Letter to President Obama – Discrimination against Pashtuns

From: Dr. Misdaq, Dr. Zirakyar, Dr. Miraki and Dr. Burhani

This letter was sent to: U.S. President Barack Obama; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,; Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry and Ranking Member Richard Lugar; German Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel; British Foreign Minister, William Hague; Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID); Fulbright scholarships; Director General of UNESCO Mrs. Irina Bakova; President of the European Union, Mr. Jerzy Buzak; Ministry of Education India; editors of major U.S. newspapers and other important personalities. German scholarship Institute; Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas, European Union Special Representative in Afghanistan and Head of the EU Delegation to Afghanistan, This campaign will continue until this injustice is stopped.

Pashtuns are the founders of modern Afghanistan and are the main group, which has been defending the country over the past two and half Centuries. It is unfortunate that through misinformation and internal ethnic jealousy they are discriminated against both from within and from without. Pashtuns make up 62 per cent of Afghanistan’s population (see Wak Foundation, The Ethnic Composition of Afghanistan 1998; Dr. Misdaq, Political Frailty and External Interference, 2006) and yet they are treated like outcasts by the neighboring countries of Pakistan and Iran and also, after the fall of Taliban, by NATO and Coalition Forces. Over the border in Pakistan, Pashtuns make 13 per cent of the 180 million population of Pakistan (not counting the autonomous FATA tribal region). And yet this population of about 50 million has been treated as if they are all Al-Qaeda or Taliban; however, nothing could be further from the truth. Right now, millions in Pakistan are rising in opposition to Taliban in Swat and in FATA regions. It is worth mentioning that not one educated Afghan Pashtun went to serve in the Taliban government that was in Power for six years. However, thousands of Pashtun women, children and elderly, (Prof. Marc W. Harold, University of New Hampshire) who had nothing to do with any resistance group (s) have been bombed by the coalition forces in Afghanistan in the name of terrorism. Similarly thousands were made refugees and their houses destroyed in Pakistan under the pretext of being Taliban.

The repeated bombings of houses and villages in Kandahar, Farah, south and east of Afghanistan killing women and children have been abhorrent not just to the Afghans but for people around the world. Professor Seddieq Noorzoy encapsulated this revulsion in his article in WWW.M.E.I.EDU.COM in December 2009, highlighting the murder of Pashtun children between the ages of one year and 16 years. The source of the present war on Afghanistan goes back to Taliban turning away from the American Oil Consortium UNOCAL in favour of the better terms offered by Bridas an oil and gas company of Argentina to pipeline Central Asian oil and gas through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean.

At an UN-sponsored conference on Afghanistan (Berlin, Germany, July 2001) U.S. officials advised Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik that “we will attack Afghanistan before snow falls in October”. According to Bruce G. Richardson, author of two books on Afghanistan, Naik’s “impression was that the U.S. sought regime change [in Afghanistan] to advance the UNOCAL pipeline project.” The American journalist, Richardson points to a former CIA officer, Christine Rocca, who “told Taliban official when the negotiations in favor of the US-led consortium were faltering that ‘you either accept our offer of gold or we will bury you in a carpet of bombs’.” Also, “U.S. ‘Planned Attack on Taliban”, /BBC News, World: South Asia, (Tuesday, 18 September 2001, 11:27 GMT/U.K. Qtd. in Zirakyar, Strategic Perspectives on Afghanistan, May 2010).
This was also broadcast by CNN. The Guardian newspapers also published the interview.

Another similarly serious discrimination against Pashtuns is practiced by the Northern Alliance which has monopolized important ministries and governorships and Afghan embassies posts abroad.
In the past nine years the war has continued in the Pashtun areas. Limited numbers of schools are open to students in these war-stricken provinces; nonetheless, despite the insurmountable difficulties, the students have continued their schooling. However, in Kabul, fewer and fewer of them have been allowed to pursue their education at higher level for example:

Last year from the four Pashtun provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Orezgan and Helmand only 727 students were allowed to pass the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education Exam while at the same time from the Shiat Hazara province alone 1056, from the under populated Badakhshan province 2305 and from the much smaller province of Juzjan 943 students “passed” the university entrance examination.

