Afghanistan’s Uprising for Change sought to articulate democratic demands


Afghanistan’s government is plagued by systemic indifference to democratic demands, says a leading analyst and activist.

The short-lived Uprising for Change was born out of people’s growing frustration with the National Unity Government. At the core of the movement was the legitimate anger of a frustrated generation, which sees no promising prospect for security, peace, and stability in their country under the current leadership, argues Tabish Forugh (left), a former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy and chief of staff of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission. The movement, however, lacked strong organization in chasing its targets, he writes for The Diplomat:

In part, lack of organizational capacity and independent political voice made the movement vulnerable and exposed to various forms of manipulation from the old and resourceful mujahideen parties, as well as experienced opportunist politicians. Nevertheless, the question is whether the risk of activism should dissuade the younger generation. The answer is no. The main question right now is not how a group of demonstrators define themselves, but rather why the government stubbornly — and constantly — refuses to talk to those demanding reforms.

The dominant discourse on Afghanistan is often centered around the war and its strategic implications a reductionist approach which ignores the fact that the country is home to not one, but five distinct conflicts, writes analyst Abrar Ahmed:

  • Afghanistan’s first war is ethnic in nature. It is an age-old political power struggle between the country’s dominant ethnic community, the Pashtuns, and the other ethnic groups: Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks, Aimaqs, and a modicum of other small ethnic groups. …..This was most vividly evident in 2004, when the new constitutional framework sought to stabilize the government by concentrating power effectively in the office of the president…
  • To make matters more complicated, there is also political strife among Afghanistan’s Pashtun community. This is the second conflict, inter-ethnic in nature, that runs along tribal lines and stretches back to 18th century. …
  • The third conflict is a cultural war between the cosmopolitan progressives in Afghanistan’s urban centers and religious conservatives in the rural areas. This conflict also stretched back hundreds of years. ….
  • The fourth conflict in Afghanistan is one that pervades the whole South Asian region: a cold war between Pakistan and India. Since decolonization, Pakistan has viewed its foreign policy through a security prism vis-à-vis India. ….
  • Layered on top of these four conflicts is the ongoing U.S. war against the Taliban in the country, which has, in turn, accentuated all other conflicts.


Any strategy that is “oblivious to the region’s historical intricacies” is likely to fail, Ahmed writes for The Diplomat.

Credit: NDI

The US is planning to increase pressure on Pakistan to amend its role in Afghanistan, according to Reuters. But attempts to bully Pakistan into submission will only drive Islamabad further toward China, said Ayesha Siddiqa, a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

“It also means that in Afghanistan, there will be more violence. Pakistan sees Afghanistan as an American-Indian project against Pakistani interests,” she said.

Ghani’s delusion of saving Afghanistan through a one-man army needs to be shattered. Afghanistan is an extremely complicated country with many overlapping crises, adds Forugh, formerly an Afghan Fulbright Graduate Scholar at New York University:

Historically, time and again, the politics of exclusion has failed so many leaders; some of them shared the same ambitions and delusions as Ghani. As the leader of a diverse, but divided country, he should understand that only democracy, accountability, and political inclusiveness could create a hopeful prospective future for millions of Afghans.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email