Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Presidential Candidates Fail to Touch upon Real Issues Facing the Country

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Presidential Candidates Fail to Touch upon  Real Issues Facing the Country

People of Afghanistan have witnessed registration of about fifteen candidates for president in the upcoming general presidential elections in July 2019. Most of these candidates and their running mates – prospective first and second Vice Presidents – have been Government officials in past and present Governments, but they badly failed to grasp the real issues facing the nation and the country. Their agenda and manifestoes seem to have rallied around trivial issues, which do not appeal to general public. Some of these candidates have promised to ‘ban beard and local dress code’ and others have pledged to ‘change constitution and government structure’ in the event they win the elections. This state of affairs and ignorance on the part of most of these candidates has ignited anger and invited scorn and pity on the part of the people of Afghanistan. Very few candidates have managed to raise major problems facing the country and the people of Afghanistan, and those messages can strike a chord that runs through different strata of society, including people in different provinces with different ethnic and religious background.
Afghanistan is currently passing through a critical juncture in history, and it is ironic to see it as coincident that major national issues knocking at the door whenever general elections take place. In 2014 general elections, United States and NATO member countries had threatened to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan in the event ‘Strategic Security Agreement’ was not signed by Afghanistan Government, which was then headed by the then President Mr. Hamid Karzai. Western Governments blocked funding to important projects and terminated assistance to support Afghan Government – which had affected normal functioning of Government institutions - including non-payment of salaries of Government employees. Further deepening of crises were averted when National Unity Government was sworn in and ‘Strategic Security Agreement’ was sign on the first day of the function of new Government. This episode has had dilapidating effects on the economy of the country to an extent that more than eighty percent of business organizations collapsed, economy was devastated and younger, educated generation of Afghans fled the country in search of job and better life elsewhere.
Exactly once again four years later when general elections are at the doorstep, the issue of peace with Taliban insurgents has sprouted. The US under Trump administration doesn’t want to ‘pay for war expenses’ in one of its longest war outside the United States, hence US Government is leaning hard on negotiating settlement of the Afghan war. This haste on the part of the US Government and realities on the ground in Afghanistan, which advises against such hasty, negotiated settlement before addressing major, critical issues are addressed, which require time and more resources, are contradicting one another . Government of Afghanistan is under pressure once again as Taliban insurgents ‘do not want to talk’ to it, which has caused stirs in Afghan Government circles concerning sovereignty and national pride and freedom. There had been rumors that Taliban insurgents demanded that present Government be dislodged and a new, temporary Government be established, which has aroused serious opposition from Afghan President and other Government circles because they saw this demand as a ‘recipe for disaster’ for Afghan defense and security institutions, and a major threat to roll back all hard earned progress and development during last one and half decade. Though the US and other NATO member countries have officially supported Afghanistan Government position, and asked Taliban to talk to Afghan Government about peace, Taliban has so far refused to agree. But the so called peace process and conditions evolving around it with the passage of time continue to haunt people and observers about the fate of upcoming elections.
In the face of this uncertainty, presidential candidates, international and regional friends of Afghanistan should instill renewed purpose and spirit into the minds and hearts of Afghan people about a stable county and prosperous future for the people of Afghanistan. Candidates should present better plans for economic development, better security and defense strategies and opportunities for better education and access to job markets at different levels in the country. Projects of national importance should be outlined and ways to fund and implement such projects should be presented to the people of Afghanistan in the political manifestos of candidates.

Mohammed Gul Sahibbzada is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammed.g.sahibbzada@gmail.com

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