Archive for the ‘ Democracy ’ Category

Hamid Karzai Is Losing All His Marbles and His Credibility

By Manzer Munir for Pakistanis for Peace

Kabul, Afghanistan- President Hamid Karzai’s troubling remarks this past Saturday that he would join the Taliban if he continues to come under pressure to reform by the United States and other “outsiders” has caused a stir in Washington DC.  Karzai’s comments came a week after President Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan at the end of March to pressure Karzai’s government to reform the political system, end corruption, and do a better job of fighting the Taliban.

Instead, what Karza delivered was a threat of the worse kind and quite possibly the most offensive and troubling thing one can say to a country that is risking countless soldiers lives daily to secure the country from the Taliban and other militant warlords in Afghanistan. In 8 short years, Hamid Karzai has gone from being the special guest of honor at George Bush’s State of the Union address to a leader who threatened to join our worst enemy. All because he feels that the US needs to stop badgering him to be a more responsible, fair, and an equitable leader as well as an effective partner in fighting the Taliban.

Karzai apparently made these unusual comments at a closed door meeting of lawmakers on Saturday, just days after accusing “foreigners” presumably the Unites States of being behind the fraud of the disputed elections of 2009. “He said that if I come under foreign pressure, I might join the Taliban”, said Farooq Marenai, a lawmaker from the eastern province of Nangarhar.  Mareni also stated that Karzai appeared nervous and demanded to know why parliament last week rejected legal reforms that would have strengthened Karzai’s authority over the country’s electoral institutions. Several other lawmakers confirmed that Karzai twice threatened to join the insurgency and the Taliban.

Karzai’s comments are troubling on many levels. First and foremost, he gives legitimacy and strength to the Taliban as his comments present the Taliban as an alternative option to American support or view on the situation. Karzai’s statement will no doubt have traveled the length and breadth of Afghanistan as word will spread that there is a weakness in the American-Afghan coalition that has been fighting and hunting the Taliban since October of 2001, post 9-11. The remarks by Karzai also puts every American, NATO, and Pakistani soldier at risk as instead of liberators, the foreign armies would be thought of as invaders, literally overnight. Lastly, Karzai’s remarks prove to the fact that Karzai is no longer an ally nor a credible partner for the US , NATO, and Pakistani army that have been fighting the Taliban with all their might.

There are reports of widespread nepotism, corruption, fraud, looting of the treasuries, and even drug trafficking, as Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, has been alleged to be a prominent figure in Afghanistan’s world leading illegal heroin production, cultivation and its global distribution. These facts along with his inability to rule effectively and assist the United States in its exit strategy out of Afghanistan by end of 2011 has made the Obama administration weary of dealing with Karzai. Also his typically slow response in instituting political and social freedoms along with a renewed focus in fighting the Taliban, has also been a factor in displeasure from Washington.

The Obama administration has refocused on the Afghan war with 30,000 additional troops to help with the war effort and that initial surge has helped the commanders on the ground in running the Taliban out of certain areas. There have also been great recent victories by the Pakistani army to go after the Taliban militants on its side of the border and in helping cut down the bases of support for the Afghan Taliban from the Pakistani tribal areas sympathetic to their cause. So these comments come at the worst possible time when the Taliban are on the run both in Afghanistan and Pakistan and a strong coalition of US-Afghan-Pakistan resistance against them could help eliminate or destroy the militants for good. But instead, the US and its allies are left wondering what to do with Karzai and how much he could be trusted in this tenuous partnership against the Taliban.

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Iranian Protests for Democracy is a Cry for Freedom Across the Muslim World

Tehran, Iran- Demonstrations in Iran continue a little over a week after the mass protests the occurred throughout Iran on the Shiite festival of Ashura as protestors defy the government’s crackdown on dissent. It appears that for the first time since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the regime of Iran is appearing weakened. Despite the brutal violence used by government soldiers and militiamen, the Iranian people are brazenly standing up and are demanding the end of the supreme rule of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and establishment of a democratic nation where freedom and rights of the Iranian people are respected.

For far too long the current regime has used violence and intimidation to quell revolt. However since the disputed election of last year, the majority of Iranian citizens want an end to theocratic rule. The government must sense the tide turning against them as the popular revolt is gathering steam and gaining strength. Overseas, the Iranian communities around the world are standing in support with their brothers and sisters in Iran and demanding an end to suppression and tyranny also and asking governments around the world for support of this movement by instituting embargos and sanctions on the Iranian government.

The situation is bleak in many Muslim countries around the world when it comes to prudent and competent government. If one takes a look at the Arabian Gulf region we have kingdoms such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, Bahrain, UAE, etc. There is not a great deal of individual and civil liberties as they are normally afforded in the western world. Freedom of speech, religion and right to protest is simply outlawed in most of these countries. If one takes a look at countries like Egypt, Libya, Syria, and until recently Iraq, are all countries where there are dictatorships akin to monarchies where power is held for generations as is the case with Muammar Al-Gaddafi or it is passed on to a family member as was the case with Bashar Al-Assad of Syria. Pakistan too is a country that of its 62 years of modern history, over half have been ruled by dictatorships robbing the people of a robust democratic system as is one that flourishes in neighboring India.

Far too often, in many Muslim countries around the world, governments and individuals in power are robbing the coffers of their national treasuries for their own greed and simultaneously either brutally cracking down on human rights and dissent or neglecting their responsibilities all together and therefore not providing basic services, infrastructure, and security.

It is not as if democracy is in theory in any ways in conflict with Islam, rather, Islam’s set of norms and ideals that emphasize the equality of people, the accountability of leaders to community, and the respect of diversity and other faiths, is fully compatible with democracy. Yet time after time, Muslim countries are finding themselves under repressive, corrupt and  inept leadership that has no problem using  vote rigging, violence, brutality and intimidation to remain in power.

The Iranian uprising and protests currently underway in Iran should inspire Muslims in other countries to demand better governance, more accountability, and freedoms from their leaders. A country that does not have the participation of all it citizens in all fields of endeavor is not going to advance aggressively as it should. Many citizens of Iran and Iranians around the world are hoping that the repressive regime in Tehran is overthrown by the brave protesters there. One would hope that eventually this starts a chain reaction throughout the Muslim world where repressive, authoritarian and harmful governments are holding back the progress of nations. Thomas Jefferson said it best  when he stated that “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inferences.”

Reported by Manzer Munir for http://www.PakistanisforPeace.com

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