WHITE PAPER FOR THE PERMANENT PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN
|By: Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, PhD
The current situation in Afghanistan has roots in the introduction of an experiment in modernity in the middle of the 20th century. The sudden departure from a traditional political system to a liberal political system and experiment in Western Democracy institutionalized instability in Afghanistan. Two related issues contributed to its failure. First, the sudden departure to a new system is social change with inherent contradictions and insecurities. The onset of a sudden social change serves as a shock mechanism for the larger society. The adjustment period needed may never materialize in light of the complexity of a traditional society like Afghanistan. Second, the introduction of a Western Liberal System in Afghanistan came in conflict with the conservative values of the country. The majority of the people in society, some explicitly opposed the system, while others implicitly turned away and were alienated from the political system.
The contradictions inherent in this undertaking became instrumental for the long term instability in the country. The corrective measures necessary need to envision two factors. First, the current conflict must come to an end and bring about stability. Second, a viable sociopolitical system needs to be instituted wherein the population contributes to the future of Afghanistan.
Finally, the recent report by General McCrystal, though refreshing in terms of the facts it unveiled, it could not remedy the current crisis in Afghanistan. There are three basic factors in his report that would serve as impediment for success in that country. The three factors would be discussed in the section ‘Critique of General McCrystal Report’.
Contradictions of democracy experiment
Democracy has been nothing short of disaster for the Afghan people. Afghan people have endured more than enough of their share of problems related to ‘democracy’. The word democracy invokes unfavorable feelings of discontent, disaster, humiliation and loss of dignity. This unfavorable view of democracy has its roots in the past and the present of the country. The first experiment started with the constitutional period in the early 1960s, and the second experiment started with the military intervention in 2001.
The experiment in democracy in the 1960s amounted to an investment in long term sociopolitical instability in Afghanistan. This experiment placed the seeds of disaster in the fiber of Afghan society and alienated the majority of the nation from the modern educated segment to the traditional segment. The second experiment started in 2001 with death and destruction at its core which continuously brought humiliation, mass murder, environmental degradation and insecurity to every aspects of the Afghan society.
If we look at these events in the historical development of Afghanistan, it appears that the seeds of disaster in Afghanistan were planted with the experiment in democracy in the 1960s while the current form took the worst manifestation of this experiment. The experience of the past and the present disaster convinced large segments of population that a political system is successful if it has indigenous roots.
In the 1960s, the lack of clarity and understanding of how a constitutional monarchy should function, created conflicts in the system, and alienated both the educated and traditional segments of society. This period is characterized by socio-political upheavals brought about by contradictions within the administrative and political infrastructure of the state.
The necessary political infrastructure for a democratic government did not exist.
For example, the development of political parties was curtailed because the King did not formally legalize political parties. Political parties would have provided the mechanism whereby individuals could have sought political offices. The legislature did not possess the needed discipline for addressing issues. Hence, intense debates including physical assaults had taken place between opposing sides. Furthermore, the way the left used freedom of speech against Islam alienated large sectors of the population. The purpose of the leftist organizations was not cooperation with the government but toppling it. The Prime Minister was primarily accountable to the king not the parliament; so that the Prime Minister did not honor parliamentary summons for hearings. Thus, due to extreme separation of powers, potential hostility was endemic between the Prime Minister, who had little or no control over parliament, and the parliament.
The socio-political situation had been marked by student demonstrations including the death of the Maoist student leader at the hands of the Islamists at Kabul University. In fact, one of the Marxist groups, Parcham, springing out of this constitutional period, would play a decisive role in the 1973 coup of former Prime Minister Daud Khan. The political instability during this period could be gauged from the continuous appointments of Prime Ministers. During the ten years, 1963 to 1973, five different Prime Ministers and cabinets were appointed.
Since the liberal constitution of 1964 guaranteed freedom of speech and press, the Marxist groups used such opportunity to attack Islamic and traditional values in a blasphemous manner. This furthered instability by alienating the Ulema, and alienated many in the traditional segment from the monarchy. Though, the new army and police suppressed organized uprising, they were, nonetheless, unable to pacify them.
This constitutional experiment proved contradictory to the Islamic and social values of Afghan society. For example, if the parliamentary laws came into conflict with Islamic laws or Shari’ah, parliamentary laws took precedence over Shari’ah. Such arrangement does not serve very well in a conservative Muslim country like Afghanistan.
