Dr. Assem Akram
How the notions of Sovereignty, Independence, Public Service - with duties and responsibilities, not just privileges - and Justice have been lost in the midst of almost three decades of turmoil in Afghanistan and why it matters to reinstate them, primarily in the way the country is being governed.
The war in Afghanistan is not just any war. What we are looking at is a disheartening situation with multiple root causes and pernicious effects. Neither the causes, nor the effects are entirely domestic, but it’s domestically that the suffering and the damage is the most felt. I don’t need to list the successive disastrous stages Afghanistan has been through since the take over by the Communists through a bloody coup perpetrated on a sad day in April of 1978. Ever since that date, this poor but respected, proud and active member of the International Community has undergone unbearable suffering that would have disintegrated any other country in a comparable situation. Were it not for the formidable resilience of its population, which has experienced many adversities throughout its long history and always manages to reinstate itself in a landscape that it owns - and of which it is also captive - the outcome for Afghanistan as a unified entity could have been fatale. Leaving aside the cliché reminiscent of glorious times long gone, Afghanistan needs to deal with a present that is bleak and does not bode well for a rebirth after more than a quarter of a century of abyssal sinking.
Failing Government, Failing State
Incessant warfare has had potent effects on Afghanistan where the omnipresence of insecurity, poverty, absence of education, internal and external exile, ideological warfare, and many other off-shoots such as the flow of ‘easy’ foreign, ideological and drug moneys have had deeply altering effects on the society and its foundations, as one can easily imagine. Generations of Afghans who have grown up in exile or under successive and conflicting ideologically-driven regimes – Communist, Mujaheddin, Taliban and now Pro-US – have lost their marks and are disillusioned to the point of cynicism: but who could blame them for such a reaction? They’ve been force-fed one ideology after another and they have gone along by mere instinct of survival.
Afghans are dizzy. They do not know who and what to trust. They have legitimate doubts; they don’t know their ally from their foe. They cannot rely on the central Government and they cannot trust their local governments, because none of them has reached power through an independent, impartial and legitimate process. There is no real arbitrating body guaranteeing the respect of basic requests for justice on part of the average Afghan citizen. The failure of the present Government in Kabul is obvious in this regard and, by extension, the failure of the United States as well as that of the International Community, involved in one way or another in Afghanistan since the Bonn Agreement of December 2001.
The lack of a credible Government and the inexistence of its representatives throughout the country has left average Afghans at the mercy of local warlords and drug barons, making as a consequence the ground even more favorable to discontent directed at Kabul and making them more susceptible to fall for the appeal of organized and ideologically motivated militant groups such as the Taliban.
Even more troubling is the fact that the amorphous and uncertain situation with a failing State prevalent in Afghanistan, as well as the substitution to the central Government’s authority by a multitude of local powers for almost three decades, has created a pernicious situation whereby only ‘local’ matters and ‘national’ is a distant and immaterial notion. The pendant to this situation is that the written and unwritten laws governing a country and serving as factors of homogenization and ‘togetherness’ have faded away. The notions of State, sovereignty, virtuous Government - with duties and responsibilities and not just privileges – independence in Domestic and Foreign Policy, the country’s place in the regional and global theatre – all of which affect the identity and the spirit of a Nation, are not defined or even on the agenda. After all, one may ask, who controls what and who controls whom? Every single powerful actor on the Afghan scene has a mentor or a financier somewhere. Often, the money trail leads to an outside source with some obvious or obscure agenda. I am not sure how much those fellow Afghans who play this game of quid-pro-quo - and are de facto ‘instrumentalized’ in the service of a larger game - really understand that they are actively contributing to their own country’s annihilation.
The failure of a State, represented by its Government, can be witnessed through a number of symptoms. In the case of Afghanistan today, undoubtedly the most visible one is its failure to perform the most fundamental of its duties: providing security to its people. History has witnessed countless instances of countries forging alliances to defeat common enemies. One can make the case for outside assistance to repel a foreign aggression – whether the aggressor is a known entity and geographically recognizable, or an obscure and underground one such as the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, but when it comes to dealing with its own citizens, no matter how bad or how misled these may be, it befalls to their own Government to deal with them within the borders of their jurisdiction, i.e. within their national territory. And indeed, it’s not up to American or NATO soldiers to go after Afghans opposed to the Karzai Government and kill them. If the groups opposing with arms the Karzai Government – without questioning the validity of either side’s arguments for the fight – are contravening the basic laws of the country and if the Karzai Government aspires to be recognized as a legitimate entity – because it was approved by some elective process and it is asserting urbi et orbi that it is so – then it is its fundamental duty and nobody else’s to enforce the law and bring to justice those who are guilty of pursuing political opposition by means of guerrilla warfare and causing the killing and harming of innocent civilians.
