The one word that you won’t miss in any political and social commentary about Afghanistan is Warlord. This word has taken a life of its own in the last 16 years of US intervention.
Thanks to the international community, especially the U.S., our daily politics have been swamped by warlords. Their influence and power has grown immeasurably ever since 9/11. One of the prominent legacies of the U.S. in the last 16 years is the dominance of warlords in the Afghan society. They have grown rich and gained all sorts of perks. Each one of these warlords currently sit on a caches of weapons and financial resources. They have criminal and militant networks which make sure that their sphere of dominance is intact and that their interests are secured. When the US first came to Afghanistan after 9/11, they have propped up these notorious warlords against Taliban, without paying much heed to their human rights abuses that they have committed during the civil war. These warlords have enjoyed a climate of impunity in all these years. As a result, one of the reasons why there hasn’t been a strong and effective government is because these strongmen have taken top positions inside the government, blocking any hope for reforms and institutions building. On the other hand, a number of technocrats have also come to Kabul after 9/11 with the intention that they would help rebuild the country. But their efforts remained in vain because the system was controlled by warlords equipped with numerous resources. The battle was hard to win against them.
However, 16 years forward, we now face with a defining moment where the same warlords are once again flexing their muscles against a technocrat government led by President Ashraf Ghani, a man who is well aware of the threats these warlords are posing to the peace and prosperity of Afghanistan. Thus, doing everything he can to rid the people of Afghanistan from the dominance and shackles of these warlords. The results are evident. Last week, a few of the strongmen, namely (Dostum, Atta Noor, Salahuddin Rabbani and Mohaqeq) have gathered in Turkey and announced a truly laughable and bizarre declaration that they have formed an alliance to save Afghanistan from chaos. History shows that they have formed such alliances many times before as well, and none of them have yielded any results. This move should also be seen with great suspicion as all of these individuals are part of the current government and they occupy top positions. You can’t be in the government and at the same time be anti-government. The fact is that their personal interests are at risk, and much to their disgust, the current government is no longer keeping up with the status quo which has favoured these warlords for the last 16 years. It’s very important to mention here that the so-called alliance has nothing to do with the representation of any ethnicity as they claim. The only people they work for are their own shared personal interests, and their close family members. They have grown rich (filthy rich), and the public have grown poorer. They don’t have any roots in the society. So to try to fool and delude people, they have always used and stirred ethnic and linguistic hatred amongst Afghans, so they can find a space within the society and legitimacy for all their illegal activities. The minute these warlords are marginalized from power, they throw warnings of havoc by exploiting people’s emotions and anger. But the reality and good news is that the ordinary people of Afghanistan are united, politically matured and closely connected, which automatically defuse all the malign intents and goals of these opportunistic and selfish warlords. People’s loyalty has never been with these individuals, and never have they called on any of these warlords to represent them. In fact, there is an increasing feeling amongst people that there is no difference between Warlords and Taliban. The former one is looting and destroying them from inside and the latter one is killing them from outside.
The current struggle is a fight between right and wrong. It’s about protecting democracy and aspiring for a better future. For Afghanistan to move forward, we need to first fix the problems at home. Thus, the biggest internal problem and challenge for the Afghanistan is warlords and strongmen, who maintain and benefit from corruption and vicious cycle. Democracy needs rule of law, and as long as these warlords and their associates behave above the law, there is never going to be a true democracy.
Therefore, at this crucial time in the history of Afghanistan, everyone including the media must play their vital role against these warlords who are ready to throw the whole country into anarchy so they can gain their own narrow personal agendas. It’s time to hold them accountable. For the sake of Afghanistan’s peace, stability and prosperity, the international partners also have a duty to stop any kind of support they may have for these warlords. Time has reached to put an end to the menace of these warlords as well as restrict and unload their influence from government. Instead, focus more on strengthening public and democratic institutions.
The author is a graduate of Heriot-Watt University in United Kingdom, andcurrently work as a Political Commentator. He can be followed on Twitter @nikyarb.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Khaama Press news agency.