Exclusion of mujahideen

Burhanuddin Rabbani former leader of the mujahideen party during Soviet occupation

The continuing role of mujahideen leaders in Afghanistan politics puts the country’s future at risk. When the Soviet union pulled out their soldiers twenty six years ago in February 1989, it has left behind a ravaged land and cost the lives of roughly 15,000 Red Army soldiers and two million Afghans. The Soviet authorities had admitted that the war was a mistake and a tragedy for Afghanistan. It was able to start devastating civil wars and the subsequent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in 1996. When the Soviets left Afghanistan under the Geneva Accord signed between the last Soviet-backed government of Mohammed Najibullah and Pakistan with the former Soviet Union and the U.S. as guarantors, Afghan Islamic fighters known as the mujahideen were still fighting to enter Kabul. After another three years of fierce battle, they were in control of the capital. As a political tradition and a national holiday, the aging mujahideen leaders come together each year to celebrate their victory and attempt to define their current and future political role.

Ismail Khan warning Ghani’s administration of the possible war

This year, however, the situation in Kabul was rife with antagonism, uncertainty about the future, and controversy over who should be credited for Afghanistan’s jihad and consequently rule the country. The powerful jihadi leader, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayef, called President Ashraf Ghani’s shaky unit government a dictatorship and criticized the exclusion of the mujahideen from major political decisions, particularly I the current negotiations with the Taliban and in the normalization of relations with Pakistan. Amir Ismail Khan, the former governor of western Herat province and minister of energy and water under Karzai, called on mujahideen leaders to establish a united political platform to defend their status and rights. Earlier, when Ghani announced his cabinet on January 12, 2015, Ismail Khan warned that war could break out within the next two months because of the exclusion of the mujahideen.

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Women in Afghanistan

Afghan women demanding for an increase representation

It has been rare in Afghanistan to have a display of decency towards women. When Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani praised his wife for helping him win the election during his inauguration ceremony, it has surprise a lot of people. Ghani bragged that his first lady would wield far more influence than her predecessor, Zeenat Karzai, who rarely ventured beyond the security cordon in nearly a decade of living at the Presidential Palace. Ghani quickly put her husband’s promise to work, spearheading a campaign to improve living conditions for Afghanistan’s 750,000 internally displaced citizens. Rula is just one symbol of the advances that Afghanistan’s women have made since Taliban rule ended 14 years ago. In 2015, women in Kabul are going to college, joining the army, and taking boxing lessons. Before taking office, Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s chief executive, signed petitions endorsed by activist groups that committed to appoint four women to cabinet positions, a quarter of the posts, and to make the Afghan civil service 30 percent female. Many Afghan women were ecstatic. The moves gave substance to their hope for more changes in education, living, and working conditions.

Ghani has only chosen few female candidates for the cabinet

However when Ghani released his cabinet picks in January, it has put the progress of women into hold. The list of cabinet members only has three women. In fact the women on the list did not even had a chance as they were easily struck down from the final list. Acclaimed journalist Najiba Ayubi, chosen to lead the ministry of women’s affairs, was struck from the final list. Two other female nominees, Ai Sultan Khairi and Khatera Afghan, barely saw the light of day: Khairi was dismissed on charges that she had forged her identification and parliament quickly terminated Afghan’s nod. Women on the ground had organized a protest after seeing the list of cabinet picks of Ghani. They have delivered a new list of women to nominate for the cabinet position. They demand that the new administration should put in 38 percent of female cabinet members.

Images by Robert Nickelsberg and AP

Increase in Afghan Civilian Casualties

There has been an increase in civilian casualty as reported by UN

In the report released by the United Nations last February 18, Afghanistan suffered from a year of sectarian violence in their country. The count of dead civilians began in 2009. There were 10,548 covilian casualties, which includes deaths and injuries, last year– a 22 percent increase from 2013 numbers. The Taliban were responsible for 72 percent of the casualties, while ground battles caused more casualties (34 percent) than suicide bombings or improvised explosive devices (22 percent). The number of casualties caused by internationalilitary forces decreased by 43 percent.