Students in these war-zones have been taking their life in their hands to attending schools. Yet instead of giving them priority to take advantage of scholarships offered by friendly countries, they are discriminated against. The two ministries of Foreign Affairs & Higher Education have vowed not to allow any Pashtun to go abroad for higher education, Instead less qualified students from the 9 per cent Shiat Hazara and 12.5 Tajiks (see Wak Foundation and Misdaq above) are the one taking all the scholarships that are offered by India, Russia, Iran, Egypt and even US and UK. Dr. Miraki who comes from a prominent Afghan family went to observe the recent “national election” in Kabul highlights such discrimination:

A group of Pashtun students from Maidan-Wardak province went to the ministry of higher education and sought scholarships abroad. These students were all A grade students with superb academic achievements, however, they were told to go to Quetta (in Pakistan) and get scholarships there. The students told them they are Afghans, why should they go to Pakistan, but the officials laughed and said “may be Mullah Omar can get you some scholarships”.

Another group of students from Kabul that included Pashtuns, Tajik and Hazara went to the ministry of higher education to apply for scholarships. All of the non-Pashtun students received scholarships but even though most of the Pashtuns were more qualified than the minorities they received none.

Another group of Pashtun students from Baghlan province (in central Afghanistan) attempted to come to Kabul to participate in the entrance exam to the University, however, a local Tajik warlord found out about it; the warlord ambushed the students bus all of them were beaten and injured. None of them made it to Kabul.

We are not saying that Pashtuns because they are the majority of the population should be the one getting most of these scholarships; we want an academic merit-based criterion that should be the basis for awarding such scholarships. In no country the majority can be discriminated against for long. Such narrow mindedness will sooner or later have serious repercussions.
Zirakyar with a Ph. D. in Political Science from the Free University of Berlin, Germany, who taught at Afghan, German and American universities, has already spoken against such discrimination:
I want to underscore an important issue: The majority student population of Afghan society which happens to be Pashtuns is not receiving its fair share of the scholarships offered by countries friendly to Afghanistan. This counterproductive policy affects all Pashtuns by category-irrespective of where in Afghanistan they domicile-and it is sabotaging any last hope of the process of peace building and nation building in war-torn Afghanistan. I am concerned that this type of discrimination in education will further create social and political instabilities down the road. As information about the corrupt structures of the system in Afghanistan reveals, a small minority connected to foreign powers gain disproportional chunk of political, military and economic power in the country and in its foreign service. This minority power elite will be moving like hand in the glove of socio-economic and political agenda promoted by foreign ethno-cultural ambitions. This new power structure can impose, with or without foreign support, their will on the majority Pashtuns. For more than 30 years of violence in Afghanistan, the country urgently needs expanding peace-time economy and nation building, not an anti-Pashtun ruling circle and not a classroom for developing an ideology of hatred and intolerance. Researcher Jeannine Spink affiliated with Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, writes: “Teachers continue to teach ethnic hatred and intolerance,” and the textbooks “continue to be highly politicized, promoting social divisions and violence, seemingly unnoticed by the International Community, whose expensive investments fuel rather than restrain this problem.” Also, I want to highlight another issue. The World Factbook (1992) by CIA considerably lowered the statistical significance of Pashtuns. (See Zirakyar, “Pashtun-Bashing in Kite Runner: A Psychological Operation?”, December 9, 2009; and Bruce Richardson, Afghanistan: A Search for Truth., 2008-2009, p. 275). What is the purpose of inflating the population size of non-Pashtun minorities while downgrading the majority Pashtun demographics? This deliberate undertaking by the CIA is indicative of a public relations ploy for a world-wide support for an unjust war, which was given the appearance of a just war: to free the majority (minority non-Pashtuns) from the so-called oppression of the minority (majority Pashtuns).
We welcome anyone to look at these scholarship figures over the past six years witch represents an utter injustice in rendering scholarship awards solely on the basis of ethnic and linguistic affiliations. Thereby, depriving Pashtun students from higher education, this injustice is practiced by the narrow minded officials of Northern Alliance in the above ministers. For each Pashtuns of exceptional ability, 80-90 non-Pashtuns have been sent overseas on these scholarships.

Incidentally, the majority of these non-Pashtuns are academically unprepared compared to the small number of Pashtuns who make it to the Kabul University entrance examination.

