There are many presidential candidates in Afghanistan, however I am going to comment only on the two parties that have the strongest chance of challenging each other and winning the elections. These two parties are Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s team and Zalmai Rasoul’s Team. Many people are expecting this election to be going to a second round.
RECENT POLITICAL CHANGES IN AFGHANISTAN
As you may have been following the election, there has recently been a very interesting development. Qayoom Karzai has just declared his support for Zalmai Rasoul’s Party. You can see Qayoom Karzai in the right foreground of the photo below.
President Karzai’s first Vice President, General Fahim, suddenly died in early March 2014. His death was announced as a heart attack, but many credible sources indicate that he was actually poisoned and that he was complaining of stomach pain when he died. President Karzai has announced that as of March 18, 2014, his new First Vice President will be Yonous Qanooni. This will also gain votes of the supporters of Yonous Qanooni during the election of 2014 for whomever President Karzai favors.
THE NATIONAL FRONT PARTY
The National Front Party was formed in 2011 to resist the Taliban, when there was a strong indication that President Karzai intended to remain in power by using fear of insurgents as a tactic to prevent or delay elections.
Initially, Ahmad Zia Massoud, General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Haji Mohaqeq formed the National Front party where Ahmad Zia Massoud was running as the Presidential candidate and General Dostum and Haji Mohaqeq were Vice Presidential candidates for the upcoming election of the 2014. If this group had remained in power and together, they would have won at least 50% of the votes, but sadly they broke apart and Ahmad Zia Massoud joined Zalmai Rasoul’s team as candidate for First Vice President and Habiba Sohrabi for Second Vice President.
If Ahmad Zia were still running for Presidency and were to win the election, this would have changed the history of Afghanistan, since it could have been a chance for a Tajik to become the President of Afghanistan instead of a Pashtun. Change of power is sometimes good. It brings in new perspectives and new role models and it also distributes power and responsibility equally and fairly, especially for a multi-cultural and diverse country such as Afghanistan.
Other than the legacy of his older brother, the great Northern Alliance leader, Shah Massoud who was assassinated shortly before 9/11, what got me interested in paying closer attention to Ahmad Zia Massoud was an amazing Facebook post by his daughter, Amina Zia Massoud, that “TALIBAN ARE NOT WELCOMED IN AFGHANISTAN! IF THEY TRY TO COME BACK THEN THE PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN WILL SHOOT THEM AND THOSE AFGHANS WHO HAVE NO GUN TO SHOOT AT THEM, THEN THEY WILL THROW STONES AT THEM!” I was moved by her courage to be able to speak out her mind and by publically supporting the true feelings of many Afghans. I felt like I had finally found someone like myself out there. It felt great to see this inspiring quote.
WILL PRESIDENT KARZAI CONTINUE TO RULE THROUGH ZALMAI RASOUL?
Now that Zalmai Rasoul has the support and the strong influence of President Karzai, in my analysis, this has tainted his team in a sense that it makes people wonder and ask the tough questions of how much power or influence Ahmad Zia Massoud will have over this party as a first Vice President?
During the first term of Karzai’s Presidency, Ahmad Zia was also the Vice President and he complained on numerous occasions that President Karzai had excluded him from making important decisions with respect to Afghanistan or when acting with its international partners. Who says that Zalmai Rasoul won’t do the same, especially when he is under so much control and influence of President Karzai.
Habiba Sohrabi is running for Second Vice President of Zalmai Rasoul’s party and she will have the support of the women’s rights groups and will get the votes of some of the Hazara. Again, with Karzai monopolizing this party one must ask, how much influence is she going to have in order to be the true voice of the minority groups?
Are we going to basically have another Karzai Presidency in the guise of having his former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zalmai Rasoul who accompanied him everywhere, running as the front man and President Karzai continuing to rule Afghanistan through him? Is this going to be good for Afghanistan and for the investments of the international communities? Well I leave this to other policy makers and other experts to decide on this matter.
Who Will Win The Next Presidential Seat?
When I went to the meet with Ahmad Zia, it was impressive; he was very busy and very active meeting with locals and ordinary Afghans. He is definitely trying hard to reach out to people and to connect with the ordinary Afghans. I sense there exists an honest man and within him beats an honest heart, and I am impressed with his children, both, his son Zubair Massoud and his daughter Amina Massoud. They both are very bright and modern.
When I met with Habiba Sohrabi, she was also very eager and trying hard to meet with her supporters. She is a woman and for her to run as a Vice President, sends a very positive message to the women of Afghanistan.