Hundreds of children were sent to Germany for further treatment

Taliban has been taking advantage of the unstable Afghanistan government. President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah have not yet agreed on their cabinet members. This has halted the process of trying to counter Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The inability to come up with a cabinet member especially for the defense minister position has been the reason why the government could still not come up with a proper way of protecting civilians. The withdrawal of NATO troops allows the Taliban forces to take advantage of the situation and even went on to mock the current administration. Taliban has been constantly carrying attacks in different areas of Afghanistan. This has greatly affected civilians.

The Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) said it was sending 79 Afghan children for treatmemt to Germany. The children are flown to Germany under a 1989 agreement between the Peace Village International and the ARCS. The treatment of the children costs €6,000 ($6,825) each and families are trained to care for the children after treatment. More than 4,000 children were sent to Germany by ARCS so far. Civilians has been the constant target of Taliban on their attacks. Although there are also international organizations helping out civilians, it would be best for Afghanistan government to set aside the differences between Ghani and Abdullah.

Images by Jane Mingay and Getty

Drug Problem of Afghanistan

Some Afghans have been addicted to heroin

Afghanistan has been suffering from wars and insurgencies since the 1970s. For the past decade, there has been numerous political systems and regimes tested however easily discarded. There has been no regime that could fix the government and effectively exert control over the entire country. The power of elected politicians was only limited to Kabul and some provincial capitals.  The invasion of Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s saw the rise of armed resistance of Afghans against the Soviet army and the Afghan communist proxy regime in Kabul. The communist regime also collapsed in 1990s when a UN peace settlement failed to transfer power to the CIA-supported Afghan Mujahideen. The leaders of the Mujahideen failed to agree on a power-sharing arrangement causing for civil war to happen. At the time wherein civil war was happening, no one could be able to bring Kabul under control. The leaders then decided to establish their own fiefdoms in different regions of Afghanistan. The factions fought over regional, partisan, religious and ethnic differences.

Opium poppy field in Afghanistan

The fiefdoms were based on the leader’s ethnic identity and the location of the solidarity group. The leader would maintain security in the fiefdom, provide protection to its people, and manage its economic activity and justice system. At the time when Taliban rose to power, the Afghan drug industry became more organized and monopolized. The money obtained from the drug business went to the financing of operation of the Taliban movement until ta ban issued in 2000 by its leader Mullah Omar. After the toppling of Taliban government, the transitional government took over the problem on drugs and other illicit economic activities. The international reputation of Afghanistan has been greatly harmed and in fact poses a great threat to the survival of the Afghan state and to regional and international security. The opium cultivation and trade in Afghanistan finances the operations of international terrorism.

Images by BBC and CBS

Ghani announced cabinet member nominees

Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani

Ashraf Ghani has still been unable to secure his new cabinet members despite being in the office for 100 days already. The Afghan president just nominated 25 ministers and seeking for the approval of Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah. The two had been clashing over whom should they appoint as a part of their cabinet. This is due to the fact that they wanted to put in their own men to the cabinet. The highly contentious position is the defense and interior minister. The inability to announce cabinet members endangers the position of the government of Ghani. Taliban has already started to taunt Ghani and Abdullah for being unable to have an agreement. Taliban has already started to resurface and threaten to cause violence again in Afghanistan. The two rivals need to double their efforts in finding their cabinet members in order to protect Afghanistan from possible terrorist attacks.

Abdullah Abdullah after knowing the results of the presidential elections
Abdullah Abdullah after knowing the results of the presidential elections

 

President Ashraf Ghani has nominated 25 ministers for his cabinet, which he has been doing for the past three months. The focus of Ghani is to be able to tackle the violence-wracked country’s problems. The government could not implement its policies due to the lack of people helping out the president. Thus Ghani increasing his efforts in getting ministers. Ghani has invited the 25 cabinet nominees in the presidential palace in Kabul. Abdul Salam Rahimi, Ghani’s chief of staff, has announced that the president looks forward into getting to know these cabinet nominees and hopefully get the approval of Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah. The president has already been criticized by the public due to the lack of progress in the government. President Ghani asked for the public to be patient about as he doing his best in trying to make everything work. The suggested ministers will now go before the parliament for approval. The nominated people are Slahuddin Rabbani, the former head of the country’s high peace council, Sher Mohammad Karimi, the military chief of staff and Noor-ur-Haq Ulomi.

