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ALPA Scholars Tackle Challenges of Rule of Law, Democracy, and Authoritarianism

A recent panel discussion, co-hosted by the South Asia Center, Jackson School of International Studies (University of Washington), and MESA Global Academy, brought together ALPA scholars and other leading Afghanistan specialists to explore critical issues hindering the country's development. The panel focused on the challenges of establishing the rule of law, fostering democratic transitions, and overcoming authoritarian tendencies in Afghanistan.

Dr. Mohammad Bashir Mobasher, a prominent scholar on constitutional law and statebuilding, delved into the concept of the "rentier state" and the "politics of exclusion" as two major roadblocks to effective statebuilding in Afghanistan. Rentier states rely on extracting revenue from (foreign) resources rather than developing a productive economy, while the politics of exclusion marginalizes certain groups, hindering social cohesion and stability. Dr. Mobasher's analysis highlighted how these factors have historically impeded the establishment of a strong rule of law and democratic institutions in Afghanistan.

Dr. Shamshad Pasarlay, a distinguished scholar specializing in comparative constitutional law and Islamic law, shifted the focus to the Taliban's interpretation and organization of "Amr-i-bi-Almaroof" (promoting good and preventing evil) within their governance structure. Dr. Pasarlay's insights shed light on how the Taliban defines and enforces "Amr-i-bi-Almaroof", potentially impacting the rule of law and individual rights under their rule.

The panel also hosted Dr. Anila Daulatzai (UC Berkeley), a renowned anticolonial anthropologist, and M. Ramin Mansoori (University of Pittsburgh), an expert on Afghan politics and history, also participated in the discussion. The panel was moderated by Aria Fani (University of Washington). Their combined expertise provided a comprehensive analysis of the complex issues facing Afghanistan.

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