The constitution of Afghanistan should be an historic and visionary
document that could become a good vehicle to take Afghanistan
from the old ways of monarchy, tyranny and anarchy to democracy
and a limited form of government that is elected by the people
every five years.
All those who participated in the drafting process and the members
of the commission, in particular, deserve the commendation of
all Afghans and all others around the world who support a democratic
future for Afghanistan. This process depicted the emerging Afghan
democracy at work. Those involved are now part of Afghan history,
and we the undersigned admire and commend them.
Constitution recognizes the importance of the separation of powers
and checks and balances among the three branches of government
and so much more, it fails to remedy the collectivist and socialist
theories which dominate the economic and political thought of
so many in the governing classes and intelligentsia of this generation.
It holds on to incompatible economic principles of past unsuccessful
governments and thus falls short in ways described below to establish
the necessary principles and directions for the success of the
It doesn’t recognize the essential role of the individual
for the economic, political and social progress of the Afghan
The language of this draft Constitution is not very clear
in many cases. The confusion could become fruitful topics
for the adversaries of political and economic freedom.
This Constitution in one part explicitly adopts a market
economy as the official economic policy of the government,
but the rest of the constitution affirms a centrally-directed
economic order and seems unaware of the intimate tie between
free markets and freedom…..between a “market
economy and democracy”. It must be perfectly clear
to all concerned that there is no record in history of democracy
developing without a “market economy”.
Perhaps the most fundamental concern with this Constitution
from an economic point of view is a moral one. This constitution
however unintentionally treats the people simply as a means
to an end. That end, again however unintentionally is inevitably
the wealth and power of the government.
We the undersigned
hold that if a “market economy” which is a phrase
interchangeable in the realm of economic policy with a “free
market economy” is to be real in Afghanistan, then it must
realistically conform to certain world standards that define what
a market economy is and how a market economy works. Essentially
this means free and open markets for capital, labor, trade and
ideas. Constraints in those crucial ingredients will constrain
the ability of the economy and the government to produce for the
people and thus be successful in the eyes of the nation and the
We the undersigned
who support this petition offer eight basic “reflections”
on crucial articles and provide “recommendations”
to make those articles more consistent with the Constitution’s
own call for a “market economy” for the country. We
feel they are vital to the prosperity and long-term national security
of the Afghan people.
reflections and recommendations are evidenced in the specific
articles reviewed below.
Mines, underground resources are properties of the state.
Protection, use, management, and mode of utilization of the public
properties shall be regulated by law.
If the above is not changed it will have a devastating effect
on economic and political progress in Afghanistan. All natural
resources are the properties of the people of Afghanistan and
government is elected and hired by the people to manage and regulate
the use and the utilization of these resources by the private
sector. Again it is the job of the individual or the private sector
or the people of Afghanistan to utilize the underground resources
in Afghanistan not that of the government. According to this article
as it stands, the people of Afghanistan cannot even keep what
they find underground on their own properties. The government
will confiscate it as was done by all previous governments under
the pretence of the public interest.
Suggested Article Nine
All natural resources are the properties of the people
of Afghanistan. The government is elected and hired by the people
to regulate the use of natural resources, in order to ensure that
they are properly utilized by the private sector.
Affairs related to the domestic and external trade shall be regulated
by law in accordance with the needs of the national economy and
This article has the feel of economic protectionism and could
be easily interpreted as economic nationalism. At this historic
juncture, we must not be preoccupied with such failed antiquated
ideas and sentiments; it is time for Afghanistan to emerge from
the abyss and embrace the global economy.
Suggested Article Eleven
Regulations regarding domestic and foreign trade and
all other economic activities should be tailored to position Afghanistan
in the global economy in a manner that brings maximum return on
capital and labor to the people of Afghanistan.
The state shall formulate and implement effective programs for
development of industries, growth of production, increasing of
public living standards and support to craftsmanship.
The above article shows that old habits are difficult to overcome.
The language of the article portends a centrally directed economy
under which the people of Afghanistan suffered for generations.
Ironically, in an article devoted to industry and production,
the private sector is not even mentioned. Government is once again
assumed to be the engine for economic growth and wealth creation
and thus the article is contrary to the principles of a market
economy. In order for article thirteen to be in line with article
ten, which adopts a “market economy” as the official
economic policy of the government, the whole perspective of the
article needs to change. Also, the Constitution, to be most broad
and inclusive should not give focus to any one specific skill,
for example, “craftsmanship” or industry by name.
