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12.02.2009 Feature Article

Hamid Karzai in image crisis

Afghanistan is a country that witnessed many invasions from the West to the East and from the ancient time of human history to till date. The ancient Caucasian, Greek, Turk, Mongols, who ever came to South Asia, presented it as the way to reach the region.

Now the country is tagged as a war-trodden, almost non-working state. It has a government under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai, a western trained Afghan; but, still under the influence of US-led combined force and the ongoing conflict with Taliban militants, Karzai in some way losing his ground owing to stability and development.

As the youngest member nation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Afghanistan has to deal with all its political, social and economical problems in close cooperation with other countries of the region. And moreover, the effort of the present government to project itself to the countryside is of high significance.

The country is a combination of several races like Afghan, Tajik, Persian and other small anthropological groups. There is a deference of religious philosophical thoughts, Shi'a and Sunni, among the citizens. Moreover, social power structure, which is yet in the character of feudalism, is more powerful than the administrative one.

Though the government of Afghanistan is elected by popular vote, only urban areas are under the control of its administrative agencies. Vast mountainous rural territories are largely controlled by local chieftains and warlords related to Taliban and other militant outfits. The strength of those conservative and lawless warlords is well reflected from the closer of girls schooling in formal education system almost all around the country, including the capital city Kabul.

In present day, once-popular Hamid Karzai has lost his image among the people. One of the important causes of his image disaster is related to the foreign military presence in the country. Moreover, his reign has not done much in terms of the economic betterment of the common men. Then again, Taliban and other militant out fits are also becoming out of control, and in fact, other than Kabul, a parallel administration is running over the rural Afghanistan that makes people to question his policies.

Present US policy is also against Hamid Karzai. US administration has already taken a policy to closely work with regional or provincial administration bypassing Karzai government that shows that US administration is unwilling to see Hamid Karzai as president after the upcoming election scheduled for this year.

The degree and pattern of the relationship with Pakistan is also an important factor for Afghan administration. Present relationship is not that much of cordial, even under a democratic setup in Pakistan which is itself in volatile state due to various internal and external factors. The warmness of Pakistan- Afghanistan relationship became a bit stiff after the killing of an Indian embassy official in Kabul. The Karzai administration had blamed it to Pakistan and finally it came under the fire of Pakistani agencies. Virtually Hamid Karzai becomes a political victim of a diplomatic war between India and Pakistan.

As of now, a dozen of international bodies related to UN or World Bank and dozens of foreign and local NGOs are active in Afghanistan. There is a notion that where NGO community is powerful in dispensing services, the State itself is not that much capable to dole out its responsibility as a State. NGOs are doing their jobs to a certain level as social service, but it is not a permanent solution for the stability of the country.

As representative of people, State should have the ability to provide social sector services, facilitate the nation in gathering wealth in terms of knowledge and money. It is true that Afghan government has failed to do so, but it is also true that international community is reluctant to make the war trodden nation capable for their betterment. As a regional body, SAARC should take proper initiative to resolve problems related to Afghan politics, society and economics.

Mohoshin Abbas
Mohoshin Abbas, © 2009

This author has authored 26 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: MohoshinAbbas

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