Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 21 December, 2001, 21:05 GMT
Can the Afghan government succeed?
The power-sharing council is to be headed by Pashtun tribal commander Hamid Karzai and includes representatives of the Northern Alliance, women and exiles loyal to the former king
Select the link below to watch this edition of Talking Point On Air:

  56k modems

After nine days of almost non-stop negotiations in Bonn, four Afghan factions have finally signed an agreement on a transitional government to run the country after 20 years of war.

The power-sharing council is to be headed by Pashtun tribal commander Hamid Karzai and includes representatives of the Northern Alliance, women and exiles loyal to the former king.

But with the new government in place, the challenge will be to make it work. Afghanistan has no police force, no infrastructure and there are continuing threats from fighting warlords.

Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, one of the most powerful commanders in the dominant Northern Alliance, has already said he intends to boycott Afghanistan's new interim government.

BBC correspondents in Kabul say initial reaction amongst people there is one of real delight and relief that the talks have reached a successful conclusion.

Do you think the power-sharing agreement can succeed? Can all Afghan factions now be equally represented? Do you welcome the inclusion of women in the new government?

Lyse Doucet took your comments in a special Talking Point programme broadcast LIVE from Kabul

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme

    Your comments since the programme

    This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

    Your reaction:

    Neither faction or major ethnic group is satisfied with the outcome.

    Alam, USA
    The power-sharing agreement was, in fact, imposed by outsiders. Neither faction or major ethnic group is satisfied with the outcome. Pashtuns claim that they are underepresented in the new government while Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras are not happy to have a Pashtun as their leader. There is infighting within both the Northern Alliance and different Pashtun tribes who want to claim their share of power. There also are a lot of powerful warlords who dominated the Afghan political scene for many years and did not get their share of power in the new government. The combination of these factors will most likely bring the new government down pretty soon.
    Alam, USA

    The New Afghan Government will never be allowed to flourish to full democracy. It will be soon overtaken by Corporate Interference, in exactly the same way as our own parliamentary system is being taken over.
    Jim Bogusz, UK

    Afghanistan needs to be left alone. Where in the world has there been true progress when the UN, US and their allies have stepped in?
    John Deed, UK

    A tremendous potential to do good

    Brice, USA/Germany
    It is going to be up to the British and the European Union to help it succeed. There are no idealists in Washington right now. No-one, it appears, is interested in "nation-building". The EU has been trying to establish itself as a political/military force without US leadership. Here is a perfect opportunity. It will be harder to rebuild Afghanistan than it was to defeat the Taleban. There are many potential dangers. But there is also a tremendous potential to do good.
    Brice, USA/Germany

    The people of Afghanistan want peace and quiet. They just want to get along with their lives. The groups and tribes trying to gain power will make that difficult. I won't be surprised if in a few years another war happens over there again.
    Russ Black, USA

    They'll do fine for a while - until the international community tires of this particular pawn and abandons them again. Then we all go back to square one until the next September 11th.
    Stuart Whatling, London, UK

    If they uphold secularism, pluralism, women's and minorities' rights as well as democratic ideals with separation of religion from state, Afghanistan can become a paradise state. But the question is, will their neighbours let them do so?
    Vivek Manchanda, Bombay, India/USA

    What is needed now is the restoration of King Mohammed Zahir Shah to his throne

    Aidan, Wellington, New Zealand
    It is great that the parties sat down to agree on a new government for Afghanistan. What is needed now is the restoration of the rightful ruler King Mohammed Zahir Shah to his throne. The same thing happened in Cambodia in 1993 when King Norodom Sihanouk was restored triumphantly.
    Aidan, Wellington, New Zealand

    The new government will succeed because it is democratic and will give freedom to men and women equally.
    Khaaled Hamza, UK/Afghanistan

    First of all I congratulate Mr Hamid Karzai as leader of the interim government, and hope that he will bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. We are Afghans living in Norway and we support Mr Karzai now and in the future.
    Popal, Trondheim, Norway

    I don't think that it will work. Changes in this area are necessary but major changes are usually not accepted by the society as a whole because the people are afraid for the future.
    Marcin, Poland

    This interim government will never work out because Pashtuns are not well represented. Without proper Pashtun representation, no government will be able to run the country effectively.
    Naqib, Oslo, Norway

    Your comments during the programme

    Afghan politicians should from now on have the plight of the long suffering Afghans on their mind before walking out of a meeting