The products of this experiment were Marxists and Islamists. First, the Marxist coup and subsequent oppression coupled with the USSR invasion of Afghanistan had devastating consequences to the future of the country. Equally, the Islamists contributed to the devastation of Afghanistan subsequent to the retreat of the former Soviet Union. None of these groups considered Afghanistan priority and did not feel obliged to be accountable to the population.
On the same token, the political forces that had their roots in the post-1964 constitution and experiment in democracy became instrumental directly and indirectly in facilitating the disaster after the US military intervention in 2001.
The Parcham branch of the Marxist party played a major role in the coup-d’état of Daud Khan in 1973. Subsequently the Parcham and Khalq wings of the Marxist party formed a coalition and launched a coup in 1978 that toppled President Daud Khan. The Islamists, who opposed President Daud Khan for his close collaboration with the Marxists and Russians, were forced into exile.
The Islamists and Marxists, who were products of the democratic experiment of the 1960s shaped Afghan political landscape for the next 30 years. Ironically, the collaboration of elements within the Islamist and Marxist groups served as vehicles of entry for the US invasion in 2001.
The very forces that emerged from the turmoil of the constitutional era of 1960s collaborated with the Western ‘Democracy’ force which caused unparallel disaster.
The cost of the experiment in 2001 has been grave and much loss and destruction can be attributed to it. Thousands of Afghans lost their lives, internally displaced, and more than 1/3 of Afghanistan is uninhabitable due to the use of uranium munitions. Moreover, Afghans are humiliated on daily basis and have fewer rights in the eyes of the American forces than did blacks in South Africa in the beginning of 20th century. For example, foreign forces enter Afghan households without their permission; Afghan men are dragged from their beds in full view of their children and wives; and, Afghan children, women and men are subjected to attack dogs in the middle of the night. Thus, the cost of the second experiment of democracy has been equal and/or possibly more dreadful than during the invasion of the former Soviet Union
Hence, it is my firm opinion that the institutionalization of a new system based on the values and traditional sociopolitical system would achieve two goals. First, it would achieve peace and second, it would institutionalize stability in the future political system accountable to the masses.
JERGA SYSTEM: A FORM OF DIRECT DEMOCRACY
Jerga or tribal council is an integral part of the Afghan society. The Jerga System is essentially a system of direct democracy exercised at the local level. The decision-making at the local level would resonate at the national level through the body of Loya Jerga or Grand Assembly. The demands of population at the local level would find audience with rulers in each era through the onset of Loya Jerga.
The vibrant dynamic localism gave a direct voice to the people in local as well as national affairs. Historically, before and after the formation of the Afghan nation-state, the so-called localism was the inherent characteristic of the Afghan people dictating national affairs. However, when the exogenous design was superimposed on the nation, conflict occurred between the foreign element and local society. Localism and traditionalism were not in contradiction in the infant state, because traditionalism was not conceived as a separate entity from the infrastructure of the nation-state. To an outside observer, it might appear to be so. However, if one follows the historical development of Afghanistan, the nature and social structure of the tribes and the social political dynamics of Afghan tribes, one would appreciate its complexity.
The current arrangement that hastily emerged after the intervention of the US and its allies in 2001 is devoid of legitimacy in the eyes of the population. First, the presence of foreign forces and their direct involvement in the political process is the main factor of illegitimacy. Second, the exclusion of the population in the local and national decision-making process contributes to the fragility of the political system.
The aim of this paper is not reversal to the traditional system but rather a synthesis of the traditional with the modern wherein the values and the traditional autonomy of decision making is not compromised for the sake of modernity. Such arrangement would be fruitful in as traditional decision making would grant legitimacy to policy making and implementation and would alleviate any inherent contradiction.
Since Afghanistan is in the midst of war and instability, the institution of the proposed system would serve two functions. First, it would put an end to the conflict in the country and provide an exit strategy to the foreign forces. Second, it would institutionalize a new political system, wherein the masses have an active role in the future of the country.
CRITIQUE OF RECENT PERSPECTIVES ON THE RESOLUTION OF CRISIS
Some analysts attempt to shortchange the International Community by proposing to utilize the dynamics of the civil war in the early 1990s as the essential guidelines for the behavior of the Afghan power holders. Thus, I believe it would be a serious mistake in using the post-1992 civil war in Afghanistan as a benchmark for calculated judgment.
