What has President Ghani done for Afghanistan?
In Afghanistan, disagreements among senior authorities have left people concerned about their present and future lives
In Afghanistan, disagreements among senior authorities have left people concerned about their present and future lives.
Recent statements by Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum are stoking the flames as he accused the president and chief executive of nepotism, inability and taking liberties.
The response of the president’s office to the accusations was retaliatory. This caused observers to comment on the verbal skirmish between powerful individuals in the country.
The era of President Hamid Karzai has allowed small players to dominate the scene. For example, Mohammad Atta Noor, acting governor of Balkh, is considered a mission impossible for President Ashraf Ghani as despite his tremendous efforts, he wasn’t able to remove him from his position as acting governor.
On the other hand, President Ashraf Ghani is seen by many as a stellar intellectual with a strong résumé who many observers commend for having done a tremendous amount for Afghanistan’s reconstruction since the fall of the Taliban.
He has faced serious challenges and problems, a number of which were left behind by the previous government. He inherited corruption, a lack of governance, financial problems, a fragile political situation, social problems, the fragile pledges to fund the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) and the withdrawal of almost 150,000 international troops.
The core factor of the leadership crisis
Regarding differences in educational background, President Ashraf Ghani is described as an academic while his partner Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has spent his life on the battlefield. In addition, President Ghani has a national vision while the focus of his power-sharing partner is limited to his party “Jamyati Islami Afghanistan,” Nazar Council and to his ethnic Tajik community.
In 2001, the Northern Alliance established by Ahmad Shah Masoud and Vice President Abdul Rasheed Dustom and Mohammad Mohaqiq, deputy chief executive of Afghanistan, joined the alliance to fight against the Taliban regime and had the support of US and International Forces.
This alliance is now rooted in the government, according to reports. The former minister of interior who is a member of Jamyate Islami Party and also of the Nazar Council was accused of spending millions of dollars only to buy fertilizers for the premises of the ministry in addition to other oil contract cases in the Ministry of Defense.
President Hamid Karzai was reportedly aware of this allegation. During his presidency, his focus remained limited to controlling war-lords or at least stabilizing the balance of power between four major ethnic groups: the Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbik and Hazara.
Now, President Ashraf Ghani is focusing on two issues. His main focus has been to dry out all sources of illegal income and to clamp down on war-lords disguised as power-sharing partners.
In the field of foreign affairs, President Ghani has worked hard to take control of matters. That Pakistan admitted to receiving huge pressure from the international community for hosting extremist groups and the success at the Brussels Conference are two big achievements of the president’s successful policies.
On the other hand, the president’s team members and power-sharing partners are also exploring new ways to maintain and expand their control on Afghanistan - they are not ready for compromises. Their focus has been on blocking President Ghani who has made significant strides.
His achievements include assigning a commission to deal with the Kabul Bank scandal which recovered $250 million, ordering an investigation into Ministry of Defense fuel contracts in which 600 mid-level officials were asked to declare their assets and reshuffling 40 senior officials at the Afghan Attorney General’s office.
President Ghani also promised to double the size of the Special Crimes Task Force and authorized them to investigate governors, ministers and high-ranking Afghan Government officials.
This comes in addition to developing a financial management roadmap and bringing in major reforms in the Ministry of Finance and pushing for Afghanistan to become a member of International Trade Organization.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Air Force received war planes and helicopters from its international allies for the first time since the establishment of the new democratic era in Afghanistan in 2001. Also, work on building the major Lazuli road will soon begin, a railway line between Jalalabad and Peshawar is under processing and the construction of the Khost-Gardez High Way was completed.
The above-mentioned are some of the major projects started by President Ashraf Ghani and they will have strategic and long-term impacts on the lives of people in Afghanistan. Focusing on economic efforts at a national and regional level, adopting a clear stance toward the enemies of Afghanistan and establishing strong relationships with Afghanistan’s international allies and partners are his key strengths.
Rafiullah Kaleem is the assistant to the ambassador at the Embassy of Finland in Kabul. Previously, he was in charge of the ambassador’s office at the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Kabul.