KABUL (Pajhwok): Some political affairs analysts describe President Ashraf Ghani’s first year in office after reelection as ‘unsuccessful’ in terms of delivering on his promises, but others say the president was successful considering the country’s situation.
Ashraf Ghani sworn in as the president of Afghanistan on this day exactly one year ago on March 10, 2020.
During his inauguration, President Ghani had promised to work for peace, improve relations with countries, facilitate refugees repatriation, attract international investment, control Covid-19 spread and others during his second term.
Pajhwok Afghan News talked with a number of political affairs analysts about the one year performance of the president.
President Ghani had promised to create an inclusive government, which should not be monopolized by his own team.
Abdul Sattar Saadat agreed to some extent with the inclusiveness of the government, but said it was out of the president’s control to have monopoly on the government as he shared the power with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah based on a deal and international pressures.
The 2020 presidential election contested between Ghani and Abdullah was also followed by allegations of widespread fraud that caused differences between the two candidates as a result, both held oath taking ceremonies as individual presidents.
However, Independent Election Commission (IEC) declared Ghani as president but the two candidates later reached a deal based on which Abdullah was appointed as head of High Council of National Reconciliation (HCNR).
Former military official, Gen. Dawlat Waziri, about the inclusiveness of the government said, “The president was not in full control of all the government because 50 percent of it was shared with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.”
However, he said national unity was still observed in the government’s structure and that was the reason he added the lower house granted the vote of confidence to most of cabinet members without any problems.
Seven months after the inauguration of Ghani’s government, 23 people were nominated as ministers-designate and two individuals as heads of independent organizations and referred to the Wolesi Jirga for the trust vote, but the house rejected five of them.
But the five rejected officials still hold government jobs as acting leads of relevant government institutes against the law.
President Ghani during his inauguration had promised to end the ongoing war under the republic framework and he would create a huge regional and international consensus for peace in Afghanistan.
However, Abdul Sattar Saadat said that the government failed to achieve international consensus for peace.
This comes as US special representative for Afghan reconciliation process last week shared a proposal of creating an inclusive government with Afghan politicians. Based on the new proposal, an international conference about the Afghan peace process would be also held under chairmanship of the United Nations.
Some politicians supported the new proposal but Ghani emphasized that a new administration was possible only through elections while vice-president Amruallah Saleh explicitly opposed the proposal.
On the other hand, Dawlat Waziri said the president released around 6,000 Taliban prisoners but the Taliban did not budge from their stance on Emirate, something the president opposed.
Sayed Fahim Sadat, an international relations lecturer in a private university in Kabul, said, “President Ghani thinks that the Taliban should join his government, but the US foul played him and signed Doha agreement, now the Taliban have the support of the US that is the reason Ghani diverted attention from other activities to maintain his own government.”
However, a spokesman to the president, Dawa Khan Minapal, said that the government convened Loya Jirga (grant council), and released 5,000 Taliban prisoners and started intra-Afghan talks for peace.
Repatriation of refuges
During his oath taking ceremony, the president said that he would attract international aid for facilitating repatriation of refugees, curb poverty, manage climate change and improve regional coordination.
Political analyst, Abdul Sattar Saadat said that there were no refugees’ repatriation last year and even many Afghans inside their country were forced to take refuge abroad.
Gen. Dawlat Waziri said, “The problem of refugees still persists, this problem cannot be solved until peace comes. Poverty can be controlled when people are provided with job opportunities, poverty would continue until there is war in the country.”
According to the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR), around six million Afghan refugees currently lived in different countries and Afghanistan is the second country after Syria with large number of refugees living abroad.
Distribution of electronic ID cards
During his oath taking ceremony, the president had said, “Afghanistan is a family, the family should know the number of its members, the census, distribution of electronic ID cards and capacity building of National Statistics and Information Authority, are my primary goals.”
However, Abdul Sattar Saadat, said, “Unfortunately the president failed in many areas, except the distribution of e-ID cards which is still under process with improvements.”
Gen. Dawlat Waziri said that the distribution of e-ID cards was underway in all provinces of the country, but the process was still slow and required acceleration.
According to reports, around 2.5 million people or nearly eight percent of the total population of the country had so far received e-ID cards.
A year back, the president had promised to clear the government from administrative bureaucracy and briberies for increasing the country’s revenue.
But Saadat said that corruption and bureaucracy still persisted and the country had even turned one of the world’s most corrupt nation.
According to a report of Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International released on January 28, Afghanistan ranked 165 out of 180 countries. The report said that Afghanistan gained three spots over last year.
Gen. Dawlat Waziri said, “Ghani created various institutions for fighting corruption, the menace has been controlled to some extent, particularly in major contracts… but corruption cannot be eliminated easily until there is a strong government in work.”
Sayed Fahim Sadat said barring reforms in the National Procurement Authority and the Attorney General Office, no serious efforts were made for curbing corruption since last one year.
As part of digitalization of the government, some steps such as distribution of e-ID cards have been taken, , he added.
Attracting international investment & regional ties
Ghani had said that regional and international investment, especially large regional projects linking Central and East Asia to South and West Asia, would be given special attention and that he would work closely with neighboring countries and other international partners for transit and trade.
“We have a program for every agriculture product, my goal is just one point, the Afghan hand should not be outstretched, it should be enough, we should fill our table with our own income, we must end the historical humiliation that we are no longer our economic savior. This clean soil has everything,” Ghani said.
Abdul Satar Sadat, a political analyst, said the government had signed a mining agreement with an Australian company to attract international investment, but the company’s identity proved to be Chinese, and the company had not invested yet.
The Australian company has raised concerns about the mining deal. According to Pajhwok, some sources called the agreement a violation of the mining law and the Wolesi Jirga’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Commission had said it was investigating the matter.
According to Sadat, the mining problems have not been solved, as the geography of the mines is almost entirely with the militants.
Former acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum EnayatullahMomand also said: “I have resigned from the government for almost a year now, but I can say that nothing has been done in the mining sector.”
“Apart from India, we are not in a good position to have good relations with our neighbors,” Sadat said.
SamiullahAshnabia, a lecturer at the Agriculture Institute in Kabul, said without elaborating that some work had been done in field of agriculture such as gardens, cold storages, dams, canals and retaining walls had been built and exports took place, but much work was needed for good development.
Fahim Sadat said the president’s regional integration in foreign economic policy was one of the most successful polices in Afghanistan and the country had come out of a monopoly.
He said the president had revived the dead-end policy of water management for the country and made water important to the people and the Afghan government had intimidated some countries over water management.
But deputy spokesman to the president Minapal said the government had successfully held the Geneva summit in support of the international community in Afghanistan.
The Geneva conference was held in December last year. At the meeting, the international community conditionally pledged $13 billion aid to Afghanistan.
Protection of the achievements of the past two decades, law enforcement, fighting administrative corruption, acceleration of peace process, and strengthening women’s right were the conditions of some countries in the conference.
Minapal said the inauguration of Herat-Khwaf railway and the implementation of the National Food Package program were also important achievements in economic development.
The Herat-Khwaf railway was inaugurated in December of 2020.
The NFP program launched in July 2020 covers more than four million families and the aid costs 244 million dollars.
However, the Wolesi Jirga rejected the program, and the government also announced in February that NFP program had been dropped from the third draft budget.
Presidential spokesman Dawa Khan Minapal described the management of the Covid-19 as one of the key achievements of the president.
Sadat said: “Coronavirus killed people to the extent possible, but the morale of the people was strong, because there is bloodshed and where there is bloodshed, these silent deaths do not make sense, so the president cannot claim good management in this regard.”
He said people did not believe whatever the president say. Had he treated the people honestly, he would now have the political confidence that was need for peace and negotiations.
Dr. Masih Noor, who previously served at the Afghan-Japan Covid-19 hospital in Kabul, also said the government not only lacked good management of the Covid-19 spread amid corruption in available resources and aid.
He claimed the MoPH, some governors and other officials had misused their powers in fighting coronavirus, acted arbitrarily and failed to provide assistance to many in need.
According to him, the conditions in each country were different and it was necessary to conduct research on the Covid-19 in Afghanistan as well as in other countries but this did not happen and other countries prescriptions were implemented in Afghanistan.
Why the president could not meet his promises?
According to Fahim Sadat, Ghani, an educated personality, believes that society could be built on theory, but the Afghan society did not fit into theory and therefore could not implement its ideas.
He said Ghani did not have a government like the former President Hamid Karza’s and that his government was divided between him and Abdullah during his two terms in office.
Maiwand Rohani, who was the executive chairman of the Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), said security problems and corruption had hampered progress in those areas.
Without elaborating, he said: “Instead of fighting corruption, corrupt people are still entering the system; so how will the system be set up.”
He added corruption was rampant in all areas, from agriculture to international investment, refugee repatriation, and peace and coronavirus management.