By: Dr. Matin Royeen Ph.D.
Introduction: During the Afghan Peace Conference in Doha, I hope the national interests of Afghanistan will be clearly defined and discussed by both parties. The word national Interests is an ambiguous term used by political leaders to advance the goals of their state. Sometimes, politicians manipulate and deliberately confuse the public by discussing personal political agenda as part of the national interests. However, it is important that in a just society, the necessary checks and balances of power will safeguard the national interests of the state against any kind of abuse by political leaders. Unfortunately, those countries with weaker foundations of democratic institutions and fragmented populations are more vulnerable to this type of abuse by powerful politicians.
There is no universally accepted definition of national interests. Some political scientists consider the continuing common purpose of the state, the nation and the government, while others talk about security and well being of citizens as national interests. Morgenthau describes national interest as “survival-the protection of physical, political and cultural identity against encroachment by other nation-states.” As part of vital interests, physical identity refers to territorial identity, political identity describes the economic-political system and cultural identity deals with historical values as part of a nation’s cultural heritage. In essence national interests of a nation are defined by the values, desires and interests protected by the State/government. National security of a nation is an important uncompromising instrument of national interests for which nations can even go to war.
What is the Afghan National Identity? The word identity is derived from Latin which means sameness, likeness and oneness. In real life, identity refers to accumulation of human qualities, beliefs, values and rules that define an individual, community and a nation. Afghanistan is a diverse society with many different ethnic groups who speak different languages, possess unique characteristics and who share certain common traits of hospitality, love of freedom, generosity, code of honor, independence, religion, a sense of belonging to each other. One could assume that the totality of these common cultural values constitute the main features of the Afghan National identity.
We are living in an age of identity politics where people value and respect individual diversity of ethnic and cultural groups under a spirit of national identity. As a multicultural society, the Afghan nation has had a relatively weak national identity which could have been the cause of recent political conflict and ethnic strife among different stakeholders.
The current Afghan peace conference in Doha, provides a good venue for discussing and improving the Afghan inter-ethnic relationships based on mutual respect and meaningful, social, cultural and political participation that will safeguard the national interests of all Afghans.
This opportunity in Doha provides the peace participants to prepare an outline of the type of government the participants envision
What Should Serve the National Interests of Afghanistan in Doha Peace Negotiations?
1. Humanitarian CeaseFire: This is imperative for the success of peace discussions. This ceasefire should be honored by Taliban and the Afghan Government as an expression of their Godly love for human life, respecting the expectations of the Afghan public and generating goodwill and trust. This ceasefire is a win to win approach and both parties should use mercy and forgiveness in order to achieve this noble goal.
2. Elements of Good Governance: What kind of legal framework best serves the needs of the Afghan people that would promote peace and ensures stability in the country. Some elements of good governance include: rule of law, freedom of media, freedom of people to participate in their country’s affairs, fair and equal treatment of people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, the rule of women in society, the Afghan constitution, government accountability towards people and the public responsibility towards their government.
3. Endemic Corruption: Unfortunately, corruption in every level of Afghan life has held the soul of the nation hostage and has robbed the human conscience of justice and ethical behavior. Corruption is an obstacle towards peace and must be discussed by participants in Doha.
4. Security: The survival of the Afghan nation free of neighbors’ interferences and promotion of physical, political and cultural identity of Afghanistan constitute an important pillar of peace and stability.
5. Sovereignty Of Afghanistan: The type of diplomacy in international relations and economic cooperations with those countries that help Afghanistan are important for peace and stability in Afghanistan. Because of economic dependence for survival, the Afghan nation will be dependent on foreign aid for a long time. Economic independence is a prerequisite for a nation’s sovereignty.
It would be important for the participants of the Afghan Peace to discuss and build consensus towards these important vital elements of Afghan National Interests in Doha. I am sure the noble people of Afghanistan will join me by offering their prayers and best wishes towards an honorable peace agreement in Afghanistan.
Dr. Matin Royeen Ph.D. is an Afghan American Educator. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org