For example, India offered 2500 scholarships for the year 2006-7 in different fields including 50 in engineering. To date no one has graduated from the engineering faculties in India. The reason is that these students are not qualified to be selected for such a demanding and technical field. They neither speak the level of English required for these subjects nor are equipped with the level of sophistication in mathematics, trigonometry and physics that are necessary for an engineering degree. Some of these students had come back to Kabul while others are shifting from one subject to another in India over the past four years. Prof. Khaleq Rashid, education attaché at Afghan embassy in Delhi says that unqualified students are sent to India while such selection on narrow ethnic politics deprive other well qualified students to take advantage of such opportunities. The Indian Education establishment also sent a delegation to Kabul asking for better qualified students to be sent as the quota of Afghan students remains unused.

We are asking you to consider the long term implication of such discrimination and exert your influence over the Karzai Government that their shortsightedness is not in the interest of Afghanistan. Pashtuns are the founders and defenders of the state. They will not tolerate being ruled by the minorities whether or not being discriminated for Higher Education. However, by such blatant discrimination the Karzai government and its northern alliance supporters are seeding the seeds of future conflicts. The question is what will the present ruling clique do when they no longer have the support of 150,000 foreign troops? The history of Afghanistan is full of resistance to foreign imposed and minority control regimes. The international community should treat everyone in Afghanistan from a standpoint of equality and fairness. Such discrimination against the future leaders and generation should be stopped at once. All scholarship giving establishment have to make sure that their aid and assistance to the people of Afghanistan is not abused.

Nabi Misdaq, B.Sc. (LSE) London University, PhD (Sussex University) UK
Author and Journalist.
Rahmat Rabi Zirakyar, PhD in Political Science, Free University of Berlin,
Independent Scholar.
Mohammad Daud Miraki, 2 MAs and PhD, Chicago University
Author and Academic.
Ubidullah Burhani, PhD, University of Tunis,
Academic and Analyst of Arab Affairs.

The Danger Of Marginalizing Afghanistan’s Pashtuns

Here is another article confirming what I’ve been seeing and writing on this blog regarding the marginalization of Afghans in Afghanistan by minority groups such as Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.
By Tanya Goudsouzian, Helena Malikyar
“If you think you are leading and no one is following you, then you are only taking a walk,” cautions an old Afghan proverb. Afghan politicians across the spectrum continued treading the path of corruption during September’s parliamentary polls, which began with the Independent Elections Commission’s (IEC) closure of more than 1,000 polling stations and ended with the same electoral body voiding more than 20 percent of the ballots and disqualifying 21 elected officials.


Sadly, fraud and a host of other problems in post-Taliban Afghanistan’s political processes have come to be expected by the international community and the Afghan political elite. While a great number of failed candidates and their supporters have launched protests, little is discussed of the fact that a combination of factors have resulted in a dramatic reduction in the representation of ethnic Pashtuns.

For better or worse, the Pashtuns, who form the largest ethnic group in this vast country, have for centuries held a majority stake in the power structures. Manipulation of the ethnic power balance — more succinctly, the marginalization of the Pashtuns — can potentially carry calamitous consequences, as it is mainly in the so-called Pashtun belt that the insurgency is actively seeking recruits.

Numerous Pashtun politicians have stepped up to express their alarm and condemn what they believe was the IEC’s arbitrary closure of polling stations in predominately Pashtun-inhabited areas, the “unconstitutional” cancellation of more than 20 percent of the ballots, and the “unjust” disqualification of dozens of candidates.

Under Article 57 of the Afghan Election Law, the IEC can quarantine suspected ballot boxes and can only open and verify the votes in the presence of representatives from among the candidates. Instead, the commission unilaterally cancelled 1.3 million ballots. On the basis of this allegedly deliberate oversight, Afghan legal experts claim that the final results have been rendered illegal and illegitimate.

Ironically, the United Nations and EU representatives in Kabul were among the first to approve the parliamentary results and called it a success for Afghan democracy. An even greater irony lies in the fact that the final results are being contested by the government, rather than the opposition. Afghan President Hamid Karzai now finds himself in an awkward position. Though he has managed to insert many of his candidates in the new parliament, he faces the wrath of his fellow Pashtuns and the realization that the opposition has gotten a dangerously high number of their people in as well.

Karzai-appointed Attorney General Mohammad Ishaq Aleko has made noise about the illegitimacy of the polls, claiming that the outcome was “bought and sold” by powerful, well-connected Afghans who keep their money in Dubai.

