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Ghani-in-Chief – What the Roadmap for the Next Five Years Should Look

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Ghani-in-Chief – What the Roadmap for the Next Five Years Should Look

President Ghani’s first term in the office can at best be described turmoiled domestically and internationally: the constant bickering with Pakistan over the latter’s covertsupport of the Taliban; the outcast of his current NSA bythe U.S.; the struggle with the extraconstitutional Chief Executive’s Office; the dilemma of peace accord with the Taliban at the expense of elections and now a second term; the formation of an all accepting and open arm alliance against Ghani’s ticket by his former NSA and a host of other mishaps at all levels are some of the examples. However, the unique leadership style of President Ghani in dealing with what can be touted as the toughest situation in post 9/11 Afghanistan and with the pernickety and fastidious politicians and ethnic leaders has won him accolades where critics exhausted resources. 

The results of the 2019 elections, another challengingordeal for the Afghans as well as the international community, has produced its results. Despite the overwhelming number of complaints registered primarily to bring President Ghani’s vote percentage to below 50 percent, the likelihood of elections going to a run-off or President Ghani not securing enough votes for a second term was negligible. 

Therefore, the question is how will an independent government without a Dr. Abdullah Abdullah breathing down President Ghani’s throat look like? Also, what are the key issues that he needs to address to instill confidence in a better Afghanistan?

Security: The number one issue that has affected the everyday life of the average citizens a great deal is security. Hence, it was included in the millennium development goals for Afghanistan. More than employment, food and shelter, Afghans want security. 

Taliban: The day the Afghan government and the international community agreed to ink a peace deal with the Taliban was the day the Taliban got their lost recognition. Every international meeting with the Taliban adds a feather in their hat and rejuvenates financial, logistical and human support. The Taliban see the meetings a form of kneeling to their brutal and indiscriminate killings and massacre of the innocent Afghans and asking for their mercy. Hence, they call the shots however they please and cannot come to an agreement. 

If President Ghani wants to show Afghans and the rest of the world that he is an elected and lawful leader, he has to dig his heels to the ground and ask the Taliban to return as citizens and fight for their rights and privileges as did Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. 

The Taliban have to: renounce all forms of violence and active combat; withdraw from their unspoken yet unwavering allegiance to the Pakistani government as well as any international terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaida; surrender weapons; accept the constitution as the governing law of the country; and agree to lobby for any change in the Afghan government or society through democratic means possible.

It will be a blunder to woo the Taliban into a peace process through undeserving carrots, such as leaving a few provinces under their hegemony, offering cabinet seats and/or any other perks. It has not worked in the past and it will never work again.   

If the Taliban do not agree to such fair terms, the Afghanistan government should see that the Taliban do not find a safe heaven in Afghanistan, Pakistan or anywhere else anymore. President Ghani has to pump out financial, logistical and human support of the Taliban by force and through diplomatic means. Such a drastic measure may mean even more violence, but be it. Afghans are dying every day and would rather die trying to do what is best for the country than in fear and not combatting the enemy properly. 

BulliesThere cannot be any space in the New Ghani Afghanistan for bullies. The average citizen cannot take anymore of the bullies and live in fear. President Ghani should drain the swamp and rid Afghans of bullies who fearlessly trample the law for their personal gains. Democracy is all about expressing one’s opinion and not getting persecuted for it. However, challenging a government to a violent showdown is not freedom of expression, it is purely an act of outlaw and should be punished duly. 

ID Cards: It is literally impossible to maintain the rule of law or law and order in a country where its population is “estimated” at best; most of its citizens have one names that are pretty common; addresses are based on the nearest mosques, bathhouses, famous people’s homes and so on and so forth. A centralized issued modern identification card can establish the basis for better security, economic and social initiatives. 

Education: Afghanistan has partially failed in providing (quality) education to its citizens. Afghans direly need religious and contemporary education for two reasons: One, to understand Islam enough in order not to fall prey to the extremists’ groups; two, to make a living using that education. If the aforementioned two objectives are taken into consideration, the Afghanistan government has failed in terms of quality. Therefore, President Ghani needs an overhaul of the current education system. Arabic, Qur’anic interpretation, TajweedhadithSiret-ul-Nabiand a host of other important religious subjects need to be taught more comprehensively at school levels so that Afghan children are equipped with proper religious education upon graduation and not fall prey to extremism. 

According to the Constitution, education to grade 16 (undergraduate degree) is a right. However, Kankor or the Afghan version of entrance exam or placement test has turned the right into a privilege. Yearly, thousands of hopefuls are rejected university seats due to such an unfair process. Afghanistan can no longer afford to refuse its citizens the basic rights it has vowed to provide for. Therefore, the solution to the problem is building more schools, employing more teachers and a proper distance learning system, not an ousting through an old system. 

Economy: Afghanistan has been a laboratory of economic regimes right from outright socialism to extreme capitalism. Both regimes have had its share of success and failures, pros and cons and supporters. However, a middle ground needs to be worked so that an average citizen can find food on their dining tables.

Ownership: Putting patriotic and sentimental values aside, why should Afghans back the government and not fleeabroad? What is in it for an average Afghan? S/he does not know own a home because it is too expensive, cannot get quality education or a job and so on and so forth. In order to give ownership to the citizens who are the ultimate owners of the land and the government, the latterwill need to offer land to the average citizens that they can call home. Having a piece of land as home will be the first step to ownership. 

Plants: Considering the overall education level, demands of the people and the low-cost labor, establishing large plants in Afghanistan will surely employ a good chunk of the unemployed population. If large corporations such as Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Walmart, Amazon etc. can establish a footprint in Afghanistan, the unemployment ratio will decline and such establishments can be the gateway to great economic strides. However, such corporate stalwarts need security and stability, which the government has to provide. 

Nasrat Esmaty has a Master of Arts Degree in Poverty and Development from the Institute of Development Studies in the UK and an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences from San Joaquin Delta College in the U.S. He is the author of Blue Blood Mirage – on the other Side of Illusion and constantly writes or blogs on development issues with a focus on gender poverty. 


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Afghanistan electionsAfghanistan Taliban

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