Afghanistan: Democracy under imperialist bayonets

The final round of the presidential elections in Afghanistan, and the “deal” between the two “front runners”, on September 21, was so feeble, and the outcome so rotten, that even bourgeois analysts and reporters had to designate them as pathetic and repulsive.

Even the most vociferous and arrogant stalwarts of the ruling classes and imperialism at The Economist were sceptical, if not outright cynical about this agreement and the elections. It describes the scene of the accord ceremony in its latest issue:

“Neither man spoke, and neither looked quite at ease… The four-page document, signed in the presence of outgoing President Hamid Karzai, and later by witnesses James Cunningham, the American ambassador, and Jan Kubis, the United Nations’ senior Afghanistan representative (both of whom were banned from the palace ceremony by Mr Karzai), divests the president of his vast powers.

“The so-called National Unity Government intends for Mr Ghani, a Western-educated technocrat and former World Bank employee, to become president, and for Dr Abdullah (or his nominee) to assume the role of Chief Executive Officer, newly-created by decree and similar to the position of prime minister. They have also pledged to fix the country’s election system, which allows voter fraud to flourish.

“The secret back-room deal, which many think usurps democratic process, was announced hours before the election commission declared Mr Ghani the winner, and Dr Abdullah the CEO. In a strange kowtowing to Dr Abdullah, who had argued that the poll was poisoned by undetectable fraud, neither the vote tallies nor the turnout were announced. The ‘everyone’s-a-winner’ arrangement, similar to a politically-correct primary school sports day, came about after a bitterly-disputed election season prompted threats to form a parallel government and fears of a return to civil war.”

However, none of the mainstream politicians, the press or the electronic media ever mentioned the most daunting and stark reality of present-day Afghanistan – it is a country under siege at the dictates of imperialism. The country has been aggressively attacked, bombed, devastated and pulverised by a foreign invader and has been in the throes of imperialist occupation ever since 2001.This has been taken for granted by all and sundry. Sovereignty, national independence and its integrity as a nation state are simply not there. Just as the despotic clergy in Iran only allows sanctioned candidates to contest, the Afghan contestants have to accept the colonisation of their country as a fait accompli. These subservient politicians cannot even claim to be independent or patriotic; it is a cruel jest to say that they represent the impoverished, traumatised and oppressed people of this tragic land.

In the last thirteen years of imperialist occupation, not only have the aggressors failed to accomplish any of their stated goals, but they are on the verge of a humiliating defeat. They are in fact seeking a face-saving escape. Ironically, the warlords, the terrorist mujahedeen groups, the warring gangs of the so-called Taliban and the present democratic stooges now wielding power officially are all products of imperialism, when the CIA began its covert operation with the dollar Jihad to overthrow the left-wing government that was carrying out the most radical reforms for the deprived masses in Afghanistan. The imperialists introduced heroin production and the drugs trade to finance the Afghan counter-revolution. The collapse of the Soviet Union reduced the geostrategic interests of the imperialists and hence they abandoned the region.

However, the drugs trade and other criminal businesses continued to flourish, with Afghanistan becoming a narco-state, while two-thirds of Pakistan’s economy is now comprised of black money. The political facets of this criminal economy arose in the form of the virulent and bestial fundamentalism that is ravaging the region today. Under the imperialist stranglehold, nothing really has changed on the ground, from the savage lack of women’s rights to the hegemony of the vicious religious clergy, which continues to coerce and torment the existence of the ordinary people of the region. The economy is in shambles and life as impoverished as ever.

Sensing the vulnerability of the imperialists and their present stooges, the Taliban have stepped up their attacks. There have been more frequent and fatal attacks in the first half of 2014 than in any year since 2001. Desertions from the so-called Afghan National Army are rapidly rising. Often these military personnel end up with the Taliban, who make higher bids for the mercenaries fighting these imperialist proxy wars and the internecine bloody conflicts between different factions of the Taliban and the other Islamist groupings fighting for more and more plunder. Where the sophisticated weaponry from the US has fallen into the hands of the ISIL in Iraq, in Afghanistan, US-trained soldiers and their weapons are now being used against the imperialist forces by their Frankenstein’s monsters.

Every imperialist venture has ended up as a disaster. This imperialist ploy of setting up a “democratic façade” has likewise proven to be a catastrophe. Every election has been blatantly rigged under the occupation, but has been accepted due to the fragility and inability of the imperialists to rein in their own stooges. This latest one was not much different. The official announcement withheld the final election numbers, apparently as part of the political deal between Ghani and rival Abdullah, a former foreign minister who claimed the process was rigged against him:

“The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan declares Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as the president of Afghanistan,” commission chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said. He acknowledged deep flaws in the June 14 run-off vote and said a UN-supervised audit was not adequate to weed out all the vote-rigging. “Although the audit was comprehensive ... (it) could not detect or throw out fraud completely”.

The accord signed on Sunday was the finalisation of a broader power-sharing structure brokered by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who swiftly welcomed its signing. A recent Guardian article commented:

“The most surprising and unnerving part of the agreement, however, is covered in Article D. It stipulates that the position of the ‘leader of the runner-up team’, i.e., the opposition leader, will be created and its ‘responsibilities, authorities and honours’ will be officially recognised by a presidential decree. The article further clarifies that the opposition leader ‘will act as an ally of the national unity government’.

“Oddly, this concept comes from the ‘Joint Declaration of 8 August’. But is it not the function of the political opposition in a democracy to keep the government's policies and behaviour in check? Isn't the duty of the opposition to oppose? Or is it only in Afghanistan that the world does not deem necessary to place elements essential to the development of a healthy democracy? Under present political realities, it is difficult to imagine smooth subordination from a CEO who firmly believes he was the winner of the elections.”

If the Islamic fundamentalists are raising the spectre of barbarism, the imperialists have ended up throwing a society already in the throes of wars and turmoil into an even greater mess. Inequality has skyrocketed, poverty and deprivation have worsened and the ordinary people of Afghanistan are alienated and in despair. This gives a certain room to the so-called Taliban to brutally impose their fiefdoms.

However, with the departure of the imperialists the chances of Islamist resurgence are remote. With the revolutionary traditions in Afghanistan, a new generation can rise towards a radical stance, with the memories of the radical changes carried out by the first leaders, mainly by the Khalq faction of the PDPA. But this is intimately linked with the situation in Baluchistan and Pakhtoonkhawa (inside Pakistan), where there are also stirrings of youth moving towards socialist and revolutionary ideas. After all, there cannot be two revolutions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as the historical, economic and cultural links are so deeply entrenched that they cannot be severed by drawing artificial lines such as the Durand line, drawn by the British imperialists in 1893 to cleave a living nation and culture. This revolution will also be the retribution of history.