Question 1

Naqeebullah, 34, resident of Ghazni, says: “Fighting is there for over three decades. I don’t know when will it come to an end.” How will you help Afghans unite to ensure peace and bring prosperity to their country?

Peace depends on relations between the government and the nation. Peace cannot be achieved unless an effective and fully powerful government is in place. In my view, peace does not mean only security for the government and its organizations, but it means peace for the society and internal and external security of the country. Inside the country, social, political, economic, cultural, rights and lives and property of the people should be ensured. By the same token, the country borders should be kept safe from all kinds of invasions.

Question 2

Muhammad Latif, resident of Nawabad village of Shindand district of Herat province, lost eight family members in foreign forces' bombing. He says: “I was the only family member out of home the night the foreign troops bombed the area. What is your plan to stop such irresponsible air raids and how will you overcome the obstacles of translating your plan into action?”

Unwarranted air strikes are the biggest concern which has bitterly affected a large number of Afghans. Each and every Afghan being killed in air strikes, suicide bombings or other attacks hurt me. The government had failed to put an end to such air strikes in the past seven years. Now, such a government and leader is needed to bring coordination between the Afghan government and the international community. That should be such a process where the lives, honour, culture and property of Afghans should be secured. This cannot be done through requests and wailing. I have shared my concern with members of the international community during my meetings with them from time to time. All of them have assured me and my party that there would be no such bombings in my government.

We have plans that all operations should be carried out in coordination with the Afghan forces and under the supervision of the Afghan government. For this purpose, coordination should be formed in the interior and defence ministries. If someone suffers losses inadvertently, they must be compensated immediately. I shall get surety from the foreigners to ensure this plan. We have discussed the same with the international community and concluded that such bombings must be stopped now.

Question 3

Amanullah Babakarkhel (65), resident of Atash village of Khan Abad district in Kunduz, says: “I wish Afghans, whether in or out of government, to unite and live in peace. What is your plan for bringing armed opponents of the government into the political and national mainstream? Please also explain how you will deal with those accused of war crimes."

National reconciliation is necessary for peace and security. All opponents of the government who want to join the government and can play their role in future of the country must be reconciled. I shall constitute a special office under my supervision for this purpose. Reconciliation should be meaningful instead of hollow slogans like meetings that are held in Saudi Arabia or one place or another. Talks with opponents should not be only slogans or to misguide the international media. Reconciliation should not be a means for money earning. It should not be implemented through such people who are responsible for most of the problems of the countrymen in the past three decades.

War criminals and human rights violators will not have any part in my government. They must be put on trial. Such a government should be formed which should be free of rights violators and war criminals. The ways of the Karzai government should no more be implemented where a court punishes a person and imprisons him - but the president and government officials, for their own interests, release them.

The Guantanamo Bay and Bagram prisoners should be freed. Ill treatment of prisoners at the Pule Charkhi Jail must be stopped. The human rights organizations should be made active and should be given freedom to monitor the works of the government officials.

Question 4

Gul Rahman (39), resident of Chak district of the central Maidan Wardak province, says the quality of education in schools is dismal. “Many Afghans cannot afford to send their children to private schools and universities. If no remedial action is taken, children of the poor will be deprived of their right to education. How can you enhance teachers' educational qualifications and increase the quota for admissions to centres for higher education to ensure equal opportunities for all?”

I have a long-term plan for enhancing skills in education sector. Skills could not be enhanced by arranging seminars and workshops. Work should be done on primary, middle, secondary and university levels to improve the standard of education.

For this purpose, formation of independent educational institutions is necessary alongside the promotion of government organizations. I shall establish at least two international universities along the lines of Howard and Oxford. These universities will have ties with Al-Azhar in Egypt in its Islamic teachings and other international universities in other aspects. We shall take advantage of their experiences and exchange teachers and students.

Alongside Pashto and Persian, English learning should be required in those universities. Some of its teachings should be in English so that the students could have a route into international universities and bring themselves on a par with students of other countries.

A student from a school must reach and learn at a university. The test system should be ended and the universities should provide admissions to students on the basis of their school results. This is injustice that a student works hard all his life but a few minutes' test decides that he cannot take admission in the university.

Question 5

Faiz Muhammad, 48, resident of Kabul, says: “I'm a labourer but don't find job on a regular basis. I have five children. What is the reason of joblessness and what are your plans to provide employment for the people?”

Poverty, hunger and unemployment are the biggest problems in Afghanistan and their eradication needs a long time planning. For this purpose, there must be peace, agriculture should progress, small industries should be promoted, electricity should be produced and the mining reserves of the country should be explored.

My agenda includes jobs for two million people in the coming 10 years. The government and private sector should jointly open a bank to issue small loans to people to promote agriculture and small industries. This bank should issue loans on easy terms. Apart from that, 12 water dams should be constructed which will help irrigate thousands acres of agricultural land.

To end poverty and hunger, I shall start funds of Zakat and Haj. The Zakat fund will collect Zakat from the wealthy people and distribute the same to poor and deserving.