    Farzad, Tehran, Iran
    I congratulate Dr Abdullah and the younger breed of Afghan politicians for having the dignity and brevity to agree to a power sharing interim cabinet. I think Afghan politicians should from now on think twice before disagreeing with one another and always have the plight of the long suffering Afghans on their mind before walking out of a meeting.
    Farzad, Tehran, Iran

    This new government will succeed because the people of Afghanistan want it to succeed. Make no mistake, the Taleban are gone for good and there will be no return to violence for those people who have been linked to Taleban. Hamid Karazi and Dr Abdullah and others who are in this government are not puppets of the west but in fact they are patriots who fought the evil Taleban for years. My message as an Afghan to other so-called Muslim brothers and sisters who would rather see our people under the Taleban regime is simple - mind your own business and let us rebuild our shattered country. We don't need your help or your criticism. May God help and protect Afghanistan.
    Reza, UK/Afghanistan

    This agreement is for the newborn Afghanistan. Now if the Northern Alliance put down their weapons, I guarantee that we will be able to live in peace.
    Said, Kabul, Afghanistan

    This interim government will be successful for sure, because it is well balanced. There is only one danger. Every time Pakistan has been involved in Afghan affairs, it has had a negative effect on the Afghan people. Pakistan should now learn to mind its own business. My best wishes and prayers for the innocent Afghan people.
    Raj Miniyar, New York, USA

    If the government lasts for longer than four weeks after its de facto installation, I shall purchase a hat and eat it.
    Descurrie, Durban, South Africa

    I think this is a starting point towards peace in Afghanistan. Let's not forget that this is an interim government. We cannot expect a perfect government by end of this month.
    Amir, Kabul

    The interim government will only succeed when all the Afghan politicians and warlords put the interests of the country ahead of their own interests. The Afghan people appear to be highly supportive of the interim government. The only problem now will be the warlords. If this is solved then everything will clear up and the interim administration will lead Afghanistan for first time in more than 20 years into a new era of peace and hope.
    Leonard Tso, Hong Kong

    For a country which has been so thoroughly traumatised by over 20 years of non-stop war, the leaders of Afghanistan and all players involved, need to focus on peace for the sake of the children and subsume their personal and ethnic ambitions.
    Dean Peckham, Sacramento, CA, USA

    We have seen in the past that a government constructed according to the interests of foreign countries never works

    Mohamed Yabarag, London, UK
    Let us hope the current agreement lasts longer than the earlier ones. We have seen in the past that a government constructed according to the interests of foreign countries never works, particularly when the country concerned has witnessed a disastrous civil war and horrendous killings by some factions who are well represented in the current administration. The sight of Northern Alliance soldiers killing and torturing their Afghan brothers to appease the Americans and consolidate their political position in any future government will remain in the minds and hearts of many Afghans for generations to come.

    Like many people in the Muslim world I honestly believe Americans went into Afghanistan not to help build a peaceful nation but to avenge the events of 11 September, and as soon as they achieve their aim they will disappear. The only hope for Afghanistan is for other peace-loving countries including members of the EU to stay and help them build a peaceful nation with a well represented government.
    Mohamed Yabarag, London, UK

    I am very optimistic about the Bonn agreement but there is an urgent need for a peacekeeping force and United Nations administrative support mission, which supports the new interim administration financially and technically and prepares the ground for election. A United Nations mission does not just bring in a huge amount of money but also lots of international citizens from different cultures with different mentalities. It could definitely change the current Afghan culture, which is the culture of the gun, to a culture of democracy, development and freedom.
    Azizullah, Afghan serving with UN administration mission in Kosovo

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    It will allow the environment that has prevailed for the last 20 years to cool down a bit

    Narinder Dogra, Morgan Hill, California, USA
    Nothing succeeds like success. An interim government for six months is a step in the right direction. Splendid job and I must congratulate all involved particularly the diverging forces who saw more reason and accommodation than brute force in resolving their differences while pursuing their interests. It will allow the environment that has prevailed for the last 20 years to cool down a bit. Afghans are wise enough to sort out the mess with the cool heads of Jerga.
    Narinder Dogra, Morgan Hill, California, USA

    I am very pleased that the Taleban regime is over. I was however highly traumatised by the sight of Northern Alliance soldiers beating up captured members of the Taleban. What assurances can they give us that human rights and civil liberties will be fully respected under the new administration?
    Timothy, London, UK

