An exclusive interview with Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta
Afghanistan has been in a whirl of unending war and unfettered turmoil, whereas peace – or at least a state of normalcy – is a distant dream. Deadlocked reconciliation process and long-drawn-out elections are incontrovertible proofs of monolithic instability in Afghanistan, manacling the political elite and complicating the future of the country.
Afghanistan is preparing for its forth presidential elections in July; albeit a plethora of flaws threaten to stymie the polls as they did 2014 presidential and 2018 parliamentary elections. Fraud, dereliction and many other delinquencies marred those polls to the maximum.
War-weary Afghanistan is striving strenuously to get the terrorist faction of Taliban reconciled unconditionally through a hectic U.S.-centric peace process – although nothing substantial has hitherto happened. Aside from Washington’s spearheading the entire peace train and repetitively speaking directly with the militant group, Russia, Pakistan, UAE, KSA and several other regional stakeholders also joined the roller coaster to secure a space in Afghanistan’s dilapidated road to peace. That international endeavor has hit the skids, however.
A possible pullout of American troops, moreover, has emboldened Afghanistan’s condescending neighbors to seek a broader presence by offering help in the theater of peace quest. This scenario has raised many questions as to where Afghanistan might be possibly heading with its complicated reconciliation process, how peace talks would evolve, what its political paradigm would be, and how regional powers would help promote peace and stability.
To explore these questions, we have interviewed prominent political figure, Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta who served as National Security Advisor to former President Hamid Karzai. He was also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2010. During the interview, Mr. Spanta struck us as a patriot and fervent to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. He was rather critical of the government’s policies, believing that national unity is the ultimate way to restoring peace.
What is Dr. Spanta’s definition of politics?
Politics, in my opinion, is a struggle to improve collectivelifein societies. It is a struggle to transform life into an ideal state a society cherishes. A shared endeavor to achieve justice in all societies is an ideal.And, all hardships should be overcome to achieve that ideal.
How do you evaluate the Government of National Unity?
The Government of National Unity is democratically an “illegitimate authority”, which is not revered by the nation; a government that has brought the country to the brink of ethnic and tribal divides and made corruption and embezzlement a more common practice. And above all,it has made “lies” a moral principle – an immoral act which is deeply ingrained in the governance.
This government is in analogy to a ‘satire’ and a ‘tragedy’; a tragic comedy, or a comic tragedy.The tragedy is the melancholy of a nation that has been hemorrhaging to bloody warsfor four decades, and more tragically, they are still be ruled by a group of illegitimate people. The irony is that they and their supporters believe that the government is legitimate. And some bigwigs who violate the Constitution copiously claim to be abiding by the law. This government is hardly ever committed to the rule of law and the leadership flauntsits lies as a political acumen. An illegitimate government, an illegitimate parliament and illegitimate sub-institutionshavedelegitimized the entire system.
Why has the government not delivered on its promises?
- Campaign promises of the government leaderswere irrational and impossible to implement. They made absurd promises such as transforming cities into international trade and transit hubs. Such promises necessitate such dynamic geographical, security and financial conditions. But the leadership travelled to every corner of the country and wittingly made these promises;
- Hostility and violence has escalated, which has exacerbated civilian suffering;
- The government leadership doesn’t and hasn’t believed in equality of the Afghan nation. Social equality can be achieved only through unity and a sense of belonging to our homeland. The leadership has emasculated the bulk of the society, thereby fueling social detachment and discrimination.
How much do you believe in peace?
Afghanistan is edging towards peace, mainly because the Taliban are in a position of power as they have swept through Afghanistan, gaining large swaths of territory. And they are negotiating for more perks and trying to secure more privileges in the negotiating table.
The U.S. is negotiating from a position of weakness, however, as its strategy in Afghanistan has drastically failed. Moreover, this strong-weak negotiation will be worth a fortune for Pakistan, as its scapegoats will have a share in power.
What might happen if a peace deal is ultimately struck and the Afghan government rejects it?
In that scenario, Afghans should utilize their legitimate right and stand against any intention to deprive them of their independence. Afghanistan’s independence is in grave danger, and the people are only force that can stand against outsiders’ interferences and conspiracies. In that quest, the people could have the government by their side. Peace must be Afghanistan-centered and that is the only way to save the country’s sovereignty and peace.
