Afghanistan: Quest for Eternal Peace

Besides possessing significant geo-political vis-à-vis strategic location in Asia, Afghanistan is known as the land of mountains, carpets, fruits & nuts, illegal arms and drug dealings and of course Taliban and Osama Bin Laden that led the down fall of Taliban to provide easy and unrestricted entry to allied forces. Suffered from such chronic internal-cum-external political instability, the economic infrastructural scenario is almost non existence on this war ridden socially and economically backward nation.

After the terrorists attacks of 9/11 in USA, Afghanistan was the first target to capture the network of Osama Bin Laden or to execute the provisions of War Against terrorism, after Taliban led government refusal to hand over Bin Laden. Due to its internal war between various war lords and Taliban government, gave an enormous opportunity for the western forces to lead its political and economic affairs.

Very few analysts I believe are actually aware of Afghanistan’s excessive invasions and interventions by the external forces. Some are of the opinion that Afghanistan’s geo-political location is the main conflict to gain momentum from where it is much easier for any western force to put surveillance or carry out their own political strategic agenda. Leave the chapter of Osama as he wasn’t there when soviet forces entered in Afghanistan in December 24, 1979 to prop up a pro-communist regime and remain there till February 15, 1989. But to invade Afghanistan is always considered as piece of cake due to its internal fragile political devastation.

When and where the political paradigm jeopardized that forced millions of people to live life as refugees on their own land? Why the natural recourses of Afghanistan were not utilized in any tenure or under any circumstances that could lead economic sovereignty to war torn nation, or there was some foreign mafia involved behind the scene? Why not the war lord understand the simple philosophy of live and let live through out in Afghanistan’s history that give Afghanistan road map to no where? Why Taliban led government gain the title of “Islamic Extremism”? Why Osama chooses Afghanistan to hide or was that the only open option before Bin Laden for hide and seek? And why America before exercising sophisticated weaponry technology over Afghanistan didn’t realized the root cause or the main spirit of Terrorism, besides ignoring modus vivendi of dilapidated Afghanis? These are the definite cum difficult queries to reply when ever the road map for peaceful democratic Afghanistan is ready to establish.

Presently Afghanistan is led by the interim administration under the presidentship of Hamid Karzai a Pashtun leader from Kandahar appointed in June 2002 via Loya Jirga or Grand Assembly based on Tribal representatives. To establish road to democracy, new constitution was adopted in early 2004 by the same assembly. Now the million dollar question is related to the feasibility of presidential elections. The idea of parliamentary and presidential form of elections is the outcome of the Bonn Agreement of December 2001 laid out a process by which Afghanistan would establish a democratically elected government.

Amid severe controversy between war lords and the interim government Presidential elections in Afghanistan are finally decided to be held on October 9 of this year. Still the fate of parliamentary elections is not known, when to be held or under what kind of circumstances. Basically it is the security matter that hamper in initiation of peace model. The chairman of UN-Afghan Electoral Management Body, Zakim Shah had urged the international community to give financial cum security assistance in this regard. "These efforts will greatly enhance the legitimacy of the electoral process and the authority of the future assemblies," Shah said. As the Taliban chapter is yet not closed adding fear to disrupt the polls. Allied forces are facing pocket resistance at daily basis. Many regions are depicting scenario of battle zones, neither party is willing to withdraw as both are considered to be legitimate body of observation.

Liberation of Afghanistan has never been a bed of roses. When in 1747 the state of Afghanistan was formed and liberated from Empire of Great Moguls, Ahmad Shah Durrani established his rule from Mashad to Kashmir and Delhi. The second Anglo-Afghan war (1878-80), that brings Amir Abdur Rahman to the throne, a British protectorate in 1881. The British retain effective control over Kabul’s foreign affairs, but after third Anglo Afghan War in 1919, the Treaty of Rawalpindi gave full independence to Afghanistan.

Monarchy is more or less the integral form of government in Afghanistan. From 1919-29 King Amanullah and in 1929 Nadir Shah enjoyed the kingdom of Afghanistan. But the period of Mohammed Zahir Shah of 1933 was marked as the constitutional period of Afghanistan, in that period liberal constitution with two-chamber legislature and multi party system was introduced.

After a coup d’état in 1973 Afghanistan becomes a dictatorial republic and is renamed Republic of Afghanistan. Mohammed Daoud, until that moment prime minister, becomes president. In 1978 a communist dictatorship is established under the lead by Noor Mohammed Tarraki (1978-1979). The country is renamed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Tarraki was assassinated in 1979 he is succeeded by Hafizullah Amin in 1979.

