At the 2001 Bonn Conference, we wished to embrace freedom and democracy. For the first time, the Afghan people hoped that legitimacy in their country would─rather than relying on armed warlords and regional ethnic leaders─be maintained by an institutionalized political system.
We know from our history that governing without the people's consent leads to authoritarianism and anarchy. Afghanistan’s multiple power centers had led to repression and endemic corruption, and failing economy. The tragic and deeply disturbing result of the Bonn Conference is the new emergence of a ruling elite that considers the country’s financial resources, natural wealth, and property of any kind as its undisputed right to seize and plunder.
By governing from top down, both the Karzai and Ghani regimes have brought democracy in disrepute, strengthening and enriching the warlords. This situation has helped corrupt leaders to even provoke public disturbances in a bid to seek financial concessions for their own benefit.
The presence of powerful individuals within the government on the one hand, and illegal armed groups outside the government on the other, has seriously oppressed the people, denying them their basic freedom. This in turn has prepared the ground for armed government opponents to recruit fighters in preparation for the next round of civil war.
In addition, the proxy war, which Afghanistan’s neighbors have imposed on the Afghan people, has led to additional internal confusion, economic ruin, and desperation.
The consensus which had been reached within the government over the past years, and remains functional to this day, was a political deal according to which the administration has distributed governmental power to divergent ethnic groups. This agreement could not and did not pave the way to political stability. The outcome of this pact was the restoration of the division of political power based on ethnic and regional lines. This political division has once more led to the redistribution of power between known warlords and their ethnic groups.
The abnormal corruption that has infused its poisonous venom into the veins of governmental institutions has bitterly divided the government and people. By neglecting the needs of the people and by enriching themselves, the power-holding elite has inflicted irreparable harm on the country and dangerously fueled tribal, regional, and religious differences. This ethnic, sectarian, and regional discord has become highly pulpable and threatens the country’ very existence as a unified state.
The growing internal chaos in Afghanistan has led to increased foreign interference in the country and brought about rising linguistic and ethnic disputes which are also being fueled by traditional and hierarchical political elites. These divisions and instabilities have brought the country to financial insolvency and the brink of dissolution.
The appointments of tribal leaders to high government positions were based on their affiliation with certain ethnic groups and had nothing to do with soundness of character and professional abilities. This in turn has led to the marginalization of intellectuals, complicating greatly the creation of a unified state.
In our country, some individuals have mixed up the nation with ethnicity and different racial groups. For over 200 years, the term “Afghan” has been our national and political identity, not an ethnic one. This term tells the people who they are. It gives them social cohesion and provides them with a collective spirit.
Since its formation over the past 200 years, the Afghan nation has been our political identity. The adage “Afghan” is and has always been a political umbrella for all ethnic groups in the country.
When we speak about our nation, we always think of a political, civil, and economic unit and don’t talk about the different ethnic or cultural groups which form a part of the Afghan nation. One could perhaps say that the Afghan nation is a political entity that is imprinted in our common psyche.
The Afghan nation wants a social consensus which prepares the ground for real political stability, economic growth, and financial self-sufficiency. Therefore, the current problem in our country is mainly caused by ethnic tensions and differences. A small minority of corrupt and self-serving leaders seeks their personal interests by fueling ethnic disputes in the country.
Scholars, writers, and economists are responsible to lead political figures and government officials in a direction where they would not act based on ethnic, linguistic, and regional inclinations, but based on plans which can help the nation in its state-building efforts.
We should accept democracy and market economy as political and economic systems. The nation must remain a single political entity.
Finally, we should expect from our scholars, writers, economists, and the media to defend the law of the land. It is the law which wards off autocracy. A national struggle for a free economy and pluralistic politics is the only solution that could save the great Afghan nation.
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