August 11th, 2010
10:20 AM ET

Opinion: Federal system only option for Taliban, U.S.

Editor’s Note: Abbas Daiyar began his blog, Kabul Perspective, last year to look at issues in Kabul and around the world. He has worked with newspapers in Pakistan and reported for news agencies in the past and is now a member of the editorial board of the independent Daily Outlook Afghanistan newspaper in Kabul. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Abbas Daiyar.

Why is it that every policy change is doomed to failure in Afghanistan? From the community-security and reach-out policy to the fight against drugs, all have shown little success so far.

Abbas Daiyar

Gen. Petraeus has come to Afghanistan with the latest commitment of success. After fierce opposition from the Afghan government, his proposed Public Protection Force has been approved by the Afghan cabinet. This approach is based on the successful model of Iraq, where Sunni militia groups were armed to fight against al-Qaeda. In the Afghan government, there was intense opposition to the program of arming locals as a Public Protection Force to avoid Taliban insurgency spreading. President Karzai’s ambitions are more of setting a ground for the post-American Afghanistan, regardless of whatever results. There are no signs of success so far that his proposed reintegration of Taliban will work out.

Coming to Arg (the Afghan Presidential Palace) for a second term in a controversial election, Karzai has been moving close to Iran and Pakistan. In June, when the interior minister and intelligence chief were asked by the president to resign, the most common commentary in Kabul newspapers were that the move is to placate Pakistan regarding the Taliban reconciliation, as NDS (National Directorate of Security) Chief, Amrullah Saleh was the fiercest Pakistan-critic voice in the Karzai Administration. Some politicians in Kabul even fear Karzai will attempt to grab power for long after NATO withdrawal, by calling a National Jirga and bringing some amendments in the constitution. And it’s quite possible!

Again the fundamental question is: why after billions of dollars spent and thousands of lives sacrificed, is Afghanistan becoming a quagmire for the U.S. and NATO? Why is it that Iraq is gradually getting stability while Afghanistan is deteriorating with a new story each day of failure? Recently there have been talks about a de facto division of Afghanistan. The U.S. policy thinkers are now discovering the options suggested nine years ago by many in Afghanistan. And it comes at a time when the situation is at its worst. If there was such serious thinking in Washington in 2001, things would have not been at its worst.

Renowned Pakistani journalist Ahmad Rashid in an article on the Financial Times website has mocked former U.S. Ambassador Robert Blackwill’s suggestion of de facto partition of Afghanistan in volatile Taliban-influenced South and peaceful North and Hazarajat. Ahmad writes “Not a single Afghan will ever support such a demand.” Really? Ahmad Rashid analyses from his world of knowledge about post-Taliban Afghanistan, which he has not visited for the last couple of years. He should know that the slogan of Latif Pedram, a presidential candidate rival of Karzai in last year’s election, was for a federal system in Afghanistan demanding division of regions in the country. And there are ethnocentric “nationalist” groups even advocating for a full partition.

Today Gen. Petraeus is applying the Iraq model of Sunni Awakening under the label of Public Protect Force in Afghanistan after years of growing insurgency. Pentagon and Washington know now that the insurgency is of the same nature in Iraq and Afghanistan, ideologically and operationally. But the strategy will only work when other parallels are successful, too.

The political system and civilian government is a measuring parallel for the success of military operations in Afghanistan. The administration in Kabul is a fragile and corrupt one, and fundamentally very different from the system successfully working in Iraq. The key of success in Iraq in fighting insurgency was Sunni Awakening in addition to a stable federal parliamentary political system. Amidst the discussions of alternatives in Afghanistan, federal parliamentary system would be the best way to avoid a bloody partition. As Mr. Blackmill says, “there is no quick, easy and cost-free ways to escape the current deadly quagmire.” Leaders from Afghanistan had suggested it long ago in 2002 during the Bonn Conference and later. And recently, it has not only been Latif Pedram calling for a federal system, but the strongest rival of Karzai in the election - former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah was calling for a parliamentary system. And allies of Karzai in election, who left Karzai’s side recently, Muhaqiq and Dostum, have been calling for a fundamental change in the system. Recently in a TV talk in Kabul, Muhaqiq was saying “we demand decentralization of power, you name it federal system, parliamentary or whatever…”

A central system is against the nature of Afghanistan for centuries. A strong central government has never had control over all parts of the country in history. Even today, under a strong presidency and central government, Karzai due to his political weaknesses cannot remove a rival Governor of Balkh, Mr. Ata, who often talks against Karzai in public.

