Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ashraf Ghani is not an ethnonationalist -- by Ajmal Shams

On February 5, in an article published in the opinion section of Al Jazeera English, author Eisa Khan Ayoobi classified Afghan PresidentAshraf Ghani as an "ethnonationalist", surprising many people who have been following Ghani's political career and tenure as president closely.

I have known Ghani personally for several years - I served as the senior policy adviser at the Afghanistan Security Transition Commission which he chaired, I was a member of his electoral campaign team on behalf of the Afghanistan Social Democratic Party, and for the past year, I have been serving as a deputy minister in his National Unity Government. I can confidently say that the president I know and work closely with is not an ethnonationalist.

In his article, Mr Ayoobi implied that President Ghani came to power as result of a fraud-ridden election. It is true that the 2014 presidential election in Afghanistanwas a difficult one, with widespread allegations of irregularities. But in September 2014, Afghanistan's election commission conducted a UN-sponsored audit of all votes to lay the aforementioned fraud allegations to rest and declared Ghani as the legitimate winner of the election.

Even though Ghani's victory was confirmed by both local authorities and independent international observers, the Afghan society was still deeply divided following the challenging electoral process. The Pashtun majority in the country, who overwhelmingly voted for Ghani, was content with the final election result, but his rival Abdullah Abdullah's supporters were still dissatisfied. To bridge these divisions within the society, even though he was under no obligation to do so, Ghani agreed to the formation of a National Unity Government (NUG) in which he would share power with Abdullah. When President Ghani visited Washington in March 2015 along with Abdullah - who had become Afghanistan's first chief executive officer thanks to the agreed power-sharing mechanism - the then US foreign secretary John Kerry applauded Ghani for taking such a unifying stance following the election.

"[Ghani] was not required by any law, by any rule, by any precedent to share power and create a unity government," Kerry said. "But, he did so because he believed it was in the best interests of Afghanistan and it was the best way to move forward." - Read More, Aljazeera

Ashraf Ghani is not an ethnonationalist | Ashraf Ghani | Al Jazeera


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