Images by Telegraph and Associated Press

Ghani fails to appoint cabinet members after 100 days

Afghanistan has been unstable ever since it formed a new government
Afghanistan has been unstable ever since it formed a new government

After 100 days of being elected as the Afghanistan President, Ashraf Ghani remains to have no cabinet members in his office. This is due to the inability of Ghani and rival Abdullah to agree on key portfolios. The inability to appoint a cabinet member threatens to hamper the fight against Taliban. It sends off a message that the newly established government is unstable thus vulnerable from attacks of the terrorist group. Despite having agreed to a power-sharing deal with his political opponent Abdullah Abdullah last September 2014, Ghani remains to fail on securing the senior cabinet positions. Abdullah was appointed “chief executive” on the newly established unity government. His role is quite similar to the prime minister. The power-sharing deal allows to save Afghanistan from the riks of imminent civil war. However such hopes were bogged down as soon as disagreements over the appointment of cabinet officials started. The two rivals are having difficulties on agreeing over which side’s loyalists would take key portfolios such as interior and defense minister. Ghani has already missed out multiple deadlines in trying to form the government. This made the Afghans frustrated but Ghani asked to be patient over the matter.

NATO troops pull out in Afghanistan
NATO troops pull out in Afghanistan

The political vacuum comes at a sensitive time as Taliban fighters push to exploit the end of NATO’s combat mission last December 31 after 13 years of fighting. The ability of the government of Ghani to tackle problems like “insurgency, a horrible economy and a dysfunctional state” relies on the appointment of his senior officials. The deadlock has been happening due to the inability of one person to compromise on who to appoint. Both of them want to appoint their own men into the cabinet thus leaving Afghanistan in a delicate situation. The Taliban has already mocked Ghani and Abdullah for “making fools of themselves” over the cabinet delay. In the statement released by the Taliban they said, “They will say it is because the weather is too cold… they need more time until it gets warmer”.

Images by Reuters and AFP

Questionable Afghan Presidential Election Results

Afghan election workers in last June presidential elections
Afghan election workers in last June presidential elections

In the latest report released by the European Union election Observers on December 16, 2014, it says how there have been an electoral fraud that occurred in the Afghan presidential runoff election in June. The institution claim how there has been only a small fraction of the suspected votes were invalidated. The report that was released only affirms the allegations being thrown out over the validity of the election conducted last June. It provided a full picture on what may occur at the time the president was being elected. It suggests how there have been more than two million votes which makes up for about a quarter of the total votes cast came from a polling stations with voting irregularities. This tarnishes the credibility of the election thus having a questionable result on whether or not the true candidate was chosen.

Abdullah Abdullah after knowing the results of the presidential elections
Abdullah Abdullah after knowing the results of the presidential elections

There have been widespread reports on the questionable results of elections. This led to the political crisis suffered by Afghanistan wherein two leading candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, contested the preliminary results that in the end favored Mr. Ghani. However Abdullah did not rest his case on who was the rightful winner of the elections because he believes that there has been a manipulation of results of election. Due to the inability of the two to compromise, it forced the United States to act as a mediator led by Secretary of State John Kerry and made the two agree on the power-sharing deal suggested by America. This resulted into Mr. Ghani being named as the president and then Mr. Abdullah being named as the government’s chief executive. Such arrangement was difficult for the two parties thus resulting into no cabinet members being appointed for nearly three months after the inauguration. The European Union’s chief observer for the Afghan election announced how there have been a number of irregular voting patterns that raise doubts about more than two million votes. They discussed how such votes came from stations with unexpectedly high turnouts where the votes were cast almost uniformly favoring one candidate.

Images by Associated Press

Threat to Afghan women

Shukria Barakzai was the only female member of the parliament
Shukria Barakzai was the only female member of the parliament

Afghanistan is still unstable despite the formation of the new government. The area still suffers from various attacks of radical groups opposing the government. The group targets the Afghan National Security Forces. They have been causing chaos through multiple explosions in the capital. Such attacks already happened for about 11 times now. Attacks have been further alarming due to the increase of targets by the radical groups. In fact last November 17, their main target was a famous woman politician. Shukria Barakzai who is one of 69 female members of parliament survived the attack orchestrated by the radical groups. Unfortunately there has been three civilian passers-by killed in the incident and about 30 got injured.

