current attacks in Kabul, insists that Taliban are his "brothers", so how can the opposition build trust over the current government and its intentions? Definitely, President Karzai would give priority to his "brothers" rather than "others". They have no doubt that if the same form of government remains, the President using his utmost authority will definitely violate their political considerations and may even subjugate them.

It is really important to note that some of very important authorities within Afghan society do not seem to note the basic conflict in the issue or they intentionally avoid understanding it. Currently, on the occasion of the introduction of Salahuddin Rabbani as the new chief for the High Peace Council (HPC), first Vice-President Marshal Qasim Fahim, showed concerns that demands from the different political parties were threatening the future peace and security of Afghanistan.

He said, "Unfortunately, our political demands have reached its peak which has disappointed the people. If each of us prescribes a solution for Afghanistan which is headed towards instability, it only destroys the country… There is only one way to peace, to accept all the demands of insurgents but I think unilateral efforts for peace cannot bring peace to our country.

Taliban should accept the civic values and constitution as a legitimate demand of the government." Commenting on the change in system currently demanded by opposition party, Afghan National Front (ANF), he said, "Even change of system too requires a peaceful Afghanistan… everyone has his own formula about the nature of the system, parliamentary form of government or the presidential system, everything is possible in Afghanistan but the prime condition for any change is a sustainable peace."

However, it is also possible that the solution may be just opposite of what Marshal Qasim Fahim has mentioned. A sustainable peace may not be achieved unless there is a political change. The current political setup may further fuel the fire.

It is also important to note that the case of Afghanistan's political system is very different from the other countries. Here the ethnic lines are still very bold and they seem to dominate the political considerations of different groups, which strive to have their share within the setup. A centralized presidential form of government will further make these groups worry about their proper presentation and participation in the making of the government. Moreover, it also happens to contradict the nature of Afghan society, which happens to be multi-ethnic and heterogeneous in nature.

It is really important for Afghan government and the international community to consider the issue seriously. It has to be made sure that the opposition and the civil society members do not feel neglected from the affairs of the country.

They have a tremendous role to play within Afghan society and they have already played a very important role in strengthening the current democratic setup. The matter of the fact is that they see clear indications from the current government that they would be disregarded as far as their due rights are concerned. The International Crisis Group's report - Talking about talks: Toward a political solution in Afghanistan that was released last month, related to the issue in the following terms;

"Reflecting the sentiments of many, a former member of parliament stressed that non-Pashtun political factions are deeply concerned that the international community appears oblivious that its rush to the exit could pave the way for the next civil war:
The problem with giving the Taliban power in this way is that 30 years ago, this monopoly on power and on coercion was lost to the Pashtuns. The Hazara community, the Tajik community and the Uzbeks have tasted power, and they know what local governance means and they have been defending themselves with guns fory ears now.

The president is already not viewed as a credible broker, and his failure to broaden the national dialogue on political settlement is further undermining his standing with the political opposition. The absence of leading opposition personalities and the presence of few women at government-sponsored forums such as the June 2010 National Consultative Peace Jirga, the November 2011 Traditional Loya Jirga and the December 2011 Bonn Conference underscore the growing distance between the Karzai government and its political opposition. If a settlement is to lead to a sustainable peace, Kabul must incorporate the views and aspirations of the political opposition before any further negotiations with the armed opposition are undertaken."

Observing the scenario in Afghanistan thoroughly, it can be easily concluded that a federal and parliamentary form of government is best suited for the lasting peace and tranquility in Afghanistan. The amendments in the current political setup are really very important and they will be followed by peace not vice-versa.

* Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Source: Daily Outlook Afghanistan

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