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Afghanistan can learn from democracy in the US

Afghanistan Can Learn Much from Democracy in the US

The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, along with Kamala Harris as the first woman and the first South Asian American as vice president, was another historic day for American democracy. Drawing parallels between the United States and Afghanistan may seem strange to many, but it makes sense for one of the youngest democracies in the world to try to learn from one of the oldest democracies.
The aftermath of the recent US election can teach us a great deal about the management of democracy, even in the most advanced societies. There is no doubt about the popularity of former President Donald Trump among sections of the American people. It is true that he was a complete stranger before being elected in 2016 and was never part of the Washington establishment. But he managed to reach millions across the United States by trying to introduce a new process of political thinking that was largely American-centric and had the slogan “America First.”
What is remarkable is the resilience of US democracy, even during an epidemic that has struck the country more than anywhere else in the world. Elections were held on time, and the new president took office as planned after a peaceful transfer of power. This is precisely the strength of American democratic institutions that, despite the ugly events that took place just two weeks before Biden’s inauguration, the winners held the inauguration well.
That is why the fragile democracy of Afghanistan can learn from one of the most institutionalized examples in the world. Afghanistan’s experience with democracy has been tumultuous over the past two decades. Afghanistan had its first democratically elected president in 2004 after more than 20 years of war and conflict. Hamid Karzai remained in power for more than a decade and peacefully transferred power to President Ashraf Ghani in 2014.
Trump did not concede defeat to Biden. In less than 24 hours, however, everyone in the United States and around the world knew that Biden was the new president. This is in stark contrast to Afghanistan, where election results take not days or weeks, but months. Also, whenever there is an election in Afghanistan, whether for the parliament or the president, there are accusations of fraud, lack of transparency and irregularity. In the last three presidential elections, everyone needed US intervention to get the top two rivals to agree on the outcome. This shows that Afghan institutions have neither the ability nor the independence needed to make decisions alone, without outside intervention.
In the case of the United States, Trump has made several unsuccessful attempts, mostly through the courts, to overturn the election results, but has failed because of the judiciary’s lack of any political influence. In the end, the institutions won, and democracy and the free will of the people won.
Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election led to a stalemate and was on the verge of a political catastrophe. The stalemate only came to an end when then US Secretary of State John Kerry intervened and negotiated a deal between President Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah that led to the formation of a National Unity Government (NUG). The idea of NUG was not a formula for joint administration, but an instruction to save the country from impending political catastrophe. The situation was almost the same in 2019, and with the help of the then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the conflict was reduced again. As a result, Abdullah assumed the chairmanship of the High Council of National Reconciliation.
With the ongoing peace talks in Doha, Afghanistan’s democracy faces another challenge, with the government and the Taliban defining democracy for Afghanistan. It is true that Afghanistan’s democratic experience over the past two decades has been quite unique. Both the Afghan government and the Taliban must prioritize peace and listen to the demands of the vast majority of the people. Democracy that is not in the direction of social justice, political and economic stability and prosperity will be meaningless. The ultimate goal of democracy must be a just and peaceful society based on the free will of the people. This is a clear message from the Afghan people to the Taliban and the Afghan government. At the end of the day, both peace and democracy must prevail, because one without the other would be meaningless to Afghans.
(Sahar News)

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