The decision by the US and its Western Allies to abandon Afghanistan after the former Soviet Union was defeated with the blood of the Afghans set the stage for one of the bloodiest periods in Afghan history. In the early 1990s, the world was still adjusting to the post-Soviet era. The geostrategic changes put in motion regional rivalry seeking to influence the political dynamics in Afghanistan. In essence, Afghanistan was turned into a battlefield, where regional powers fought their proxy battles for influence at the expense of the Afghan lives. The dynamics of this era are unique to this period. They could not serve as a model for Afghan behavior. The conduct of the warlords and their followers was new in the Afghan political scene. In fact, the civil war functioned as a transition period from anarchy to one with relative stability. In anarchy, the dominant factor dictating sociopolitical life is survival. Hence, the mode of conduct in this type of instability could not provide the behavioral blueprint of the Afghan political scene.
During this period, changing sides meant sheer survival. For example, local Hezb-e-Islami commanders in Shamali Plains north of Kabul were more concerned with saving their villages than taking on Ahmad Shah Masood, who was a fierce rival of Gulbudin Hekmatyar, leader of Hezb-e-Islami. To this end, any analysis that does not take into account Afghan history and the circumstances whereupon certain developments occurred would not be doing justice to the dynamics of the Afghan society. For example, when authors, Fotini Christia and Michael Semple, proposed resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan in their write-up, “How to Flip the Taliban” in Foreign Affairs July/August 2009 issue, they failed in their analysis. They relied heavily on the experience of the post-1992 civil war. These authors observed the opportunistic behavior of warlords during the infighting and used it as a model for mapping the behavior of Afghan political actors.
This hasty generalization, limited observations and some anecdotal cases are not enough to be used for architecting a new fundamental shift in the US’s policy toward the conflict in Afghanistan and certainly serve no means in achieving their aim of “Flipping the Taliban”. This period could not serve as the necessary benchmark for any effective alternative since self-interest and survival formed the two issues dictating daily lives of those involved in the conflict. Hence, no rational policy alternative would succeed when it is based on the experience of warring factions. The behavior of these warlords during the anarchical situation could not by any standard serve as representative sample of a nation and its political leadership.
In the post-1992 civil war, the behavior of the warring factions showed the worse cases of opportunism and survival. The post-1992 experience was not only unique in Afghan society but rather was in part the product of global reorganization in light of the collapse of the former Soviet Union. On the one hand, resource depletion from their respective sponsors forced both Mujahideen and pro-Soviet militias to realign their objectives for political survival; on the other hand, the absence of direct foreign intervention eliminated the need for national unity. To this end, the superficial analysis of these authors would not amount to any serious consideration for ending the conflict in Afghanistan.
However, the example most suitable for any fundamental rational policy alternative would be the experience and behavior of the Mujahideen against the former Soviet Union. The current situation has similar dynamics but it also has stark differences with the war against the former Soviet Union. During the Soviet occupation, the presence of foreign forces inspired national sentiment of self-determination and served as the unifying knot to bring various segments of society together for a common goal, to defeat the invaders. During that period, the only source of supplies and funding for the Mujahideen used to be situated geographically in Pakistan which coordinated the resource allocation and redistribution to the major military and political parties.
The current situation is similar in that foreign forces are situated in Afghanistan but it is markedly different both regionally as well as globally. The presence of the United States in Afghanistan meant threatening the traditional “backyard” of Russia--Central Asia and the Caucasus, Iran and China. Furthermore, the wide array of bases and agreements with the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus added to the threat felt by Russia, China and Iran. In light of the actual and perceived threats to the three nations—Russia, China and Iran, it is in their interest to see the US-NATO adventure face utter failure in Afghanistan. After all, any failure of the US and its allies in Afghanistan would have serious repercussions to the United States as a Superpower and to NATO as an extended tool of US’s regional and global interests.
With Russia, China and Iran on the defensive to various extents, the US is inevitably in a very hostile ‘neighborhood’ and is in a serious disadvantage than was the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The consequence would be intense covert efforts to assist Afghan resistance fighters to deal a lasting blow to the United States and NATO. Furthermore, the support of the United States for the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s and the consequent demise and humiliation of the former Soviet Union are ample reason for the Russians to eye this opportunity for an effective revenge. In addition, the reckless behavior of the Bush Administration in the post-911 world has tarnished America’s image. Hence, there is no sympathy for the “Yankees” anymore.
Moreover, the conflict between Russia and Georgia was another factor. During the conflict, the NATO member states and the US rendered overwhelming support to Georgia. Furthermore, the continuation of the US desire to court Georgia and Ukraine into the NATO are more than ample reasons for Russia to work for the failure of the United States in Afghanistan. The anti-American efforts are of course covert and far from the public eye.
