By: Jawad Sadiq Fitrat
Dr Ashraf Ghani has been declared winner in presidential election’s preliminary result announcement. Since his last tenure as Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani has proved to stay as “Theorist-in-Chief” as was dubbed by George Packer in his article ‘Afghanistan’s Theorist-in-Chief’ published in New York Times in June 2016. Ashraf Ghani’s ancestral connection with King Nadir Shah, his academic qualification of political science, his work background at World Bank and finally his exposure to Afghan politics in Karzai Administration as Finance Minister gives support to his cancer-stricken physique and qualifies him to become a realist and pragmatic Afghan politician capable enough to leader a war-weary nation. However, in sheer contrast to his background, when elected in 2014 as Afghan President, Ghani conveniently jumped into the dirty political pool of Afghanistan and became a prisoner of Arg.
Ghani’s contribution to Afghan body politic remained worst reminding analysts of the era of warlords when money, corruption, inefficiency, brutality and proxy puppets were associated with Afghanistan. Ghani supported the corrupt and the brutal in Afghan politics. He stood for his own interests. He cared little about Afghan masses for whom education, health and food are still a far-fetched dream. Ghani in his re-election adventure, embraced those who are at a distance of many astronomical miles from Afghan masses. His supporters represent Afghan elitism, warlordism and inimical sentiments to Afghanistan’s regional neighbors particularly Pakistan.
Ghani’s vice president is Amrullah Saleh who does not speak, but when he speaks, he speaks hatefulness. Saleh’s hate speeches are likely to continue after assuming charge of Vice President of Afghanistan. In that capacity, internal security is likely to come under his spell and his grip on Afghan Ministry of Interior and Afghan Intelligence (NDS- National Directorate of Security) are widely expected by many in Afghan Establishment. Saleh has a pre-judged opinion about many things such as Pakistan, Afghan Taliban, ISI, US government and Indian political elite. Thus in Saleh’s pre-judgement, Afghanistan has three known enemies i.e. ISI, Afghan Taliban and Pakistan. For Saleh, there is no peace process that may end up at a bright future for Afghanistan. Saleh’s lenses do not see any compromise with Pakistan and friends of Pakistan. Saleh believes that today’s Afghanistan’s condition is due to its neighbours, not due to foreign occupations. Thus the Saleh logic never comes into terms with a ground reality that Pakistan is as significant a state for the progress and prosperity of Afghanistan as the very existence of Afghanistan as a South Asian country itself.
With a hostile bent of mind, already pre-occupied with inimical policy frameworks against its immediate neighbours, Afghanistan’s new leadership could not be able to maintain the momentum of development and progress inside the country. The key role of Pakistan in coordination with regional countries such as Russia, China and Iran, in forcing Afghan Taliban to resort to dialogue is prominent ground reality. Pakistan is Afghanistan’s natural partner for peace, development, prosperity and progress. The two are tied up in brotherhood, unprecedented in history of nations. Pakistan under PM Imran Khan is changing all its structural and institutional contours, and there has been significant shifts seen in Pakistan’s foreign policy towards Afghanistan and the region. Pakistan today believes in regionalism and regional peace and stability. Ghani stated in a speech on 9 December 2019 during 8th Heart of Asia Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, “On my last trip to Pakistan, I offered a vision of economic cooperation and articulated the willingness of the Afghan government and people to offer guarantees for large-scale regional programs and projects on trade and transit. As we are both members of the World Trade Organization, our shared goal is to act according to the rules of that organization, which have proven beneficial to their member countries. I look forward to fruitful cooperation in the future”. The region of South Asia and Pakistan expect continuation of vision of progress and prosperity for Afghanistan. The new Ghani-Saleh administration must not forget this vision.
Ghani-Saleh Regime Policy Implications for the Neighbours
By: Jawad Sadiq Fitrat