Public sentiment points to the misguided application of Western-style democracy in Afghanistan as a fundamental clash with Afghan cultural values, exacerbated by a lack of public awareness about democratic principles. This, among other factors, contributed to the failure of democracy in Afghanistan.
The Kabul administration, under the influence of warlords and pro-West factions, fostered rampant corruption and failed to empower Afghan citizens to oversee their government meaningfully. Consequently, after two decades, Afghans were disenchanted with a distant government that lacked respect for their dignity. The rise of the Taliban, a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist movement primarily comprised of Pashto speakers from remote areas with limited exposure to urban civilization, became a stark contrast to the failed Afghan republic.
The Taliban, spurred by the Doha agreement, rapidly advanced and seized several provincial capitals, ultimately leading to the collapse of the central government and their takeover of the entire country, including Kabul.
Realistically, the significant civilian casualties caused by US and NATO forces, along with widespread corruption and an unjustified Doha agreement, which served as a mere “face-saving device” for the US withdrawal, played a crucial role in the strategic failure and collapse of the Afghan republic backed by the US.
While the US administration and previous regime leaders may attempt to justify their actions, the core mistakes they made over the last two decades remain evident. Their flawed policies and approach towards Afghan values, diversity, culture, and social characteristics bear significant responsibility for the situation.
Afghanistan now stands at a critical crossroads, with two possible futures: continued violent conflict or gradual progress towards sustainable peace and development. The decisions made now, based on strategy, tactics, and available resources, will determine the outcome.
Unfortunately, after the US invasion, Taliban leaders sought refuge in Pakistan. Had the world community not made critical errors during the Bonn conference, most of the Taliban could have become part of the Afghan government, avoiding the perception of an imposed and illegitimate regime. Insurgency might not have taken root in Afghanistan without the catalyst of poor governance.
Throughout the past five decades, political leaders, socialists, Islamists, or Democrats, have prioritized projecting political gains rather than governing the country with integrity, dedication, and justice. Promises to sideline warlords and empower women and youth with Western values proved empty.
The corruption in the Afghan government was not intrinsic to Afghan society or culture but rather a result of inadequate policies. Winning the hearts of the Afghan people does not necessitate vast financial resources or complex strategies; it requires treating them with dignity and offering opportunities for active participation.
The Doha agreement emboldened the Taliban, revealing the weaknesses of the Afghan state. Washington’s inability to address these issues effectively was either a significant policy failure or a deliberate conspiracy.
The path forward involves acknowledging the grievances and complaints of the Afghan people regarding neighbouring countries’ involvement in the insurgency. However, resorting to counterproductive strategies is not the solution. Instead, it is crucial to communicate constructively and focus on collective agendas and shared interests.
Taliban’s recognition should be contingent on tangible reforms in political, security, and social realms. Education for all, especially girls, must be a top priority. A coordinated message should convey that access to equal and quality education is non-negotiable.
To ensure girls’ education continues uninterrupted, international organizations under UN supervision can provide adequate online teaching alternatives until the Taliban reopens schools for girls. The international community should engage Islamic scholars, tribal leaders, and political figures to encourage the Taliban to reverse their ban on education for girls and reconsider their destructive policies.
In conclusion, Afghanistan’s challenges demand a strategic and coordinated effort from all stakeholders and the international community. Only through dialogue and constructive engagement can we strive for a future that brings sustainable peace and progress to the nation.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Afghan Herald editorial stance.
Waheed Waheed focuses on social and political issues in Afghanistan and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.