IEC head Fazl Ahmad Manawi, who had reportedly refused to withhold the final results despite repeated requests from the president’s office, predictably dismissed these accusations. Manawi, an ethnic Tajik from Panjsher — and a follower of former presidential contender Abdullah Abdullah — was appointed to the post as part of a larger deal made following last summer’s presidential elections.

The 2009 electoral fiasco ended with promises and compromises reached between the incumbent and his challenger, notably the replacement of the president’s trusted IEC chief, Azizullah Ludin, by the then seemingly harmless Manawi. The agreement also entailed a stronger role for the Election Complaints Commission (ECC), and the appointment of Ahmad Zia Rifat, a member of Abdullah’s Movement for Change and Hope, as official spokesman and one of five commissioners.

Although it remains to be proven, Manawi’s IEC has been accused in certain quarters of politically motivated closure of polling stations in Pashtun districts under the pretext of “insecurity.” Additionally, the Rifat-led ECC has been accused of unlawfully invalidating tens of thousands of votes cast for Pashtun candidates or for those who were not endorsed by Abdullah’s movement.

The petty shortsightedness of both sides has thus brought the Afghan nation to heightened ethnic tensions and further fragmentation.

Roots Of The Problem

But let us backtrack a little. Karzai’s myopia began as early as 2003, when the then-almost-post-conflict country was deciding on which electoral system to adopt. He insisted on a peculiar version of the Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV), which, simply put, stipulates that candidates cannot represent parties. Moreover, in the absence of reliable censuses and a definitive demarcation of district boundaries, arbitrary seat allocations were given to provinces, instead of districts or electoral constituencies. Both features have contributed to facilitating fraud and rendering outcomes unpredictable.

A case in point is Ghazni Province, which was allocated 11 representatives who have all turned out to be ethnic Hazaras in this round of elections, since polling centers in nine Pashtun districts were deemed “insecure” by the IEC and never opened. Only three votes were found from ballot boxes in the entire Pashtun district of Andar. As a result, Ghazni will most probably be lost to the insurgency, and the rest of the Pashtun-belt will likely share a similar destiny.

Another example is Baghlan Province, where the ECC disqualified ballots cast at 172 polling stations (out of a total of 566), mostly in the “insecure” Pashtun districts. The move significantly affected the list of election winners in Baghlan — only one Pashtun was elected to parliament from this province.

Karzai believed this electoral system would work in his favor, preventing political parties from posing a serious challenge to him. But, he underestimated three crucial factors.

First, the Hazaras, who for centuries have endured being at the bottom of the ethnic food chain, have now emerged as a magnificently organized political mass. Though small in numbers and suffering from a degree of internal discord, they have showcased their mastery in careful calculations for fielding candidates and exploiting every single vote.

Second, the Tajiks within Abdullah’s movement used the same loopholes and methods that the president established for his own benefit. As per their claim, the Movement for Change and Hope has succeeded in sending close to 130 deputies to the House of Representatives, turning their loss in the presidential election of 2009 into a spectacular recovery.

Third, and in stark contrast, the Pashtuns have failed to form a united political front, motivate their constituency, or produce credible leaders who could intelligently articulate their political platform. Being traditionally weak in political organization , the Pashtun cause has not been aided by Afghanistan’s blundering president, who has deliberately tried to keep Pashtun leaders of the unarmed opposition in close check and methodically weaken them by creating divisions among prominent and emerging Pashtun leaders, in a clumsy bid to maintain his own position.

The international community has footed the $147 million cost of this political charade. Beyond words of reproach or condemnation, world leaders now seem to have nothing more to offer the long-suffering Afghan nation, as if it is enough that they bought them an election and now are entitled to disengage at will from Afghanistan’s nation-building process. The US-led NATO states know full well that the Afghan people will ultimately pay a greater price as the country degenerates into ethnic strife. Instead of turning a blind eye to obviously Machiavellian tactics and in some cases, even encouraging ethnic fragmentation, the international community could step in to play a role in restoring faith in the democratic processes.

Pashtuns are not known to react quickly, but when they do, their reaction comes in the manner of Noah’s flood. Note the rise of the Taliban in 1994, which in great part was a reaction to Pashtuns being pushed to the corner and a result of the world abandoning an ethnically fragmented Afghanistan to its neighbors.

