As Karzai had desperately wanted, he has been able to rid himself of the so-called war lords and overbearing satraps. Not a mean achievement for a leader, who was until his election a month ago, seen as a political lightweight under the sway of the Americans and the so-called Northern Alliance. One look at the new cabinet leaves no one in doubt as to who is in charge. Powerful players like former defence minister Mohammed Fahim, a Tajik, Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Gul Agha Sherzai, a warlord from the country’s south and Syed Hussain Anwari, a war lord from the North are all out. Their place has been taken up by people hand-picked by President Karzai. Most of the new ministers, thankfully, are of clean reputation. More importantly, they are educated and qualified to do their job more professionally. The Afghan constitution requires the ministers to have a degree. It may be asking far too much in a country like Afghanistan. Nonetheless, it did help President Karzai in tactfully eliminating all those who could have curbed his freedom to act and created trouble in future. The fact that many of the new ministers have recently returned from the West and do not have much of a base in Afghanistan is not exactly a plus. On the other hand, this apparent shortcoming could prove to be their strength as they can transcend their immediate constituency to take some hard and necessary decisions. By and large, Karzai has chosen a balanced team representing the richly heterogeneous country.Now that the election and the government formation are behind them, Karzai and his team must get down to business at the earliest. We only hope the Afghan leader will be able to make use of his ministers’ strengths and give the country a clean and efficient administration. The Afghans are beginning to enjoy their tryst with democracy. But democracy brings its own share of hopes and aspirations. The new dispensation has generated great expectations among the people. But If great expectations do not turn into reality, they lead to equally great disappointment and disillusionment. Karzai’s new government has no time to lose. It must get down to business at the earliest possible. For the Afghans, who have suffered for decades for no fault of theirs, deserve good and responsive governance.
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