Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Growing Tensions within NUG

The differences among the members of National Unity Government (NUG) are very evident now. First, the differences prevailed between the two teams that formed NUG and were led by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah; however, now there are rifts among all the members of both the teams, further complicating the fragile political situation. The dominant gap in this regard is the one that is being developed between the first Vice-President (VP) Gen. Abdur Rashid Dostum and President Ashraf Ghani. The differences first appeared in October last year when Dostum accused President Ghani of nepotism and said people from the president’s ethnic group were important to him, but those from his province were even more important. He gave similar comments about CEO Abdullah as well. However, the differences were further invigorated when Dostum was accused of ordering the maltreatment and sexual harassment of former Jawzjan governor and tribal elder, Ahmad Eshchi. Dostum’s eight bodyguards were mainly accused in the same case and Attorney General Office (AGO) prosecutors had asked Dostum to hand them over to the office. And, now since Dostum has returned to his office in Kabul after a couple of months, there are different sorts of pressure on him to hand over his bodyguards to AGO. 

Security forces on Tuesday, February 21, closed roads to the presidential palace and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in the capital Kabul to arrest the accused bodyguards of first vice-president Gen. Abdur Rashid Dostum. All roads to Sherpoor area of Kabul city where Dostum lives were also closed for traffic.

Officials said that Kabul garrison was ordered to arrest first VP’s bodyguards. Some sources also added that police forces of 10th police district of Kabul on Monday night also tried to arrest the bodyguards of Dostum, but they failed to do so. However, the government then ordered Kabul garrison to prevent Dostum from going to his office and take his bodyguards to justice.

The situation seems very tense and may easily erupt into a tussle if it is not managed properly. The need of the time is to control the situation through candid negotiations, instead of display of power. A clash between Dostum’s bodyguards and the security officials in the heart of capital Kabul will have a far reaching consequences and may raise many serious questions about NUG that has already failed to overcome its differences. In this crucial circumstances when the country is going through a serious juncture, it is important for NUG to maintain unity and discipline among its ranks and rather focus on the issues that benefit the poor people of Afghanistan, instead of running after their own interests and differences. 

Since the formation of NUG, there has not been any improvement in security and many other sectors still suffer from lack of attention. As a matter of fact, the arrangements to tackle the security situation are not up to the mark. The government authorities do not see eye to eye with each other regarding the security situation and the measures to control it. As there is no guideline or consensus on the higher level, the operational teams are not sure about what sort of steps they have to take. In most of the cases, they respond only after the insurgents attack somewhere. They, in short, have only a defensive mechanism to follow. A comprehensive strategy, that should be able to tackle major issues of insecurity in different parts of the country, is the need of time and the government must stand united and committed if it wants to develop such a strategy.  

Good governance, on the other hand, has never been the focus of the government, nor are there possibilities that it would achieve something in this regard in near future. Still a large portion of Afghan society suffer from poverty and unemployment and lack of rudimentary requirements of life. Education for all, rule of law, justice, gender equality, transparency and participatory government, all these can only be achieved when the very basic problems are solved. Thus, making developments in good governance would really be a Herculean task for the government.

Moreover, the economic situation is not getting better as well since the investment has fallen during NUG tenure. Corruption, on the other hand has remained as the most dominant issue even after clear promises by NUG that it will take tangible steps to control this menace. Keeping in view all these issues, NUG needs to focus more on their solution instead of wasting energy on their own differences.  

With the issues of rising insecurity, poor governance, declining investments and rampant corruption threatening the stability, security and legitimacy in Afghan society, there is no other option for the Afghan government to take speedy, effective and tangible measures to control the situation. It cannot keep on prioritizing its internal differences and clashes. Doing so would further deteriorate the situation and weaken the government and its authority and legitimacy.