By Meer Agha samimi
KABUL (PAN): Given below are biographies of 11 of the presidential candidates who figure on the final list released by the Independent Election Commission:
1- Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah is the son of Ghulam Mohiuddin Khan, who was selected as a senator from Kandahar province in the last year of kingdom. Born in 1959 in Kabul, Dr. Abdullah received education at the Ghazi Mohammad Ayub Khan School and went on to graduate from the Naderia High School in 1976.
In 1977, he got admission to the Kabul University’s Faculty of Medicine, where he completed his training in ophthalmology in 1983. He subsequently served as a specialist at the Noor Eye Hospital in Kabul.
In 1984, he went to Pakistan to take care of refugee families at the Sayed Jamal-ud-Din Hospital. The following year, he joined the Afghan Freedom Fighters and served as caretaker in charge of health affairs for the Panjsher Valley resistance front. It was there that Abdullah became an advisor to Ahmad Shah Massoud.
From 1992 to 1996, he served as a spokesperson for Afghanistan's Defense Ministry and subsequently as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Abdullah was in charge of foreign affairs for the government-in-exile of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, led by President Burhanuddin Rabbani from 1999 until the collapse of the Taliban regime.
After Taliban’s ouster from power, Abdullah continued as foreign minister of the transitional government. Approved by the Grand Assembly (Loya Jirga), and within the first elected government, he continued as foreign minister until 2006.
Dr. Abdullah is married and has three daughters and a son. He is fluent in Dari, Pashto and English, and is proficient in Arabic and French as well.
2- Mohammad Daud Sultanzoyi
Mohammad Daud Sultanzoyi is born in Ghazni province. He then went to Habibia High School in Kabul for studies.
Sultanzoyi completed his bachelor degree from engineering faculty at Kabul University. Later, he proceeded to the US on government’s scholarship for further studies in aviation field and became pilot.
He lived in Saudi Arabia and United States during Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan and worked as captain and trainer in United Airlines.
Earlier, Sultanzoyi served as an employee of Aryana Airlines for eight years.
He became MP in 2005 parliamentary elections from his native Ghazni constituency; however, he failed to win elections for the second time in 2010.
He also hosted several TV talk shows titled Daud Sultanzoyi.
These days, he is a leading analyst on internal and foreign affairs of Afghanistan and shares his views with print and electronic media.
3- Abdul Rahim Wardak
Abdul Rahim Wardak was sacked by the Wolesi Jirga as defence minister in late 2012. Later, the president appointed him as acting defence minister, a slot that he resigned later on.
A son of Abdul Ghani, he was born in Wardak province in 1944. After graduating from the Habibia High School, he joined the Military Academy in Kabul. He completed higher education in the United States and Ali Nasr Academy in Cairo, Egypt.
Wardak served as a lecturer at the Military Academy. In 2004, he was named as defence minister. He had political affiliation with the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan led by Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani during the jihad era.
He served as head of the armed wing of Mahaz-i-Milli during jihad against the Soviet forces. He was also commander-in- chief of the Mahaz-i-Milli’s guerrilla front and military advisor to the political party.
After the collapse of the communist regime, Wardak was appointed as chief of armed forces and head of the Military Training Commission. He speaks Pashto, Dari and English fluently.
After receiving the Ghazi Amanullah Khan Medal, Wardak was appointed as senior security advisor. He is a presidential candidate, with Shah Abdul Ahad Afzali, a former MP, his first vice president and Syed Hussain Anwari his second VP.
4- Abdul Qayyum Karzai
A son of Abdul Ahad Karzai, Abdul Qayyum Karzai is the elder brother of President Hamid Karzai. He was born in 1957 in the Karz locality of Kandahar. His father, the Popalzai tribe head, was elected as a parliamentarian during King Zahir Shah’s rule.
Qayyum Karzai has six brothers and one sister. He did his graduation in Political Science from a university in the United States. He served as MP from Kandahar in the previous term of National Assembly. But he resigned the position after criticism of his continued absence from the National Assembly.
Qayyum Karzai has his own business and spends most of his time living in the United States. He is also one of the potential presidential runners with Wahidullah Shahrani his first vice president and Ibrahim Qasimi his second VP.
5- Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai:
Born into an influential Afghan family in 1949, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai spent his early life in the central province of Logar. He completed his primary and secondary education at the Habibia High School in Kabul.
He travelled to Lebanon to attend the American University in Beirut and returned to Afghanistan in 1974 to teach Afghan Studies and Anthropology at Kabul University before winning a government scholarship to pursue a master degree in Anthropology at New York’s Columbia University.
He received his PhD from the Columbia University with a doctoral thesis (Production and Domination: Afghanistan, 1747-1901) and was immediately invited to teach at the University of California, Berkeley (1983) and then at Johns Hopkins University (1983-1991).
In 1991, Ahmadzai joined the World Bank (WB) as lead anthropologist, advising on the human dimension to economic programmes. Following the ouster of the Taliban from power in late 2001, he was asked to serve as special advisor to Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN secretary general’s special envoy to Afghanistan.
In that capacity, he worked on the design, negotiation and implementation of the Bonn Agreement, which set out the roadmap for transition to a new government.
During the interim administration, he served on a pro bono basis as chief advisor to then interim President Karzai. He worked on preparation of the Loya Jirgas (grand assemblies) that elected President Karzai and approved the Constitution.
As finance minister during the transitional administration, he issued a new currency in record time; computerised operations of treasury, introduced the budget as the central instrument of policy, centralised revenue and instituted regular reporting to the cabinet, the people of Afghanistan and international stakeholders as a tool of transparency.
He won the Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan Medal, the highest civilian award in the country. He was recognised as the Best Finance Minister of Asia in 2003 by Emerging Markets.
From March 31 to April 2004, he presented a seven-year programme of public investment, securing Afghanistan’s future at an international conference in Berlin, attended by 65 finance and foreign ministers.
6- Sardar Mohammad Nader Naeem
Sardar Mohammad Nader Naeem is a son of Ustad Aziz Naeem. He was born in 1965 in Kabul. He is the maternal grandson of Sardar Dawood Khan, the former president of Afghanistan.
Sardar Naeem did his bachelor in Computer Sciences from one of the universities in London. He served as chief of staff to King Zahir Shah. He has been living in Afghanistan over the past eight years.
In 2012, he launched a political campaign known as Woles Ghag (Voice of the Nation) and visited several parts of the country to convey his message to the people.
He is a member of Sardar Dawood Khan’s family. He filed his nomination papers for the presidential elections as an independent candidate. Taj Mohammad Akbar is his first vice president and Azizullah Poya as his second VP.
He speaks Pashto, Dari and English languages.
7- Dr. Zalmai Rassoul
Dr Zalmai Rassoul, born in 1953 in Kabul, is a son of Dr. Abdul Qayyum Rassoul. He attended Lycée Istiqlal where he graduated as valedictorian before travelling to France to study on a scholarship at the Paris Medical School. He received his MD in 1973.
Rassoul has been serving as minister of foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since he received a confidence vote from the Wolesi Jirga (Afghan National Assembly) in January 2010.
Prior to his appointment as minister, he served as national security advisor, a post he held from June 2002 to January 2009. He played a constructive role in bringing activities of security institutions in line with the country's foreign policy.
Included in his numerous responsibilities were conducting national threat assessments and the national security policy. Rassoul accompanied President Hamid Karzai on official visits since the establishment of the interim administration in 2001.
An ethnic Pashtun, he remains unmarried and is fluent in Dari, Pashto, French, English and Italian and has working knowledge of Arabic. He has written multiple articles and papers on medical issues in European and American magazines.
Karzai nominated Rassoul as minister of civil aviation and was unanimously approved by the Cabinet in March 2002. Under his leadership, the aviation sector was revived after many years of UN sanctions against the Taliban and Afghanistan.
Rassoul played an important role in Afghanistan's readmission to the International Civil Aviation Organisation. He is one of the presidential candidates, with Ahmad Zia Massoud -- head of National Front -- his first vice president and Habiba Sarabi -- former governor of Bamyan province -- as his second VP.
8- Eng. Qutbuddin Hilal
A son of Maulvi Zaheeruddin, Qutbuddin Hilal was born in 1952 in the Zazai Maidan district of Khost province. He graduated from Kabul Military Academy in 1970 and pursued his higher education in construction engineering. He completed his bachelor’s degree from the Engineering Academy in 1975.