The world’s disengagement will once again turn Afghanistan into the “no man’s land” that the early leaders of Al-Qaeda made their headquarters in the mid-1990s. Unless the world is prepared to deal with the deluge that will follow, it must seriously ponder the consequences of disengaging from Afghanistan’s nation-building process. The United States, its Western allies, and Afghan politicians must choose if they truly want to lead or merely stroll down the road to perdition.

Helena Malikyar is an expert on Afghan state-building. Tanya Goudsouzian is a journalist who has covered Afghanistan since 2001. The views expressed in this commentary are the authors’ own, and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.


I, Dr. Rahmat Rabi Zirakyar, received the account below (in the national language of Afghanistan Pashto) on December 12, 2010. From the pain he is expressing in his letter, its author is obviously a Pashtun parliamentarian in Afghanistan. My concern for his safety does not allow me to reveal his name. Dr. Rahmat Rabi Zirakyar, U.S.A. December 13, 2010. zirakyar1234@yahoo.com

Respected….! I wish you long life to help your Afghan brothers in need.

Manawi [Head of the election commission] did what Rabani, Fahim, Abdullah and Qanooni had planed, and he surpassed their predecessor [Ahmad Shah] Massoud. They enjoyed Iranian support on the international level. Before the elections, they manage to control the Ministry of Interior, and they deteriorated the security situation in regions where Pashtuns and the Persian-speaking Afghans live together. Manawi went on tours of those provinces and realigned his plans with Besmellah. Together, they did three things:

  • First, they forged a plan to reduce the number of Pashtuns in the lower house of Parliament, the House of Representatives.
  • Second, they reduced the number of the members of Afghan Social-Democratic Party (Afghan Mellatyans) and of Islamic Party [of Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami].
  • Third, they prepared the groundwork for the hard-core Setamies [Persian-speaking anti-Pashtun elements– usually supported by former Soviet Union/current Russia, as well as Iran].

Despite all the threats and dangers, a number of Pashtuns voted with great courage for their candidates. Shamelessly, votes for those Pashtun candidates in Konduz, Hearat,Balkh, Ghazni and in some other provinces were declared null and void.

Finally through ridiculous complaints, a handful of successful Pashtun candidates were also declared failed. Manawi and his masters want to change the political system in Afghanistan and its Constitution. People like Latin Pedram and Hafiz Mansur were sent to the Parliament. They want federalism. By trying to own two-third seats in the parliament, they would try – in the event of the president’s non-approval – to bring changes in the Constitution and establish federal system in Afghanistan…. They also would attempt – with a two-third majority in the House of Representatives – to introduce “melli sarod” (national anthem) and national terminology in Persian. On December 12, 2010 Manawi openly protested that they will not let these elections to be re-run. He threatened that the dire consequences for doing so will lead to a new rebellion in the country and the responsibility will be on the shoulders of those who make such attempt. It is quite obvious that they have strong support behind them.

Today, the solution to the problem is this one: Election results in some of the places such as Ghazni, Heart, Konduz ,Kabul, Balkh and some other controversial provinces shall be declared null and void, and perhaps members of the previous parliament could continue until grounds are prepared for a re-run of the elections. The country could face dire situation if Pashtuns are ignored and not offered their fair share in the election. This is not a simple but a serious problem which could give rise to the failure [of the mission] of the International Community and could lead to the emergence of even more painful catastrophe in Afghanistan. 

This is the voice of the oppressed Pashtunns. It shall be reflected in the world’s mass media and it is hoped the world listens to it.

In hope of a united and developed Afghanistan!

سلامونه احترامات او نیکی هیلی…سیب! تر ډیره راته ژوندی اوسی تر څود افغانستان او اصیلو افغانانو په درد وخورئ…. معنوی څوک چه د ربانی، فهیم، عبدالله، قانونی او خلیلی په اشاره راڅرخیده هغه څه وکړل کوم چه د دوی سلف مسعود هم نه ووکړی. دوی ته په نړیواله کچه د ایران او روسیی مرسته حاصله وه….
د یو موټی او ودان افغانستان په هیله

Source: AFP
By: Claire Truscott


Corruption and Warlordism: A critical review of Corruption situation in Afghanistan

It seems to be hopeless in Afghanistan these days and all the previous posts by me regarding corruption and mismanagement by the warlords who are in power in the current afghan administration are confirmed by various sources. Below is an interesting article by Abdul Basir Stanikzai that highlights some of the points.