Such a system would be the only solution for the so-called reconciliation and reintegration program with insurgents. Taliban want a share in power, and they fight under the slogan of Sharia and religion. Some ministries and offices in Kabul would not bring them for a settlement. If local people of an area want to be ruled by Taliban, billions of U.S. dollars and the least-corrupt official appointed from Kabul would never win the hearts and minds of people. It’s impossible for Taliban to burn down girls’ schools, if the majority of local people are against it. Simply, let people be ruled by Taliban in the areas the people want them. And the little population who don’t want to live under Taliban can move to other provinces. Some of the southern provinces could go under Taliban if they take part in elections in a federal system with provincial autonomy. And this can be the only possible deal for workable negotiations.

Taliban insurgency is now spreading to the peaceful parts of country. Most peaceful provinces like Bamyan, Badakhshan and Daikundi were in headlines the past week for casualties. The Iraq model of Gen. Petraeus is incomplete unless the political system in Afghanistan is like that of Iraq. For saving Afghanistan and the efforts made in the last nine years, it’s extremely important to bring fundamental changes in the whole strategy and system in Afghanistan.

Already there is a rise of ethnic sentiments in Afghanistan after the calls of reconciliation by Karzai. Political leaders in North and Hazarajat are saying to launch a mass campaign. The best way to avoid a bloody partition like that of Ahmad Rashid’s country (partition of Bangladesh from Pakistan) in 1971 is to change the system in Afghanistan. The attempts of negotiations with Taliban will not work unless they receive an attractive offer of rule in some provinces of South under a federal parliamentary democratic system. It’s an honorable roadmap for the U.S. withdrawal from a stable Afghanistan.

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Filed under: Karzai • Taliban • Voices • Your View
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. rateb arbabzadah

    in my opinion it's better to separete afghanistan in two zone of north and south, one for the people who want to develop and second for the people who want be like taliban and so on...

    September 30, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hramzi

    fundementally an afghan government run by pashtoon will not be able to justly rule over the whole of afghanistan if the pushtoons remains head of the state the counrty will plunge into chaos and this fact was proven time over time And they are not following Islam when it comes to land, money, power and in best of times they are treacherous people and coward by nature. There are millions of evidence out there against them, even millions of eye witnesses who would testify that they are not muslims when they are in power and these pashtoons do not have even little compassion for human lives. The ordinary pashtoons are as humane as any body and its only when they see money, land, power and young boys the turn bloody even against each other. I SUPPORT PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS, I salute the American, British, India and many other countries for their humaniterian support for Afghanistan, Please continue your presence and support there especially for those who suffered tremendously under taliban regime or past pashtoon regimes.

    September 5, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. karim karim

    Taliban(Pushtoons) equates backwardness, for us the way forward is to stay away from them, culturally and politicly.

    Karim from Panjshaire

    August 14, 2010 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
    • atal

      It is best to stay up-wind of them too!

      August 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. karim karim

    Taliban(Pushtoons) equates backwardness, for us the forward is to stay away from them, culturally and politicly.

    Karim from Panjshaire

    August 14, 2010 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

    Not all Afghanistan are bad!!! Just like not all Americans are... There are good and bad in all Countries!!! All We want is to be able to live Our lives with out warring about dieing are starving and to be able to take care of Our Families!!!

    August 12, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Smith in Oregon

    Federal System for both Taliban and Afghanistan? You mean getting the American taxpayers to pour Billions of free dollars into the hands of the Taliban fighters in Pakistan which well over 100 pages of Wikileaks show Pakistan has repeatedly done with assistance and 'earthquake' aid funds.

    War's are very expensive in today's hyper-sophisticated battlefields, Pakistan is largely funding the Taliban by diverted American taxpayer free dollars. Cut off all funding of all kinds in assistance and 'aid' to Pakistan. There'll be a near immediate decrease in Taliban and Suicide Bombers on the American soldiers and Afghanistan Government.

    August 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TruthTeller50

    Riza Afghan- Don't lie, Please share the facts with people. Pashtuns are 55% of Afghanistan. Mullah Omar / Sirajuddin Haqqani / Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are Afghans and they are fighting to liberate their country from Occupiers. We use to call them Mujahideen in 80's and now we call the TALIBAN.

    You are either mentally unstable or pure Stupid if you think Afghanistan have no Taliban :) Grow Up..