    This is not the perfect solution but I think it is the first step in the right direction for the past 23 years. I hope they are going to re-establish some form of functioning government in Kabul and pave the way for free elections so all Afghans will have a voice in electing their own representatives and leaders.
    AJ, New York, USA

    I believe the real government and the real leaders who deserve to run Afghanistan are not included in this new western-constructed puppet government. The Afghan people deserve the right to be able to elect their own leaders.
    Sayeed, USA

    It has a better chance of succeeding than the Camp David Accords

    Carl Warner, USA
    It has a better chance of succeeding than the Camp David Accords.
    The US coalition has tried to do for the Afghan people what they themselves have been too weak and disorganized to do - to get foreign malcontents out of power and to put Afghans back in power who actually care about the future of Afghanistan and its people rather than just themselves.
    That is not an easy thing to attempt.
    Let's all pray it works.
    Carl Warner, Alabama, USA

    Here they are again, the doom-mongers and the nay-sayers who think anything that can't be resolved by next Wednesday will never be resolved. Afghanistan has taken the first crucial step towards peace and stability. There will be many more steps. It may take another thirty years before these things are fully achieved. There may be some backsliding. But the process has begun and, for now, that is what matters most.
    Michael Entill, UK

    As much as we all would like this agreement to work, we do have to look at the reality of it. Afghanistan is made up of different factions who all would want a equal say and power. Can you see all the different parties in the UK sharing power?
    Yas, UK

    The US must pray that the Bonn agreement is workable, because it is its last hope for any sort of moral legitimacy in this war

    Adam, UK
    The US must pray that the Bonn agreement is workable, because it is its last hope for any sort of moral legitimacy in this war. The Americans have failed to show that Bin Laden is responsible, the civilian casualty figures are starting to look enormous, and the fact that American bombs have been and still are destroying food convoys, hospitals, refugees and killing allied fighters is unforgivable. It doesn't seem any more likely that they will succeed in their professed war aims now than two months ago, and the recent decision to back atrocities against Palestinians weakens their moral position further.
    Adam, UK

    The puppet government will never last. Afghanistan has to be ruled from within and not by western-appointed powerless figureheads.
    Ali, Canada

    The landmark agreement at Bonn will hopefully prove to be a harbinger of the peace and security that has deserted Afghans for over two decades. Mr Karzai is humane, principled intellectual with a unifying capacity, enjoying the respect of the majority of Afghan public. Let's hope that the men and women around him play a supportive role they owe each other and the Afghan people. The notion of disarmament is akin to world peace - great idea but some would argue unrealistic. However with western money pouring in, a genuine and promising attempt could be made at this, the crux of the new council's attention as far as security is concerned.
    Wahid Ezaty, Australia

    A new interim government - so far so good. But Afghanistan is one of the world's most divided countries, and I don't see any agreement on who will control the different territories. If you don't do that you can welcome a new government and a new round of fighting.
    Keld Broksų, Denmark

    The selection of just two women is a start but a token gesture

    Samantha Lyle, Warwick, UK
    The selection of just two women is a start but a token gesture. Women's role in Afghanistan will no doubt be to help traumatised and hungry families, providing support services, education and the means to financially support themselves. This is of paramount importance as it concerns all the people of this war torn country
    Samantha Lyle, Warwick, UK

    This interim executive council will not be able to function, at least in the long run. Afghanistan is a tribal-based society headed by warlords. Any attempt to simplify the issues surrounding the country's socio-economic and political complexity will result in the total collapse of a council that has been built virtually overnight. When will western politicians learn that in order to eliminate problems that they have created, they must first ensure that they decommission all weapons in Afghanistan, apart from the military personnel. Disarmament is an inevitable component if there is to be any kind of stability in the country. It is an absolute prerequisite for the ratified peace deal to work.
    Mumshadmiah, UK

    I sincerely hope that there is a general election as soon as possible to ensure that the Afghan people's choice of government ends up in power, rather than a puppet government prodded into power by the all-powerful western nations.
    Alex Banks, UK/Ireland

    We cannot expect any success from this motley crew of western-selected power seekers

    Hasan, UK
    No it cannot succeed and we shouldn't expect it to. Can we really expect that the government of a given country can be attacked and replaced with another government successfully simply because America and the UK prefer it that way? No, this is totally unjust, illegal by international law, and furthermore the people of Afghanistan will never accept it. We cannot expect any success from this motley crew of western-selected power seekers. I don't think that we can so easily divide and rule Afghanistan as we have done to other countries. Rather, I envisage a war without end.
    Hasan, UK

