Afghan governance: more Judge Dredd than Jefferson
More than a decade into the US-led war in Afghanistan, local strongmen still undermine US and NATO efforts to establish a strong democratic culture in Kandahar.
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However, locals now say that Raziq, along with top officials from the Afghan Army and Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, have stepped into fill the void outside the framework of the law.Skip to next paragraph
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Among Raziq’s supporters, he has developed a reputation as an aggressive and responsive police chief who does not hesitate to take action against insurgents. Among his detractors, he’s viewed as something closer to Sylvester Stallone's Judge Dredd; a one-man police officer, judge, jury, and executioner. Among Kandaharis, there’s a popular rumor that when Raziq captures Taliban insurgents he often orders them killed rather than taking them to court, where a corrupt and inefficient judicial system might release them, only to instigate violence once more.
Unlike President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, though, Raziq’s influence has remained limited to the security sector.
“Ahmad Wali was the brother of the president and all the officials of different government directorates were appointed in coordination with him. Raziq is just the head of the police and commander of the border police. He does not have the same status that Ahmad Wali had,” says Mohammad Isa Khan, a former attorney general and independent analyst in Kandahar.
Outside of security, Kandahar has yet to see any strong personalities rise up to replace Ahmad Wali. The provincial governor, Tooryali Wesa, is a relatively marginal figure; and internal disagreements on the provincial council have stopped members from gaining too much influence.
Shah Wali Karzai, another brother of the president, was appointed to replace Ahmad Wali as leader of the Popalzai tribe, but he has yet to gain widespread influence and many in Kandahar say he lacks the ambition to do so.
Without a strong political counterpart, this has left the largest share of power in the hands of Raziq and the security apparatus in Kandahar.
Afghans are all too aware of the dangers this power dynamic presents after their war with the Soviets when commanders who fought the Russians began using their power to build and control local fiefdoms with the same heavy-handed methods they had used during the war. This would inevitably help spark the country's civil war and made it impossible for a central government to effectively control the country.
“With Kandahar the way it is now, it is good to have the power with the security officials here,” says Noor Nawaz Byawary, an independent analyst in Kandahar. But, he says, if and when Afghanistan is able to overcome its security challenges and corruption problems, the security sector and Raziq should take on a smaller role so they don't overshadow the government.