By Dr. Zia Nezam-To overcome the continuing Taliban and extremist threats, The Afghan government must first overcome internal rivalries and demonstrate unity. The unrelenting power-sharing disputes among different ethnic and political factions in the government undermine Afghanistan’s vulnerable stability. Our fragile national security and 17 years of achievements are jeopardized by the current internal governmental conflict.
To avoid the collapse of the national-unity government, all parties must put aside their rivalries and coalesce around their sworn primary duty to defeat terrorists and their accomplices. All who want peace and democracy for the Afghan people must unite around the prime goal of overcoming anti-democratic forces. There can be no winner in the present internal government power struggle. Any internecine rivality shows the people a weak government. The ultimate winners of governmental in-fighting are the enemies of the nation – the terrorists and their backers.
When the Afghan democratic government is fragmented and battling itself, it is perceived as weak and ineffectual in the eyes of the people and the international community. Democracies and republics must have robust debates of ideas; however, rivalries, at this time, are de-stabilizing while we still confront an enemy sworn to destroy all the gains Afghanistan has made. These rivalries are counter-productive, detracting from efficient government functioning, thwarting domestic economic investment (who wants to invest where there is no security?) and fostering separatist sentiments that endanger territorial integrity.
The Afghan government must focus unswervingly on bringing peace and stability, so in turn economic and social development and greater democratic institution-building can follow. Political power struggles may bring “success” in the near-term, but such hollow victories spell doom for democratic nation-building and foreign assistance in the long-term. Critics assail the perceived shortcomings of the 2014 political agreement, yet we have a legitimate government, which must act in unison.
The Afghan people and history will never forgive those whose pursuit of selfish political advantage would lead to the loss of independence, freedom, and national cohesion. Moreover, how could we ignore the incredible human sacrifice we have undergone for decades in trying create a better life for all Afghan people? Adherence to the 2014 agreement and unity of purpose in defeating violent extremists can allow Afghanistan to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Our national salvation demands that all people of good will work together.
Former Afghan Ambassador to Vienne, Brussels and Rome.