ashraf ghani ahmadzai

In some countries, people get excited about their national elections because they expect to be voting for an intelligent, experienced, and patriotic candidate—someone who plans to fulfill promises and work on behalf of the people and the country.

But when I see all the election posters and billboards around Kabul city, some of these faces scare me. It reminds me of the civil war. These are the same people who ruined Kabul, killed thousands of people, and raped women and children and created panic. On their posters they all have slogans about justice and unity or peace and human rights. But it’s amazing to me when you compare some of these slogans with the candidates’ actual backgrounds.

Some of these eleven candidates in the election on the 5th are the same people who destroyed Afghanistan during the civil war. They are very conservative, with largely fundamentalist Islamic ideas, and no clear policy for women’s rights and human rights. Their only slogan is to give women “rights according to the Islamic Sharia Law.” But the question is, how do they interpret Islamic Sharia Law?

The people championing these candidates are former warlord commanders and drug smugglers and criminals. If any of these candidates win in this election, then clearly these people who campaign for them will get top-level government positions.

These nominees talk about women’s rights and human rights, security and the development of the economy, but they themselves are either involved in crimes and corruption or they were involved in the past. I don’t understand how people can believe in them, but one of them could win.

I have shared my opinion with many people around Kabul and everyone agrees. The most amazing thing is that one of the candidates is an anti-government warlord who is responsible for suicide attacks and land mine attacks on the highways. I don’t think Afghanistan is a jungle with no rule of law. But because of this, many people are pessimistic about the elections. They say that they can’t vote for anyone—they’re like Taliban—thinking only about their self-interest, not the country.

Among the candidates there is one who is well-educated with a good background and he could be a creative president. Mr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai also ran in 2009. He is the former chairman of the Afghan Transition Coordination Commission and former Minister of Finance in President Karzai’s government. He has a domestic and a foreign policy agenda, but he is less influential in the provinces  outside Kabul. He faces a tough election against some of the others who can get more votes in the provinces, like Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf or Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.

His first vice presidential candidate, Abdul Rashid Dostum, is controversial because he is a former Uzbek military leader, but Mr. Ghani needs a powerful individual with him from the north of Afghanistan. If Mr. Ghani is elected I think the vice president would have a more symbolic role. Some in the educated minority say if Ghani can win he will create the government that they have desired for years.

By Sitara B.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (C) speaks as candidates Abdullah Abdullah (R) and Qayum Karzai (L) listen during the presidential election debate at the studio of a local TV channel in Kabul, Feb. 8, 2014. Reuters.