Corruption and Warlordism: A critical review of Corruption situation in Afghanistan

Similar to many South Asian and African Countries, Afghanistan is also a victim of corruption that is believed to be the most challenging and acute problem in addition to drugs and terrorism. It has posed a serious threat to the legitimacy of the state, trust of the public, process of development and democratization, and the effectiveness of foreign aid. The United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan Mr. Kai Eide has highlighted on 28th August 2008 that:

“Corruption in Afghanistan is endemic; it hurts the poorest people disproportionately, pushes people away from the state and undermines our joint efforts to build peace, stability and progress for Afghanistan’s peoples”

In addition, latest survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) in 2006-2007 revealed that more than 50 percent of the household in 13 provinces have paid bribe in the last six months to the government officials to obtain certain services. In addition, other findings by the same source show that majority of the public (41%) perceives the justice sector as the most corrupt followed by security (20%), customs (15%) and municipalities (13%). Similarly, Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International (2005) ranks Afghanistan near the bottom of 150 countries worldwide.

Corruption in Afghanistan was a taboo and untouchable dilemma right until the end of 2003 despite government’s commitment in series of international and national occasions to combat corruption. After the government became signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), it established an Independent Administration of Anti-Corruption (GIAAC) in Dec 2003. GIAAC was mandated to develop a foundation for fight against corruption by establishing regional offices in the country, drafting anti-corruption law and policies, investigating corruption cases in the government institutions and soliciting support from the Police and Attorney General Office to arrest and prosecute corrupt officials.

However, soon after it started its activities and filed cases of embezzlement of millions of US dollars from the national treasury and international aid, GIAAC’s leadership was forced to soften its approach and do not touch warlords and big fishes. The President himself, according to the former head of GIAAC, Mr. Zabihullah Esmati, has intervened and exempted several high level corrupt officials. The exemption of 6 key government officials, through a Presidential Decree, accused for corruption and fraud in the 2003 Haj ceremony is one example of government’s inability to implement law and dismantle safe heavens for corrupt perpetrators.

Similarly, days after the completion of his preliminarily findings of corruption and embezzlement by the prosecutors, the former Education Minister and Speaker of the former Wolasi Jirga Mr. Qanooni got a special exemption from the President to burn out his files in the General Administration against Corruption. Mr. Qanooni was accused for embezzling more than US$30 million in the procurement of furniture for the Ministry of Education and printing new books when he was the minister of education 2002-2003.

In addition, pardoning Marshal Fahim and Younus Qanooni for grabbing the land of innocent civilians in Sherpur of Kabul is another example that encouraged competition among other warlords such as Dostum and Khalili to further surmount national and international funds and construct palaces in the same vicinity.

This deliberate fostering of culture of impunity was based on political compromises as the President did not want to offend warlords and criminals by punishing the members of their syndicates. This approach of the government offered the most conducive medium for corrupt officials and culprits to get protected in the criminal networks and safe havens.

Criminal warlords, human rights violators, kidnappers, and notorious commanders who are currently in the state institutions or have their members of their networks actively working in key government positions further deepened this problem.

International and national experts highlight some subsidiary elements that have caused failure to the fight against corruption such as poor legislations, limited capacities, uncoordinated institutional arrangement, corrupt judiciary and corrupt law enforcement agencies. However, they tend to forget the most fundamental elements which are lack of political will and the presence of notorious warlords in the government machinery. They are the real causes for failure of anti-corruption efforts in the country.

Its roots reaches back to the legacy of the previous so called administration or vacuum of legitimacy as Mr. Venderall, the former European Envoy to Afghanistan, termed it. When the Taliban regime collapsed due to US bombardment, there was a massive delay between the installation of an illegitimate government under Rabani and the Bonn accord and by then more than half of the country got back to the hands of former warlord, criminals and Jehadi commanders. These Warriors came to power and they fostered a culture of lawlessness, looting, corruption, nepotism, racism and land grabbing.

It is true that corruption is a treatable cancer but it requires a firm stand (political determination), committed leadership, strong legislations, public support, and a clear institutional set up. Furthermore, it order to enlist citizens’ support, you need to showcase some examples by punishing the “untouchables” those who have stashed away millions of US dollars during their power and are still involved in organized crimes and criminal activities.