Equally, the Chinese see the presence of the US as unhealthy for regional stability. The recent uprising by the Uyghur Muslim minorities in China is perceived as potentially manipulated.
The Iranians’ dislike for the US is no secret. They undermined the Americans in Iraq and do the same in Afghanistan. Iranians know Afghan history and realize that Afghanistan has always been the ‘Graveyard of Empires’. To this end, the failure of the US in Afghanistan is more likely than it was in Iraq. The Iranian Sepah Force is actively engaged in covert support for the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Another major outside source has been the Arab Anti-American sentiment. The invasion of Iraq and the subsequent disaster there, the continuous support for Israel and the continued presence of US-NATO forces in Afghanistan are ample reasons for the global Jihadists to strive for the US to be brought to its knees in Afghanistan.
Finally, with the defeat of the Soviet Block, the cohesion that existed in the Western Block diminished significantly. During the Cold War, the West saw Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe as clear and present danger to their way of life; however, in the present situation, such cohesion does not exist. Certainly, this notion of radical Islamists and terrorism are factors that suppose to induce cooperation and enhance solidity among NATO allies. It appears contrary to that.
Global rational actors see self-interest as primary than empty ideals of the past. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block as obstacles of the past, European actors see manipulation, bribery and dealings under the table as feasible mechanisms to ensure a foothold in Afghanistan. This foothold would only be possible if the ‘insatiable hunger’ of the US is curtailed through its failure in Afghanistan. The field would be wide open for other interested parties. The interested parties could very well be a member of NATO and thus a close ally of the United States; after all self-interest is the dominant driving force in international relations.
Finally, Pakistan is jockeying for influence in Afghanistan as always. Pakistan continues to conspire to exacerbate the security situation in the country to the point that would finally compel the Afghan government to concede the Durand Line as the permanent border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Thus, taming Taliban is not as easy as forecasted by Michael Semple and Fotini Christia. There are too many known and ‘invisible’ independent variables that could be tackled in a straight forward way.
CRITIQUE OF GENERAL MCCRYSTAL’S REPORT
The assessment report of General McCrystal is conceptually valid in proposing a new strategy. His assessment of failure in Afghanistan is equally to the point. However, the request for a new strategy is a little too late to achieve the desired end if followed through the existing mechanism or one that might be newly devised while troops buildup becomes a major component of the strategy.
First, no new strategy would succeed if the violence continues. The request of General McCrystal for additional troops is a recipe for disaster. The very idea of requesting additional troops subscribes to the notion that the continuation of violence and the use of force would be critical aspect of the new strategy. Any strategy that takes into account military solution as one of its main factors would fail in Afghanistan. This is a historical fact that should not be overlooked; otherwise, the US would face the fate of its former adversary, the former Soviet Union.
Second, this aspect is related to the first one. Irrespective of the number of civilian experts sent to Afghanistan, their scope of operation and effectiveness would be seriously compromised. The reason for this has been the security problem throughout the country. The civilian experts would be effective only if the Afghan people benefit from their efforts. How would the Afghans benefit from an army of experts when in fact these experts could not leave their respective “Green Zone” in each provincial capital? The result would be a bureaucracy that would be inefficient in substance but effective in cost accumulation.
Third, the idea of “changing the operation culture” also falls short significantly. When the report points out that troops must “connect with the people”, it treats this issue in total absence of the social reality at hand. The General fails to realize that “connecting with the people” does not happen over night especially when there has already been a culture of mistrust, and the blood of the innocents have been shed many times. In the Afghan (Pashtun) tradition, when someone is murdered, it is not only the enmity of the family the murderer has to worry about, but also the clan, the sub-tribe and the tribe. Hence, the US forces have had the enmity of the Pashtun tribes all over Afghanistan. The US Generals and some Afghan “experts” have no idea about the complex tribal mechanism operating in the Afghan society and thereby ill-prepared to deal with them.
The violation of privacy and humiliation are the two major issues that continue to foster hatred for Americans among the population. In fact, many of the Afghan tribes view Americans worse in many ways than the Russians. The continuous raids on mere suspicion on peoples’ houses at night have forced the population to the point of national uprising. Pashtun men are dragged from their beds at night in full view of their wives and children. This terror and humiliation have left deep scars in the psyches of the Afghan families.
Moreover, the use of indiscriminate bombing of Afghan villages and the use of diverse weapons including Uranium Munitions, White Phosphorus and newly experimental Energy Weapons are additional factors. While I was in Afghanistan, I viewed the victims of the newly Experimental Energy and Microwave Weapons. It was a shock of a life time that would remain with me forever. The victims appeared like Hotdogs that have bursted in microwave.
