Political Fragility in Afghanistan due to Lack of Powerful Parties

By: Zainullah Sarwari

When the official institutions of government lose their authority, dignity, and effectiveness in distributing resources and wealth and exercising legitimate power, politics and government become unstable. As a result, people no longer view the government and political institutions as effective and suitable for society, leading to a lack of loyalty and support for them in comparison to other entities.

Political parties have been a significant and influential factor in political stability and balance in the world for a long time. In traditional societies, there is no scope for the emergence and influence of political parties. In societies undergoing modernization, political parties are not as accepted.

The establishment and development of political parties in society ensures political stability. Parties promote and facilitate political involvement through organized processes and have their adherents in the public, bringing together various groups in a systematic manner for political campaigning.

The success of political systems in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States is attributed to the presence of powerful political parties, which play a significant role in the social and political arenas. These parties help to prevent political deviation and facilitate discussion and discourse to bring about necessary reforms and promote democratic means of gaining power. Similarly, the continuity of the political system in countries like Turkey and India is largely dependent on the presence of powerful political parties, such as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey and the Indian National Congress (INC) in India. The reform goals of Kemal Ataturk in Turkey were relatively successful due to the establishment of the People‘s Republican Party, whereas King Amanullah Khan in Afghanistan was unable to effectively achieve her goals due to the lack of a political party.

Parties can achieve their goals by exerting influence on various groups of workers, farmers, and other segments of society.

Samuel Phillips Huntington, an American political scientist, viewed conservatism as an impediment to the growth and development of parties in society. In a traditional and conservative milieu, political elites and those in authority view the party as a form of heresy and a grave danger to their power and existence, thus hindering its growth and development as much as possible.

In Afghanistan, a country with a longstanding tradition, there has been little room for the development of political parties. The few groups that have emerged and declared their presence have been largely disorganized and have not been able to garner the backing of the public or various segments of society. After the gradual establishment of political stability and the government‘s allowance of political activities in the 1960s, political groups and parties began to organize their activities both openly and clandestinely, with the People‘s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) being formed during this period. Unfortunately, this party was beset by internal divisions from the outset and eventually disintegrated before it could reach its full potential. The PDPA was unable to gain widespread acceptance and have a lasting impact on Afghan society due to the lack of strong popular support and the traditional nature of the country.

During the Jihad and civil wars, the Islamist and Jihadi parties resembled a community of clans, tribes, and lineages and lacked regularity and organization. Following the death of their leaders, most of these parties fragmented and eventually disintegrated, such as Jamiate Islami and the Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Party.

The party‘s ability also includes its organizational complexity and depth of connection with socioeconomic organizations, such as labor associations and farmers unions, in order to gain the support and attention of various groups. However, Afghan parties have not had this capability.

Political parties possess the additional capability of having their members and activists largely devoted to the party, its interests, and its goals. However, in Afghanistan, party members prioritize their own personal, family, and ethnic interests over the party‘s interests, and they lack any loyalty to the party and its aspirations

Over the past two decades, despite the favorable conditions for the establishment of political parties, no strong and influential national party has been formed, which political analysts attribute to the traditionalism of society, conservatism, and excessive loyalty to one‘s tribe and lineage.

The reemergence of the Taliban group in the absence of political parties has caused the political instability to worsen over time. Although the Taliban cannot be classified as a political party, it can be seen as a militarypolitical fundamentalist group, with its members being more devoted to their factions, internal divisions, commanders, tribes, and villages than to the goals and beliefs of the group. This complexity and multiplicity will lead to a further weakening of the political structure, and ultimately to the downfall of the group in the near future.

The political stability of a system is dependent upon the presence and capability of parties in the political arena. A party is able to be effective if it has the backing of the public. Countries that have achieved political stability have powerful, active parties, such as the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States and the Conservative and Labor parties in the United Kingdom.

Afghanistan has been plagued by political instability and unrest for several decades due to the lack of powerful political parties, hindering the country‘s political development. The traditional and conservative nature of the society, ethnic and tribal loyalties, lack of political development, poverty of thought, and lack of political expertise and insight have made Afghanistan unable to form a powerful political party, resulting in fragility and political crisis, leading to successive collapses of the systems in this country.