Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 10th, 2018

The Dream of Democracy

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The Dream of Democracy

Sociologists and political scientists, who have favored the idea of accidental emergence of renaissance and the modern age, ascertain that it has been a longtime, hard journey to go. Talking on modern concepts such as democratization, they believe it is not a linear process and needs exceptional feasibility studies, varying from one nation to another. While scrutinizing the failed experiments of modernization and democratization processes in certain countries, the idea of accidental development may seem true. Amongst them, Afghanistan seems to be experiencing a failed development process that has come across severe challenges in the course of last one century. The very preliminary measures to introduce modernism and development were kicked off by the young, reformist King, Amanullah Khan, at the early decades in twentieth century. Since then, the process has seen great vicissitudes. Apart from the short period of constitutionalism and the so called democracy decade in our country, the nation has been more familiar with despotism, irregular, self-centered approaches by Afghan rulers and totalitarianism rather than free, democrat and egalitarian systems.

Following a long chaotic juncture, the failed process was resumed here under great pressures and strong supports from international community. A ray of hope was opened for the nation to enjoy a peaceful, law-based and development-oriented epoch. However, challenges remain highly threatening. The primary steps taken so far are, at some points, getting jeopardized by politicized mindsets and weak rule of law at different levels of the government.

As an emerging democracy, Afghanistan needs to give a boost to rule of law, stick to the national constitution and institutionalize legal trends and approaches in the violence-plagued country. The long standing war position of the country has drastically devastated the bases for legalism and conformism. To restore rule of law and legal control over issues, the government needs to adhere to the laws of the country and demonstrate practical acceptance of the laws. With strong traditional bases for opposition to democratic benchmarks, the political development process remains highly brittle here. The world-backed state building process that implies supporting democracy has moved some steps ahead under great assistance from the world democracies and financial and political aids during the last one decade. Nonetheless, clear indications say that Afghan government is required to practically strengthen the procedures before this generous cooperation is terminated.

Above and beyond scores of transformations in socio-political arena in post-Taliban Afghanistan, Afghans began to establish democratic institutions in the country and thus build a democratic society. Of course, institutionalizing democracy in Afghanistan is harder than in any other parts of the world. Looking into the current situation, it can be obviously noticed that factors and prerequisites helping to fix democracy in a country is hardly accessible in Afghanistan. Security and political stability are the two main prerequisites of a successful democratization process both of which are currently missing in Afghanistan. However, there are some promising elements to push this process forward. There have been extreme fluctuations in the democratization process. Since Taliban was toppled down in 2001, there have been mechanisms developed and procedures outlined to protect civilians' political rights and self-determination. On the other hand, destructive occurrences and detrimental approaches have somewhat influenced the promising outlook of the newly-born process of democratization.

The contentious elections special tribunal is, at this point, leading the country into a fatal chaotic state. It was formed following parliamentary election last year as a result of demonstrations held by the losing candidates. Irrespective of legal position of Independent Elections Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission, the court was established mainly on political basis and alliances. Following long delays, the President ultimately inaugurated the new parliament, at the same time as giving the green light to the special court to carry on operations. The country's top legislation authority, the lower house of Parliament, unanimously disapproved the court's legality. The parliamentarians believe that the special tribunal is illegal based on the article 127 of national constitution. However, political adherence and self-interested groups didn't allow the democratic procedures to get institutionalized here calmly. Thus, political conflict was raised among government, Parliament and the judicial bodies.

Afghan MPs paid several visits to the presidential palace to convince the president that the special tribunal was unconstitutional and had to be terminated immediately. But no proves made the president agree with parliamentarians. Several deadlines were set by both parties to dissolve the special tribunal. Deadlines were violated and no consensus came into existence between government, judiciary and the parliament. The parliament wanted to summon officials of the Attorney General and the Supreme Court over illegal formation of the special electoral tribunal. However, none of them paid heed towards Wolesi Jirga calls. As a result, both were hit by wrath of the parliament as soon as the special tribunal announced results of what it called the legal inspection of cases. It overturned nearly 25 percent of last year's legislative election results Thursday, alleging massive fraud and putting into question that who will control the parliament. Lawmakers on the parliament floor shouted about the "illegal" special tribunal and threatened to hold demonstrations against what they saw as a power grab by president Karzai. Special Court Judge Sidiqullah Haqiq said international advisers consider the re-counts illegal, but the tribunal insists that it has the power to overturn results and even order entire provinces to revote.

Subsequent to the last parliamentary elections, many Afghan and international observers asserted that Afghan Independent Elections Commission had done great job in ensuring integrity, freedom and fair voting. However, certain cases of technical shortcomings were acknowledged by IEC officials. Releasing preliminary results, the Commission officials said almost quarter of the votes cast have been nullified after an investigation spurred by widespread charges of fraud. The IEC decision laid bare the enormous extent of malfeasance in the Sept. 18 vote, which was billed as a showpiece of the country's nascent democracy. Analysts said it demonstrated the ability of formerly pliant electoral officials to disqualify ballots because of ballot box stuffing, wholesale vote buying or threats to voters from armed gunmen, among other offenses. Scrutinizing the pros and cons of the commission's functioning during last year elections, one understands that if old biased approaches remain rampant in Afghanistan, the sprouting democracy will unquestionably be put in the agony of death. Despite, some irregularities witnessed during last elections, indications suggested that IEC had proved well and efficient. As expected, the last election was of the very significant role in establishing a democratic state and promoting egalitarian values.

Following last year's parliamentary elections, researches said that, in contrast to the traditional modus operandi, the recent elections had brought about a pluralistic body, consisting of more independent and opposition figures rather than pro-government members. This indicated the growing independent thinking in public who had learnt great lessons from hard experiences in the course of last decades. But the tribunal results have disclosed that majority of the newly-announced winners are pro-government candidates who can later serve government purposes inside parliament. So, the politicized judgment by the special tribunal will not serve the country's purpose of democratization. Irrespective of the direct social and political instability the announcement will create, it endangers the country's struggle for overcoming challenges on the way to build a democrat nation. Thus, Afghanistan's dream of democracy may gradually fade away by politicizing the legal processes and exploiting the country's judiciary system.

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