Last Chance to Rescue Afghanistan in Bonn
Once again all eyes are fixed on the Bonn Conference to be held on December 5, 2011 in which around 1000 representatives from 90 countries and international organizations are expected to focus on three following issues such as transition of security to the Afghan Government by 2014, international commitment to Afghanistan after the handover and the national reconciliation and the integration. Mr. Karzai is reported to be accompanied by Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul and National security advisor Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta on the trip to Bonn.
As regard participation of Taliban, the US Ambassador to Kabul has firmly assured that no Taliban would take part in Bonn II conference; however, unconfirmed reports suggest that the Afghan Government tried to invite the following figures to the conference e.g. Hajji Ibrahim, brother of Jalaluddin Haqqani, as the representative of Haqqani’s Network, trustees of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as the representatives of the Hezb-e-Islami and Sayed Tayeeb Agha, Mullah Brother and Mawlawi Kabir as representatives of Taliban. Besides members of the Afghan parliament, dozens of representatives from Afghan civil society have been nominated to represent Afghanistan at the second Bonn Conference.
Bonn-I was termed as successful conference with regard to bringing regional stakeholders like Iran, Pakistan, India, China and Russia along with leaders across ethnic lines on one table to discuss the future political stability of Afghanistan; however in some ways it was a failure to draw a clear single line commitment from the Afghan and the regional stakeholders, which further destabilized the political situation of Afghanistan.
Some analysts also specify that it was a big mistake not to include Taliban in the first Bonn Conference in 2001 by the international community and Afghans, however, we should not forget that if Taliban mean Quetta Shura or Haqqani Group, it needs to be understood that these groups are allegedly known as destabilizing factors.
On the other hand many believe that Taliban don’t have their own command and control then how could Taliban to be expected to attend the Bonn conference that’s why Pakistan needs to be first taken into consideration.
Unfortunately, Pakistan decided not to participate in the present Bonn-II conference due to NATO attack on Pakistani check post, which reportedly killed 26 Pakistani soldiers on Saturday November 26 in Mohmand Agency area.
Pakistan being a significant stakeholder in the war against terrorism, can play a major role in bringing peace in Afghanistan, however, the absence of Pakistan in the Bonn conference is regarded as huge blow for the peace building in Afghanistan.
In addition, ccritics seem to have found unrealistic for American to establish an effective government in two-year what it failed to build in 10 years. In theory, it looks really hard but not impossible to start with a new inclusive and decentralized political system with the cooperation of international community in Afghanistan.
Kabul government failed because it didn’t deliver the executive power to the local authorities in the country. Devolution of power and transparent political system would intact the country and put the country on the path of sustainable political process.
If the power is demoted to provincial level, the provinces themselves would tackle the security and political issues for the interest of their own provincial development and political stability. So the insurgency instead of posing threat to the central government would be an issue of the concerned province to deal with.
In present Afghan political scenario, decentralization seems to be the perfect solution to end the complex natured conflict, which would contain Taliban rather than spreading all over the country. Bonn Conference needs to review about the drastic change in the political system of the country, as the current political system seems to have no room to accommodate the diversity of the country and promote coexistence in the country.
Historically, no central government in Afghanistan has ever ruled easily over the country in dealing with ethnic conflicts rather than domineering and subordinating. History has shown that an oppressive centralized government may run over the country, but doesn’t seem now possible in the present geo-political scenario of Afghanistan.
The Afghan civil war of the 1990s was the direct expression of the long racial suppression, political mistrust and subjugation of tyrant Afghan rulers, which Afghanistan was facing since very long. Everybody knows that 1990s Afghan civil war had no ideological foundation but was an ethnic hatred blended with deprivation rooted deep down among the Afghans’ ethnic minorities.
The Taliban led by Mullah Omar, a cleric from Kandahar, under the pretext of religion started invading its country by heavy-handed tactics and narrow ethnic-religious chauvinism. The minorities stood against them and showed their full hatred against Taliban after 9/11 attacks to oust them from Afghanistan.
The present Kabul government is believed to have built on 1964 constitution with new support amendments for having strong centralized government in the fear of preventing ethnic and regional division. Unfortunately, the West fully backed all those who favoured powerful centralized regime in Afghanistan, that’s why Mr. Karzai never showed any interest in demoting executive power to the local governments, who he should have been in the first of his term.
Ten years of Karzai government did not pave the substantial way to get all sections of society under one umbrella but the Afghan society into split into various blocs. The emergence of national for Hope and Change and the National Front on Afghan politics are the outstanding results of strong stubborn centralized Kabul government.
Furthermore, the non-Pashtun ethnic groups doubt President Karzai’s intentions in dealing with Taliban. The political distrust would ultimately further escalate political confrontation between the south and the north, which would result in widening ethnic tension in Afghanistan. Critics believe that Karzai’s centralized political game would further alienate Pashtuns also from the rest of the country.
In order to avoid further disintegration, it is responsibility of the international community especially the US to make sure the delegation of executive power to the local authorities at earliest possible along with the transition of security to the Afghan Government.
If the delegation of power is not ensured to the local governments at earliest possible, the ethnic tension may rise to the highest level, which would ultimately end up fighting against the central government. The present ongoing Bonn conference is also hoped to look into the role of the neighbouring countries, who would likely pose security threats to foreign forces and Kabul government in case of a possible permanent presence of the allied forces in the country.
In 2001, Afghans from all walks of lives and ethnic groups accepted the central government system in a hope to bring peace and stability in the country but now, after ten years, today, the mood seems to look quite different. The international community particularly US is believed to have enough time to understand the changing mood of Afghans towards the devolution of power to local authorities, otherwise, Afghanistan may likely fall back into the civil war it experienced in the early 1990s.
The writer is an ESOL Teacher in Hull. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org