The former Attorney General Mr. Abdul Jabar Sabit was mandated by President Karzai to crack down corrupt officials in the government engine. However, when he would investigate some high level government officials, President Karzai himself would call the Attorney not to touch the mayor of Herat because Hazrat Mujadidi would get upset.

If Warlordism fuels corruption, terrorism, lawlessness, human rights violation and instability in the country then who is nurturing warlordism? The answer is: many of the international partners, coalition forces and donor community.

Empirical evidence shows that more 70 percent of the rented houses in the capital cities belong to former warlords, notorious commanders and factional leaders. The buildings in Sherpur, for instance, which were grabbed by force from the innocent civilians, are mostly possessed by Marshal Fahim, Karim Khalili, Rashid Dostum, Younus Qanooni, , Ahmad Zia Masoud, Baba Jan and other criminals and leased by many private companies, donors, International NGOs and UN projects. These international partners have rented tens of expensive vehicles owned by these criminal gangs and pay thousands of US dollars to their owners.

Similarly, the United States military base in Bagram Airport have contracted out the supply of their food commodities and equipments to a notorious and ill-famous commander and head of northern militia General Baba Jan and so many other examples.

“We wanted to arrest a really terrible warlord, but we couldn’t do it because he is being protected by a particular country. We found out that he was being paid $30,000 a month to stay on his good side. They even used his soldiers as guards …” According to Der Spiegel he was indirectly referring to the German Forces in Badakhsan supporting Commander Nasir Mohammed.

President Karzai expressed his concerns over coalition forces’ ties with Warlords while interviewing to Der Spiegel, a German Based News Magazine, on 5th February 2008.

Corruption has become part of a complex triad (corruption, opium economy and terrorism) where warlords, insurgents, factional leaders, corrupt officials and drug dealers are contributing to its sustenance. This has resulted into unstable and unpredictable situation and ultimately to poverty and unemployment. Evidence shows that Chiefs of Police and key officials in the Ministry of Interior including the former Minister Mr. Zarar Muqbil and the Deputy Minister Mr. Daoud are deeply involved in the drug trafficking in return for huge bulk of money from the drug mafia.

Police receives 100 times more bribe to facilitate the trafficking than his/her government salary; hence, diverting his moral responsibilities of providing security and safety to the people.

The Afghanistan National Development Strategy (2008) analyzes that such a culture of lawlessness and immunity before rule of law and justice have resulted into a situation where foreign and domestic investors hardly put their money into this ravaged country which ultimately fosters poverty, unemployment and reduced economic growth.

The complex triad of Corruption, Terrorism and Opium Industry.
The complex triad of Corruption, Terrorism and Opium Industry

With such a widespread presence in the government including parliament, cabinet, judiciary and other key official positions, warlords stand united against the interest of the Afghan people by sabotaging peace and security and fostering a culture of lawlessness. They have ensured their safety through protected networks, and safe heavens in the capital as well as in the provinces. Hence in order to dismantle these syndicates and protected network, the following measures are commendable to be taken into account.

1. To be more realistic, it is only a phobia that warlords might have power to destabilize the normal situation if they were to be punished. But the truth is that the public is not behind them, they rule by gun and money so if the international community truly and courageously joins hands with the Afghan government and seize both of them, they can simply get rid of these notorious elements.

2. In addition, a simple remedy to such anarchy would be to block the routes of supply of these criminal gangs by cancelling contracts, pulling out of their homes, and terminating the rental of their vehicles.

3. It is crucial to revitalize efforts for the implementation of Transitional Justice that ban and delegitimize the participation of warlords in the political process.

4. No more compromises as it is the only poisonous measure contributing to the increase of culture of impunity and increase violence.

5. Speed up the implementation of Disarming Programme(DIAG) while soliciting strong support from the coalition forces against every single warlord even those who are currently on the government posts.

6. The international community could contribute in the seizure of their money and property outside and inside the country.

Unless the international community and the Afghan government truthfully take the issue of warlordism seriously, they would have little chance of bringing peace and security or winning the war against terror and insurgency as warlordism and terrorism are indivisible concepts which are feeding each other.

By: Abdul Basir Stanikzai