Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Afghans Lost their Trust in Democracy

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Afghans Lost their Trust in Democracy

Afghan President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani insisted on holding elections before a formal peace talks with the Taliban, which was against the Taliban’s demands. After the result of the elections is announced, the Afghan government will call on the Taliban to have direct negotiations.
The voter turnout has been really disappointing. A large number of Afghan people did not participate in the elections. This suggests that there is mistrust between state and nation. Believing that electoral rigging would harm the effect and credibility of the votes, a number of Afghans did not participate.
The Taliban’s threat and instability would have been one of the reasons behind the low turnabout. According to the public belief, they have paid heavy sacrifices for democracy, but Afghan officials were not able to ensure their rights and freedoms within the past 18 years. Despite their active participation in parliamentary and presidential elections, the situation remains unstable due to the security reason and administrative corruption continued. After all, the strong disagreement between officials within the past five years compounded the public mistrust. Afghan officials exchanged harsh remarks against one another and some candidates sought to blame one another for the past mistakes.
With this in mind, the public will view officials with distrust and would believe that all they do are for their own interests.
Although the country’s National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib said in the 74th sessions of the United Nations Assembly that almost three million Afghanis voted on September 28 despite the “threat of terrorism”. However, the question is that how less than three million people will determine the future of about 35 million population?
Lack of people’s participation in the recent presidential elections have put democracy under question. Afghan officials have to ask themselves why people, who flocked to ballot boxes in the past, have not tried to vote. It is really painful to see that despite spending millions of dollars, people are not willing to participate.
Rather than security issue, corruption is the main reason behind public reluctant attitude toward elections. For example, when I asked ordinary people whether or not they participated in the election, they said they would not participate since their vote made no changes and electoral rigging would take place. If Afghan officials are really concerned about elections and national interests, why they allowed rigging, which was reported, even in their favor. Hence, violation of law starts even since the Election Day.
Whoever wins the elections, he has to win the public trust through carrying out some of the following issues. First, it is the issue of peace talks. Afghan officials have to bring in peace and instability so that people could live a peaceful life. Afghans are concerned about the negotiations and do not have a clear picture about them. Afghan officials have to persuade the Taliban leadership through their leverage of regional and global stakeholders to hold direct talks and stop violence against Afghan soldiers and civilians. If war continues for the next five years, people will lose their hope and it is feared that they will even ban elections if they bring no changes in their life.
Second, Afghans are highly concerned about the unmitigated administrative corruption within the government machinery. For instance, 18 years have passed from the establishment of a democratic government, Afghanistan still remains on the top list of the most corrupt countries in the world. So, what are officials and law enforcers doing here? What are the advantage of democracy?
If the challenges such as instability and corruption continue in Afghanistan, people will lose their trust in democracy. Under a democratic government, laws have to be enforced and all people, including officials, have to be equal in the eye of law. People should be able to exercise their rights and freedoms under democracy.
But in the past 18 years, lawlessness and violation of Afghan Constitution has been changed into daily practices for some individuals, especially those who had higher political positions. Afghanistan will not be secure and prosperous unless corrupt officials are prosecuted fairly and a strong campaign is launched against corruption. Even security is strongly related with corruption.
Conducting elections, first Afghan officials have to believe in democracy and the rule of law and respect the public suffrage and votes. Reducing democracy to only elections will not be enough. The future president and Afghan officials have to bury their differences and prefer national interests to their personal interests so as to win the public trust.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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