It has been more than a year since the parliamentary elections opened up another chapter, albeit controversial, in Afghanistan's post-Taliban experience with democracy. The happenings, ever since, have been bitter with the brutal political tug of war, involving the three branches of the state, casting a long shadow over the health of Afghanistan's politics and its political institutions.
The appellate court of Kabul, in a swift turn of events, referred the verdict of the special tribunal to the President, declaring him as the "supreme judge". The special tribunal was set up by President Karzai to inquire into the allegations of electoral fraud.
The President, in turn, passed the bowl of rotten political food back to the square one: the Independent Election Commission. The commission, after much back-channel wheeling and dealing with the government, drew up an arbitrary list of 9 fresh MP's to be inducted into the parliament in place of 9 other MP's.
It has been a long time since these 9 persons were certified as MP's by the Commission and were given their seats in the floor of the lower House, the Wolesi Jirga. The other 9 Parliamentarians have since been barred from entering the house much to the dismay of the Coalition for the Support of Law, a broad coalition of lawmakers opposed to what they call a government that is "irresponsible and acts in tyranny".
Since the induction of the 9 new MP's, the Coalition for the Support of Law has boycotted the sessions of the Wolesi Jirga, preferring instead to hold their own meetings and consultations outside the chamber of the lower House.
The sessions of the Wolesi Jirga do not see required number of MP's for the proceedings to become official. The Wolesi Jirga, the lower House of Afghanistan's parliament, is rendered incapacitated; it is thrown in disarray. It is unable to offer solutions to its own crippling infighting, let alone offering solutions to the horrendous barrage of internal and external disasters that are laying siege on Afghanistan.
It was hoped that once the 9 new MP's are inducted into the parliament, the Wolesi Jirga could return to normalcy and focus wholeheartedly on the many urgent problems that that the country faces. The gaping hole and the long division have come to cripple the parliament. The Coalition for the Support of Law has put a blanket ban on the proceedings of the Wolesi Jirga. The parliament of Afghanistan is bleeding.
Rudderless and asleep at the wheel
Afghanistan is standing at historic crossroads. Afghan people expect the parliament of the country and their representatives, who are sent to the assembly by their votes, to rise to the myriad crises that have engulfed the country.
The violent insurgency by the Taliban and other militant groups, the breakdown in security and governance across the country, the serial assassinations of the country's senior leaders, the unstable economic situation, heightened regional tensions, and a peace and reconciliation process that lies in shambles, all call for an active parliament that would partner with the government in tackling these myriad crises. Far from displaying a combatant spirit, our parliament is sound asleep at the wheel.
Weaknesses and a measure of incompetence on the part of the Wolesi Jirga's administrative leadership have further added to the troubles and rendered rudderless the national assembly. It is only normal that the leadership of any political institution, including a country's parliament, steer their organizations through turbulent waves towards stability.
Currently, our parliament is in desperate need of a wise and politically-savvy leadership that can provide the necessary direction, instill a spirit of unity in our lawmakers, wake them to the gravity of the situation and make them forgo differences in the larger interest of the country, the nation and the democratic process of legislation. At present, such a leadership is painfully missing.
One year after the Parliamentary elections, seven ministries of the government are still run by acting ministers. The attorney general and the chief justice and three judges of the Supreme Court are yet to be introduced to the Parliament for the crucial confidence vote.
Relations among the three branches of the state have never been more dysfunctional. Some border areas of the country in Kunar province, for the past few days, have been reeling under heavy artillery bombardment and we do not yet have a functioning parliament, which can at least put out a statement condemning this misdeed.
These are some of the gravest shortcomings that threaten to derail not only the nascent democratic process but also threaten the very existence of the Afghan government. These are the very symptoms that distinguish a failed state from a functioning state.
If Afghanistan is not already a "failed state", the current conditions, if not reversed, would make sure that Afghanistan will be on its way to become one.
The success of the nascent democratic process in Afghanistan and the ability of the Afghan state to stand on its feet would require years of nurturing and outside assistance. This is so while the window of opportunity open in front of Afghanistan will not accessible to it indefinitely. This is a serious cause for concern.
The missteps and misdeeds of our own politicians and leadership class are just as dangerous as are the mistakes of our foreign allies such as the U.S. If the decade-long efforts in Afghanistan end in failure, historians of tomorrow will rightly implicate us and our leadership rather than our allies. First and foremost, our destiny lies on our own shoulders.
However, it is by no means too late for Afghanistan to start anew its quest for peace, stability and prosperity. Our allies, including the U.S., are revisiting and reassessing their strategies in Afghanistan. Afghanistan government too is in need of revisiting its past track record and reassessing what has gone wrong and what has gone right.
It is only in the light of past mistakes and failures that one can chalk out the right course for future action. It is an opportune time for the Afghan state to do an honest and thorough introspection, find out the causes of failure and renew its tryst with destiny.