You referred to people’s power. Did the past parliamentary election –which was marred by fraud– embody the power of the people?
In the history of mankind, societies might have coped with lawlessness and oppression, but that soft demeanor doesn’t apply to strategic situations; people have and will raise their voices when necessary. In that context, if the United States and Pakistan strike a secret deal on Afghanistan’s peace process, the Afghan people will unite against them. The history mirrors that resistance – Afghans inevitably and vigorously unite against foreign powers’ belligerencies.
Parliamentary election was a disaster and undermined credibility of elections, democracy and the people’s vote. Thus, it would be better to postpone all democratic processes – including upcoming elections – as we peace negotiations are taking momentum.
Can the Independent Election Commission hold upcoming presidential elections?
Elections in Afghanistan will never be fair, unless foreigners are no longer decision-makers of our elections and a genuine and truly independent commission and a seamless election system is institutionalized. Thus,
- Interference of the government and foreigners in election commission must come to a halt.
- Electoral system must be reformed.
- Formidable and discernible measures must be taken to prevent fraud in elections.
Otherwise, elections will be a travesty, emboldening the political elite to commit fraud to magnanimous proportions.
How do you see the country’s political situation?
We are in a bind politically, which could only be circumvented with our struggle. I am a proponent of the idea of forming an all-inclusive national front to defend territorial integrity, national independenceand national unity of Afghanistan.
Once our nation is mobilized, it can reverberate on an epic scale. I am certain, a national mobilization will have effects on such colossal national issues as peace and reconciliation, development, elections and Constitutional reforms and can help put an end to the conflict. If it doesn’t happen, I don’t see a promising future for the country. The history will not cease, but a new chapter of a touch resistance will unravel for us Afghans.
What is your viewpoint about President Trump’s recent remarks that India, Pakistan and Russia should fight in Afghanistan?
The United States entered Afghanistan on the pretense of countering terrorism. It was because its own puppets – al-Qaeda extremists – attacked its soil with the support of some Arab countries. The paradox is that the U.S. has failed in fighting terrorism because of its wrong policies. The failure emanates from the fact that Afghanistan is a victim of terrorism and those stoking the fire are outside of Afghanistan.
Moreover, Russia and Pakistan are not actually fighting terrorism. Russia has maintained its contacts with the Taliban on the belief that the west bloc hadbrought al-Qaedaand other terrorist groups to Afghanistan to use it against Russia. The Afghan government is also being spreading propaganda in favor of Islamic State, because Daesh in Afghanistan is different from that in the Middle East in the sense that the Islamic State in Afghanistan has militias from Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and some Taliban extremists in the eastern Afghanistan who raise the ISIS flagare fighting under the aegis of Pakistan.
Russia is fearful of the U.S. sabotage and backs the Taliban to fight against U.S.-backed Daesh. And Afghanistan is caught in a proxy war.
But Pakistan is not in a war with the Taliban, and rather wants to turn Afghanistan into its frontline and a strategic depth. Pakistan is using Taliban and the Islamic State radicals as a political tool as it pursues the strategy of invasion to rule Afghanistan.
Pakistan is almost done fencing the entire Durand Line. Why is our government in a ‘perpetual state of silence’towards this unscrupulous neighbor?
There are rumorssuggesting that the government has reached an agreementwith Pakistan on the issue of Durand Line. I have personallynot seen an evidence of those rumors. The government’s leadership turns a blind eye to the fact that Pakistan is unfaithful and tens of Durand Lines will not quench their thirst. It is because the problem between Pakistan and Afghanistanis ‘strategic-depth’.
Rapid Fire Questions with Mr. Spanta
Former President Hamid Karzai:A leader who hasled Afghanistan through difficult times and did it splendidly, but could have done better.
Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani: He could have at least told the truth to the nation.
Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah: Aweak and incapable politician.
The United States: A superpower whose foreign policy toward the third world has no respect to human and democratic values.
Pakistan: An artificial state with a strong government and a weak nation.
Season: Summertime, because of warmth and sunshine and abundance of fruits.
Part of the day: Night
The interview was conducted by Afghanistan Times and Dunya Daily media teams.