In light of the above-mentioned narrative, the issue of “connecting to the people” is entirely futile after all Afghan people are not computers to be programmed to respond favorably to the cues of American troops.
Finally, the timeframe articulated by the report is another factor that makes success impossible. After all, we are not talking about behavioral modification in a controlled environment but rather a social reality that has not been fully appreciated by the military leadership. Social reality could not be manufactured in a laboratory or a physical plant but rather it has to take its due course to reach a point of maturation. And only then, there would be prospects of dealing with social problems. With the unfavorable assessment of General McCrystal on the ground, the twelve months period is by no means enough to put in place what he would like to call a new strategy. The formulation of a comprehensive strategy requires knowledgeable people with experience, significant amount of research and reliable data. Each of these factors requires time, and time is what they do not have.
In this type of complex social reality, the “experts” could not facilitate a resolution to the crisis except people with indigenous roots. My network of Indigenous Peace Jergas throughout Afghanistan would be able to facilitate the onset of a serious peace in the country.
INDIGENOUS PEACE JERGAS: THE PERMANENT SOLUTION TO AFGHANISTAN
The solution to any social problem rests on the critical analysis of the problem in question followed by the correct implementation of the formulated ideas envisioned in the mechanism outlined.
In light of the above-mentioned assertion, my approach to any social problem is similar to a marketing approach in which the market is first analyzed before the product is designed, so that the product would succeed as a commodity in the market place. To this end, the solution or proposal aimed at ending the conflict in Afghanistan is also constituted as an operational plan with the micro-macro-level dynamism. The micro-level would be the Indigenous Peace Jergas (IPJ)--Tolaneez Aman Jergay---and the macro-level achieved would be a Permanent Loya Jerga.
The Indigenous Peace Jergas would facilitate and sustain the Permanent Loya Jerga in a dynamic arrangement. This dichotomous arrangement would bring peace as a permanent reality not only in Afghanistan, but also in the region. The result would be a permanent social engine with the IPJ as its parts and the Permanent Loya Jerga as the main engine sustaining a healthy and peaceful society.
The Indigenous Peace Jergas (IPJ) is a chain of jergas at provincial level integrating the total interests of each province by incorporating districts in each respective province, linked to neighboring IPJ in their respective provinces in each zone. At the zonal level, representatives from each IPJ would represent provincial concerns and interests.
This chain of IPJs would continue linking all the provinces of Afghanistan until it is completed as a cohesively linked representative chain at provincial, zonal and national levels. Jergas at the zone level would merely consolidate what is already agreed upon at provincial levels.
From the above-mentioned narrative, I theorize that this conceptual framework would fundamentally achieve three goals.
First, at the provincial level, it would integrate elements of the resistance, Ulema (religious scholars) along with educated and tribal leaders and bring about pacification and permanent peace at the local level. The Indigenous Peace Jergas would also maintain security through the onset of locally organized militia, monitored and controlled by each respective provincial Indigenous Peace Jerga. The formation of this security force would be crucial at the outset to safeguard the permanence of peace until a newly reorganized centrally controlled and fully mechanized army is ready and fully functional. The new army would exist side by side with the locally controlled militia force.
Second, the chain of IPJs would bring about national unity. This chain would incorporate various segments of Afghan society and the geographic anatomy and structure of each provincial IPJ would overlap with another IPJ in its neighboring province. This overlap stems from the inevitable discussions transcending geographic borders strengthening social cohesion between neighboring provinces. The shared concerns, interests and proposals would involve most elements of the society. The involvement of people in discussion is the facilitation of long overdue constructive communication necessary for national understanding and consensus.
Third, the institutionalization of the Indigenous Peace Jergas would facilitate the sustenance of “A Sustained Permanence” institutionalized in the form of a Permanent Loya Jerga. Since every peace proposal advocates the onset of Loya Jerga or permanent Loya Jerga, no one envisioned---as far as I know—the institutionalization of the permanence inherently possible through the building blocks of the Indigenous Peace Jergas necessary for the continuation of the solidity of the Permanent Loya Jerga. The Indigenous Peace Jergas would ensure that the Permanent Loya Jerga continues to do what it is entrusted to accomplish. The significance of the IPJs to the Permanent Loya Jerga could be better understood if we use a simple analogy of the significance of gasoline to a vehicle. A vehicle cannot drive without the continuous supply of gasoline. A vehicle would be a very exotic and beautiful car; however, if it does not have gasoline, it would not run. Thus, if the Permanent Loya Jerga appeared grand and significant, but if it lacked the pressure of the peoples’ mandate in the form of Indigenous Peace Jergas, it would lack the necessary impetus for continuation. That is how the stability of the Permanent Loya Jerga would be ensured.
