The ever increasing grip of former warlords in Afghan politics
With the opportunity arising post 9/11, the afghan infamous warlords financially enriched themselves and they are turning to become the main contenders in the upcoming presidential elections in early 2014. Less than a year to go to the elections, the former mujahedeen leaders are already in search of forming coalition to dominate and monopolize the upcoming presidential race. They have already started distributing arms among their loyalists and are in no terms to let a transparent and accountable leadership with a possibility of cracking down their illicitly gained assets and a likely criminal persecution take the charge.
Unfortunately the rise and empowering of these warlords did not happen to unfold overnight, in contrast the exploitation and power abuse was intentionally bestowed among them by their friends in the Afghan government and unknowingly by the negligence of the U.S. administrationís initial approaches to deal with these entities. These warlords more and less with tangible ties within and outside the government managed to greatly benefit from foreign contracts valuing millions of dollars to reemerge as todayís most notorious political and economic tycoons. They have reached a point that nobody can mess with them and they have occasionally warned the U.S. to restart a devastating civil war in the country if they were ever sidelined by the international community in the countryís future political process.
No doubt, they are openly involved in extortion, kidnappings, money laundering and tax evasion and still enjoy absolute freedom to get away with all these crimes. Regretfully despite having solid criminal evidence against many of them, the law enforcement agencies have not been able to go after them, as a result after a decade Afghanistan instead of moving towards the emergence of rational political institutions is once again in the edge of falling in the hands of those whom the people hated to see in power and wished for their criminal persecution.
Now the zero sum option put forward by Washington due to the insane negotiation tactics of the prevailing Afghan president has already given the Taliban the incentive to further escalate insecurity across the country and win more friends within the afghan society. Sealing the bilateral security agreement (BSA) shall not be confined to the hesitation of an outgoing president who is already known for swinging his stands and unnecessary backlashes with our international partners. This agreement shall be looked upon as a long-term assurance by the U.S. government to Afghan security and safeguarding the flow of democracy in the country in the foreseeable future. Fortunately most of the potent contenders for the next Afghan presidential elections have already expressed their willingness to sign the BSA with U.S. at its earliest and it shall send a clear message to Washington to shift their focus from dealing with an insane president to a more rational approach to signing this crucial agreement with the incoming leadership.
Compared to the previous elections in the country, this one portrays an exceptional importance in regards to the future and well-being of the ordinary Afghans. I strongly believe that with slight negligence in addressing the issue of transparent and impartial elections in the country, there is a great danger of Afghanistan yet again becoming a safe sanctuary for the Al-Qaeda operatives and training camps.
Moreover it will be unjust for the U.S. administration as the biggest aid contributor to Afghanistan to stay out of the elections and let the warlords takeover and lay the ideal of a prosperous, internationally integrated and democratic Afghanistan to rest. Unfortunately, they have the political and financial means to buy out any elections and suppress democracy and freedom that are the two biggest gains in a decade long war against terror.
Last but not least, the people of Afghanistan have bitter memories of the recent devastating civil war and their only hope at the moment is a key involvement of Washington to persuade president Karzai to step down peacefully and let a democratic power transition processed at its natural pace.
Author: Naser Koshan