s Afghans we are under no obligation to implement any one model of government. Afghanistan is a complex country with diversity of ethnicity, language, religion and sect. This is one of the strengths of the country. We need to find a system which offers expression to this diversity. All the peoples of Afghanistan should see themselves with a stake in that system. All the political parties of Afghanistan, through democratic channels, should gain a stake in that system. Power should be obtained and exercised through legitimate mechanisms.
The current mixed political system, a watered-down version of the American system, has not worked. The presidential system has worked in America because it is combined with a federal system. Authorities are allocated between the federating units, there is a fully functional constitution and the units have their own budgets. We introduced the American presidential system without the accompanying institutions. We need a system which gives expression to the ethnic and social diversity of this country, which is why I have concluded that a parliamentary system is required.
We have experienced ethnic confrontation. Let there instead be ideological contests. Let us have a system with strong political parties. Healthy politics is only possible when national parties take hold. People need political vehicles to represent them and to help them in reaching their objectives, gaining the kind of services they require from their government. Those vehicles should be political rather than tribal or ethnic. This political development will maintain our national unity. If people do not have access to political parties and civil society organisations, they inevitably lean on their tribe, language group and religion. Instead of taking Afghanistan forward, such politics can take it backward. Afghanistan remains a country where individuals count for more than institutions.
We need to change the structure of power. The current structure encourages ethno-linguistic confrontation and this weakens us nationally. We need a process of transition towards a parliamentary system. From the outset, we can transfer some of the presidential powers to the parliament and other organs. This will enable the government to retain the support of the population. I am not talking about a federal system. But, at least the people of each province should be able to choose their own wali.
Think of Kandahar. The economic situation does not permit all decisions to be taken by direct election. But there are ways of allowing participation in a decision. So the people of Kandahar can call a consultative assembly to choose, say, five acceptable candidates to send to the president. Their candidates may include people from Kandahar or from elsewhere. When the president picks one of these people as wali, he can count on the support of the people of Kandahar who have proposed the wali.
In the meantime, until we reach the stage of a fully fledged parliamentary system, we should at least have a prime minister heading the executive branch. We do not need to repeat the failed experiment of having a ‘chief executive’. This was set up to fail. Rather, we should have a prime minister heading the executive branch, a speaker of the parliament heading the legislative branch and a chief justice heading up the judicial branch. Then the president can be the overall leader, bringing these three branches together within a balanced system.
We had a bitter experience of the current system during the Karzai period, when I was the speaker of the parliament. Because we did not have a prime minister, whenever there was a confrontation between the legislature and the executive, it was the president who represented the executive and found himself in confrontation with parliament, even being defeated by parliament on various issues.
It would have been better if we had had someone else – a prime minister to represent the executive. That prime minister would then have been answerable both to the parliament and to the president. If we had had that structure I am confident that it would have resulted in a government more inclined to deliver necessary services and security to the Afghan people.
Therefore I believe that we should transition towards a parliamentary system, with the parties put in place. Even if the same position remains nominally presidential, there should be a prime minister as the second person in power, with a defined allocation of power between the president and the prime minister. This will ensure accountability and will reinforce our national unity and solidarity.