The Karzai Government has been deferring the duties and the prerogatives of a sovereign State over its citizens to ‘friendly’ foreign military forces. For instance, American forces are able to pursue, kill, detain and even torture Afghan citizens on Afghan soil without limitation, without Mr. Karzai and his Government raising an eye-brow: no questions asked! Mr. Karzai and his backers should understand that by deferring and obliterating some of the most basic duties and responsibilities of a Government, they are considerably diminishing their own chances of taking root and being recognized as a legitimate entity capable of representing and defending the interests of their citizens at home and abroad.
A Government is entrusted with powers described by its Constitution as well as by unwritten prerogatives and duties that are enshrined in traditions and unwritten laws of the land. A Government implements the laws and works towards the welfare of the citizens it represents and is responsible for all its citizens, including those who disagree with its policies and even those who use violence to manifest their opposition. There is only one entity that is legally entitled to use violence against the citizens of Afghanistan, within the borders of its territory, and that is its own Government through its law enforcement agencies. Deferring those responsibilities to foreign troops has many negative implications, including signifying to all its own extreme weakness and the narrowness of its legitimacy.
In times of unrest and chaos, when the police and other law enforcement arms of the Government are unable to control a given situation, the army, though essentially designed at projecting force beyond the borders or stopping a danger formed outside the boundaries and aimed at harming the country, enters into play and uses its overwhelming capacity to restore peace. But in Afghanistan, where is the army? Is it possible that in a country submerged by hundreds of thousands of former Mujaheddin fighters, the Government and its outside backers cannot find enough recruits to form a real army of respectable size after five years? The fact that, five years after the fall of the Taliban, the fighting is still being pursued by foreign troops on behalf of the central Government is only cause for more problems.
The question of the sovereignty of Afghanistan is worth addressing: how can a Government, whose Cabinet members are in effect on the payroll of a foreign power, whose President is physically guarded by security services provided by Washington, whose abnormally tiny army is totally subdued to the will of the Americans, whose citizens are being killed and jailed by foreign troops and whose territory is scourged by free roaming groups of foreign army soldiers, be viewed as ‘self-determined’ and defending the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the principles attached to this notion?
There are basically two types of foreign presences: the lawful and the unlawful. Going back to basic consular rules, any person or group of persons who have entered Afghanistan illegally - i.e. without a valid visa delivered by Afghan authorities - should be considered an unlawful trespasser and deported and/or prosecuted. This basic but broad, while perfectly legal, categorization would sweep across and include all the Al-Qaeda type of terrorists and other foreign extremist militants who cross-pass through the Pakistani boarder, as well as, yes, all military forces that do not specifically fall under the initial mandate that created the International Security and Assistance Force for Afghanistan (ISAF).
The initial ISAF mandate was to promote the stabilization of Afghanistan through securing the capital city of Kabul and then, by extension, other major cities. The primary mission of ISAF was to be viewed as the symbol of the International Community’s serious commitment to restore Afghanistan’s long-lost stability. The UN mandate and the multi-national aspect of it gave ISAF a credibility that most Afghans respected and welcomed. But lately, ISAF has turned into an all NATO dominated force expanding its role nationwide and blurring the line between offensive military operations led or instigated by the Operation Enduring Freedom coalition - led by the US – and the ones led under the ISAF banner proper. This intentional confusion is a disservice to ISAF whose purpose and mission at its inception did not entirely coincide with the agenda of the Bush Administration in Afghanistan and was supposed to be more UN-oriented than US-oriented.
Stable Political System
For Afghanistan to move forward, it requires stability. Afghans and the outside world need to equally have the certitude that whatever they are undertaking will not be blown apart by yet another outburst of violence or a change of regime. There are essential root causes as to why changes are, more often than not, violent in Afghanistan - and I am only concentrating on the most recent history for the purpose of our discussion here - is that there has never been any real pluralist system that allowed divergent voices to be heard. Forums that allowed real dialogue and free discussion did not exist. In addition, power has been viewed as a personal possession to be used and abused by whoever seizes it, all the while taking advantage of their position to crush or at best restrain their opponents.
