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

Italian Red Cross Chief: Don't Label Migrants 'Illegal'

Speaking at the United Nations headquarters in New York Wednesday Francesco Rocca says migrants are victims, not criminals More

US Intel Officials Cautious About New IS Threat

Threat, said to have been posted by alleged American member of Islamic State terror group, says Sunday’s attack in Texas ‘is only the beginning’ More

Eyes in Sky Monitor Weather, Predict Epidemics

Satellites track storms, population movements, ocean warming to predict disease conditions 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.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

VOA Blogs