The Haj fund will be a permanent one. People will keep their amounts and deposit money to perform Haj. This fund will collect 15 billion US Dollars from people in 10 years and shall be used for the promotion of agriculture, industries, education and other sectors. As a result, agriculture, industries and other sectors will promote and provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of people.

Question 6

Nazako is a resident of Shiberghan, capital of Jawzjan. Her sister committed self-immolation. She says: “My sister took the extreme step because of the ill-treatment meted out to her by their step brother.” More than 500 such incidents took place in different parts of the country last year. What is your plan to prevent these incidents and alleviate women's plight?

Violation of women's rights is an inhuman act. Some reasons behind violence against women in the past included lawlessness, a corrupt police system, corruption in prosecutor's office and judicial system, un-Islamic customs and lack of awareness about social rights.

To end violence against women, the security situation must be improved so that women may approach the police, prosecutor's office and courts. Corruption should be eliminated from those offices so that people’s confidence could be restored.

Un-Islamic customs should be ended and those promoting it must be punished. The Auqaf Ministry should create awareness among people about women's rights and stop them from promoting un-Islamic rituals.

Illiteracy should be ended so that people come to know about their rights and respect the rights of others. General awareness programmes should be organized in this regard.

Women should be given a vast part in the government instead of appointing a single woman as minister to show the world that the government is paying attention to women's rights.

Question 7

Najeebullah (27), a dweller of Kabul, says: “I’ve a case with an influential man. I was confident of my success. But when the case went to the government, it was decided in favour of my rival – thanks to the bribes and influence he used. What is your plan to eradicate administrative corruption from all departments?”

Administrative corruption is rampant because of the government’s support towards warlords and powerful men. Everywhere, relatives and friends of the president, governor, and district chief are powerful, disregarding merit and respect for the law. The court sends criminals to jail and the president releases them. The prosecuting attorney arrests the accused and presents him in the court, but the judge takes bribes and releases him instead of giving him his punishment.

In my government, the law of the land will be supreme. Brothers and relatives of officials will not be able to sign agreements and get lands. Their relatives and friends will not be able to implement the law. The parliament and judiciary will be independent and the president and his cabinet will respect decisions of parliament. Whenever the court decides, the president will be bound to implement it so that a criminal should be recognized and no one would be able to free him.

Question 8

Habib Gul, resident of Asmar district of Kunar province, says: “We’re deprived of electricity although we’ve ample water in our river flowing into Pakistan. Afghanistan has an estimated 75 billion cubics of water and 80 per cent of it is used by our neighbours. What are your plans for tapping these resources and providing clean drinking water to the people?”

Billions of dollars were spent on the pretext that the government is importing electricity. All this happened because there is no proper government and no transparency. And all this happens at a time when our own water flows into other country. It is shameful that despite having vast water resources, neither can we generate electricity, nor use it for agriculture purposes.

My economic programme includes construction of 12 water dams in the coming five years. This would not only irrigate the agricultural lands, but provide electricity to 70 per cent people in five years and 100 per cent in the coming eight years. Those dams would generate 17,000 megawatts electricity besides providing jobs to 150,000 people in five years and 200,000 people in the next eight years.

Canals would be extended to various areas for irrigation purposes in the coming 10 years which will irrigate hundreds acres of land and pave the way for establishment of new cities, towns and villages.

These 12 dams would also provide clean drinking water to 55 per cent of the people in the first five years and 75 per cent in eight years.

Question 9

Sixty-year-old Muhammad Rahman, a shopkeeper in Khost province, says: “Neighbouring countries have been interfering in internal affairs of Afghanistan for the past 30 years. We are facing problems because of the foreign presence and the neighbours. We are concerned about that. What are your plans to address that concern of the people?”

Interference by the neighbouring countries was not started with the coming of the foreigners in Afghanistan and it is not going to end with the withdrawal of the foreign troops from here. They are interfering for a long time because there has been no peace and unity among Afghans. The international troops had come into Afghanistan with the support of our neighbours for special reasons. Our relations with neighbours and rest of the world should be based on our national interests. If a country respects us and does not interfere in our internal affairs, we shall respect that country. If it is not so, then we shall use all means to defend our people.

Question 10

In your view, what are the top qualities an Afghan president should have? And what qualities do you see in yourself as a candidate for the top slot?

The president must be an educated person with popularity for his loyalty to Islam and the Constitution of Afghanistan. He must have a clear programme and must be a national personality. He must have knowledge of the needs and requirements of the people and knowledge of the culture and society and remain with the people in difficult situations.

KABUL (PAN): Zabihullah Nuristani, who is running as an independent candidate in the August 20 presidential race, attributes insecurity to excessive poverty and economic constrains confronting the nation. "If I win in the elections, I will grant 25 acres of land to each poor family during the first year of my tenure as president in order to dry up the roots of insecurity," Nuristani told Pajhwok Afghan News in an interview. He believed most of the people had taken arms due to economic problems which was the major reason behind the prevailing insecurity in the country.

Subscribe to 2005