Trimmed Permanent Loya Jerga:
The Loya Jerga would initially follow the traditional format; however, once the constitution is reformulated and reorganized, the Loya Jerga would become somewhat a trimmed entity by incorporating outstanding representatives of each of the Indigenous Peace Jergas. In light of the IPJs network, it would be possible to have the Loya Jerga trimmed in an operationally feasible manner that could sustain itself and lead national transition, and in the long run does not become a national liability. This way, the efficiency of the Permanent Loya Jerga would be ensured; hence, it would become a pragmatic body to lead, manage and implement transition initially and instigate change in the long term.
Of course, the permanence of Loya Jerga should serve as the integral part of a national “board of trustees” overseeing the efficient operation of government and sustained peace.
Functions of the Permanent Loya Jerga for Transition and Thereafter:
The Permanent Loya Jerga would have two main functions. First, it would supervise the transitory period followed by structural changes needed for government accountable to the people. The transitory or transitional period would last 3 years. During the transitional period, the head of state would be appointed by the Permanent Loya Jerga. The process of selection of the head of state would be similar between the transitional period and post-transitional period. However, during the transitional period, the head of state would not require any referendum for confirmation.
Subsequent to the transitory period, unlike other democracies, the Permanent Loya Jerga would nominate head of state confirmed by two referendums. The first one would involve the Indigenous Peace Jergas at each provincial level followed by a national referendum. The head of state would be in power for a period of six years.
Some of the preliminary functions as I envision would be as follows:
First, supervise the reformulation of the National Constitution of Afghanistan. There will be many changes; however, the change most important from my perspective is the cultural identity of Afghanistan. This identity would be in part ensured when Pashto is proclaimed as the first language and Dari as the second language—not equal. One of the reasons of dominance of Pashto is the proclamation that Afghanistan is not the extension of Iranian cultural and historical sphere. Furthermore, Pashtuns constitute 65% of the population, not 38% as fraudulently claimed by the CIA. The foreign citizenship clause has to be removed in order for Afghans living outside Afghanistan to participate in national rebuilding of the country.
Second, an implementation commission would be formed from the Permanent Loya Jerga. This commission would serve as the bridge between the Loya Jerga and the executive. The head of state in consultation with the implementation commission would form the cabinet.
Third, the judiciary needs to be reorganized such that each level of the judicial system would be governed by multiple implementation entities. The first level would be Ulema (religious scholars); the second level would be professional Jurists—preferably foreign educated Afghans; and, the third level would be representatives of the Permanent Loya Jerga. This multiple system of checks and balances would weed out corruption in the judicial system and ensure justice.
Fourth, the governors would be appointed by the executive but approved by each Indigenous Peace Jerga for the respective province in order to alleviate any type of conflict.
The Economic Remedy & Drugs Issue:
The economic component of the peace proposal is similar in structure to the socio-political structure of Indigenous Peace Jergas. The economic units would be the necessary components in the eradication of the Opium industry and bringing about economic stability to the country. Each province would have an economic unit parallel to the Indigenous Peace Jerga.
Each economic unit would be a township functioning as a buyer for produce from local peasants. The common agricultural produce are potatoes, wheat, rice and corn. In order to eradicate Opium production and terminate this illicit economy, the economic units would purchase these goods at subsidized prices. In fact, each agricultural produce would be purchased at the price high enough to deter peasants from the cultivation of poppy seeds. All of the economic units would evolve to become industrial townships or “Islands of Development”. These townships would contribute to the national socioeconomic development by stimulating change in their peripheries/hinterlands and creating a dynamic economy with the local at its foundation of stability.
Long Term Economic Model:
In the long term, the socioeconomic development consists of a series of industrial townships (economic units) dispersed throughout Afghanistan. Each township would represent a micro-economic unit of the National Economy. The proposal emerges from historical analysis. Historically, Kabul was the center of development; it was very much an island of development in the country. These Kabul-centric development efforts created a rift between Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan. Therefore, this preliminary proposal for socioeconomic development attempts to decentralize development by building small townships or economic units throughout the country. They can serve as mini-Kabul(s) in different parts of Afghanistan and make development compatible with peoples’ values. This development approach also builds on the historical survey of Afghanistan by introducing development progressively.
