Afghanistan experienced 7 political systems in 100 years

KABUL (Tolo News): Afghanistan has experienced at least seven political systems and 10 forms of government in the last 100 years that starts with absolute monarchy and ends with today’s republic.

Absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, socialist republic, republic, Islamic government, Islamic emirate and Islamic republic have been among key political systems in the country over the past 100 years. Absolute monarchy under reign of former king Mohammad Zahir continued for at least four decades, the longest political system in the country.

Of all the major countries in the region it is only Afghanistan that appears to be faced with insurmountable problems due to its changing political landscape and political ups and downs and fragmentation in the past century. On 14 October 1929, Muhammad Nadir Shah sieged the Presidential Palace in Kabul and overthrew the government of the then ruler Habibullah Kalakani and declared himself as the king of Afghanistan and laid the foundation of absolute monarchy in the country.

In the absolute monarchy system, the king rules the country for life. After the assassination of Muhammad Nadir Shah in November 1933, his son Muhammad Zahir Shah came on the thrown and laid the foundation of constitutional monarchy.

On July 17, 1973, former Prime Minister Mohammad Daud Khan led a coup against Afghanistan’s last king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, overthrowing the monarchy system and setting the stage for a republic to be formed in Afghanistan. Daud Khan served as the 5th Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and as President of Afghanistan from 1973 to 1978.

On April 28, 1978, President Daud Khan was assassinated in a military coup along his family members. After his assassination, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) changed the republic system to People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan under the leadership of Noor Mohammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin.

Taraki served as president of Afghanistan from 1978 to 1979. Hafizullah Amin, a leftist politician briefly served as the president of Afghanistan in 1979. Amin was then assassinated in Kabul on December 27, 1979. Following Amin, Dr. Najibullah was president of Afghanistan from 1987 until his ousting by the mujahedeen in 1992. He then lived in the United Nations headquarters in Kabul until 1996, when the Taliban took control of Kabul.

The Taliban that captured Kabul in September 1996 executed Dr. Najibullah and brutalized his body under full international glare. The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 when a US-led western coalition toppled the regime from power for providing refuge to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. After 2001, a republic system took shape in Afghanistan for a second time. The current system consists of a national assembly, judiciaries, executive branch and other institutions such as provincial and district councils.

Almost two decades have now passed since the establishment of the republic system in Afghanistan. Today Afghanistan has achieved major gains in various fields such as women’s rights, press freedom and democratic principles. With all this, the republic system has changed into a much-debated issue between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The Taliban has stressed the need for the dissolution of the republic as part of peace efforts, something that is denied by the incumbent administration. Experts said people will lose the right to vote as well as social justice and equal rights will be damaged if the republic system in Afghanistan is substituted with a new system. “Afghanistan’s experience from the emirate system (the term used for Taliban’s political system) shows that in that system the people have no right to vote, and the system is not based on the will of the people,” said Shukria Barikzai, former Afghan ambassador to Norway.

“The biggest shortcoming of the Afghan governments in the last century is that they have not been able to establish a dynamic, efficient and a law-oriented and people-oriented system. Governments have never been formed based on the votes of the people,” said military commentator Assadullah Nadim. “We do not support a decentralized system in Afghanistan because it scatters the power and brings tensions. We believe that a decentralized system is quite perilous in underdeveloped nations,” said Humayoun Jarir, a member of Hizb-e-Islami.

These days, when the discussions on peace have become more serious and the possibility of changing the current system as a result of a peace agreement with the Taliban is greater than ever, politicians have different views on the future system. “In Afghanistan, the power has been centralized more than needed. The president holds the authority. He appoints police chiefs for a districts, he does everything, including procurement and the issuance of illegal legislative decrees. He even defies the parliament,” said Abdul Latif Pedram, former MP and head of the National Congress Party of Afghanistan. Some experts said that if the republic system in Afghanistan is substituted with a new system, people’s right to vote will be taken away and social justice and equal rights will be destroyed.