Power Transition Key to Post-2014 Stability

Nowadays most analysis and opinion pieces on op-ed pages by Western media pundits talk of Afghanistan returning to civil war after the NATO and US troops’ withdrawal in 2014. They express concerns about the fragile tribal atmosphere and fear fragmentation of Afghan National Security Forces along ethnic lines.

Political stability is prime factor to determine reliability on strength, will and integration of security forces, and continuation of the current democratic process. Security challenges are secondary threats for larger instability and eventual chaos. Our history tells whenever there has been bloodshed that has led to national crisis; it has been caused by political instability, not the traditional domestic security challenges to the writ of state, which has always existed.

The sophisticated Taliban insurgency will remain a challenge. But factors that can lead to fragmentation of ANSF after NATO withdrawal will not be primarily the fact that suicide attacks will increase in Kabul and other cities, and insurgency will grow deadlier. However, unconstitutional attempts for power grab can cause our quick descent into chaos. Political transition in 2014 is equally important in parallel with full security transition to Afghan forces after NATO troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.

The international community, particularly Washington should pay attention to the preparations for a peaceful and transparent political transition in 2014. Political opposition groups express serious concerns regarding President Karzai’s pledges to ensure legitimate transfer of power.

An election campaign is already launched in the Presidential Palace, and meetings are held for bargaining. The upheavals in cabinet and impeachment of key ministers are part of the game.

Domestically, there are preparations and uncertainties about the 2014 polls. It is clear that without strong support—financial, technical, political and security—from the international community, it would be impossible to hold peaceful elections for a smooth transition of power. But political opposition groups fear the Karzai Administration intends to use all state-resources and institutions in favor of their designs for the coming polls.

Only a transparent elections and legitimate transfer of power can ensure political stability and continuation of the post-Taliban democratic process. Any attempt by the current Palace dwellers to clench to power will mean violent episodes of power grab and eventual civil war. The international community should ensure peaceful transition of power strengthening our fragile and infant democratic process.

Washington should pay heed to the concerns of Afghan opposition groups. The recent calls for restoration of credibility to the electoral process are being ignored by the Karzai Administration. Political parties’ demands for amendments in the draft Electoral Law are ignored. The international community should make sure that a free, fair, transparent, credible and independent election is held in 2014.

The new US Ambassador for Kabul James B Cunningham has said the coming Presidential election in 2014 is crucial for stability in Afghanistan. While testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said the international community has key role in ensuring smooth transfer of power in Afghanistan. He further said, “Key to Afghanistan’s future stability will be a credible and inclusive presidential election in 2014, followed by a constitutional transfer of power. President Karzai has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to a peaceful, constitutional transition of power at the end of his second term. All Afghans, whatever their gender, ethnicity or religion, have much to gain from a successful political transition, and the United States is committed to working with  international partners to support the Afghans as they choose their next leader.”

I hope efforts for transparent power transition in 2014 is a priority task for Ambassador Cunningham, as it should be a concern for the next US Administration.

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