By: Ahmad Shah Katawazai

Mafia in AfghanistanWith Taliban gone the warlords supported by the U.S. established themselves back in the new government and economic sector of Afghanistan unleashing a new phase of miseries and sufferings upon the people who already had suffered from a series of brutalities. Commencing with Soviet occupation, a communist dictatorship, the civil war and rule of warlords, the extremist Taliban and now again under an internationally backed government-mafia-warlords nexus Afghans are still suffering from plethora of problems.

Today we are witnessing that the status quo is not working, it is pushing the society backward with out bringing any substantive change in the lives of majority. The country economy is still fragile, unemployment high, security situation deteriorated, insurgents getting stronger day by day, rampant corruption, nepotism and overall the job market is a sorry mess. Today no institution seems immune, Laws are crafted but not implemented and the country is vulnerable in almost all aspects.

Government-Mafia-Warlords Nexus

The warlords-turned-politicians and corrupt ex-leaders of the so called factions, refusing to budge from their positions has both befuddled and infuriated the vast bunch of population. These warlords then have orchestrated a sort of mafia which is a ragtag collection of criminals that took part in the internal fighting/civil war and then in the U.S. led war against terrorism in 2001 and currently influencing both the economy and government of the country.

A specific segment of the society is given all the authority and privileges holding top positions in the government, the positions that they use for their parochial personal gains. This is the goal that they share to make the country ungovernable and to take advantage by exploiting situation in their favor.

Warlords and mafia have long entrenched themselves in every sphere of government and the important economic sectors, squandering public funds and abusing authority for their personal gains. Which results in an increasing gap between rich and poor?

Unfortunately there are very few voices raising up to sow dissension against the venal government-mafia-warlords nexus that has not only fattened itself on public property and money but has also perpetuated a system which only looks after the interests of the so-called elite or privileged class at the expense of rights of the majority.

This is a real concern and a grave threat hampering almost all ways towards progress and prosperity.

Major part of the society (Youth) ignored

Afghanistan has gone through a prolonged turmoil and upheaval in which an important and significant part of the society is ignored. According to UNDP 68% of population of Afghanistan is below 25 years of age, a significant and dynamic part of the society which is derided of their rights.

Already anarchy prevails for the impoverished and under-privileged of the country’s 90 percent population. Rampant corruption in the government, increasing violence, deep poverty, and feckless government is the real grievances of Afghan youth bulge, which contributes to general dissatisfaction, pessimism and resentment among the population. The government has failed to meet even the basic needs of the people.

Majority of the population is poor, unemployed and young. Major part of the young generation then have nowhere to go but the street, join insurgents or go abroad for labour if that’s not the case then probably would have to end up a day labourer inside the country where most Afghans live on less than $1 a day.

Finding no alternative route, part of these youths in their young age that has indeed extremist tendencies which can be led on any direction joins the insurgents, which are then groomed and trained for fight and suicide missions.

The most unfortunate part of the problem is that the ruling class lack political will and determination for economic reforms to unfold.

Presently there seems no single power out there for this youth bulge to bring peace, change or betterment. This young generation is misled and exploited through wrong propaganda.

Where to Begin?

We are passing through a tenacious battle but not that much complicated that couldn’t be managed.

What is needed at this stage is rise and call for a relentless peaceful struggle for a corruption and mafia free society which should reflect and resonate with the demands of the population.

There is anger, a feeling of dissatisfaction which need to be changed into a real consistent positive change. This Change should be through peaceful and non violent means which should resonate and reflect with the interests of the majority of the country.

The swelling resolve to birth a movement that would usher in the fledgling democracy with transparency and accountability as hallmarks is required to be assumed.

It will be this youth bulge guided by broader picture that will vigorously try to overcome poverty through a constructive and positive approach and create an opportunity and growth both on the security and economic side. If they have the will, unity and committed leadership, indeed they can bring a real change by cracking down on the so called warlords and mafia.

The purpose here is not to advocate a need to generate another series of turmoil and upheaval. What I meant is to bring pressure through various but peaceful instruments like pressure groups, lobbying, and movement or by getting into government position a voice should be raised and awareness campaign launched for alternative resources so that the country can be led on the right direction and gets it rid of the menaces it is facing.

This burgeoning pressure will help in shaking government malfeasance and welcomed with open arms by vast majority of the desperately poor people. Which will then give wings to the dreams and desires of millions of young Afghan generation?

Now the time is rife for this action, if this young generation didn’t capitalize of this moment taking advantage of the unique opportunity in their possession, their efforts will be fruitless in the later stage.

Young Generation Potentials

The young generation that is working in different sectors both private and government will help much in galvanizing and giving momentum to such movement.

Youth can play major role in bringing down mafia and working for a real positive change. This burgeoning young population will help speed economic growth and act as a sign of positive development in the standards of life.

As responsible citizens they have responsibility to protect their interests as well as the foremost national interests of the country.

In the later stage it should push for brining to justice all those criminals and warlords and those who are responsible for abuse in the past years. One of the key components of this momentum should be access to justice for all.

Clichés of the past bygone now

The cliché of the past three decades of war made as a scapegoat to hide their misdoings is bygone now. Amazingly and pathetically they still use this cliché and cleanse their hands by saying that Afghanistan has passed through three decades of war and it needs time to recover. But the reality is that it has been about a decade, despite having a unique golden opportunity where all the international community is helping they couldn’t bring substantial change. Which is definitely due to lack of commitment and determination for the welfare of people and national interests of the country.

We do have laws but are not implemented and encroached by the people (warlords and corrupt elements in the government) having influence, and mere laws won’t be able to bring good governance, ensure justice and curb corruption, which unfortunately has been institutionalized in the present stage flowing almost through every artery of the state.

Now it is up to the president as a leader to plan and carve out well planned policies explicitly presenting what he wants and how he’s going to get there, that should get rid of warlords or let this young generation grab the power.

Otherwise the young generation have ample reasons to intervene; plenty of people are ready to raise their voice which needs leadership. They have been closely monitoring the situation and development taking place across the region. The recent changes in leadership and call for justice in the Middle East could be cited as a good example currently.

Recommendations:

There should be citizenship participation, a seductive promise from every one for the betterment and economic efficacy of the country with out involving in the pesky need to compete for political power.

We should support and back the government in places where it delivers good economic and security results promoting peace initiatives and working in the national interest of the country and population.

Only through laws and policies nothing can be done, change is needed at high level in the establishment, an honest and committed team or leadership is needed which should led the country in the right direction.

Civil society is needed to be strengthened, a vibrant and functioning civil society will indeed play pivotal role in this process. They should act as vocal, engaged, assertive and responsible patriot citizens taking interest in every aspect of life.

In this broad national effort all patriot are asked to play a key part and contribute constructively in the change which is inevitable for the country at the current times.

Conclusion

This is perhaps the single best opportunity to start with especially at a times when the warlords popularity that they enjoyed in the past is on a downward spiral, thanks to the internet and modern technology that keeps aware, brings together and links young generation through communication both from inside the country and those living in abroad.

The challenges Afghanistan is facing today are plenty but manageable especially at a time when the international community is present in the country. The youth bulge that the country is possessing is an opportunity for the country as long as it is led on the right direction.

If they don’t take advantage of this unique opportunity, power will be in the hands of those who are feeding themselves on the rights and property of majority from the past three decades.

In the first place it seems un-pragmatic and a brittle condescension to stand against the so called strong government-warlords-mafia nexus, especially at a time when they are in power but if there is strong will and determination it is possible and a dynamic youth bulge that Afghanistan is possessing if comes out for change will indeed make it working.