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A Federal System of Government is Not Suitable for Afghanistan

Thought I would share a nice article I found:

Afghanistan has had nearly all forms of governments for the past several decades from a kingdom, to a republic, to communist dictatorship, to mujahideen coalition, to an Islamic centralist, and to more or less another republic form of government lately. These governments have had various degrees of successes and failures in meeting the needs of good governance in Afghanistan. This field is actually in need of extensive research to find out the actual areas of successes and failures by each form of government. That would be useful, per se, but, it would be good to find out what worked well and what did not for the country. For example, it would be good to find out which form of government had the most support among the people and the reasons for the support. However, all these forms of government have had one structure in common, viz., the center of all decisions for running the affairs of Afghanistan was Kabul, and not the provinces each going its own way. For if that were the case the country would have experienced total disintegration long ago. When a central government is explained on paper as ‘strong’, but, is in fact is weak and corrupt, then clearly some of the issues directed at any ineffective government gains more weight. The present regime in Kabul is afflicted with such a description more due to the character of the individuals serving in it than the structure of the government per se.

Afghanistan is mostly rural with 80% of the population living in perhaps more than 25,000 villages. Both of these are estimates, no comprehensive census has appeared since the one released in 1979. The people are conservative Muslims with not only strong believes in Islam ( Sunni or Shia) , but, in the traditional cultural values of the society. It is a fact of history that two opposing superpowers with different political, ideological and economic systems invaded Afghanistan, each trying to transform this mostly rural society in its own image using every weapon in their arsenals killing tens of thousands of Afghans and finally failing after a decade of fighting. The transformation of Afghanistan actually went inward with stronger appeals to Islamic principles and traditional values. At the same time, each superpower will have left many problems due to their imposed wars and occupation first in the form of pathetic communists who have come back to Kabul to try their return to power through elections if they can find support among those who might not know their crimes, and the second set of problems consisting of dishonest millionaires with villas in Dubai or several houses in several countries gained through their criminal activities brought by the second invasion. The mentioning of these is important in the political make of Afghanistan, especially when uninformed foreign politicians middle in the affairs of the country. These are but a few of the problems Afghanistan inherited from the invasions. However, the Afghan society at large has survived and will do what it has done through several millennia being close to their Creator and to the land they cherish. Afghanistan needs a strong central government that functions under Islamic laws ( Shariat) and also draws from common domestic and international laws that are not in conflict with Islamic laws and the requirements for a just and growing society ; for the future belongs to the Muslim youth of Afghanistan who make up more than fifty percent of the society.

Yet, in all these decades the total concentration of all decisions in the capitol Kabul if carried out without the knowledge of the needs and wishes of the people in different areas of Afghanistan has had its own drawbacks, especially during the planning eras. This is why I have argued since a review of the First Seven Year Plan published in Afghanistan Journal, Graz, Austria in 1979 that planners need to obtain information both about the needs and the potential resources available throughout the country to formulate sensible plans for development. The same argument was also applied for post –war reconstruction of Afghanistan which was first discussed in a seminar paper in 1989 presented at the Operation Salam meeting (UN organized affair) during May 1989 in Geneva in the post Soviet troop withdrawal of February 1989. One of the reasons for the failure of reconstruction in Afghanistan in the post US led invasion of 2001 is that the installed regime did not have a team to carry out comprehensive survey for the reconstruction requirements before discussing funding. The US led coalition, including the major world institutions such as the World Bank, UNDP, IMF and others also failed in this respect. Many have argued that all the talk about post war reconstruction beginning with George Bush during the 2001-2002 years was simply to gain the support of the Afghan people for the invasion and occupation, and they were not intended to be carry out at any rate. The onus falls on the invading governments and the above institutions proving that they really meant it, but, there were x, y and z obstacles as reasons for failure. When we see small children barely covered from the cold of the winter living in plastic tents right in Kabul while the groups of invading personnel come and go in Kabul and the UN and other institutions gather at conferences in different parts of the world and even have the gumption to talk about their successes in Afghanistan, the only thing that can cross one’s mind is to ask what planet do they come from?

