Friday, June 27, 2014

Electing Afghanistan's New President --- Afghanistan was a monarchy until 1973 when the king's brother-in-law and first cousin, ousted him in a coup. The latter then proceeded to dissolve the 200-year-old institution of the monarchy and installed himself as president. In 1978, a group of Soviet-trained Afghan army officers deposed him. The next president was allegedly suffocated via a pillow by his successor in 1979, who, in turn, was shot to death in his palace in December 1979 by the Soviet troops, who claimed that they had come to his assistance! It cannot therefore be said that Afghanistan has not had elements of high melodrama regarding who and in what circumstances would occupy the position of head of state. The proverb, "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown", is apposite in the case of 20th century Afghanistan. --- Following 9/11, Hamid Karzai, who served for some time as a Deputy Foreign Minister in the post-Soviet withdrawal government, headed by an Afghan resistance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani, was elected President of Afghanistan in 2004. In 2009, he contested the presidential election again, which he was allowed to do under the Afghan constitution. This time around, he faced a formidable opponent in his own former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. The election was marred by wide-spread allegations of rigging. In the run-off, Abdullah -- fearing that Karzai had stacked the deck against him -- walked away from the election. -- A successful outcome of this process is hugely important for beleaguered Afghanistan and its long-suffering people who deserve peace and tranquility free from civil war. A legitimately elected president would be the first step in negotiating a durable peace with the Taliban by involving them in the governmental process. Afghanistan's neighbors, particularly Pakistan -- which has been most affected by the civil war in Afghanistan through a spill-over of violent extremism -- would be relieved if peace and stability finally comes to Afghanistan. --- More, S. Azmat Hassan,


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