Cri­sis of Gov­er­nance

There is a clear fail­ure of gov­er­nance in Afghanistan which is im­pact­ing utiliza­tion of funds and con­tin­ues to cre­ate ob­sta­cles for the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Dr. Raza Khan

Any work­ing democ­racy must tackle key mat­ters.

Af­ter a pub­lic and civil so­ci­ety ex­pres­sion of dis­plea­sure over the poor per­for­mance of var­i­ous Afghan min­istries the coun­try’s par­lia­ment has also showed its ut­ter de­jec­tion over the sit­u­a­tion which re­sulted in the sack­ing of five min­is­ters. Many other min­is­ters are also fac­ing the le­gal wrath of mem­bers of Afghanistan’s Lower House named Wolesi Jirga (Pashto: Peo­ple’s Coun­cil), which is con­sti­tu­tion­ally em­pow­ered to sack cabi­net mem­bers for per­form­ing poorly. The cabi­net mem­bers who were sacked in­cluded For­eign Min­is­ter Salahud­din Rab­bani, Labour Min­is­ter Nas­rin Oryakheil and Pub­lic Works Min­is­ter Mah­moud Baleegh. Min­is­ters for ed­u­ca­tion and trans­porta­tion have also been dis­qual­i­fied.

The min­is­ters were dis­missed in Novem­ber as the par­lia­ment be­gun the process to sum­mon as many as 18 of them over their fail­ure to uti­lize less than 70 per­cent of the 2015 bud­get in their re­spec­tive min­istries. For­eign Min­is­ter Salahud­din Rab­bani, who is the son of for­mer Mu­jahideen era Afghan pres­i­dent, Us­tad Rab­bani, ar­gued on the floor of the Wolesi Jirga that his min­istry had spent more than 70 per­cent of the 2015 bud­get, and in­stead raised ques­tions on the au­then­tic­ity of the year’s fi­nan­cial re­port. In­ter­est­ingly and in­trigu­ingly, fi­nance min­is­ter Eklil Hakimi is one of the few cabi­net min­is­ters of Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani who have sur­vived the par­lia­men­tary vote over their per­for­mance.

Dur­ing his ad­dress to the Wolesi Jirga to answer ques­tions about his min­istry’s per­for­mance, Rab­bani blamed MPs and power tran­si­tion for non-im­ple­men­ta­tion of a $1.5 mil­lion com­plex for the Afghan em­bassy in Is­lam­abad. Labour Min­is­ter Oryakheil cited 'in­se­cu­rity' as one of the rea­sons why the bud­get could not be ad­e­quately used by her min­istry. The par­lia­men­tary vote on the min­is­ters’ per­for­mance took place de­spite pleas from Pres­i­dent Ghani and Chief

Ex­ec­u­tive Ab­dul­lah Ab­dul­lah to halt fur­ther ac­tion against the cabi­net.

Pres­i­dent Ghani and Dr. Ab­dul­lah told MPs that their de­ci­sion would deal a huge po­lit­i­cal blow to the gov­ern­ment at this crit­i­cal time and urged them to stop the process. Pres­i­dent Ghani and Dr. Ab­dul­lah have been part of the Unity Gov­ern­ment bro­kered in 2014 by US Sec­re­tary of State, John Kerry. How­ever, both have been at dag­gers drawn and have had se­ri­ous is­sues on the ap­proach to gov­er­nance.

The dis­missal of pleas by Pres­i­dent Ghani, in par­tic­u­lar by the Afghan par­lia­ment, demon­strates the level of con­fi­dence which one pil­lar of the state has on the other and re­veals the cri­sis of gov­er­nance in the war and in­sur­gency rav­aged coun­try. While the par­lia­ment does not look at Pres­i­dent Ghani with favour, the lat­ter also has seem­ingly lit­tle re­gard for the for­mer. This is ev­i­dent from the fact that in­stead of abid­ing by the par­lia­men­tary de­ci­sion re­gard­ing sack­ing his min­is­ters, Pres­i­dent Ghani asked the min­is­ters to con­tinue work­ing by pleading be­fore the Supreme Court to play its role to end the cri­sis. Whether the cri­sis would end or not, it does re­veal many things.

The fore­most les­son one could learn from the po­lit­i­cal and gov­er­nance cri­sis is that the Afghan con­sti­tu­tion­aldemo­cratic po­lit­i­cal dis­pen­sa­tion is not up to the task of na­tion-build­ing and the mas­sive re­con­struc­tion process go­ing on in the coun­try for a decade. As far as the mat­ter of uti­liz­ing the bud­get for the re­spec­tive min­istries is con­cerned, this should not have been a big deal in a coun­try where re­con­struc­tion is go­ing on at such a mas­sive level. There is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for spend­ing less than 70 per­cent of the al­lo­cated bud­get. If one looks deep into the is­sue, it is clear that there is far deeper po­lit­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive mis­man­age­ment in Afghanistan un­der Pres­i­dent Ghani. Oth­er­wise, it was ex­pected that his per­for­mance in the eco­nomic sphere would be far bet­ter in com­par­i­son to his pre­de­ces­sor Hamid Karzai. Ghani is an econ­o­mist by train­ing. The sor­did sit­u­a­tion in the Afghan min­istries sug­gests that while on the one hand there are prob­lems of ap­proach and modus operandi of the gov­er­nance, on the other there is ex­ten­sive cor­rup­tion and nepo­tism in the min­istries.