Rejecting Federalism in Afghanistan

A successful system of governance under a federal structure requires the existence of a fully integrated society and economy in order to be stable and grow under this type of structure without creating distortions and injustice to any segment of a country and its society. Some American lawmakers and Afghan warlords have argued that the federal system of governance practiced in the US can be applied in Afghanistan. For Afghanistan, the US is not a good example of a federal system if one looks at the origins of the concept from the beginning and the reasons for its functioning. The US established a federal structure of government for two basic reasons: opposition to the King of England and the prevailing system from which the 13 colonies wanted to separate and did so in 1776 by the Declaration of Independence and the fact that some states were practicing slavery and others were opposed to slavery. Thus, the concept of providing a framework for legislating federal laws by the central government and laws passed by state legislations and city councils became the evolving structure which continues to define the boundaries of who can do what to run the affairs of the country and the society. What we observe in the United States of America for the service to the people and the institutions that people have built and for the functioning of the economy are the presence of well integrated means of national mobility for all entities through the transportation and communication systems, and through the financial institutions. People, businesses , organizations, move without obstacles from laws passed by each levels of government. There are clear delineations of authority and legislation in the US. For example, all international affairs, treaties, declaration of wars and peace, trade agreements, etc. belong to the authority of the federal government. The states can pass their own laws such as the law California has passed on pollution which is more strict than the federal law. The tassel between federal and states’ rights to legislate on the same issues has been on going and in fact the Civil War was fought on the issue of slavery for this reason. The federal systems works well in the US partly because aside from the Civil War of 1860-1864 the issues have been resolved over centuries and decades; although many times the issue of states’ rights continue to be raised in the areas of redistricting, civil rights, healthcare and many other areas. There is much common among all 50 states than uncommon and there is much common between the State Assemblies and the Congress. The court system works well throughout the country applying laws because of federal laws which supersede state laws.

Now, which one of these conditions is comparable with what exists in Afghanistan? For a country under occupation for more than a decade by the armies from 50 countries, one that has been put under the grips of criminal warlords and the worst of the society brought back by the foreign occupation forces to support their presence especially in the north and central areas of the country and one that has gone through more than three decades of invasions and civil wars when its society has been hugely dislocated and its economy has seen large scale destruction and disintegration and when there are still 3.5 million refugees in the neighboring countries, to propose a federal system of government is not only unsuitable, but, reflects ignorance of the facts. The deep seated scars among the people and the economy cannot be healed by a fractured and dysfunction federal system under the above kinds of conditions to bring peace, reconciliation and harmony in the performance of the functions of governance and the economy. Those who proposed such a system at a conference in Berlin on January 8, 2012 at the gathering of several members of the US House of Representatives and a handful of Afghans who are well known for their misdeeds and crimes among the Afghan people simply ignored the requirements of a federal system and the prevailing facts on the ground in Afghanistan. 
The conference in Berlin was entitled: “ Members of the US House of Representatives in Dialogue with Leaders From Northern, Western and Central Afghanistan”. This gathering indirectly duplicated the failed attempt of the past to divide Afghanistan in to north-south, which was tried in collaboration with the Russians during the war against the Soviet occupation under the code name “Operation Koskad”. Some of the same Afghans or their close associates were involved in that scheme. The scheme to separate several provinces in northern Afghanistan from the rest of the country fortunately failed. There is no doubt that the Afghan people will strongly reject any such attempts from any source, seeing them as acts by enemies of Afghanistan and the Afghan people. Let those who dream of a “new map of the Middle East-cum-Central Asia” be forewarned that the reaction of the Afghan people will be swift and strong against such schemes. The Afghan people want a united Afghanistan under their own control.

