Yesterday, I was amongst five hundred plus civil society. I understand that irrespective of aspire of corrupt political elite, drug mafias, war profiteers and other spoilers, Afghanistan is on its way towards some form of peace. There is hope that there will be a countrywide peace, and an end to the four decades of conflict that has been without any victors. In the post peace era, ordinary Afghans want a country where the government will have a stronger control over the means of violence, with a better civil order, effective public service delivery, and justice for all through a transparent judicial system. Post-peace Afghanistan may not be a utopian state, however, it will be a state with improved security ruled by better-quality executives and significantly less corrupt.
The “peace dividend” or the economic benefits of peace will decrease the overall costs—though how, where, and when will vary substantially on different factors. But the most important dividend comes from the reduction in human causalities which has increased significantly in recent times. Peace has financial costs such as demobilization, development, disarmament, repatriation, and reintegration. Similarly, peace deal carries political costs—it will demand contribution from the military generals who secured accelerated promotions i.e in less than a decade promotions from 2nd Lieutenant to Major General; the corrupt politicians with dual citizenship and vested economic interests, the warlords who earn from war, the drug mafia, human traffickers, the Taliban leadership and soldiers who are involved in illicit activities and imprudent political elite. Understanding this costs is crucial in determing which actors will serve as spoilers and disrupting agent or play a productive role in implementing the peace deal. Looking at the current situation, the beneficiaries of this war have six months or so to make their choices clear on what political and financial costs they will bear.
At the macro level, two important financial dividends of peace can be expected, namely, a drastic decrease in the security sector and increase in foreign and domestic investments. Likewise, in the post-peace era the commodity super boom and deflation, the government will have excess financial resources to spend on mega infrastructure development projects. All the fighting parties have to put violence behind them and embrace the opportunity to serve the nation. Indeed, it will involve significant political will and investment.
There are chances that armed commanders on both sides will defect into criminal actors and seek to justify their acts by reinventing their ideology. Therefore, there are doubts in regards to factors influencing the quality of the peace deal i.e. will the Taliban and the government maintain control over their mid-level commanders, not just after the peace deal signed, but also after a year or two? and will the repeated hits against their current leadership result in fracturing or not? From the very first day post peace, it is expected, in the very least, a declaration by all parties affirming the right to life and dignity of all Afghans, guarantees against violence and future conflicts, and protection from all discriminations. It will also be expected that public institutions will be independent of political interferences and all parties will agree on providing judicial control of the use of force. They will need to promise that they will aggressively prevent acts of violence, and illegitimate use of force, even if it is by the police and public institutions.
The fighting factions are expected to respect the political rights of their fellow citizens and assure Afghans that they will foster an environment of dialogue, mediation, cooperation. It is the general understanding that during peace negotiations all factions will agree fairly on disarmament and reassignment of military resources. All parties should agree they will only seek political power through non-military means and in adherence to the constitution.
As per expectation of ordinary Afghans, the post-peace cabinet will be small with honest and professional members. The Finance Ministry will serve only as a treasury that will keep government expenses within the budgeted amount and as approved by the parliament. The Ministry of Development and Reforms will develop the national long-term strategy, while the Ministry of Institutional Development will frame regulations. In the aftermath of peace, key decisions, including money printing, national debt strategy, border management, foreign policy, mining exploration, electricity production, and supply will require parliamentary approval. The revenue-generating institutions will be led by competent, sincere and faithful Afghans, while the security agencies will not be used to subdue political opponents. The judiciary will see massive reforms to gain respect from the general public. The Renaissance, the emergence of human philosophy, political democracy, industrial revolution and scientific and sociological advances are all rooted in enlightened movements formed by masses. Hopefully, Afghanistan too in the post peace era will continue using this narrative of reforms and development because this outline is cry of the day ___ the development of institutions based on what exists today as limping groups standing up against the corrupt political elite and building platforms for development and reform. These platforms are not centrally controlled and mainly rely on the bottom-up approach. In the long run, they will flourish or die depends on the ability of governments to adopt their generated ideas and solutions established per local realities.
We can blame too many internal and external factors for much of what affects the governance and underdevelopment in Afghanistan. But sustaining peace is a challenging job in any conflict zone and Afghanistan is no exception. Serious sacrifices will be needed from across the board to end the conflict and bring meaningful peace.
Peace is not a regional or a global-north conspiracy, but in fact, something Afghans demand in their national interest; therefore, all fighting parties must respect the wish of the nation. In post peace Afghanistan, it is expected that the world powers will also respect the wish of the Afghan people and will not push for the failed recipe of a technocratic approach engrossed in state institutions. In my two decades of experiences, I have learned that advocacy is important — people must have a say and be allowed to lobby against corrupt political elites, vain development prescriptions, politically-tied international assistance and flopped reform agendas. It is also evident that academia can play a larger role in the process of reform; thus research is the starting point of the progress; as researchers point out what is wrong and help out policymakers and state executives on how to step in the right direction. Lastly, if this narration of an ordinary Afghan becomes a reality, then post-peace Afghanistan will be an important case of reference for understanding the process of reform and development for many other countries.
View expressed in this article are of the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Pajhwok’s editorial policy.