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AREU Synthesis Paper Series

Former UN Special Representative Kai Eide, US Senator John Kerry and President Hamid Karzai during a press conference concering 2009’s Presidential election (Photo:

UNAMA)

The idea of democracy being used as a way to impose foreign interference is clear here, indicated particularly by the second statement regarding the mujahiddin’s militant stance against the PDPA in the 1980s. Afghanistan has experienced a number of attempts at externally-imposed rule, and thus it is not really surprising that for many, the post- 2001 attempt to democratise is seen as another of these impositions. This statement represents a provincial viewpoint, however, which is not necessarily shared by other respondents in Kabul who still blame the mujahiddin for destroying the city in the 1990s. Nevertheless, also clear from the statements above is the sense of resentment felt toward this interference in Afghan affairs on the part of a foreign power. But while this interference or imposition in itself is evidently unwelcome, it is necessary to explore further the differing reasons why this is the case, and what kinds of intervention provoke the most negative reactions. Afghan voices raised against “the West” and its presence in Afghanistan appear to have become louder and more prevalent over time, which could reflect the gathering pace of disillusionment with the internationally-assisted Karzai government and the way Taliban propaganda, informed by the rhetoric of Al Qaida, has resonated with an increasing number of people as a result. In the last quotation, however, the respondent states that “democracy”

22

is acceptable if conducted within the bounds of the Afghan constitution. Given that the constitution itself was composed with a significant degree of foreign oversight and intervention, this is not a

small concession.

Over and above

interference

in

general,

it

thus appears that there are some very specific interventions that create more resentment than others. One respondent above talks about the death penalty, but other examples point to a general concern that the foreign presence and advent of democracy in Afghanistan could pose a threat to Afghan “culture,” “traditions” or religious

practices:

One of my friends told me about his trip to a foreign country. He said that he had left the airport there to take a taxi, and the taxi driver was an old woman. He asked her “Don’t you have any sons?” and the woman answered, “yes, I do have sons—but they don’t take care of me. I work and find food for myself.” So that is their democrac , that the son does not value his mothe ...We don’t want foreign democracy. We support a democracy that is in accordance with Islam, the Afghan constitution and Afghan culture.

  • Male head of local shura, urban Nangarhar

The situation here is not tolerable because they are going the way of the West. As you see in the media, their president is abused and their women are walking around naked54 in the cities. This is called a democratic government.

  • Male head of NSP shura, rural Nangarhar

[Democracy] is the culture of foreigners... we want freedom and democracy that are not contradictory to Islam and that are not harmful to our own culture...80 percent of our people are against the foreigners and do not accept their policies.

  • Male student, urban Ghazni

54

The word “naked”

here

is translated

literally, but

care

should be

taken in interpretation. The Dari/Pashtu word luch/louss is used to convey anything beyond women walking in public without a head scarf.

As such, codes of sense.

it is probably used here to describe the comparative dress Afghan and Western women and is not meant in the literal

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