Suggested Article Thirteen
The government must create an environment in Afghanistan
for the private sector to develop business and industry, initiate
and increase production so as to increase the wealth and standard
of living of the people.
The state shall design and implement within its financial resources
effective programs for development of agriculture and animal husbandry,
improving the economic, social and living conditions of farmers,
herders, settlement and living conditions of nomads. The state
adopts necessary measures for housing and distribution of public
estates to deserving citizens in accordance within its financial
resources and the law.
Here again, government is assumed to do everything for the people.
Don’t we know by now that governments are wasteful and inefficient
when comes to design and implementation of programs? Don’t
we know by now that it is the initiative of the individual and
indeed of all mankind that is responsible for the economic development
and growth around the world? It is not the government but it is
the private sector that best designs and implements projects for
Suggested Article Fourteen
The government shall provide support for the private
sector cross a range of economic areas. Design and implementation
of specific programs are best left to the private sector. It is
the responsibility of the government to aid in connecting the
private sector with capital, in addition to locating markets around
the world for the national output.
Foreign individuals don’t have the right to own immovable
property in Afghanistan.
This is an old way of thinking regarding economics. To believe
that this is a good economic policy is to believe that economic
nationalism or protectionism is a sound economic policy for Afghanistan.
This kind of thinking will get us nowhere. The biggest economic
problem in Afghanistan is the deficiency of capital and investment.
We must allow citizens of the world to have the right of ownership
of land and real property. By real property we mean for example
buildings that house factories and other businesses that employ
our citizens. If a foreigner could buy land or real property in
New York, he should be able to buy it in Kabul. One of the most
important issues for the government is the economy of the people;
politicians must stand in the shoes of an ordinary citizen. Just
as it is more advantageous and just for a citizen to receive higher
rent, it is equally more gainful and just for him to receive a
higher price for his land. Let us consider this article from the
prospective of moral principle and natural law; If god made man
to be citizen of the world, and it is permissible by god for a
man or a women to own land anywhere on earth who are the politicians
to deny him or her this right? Let us not hold to the unjust and
unprofitable laws of the past. Let us pass laws in accordance
with the standards of the world economy and not deprive the Afghan
people one more time of the economic rewards of the global marketplace.
Suggested Article Forty-one
Citizens of the world have the right to own immovable
property in Afghanistan.
Suggestion for Article Forty-one for the more traditional citizenry.
Citizens of those nations that allow Afghan nationals
to have the right to own immovable property should have the same
right in Afghanistan.
Work is the right of every Afghan.
Working hours, paid holidays, right of employment and employee,
and other related affairs are regulated by law.
If we say that work is the right of every Afghan, who ensures
such a right? Is it the government? What happens when the government
is not able to fulfill this right? Do the unemployed citizens
sue the government for failing to provide them with jobs? The
answer is no, it is not the government but the productivity of
the market that sets the level of employment and all other parameters
including wages and benefits of employment in a free market economy.
Government guaranteed employment was communist dogma that considered
unemployment to be an anti- worker evil of market economies.
is too ambitious considering the current level of unemployment
and the condition of the economy in general in Afghanistan. The
government can’t even pay subsistence wages to its employees.
Is the economy so productive that the government is concerned
that the labor force is overworked? Are we thinking about maximum
hours of work in a week? Are we trying to enact a minimum wage
and over time wage control law? If these are the intended purposes
of this article then we do not know the economic problems of our
nation. For the sake of economic progress we must not interfere
with the process of the free market. We must let the law of supply
and demand do its work. Let the market determine the hours and
the various levels of wages. We must not enforce wage control
and paid holidays on the private sector; this will make the cost
of production higher. Thus Afghan citizens will lose their competitive
edge in relation to other nations in the global markets. Paid
holidays are not even enforced by law on the private sector in
the USA. We must create an economic environment where the cost
of production is low. We must enact laws to promote production.