I tried to meet Zalmai Rasoul. I met and spoke to his secretary Dr. Habibullah Sahak twice; however, Zalmai Rasoul was not available to meet me. So I have no comments on him since I have no idea about him. I would like to see some clarity about his future plans and policies; however, when I asked the opinion of a friend, who has a great understanding of what is really happening in Afghanistan and what is really happening in Washington with respect to Afghanistan, she told me that “ Zalmai Rasoul is very lazy” So my question is this, is Zalmai Rasoul lazy or is it that he is too sure that he is going to win and as a result he does not try as hard as other candidates? Based on Zalmai Rasoul Team’s recent visit to Jalalabad and Kandahar, it seems that Zalmai Rasoul is campaigning too, he was there with Qayoom Karzia and with Habiba Sohrabi and Ahmad Zia. Based on the pictures that I have seen on his Facebook pages, he seems to be very popular in Kandahar and Jalalabad.
The other potentially winning party is Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s team. His team has been the leading party so far. I met with one of his Vice Presidential candidates, Ustad Haji Mohaqeq. I also met Haji Mohaqeq’s wife and other family members. Most of his children are highly educated and are living abroad. They are very bright minded and modern individuals. Two of his sons Mohammad Ali Mohaqeq and Mohammad Baqeer Mohaqeq are actively reaching out to the ordinary people of Afghanistan on a daily basis, and so does Ustad Mohaqeq himself. It is encouraging to see the new generations of Afghanistan taking positive roles in our society; since more than 50% of the people of Afghanistan are under 30, we need more younger leaders to take part. It is the youth who can connect and also inspire other youths.
Haji Mohaqeq supports women’s rights and he has the support of the majority of the Hazaras. He has formed a women’s group that is actively promoting the rights of women. Haji Mohaqeq has always openly defended the rights of the people of Afghanistan and because of this he has gained the support and the loyalty of many people in Afghanistan.
Based on my findings and research in Afghanistan I would like to point out that General Rashid Dostum has tremendous support and influence in Afghanistan too. He is surprisingly very active in Afghanistan, since he trains his followers by sending them abroad or in Afghanistan. General Dostum has strategically placed his men amongst the civil societies and military and in the Ministries of Afghanistan.
As they say, it is not the number of men who can win a battle, it is the quality of men that you have. One man can kill or free one thousand people if he is trained and equipped properly. I would not underestimate the power or the influence of General Dostum. Many non-Uzbeks love General Dostum, mainly because he has inspired them with his leadership skills and tactics.
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s team has managed to gather many of the political groups around him. This could prove to be a very successful coalition. Afghanistan needs a leader who can bring everyone together and the fact that he is half Tajik and half Pashtun, could also please both sides. Afghanistan needs leaders who are fair to all Afghans equally.
WHAT DO AFGHANS WANT FROM THIS ELECTION?
The people of Afghanistan hope see true democracy established in Afghanistan. Afghans hate to see another tainted election result, since it will easily lead the country into a bloody civil war and many innocent people will die as a result of it and all the progress made during the past 12 years could turn into ashes in just a few days. Everyone is armed to the max and will not hesitate to fire, especially when they feel that they have been denied their democratic rights. For this to happen, it would be an insult to Afghan and international soldiers who have sacrificed their lives, and many innocent people will also die.
We must continue to support true democracy in Afghanistan and we can only establish true justice and democracy by fighting corruption, and by destroying the influence s of the extremists. The world needs to stop those countries, which are financing insurgents in order to gain their own hidden agendas in Afghanistan. And we need a leader who clearly discourages extremist and who punishes insurgents. Since December 2013, President Karzai has released more than 1000 insurgents and currently, warlords such as Goulbidden Hekmatyar with the help of their Pakistani friends have already placed their men across Afghanistan to start killing ordinary Afghans as soon as the civil war starts.
DEMOCRACY CAN BE ESTABLISHED IN AFGHANISTAN IF NATO AND ITS ALLIES DO NOT TURN THEIR BACKS ON AFGHANISTAN TODAY
Many Afghans are worried and fear a horrible civil war. Afghans hope that the international community and NATO continue to support institutions and leaders, which will establish true justice, freedom and democracy, fairness and equality. As an Afghan born, I can totally relate to the pains of those families who have lost their loved ones in Afghanistan; I can understand and share their pain and frustrations, when I saw a video clip from the children of those Canadian Soldiers who have lost their fathers in Afghanistan; it made me cry. Losing your loved ones is never easy.
However; I believe we must honor the sacrifices of those great men by not giving up on Afghanistan at this stage. As a result of the lives lost and the resources invested, there have been many positive developments. We just need to continue on this gained progress. We must continue this fight against corruption and against those insurgents who have killed innocent people indiscriminately in order to achieve their own political, social and regional priorities and agendas. If NATO and its Allies turn their backs to the people of Afghanistan today, it will come and hunt us all in the end.
Today Afghanistan is in transition. It can go both ways. If we promote modernity and democracy, then we will successful establish a democratic society; if we allow insurgents to come back then a society infested with insurgents and terrorists is what we will get. Afghanistan’s young established democratic society can continue to grow; however, it can only grow if we continue to fight against extremists and continue to support these democratic institutions and the democratic people of Afghanistan, especially the youth of Afghanistan. If the international communities abandon Afghanistan today, it will only encourage insurgents and terrorism globally.