From A World to Win News Service

Afghanistan's Draft Constitution: A Promise of Oppression

Revolutionary Worker #1223, December 21, 2003, posted at

December 8, 2003. A World to Win News Service.The draft constitution for U.S.- occupied Afghanistan was unveiled for the first time in November after a long period in which its contents were concealed. The new constitution could be considered the program of the puppet regime, the plan for how it will fulfill the promises of "democracy," "women's liberation" and "a prosperous and progressive country" the U.S. made when it invaded. The final version was to be approved by a loya jerga , a council called under U.S. supervision, later in December.

The introduction to the draft promises an Afghanistan that would not "violate the United Nations Convention on Human Rights"; "a united Afghanistan with no discrimination against any nationality"; the protection of "Afghanistan's independence"; a "system of democracy that relies on the people's will"; a "civil society free of oppression, repression, discrimination and violence and based on social justice and human rights"; and a country with "strengthened political, social, economical and defense foundations" whose "inhabitants prosper."

But if we examine how this draft envisages democracy and the country's independence, we see these promises are a lie.

According to the draft, the state will be called the "Islamic Republic of Afghanistan." Its flag is to include basic Islamic slogans such as "god is great," "there is but one god," and "Mohammed is the messenger of god." In fact the name and flag symbolize the ideology that is to lead the country.

In short, the "new" Afghanistan is to represent a possible pattern for pro-U.S. Islamic regimes, perhaps a slightly "moderate" Islamic rule in order to better serve Western interests and avoid the mass hatred more fundamentalist Islamic governments have had to face. But it is to be no less an alliance of feudal, bureaucrat capitalist and imperialist forces than the governing Islamic party in Turkey, the Islamic Republic in Iran and the Taliban itself. The mix is different in each country, but in each one political Islam represents the most backward forces.

Afghanistan itself is one of the countries that have suffered most from the formal and informal reign of such forces during the last quarter of a century. They have made life hell for the people, whether they were in power or fighting the Russian invaders, or even in exile (in the refugee camps in Peshawar, Pakistan, they used to pour acid on women for not being fully hidden by an Islamic veil).

The tenets of Islamic ideology embodied in this constitution will violate one of the most basic principles of any democracy: the separation of state and religion. Some commentators downplay this [the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan] as just a name that does not determine the content. But in this case, the name concentrates the content. The commission that compiled the constitution announced, "The draft is based on Islamic principles and recognizes that no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam." The draft itself puts it this way: "No law in Afghanistan can be valid if it goes against the sacred religion of Islam and this constitution."

The draft also allows judges to make decisions using Islamic law as their guide.

The judges must swear "in the name of God the Great" that they will "uphold justice and right according to the commandments of the sacred religion of Islam and the constitution."

Article 119 stipulates that only someone with a higher education in theology can become a judge.

The draft obliges the state to develop a "unified educational curriculum based on the provisions of ... Islamic national culture" and to reflect the teachings of "Islamic currents" (Shia or Sunni, depending on the region).

Given that with the support of the Western imperialists, especially the U.S., the fundamentalists in Afghanistan have accumulated so much power in all spheres of society and the power structure, even within many opposition groups, it was unlikely that a fundamentalist vision would not govern Afghanistan. No one can expect radical change in the system from the legal formalization of what has been going on anyway. The people who are going to govern the country will not be much different from those who have been running it for the last two years, because these are the people producing the constitution. The final version to be adopted may include some minor changes for the purposes of deception or due to inter- factional disputes, but not any radical change that would affect the life of the people in a positive direction.

The draft allows political parties to be established as long as their programme "does not go against the principles of Islam" and they don't have "military aims" or "foreign affiliation." This means that communists and other atheists won't be allowed to form a party or other organization. These conditions might apply to religious minorities.

The Maoist movement in Afghanistan has a shining history. It started in the 1960s and gained broad support throughout Afghanistan. People call them Sholeii ("Sholeh-ists," after the name of the organ of the Progressive Youth Movement). The Maoists fought hard. Many were killed by the pro- Soviet revisionist government during the USSR's imperialist invasion, while some were murdered by the Islamic fundamentalists. The majority of the people who know about them respect the Sholeii. But the new constitution outlaws them, while Islamic organizations that have committed countless crimes against the people enjoy the freedom to rule and are given legitimacy.

The draft does not fail to "guarantee the right to private property." The aim of this article is not to protect the basic personal belongings of the poor people, whose belongings have been repeatedly looted by successive warlords or rulers and will continue to be looted if the situation doesn't change. In fact, the aim is to protect the private property of the big landlords and big capitalists from the rage of the masses, so that they can continue exploiting the masses, and to provide the conditions for the imperialists to invest and extract more profit from Afghanistan's toilers. This is confirmed by article 10, which says, "The state encourages private investment based on a market economy, according to the rule of law, and guarantees its immunity."

Article 11 makes further promises: "Rules for foreign and internal trade will be set by law according to the necessities of the country's economy and the interests of the people." But in fact, the draft paves the way for an imperialist economic invasion following their military invasion. The draft foresees no protection for the national economy and puts no restrictions on imperialist capital.

Some 75% of Afghanistan's people live in villages. The vast majority are landless or have very little land. Half of the total arable land is in the hands of feudal landlords. But the draft doesn't refer to the land question, one of the most essential issues for Afghanistan's people, nor provide for land distribution, one of the most basic democratic steps the country requires. Instead, it has an empty reference to "effective programmes" for helping peasants and promoting handicraft-making.

A very different draft programme has been published for a future united Communist Party of Afghanistan. That party will consist of Maoist parties and organizations, including the present Communist Party of Afghanistan, a participant in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. It clearly declares that "the programme of New Democratic revolution is the proletariat's minimum programme. This revolution overthrows imperialist domination and eliminates semi-feudal relations through agrarian revolution and carrying out the central slogan land to the peasants ."

If we skip the promises of the pro-U.S. draft constitution and focus on what it guarantees, we see that it would not provide democracy for the people and equality for women and nationalities, but democracy for fundamentalists and warlords and freedom for murderers and feudals and their imperialist backers to exploit the masses. It is not the independence of the country that is to be protected but freedom for invaders to run the economy, plunder its resources and exploit the masses.

In other words, the draft constitution is designed to protect and consolidate the dominant semi-feudal economic and social relations and ensure the dominance of imperialism over the country. This means a dictatorship of the reactionary classes, the feudalists and imperialist lackeys and their servants, against the people, who are the majority.