The divisive policy supported by several House Representatives was headed by Dana Rohrabacher of California, joined by Loretta Sanchez, California, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Steve King of Iowa. Their final declaration was also signed by Ahmad Zia Massoud, Abdul Rashind Dostum, Mohammad Mohaqiq and Amrullah Saleh along with above these Representatives. There has been much discussion about this event and about the backgrounds of the individual Afghans on the Afghan TV media. Most Afghans consider such individuals as part of the problems plaguing Afghanistan for the past three decades. The Afghan Human Rights Commission has a records of the abuses of ordinary Afghans by these and other warlords that reportedly also supported a federal system. Foreign politicians who are uninformed about events in Afghanistan over the past decade especially should see these reports easily available on the Internet.: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXx5td6_IqMAny Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death – Wikipedia, the free … .wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_Massacre:_The_Convoy_of_Death

The real objective of the proposal for a federal system is seen as seeking political control and protection through a regionalized and even localized ‘federal’ system that can be run like fiefdoms for the purpose of retaining what some individuals have gained in wealth and power at the expense of the Afghan people over decades- illegally gathered wealth, forceful seizures of land and large militias and bodyguards and unfortunately supported by foreign governments and uninformed foreign politicians. Some foreign politicians seem to think all these conditions are ok in another country as long as they can sell the distorted policies which these politicians pursue to their uninformed constituents in their own districts. Some of these politicians explain their conduct in supporting such notorious Afghans as “allies” of the US for the failed policies toward Afghanistan. The international community at large must not again fall in the trap of 2001/02 supporting warlords to keep control of Afghanistan.

The participants of the Berlin conference were heavily criticized by the Afghan people and even by the regime of Hamid Karzai and they did not win any favors with the Obama Administration either, for their attempt was to rebuke the peace seeking efforts by the Administration as announced by Vice President Biden and Secretary Hillary Clinton.
It should be recognized that any Balkanization of Afghanistan is a threat to the security and stability of the whole region. The rewriting of the Constitution of Afghanistan to accommodate a federal system of government as suggested by this group will not guarantee the survival of Afghanistan as a united country that has existed since 1747. The presence of ethnically diverse population of the same background all along the borders of Afghanistan congruent with the populations of the neighboring countries, and the presence of self serving corrupt warlords and criminal locals whose interests are in conflict with the central authority in Kabul as observed in recent years Afghanistan are major threats to the survival of Afghanistan as a unified nation under a federally structured form of government.

A letter from Vice President Biden of September 20, 2011 to us explaining US policy in Afghanistan by stating that “…our Administration is following through on our commitment to end our involvement in Afghanistan responsibly” has provided the assurance that the Afghan people are looking for from the Obama Administration. Members of the Afghan communities in North America, Europe and the Middle East and Afghanistan itself, which is an integral part of the families of the Middle Eastern religion and culture to those who fully understands the make up of the history of this area of the world, have interpreted the content of this letter as a policy of ending the war, establishing peace and completing the withdrawal of all US troops and letting all the Afghan people to come together to solve their common problems. Vice President Biden’s letter was published by Dr. Hashemyan in his December 28, 2011 fourth press release.

Many among the Afghan people feel that the legacy of US military presence in Afghanistan by ending its occupation must also leave behind a sovereign, and united Afghanistan in good standing internally and good relations with the international community and the neighbors of Afghanistan.

We hope that the Administration of President Obama will continue to push for comprehensive peace resulting in ending the war in Afghanistan early in 2012 and accommodating the demands of the Afghan and the American people for the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan so that the Afghan people collectively determine their future under final peace and reconciliation. The Afghan people see no need for long term US military presence as advocated by some of the same self serving individual Afghans who advocate a federal system. We are certain the Afghan people want mutually beneficial long term commercial relations with the US under peaceful conditions. We support such a bilateral relation based on mutual benefits to both countries.
By: M. Siddieq Noorzoy 

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