    Congratulations to all factions involved. I'm very optimistic about the results achieved at the Bonn meeting. Afghanistan is on its way to enjoying a new peaceful future. Let us all wish them the best of luck and let's take care of them and not repeat past mistakes. Afghanistan is now reborn.
    Ghaly Shafik, Egypt

    The Bonn agreement will only succeed if the Taleban are effectively neutralised to prevent a resurgence of conflict on the level of terrorism that we are now seeing in Israel. All extremist factions of that type appear to operate in the same manner. They create terror to win over the terrorised, the way mobsters would extract protection money from their victims. The tragedy is that there is no better answer.
    Robert Morpheal, Canada

    If the agreement doesn't succeed, will the USA provide the huge amount of aid needed for the displaced people and the country ruined by this latest war?
    Alan, Poland

    If the Americans and British keep their promise of not walking away from us this time, it will definitely succeed

    Homayun, Afghanistan
    If our neighbours stop interfering in Afghanistan's internal affairs and the Americans and British keep their promise of not walking away from us this time, it will definitely succeed.
    Homayun, Afghanistan

    The talks in Bonn are very promising and every Afghan is looking forward to having peace in their country. It is now very important that a UN peacekeeping force moves into Afghanistan to maintain this peace.
    Abdul Saboor Jawad, Afghanistan

    I think there is a very good chance of the agreement succeeding seeing as all the groups have come together and agreed on a way forward. Compare this with the trouble in Israel where it is just tit for tat violence.
    Martyn, Reading, England

    I feel that there is always the chance of good happening when you can persuade people to sit around a table and discuss things. However I am not sure whether the groups in Bonn are representative of the Afghan population by a long way. At the beginning of the conflict it was stated that the Pashtun's equalled over 65% of the population. Recent figures suggest 38%. Where did these people evaporate to? If the representation is unfair then civil war and/or ethnic cleansing by the minority rulers could ensue.
    Adam Ananova, Belgium

    It is important that the people of Afghanistan find a common ground

    Dr. P. Elundi, Pakistan, Islamabad
    It will be very difficult to find an adequate solution with neighbouring countries trying to influence the talks for their own purposes. It is important that the people of Afghanistan find a common ground on which they can build their future.
    Dr. P. Elundi, Pakistan, Islamabad

    Unfortunately, the Afghans have lived a violent life for many generations. Before the British in the 19th century, before the Soviet invasion and American involvement, they were already fighting and dying. There must be a complete change of heart in the Afghan people otherwise, the best of intentions in talks and negotiations will be for naught.
    S. Case, Kansas City, USA

    Unless something is done about the masses of weapons left in the country and the production of opium instead of wheat and other food crops, there will be a return to the anarchy of the past. There must be no aid money until those two problems are solved.
    David, Spain

    When will the vested powers think hard and positive towards Afghanistan? Why is it being used as a testing ground?
    Khalid Rahim, Toronto, Canada

    Although I have great faith in the almost boundless power of dialogue, these factions have been bickering almost constantly since 1989, when the Soviets left. I fear final resolution may not come during this round of talks.
    Peter Bolton, UK in US

    A demilitarized Kabul and the disarming of the the way forward

    Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE
    No politician or the UN have even commented on the disarming of the factions. Slight disagreements may ignite the situation resulting once again, in the start of a civil war. Remember both Rabbani and Hekmatyar are ambitious and dangerous and will not allow power to slip away so easily. A demilitarized Kabul and disarming of the factions,with financial and humanitarian assistance tied to it as an incentive, is the way forward. This has to be discussed in Bonn if the process of reconciliation is to succeed.
    Arif Sayed, Dubai,UAE

    I hope that the conference in Bonn will bring about an acceptable solution for everyone and that it will create a government or board which will represent interests of all the people. I think the West should bear in mind that Afghanistan is a different country with different traditions and with different ways and traditions and understanding of human rights, women question etc...
    Vera, Czech Republic

    Barry Salaam, currently living in Pakistan
    "We have a very long way to go"
    Khalid Azeez, Afghan living in UK
    "It's great news for the people of Afghanistan"
    Kaveeta Sangani, Boston USA
    "It's probably not the ideal situation"
    Burhani, Afghan living in Kuwait
    "I think for the time being it can work"
    Samantha Lyle, UK
    "My concerns are to do with women in Afghanistan"
    David Ibrahimi, UK
    "This is a time for unity"

    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more Talking Point stories