More production of goods and services in Afghanistan means higher
demand for labor, higher demand for labor translates into higher
wages for workers. That is the realty of true “market economies”
and attempts to do otherwise in Afghanistan would lead to economic
Countries like Sweden and Germany that regulate work rules and
benefits were already rich when they adopted such policies. Poor
countries in the third and fourth world that adopted such policies
at their birth became poorer. For a nation like Afghanistan, the
choice is between creating wealth and prolonging poverty.
Suggested Article forty-Eight
Government must not hinder a worker from employing
his stock and labor in the ways that he judges most advantageous
to himself without injury to his neighbor. Government must not
regulate the liberty both of workingmen or workingwomen and those
who are disposed to employ them. The market sets the level of
employment and the price of labor in a market economy.
Article Sixty Four (the power and duties of the president)
Power #2 - Determining the fundamental policies of the state.
The above Power #2, while favorable in our eyes, is an inaccurate
translation from the Dari text. Below is a more accurate translation
of the Dari language text.
Power #2 - Determining the fundamental political policy of the
or English translation version is much better than the original
Dari because it can include economics. It is not clear, what the
political policy of the nation refers to? For example foreign,
national security, economic and social policies are the generally
accepted functions of a president in a modern democracy. Political
policy would refer to actions of candidates and their political
parties to win elections and gain power or to win political support
for their national security, economic and other policies. Most
importantly, this draft Constitution doesn’t seem to recognize
the essential role of an economic policy which is fundamental
to the survival and rebuilding of the Afghan nation. As we can
see, out of the 22 duties of the President, not even one is dedicated
Article Sixty Four (the power and duties of the president)
Power #2- Determining the fundamental policies of
the nation including but not limited to budgetary, fiscal, monetary,
foreign, social and national security policies.
Article One Hundred and fifty one
The president, Vice president, Ministers, Head and members of
the Supreme Court, cannot engage in any profitable business contracts
with the government or individuals during their term of office.
Contracts for the purpose of fulfilling personal needs are exception
to this provision.
First, who can define what is “profitable” or not?
There could be many definitions. Second, this article is self-defeating.
All profits could be described as meeting “personal needs”
because there are no agreed upon limits to personal needs. This
exception could also provide back door access for government officials
to compromise fairness, competition and the transparency of the
business relationship between government and the private sector.
• Suggested Article One Hundred and fifty one,
The president, Vice president, Ministers, Head and
members of the Supreme Court, cannot engage in any business contracts
with the government, individuals and any other entity during their
term in office. Similarly no officials of government can engage
in person or by association with others in any business activities
with government that can be construed as conflict of interest
with his/her job.
Great opportunities await Afghanistan and its people if it acts
decisively and moves towards a market economy. For example, the
government’s vision of a “land bridge” nation
as opposed to a land-locked one offers the prospect of new wealth
for the people of Afghanistan. But that would only be a first
step. The goal would be to have those companies who are using
Afghanistan as a highway to somewhere else consider putting down
roots and building factories and facilities that would employ
Afghans and build the economy in Afghanistan. For that to happen,
the investment climate and the ability to make profits would need
to be better than where these companies are already producing.
final Constitution will have a lot to do with whether companies
build, invest and employ in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Restrictive
regulations, interventions and restraints laid down by government
will keep them away. The people will be the biggest losers if
we the undersigned, want to again congratulate the Commission,
all those in the government, cooperating NGOs and citizenry who
contributed to the historic process of drafting a Constitution
for the people of Afghanistan. Their efforts will always be remembered
in the hearts of the nation and all those around the world who
wish us well. We hope that these “reflections’ and
“recommendations” will find a receptive audience among
the citizens, the government, the Commission members, and those
in the Loya Jiga whose responsibility it is to refine and finalize
this perhaps most important document in the history of Afghanistan.
We stand ready
to assist in any way that we can.
the AACC: The AACC is a private organization of Afghan-American
and indigenous Afghan businessmen and women who seek to stimulate
investment and business in Afghanistan. This includes working
with business, government, financial and NGO communities to develop
both the capital and the climate to attract such capital to Afghanistan
and thus help to rebuild the country.
AACC is working
with a wide-ranging group of Afghans in business and government
in Afghanistan to strengthen the private sector institutionally
by engaging in a broad discussion of the economic issues facing
the nation, enhancing advocacy of the private sector, offering
business training and education, doing surveys, studies and research
and promoting investment worldwide in Afghanistan.