Afghanistan and its Longstanding Leaders

Lifelong leadership is a pervasive issue in the political culture of Afghanistan and many other underdeveloped countries, and is a major contributor to political crises in these countries. According to sociologist Max Weber, there are three types of legitimate authority: traditional, rationallegal, and charismatic. In the rationallegal type, leaders are democratically elected and their authority is based on the will of informed and free citizens. As the people do not desire lifelong leaders, they should be rotated regularly. However, in Afghanistan, when someone assumes a leadership position, be it in government or a party, they will cling to it until death and are unwilling to give it up peacefully.

The drawbacks of lifelong leadership are clear. Leaders who are confident in their hold on power tend to be less responsible and more authoritarian. Similarly, every leader‘s political career reaches its peak at a certain point in time when they are most productive, and then declines or stagnates, just like a living organism that has a period of youth when it is productive and then ages. If one remains in power for too long, they will impede the progress of a society and country. Furthermore, lifelong leaders, by denying others power, force them to resort to destructive measures to overthrow them or lock them into intense and often violent power struggles. Many political conflicts, party divisions, military coups and social unrest can be traced back to this phenomenon. Countries with lifelong leaders become stagnant. In these nations, the repressed desire for change will eventually erupt and leave deep scars on the government and the nation.

In some democratic nations, such as England, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands, the position of head of state is reserved for lifelong leaders. This is a symbolic position with no executive power that symbolizes unity. These leaders will only be involved in times of utmost urgency when a power vacuum is perceived due to an unusual crisis, and this involvement will be limited by law until a new administration replaces the old one.

In Afghanistan, where the Taliban are in power, their leadership is for life. The supreme judge of the Taliban has written in his book that the concept of power rotation is a western phenomenon and that they do not accept it, and that their Emir will lead the country for life. In such a situation, those who are dissatisfied with his leadership and consider his approach to be detrimental in every way, have no other option but to remove him by force. Most political Islamist groups tend to have lifelong leadership, as it is more in line with their authoritarian spirit. On the contrary, in democratic systems, tenure is limited and power is transferred peacefully.