Hilal served as an engineer in the planning and designing branch of Defence Ministry until 1978. He was imprisoned at the notorious Pul-i-Charkhi prison on charges of anti-state activities. After his release, he fled to Pakistan.
Hilal then joined the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) led by Engineer Gulbadin Hekmatyar. He headed HIA’s the political committee and served party chief for Paktia province.
He later became head of the military commission tasked with uniting Jihadi Organisations besides heading the leadership council after the collapse of the Dr. Najibullah government in 1980.
He fluently speaks Pashto, Dari, Arabic, English and Urdu. Hilal twice served as first vice president in 1993 and 1996. A member of HIA, he filed nomination papers for the presidential elections as an independent candidate with Inayatullah Inayat his first vice president and Mohammad Ali Nabizada as his VP. He is married and has six children.
9- Mohammad Shafiq (Gul Agha Sherzai)
Mohammad Shafiq, popularly known as Gul Agha Sherzai, is a son of Haji Abul Sherzai. He was born in the Barakzai area of Kandahar province in 1954.
His family name is Mohammad Shafiq but he was called Gul Agha Sherzai by his father. Sherzai graduated from the Mashraqi High School in Kandahar and later completed his education at the Teacher Training Institution.
Sherzai started working at the Kandahar revenue department in 1963 before taking up a job in Spin Boldak district.
As one of Mujahideen commanders, Sherzai helped topple the Dr. Najibullah government. He had to migrate to the Quetta city of Pakistan several times, running his private business there.
During the mujahedeen government, Sherzai was appointed as Kandahar governor. Subsequently, he served as public works and transport minister.
In 2006, he was appointed as Nangarhar governor. Sherzai owns the Jamal Baba Company that has a presence in most parts of the country. His sons are also managing a variety of businesses. Sherzai speaks Pashto, Dari, Urdu and English languages. He was a member of the Mahaz-e-Milli Jihadi faction.
10- Prof. Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf
He was elected as a member of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament, from Kabul. He won 7,158 votes.
Prof. Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf was born in 1944 in the Paghman district of Kabul province. Belonging to the Pashtun tribe, he speaks Dari, Arabic, and English fluently. Sayyaf holds a bachelor's degree in Religious Studies from Kabul University, and a master from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.
He is the founder and director of Dawat Private University and is also the head of Dawat Radio and Television. Sayyaf is an influential Islamic scholar and former jihadi commander.
Previously, he was a member of the Afghan-based Ikhwan al-Muslimin, an organisation with links to the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood. He served as a professor at the Sharia Faculty of Kabul University until 1973 before migrating to Pakistan following a failed coup against the regime of that time. Subsequently, he played a key role in the jihad against the Soviets and the civil war in Kabul.
Currently, Sayyaf is the head of Hezb-i-Tanzim Dawat-i-Islami Afghanistan (the Afghanistan Islamic Invitation Party). Sayyaf was elected to parliament in 2005. He is a runner for the 2014 presidential election with Mohammad Ismail Khan, a former jihadi leader his first vice-president and Irfanullah Ifran his second VP.
11- Hidayat Amin Arsala
A son of Abdullah Amin Arsala, he was born in 1941 to an influential Afghan family in Kabul. He received his BA degree in Economics and Political Science from Kabul University. He completed his PhD in Economics from a university in the United States.
He was the first Afghan to join the World Bank (WB) in 1969 and worked there for 18 years. In 1987, he joined the mujahidin in fighting against the Soviet occupation. He served as finance minister in the interim government from 1989- 1992. For a short period in 1993, he served as foreign minister.
After the collapse of the Taliban regime, Arsala was chosen as commerce minister at the Bonn Conference and endorsed by the Emergency Loya Jirga as vice chairman of the interim government.
He also headed the Independent Commission of Administrative Reforms, the National Statistics Commission and the Economic Cooperation Committee, as well as member of the Security Council.
For years, he served as senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai before resigning the job to contest the next presidential elections. He was also a contender in the previous presidential ballot, but had to step down in favour of Karzai.
He has selected General Khudaidad and Safia Siddiqui as his first and second deputies respectively.