Ostentation Marathon: Politicians Who Rely on Foreign Aid
By: Sanjar Sohail
In recent years, since the fall of the Republic, Afghan politicians have used meetings with diplomatic representatives of Western countries, particularly the United States, as a way to demonstrate their importance and spread propaganda. Whenever Ashraf Ghani met with representatives of the Western countries, the media and propaganda machine would quickly spread the news to show that he was an important figure that diplomats were coming to the Presidential Palace to meet. Ghani‘s rivals, including Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Hamid Karzai, Atta Mohammad Nur, and many others, especially those who opposed him directly, would show great interest and excitement in the hope that they could also meet the same diplomats or any other person of similar stature, so they could share photos and videos of their meeting.
When discussing the news about those meetings, we would sarcastically ask our colleagues in Hasht–e–Subh, “Why doesn‘t so–and–so publish a picture with the Pakistani ambassador?” This is because in the later years of the Republic, due to the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, fewer diplomats visited Kabul. Those who did come to Afghanistan due to their military presence, in addition to government officials, would also prefer to meet with various politicians outside the government.
Some believed it was beneficial for both governments and politicians outside the government to meet with foreign diplomats. This was because of their military presence and commitment to maintaining the national budget, defense, development, and services for Afghanistan. However, focusing on foreigners and getting their support took away the officials‘ only chance to connect with people and create movements and institutions with popular links. As a result, the statesmen and politicians became isolated, proud, and out–of–touch individuals with all kinds of illusions. The Taliban victory and the roots of extremism throughout the country were caused by this excessive reliance on foreign sources and supporters that failed the people. After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghans hoped for a new era in the country and welcomed all kinds of democratic plans but were soon disappointed.
Ashraf Ghani was the first person to be met by officials and representatives of other countries when he was relaxing in his presidential chair. These diplomats then wanted to meet with the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, the National Council, and the Jihadi commanders and leaders, as well as commercial companies and non–governmental organizations. Ghani adopted a dual approach when speaking to foreigners and the public. He spoke only facts, reports, and arguments to foreigners, but when addressing the public, he used fantasies and lies to create illusions. He also changed his voice and words depending on his audience, speaking quietly and slowly to foreigners and using insults and shouting when talking to people. People noticed this through the media and gradually lost interest and hope in Ghani‘s system and its rootless politics. Eventually, the silence and observation of the people puzzled the rulers and politicians, as the screams and excitement that had once accompanied the community were no longer present. This caused the government to become powerless, rootless, and eventually collapse.
Many people like me recall that government institutions‘ spokespeople and PR departments put a lot of energy and effort into creating news, reports, videos, and photos of their leaders and commanders‘ meetings, rather than providing information to citizens and confronting the Taliban. Politicians outside the government also spent a lot of money on advertising and propaganda, hiring dozens of Facebook operators to make themselves look good in the eyes of people both inside and outside the country.
Unfortunately, two years after the collapse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, politicians in exile are still pretending and deceiving each other. Whenever they meet with a high–ranking agent, they post photos on social media to make it look like they are still popular with “foreigners” and still politically relevant, even though they are not.
Unfortunately, Afghanistan has never seen the growth of political, social, and cultural movements. Instead, they have been repressed. As a result, groups and organizations with progressive ideas have been pushed to the side in a corrupt, unfair, and outdated atmosphere. Over the past four decades, our country has been plagued by a political farce. Many of the politicians in this country have been insincere, two–faced, dishonest, and corrupt, with the only aim of benefiting themselves.
In developed countries, politicians must have big strategic ideas and plans to rebuild and improve the economic, social, and cultural status, in addition to their own personal interests. They must also have good financial, behavioral, and voluntary records in order to enter the field of politics. Voters in a democratic country prioritize the political background of political figures, and there are legal mechanisms in place to prevent people with criminal, moral, and financial records from entering politics. In some democratic countries, people with criminal records such as murder, theft, corruption, and rape, especially child rape, are either partially or entirely banned from holding any government post. This is also true in the private sector of many countries, where one of the employment conditions for most jobs is to have a police clearance certificate to prove that the person has no criminal record in the past.
The Taliban era provides an opportunity to re–evaluate our approach. The new generation of politicians, social activists, and artists must prioritize the people‘s vote and the public‘s desires over foreign resources and support, as no political and social movement can be successful without a strong foundation in society. We must adjust revolutions, parties, and organizations to reflect the objectives of the people, and rely on the people‘s power to save politics from relying on foreign aid.