All of the economic units must function collectively within the country to bring about economic rejuvenation and produce a collective solution to the underdevelopment of the country.
The population around each Industrial Township would be associated with each respective township. The association of each peripheral layer of villages surrounding each township, in terms of trade, can serve as a mechanism to involve the next distant layer of villages to the Industrial Township or economic unit. Thus, each layer of villages would link the next layer of villages to the economic activities of each township or economic unit. Factories in these townships would reflect the nature and possibilities of the area and would complement local produce/resources as best possible. Since some of the factories would hopefully rely on agriculture and dairy produce, peasants from the first peripheral layer could bring their produce to the respective factories. Each layer of villages thereafter could supply some form of raw material or input to the factories of each township.
Similarly, manufactured goods of each township would be marketed across the different layers of villages of each township. As suppliers of each township, villagers could become part of the cash economy, and would earn revenue from their transactions. Consequently, peasants could have the buying power to consume the manufactured goods of their respective townships.
Each township or economic unit would specialize in the production of certain consumer goods. Specialization would promote trade between townships because each township and its surrounding area would need the manufactured goods of the other townships. In other words, each economic unit would have a competitive advantage in relation to each of the other economic unit. In the process of inter-town trade, a stratum of merchants would emerge that would be serving as the vital development links between economic units. (My Dissertation: Factors of Underdevelopment in Afghanistan, 1919-2000)
The Indigenous Peace Jergas would be intimately involved in this socioeconomic development approach. This model would involve all economic sectors of the Afghan society and bring about economic rejuvenation and long term economic stability as domestic productivity would become the backbone of future prosperous Afghanistan.
International Community’s Economic Role:
Since war in Afghanistan has been internationalized, peace has to be internationalized as well. Especially, in economic terms, the International Community needs to bear the economic cost of peace.
The cost would have two related dimensions: first, the cost of eradicating the Opium dominated economy by subsidizing conventional agricultural produce whereby Opium would be abandoned as the cash crop. Once the International Community invested in financing Afghan agriculture for a reasonable period of time, countries worldwide would not worry combating drug addiction, smuggling and other related crimes. Thus, investment in this approach would reduce monetary and sociopolitical costs for the International Community.
Second, the International Community needs to invest heavily in infrastructure, irrigation, hydroelectric and mines among others. This would create visible signs of reconstruction and progress in dire need for a society devoid of any hope for the future. Moreover, infrastructure projects would create jobs which in turn would create income for the common people.
The benefits would be mutual. Afghanistan would move toward normalcy and a hopeful future and the International Community would cease to worry about the problem of drugs and instability in Afghanistan.
The Armed Forces:
The initial important step in the reorganization of the armed forces is the institutionalization of conscription. The institution of conscription was an essential aspect of national unity in the country. Moreover, the flawed American model of dissolving existing institution and replacing it with an artificial mercenary arrangement became a liability than a remedy envisioned. Especially the expulsion of thousands of highly educated Afghan army officers many with graduate education altered the character of the Afghan army from one with an ideal to protect Afghanistan’s independence to a mercenary arrangement eager to enrich themselves.
The recruitment of those expelled officers that are exceptional in their education would enhance the character of the Afghan army and instill the professionalism needed for an efficient defensive institution.
The existing salaried soldiers would go through a transition period followed by retraining them in civilian sector.
The tribal militias that ensured security subsequent to the onset of Indigenous Peace Jergas would be institutionalized to serve two related permanent functions. First, they would remain active militia force monitored by the IPJs for future stability. Second, this force could also be expanded to serve as border militias ensuring border security. This militia force would be only under the control of the Indigenous Peace Jergas. The Ministries of Defense and Interior would not have any jurisdiction over this national force.
The EXIT OF Foreign Forces:
Negotiations have to be conducted to pave the way for the exit of foreign troops and the timetable for that has to be decided and confirmed by the Permanent Loya Jerga. However, I propose a period of a year and five months. Meanwhile, foreign troops have to retreat to their bases until their withdrawal timetable is decided and must not engage in any offensive action without the EXPLICIT permission of the Afghan government. The non-alliance character of Afghanistan needs to be maintained since it is one of the crucial factors for future stability. The security in the country would be ensured by the tribal militias under the supervision of each Indigenous Peace Jerga. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council must mandate and actively implement measures that Pakistan and other neighbors of Afghanistan do not intervene in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP AND FUTURE REGIONAL & GLOBAL STABILITY
The US forces could remain in Afghanistan for a relatively longer period and maintain a strategic partnership--considering they assist Afghanistan in the unification of the Afghans living in Pakistan under the imposition of the Durand Line. This is the crucial regional stability factor. The significance of this factor rests in the sociopolitical investment in the Pashtun Nation.
