A Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has said that the US should walk out of Afghanistan and concentrate on rebuilding the American nation. The US has been leading international forces in the war against terrorists and ruthless insurgents over the last ten years. But, frustration with retarded progress is growing both among Afghan observers, analysts, intellectuals and politicians and officials from the countries involved in the mission in Afghanistan.
This ten years presence of international, particularly American forces in the country has not produced tangible results in terms of political development, democratic consolidation, urban development and reconstruction of infrastructures.
It is right to say that the US in conjunction with other NATO member states removed Taliban from power, installed an elected government and the US forces killed Osama Bin Laden whose presence in Afghanistan after 9/11 events served as the cause for international community to intervene in the country. But it is also important to say that the US and international community have paid a lot in blood and treasure.
This huge investment is yet to result in an efficient and accountable government in Kabul, lead to safeguard against the return of cruel militants and bring changes to the lives of Afghan people who continue to fall victims to suicide attacks, roadside bombing and have to pay bribes to get their work done and have government services delivered.
The mission is not accomplished yet because there is not any guarantee for sustainability of the current situation after the withdrawal of international forces even if we deem that the status quo is acceptable. Some US officials complain that Karzai's government is not a credible partner and he himself is not willing to tackle the rampant corruption that has plagued his administration and led to a widening gap between the government and people.
Many Afghan politicians and groups share this notion and some of them have often said that president Karzai's government is part of the problem. For instance, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the former minister of foreign affairs, a former viable presidential candidate and the leader of Change and Hope Coaltion has time and again pointed the failures of the government.
But unfortunately the US and international community have continued their ineffective strategies. It is a common view that, one day, NATO and US forces will have to leave Afghanistan but it must be responsible. In order to ensure a responsible exit, it is high time to leave behind a new power structure tailed to the needs of diverse society of Afghanistan and based on democratic principles.
The call for reconfiguration of power structure by decentralization and change to electoral system is coming from some highly influential and major political groups and alliances, such as the newly established major opposition, National Front of Afghanistan, and Change and Hope Coalition.
International community must help try this new strategy as a last chance to help stabilize Afghanistan. We must begin to hold provincial and district governors accountable to people at the polls not to the president at the presidential palace.
It is time to decentralize power by changing the present strong presidential system into a parliamentary one so that an erratic president does not behave according to his/her whims and personal interests. This can be the last effective strategy international community must begin to adopt to leave behind a democratic and pluralistic Afghanistan.