The word BANANA REPUBLIC first hit me when I recently read the autobiography of the then Pakistani president Pervez Musharaf (IN THE LINE OF FIRE). Though he is referring to Pakistan as a banana republic under current PPP’s (Pakistan’s Peoples Party) leadership, but Afghanistan with malfunctioning socio-political institutions could easily fall in the same category. Now, the word banana republic mainly comprises states with chaotic political leadership, hectic governance with an upward trend of corruption and downfall economies. Primarily, in such countries the so called minority elites and privileged are the core decision makers on behalf of the silent majority which gives them the opportunity for exploitation regardless of harming the well being of the silent mainstream.
In countries as Afghanistan the whole subsistence of the state unfortunately lies under the auspices of a few infamous religious figures or the so-called elite families. They can easily get away with anything illicit and they are the real violators of law within the country. Obviously, when the top hierarchy considers itself above the law, ordinary citizens will never feel responsible and abide by law at any cost. The political leadership in such republics is corrupt, negligent and incapable of addressing the very basic needs of its citizens; the policies are designed to benefit a small circle of state officials who are the real stakeholders in the economy.
Tired of a devastating civil war, the people of Afghanistan voted unanimously for the president to bring out crucial changes and lay the conventional face of politics in the country to rest. We were looking forward to a modern, democratic and resilient economy less reliant on foreign aid and more productive in domestic front. Instead, a decade on, the political stability is at stake while the economy is crumbling. Perhaps, Afghanistan with a heterogeneous social structure where throughout its history modernization has never been replicated to its rural dwellers needed to take a down to up approach for its dynamic growth.
More often, these republics are depended on foreign aid and rarely utilize this financial support on long-term significant projects. In these republics the leadership leans towards dictatorship and deprives its inhabitants from their very basic needs and aspirations.
Though In Afghanistan post the Bonn conference, the people welcomed the interim administration as a better substitute for the outgoing Taliban repression hoping for a chance of everlasting peace and economic dynamism, not knowing that the later outcome would be as devastating as the previous tested administrations. President Karzai who entered the scene as a populous prodigy failed to deliver the very basic promises he made to the people during his election campaign. Nevertheless, in a hugely unpopular and controversial election he managed to stay in power. I personally believe that he should have been able to assess his failures during his first 5 years in the office and considering his inabilities to emerge as a pragmatic, prudent and well-informed leader he should have sat in the back seat and transferred the power to a favorable vibrant leadership. As a matter of fact, in a banana republic the ruling leadership prefers a short term gain over a long term pain and stick to their failed policies till an unexpected overthrown or a popular revolt. Accepting democracy as its core political principle in 2001, Afghanistan is off the path heading towards a totalitarian leadership willing to suppress its outnumbered democratic institutions.
Proper accountability is indeed the strongest tool a government could exercise to maintain its legitimacy and prevent anarchy in the society. Only an accountable and vision oriented government is capable of maintaing law and order and achieve its long term strategic aims which are undoubtedly robust economy, sound political institutions thus social reforms. Now for such countries to remain in course it is necessary that a strong political or social movement is formed and it takes on the establishment to avoid the abstraction of justice and demoralizing social confidence.
The most efficient way to transform the banana republics into an aspiring people’s republics is conducting large scale social awareness programs or a civil disobedience. In such republics the opposing side to the leadership should campaign for crucial changes in how things are done. In our particular case, we have to impose further restrictions on the entry of individuals to the state decision making posts. Only leaving such jobs for the highly qualified and delivering candidates. Here in the U.S. election campaigns start two years prior to the general elections which gives them the time frame to meet with their constituencies and attract their votes. In contrast, in Afghanistan office hopefuls only campaign for a few months which is not inclusive and broad based. Obviously, with such little campaigning and awareness to the masses we cannot claim to transform the country’s destination.
Author: (Naser Koshan)