Afghanistan: President Ghani’s Concept Of National Issues – OpEd


President Ashraf Ghani, who is an excellent academician and state building practitioner, is now coping with political problems internally. Afghanistan has been devastated by wars and internal conflicts for a long time, and it’s all due to the lack of law and order exacerbated by uncontrollable hooliganism. Ghani argues that to get out of this current state of turmoil, developing countries should put the spotlight on implementing legitimacy of law at home, however to improve law at home it’s extremely important to extend collaboration with international bodies.

Ghani has shared power with his election rival Abdullah Abdullah and formed the coalition government of Afghanistan (NGU) in September 2014, in which Abdullah Abdullah became chief executive officer and Ghani president. Political crises and internal conflicts have prevented both Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani from working closely. However, they have overcome some differences and now work under the pretext of a Unified Government. During the election days Ashraf Ghani earned fame among the educated masses of Afghanistan. His educated background urged other educated people to be on his side. He has clearly expressed his willingness for bringing law and order, specifically security reforms which is essential to defeat the ongoing insurgencies in Afghanistan.

The foreign policy tools which Ghani has put forward made some unprecedented achievements over the past years. He with his foreign affairs experts have compelled the likes of the US and regional countries to place Pakistan on a notice as a backer of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Ghani’s government has enhanced its standing on the world stage to confront Pakistan internationally. Our gratitude extends to his past struggles at the UN, the World Bank and his excellent cooperation with world leaders in praising the Afghan voice in most international forms. His leadership transferred Afghanistan to one direction and rose the call against terrorism and its supporters.

Furthermore Afghanistan has worked profoundly on different regional mechanisms, for instance: the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the heart of Asia Istanbul process etc… such apparatus were extremely necessary for Afghanistan to linkup the country with South and Central Asia and benefit from transport, trade and energy etc… and so far Ashraf Ghani has managed well with foreign policy, and he continues to focus on economic opportunities for Afghanistan.

One party domination

After the US-coalition invasion of Afghanistan in the year 2001, the US expanded its full support to Jamiat-e-Islami, the powerful former Mujahideen and Warlords , these Mujahideen were stark rivals to the Taliban and Hezib-e-Islami. Due to such reasons neither the Taliban nor Hezib-e-Islami were invited to attend the Bonn conference. The Jamiat party since then governed Afghanistan politically, economically and socially, and former President Karzai himself was aligned with the Mujahideen. Historically all government servants belonged to one party and President Karzai had no choice but to make agreements with them. Indeed, Karzai may have done all these for his own political career and connection with the Mujahideen.

Both practically and theoretically Ashraf Ghani is distinct from Karzai. Ghani believes in ideas and intellectual work for the sake of improving the current condition of Afghanistan. Somehow he managed to include educated people in his political circle. He fired those who were unable to perform in governance and security; recently he fired two army generals and army officers, charging them with negligence and handing them over to the justice department. Furthermore he issued a retirement order for more than one hundred army Generals in order to bring reform in the security sector. He manages his time very well by meeting elders from the different ethnic backgrounds, such as: the Tajik, Hazara, Pashtun and Uzbek. He runs the country in a balanced ethnic dimension.

In simple words he likes people who work.

The political struggle between the President and Atta Mohammad Noor, a former Mujahid and powerful politician in Balkh province, has polarized unexpected divides between the North and South, and which is an alarming issue for the central government and its partners.

Ghani, an ethnic Pashtun, became president in 2014 with a contentious election. Consequently, there were accusations of violating electoral processes and reports on electoral fraud between both candidates. Though such comments were made by former NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil, according to the legality of law, as Chief of NDS at the time he should have been put on trial; in democratic society everyone is both responsible and accountable for his/her actions to the public, and Afghanistan is after all a democratic state. After months of political collision between Ashraf Ghani and Jamiat-e-Islami party nominee Abdullah Abdullah, the then US secretary John Kerry brokered a deal of power sharing among the political rivals. As a result NUG was reached.

The NUG agreement formed the positions of President for Ashraf Ghani and Chief executive for Abdullah Abdullah. The Agreement has not made much progress since then due to warlords and corrupt officials inside the government. The reform arrangement outlined in the agreement interrupted, so many attempts have been made to distribute electronic national identity cards and reform the electoral system for a truly democratic political system, thus parliament frequently rejects Ashraf Ghani orders. However, parliament is composed of former Mujahideen who favour their own interests above national interests. The president has allied himself with some parliamentarians for the betterment of the implementation of NUG agreement. However, his approaches are colliding with parliament.

Finally, Ghani has made profound decisions that serve the country’s ethnic balance. For instance he approved the law that each citizen will be identified as an “Afghan”, a term implemented to all ethnic groups living in Afghanistan. Strangely, most refer to the term only to mean the Pashtun tribe, which is unrealistic. The constitution of Afghanistan considers all tribes and groups living in Afghanistan as Afghan citizens.

Ghani has disqualified a number of people because of work done improperly. Though he has no political party, he was selected as an independent candidate for the 2014 election. This means he does not favour anyone Pashtun or non-Pashtun; his believe strongly lays in meritocracy. All those disqualifications were out of merit, including his first vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum, accused of kidnapping and raping an elderly political opponent. Dostum has been living in self-imposed exile in Turkey and has not presented evidence to approve amnesty.

President Ghani has inclusively organized ethnic balance. His chief executive officer Abdullah Abdullah a Tajik, his second vice president Sarwar Danish (an ethnic Hazara) and first vice president (an Uzbek whose post is still pending). Once Abdul Rashid Dostum solves the problem with his political rival — who has claimed charges of kidnap and rape —  the president will warmly welcome him.

The exclusive groups

President Ghani is open to all the armed militants who wish to join Afghan society and give up the unknown armed struggle against the Kabul government. He signed an uncontroversial peace deal with Gulbaddin Hakmatyar, who is considered a popular politician among the Pashtun. In making the peace deal the name of Hakmayar was to be removed from the UNSC black list after returning to Kabul. Gulbaddin Hakmayar was forced to leave Afghanistan due to the one party system in Afghanistan, the Jamiat Party who fought Gulbaddin forces during the civil war. Similarly the Jamiat party have not made much progress in bringing the Taliban into negotiations over the past decade. In this aspect, the government has failed to serve all ethnic groups.

Ghani has extended his hands to Hakmatyar for peace and included him in Afghan society, very much like the gesture shown to the Taliban, but even their deadliest attacks on Afghan civilians in the capital Kabul obliged president Ghani to refuse talking to the Taliban.

Looking at the internal policies helmed by President Ghani, the man still has the time to find obstacles in his internal policies while external policies are starkly more successful, thus Afghanistan will be on the right track. The re-election of Ghani will make Afghanistan the trade corridor of Central and South Asia. Ghani thinks strategically. His strong team will make way to achieve what the Afghan nation wants: security, job opportunities, a strong central government and an economically independent Afghanistan.

*Ihsanullah Omarkhail, Ex-Consultant, Studies MA International Relations at Zhejiang University, China. He writes on Foreign policy, Peace and State Building, terrorism, security and strategic affairs and tweets on @ihsan_asif

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