Afghanistan’s civil society under fire



A slew of assassinations has struck Afghanistan, mainly targeting prominent women, journalists and other progressives. The wave of targeted killings has stoked fear among Afghan intellectuals and heightened anxiety about what the future holds in the battle-scarred country, NBC News reports: 

As of Wednesday, 40 people had been killed this year, according to Afghan Peace Watch, a nonprofit research and media organization, in addition to more than 130 people in the last three months of 2020…..Orzala Ashraf Nemat, an Afghan civil society activist, said she hopes regional and international pressure will persuade the Taliban to agree to a peaceful settlement. But the recent wave of violence has made her worry for the future.

“Some of the people who are targeted are not known for having any controversial ideas. They are ordinary, simple civil society leaders,” she said. “This is what scares people — that in the end it indicates that everyone is a target.”

The political upheavals of the last four decades have aggravated the disconnect between Afghanistan’s ruling elites and the “governed” masses. They failed to work together, trust, and complement each other, says Tabish Forugh (@ForughTabish – right), a former Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.

As a result, the governing power structure and political discourse became more exclusive and unjust, he writes for Responsible Statecraft:

Instead of a democratic rights-based and citizen-centered political discourse, the governing elites and their international backers, the Soviets in the 1980s and the Americans in the recent two decades, imposed their formula for engineering Afghan society and nation-state building. They paid little attention to the existence of different political views, diverse social groupings, distinct economic interests, and opposing ideological stands within the society. The disconnect and divergence between the elites and the masses need to be bridged via conversation and dialogue.

There are social setups in place that can facilitate such conversations at local and provincial levels, including civil society platforms, elder councils, local media, and Jirgas, Forugh suggests. RTWT

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