The front runners in the race
Afghanistan is in the verge of having its third democratically held presidential elections in the spring of 2014. This election which might hold the key to a stable future for the country is also worthwhile in regards to the political aspirations of the two front runners. However, there are ten other candidates that might rise to the top as the campaign season approaches, but for the time being these two candidates have somehow managed to score the best ranking in recent polls. It is the first time in the country’s history that numerous surveys in regards to presidential nominees’ popularity among potential voters are carried out. In the last few such surveys the two below mentioned candidates have stood on the top of the list.
According to these polls across the country, the former foreign minister Dr. Abdullah and his adversary the former Kabul university chancellor and then finance minister Dr. Ghani Ahmadzai are the leading hopefuls in this race. Mr. Abdullah a veteran politician and once a close aide to late Ahmad Shah Masoud is also the leader of the most prominent opposition front in Afghanistan since 2009. He carries along two influential figures from Hizbe Wahdat Islami and Hizbe Islami Afghanistan in his vice presidential ticket. He has been so far endorsed by the incumbent vice president Fahim Qasim and the famous Balk governor Atta Mohammad Noor and has a huge support among former mujahedeen leaders and seemingly is a less controversial figure linked to war crimes and corruption. His political aspirations include a parliamentary democracy opposing the current centralized Hamid Karzai government where the president is the sole decision maker in all aspects of state affairs and country’s foreign relations.
Whereas, Mr. Ghani Ahmadzai on the other hand is a technocrat and highly experienced in terms of state building both domestically and internationally. He was once chosen as the best finance minister in Asia and I have personally witnessed his pragmatism when he was the chancellor of Kabul university and I was a student at that time. Besides he is accompanied by the infamous Uzbek leader General Dostum as his vice presidential hopeful who is also known in Afghanistan as the king maker. It is highly anticipated that with the endorsement of the Hazaras and Uzbeks along with support of the young educated he is a big fish in this upcoming race.
Planning wise these candidates by far are the only ones who have come out with a long run economic policy for the country. Mr. Ghani already authoring the widely famous (fixing failed states) and several other publications on governance and economic dynamism has an upper edge in this regard. Nonetheless, Mr. Abdullah is also a contender with a viable framework for good governance in the country. Fortunately both these personalities have somehow proved their commitment to avoid nepotism and ethnic or linguistic prejudice during their time in the government and have always stood for a united Afghanistan which I hope they would continue the same once elected as the president.
Not to forget that in accordance to the United Nations office on population growth, over 50% of the Afghan population is under 30 which make up the largest voting group in the country, any candidate with a candid approach towards this group could easily turn around the results in their favor. Fortunately, both Dr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah have been actively involved in conducting several discussion forums with the youth both within and outside Afghanistan explaining their roadmap in creating jobs and social stability for this silent majority.
Last but not least, the outcome of this election is also largely dependent to the ultimate support of the current business tycoons who are already weighing a better nominee who could safeguard their business interests and provide them physical immunity under their leadership. If these two nominees are to be outstanding at the end, it is indeed a fair rivalry between a veteran politician and a pragmatic technocrat who both own certain qualities to hold the highest office in the country.
Author: Naser Koshan
January 04, 2014