If we agree that all Afghans, regardless of gender, creed, social status or ethnicity are primarily Afghans, born from Afghan parents and or in the same land that entitles them with rights and duties as citizens, therefore they should all be entitled to have equal rights to partake in the construction of their common destiny as a nation.
Many express in words generous and all-inclusive ideas, but in effect, intolerance exists - although one could argue that this is not an Afghan specificity and not-so-tolerant views can be witnessed in other political arenas around the globe - but what has been an Afghan particularity – although it’s not entirely specific to Afghanistan in this case either, since a few other countries suffer from the same kind of illness – is that more often than not, in absence of a working political system and the culture to abide by it, Afghans are resorting to violence to resolve their divergent views on the direction their country should take. Educating a class of citizens and politicians to accept a pluralistic political system takes time and, as in many things, it starts in school.
Afghanistan has gone through no less than eight ‘new’ Constitutions since King Amanullah helped create the first one in 1923. This by itself signals that none of them were good enough or that there wasn’t enough consultation before, enough education after or that they simply were theoretical pieces that were never really implemented. The last and latest constitutional avatar instituted under American influence does not escape that rule: it is an ersatz of several outside models - badly mimicked, it must be said - and local elements that have added up to create a non functional oddity whose only purpose is for the Americans to show the world that they’ve ‘successfully’ brought democracy to Afghanistan, while engineering a lame political system that would rest on one key personality: the President - i.e. Hamed Karzai, i.e. Washington’s man in Kabul.
Unfortunately for Washington kingmakers, Afghanistan’s short but prolific Constitution-making history shows that ‘circumstantial’ Constitutions last even less than the other ones.
The making of a Constitution is the obvious choice to create a legal frame, a charter of rights and duties for the citizen as well as for the State. To ensure that it is respected and lasts long enough to become a well accepted political and legal frame, the inceptors need to see broader and further, and those-in-power who would be commissioning the exercise should be sincere and not just looking for a cape tailored to their dimensions – therefore circumstantial, as opposed to aspiring to be perennial. I would leave it to the constitutional law specialists and Historians, but it appears to me that, in retrospect, the only two Afghan Constitutions that bore some of those qualities were the ones created under Amanullah and under Zaher-Shah - although they certainly were not without flaws.
Since 1978, Afghanistan has gone through successive regimes, some highly oppressive – Communists, Taliban – and others chaotic – Mujahideen and the present one. They all have failed for different reasons. It’s fair to say that in the past twenty-eight years, and if we were to go a little further back, to 1964, to enlarge our scope to the last four decades or so, we can see that, in a historically short amount of time, Afghanistan has experienced almost every kind of regime that one could think of. In fact, we can say that Afghanistan has constituted a laboratory for political experiments:
1964-1973: Constitutional Monarchy, mildly pluralist;
1973-1978: Progressivist Republic, one-party rule;
1978-1992: Communist, Soviet-backed, totalitarian, one-party rule;
1992-1996: Muslim Brotherhood, fundamentalist, mildly pluralist;
1996-2001: Theocratic, totalitarian, one-party rule;
2001 – Present: Unknown, US-backed, pluralist.
That constitutes a lot of radical changes in so little time for a country where more than 80% of the population is illiterate and ranks among the poorest in the world. Afghanistan doesn’t need any more experimentation. It needs long-lasting stability to stand on its feet and grow to be able to protect, feed, educate and nurture its people. If Afghanistan wants to exit the pernicious circle of foreign interferences, its people need not to starve; otherwise, in a devastated economy, foreign money with attached strings will be too sweet to resist.
Disparities & Corruption
Serving personal interest versus public interest is another major issue. Afghanistan, before the wars, as poor a country as it was, was not known to have the worst case of bribery-driven Government services. There was a sense of duty that was observed by most civil servants. Working in the public sector – the main employer in the country – was viewed as an honor and a privilege. That doesn’t mean that there was no corruption. Of course, there was corruption and, of course, there was abuse, but they never reached the kind of summit they have reached today, where Government employees from the bottom to the top and across, including in the judicial system, are all asking for money in broad daylight to perform the smallest of their duties.
