By Saifullah Ahmadzai
28 May 2014
As campaign for the runoff election scheduled for June 14 kicked off, some of the failed candidates and their deputies and supporters joined hands with the two leading candidates Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.
On the very first day of the second round of polls campaign, Ahmad Zia Masoud--- the deputy of Zalmai Rasoul in the first round of ballot--- announced to back Ahmadzai.
Other national figures such as former president Hazrat Sibghatullah Mujaddadi, Pir Sahib Ahmad Gilani and former presidential candidate Dawood Sultanzoyi and Abdul Rahim Wardak running mate Sayed Hussain Anwari have already announced their support to Ahmadzai.
In the meantime, some of the former contenders such as Zalmai Rassoul and Gul Agha Sherzai and President Hamid Karzai’s brother Mahmood Karzai announced their support to Abdullah in the runoff vote.
By the end of canvassing, it is expected that many individual and parties would join the two groups and some might withdraw their support as election is drawing closer. Both the contenders have been striving to gain the favour and support of Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, Qutbuddin Hilal and other influential personalities.
However, the people of Afghanistan have many reasons to support Ahmadzai due to the reason that he will ensure durable peace, stability and prosperity of the country.
Many Afghans believe if Abdullah wins as next president then he would be unable to complete his constitutionally mandated tenure because Ahmadzai would forge a strong political opposition to his government. Ahmadzai would criticize constructively his government activities not based on his personal interests but for the betterment of Afghans and he would also provide effective and clear programs which would find a place in people’s mind that would turn public opinion against the government.
There are fears if Abdullah wins he would not be able to provide what he promised to different ethnic groups such as Hizb-e-Islami, Hizb-e-Wahdati Islami led by Muhaqiq, Gul Agha Sherzai, Zalmai Rassoul, Mahmoud Karzai and Amrullah Saleh.
The team of reform and integrity has been created on the basis of dividing resources among its main players. They do not have any other plan for the runoff election except reconsidering the division of resources with the new players of their team.
It is widely reported that Ahmadzai did not accept conditions of Gul Agha Sherzai and Mahmoud Karzai which are obviously accepted by Abdullah. By the time, if he reaches to power corridor then a large amount of foreign aid would be cut off.
Therefore, Afghans now seriously think that how Abdullah will introduce reforms and eliminate corruption from Afghanistan? It is most likely that it would trample merit based appointment and establish a bad culture in Afghan politics and cause internal conflicts within the government.
If Abdullah wins, it will be difficult to reconcile with the Taliban and they might use this opportunity to further strengthen and consolidate their position in south and eastern part of the country. Because of these challenges, his government would not perform well and maintain longer.
In the first round of ballot, votes were divided among different candidates but in runoff polls Pashtun will swing behind Ahmadzai. Even though, Zalmai Rassoul joined hands with Abdullah but there are no guarantee those who voted for Zalmai Rassoul in the first round, would definitely vote for Abdullah in the second round.
It is also believed that in the runoff election, followers of Zalmai Rasoul will cast their votes in favour of Ahmadzai because his votes were from those provinces where Ahmadzai has more popularity. Most of his supporters and campaigners including his deputy announced their support to Ahmadzai.
It merits mention that Abdullah’s team does not represent main ethnic groups. Mahmud Khan cannot represent Pashtun and no Turkmen and Baloch can be seen in his team. Recently, letters and pamphlets were distributed overnight in his native Panjsher province provoking reaction among other ethnic groups. Keeping in mind the distribution of those letters, people assumed that Abdullah only think about one province and his own group but not the entire Afghanistan.
The people of Afghanistan understand that after Amanullah Khan and Daud Khan, they have got other opportunity to elect a talented leader as a president who can pullout Afghanistan of crisis and turmoil and navigate the country on path to bright future by implementing his plans and programs effectively.
Efforts should be made to ensure countrywide participation in the runoff ballot. Out of 12 million voting cards distributed by the Independent Election Commission (IEC), around seven million casts their votes in the first round while five million did not cast their ballot.
People in different regions of the country need to be motivated to participate in the runoff with zeal and enthusiasm. The huge turnout will help bolster the legitimacy of the next government.
Meanwhile, government officials, the IEC and the Independent Electoral Complaint Commission (IECC) should explore all measures to ensure bolstered security and peaceful transfer of power otherwise Afghans will lose their trust on democratic system in Afghanistan.