Lawmakers challenge Obama, Karzai to address 'flaws' in Afghan government

A bipartisan delegation of House members is challenging the Obama administration and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to consider significant structural reforms to Afghanistan's government to prevent the Taliban from seizing control.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and three other members of the House met in Berlin this week with the new National Front and other groups representing Afghans, and released a joint statement with these groups calling for a more inclusive government.

"We call for a national dialogue on a revised Constitution to correct the inherent flaws in the present power structure by decentralizing the political system, making it more compatible with the diverse political, social and cultural nature of Afghanistan," the statement said. "The Afghan people deserve and need a parliamentary form of democracy instead of a personality-centered Presidential system."

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The statement added that negotiations with the Taliban "can only be acceptable, and therefore effective, if all parties to the conflict are involved in the process. The present form of discussions with the Taliban is flawed, as it excludes anti-Taliban Afghans."

Rohrabacher made it clear that his delegation's interest in reforms is aimed at making sure the Taliban does not win control of Afghanistan through a back-room deal with Karzai.

"The incompetence and corruption of Karzai's government has now brought serious consideration to accepting the Taliban as part of the coalition government, this would be a betrayal of those Americans who shed their blood in the last decade, as well as, a sellout of the brave Afghans in the North Alliance who cast their lot with us after 9/11 in order to defeat the Taliban dictatorship," he said.

"All participants in this meeting agreed that if the Taliban wants to participate in running for democratic office, they should be permitted to do so, but they should not be included in a back room deal among power brokers so that they would hold some kind of authority and power in an upcoming Afghan government."

These comments are aimed at both Karzai and the Obama administration, which has reportedly held several "secret" discussions with the Taliban about the outlines of a peace agreement in Afghanistan.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who joined Rohrabacher on the trip, said the Northern Alliance leaders the delegation met with helped defeat the Taliban, but are now being ignored by both Obama and Karzai.

"These leaders who fought with embedded Special Forces to initially defeat the Taliban represent over 60-percent of the Afghan people, yet are being entirely disregarded by the Obama and Karzai Administrations in negotiations," Gohmert said. "Instead, the Obama regime is choosing to now make concessions to the group that helped train for the 9-11 attacks and whose leader proclaimed on Afghan TV recently that the U.S. has been defeated and is now begging them for negotiations."

Rohrabacher was also joined on the trip by Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.). The text of their joint statement follows:

"We call for a national dialogue on a revised Constitution to correct the inherent flaws in the present power structure by decentralizing the political system, making it more compatible with the diverse political, social and cultural nature of Afghanistan. The Afghan people deserve and need a parliamentary form of democracy instead of a personality-centered Presidential system.

"We firmly believe that any negotiation with the Taliban can only be acceptable, and therefore effective, if all parties to the conflict are involved in the process. The present form of discussions with the Taliban is flawed, as it excludes anti-Taliban Afghans. It must be recalled that the Taliban extremists and their Al-Qaeda supporters were defeated by Afghans resisting extremism with minimal human embedded support from the United States and International community. The present negotiations with the Taliban fail to take into account the risks, sacrifices and legitimate interests of the Afghans who ended the brutal oppression of all Afghans.

"In order to speed the withdrawal of international forces, the participants believe it is essential to strengthen regional and national institutions that are inclusive and represent the concerns of all the communities of Afghanistan.

"The participants favor a change in the Electoral System from a Single Non Transferable Vote System to a nationally accepted variant of the Proportional Representation system with equal opportunities for both independent candidates, the political parties, or tribal representatives. We also support the election of Governors and empowerment of provincial councils. Such elected Governors and provincial councils should also have authority for such things as creating budgets and generating revenue, overseeing police and healthcare, as well as establishing educational authority, if they so desire."

Mr. Ahmed Zia Massoud, Chairman, National Front

General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Leader, National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan

Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, Leader, People´s Unity Party of Afghanistan

Mr. Amrullah Saleh, Former Director, Afghan National Security Directorate

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California)

Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-California)

Represenative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)

Representative Steve King (R-Iowa)

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