The Durand Line is the ‘Treaty’ imposed on Afghanistan in 1893 between the Foreign Secretary of Colonial British India, Mortimer Durand and the Afghan King Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. This ‘Treaty’ was never ratified by the Afghan Loya Jerga. In fact, after the formation of Pakistan in 1947, Afghan Loya Jerga announced that the Durand Line has no legitimacy. Furthermore, since Amir Abdur Rahman Khan lacked legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people as an independent ruler, this further cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Durand Line. In fact, Amir Abdur Rahman Khan granted total control of Afghan Foreign Policy to the British and as part of his allegiance to the British Crown, he received financial and military assistance.
This issue has been more than a problematic issue between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, the Durand Line is the central issue behind Pakistan’s continuous interference in Afghan affairs. Currently, the Pashtun region on the Durand Line has been used for a staging ground for the military operations against Afghanistan.
The return of the Pashtun lands back to Afghanistan would bring stability to Afghanistan and the region. There would be no sanctuary for any foreign terrorist organization in that region. This way Pakistan, which has been a menace for Afghanistan and the region since its inception would become a relatively smaller country and would not be utilized by secondary powers for their regional hegemony.
The inception of larger Afghanistan would serve the interest of Afghanistan as well as the US. Afghanistan would serve as a center of power that would secure Afghan and American interests in the region. Such a fundamental change would be a strategic decision wherein Pashtuns would become the natural allies of the United States that would bring security to the region and eradicate threats to the West, considering the injustice committed is rectified.
The institutionalization of the new political system---the Indigenous Peace Jergas and the Permanent Loya Jerga--- would be a fundamental corrective measure that facilitates peace and offers a viable option for the future of Afghanistan since it is engrained both in the social and historical development of Afghanistan.
This is a very critical period not only for Afghanistan, but also for the US and its allies. It is critical because there is a very small window of opportunity that closes faster with every passing day. The opinions and academic exercises of some “experts” thus far have been merely aesthetic measures with no fundamental corrective mechanism. Again, any attempt to increase forces on the ground would exacerbate the situation and ensure failure.
IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE US POLICY MAKERS PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO ONE CRUCIAL ISSUE, WHICH IS THE AGENDA OF PAKISTAN MILITARY
JOINT CHIEF OF STAFF AND ISI WHO ARE ADDICTED TO FIND EXCUSES TO SECURE AMERICAN TAXPAYER DOLLARS. THE AGENDA IN QUESTION PERTAINS TO THE CONTROL OF THE PASHTUN TRIBAL REGIONS UNDER THE PRETEXT OF FIGHTING TERROR AND TALIBAN. IT WILL BE FOOLISH NOT TO BELIEVE THAT TALIBAN ARE MERCENERIES AND POINEERS OF PAKISTAN ARMY. FOR EXAMPLE, THE FIGHTING IN SWAT VALLEY AND RECENTLY IN WAZIRISTAN IS AIMED AT MURDERING PASHTUN TRIBAL LEADERS WHO ARE IN OPPOSITION TO PAKISTAN’S CONTROL. UNLESS, PASHTUNS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DURAND LINE ARE UNITED WITH THEIR MOTHERLAND, AFGHANISTAN, THE REGION AND THE WORLD WOULD NOT EXPERIENCE ANY STABILITY. AFTER ALL, PAKISTAN HAS BEEN THE HOTBED OF TERRORISM, NUCLEAR PROFILERATION DESTABILIZING FACTOR NOT ONLY FOR AFGHANISTAN BUT THE REGION. IT IS WORTH MENTIONING THAT THE ARMED OPPOSITION AT THE LOCAL LEVEL HAS LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES. THE LOCALS HAVE TAKEN UP ARMS BECAUSE THEY WERE SUBJECTED TO THE WORSE FORM OF VIOLATIONS. THEY HAVE BEEN FORCED TO ABANDON THEIR HOUSES; THEIR WOMEN AND CHILDREN WERE MURDERED AND THEIR ENCLAVES HAVE BEEN INFESTED WITH URANIUM MUNITIONS.
I hope the Administration of President Obama accepts reality and implements what I have envisioned here.
Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, PhD
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2009