Whereas it is quite easy to blame them from a moral standpoint - and judicial, too, because taking bribe is a punishable crime - but the truth of the matter is that in the chaotic system created by the massive presence of foreign troops, international organizations, NGOs, US-sponsored activities and returning Afghans have created inequalities never witnessed before in such magnitude. Between the salary earned by a civil servant at mi-level echelon and the one ‘sponsored’ by some foreign countries and given to some of the ‘returning’ Cabinet ministers, the scale may be one to one hundred or more! In view of such disparities and the flow of foreign aid and foreign political money, whereas there is no confidence in the future, who can blame them to try to get what they see as their ‘fair share’ of the ‘reconstruction/stabilization’ windfall that they can’t get otherwise?
Drug barons, former Mujaheddin commanders, politicians and all others on US payroll in the ‘war on terror’ exhibit signs of affluence that only highlight, in comparison, the extreme poverty of the majority of the Afghan society, where the distinction is now between those who gravitate around the dollar economy – the haves - and those who do it around the local currency – the have-nots. Disparities are so blatant that it creates a sense of disenfranchisement and pushes more and more people into the ranks of the dissatisfied, which are then more susceptible to join armed opposition groups or at least be sympathetic to them.
Balancing Foreign Influence
It is obvious to say that we live in a global world where individuals, goods and ideas travel fast. Sharing knowledge and information has never been easier and yet not everyone has access to them. Ideas circulate through the waves and through the Internet at lightning speed and the old isolationist concepts do not have much room in this world. The idea for a country such as Afghanistan is to break away from the isolation it was compelled to by decades of unrest and participate in the free flow of knowledge and information in the global world. While achieving such a noble goal is necessary, Afghanistan, being in a situation of extreme weakness, is threatened at the core of its cultural identity. With a population largely illiterate and a weak and insufficient cultural production, it is prone to be submerged by overwhelmingly stronger cultural producers such as Iran, Pakistan, India or Uzbekistan, regionally, and globally by such powerhouses as the United States, especially now that Washington’s military, political and financial influences in Afghanistan are unparalleled.
Through various ways and means Afghanistan’s cultural identity is being reshaped, starting with the schools for which textbooks are being created and printed abroad without any real supervision; television and radio networks, such as Ashna (a.k.a. Voice of America) and the BBC, have gone local, broadcasting hours of daily programming throughout the landscape in Persian and Pashto. While culture is not inert by nature and cross-cultural influences throughout history have existed and are enriching, Afghanistan could and would welcome and digest them aptly, without affecting its profound nature, had it an able body.
Afghanistan’s educational system, with its good and bad aspects, before the turmoil of the last three decades, had reached a certain ‘cruising’ level, whereby it was able to produce an education of good standard, considering its economic limitations. Steady growth was noticeable and using foreign cooperation was part of the picture since the 1920s, when King Amanullah started the trend. Brits, Russians, Americans, French and Germans were used to improve educational standards.
There is no perfect system, but I think that, considering the circumstances, pre-1978 Afghan Governments were able to strike a good balance between internal resources, planned directions and exterior assistance through pedagogic cooperation. The issue today is that what was then ‘cooperation’ today has become ‘substitution;’ what was thought as the right balance between ‘interior’ and ‘foreign,’ with the future and the cultural identity of the country in mind, is replaced by ‘everything-goes-as-long-as-it-comes-with-dollars.’
Open but Sovereign
Using the example of King Amanullah (1919-1929) is very relevant in this discussion. He was a man who fought the third Anglo-Afghan war at his ascension to the throne and asserted himself ferociously against the interference of any power in the affairs of his kingdom, while opening the doors to foreign cooperation in the fields of education, archeology and the start of an industrialization process. He knew that his country needed outside help to overcome the technological gap and was willing to use Europe’s know-how to do so. Despite the fact that European powers were at the height of their colonial expansion and didn’t think much of small countries such as Afghanistan, he was not ready to do it at any cost. In his view, the relationship had to be established between sovereign States, on equal footing.
A memo, written during the Afghan King’s visit to Europe, where someone assigned to him commented that the Afghan Sovereign insulted European Powers every time he donated 10,000 of the local currency (gold standard) to the poor of each of the countries he visited, illustrates quite well, although from an anecdotal angle, how the Afghan King, who had defeated the British in 1919, conceived his role and his responsibilities as the ruler of a sovereign State.
