Hamid Karzai: A stronger Germany needs a stronger mandate

Germany is a highly-coveted partner on the international stage. As a respected global power, it needs a strong mandate from the upcoming elections, says former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai

Germany is a haven of stability in today’s international scenario, and one of the world’s most sought-after economies. This is why its national election on September 24national election on September 24 is currently one of the most-watched international political events.     

We in Afghanistan naturally hope that, no matter what the outcome, Germany’s rock-solid economic base will continue to exhibit its reliability.     

This will be good for the country's capacity to offer not just development aid — for which we in Afghanistan are entirely grateful — but also its technology and investments, and needless to say exports.       

In my country, industrial goods from Germany are highly-prized on account of their highest grade quality and design, as they have been for over a century since the start of German trade relations with Afghanistan.

In Focus
Law and Justice | 18.07.2017

Read more: Trump's new 'strategy' for Afghanistan receives mixed reactions in Europe


Fragile security

Repeated attacks in Afghanistan over the past several months have killed and wounded hundreds of innocent Afghans, and shown the world the fragile and worsening state of security in the conflict-stricken country. The incidents have plunged war-weary Afghan citizens into a state of despair and highlighted the limitations faced by the government in Kabul in ensuring public security.


A long series of attacks

The violent incidents have made Afghanistan once again a staple of international headlines. Outfits like the Taliban and the "Islamic State" (IS) have claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Afghan government is under heavy pressure to restore security and take back territory controlled by a number of insurgent groups, including the Taliban and IS.


Spring offensive

Last week, the Taliban announced the start of their annual spring offensive, dismissing an offer of peace talks by President Ashraf Ghani. The militants, fighting to restore their version of strict Islamic law to Afghanistan, said their campaign was a response to a more aggressive US military strategy adopted last year, which aims to force the militants into peace talks.


Trump's Afghanistan policy

US President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy for Afghanistan last year, vowing to deploy more troops, on top of the 11,000 already in the country, to train and advise Afghan security forces. Trump also pledged to support Afghan troops in their war against the Taliban and maintain American presence in the country for as long as there was a need for it.


Afghan peace process

Despite President Ghani's offer in February for peace talks "without preconditions," the Taliban have shown no interest, dismissing the peace overtures as a "conspiracy." Observers say it is unlikely that the militant group will engage in any negotiations, as they currently have the upper hand on the battleground. The Taliban now control more Afghan districts than at any other time since 2001.


Pakistani support

Pakistan has been under pressure from Kabul and Washington to stop offering safe havens to militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies and insists that its influence over the insurgents has been exaggerated. Kabul and Islamabad regularly trade accusations of harboring the other country's militants and the harsh language has underscored the strains between them.


Role of the warlords

Apart from the Taliban, Afghan warlords exercise massive influence in the country. Last year, Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returned to Kabul after a 20-year exile to play an active role in Afghan politics. In September 2016, the Afghan government signed a deal with Hekmatyar in the hope that other warlords and militant groups would seek better ties with Kabul.


An inefficient government

In the midst of an endless battle for power, President Ghani's approval ratings continue to plummet. Rampant corruption in the Afghan government and a long tug-of-war within the US-brokered national unity government has had a negative impact on the government's efforts to eradicate terrorism.

Held in high regard due to refugee policy

Recent choices made by some of the world's leading countries - the Brexit vote in Britain and the creation of an uncertain political and economic matrix in the United States - have also cast Germany in a new mold. Germany is a pillar of stability in Europe thanks to the stability of the German economy as well as the social cohesion in the country.   

Even in the face of somewhat wider income disparities than before, unemployment rates are still low relatively speaking and wages a rising trend. This should further the process of social cohesion in Germany, and also help anchor Germany's capacity to remain constructive about issues relating to immigration and refugees.  

On this count Germany has earned considerable international goodwill, especially in West Asia and Afghanistan, where Germany's prestige has been high for many decades.     

Today, the largest block of Afghans in Europe lives in Germany. Our people have the capacity to be net contributors, economically and socially, when given the right environment. I cannot stress this enough when I speak to my German friends.

Read more: Refugees turn to online portal 'InfoMigrants'

Related Subjects

Even at election time I would urge the German people - with their highly admirable diligence, great traditions of philosophy and literature and music and art - to show an understanding of the international milieu. My submission is that recent emigration from Afghanistan (and some West Asian societies) has been the result of chaos, war and human displacement to which policies of leading Western powers have contributed. It is less of our own making than many may think.      

In Afghanistan, we are deeply conscious of the political contribution that Germany has made to help us overcome crippling obstacles during the Soviet invasion and after the end of rule by the Taliban in 2001.     

Back in 1998, it may not be widely realized, the German government helped us to organize an intra-Afghan dialogue in Bonn through the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Later, at the end of 2001, Bonn hosted the well-known conference which inaugurated the post-Taliban processes for Afghanistan. I would be happy if Germany continues to play a positive role after the election, especially in the fields of training, capacity-building of our security systems, developmental aid and more so in helping bring peace to Afghanistan.

Read more: Afghanistan - sent back to a war zone

I have had the privilege of having worked with two of Germany's outstanding leaders. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been stout as an oak. My own term in office coincided with hers for nearly a decade and am grateful for her thoughtful and generous support to my country. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also showed deep understanding of the complexities and possibilities of our mutual relationship.       

In Germany, I understand, governments need to be coalitions, almost by definition. All power to the people to bring about a constructive coalition, one that can make Germany realize her full potential in Europe and the world.