Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, April 20th, 2018

Challenges Ahead of Democracy

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Challenges Ahead of Democracy

Exercising one’s rights and freedom is highly essential in a democratic country. People’s natural and inviolable rights and dignity have to be protected on the basis of law regardless of their racial, sexual or religious backgrounds. Neither liberal practices should encounter barriers from the ideologues side nor religious values are to be disrespected. Narrowing the air for freedoms, mainly freedoms of thoughts and expressions, and sacrificing the rights of the public for self-interests will undermine democracy in a country and pave the way for social and political instability.
It is believed that in a democratic country, the constitution is approved by people’s representatives, fair and free presidential and provincial elections are held on the basis of the same constitution, parliament, which is deemed “the beating heart of democracy”, is established and the public rights to life, liberty and estate are considered equal in the eye of law. Moreover, power-sharing, which prevents from centralizing power in a single body, by legislative, executive and judiciary branches are very integral in a democratic state. Law should ensure the rights of the public and executive power is to enforce the law strictly.
The nascent democracy faces many barriers in Afghanistan in one way or another. Besides being threatened by warring parties, the process of democratization is also hampered by the state. Enforcement of law is very poor in the country and sometimes influential individuals violate the law with impunity. As a result, a national survey released that the Constitution was widely violated by the state. For instance, months have passed from the legal period of Parliamentary election; however, there is no preparation for election – which is in direct conflict with Constitution. Similarly, the cabinet has not been completed and the ministry of defense, alike some other significant posts, is controlled by acting head.
On the other hand, warring parties pose the bulk of threat to democracy across the country. The recent escalation in militancy and emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) group, which increased civilian casualties, challenge the democratization process to a high extent. People fell victim on the basis of their race, color, creed, etc. and many were scapegoat by the militants as means of pressurizing the government. The militants continue their terrorist attacks and violate the rights of the public without an iota of mercy. They neither recognize the Constitution nor respect the ethical code and social norms being practiced in public.
To strengthen democracy, the government sought for more than a decade to bring warring parties, mainly the Taliban outfit, to negotiating table. The High Peace Council (HPC) was established in 2010 and tasked to get the militants to lay their arms and join peace process. A number of the Taliban prisoners were released during Hamid Karzai’s administration as peace offering. But none gave the desired result and all doors were closed. The militants have now escalated their insurgency and undermine democracy through their acts of horror and terror.
Our nation is prone to militancy and as if our soil is infertile for establishing democracy. People’s freedoms are curtailed, their rights and dignity are trampled upon and their blood is spilt despite their active participation in election. In other words, citizens’ rights are not protected in the way as declared in the constitution and the state failed to carry out its responsibility. Vis-à-vis enforcing law, the legislative and executive powers do not move parallel to each other. For instance, our law is approved on the basis of religious code and international law, which is agreed upon by the public, however, it is not enforced properly – this will be a major blow to democracy. Although election symbolizes democracy, it is just one of the elements provided on being held free and fair. So, democracy has many elements, as mentioned above, and each is essential in forming a democratic society – void of violence, cruelty and discrimination.
To form a violent-free society, extending religious tolerance plays a key role, especially in countries where religious extremists are involved in instability and stoke tension on the grounds of people’s creed and beliefs. Sine man is born with a set of natural and inalienable rights, he is free to exercise his rights and no one can restrict them but on the basis of law. Therefore, those who infringe on people’s rights and liberty under the name of religion or beliefs must be brought to justice. Hence, conducting desert court, lynching one on the street for breaking a moral norm, spilling the individuals’ blood, discriminating against women or an ethnic minority group, etc. put barriers ahead of democratization process in the country.
Based on theory of “social contract”, people have submitted all authority to government in return for having their rights and dignity protected. They agree on being ruled and having restriction on their rights and freedom under the government’s power and to be prosecuted in case of breaking law, but safeguarding the rights of the public is the state’s main responsibility. So, the government will have to provide a safe ground for citizens so that they can exercise their human rights with dignity. To strengthen the burgeoning democracy, the state should hold an eagle eye on enforcing law not only outside but also inside the government’s machinery.

Hujjattullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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