    August 12, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

    We are doing it the right way!!! Train them so that they are better than Their Enemy!!!

    August 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Will you kindly vomit your ignorance under somebody else's name for a change?You're making me look like an idiot!!!

      August 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

    Thanks for posting this on all the Boards!!! People have to learn the truth...

    August 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Hey Phunnie boy,let me speak for myself,will you?And kindly quit blogging under my name!!!

      August 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

    This is why we are helping both Afghanistan and Pakistan to get rid of them!!! The whole world would be better off without them...

    August 12, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Actually we have no business there and we're helping no one,Phunnie boy,and stop stealing my ID for crying out loud!!!

      August 12, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Daniel-2

    Evan,how much were you paid to post that hideous photo and who"s paying you???

    August 12, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. NisarAli Nasir

    I totally support the views of Abbas Daiyar and if someone has any doubt about it, must watch the video uploaded by Mr Evan Mark.

    The best solution, if someone wants to be ruled by Taliban, Move to the provinces where they are in mijority.

    The civilized World must not let the Good people of Afghanistan to suffer by those terrorists.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Bledsoe

      Will you cut out the right-wing mumbo-jumbo??? It does get old and how!!!

      August 12, 2010 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Bledsoe

      On reflection it does make a lot of sense though.

      August 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Changez

    Afghanistan needs a balkan solution asap – its regions live centuries apart from eachother. From the stone age south to the progressive central and north.

    A great analysis done by Abbas; if the Pushtun south wants to live in caves with long beards and blow up schools, please let them by all means. And if the Central Hazarajat and North wants to live in a civilized manner then it is the duty of other civilized nations to help them out.

    August 12, 2010 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel-2

      That's exactly the solution for Iraq!Give the north to the Kurds,the south to the Shiites and the west to the Sunnis.As you say,it may also be the solution for Afghanistan.

      August 12, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
      • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

        You have to beat them before you can make PEACE with them!!! Israel has proven that... They are still fighting them!!!

        August 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

        Please,whoever you are,quit usurping my name in order to vomit your ignorance.We already have far too many right-wing nutjobs doing it as it is!!!

        August 12, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

    I agree with Jim.We need to get out from under this stinking war and how!!!

    August 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jim P

    We need to get out of this rotten war once and for all and tell the right-wing thugs in Washington where to get off!!!

    August 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • BUBBA--ALABAMA STYLE!!!

      Daniel-2. your punctuation is getting better but nothing else has improved.

      August 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • BUBBA--ALABAMA STYLE!!!

        Hey you,where do you come off calling me Daniel and will you kindly quit stealing my ID?I want to speak for myself.While we're at it,how many other IDs are you blogging under?

        August 11, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • BUBBA--ALABAMA STYLE!!!

        How many? just the 11 you are using.

        August 12, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      We will at the right time!!! If Bush would have kept the Troops there instead of starting the Iraq War... The war would have been over with years ago!!!

      August 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Riza Afghan

    Pashtun is only 37%, if Pashtun is taliban, we will kill Pashtun one by one till they give up.

    Taliban is Terrorist and Afghanistan have no place for terrorists.
    indeed Taliban are coming from Pakistan you stupid f00k, don't call Honored Afghans Taliban.

    Stupid f00k Pakistanies are Taliban and coming to Afghanistan, India, UK and blowing themself.

    UK,India, Afghanistan have no Taliban, only Pakistan Does !

    August 11, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angle

      How dare you call Persians sh1t they are a cultured people.

      August 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • TruthTeller50

      You are either mentally unstable or pure Stupid if you think Afghanistan have no Taliban :) Grow Up..

      Riza Afghan- Don't lie, Please share the facts with people. Pashtuns are 55% of Afghanistan. Mullah Omar / Sirajuddin Haqqani / Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are Afghans and they are fighting to liberate their country from Occupiers. We use to call them Mujahideen in 80's and now we call the TALIBAN.

      August 12, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      If the Pakistan are so bad why are they fighting the Taliban??? There are good and bad with everyone!!!

      August 12, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Yakabi: Maybe if the People of this world would be educated, working and not starving the killing might stop!!! When they see others better off than they are... They will do anything to get their part of it!!! How long do you think You can keep People down forever???

      August 12, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Random Reader

    Well, yeah, if you equate the Tailban with the Pashtun south. The Pashun South is going nowhere, and so are the Taliban.

    August 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |