Afghanistan: from drama world to real world

Daily: The Statesman
Date: 10.05.04

Scene First: - The former ‘oppressive and ruthless’ regime has run away and ‘libertarian
and merciful’ alliance with a name of Interim Administration has taken control of Kabul.
Afghans from all ethnic backgrounds are elated. Consequently, the Afghan refugees decide
to go back to their homeland, as a ray of hope of, at least, a secure and satisfied future has
come out.

Scene Second: - Almost two years have been passed. The Interim Administration has
attained status of a broad-based Transitional Authority encompassing all due ethnic
representations. International players with all the resources at their disposal have started
picking up the various types of unexploded bombs they dropped earlier, besides cleaning
land from the previously supplied and planted mines. Many non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) have opened rehabilitation centers focusing on social sector.
Schools, health centers, vocational institutes, and madrassas have been opened
throughout the country. Resultantly, the Afghan expatriates start their journeys back from
the neighbouring countries to the once motherland. Zealously, they use even donkey carts
and on foot journeys to return.  

Scene Third: - After the Tokyo Aid Pledge in early 2002, now, the Berlin Aid Pledge in early
2004 has been brought into action. The reconstruction has started from Kabul, which is
speedily getting transformed into a modern city like New York or London. The same is the
idea that has been envisaged for other cities. The number of one million warlords has
reduced to few due to the voluntary disarmament and demobilization bids. Most of them
have been reintegrated into the National security forces like Police and Army amicably. Old
vendetta has started vanishing. Reconstruction in all the provinces is happening by leaps
and bound. The people are getting registered with the United Nation (UN) mobile teams
enthusiastically. Preparation for the forthcoming election has taken a healthy surge.

Scene Four: - Electoral law is in place. Some national political parties have been founded.
Election campaigns are at the full fury. Speeches are being delivered. Political manifestoes
are being propagated. Canvassing is at its full swing. International media is stationed to
cover the election and highlight the upcoming results. For that matter, the Afghans who had
expatriated to the far countries of Europe, Australia and the US have started arriving back
through air flights landing on various international airports of the country.

Scene Five: - Election happens successfully and peacefully under the new Constitution.
President is elected. National Assembly is formed. The state machinery commences its
function. For the first time in the modern history, a democratic government is in place. The
UN recognizes the same instantly. Further economic aid pledges are made to let run the
nascent government smoothly. The nationals are happy so are the internationals. The
dream comes true. All is well that ends well. (The curtain drops) Act I ends here.

It is nothing but an irony that whenever the curtain drops and lights are switched on, a
viewer comes back to the real world. The real world that is entirely different from a drama. It
has not yet been decided whether the world of drama seeks lessons from the real world to
perform or the real world extracts some lessons from the drama world to act upon. Each
claims to precede the other: the egg and hen phenomenon.   

At the moment, in the real world, it is the Scene Third being witnessed by a historian of
today—somehow. The participants of the UN talks on Afghanistan have entered in the Bonn
Agreement (December 5, 2001) requesting the UN “to conduct as soon as possible a
registration of voters in advance of the general elections that will be held upon the adoption
of the new constitution by the Constitutional Loya Jirga” (Annexure III).

The constitution has been adopted on January 4, 2004. Hitherto, out of total about 10.5
million eligible voters (> 18 years of age); about 2 million have been registered since last
December. There have been left only five months to register the remaining about 8 million.
Mathematically speaking, in one month, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
has to register at least one million voters. In other words, it means, registration of about
thirty four thousand voters per day— an up hill task.

It is still to be known how many voters are to be registered to declare the voting sufficient
enough to elect a republican form of government in Afghanistan? To that reference, voter’s
turn out will be the next and a separate question. Moreover, it is still to determine, if the
sufficient number of the voters is not get registered, how long the election will be postponed
and consequently to what extent the international community will be ready to sacrifice the
taxpayer’s money for Afghanistan?

The major threat to the voter registration is portrayed as insecurity or in other words the
intrusions of the hostile elements—from somewhere. To tackle them, the National Security
Forces are being erected to the tune of 20,000 Police Force and 10,000 Army by June
2004. Owing to the postponement of the election, the deadline can be extended to
September 2004. The US forces (13,000) engaged in the Operation Enduring Freedom
(OEF) will also be available for providing security to the election process and the voters,
besides the NATO’s prowess (6,500) in shape of International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF), both in and outside of Kabul.

One of the contrasts between a drama world and a real world is that in a drama world only
successful and in time completion of one scene can lead to beginning of the next scene to
keep the audience engaged and the whole exercise futile, as mode of proceeding of the
former guarantees fate of the latter scene. To that reference, until the Scene Three is
finished, the Scene Four cannot be displayed. Moreover, the Scene Three and Four are
prerequisites to the Scene Five to let conclude the Act I eventually.

Contrarily, in the real world, if the Scene Three is prone to take an extended time, it can
cause boredom and frustration to the viewers and participants alike. One can attempt to
finish it by hook or by crook to let start the next scene and so on. However, if the Scene
Three, being prerequisite in its nature, remains unduly prolong as well as unsuccessful, the
situation can get complicated.

In such a scenario, the assertion of the Secretary General of the UN that he made in a
press release (GA/9531) on December 9, 1998, by calling Afghanistan the “worst case
scenario of a complex emergency”, may come true today ever than before. Moreover, an
endowed conclusion of the Act I, in the real world, for the objective of the ‘nation-building’,
may become a far cry.

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