Where Pres­i­dent Ghani’s ap­proach to gov­er­nance in the war and in­sur­gency rav­aged Afghanistan is con­cerned, he should have come up with full scale poli­cies for ev­ery min­istry and depart­ment with vi­able and time-bound strate­gies to make them per­form bet­ter. How­ever, this in­gre­di­ent has been largely miss­ing in the style of gov­er­nance of Pres­i­dent Ghani. He should have cap­i­tal­ized mat­ter of be­ing a pop­u­larly-elected pres­i­dent with back­ing of the Afghan na­tion and should have come up with in­no­va­tive ideas.

Ghani should have also pre­vented mas­sive cor­rup­tion, whose scan­dals have been com­ing to the fore from time to time, within the var­i­ous min­istries of Afghan gov­ern­ment. There has been lit­tle rather no im­prove­ment in the sit­u­a­tion which pre­vailed dur­ing the rule of Pres­i­dent Karzai. An­a­lysts have been point­ing at var­i­ous cor­rup­tion scan­dals but there has been lit­tle at­ten­tion from Pres­i­dent Ghani’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to ad­dress the is­sue. In fact, in­stead of bring­ing in­no­va­tive ideas and an ap­proach based on these ideas to gov­er­nance Pres­i­dent Ghani chose to run Afghanistan as it has been tra­di­tion­ally ruled by dif­fer­ent men for decades. This ap­proach re­quired buy­ing loy­al­ties of so­cial and community lead­ers of dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties and re­gions. In fact the clob­ber­ing of the present so-called Unity Gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan was the re­sult of ap­peas­ing the ma­jor eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties by shar­ing power among them rather than on any long-term pol­icy to ad­dress the multi-di­men­sional and deep-rooted prob­lems of gov­er­nance. It may be men­tioned here that Pres­i­dent Ghani him­self be­longs to the largest Pash­tun community of Afghanistan whereas Ab­dul­lah be­longs to the sec­ond largest Ta­jik community and Vice Pres­i­dent Ab­dul Rashid Dos­tum, a feared eth­nic war­lord, is an Uzbek. The sit­u­a­tion has led to con­tin­u­ous power wran­gling among Pres­i­dent Ghani, Ab­dul­lah Ab­dul­lah and Rashid Dos­tum. The sit­u­a­tion in turn has given rise to a com­pe­ti­tion among the three to ac­com­mo­date their loy­al­ists and hench­men in dif­fer­ent min­istries and de­part­ments. The up­shot is a fail­ure to have a good gov­er­nance struc­ture based on the four key prin­ci­ples of ac­count­abil­ity, trans­parency, rule of law and par­tic­i­pa­tion. Pres­i­dent Ghani’s gov­ern­ment has been se­ri­ously lag­ging on all these counts. There has been lit­tle, if any, ac­count­abil­ity in the gov­ern­ment. The el­e­ment of trans­parency in the gov­er­nance struc­tures leave a lot to be de­sired. The con­di­tion of peo­ple’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in gov­er­nance at ev­ery level, right from

The fore­most les­son one could learn from the po­lit­i­cal and gov­er­nance cri­sis is that the Afghan con­sti­tu­tional-demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal dis­pen­sa­tion is not up to the task of na­tion-build­ing.

pol­i­cy­mak­ing to its eval­u­a­tion, has been so neg­li­gi­ble that most Afgha­nis have no sense of be­long­ing to their gov­ern­ment.

An im­por­tant fac­tor is ob­vi­ously the in­se­cu­rity in the coun­try due to the Taliban in­sur­gency. How­ever, the ram­pag­ing Taliban in­sur­gency is it­self the up­shot of a cri­sis of gov­er­nance and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion. Se­cu­rity is the top­most pri­or­ity of the state and if an Afghan min­is­ter ar­gues that he or she could not use up the re­quired amount of bud­get due to in­se­cu­rity than it is it­self rais­ing ques­tions on the very ra­tio­nale of his or her gov­ern­ment. Ad­dress­ing the prob­lems of in­se­cu­rity and in­sur­gency re­quires proac­tive if not good gov­er­nance. How­ever, Pres­i­dent Ghani and his min­is­ters have failed to be proac­tive and let the coun­try runs ‘nat­u­rally.’ The gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Ghani is lim­ited to Kabul and cer­tain other cities. This is be­cause there is a heavy pres­ence of US-NATO forces in and around these cities. His­tor­i­cally, Afghan gov­ern­ments have been con­fined to Kabul and a few other towns, leav­ing the lo­cal gov­er­nance to ru­ral elite. This was the case dur­ing the Ho­taki Dy­nasty and, af­ter the cre­ation of mod­ern Afghanistan by Ahmed Shah Ab­dali in 1747. But at least in the cities dif­fer­ent Afghan regimes ruled through their own abil­ity and were not de­pen­dent, es­pe­cially on for­eign pow­ers. The pre­vail­ing cri­sis of gov­er­nance will not solve the com­plex gov­er­nance is­sues in Afghanistan and the in­se­cu­rity and Taliban in­sur­gency will con­tinue.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.