News / Asia

Opinion: The Litmus Test of Karzai’s Leadership

Afghan man shields himself from dust behind a billboard of then-incumbent presidential candidate Hamid Karzai, Kabul, August 13, 2009.
Afghan man shields himself from dust behind a billboard of then-incumbent presidential candidate Hamid Karzai, Kabul, August 13, 2009.

Related Articles

Sayed Zafar Hashemi

Allegations of electoral fraud in June’s presidential runoff have forced Afghanistan to the brink of political crisis.

Despite recent reports that presidential hopefuls Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani will negotiate a solution to the current impasse, the country’s social and political atmosphere is increasingly tense as rumors of violence between the candidates' support bases begin to swirl.

Despite Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s assurances that his successor will assume office as scheduled on August 2, he has largely snubbed international calls to use the influence and power of his own office to quell the dispute.

On Wednesday, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) said results from last month's poll will be delayed as ballots from the country's nearly 2,000 voting centers are reviewed in what many call a concession to Abdullah, the former foreign minister who claimed 45% of March's first-round vote and has since accused his opponent, IEC officials and Karzai of runoff vote-rigging.

While a recount might ease some tension, the mere necessity of having to conduct it weakens the election’s credibility on the whole. Recent comments by IEC chief Yousef Nooristani on the brief and mysterious departure of commission secretariat Ziaulhaq Amarkhail, along with his attempted explanation for inflated runoff vote tallies in the country's predominantly Pashtun eastern provinces, have only introduced more ambiguity than clarity.

Indeed, Nooristani's remarks only underscore the urgency for Karzai’s immediate intervention.

The reason is simple. Ordinary Afghans risked their lives to cast a vote for democracy, peace and a better country for their offspring. Yet politicians, the IEC and government officials failed to create the conditions for a fair, transparent and acceptable election whose results either candidate — win or lose — could accept.

If Karzai is true to his claim that he’s determined to oversee the first democratic, peaceful, fair and timely transfer of power in the country’s history, he should take the allegations of fraud seriously and avert further damage to the credibility of national institutions such as the IEC.

By seeking assistance of the United Nations and other international partners to investigate the allegations of massive fraud, Karzai would not only aid in separating the valid votes from the fraudulent ones, but undercut Mr. Abdullah's accusations of petty political gamesmanship.

President Karzai recently said his vision of a united Afghanistan, where countrymen of all ethnicities, political thought and faith live in peace, has largely been achieved. While a few high-profile events have spoken to that sense of unity — the jubilation that swept the country as its national soccer team claimed the 2013 South Asia football championship; the outpouring of compassion witnessed as Afghans from Helmand to Mazar-e-Sharif rushed to the aid the Badakhshan landslide victims — the current electoral gridlock is threatening these fragile gains.

Even after the Taliban severed the purple-inked fingers of elderly men in an effort to intimidate voters and jeopardize the election, some of those brave men expressed a determination to return to the polls anyway, if only to cast a vote against extremism itself. If the IEC cannot uphold its mandate while candidates feud amongst themselves, it is incumbent upon the president to ensure the votes of normal citizens — some of whom paid for those votes with their own blood — weren't cast in vain.

Resolving this deadlock in a peaceful, electorally legitimate manner is not only the litmus test of Karzai’s presidential legacy, but the final moral obligation of his office as he prepares it for a successor.

It’s not about which candidate wins this election, but setting a precedent for elections to follow in the decades to come.

Sayed Zafar Hashemi is an Afghan journalist based Washington, D.C. The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect those of Voice of America.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ebola Lockdown May Be Extended

Lockdown, which started Friday, aims to allow health workers to locate hidden Ebola patients, educate others on how to avoid the deadly disease More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
July 05, 2014 11:51 PM
MY OPINION?..... Karzai was a great Afghan patriot, and tried to work with the US government, that he believes betrayed him and Afghanistan..... The US had promised Karzai over (5) years ago, that they would provide old refurbished Russian fighter planes, and old outdate refurbished Russiian attack helicopthers used in the Russian Afghan war, and old refurbished armored vehichels, and artillery, that hasn't been delivered to the Afghan military to this day.... not any of them....

AND worst of all, Karzai found out the US was negotiating with the Taliban behind Karzai's back, to secure their withdrawal from Afghanistan, without the Taliban attacking the US withdrawing troops..... That's why Karzai accused the US of working with the Taliban against him and the Afghan government..... REALLY

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 06, 2014 6:41 AM
Man, you really need to provide people the sources of your information. You were a soldier? Of what military????? OK. I AM in Afg! Hope every time this IS my last time!!!! But since you have such in-depth knowledge of how OUR country has betrayed the innocent Karzai, you would have to ask YOURSELF......WHY! What the .... would be the benefit of Obama making a deal with the Taliban? How do you know this information? How do you know that OUR servicemen aren't supplying the Affies with equipment? Where are you getting this information? I am out here, brother! If you can get to a DSN phone, you can call me directly! I am here in AFG!!!!!

With this draw down, we are destroying armored vehicles! We are tearing down buildings!!! We have been told that Karzai and his military DO NOT HAVE THE NEED FOR ANY OF IT!!!!!!! We are having to pay people to DESTROY MILITARY equipment because the Afg government doesn't want it! WE ARE PAYING TO DO THIS, NOT AFG!!!

The Taliban is attacking us, your brothers and sisters, DAILY!!! What deal was made? Huh!! What deal???!!! Why are we having to run to bunkers every other day???? Tell me, Meanbill? It was determined by the Obama admin that it would be cheaper to give the Affies all of this equipment, than to spend the money to ship them home. What deal???????? I sit in these meetings with a lot of brass, and we scratch our heads at the insane decisions that the Karzai admin is making. What deal??? We are scratching our heads as to why the Taliban keeps launching rockets, setting up ice-trigger machine guns!!!!! They know we are leaving! What deal??? 200 fuel tankers destroyed yesterday........by the TALIBAN!!! What deal???

MY OPINION: I get it Meanbill, you have a deep hatred of the US, and you are feeding all the anti-Americans in the world your mis-information.........putting your brothers and sisters in jeopardy! Since your intelligence is beyond impotence, we are not allowed to refurnish Russian ANYTHING!!!! That is international law....................MORON!!!!!

You obviously haven't been in any American military service, DSN means Defense Switch Network. If you ask, I will gladly give it to you. If you can't get to a DSN phone, then you may know someone who can call me and people on this forum will know that I AM TELLING THE TRUTH AND YOU ARE A RHETORICAL HATE FILLED LIAR!!!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid