Abuse of power is prevalent throughout the system. The “system” consists of top leadership and all of their close family and friends, regardless of their education or experience in governance or system building. When a minister leaves, everyone leaves with him. Most of the training and scholarships, offered through various programs by the international community, are used by close family and friends of the leaders. Not that they use the training to learn, but to take trips abroad, because many of them never had the chance to travel outside Afghanistan – unless they were at the refugee camps in Pakistan.
The legal system is in a stalemate state and no one can do anything about it, because the judges are either “bought” or highjacked by the criminals. Judges are afraid to punish criminals due to threats they frequently receive. My driver’s cousin, a 24 year old man, who was trying to make ends meet by running a shop in the wholesale market in Kabul, was shot eight times, at 8 a.m., three weeks ago, and nothing was done about it. The person who shot him belongs to a gang, whose leader lives in Pakistan and runs criminal activities in Kabul. The Afghan government is well aware of it but those in power are afraid of the gang leader. There are many other cases like this daily.
The Human Right Commission has no power. In the past 12 years, hundreds of reports have been generated and most of them are not publicized due to threats from the criminals. Even when a report is published, the leadership has no power to take action.
The main hope is through elections that must take place in the next eight months. Performing an election is the only way to preserve the constitution, some of the international investments and the hope that has been generated within the younger generation.
To break the cycle of corruption and abuse of power, I suggest an immediate transformation of the political and leadership system in Afghanistan prior to the election. An emergency meeting should be organized by the civil society, Afghan intellectuals (from within and outside of Afghanistan), youth and the international friends can be there as observers.
The discussion will be the leadership system in Afghanistan looking at the past and what has worked or not and how to proceed.
One option for Afghans is to be careful not to vote just for one man as president, but for a “Leading Team.” As the nominees are coming forward, they need to understand that they will be part of a five-person team leading the country. Youth and the civil society groups will develop the criteria for the nomination.
Best international practices will be used in selection of the Leading Team, who will be consisted of intellectual Afghans in Afghanistan as well as abroad based on the vote they receive and the criteria.
A team of seven will be selected based on their education (from credible universities) and past experience in governance prior to 1989. Their background will be checked by the civil society representatives to assure that they have no criminal background.
Afghans from Afghanistan and all Afghans abroad will be eligible to apply. The Leading Team will be selected in three months time after the election. They are then required to prepare their first bi-monthly address to the people of Afghanistan. Each member will have to report to the people on bimonthly bases of sectorial progress and future plans.
Most of the ministries will be eliminated and there will only be no more than 15 ministries. Ministerial positions will be replaced by the Leading Team for each ministry. These teams will report to the Country Leading Team.
Afghans who have committed crimes in the past 40 years or have been part of a group that was involved in criminal activities, need to come forward and make sacrifices opening the doors for the next generation and a new prosperous Afghanistan. This is the gift they can give to their people and the country they love very much. They have to resign from their positions and agree to never again be involved in political processes or criminal activities and involve themselves in social work or businesses that create employment for thousands of Afghans.
Without this innovation with a focus on all aspects of domestic needs -- governance, development, and education -- Afghanistan will be suffering for the rest of her life. It takes courage to create and it is time to move beyond ourselves to experience a more meaningful and joyful life and to leave an example for the next generations to come.
Sherjan is the founder and CEO of Aid Afghanistan for Education, president of Boumi Company and coauthor of “Toughing It Out in Afghanistan.”