Power to the Periphery? The Elusive Consensus on How to Decentralise Afghanista

Publication date:
Michael Semple

Policy Research Papers

July 2012

In June 2012,a maverick former Member of the Afghan Parliament appeared on television in Kabul and declared that, while attending an opposition rally, he had apprehended that the movement’s advocacy of decentralised democracy amounted to a campaign to break up Afghanistan’s unitary state. The opposition dismissed the criticism as groundless and revealed evidence that the national intelligence service had orchestrated the MP’s claims.

The clash was just a minor episode in the complex controversy over how to decentralise Afghanistan. It illustrates three characteristic features of the decentralisation controversy:

Firstly the issues around decentralisation are highly topical.

Secondly there is a tradition of manipulation and misrepresentation in the debate.

Thirdly the debate is highly polarised.