Written by Dr. Muhammad Asim
Afghanistan has undergone significant political changes since the Taliban takeover on August 15, 2021. Despite the international community’s concerns regarding human rights violations and theocratic tendencies of the new regime, Afghanistan’s foreign policy towards its neighboring countries remains lenient, particularly towards Iran, Russia, China, and other Central Asian republics, through barter trade. This has led some experts to suggest that Afghanistan’s new constitution will likely establish a strict state-centric unitary system similar to Iran, accommodating ethnic communities while maintaining centralized control.
The idea of a strict state-centric unitary system in Afghanistan is not new. Historically, Afghanistan has been a centralized state with a strong emphasis on political and territorial integrity. However, the Taliban’s takeover has raised concerns about the future of ethnic and religious minorities, particularly Hazaras, Tajiks, and Uzbeks. Some analysts suggest that the Taliban’s inclusivity of different ethnic groups in their government is a strategic move to counter potential resistance and promote legitimacy. Nevertheless, the strict interpretation of Islamic law and the Taliban’s lack of experience in governance may pose challenges in accommodating ethnic diversity.
Iran is another example of a strict state-centric unitary system that accommodates ethnic and religious diversity. Iran’s constitution emphasizes the central role of the Supreme Leader, who has the power to veto decisions made by elected officials. While the constitution recognizes the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, the central government maintains strict control over the country’s political and economic affairs. The absence of federalism has been criticized by some minority groups who feel that their autonomy and rights are not fully respected.
Similarly, Afghanistan’s new constitution is unlikely to embrace federalism, as it is considered a potential threat to the country’s political and territorial integrity. The majority of clerical advisors in both Iran and Afghanistan have expressed reservations about federalism, as they fear it could lead to demands for greater autonomy or even sovereignty by ethnic communities. While a unitary system may provide stability and promote national unity, it may also pose challenges in accommodating ethnic diversity and promoting human rights.
By analyzing the facts, it has been assessed that the Afghanistan’s transition to a strict state-centric unitary system may have significant implications for the country’s political, economic, and social development. While some argue that a centralized system is necessary for stability and territorial integrity, others raise concerns about the potential marginalization of ethnic and religious minorities. By studying Iran’s centralized system, analysts can gain insights into the challenges and opportunities that Afghanistan may face in its transition to a new constitutional order.