During his visit, the Emir purchased weapons and industrial machines and was eager to find ways to bridge the technological gap his country was suffering from decades and perhaps centuries of isolation due mostly to the fear of being engulfed by either of the marching colonial powers. Whatever the outcome of his reign may have been and no matter how much the British played a significant role in favoring his downfall, the real legacy of Amanullah is that Afghanistan must stand strong on its feet to be able to welcome, on an equal footing, foreign cooperation for the purpose of improving his countrymen’s lot.
Amanullah’s thinking and behavior were the opposite of today’s situation, where the head of the State has been ‘appointed’ and then ‘anointed’ by the US, his Praetorian guard is on US payroll and his struggle against those opposing him is fought by foreign armies. When Amanullah was chased from Kabul by the Saqqawi rebellion in 1929, he refused the offer by one of his close associates to enlist the help of Russian troops to come to their rescue and march from the Northern border southward to Kabul. He had the decency and a sense of moral rectitude that prevented him form using foreign troops to crush a rebellion that had spread like bushfire and refused to shed the blood of his subjects for the sake of his own power.
A few decades later, Mohammad Daoud became another example of a nationalist statesman who wanted better living standards and access to health and education for his people. During his two tenures at the helm of the ship, Daoud favored international collaboration while passionately defending the independence and sovereign position of his country on the international scene. He positioned Afghanistan on the post-WWII emerging international scene and made his country a founding member of the Non-Aligned movement in Bandoeng. In Daoud’s mind, being non-aligned and pro-Third World was not incompatible with seeking international assistance from the two rival blocks in order to alleviate his country’s burden and modernize it. His deep attachment to the non-alignment credo and his unfaltering commitment to the principle that his country’s Government must remain sovereign played a significant role in the deterioration of his relations with Brezhnev’s USSR in the mid-1970s and eventually led to his downfall by the Soviet-backed coup of 1978.
Sovereignty and independence have a price and Afghans have often paid with their lives to defend them. But for the last three decades, the thinking and understanding that some Afghans have had of their country and of the principles of sovereignty and independence has been radically different. The views of that new breed of politicians and leaders has been ‘internationalist,’ trans-border. They believe that ideologies are stronger than the ties created by a common culture and by living on the same ancestral land.
The Communists (1978-1992), for example, used their Soviet mentors and other Eastern Block comrades to kill more than 10% of the Afghan population, simply because they were unwilling to follow the Marxist-Leninist ‘revolutionary’ path. Afghan Communist regime leaders relied on Soviet occupation forces for their survival. It is fair to say that their tenure in power was the most brutal and oppressive Afghanistan had known in a long while and triggered all kind of reactions, counter-reactions and side-effects that are still being vividly felt.
During the civil war that took place under the Mujaheddin rule (1992-1996), ideological, linguistic and regional factors threw Afghanistan in yet another period of chaos. The former Mujaheddin groups, who had gotten used to being financed and armed by outside sources with coinciding agendas during the war of resistance against the occupation of their country, did not lose the habit and continued to appeal to foreign backers to finance their bid for power in an entirely internal strife. Russians, Iranians, Uzbeks, Indians, Pakistanis, Turkmen - to name only a few - were all engaged in backing one or multiple actors on the Afghan civil war scene. The 1992-1996 fights destroyed what had escaped from the Soviet war machine and damaged the credit earned by the Mujaheddin when they were opposing the Soviet occupation as ‘freedom fighters.’ Total chaos and anarchy dominated during that period and Afghanistan was divided between fiefdoms controlled by warlords.
To the followers of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, as it was the case for most of the Afghan radical Mujaheddin parties, the notion of borders is not very relevant. They believe that nations and countries do not matter and only the Umma, the community of all Muslims, matters. In their view, (militant) Muslims are all brothers and should help one another in their struggle against corrupt Governments who ‘sold out’ to the West, and whomever they see as hurdle towards attaining the goal of a unique community of the faithful, under the guidance of one ruler – the Amir-ul-Momeneen. In other words, they were preaching for the revival of ideals of Muslim brotherhood, as it is believed existed under the rule of the first four Caliphs of Islam, all the while and paradoxically living in the modern world and embracing its technical progress.
As for the Taliban (1996-2001), who came with the false promise that they would restore peace and stability by getting rid of those who had ‘betrayed the goals of the Jihad,’ and who were viewed with favor in their blitzkrieg into power - including some who believed that the Taliban were in fact laying the ground for the return of the former Afghan King Zaher-Shah - it was all a smoke screen.
