A Commentary by Farhad Arian
This commentary aims to analyze the political situation of Afghanistan in relation to the crisis caused by the outcomes of the 18 September Afghan Parliamentary Election. The commentary particularly evaluates ongoing political challenges of Afghanistan from a different analytical point of view from that of the article of Carlotta Gall and Ruhullah Khapalwak.
Carlotta Gall and Ruhullah Khapalwak in the article “An Election Gone Wrong Fuels Tension in Kabul” published by the New York Times on 29 December 2010 mainly focus on the negative outcomes of the 18 September Afghan parliamentary election. In particular, Gall & Khapalwak argue that the outcomes of the parliamentary election not only fuel the Taliban-led insurgency across the country, but also contribute to serious ethnic tensions in Afghanistan.
Firstly, Gall & Khapalwak claim that the results of the parliamentary election affect stability of the country to further fuel the insurgency. The authors, however, fail to critically evaluate why and how the outcomes of the election contribute to the increase of the Taliban-led insurgency across Afghanistan. The authors not only fail to present a reliable and balanced analysis describing the potential reasons behind the insurgency, but also ignore the facts that in the last 9 years neither Afghan political processes nor presidential or parliamentary elections have led to the insurgency and instability. Instead, the reason behind the success of the insurgency in Afghanistan is the continuous support of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from the Taliban and other insurgent groups in the post-2001 period. Thus, the outc omes of the 18 September parliamentary election will no longer relate to the success of insurgency because for the Taliban and other insurgents the entire post-9/11 established political administration of Afghanistan is illegitimate.
Secondly, while the authors argue that the outcomes of the parliamentary election affect stability in Afghanistan, they fail to critically evaluate the failure of the government of Afghanistan in effectively fighting corruption and providing the people of Afghanistan with good governance. In particular, in the post-Taliban era, the failure of the Afghan government in providing people with good governance and dealing with the serious challenge of corruption has contributed to the dissatisfaction of Afghan people. As such, dissatisfaction of the people of Afghanistan especially southern and eastern Pashtuns from the government has provided the Taliban and other insurgent groups with an exceptional opportunity to recruit disappointed people to further significantly threat stability of the country. Therefore, the stability in Afghanistan i s no longer dependent on the results of the parliamentary election; however, the lack of ability of the government of Afghanistan in successfully responding to the challenges of corruption and weak governance along with the continuous support of the insurgent groups by the ISI has fueled the insurgency and would further pave the way for the increase of the insurgency in forthcoming years.
Thirdly, Gall & Khapalwak point out that the decrease of Pashtun members in the new Afghan parliament causes serious ethnic tensions in Afghanistan. The authors, however, fail to support their argument with reliable viewpoints of independent Afghan and international experts rather than a number of losing candidates in the parliamentary election. Ironically, the authors, with reference to opinions of a number of losing candidates, draw a conclusion that the decrease of Pashtun parliamentarians contributes to the ethnic strife to further leads to civil war in Afghanistan. However, the authors again ignore the fact the Afghan election laws have no provision to provide each ethnic group with a share of power in the parliament or governmental institutions. Instead, the share of each ethnic group in the parliament is based on the number of seats they have won in the election; hence, the share of ethnic representation in the Afghan parliament is entirely dependent on the well performance of candidates in the votes.
For example, the share of ethnic Pashtun representation neither in the Parliament of 2005 nor in the new parliament is exactly the same as its estimated percentage of population which makes up 40 to 42% of the population of Afghanistan. In particular, in the parliament of 2005 there were 48% Pashtun members, while the outcomes of the new parliamentary election indicate that Pashtun members account for 35–38% of the parliamentarians. As a result, the outcomes of the parliamentary election will no longer contribute to ethnic tensions because the election laws of Afghanistan have made clear the conditions for the representation of each ethnic group in the parliament, although no share of ethnic representation in the parliament is recognized. &nb sp;
Finally, the authors, with reference to the claims of a number of tribes, point out that the lack of representation of some Pashtun tribes further undermine security situation in Afghanistan. While the authors argue that the lack of representation of some Pashtun tribes threats stability in Afghanistan, they fail to present a balanced analysis because there are various Afghan minor ethnic groups such as Baloch, Pashai, Qizilbash, Pamiri and Kyrgyz who have not been able to have a share of representation in the Afghan parliament. As such, no tribe whether Pashtun or non-Pashtun is authorized to threat the stability of the country to further support the insurgency due to their lack of representation in the parliament. As a result, there are a variety of ways rather than representation in the parliament through which the Afghan government can easily win the hearts of Pashtun tribes as well as other ethnic groups of Afghanistan.
January 4, 2010
Farhad Arian is a former official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. He is currently undertaking a Master of Arts in International Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU).
The link below is the article of Carlotta Gall and Ruhullah Khapalwak.