By Farhad Naibkhel-General public, who were expecting some relief after formation of the National Unity Government (NUG), seems disappointed and are of the view that the government has failed in delivering its promises.
During presidential election campaigns in 2014, both President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah pledged to establish an accountable and public-friendly government that would focus all its energies on resolving the existing problems including insecurity, unemployment, poverty, women’s rights violation, narcotics, corruption, judicial and electoral reforms.
But since establishment of the NUG after involvement of the US, no significant step was taken to keep optimism of public intact. Delay in formation of the government, rift between the two leaders and maladministration had shocked people. The electorate realized that they were led like a flock of sheep by the two leaders on the direction that has nothing to give except disappointment and curse.
No one can rule public concerns so easily because the nation got parameter to gauge performance of the NUG and give a judgment. The first factor that shaped public opinion is rapidly growing insecurity.
Insecurity has been haunting civilians in every part of the country. Hundreds of families left their houses and set up tents in deserts and other barren areas where accessing facilities is impossible. Fall of some districts to the Taliban in Kunduz, Badakhshan, Badghis and Ghazni are other signs convincing public that insecurity would continue to cripple their lives.
Daesh has already made inroads. Presence of this terrorist organization could be seen in different parts of Afghanistan. Daesh came to scene after formation of the NUG. Consider it bad luck of the leaders or their failure that they had not noticed spread of this dreaded terror outfit which also sparked concern among public and created another challenge for the security forces. Presence of the Islamic State or Daesh had been confirmed by the ministries of Defense and Interior as well as the National Directorate of Security (NDS). These key security bodies said that Daesh fighters were seen in three provinces including Helmand, Farah and Nangarhar. They also assured that they would fight against all terrorism groups including Daesh in the country.
Nepotism is another factor that had increased trust deficit between public and the NUG. After the electoral deadlock was over and the government was formed, people were hoping that nepotism would be fought by the leaders and a whole range of reforms would be introduced in the governmental organizations. However, the hope was dashed to the ground soon as most of the hiring and firing is revolving around nepotism.
Furthermore, unemployment increased and investment decreased in the country due to insecurity. The NUG leaders have pledged to exploit natural resources to improve living standard of public and strengthen national economy but the promises yet to be translated into actions.
Rift between the two leaders over different issues also disappointed public. Incomplete cabinet also speaks volumes about performance of the NUG. Ministries were run by caretakers for several months. The acting ministers were not interested in taking big steps but focused on personal interests. Likewise, affairs of most of the provinces are run by acting governors, even now.
Another important challenge that the NUG itself created is delay in parliamentary election. The government has failed to bring reforms in the country’s electoral bodies on time and hold the Wolesi Jirga election. Since the Wolesi Jirga has completed its term, legitimacy of the legislative process has been questioned.
Formal peace talks with the Taliban insurgents has been big achievement of the NUG, but at the same time increase in violence brought the reconciliation process under question. People are still not sure about result of the talks and are of the view that the peace process would end nowhere if the militant group continues to attack civilians and security forces.
When it comes to freedom of speech, despite approval of the Law on Access to Information, media outlets were never allowed to access information of public interest. Even spokesmen do not attend phone calls of journalists and use delaying tactics in providing information. Violence against journalists is still rampant.
In a nutshell, public have every right to criticize the government because performance of the NUG remained poor since its establishment. The government should honor its pledges as soon as possible to reduce the trust deficit; otherwise the chances are high that it would not be approved as a legitimate new form of government by the Loya Jirga as pressure is mounting on public representatives and local elders.