The Taliban were backed from their inception in 1994 by a coalition of interest leaguing Pakistani, Saudi and American intelligence services. They were developed and removed by the same sorcerer’s apprentices who had earlier backed some of the most radical groups among the Afghan Resistance and, chief among them, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose Hezb-e-Islami’s only two accomplishments throughout the war of resistance had been to scare off - including by physical intimidation and murders - intellectuals and technocrats, so that they do not actively join the ranks of the Resistance, and deplete the fighting capability of rival resistance groups - to the ultimate satisfaction of the Soviets… and the Pakistanis.
The Taliban went through two phases: 1996-1998: quest to expand their rule to the whole country and, in parallel, willingness to negotiate with rival groups; 1998-2001: radicalization and growing influence of Ben Laden’s Al-Qaeda; the Taliban regime becomes a theocracy. Throughout their tenure as rulers of Afghanistan (1996-2001), the fundamentalist movement had strong ties with the other side of the Durand Line and an unfortunate ‘pakistanization’ of Afghanistan was in progress. Whether it was Islamic movements such as the one led by Mawlana Sami-ul-Haq or components of the more traditional Pakistani militaro-political system, links between the Taliban leadership and Pakistan were obvious. To the Pakistani influence was later added the ‘Arab’ influence through Ben-Laden, who literally bought his way to Mullah Omar with money and flattery by calling on all Muslims to recognize the one-eyed mullah as the Commander of the Faithful (Amir-ul-Momeneen).
The Taliban regime exemplified perhaps the worst case of a repressive Government made up of totally inexperienced and incompetent people, solely driven by a retrograde vision of Islam and absolutely unaware and scornful of what a State is and how it ought to be run, as well as being totally ignorant of their own history.
Honest Government, New Leadership
The point being that all those groups that have ruled Afghanistan since 1978, including the present Karzai Government, have been sponsored by outside money and influence and have owed their access to power as well their survival to non-Afghan allies, whose ambitions and agendas seldom coincide with Afghanistan’s best interest. Since 1978, several generations of politicians and leaders or aspiring leaders have emerged in Afghanistan’s political scene and, unfortunately, the majority of them do not have an idea what sovereignty means and how it applies to the conduct of the country’s affairs.
It’s now time to re-educate - or simply to educate - today’s politicians, Government employees, military personnel and elected officials on how one can protect the spirit of independence and the rights and privileges of a sovereign State, while evolving in an international and increasingly global environment. It will take some time and some effort, but it can and must be achieved.
My fellow Afghans involved in politics should abide by some simple rules of decency and self-restriction when it comes to the political game so as to serve the interest of their nation over their own. They should never seek outside assistance to eliminate a rival and always play by the rules; because if you ascend by the gun, it is very likely that you will descend by the gun – needless to say that there are countless examples to back this age-old truism.
Afghanistan needs an independent leader with the interest of the nation as a whole in mind, regardless of ethnic, religious, gender or social status as well as a strong sense of duty. Afghanistan being in the situation that it is, the country doesn’t need an armchair leader who goes to sleep every night wondering what he should do to stay in power, but rather one who spends the night sleepless, cogitating what he could do to improve the security, the livelihood, the education, etc. of his fellow Afghans.
The distorted political system brought about by the Constitution of 2004 allows the President – despite historical traditions, the position of Prime minister was eliminated to copy the American system – to pick the members of his Cabinet. Mr. Karzai’s present Government is a reflection of his attempts at satisfying his American backers as well as some of the groups - such as the Northern Alliance – that have some preeminence on the Afghan scene. Whatever Mr. Karzai’s intention may have been, the outcome is nevertheless a failure: more often than not, competence, integrity and vision are missing in his choices - not to mention the narrowness of the Ministers’ field of action due to the Government’s short reach outside Kabul.
What Afghanistan needs, to exit the despairing quagmire it has fallen to, is a Government made up of honest, dedicated individuals with the interest of the nation and that of the future generations in mind. People with courage and vision, not just day-to-day mangers on someone else’s payroll, more worried about their own survival, amassing wealth and appointing their family and clan members in as many positions as possible with a “après moi, le déluge” kind of mentality.
Nepotism and corruption go in pair and when you add incompetence, lack of vision, ignorance of what the notions of sovereignty, independence, public service - with duties and responsibilities, not just privileges - and justice mean, you end up with a disaster of the magnitude now witnessed in Afghanistan: a situation by all accounts unacceptable and discouraging to the Afghans as well as to the International Community involved in Afghanistan.