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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs