By Obaidullah Baheer
Gandhi spent almost four decades of his life resisting imperialism of his land and the minds of his people. He had noted quite early in his youth the servitude of the colonizer that was conditioned into the common man. This reverence was the result of the systematic projection of superiority by the British to justify the social hierarchy they had built with their position being at the top. They also created an environment where the safest and strongest were the ones in closest proximity and on the better side of the British Raj. All this led Gandhi to state that he not only wanted to oust the tiger but rid the country of its spirit too. He was not only fighting imperialism and imperialists, but he was fighting the mindset of imperiality as well. The current internal spoilers to the Afghan peace process are those who embody that imperiality the most.
The United States upon its initial intervention in Afghanistan used brute force exemplified in their indiscriminate bombing, treatment of prisoners and their absolute lack of cultural sensitivity in their raids of houses and treatment of women and elders. The lack of understanding of historical contexts meant they backed local warlords and formed partnerships that further alienated them from the local populations. Parallel to that, the US intensified its Fullbright Scholarship program along with the grooming of Afghans diaspora in the United States to send them back to Afghanistan in order to take up influential roles. This created an elite that had received what in the colonial times would be considered colonial education wherein the colonizer assimilates a subaltern native elite to its way of thinking and seeing the world.
These returnees were assigned important roles in the political and security sectors of Afghanistan despite having minimum lived experience of issues relevant to the country. They shared the same ambivalence towards the history and culture of the people that the United States did. These returnees shaped the bureaucratic and technocratic structure of the country from the administrative offices of the President to his National Security Council. These units mimicked the policies and mistakes committed by the United States before them. Beyond the lack of relevant experience, these individuals proved themselves corrupt and incompetent as well. This became one of the reasons why despite different people in power, democracy always felt like a foreign concept to the Afghan people.
Those who have been in power in Afghanistan are disconnected from its population which ties their fates with the fate of the United States who originally brought them to the country. That is one of the primary reasons why those who hold important offices within the government today see a political settlement as an existential threat wherein those present at the negotiating table will partake in a power-sharing deal proportionate to their voter bases whilst they will be left out of the future political order. An order bereft of them might be what Afghanistan needs to build a system tailored to its culture and will of its people.
View expressed in this article are of the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Pajhwok’s editorial policy.