Soviet occupation is another most critical chapter in the geo-political history of Afghanistan. The devastation of soviet invasion over economic, political, social as well as cultural sectors is so intense that led country in a long term struggle besides combating with the poverty and inter-personal clashes among various sects. To gain power politics in the region or to save Soviet as a “Union” invasion of Afghanistan was easy and available option for soviets. Therefore to fulfill strategic goal, all the efforts were employed to drive out Mujahideen’s resistance from Afghanistan and the soviet-backed excess control over the tribal belt in rural and urban cities. Battling mainly with civilian population causing much destruction via military tactics including wide spread use of chemical weapons, Soviet Union however achieved their main objective of mass destruction, Killing thousands of combatants, dragging 6 million innocent victims of war to the nearer countries as refugees, damaging agricultural zones, livestock and infrastructural facilities of the entire Afghanistan. Damages were claimed from both the sides as approximately 22,000 Soviets were killed during war season.

However, great lessons were learned not just by the Soviets but set an example to reminisces for the external forces willing to gain geo-political cum strategic objectives via modern weaponry command. Soviet-Afghan war was not an ordinary guerilla war fought at the brink of national will and general consensus. Sophisticated weapons may not work out on rugged terrain if the moral commitment and lines of communication is not ensured.

Soviets employed conventional war tactics ignoring the engagement of guerrilla’s on the opposite side. Therefore results were totally unexpected by the Soviets who were firm believed to have significant influence over the entire Afghanistan at the end of the war. Results were contrary, the religious or patriotic penchant of Jihade’s towards their land helped trigger the collapse of the great empire.

During the period of 1990 central government was formed and ruled by the warlords. In the opinions of political analyst’s warlords is the outcome of either external backed force trying to intervene internal political affairs for establishing their long stayed agenda in Afghanistan or they are small local groups or power cravers to hold command over larger territories of war torn Afghanistan. However they are local tribal sections who call themselves as the liberators of Afghanistan from their enemies’ mainly western forces. However it is a real case of depiction, whether the so-called warlords are Mujahideen (Islamic freedom fighters) or contrary to that. Their existence from pre-Soviet invasion is depicting their long struggle, but for what? Presently their fight is against the presence of foreign allied forces. However, it is not just the matter of foreign forces; they had the history of clashes with the rulers of Afghanistan as well whom they considered the dictators or the agents of foreign invaders.

Before the Taliban led government of Mullah Mohammad Omar in 1996, Afghanistan was presided by Burhanuddin Rabbani. The period of Taliban was marked as the most controversial and uneasy period especially for Afghan posterity dreaming the modernization effects in almost every section of life in Afghanistan. Situation however turned against Taliban govt. when Islamic code of conducts was introduced along with the strong punishments for the offenders. According to international media women were abandoned from social and economic fronts. Medical education was restricted to male students. Mainly students of religious groups Taliban, the defenders of Islam were emerged as offenders of humanity in the eye of western media.

As it was the aim of international humanitarian agencies to topple the govt. of Taliban or set free the Afghanis in general and women’s in particular. Therefore, the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States in 2001 was welcomed at large. Although, it was not a smooth transition as to capture Osama dead or alive once again detract Afghanistan’s politics & economy. Thousand of poor souls were shifted to the neighboring secure zones especially in Pakistan rounds and rounds of people were arrived in dilapidated condition. Burhanuddin Rabbani later resumes office and same year succeeded by Hamid Karzai.

From the brief analytical perspective over the political strategic history of Afghanistan that I have briefly narrated above is a bird eye view of country’s bygone era that paved way to Afghanistan’s underdeveloped monetary and mentality.

However, many significant changes were made to establish democracy in Afghanistan; in early 2004, new constitution was accepted making Afghanistan as “Islamic Republic.” It was then decided to held presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in June who was postponed many times due to the fragile security concerns. As in case of Karzai presence, "He has a real, real desire to help his country, But the international community has really done him a disservice." said Kathy Gannon, a veteran Associated Press correspondent in South Asia now writing a book about Afghanistan.

Recently announcement is made to conduct presidential elections on October 9. After the fall of Taliban, it is the first popular vote and of course testing time of allied forces strategy to provide the roadmap for Afghanistan. However, the agenda of capturing Osama or eliminating Al-Qaeda network is yet not achieved. But the fear of comeback of Taliban supporters is growing day by day. Besides that the stories of maltreatment of prisoner’s captive under allied forces were surfaced when the prison abuse of Abu-Ghuraib in Iraq was encountered in western tabloids.

As Afghanistan is going to add another presidential vis-à-vis political chapter in history, more thank 6 million people have registered to vote. After facing decades of war & shattered peace processes, people are waiting for miracle that could bring the real significant and prosperous changes in economic and social security environment. It is a quest of eternal peace that was captured many times either by internal forces of external fallacies.

What Afghans are in desperate need of is the continuity of peace process, harmony among various sects of the nation, economy that could provide respected opportunity of employment rather than forcing them to rely over drug trafficking or migration in search of eternal peace.

West believes that the terrorism is the only devastative affair that jeopardized peaceful affairs. But in my opinion once peace is established then the maintenance of the peaceful coexistence should be the fundamental interpretation or objective of the government to deal for. Do elections give assurance to eternal peace for Afghanistan, is quite difficult to adjust, but the assurance of non-interference by the external powerful forces may be the best option to invite, regulate or implement long lasting peace process in Afghanistan.