 

Afghan Women was able to obtain access to their rights in the past decade
Afghan Women was able to obtain access to their rights in the past decade

President Ashraf Ghani released a statement wherein he said that such act was cowardly, un-Islamic and un-Afghan. The incident was claimed to be orchestrated by the Taliban. Ever since they have fallen out of power, the group has been causing instability towards the government. The intent of the group is to obliterate Afghan values, customs, heritage and the democratic system. The Taliban and other armed group believe that there are limitations on the rights Afghan women. Ever since the conception of the 2004 Afghan Constitution, women have been able to make big strides in the past decade. Afghan women have enjoyed access to education, healthcare and political participation. However the Taliban thinks that such privilege has been enjoyed too much thus the necessity for them to teach a lesson to Afghan women. Shukria Barakzai has been known to be active and outspoken in political, social and cultural issues. However radical groups believe that she has crossed the line. Such attack indicates the intolerance of Taliban towards Afghan women attempting to stretch the prescribed role made for them. The group does not care about any interpretations on Afghan women being accorded rights by the Holy Quran.

Images by: AbbieTrayler-Smith and Reuters

Importance of Afghan Unity Government

 

Afghanistan sign unity government deal with the United States
Afghanistan sign unity government deal with the United States

The National Unity Government of Afghanistan was formed after the agreement of sharing in power between the two presidential contenders, the president and chief executive officer (CEO) and the new president Ashraf Ghani. A decree was signed during the inauguration ceremony by the newly sworn president and also the swearing of 3 newly shaped positions, the chief executive and his two deputies. The newly formed alliance helped in halting the political crisis Afghanistan had been suffering. This political crisis is due to the effects of the runoff elections. Despite this, there are still different reactions by the Afghans hat can be seen in social media sites. Many were relieved of knowing that peaceful transition of power of a president to another. This is a good sign that Afghanistan won’t be going into another civil war. Although the different reaction of the people is that their democracy has been tarnished. This is due to their efforts to cast their votes in the ballot were rendered useless. It seemed it’s the political people with power are followed instead of the will of the people.

Afghanistan has been unstable ever since it formed a new government
Afghanistan has been unstable ever since it formed a new government

Afghanistan felt that it is important for the compromise to be implemented because it is on the verge of failure. They had to make a way in order to have political development. The position of CEO was not created through constitutional amendment but rather through a presidential decree. The transformation to a semi presidential decree should be well organized and precisely defined. This is for the better of Afghanistan and is not intended to overwrite democracy. In order to avoid further conflict with regards with the constitution, wider participation and analysis of the amendment process is a must. This can be achieved by, for example, an ad hoc oversight body that includes the legal scholars and the civil society. This should be an aid in checking the validity of constitutional amendments.

Images by Reuters

Afghan president refuses vote

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has insisted that he did not contest the elections in the country, in the hope that a darker monitored by UN qualified audit may soon end the long political crisis. Abdullah reiterated that massive fraud claims denied victory over his rival Ashraf Ghani in race to lead Afghanistan, US-led NATO troops to withdraw from its long war against the Taliban. The bitter stalemate over suspected vote fraud has raised fears of renewed ethnic violence that the military effort and civilian development of 13 years of international winds down.

Fraudulent election results are not accepted and will not accept a fraudulent government for one day. Abdullah Abdullah, the Afghan presidential candidate has reiterated this again and again. “We are the winner of the election, we are the winner of the election on the basis of the voice of the people,” Abdullah said in a speech. “We do not accept fraudulent election results, and we will not accept a fraudulent government for a day.” In a deal brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry, the candidate has accepted auditing disputes of about eight million votes, and forms a national unity government without winning. But Abdullah, who was far behind Ghani to the preliminary results of the second round, and then taken out of the audit and discuss unity government ground to a halt as well.

This could be a big blow to the Afghan government. It could mean a turmoil if Abdullah’s followers would not agree with the results of the election. But then again, these requests or propaganda are very much alive in every political party in any country. All of these could just be black propaganda to deceive people into thinking bad about the other side. This issue should be resolved quickly in order to focus on more important things such as progressing the nation.

Images from radioaustralia.net.au and theafghanistanexpress.com