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

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora