Dr Shaida Mohammad Abdali, the former Afghan ambassador to India who recently resigned and returned to Kabul, spoke on Monday with Ariana News. Reporterly has summarised the key points of the conversation. Mr. Abdali, apart from his work as Ambassador of Afghanistan to India, was the special assistant to former President Hamid Karzai and former deputy head of the Afghan National Security Council.
Nomination in the presidential election
Mr. Abdali firstly spoke about his resignation as ambassador to India and his decision to run for presidential elections: “When I was in India, a number of elders, including General Raziq, came to India asking me to resign and enter the country’s grand and national spheres. I dismissed it first, because I believed that Afghan presidency was not a minor task, and personally I would have liked to stay low-profile, but maybe I would support someone else in a large process. Eventually, the people of Grand Kandahar convinced me to resign and become a presidential candidate, however, I believe that the presidency is something that all Afghan people should decide on. ”
Reforms in the Independent Election Commission
Mr Abdali raised doubts about the performance of the IEC, especially their conduction of parliamentary elections: “As far as we are aware of parliamentary elections, there are many objections and uncertainties regarding the transparency of the election. The biometric system also did not work well. I hope that the results will be announced in such a way that will not lead the country to crisis.”
Afghanistan’s former ambassador to India continued to demand reform of the election commission to hold the presidential election: “We need various reforms to be considered for our presidential elections. If IEC and its current structure do not change for presidential elections, it will create a problem. We need to ensure the integrity of the people who work in the commission and make sure they are not involved in corruption. As we see and hear, corruption exists in the commission. Each of the current members of the commission are loyal to NUG leaders who agreed on their appointments. ”
“This process (elections) should be Afghan-inclusive and political leaders should be involved as well; they will examine these people in order to ensure to everyone of holding fair elections,” he said.
He expressed his concern over the misuse of government facilities in the upcoming election: “It’s illegal to use the government status and facilities for a campaign, and this is against the law if the president has done so.”
Failure of the National Unity Government
Afghanistan’s former ambassador to India, who has worked in both past and present governments, compared these governments: “The security situation is terrible and our national unity has been damaged in this government. In the current government, even low-ranking positions are allocated based on the political considerations. Advisers have more authority than ministers do.” “I served in both governments, and in my opinion, the previous administration was far better than the current one; the current government is a failed government.”
“My position as ambassador was opposed several times by current government, and I believed that I would not want to stay in this position if it is opposed,” he noted about his experience as an ambassador.
Mr. Abdali described one of the failures of the current government: “The former president made great efforts in providing national unity in the country, but now this national unity that has been damaged after several years of struggle and the reason for this is the structure of this government.” he adds: “There was never any sincerity and determination in this government for it. ”
He further criticised the policies of the National Unity Government: “It should be asked how much of the country’s land is now in the hands of the government? Insecurity and corruption have peaked. ” “The current politics of Afghanistan is based on the individuals and inheritance; the executive authorities of the agencies are not as authorised as those who work as advisors or on the basis of a relationship within an office. Most current employees of the system are now advisers, even though they do not have executive authority legally but they are actually given some authorities on the ground. ”
The former Afghan ambassador, in another part of his interview with Ariana News, pointed out about the presidential interventions in his affairs, while he holds himself accountable directly to the ministry of foreign affairs: “Whenever an issue was raised at embassy level, I was asked to refer that straight to the president, even though the Foreign Ministry was the direct reference; I do not name a particular person because I do not want the country to go further towards the crisis. ”
“When the four helicopters in Afghanistan were lost, I was asked to sign the helicopter contract from Afghanistan’s side, but I was aware of the law and refused to do so,” he said.
This possible presidential candidate expressed his views on Afghanistan’s peace:
“Today, peace is one of the most fundamental needs of Afghanistan and should be taken into consideration in every respect. I support the American government’s serious step in Afghan peace,” he said.
“Although the Taliban claim that they do not negotiate with the Afghan government, efforts should be made in this regard. The process should be Afghan-inclusive; the Afghan people, politicians and government should be involved in this process, so that the Taliban agree for negotiations,” he added.
He further said that, “We do not compromise on the achievements of Afghanistan whatsoever, which we have gained with hardship in the last few years. For those who protest, there are mechanisms in place to handle them, even if they have objection on the constitution, we still have an amendment as a solution. If the adjustment is legitimate and backed by the people of Afghanistan, these changes will be applicable. ”
He divided the Taliban into two types: “The Taliban has two sides; one is a Taliban which is formed by the common people and another type that is backed by foreign countries. With the common Taliban, people including scholars and elders should talk, while the government should enter into negotiations with the Taliban that is linked to the outside. ”
Dr. Shaida Mohammad Abdali, as a senior diplomat, poses a serious critique of the NUG foreign policy especially towards its neighbours:
“We have never been able to have a steady policy towards our neighbours so as to make our neighbours understand that Afghanistan is a government based on certain principles. Afghanistan has national interests and should adopt its foreign policy based on its national interests, and refrain from intermittent and emotional policies. Our neighbours are clear to us. It is also clear which neighbours are good or bad for us. ”
“At the beginning of our foreign policy, our five-pillar policy were not right especially towards our neighbours. In the last four years, our foreign policy was largely inconsistent. In the beginning, some steps were taken with respect to relations with Pakistan which were not really in the interest of Afghanistan and did not have the result we had expected. Our emotion-based relationship with Pakistan has degraded our relationship with other countries, including India, which is not a successful policy,” he elaborated.
He finally stressed that “I think that the current situation is such that even the foreign countries are less hopeful and attentive to Afghanistan. We need to restore political stability in the country and work on our national unity and peace in the country, so that the international community can pay attention again to Afghanistan.”