Ex-Rival Joins Front-Runner Abdullah


BBC News

11 May 2014


The Afghan presidential election front-runner, Abdullah Abdullah, has won the backing of a key rival, forming the contest’s first major coalition.

Zalmai Rassoul, the successor favoured by outgoing President Hamid Karzai, pledged his support for Mr Abdullah, the top candidate from the first round.

The second and final round, due in mid-June, pits Mr Abdullah against Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank economist.

The vote comes as international forces prepare to leave at the end of 2014.

Millions of Afghans defied Taliban threats to take part in the first round of the election, held on 5 April.

Partial results have shown that none of the eight candidates won the 50% needed to claim outright victory, forcing the two top-ranked contenders, Mr Abdullah and Mr Ghani, into a second round.

Mr Rassoul, a former foreign minister, was no longer in the running for the presidency, having come third in the first round with just over 11% of the vote.

An influential power-broker, he is expected to boost Mr Abdullah’s chances.

The announcement of a final official result from the first round is due on Wednesday. It has been held up by adjudication in fraud claims.


BBC News – Afghan elections: Ex-rival joins front-runner Abdullah


White House for Peaceful Inclusive Vote





The Afghan Express Daily Newspaper

April 01, 2014


WASHINGTON – Days ahead of the presidential elections, the White House on Monday hoped the milestone event would be peaceful and inclusive, and broadly acceptable to the Afghan people. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters a stable and acceptable political transition was critical to sustaining international support for Afghanistan.

“This is an important milestone, and we are watching it very closely,” Carney said, adding the US expected millions of Afghans to go to the polls on Saturday to vote for their next president. These were critical elections and the United States welcomed the democratic process that was underway in Afghanistan, he said, stressing the process was Afghan-owned.

Carney added: “The Afghan security forces are in the lead nationwide. The leaders and staff of the electoral institutions are all Afghan. The campaign period over the past two months was full of open and responsible debate among the candidates, and it will be up to the Afghan people to choose the direction of their country.” (Pajhwok)


Voting-Card Envy



by Rawclyde!


While battling the formidable Taliban

The brave citizens of Pluckame set-up

a voting poll

in a shed owned by one of the elders


Everyone in the village has a voting card

Even Ollie & his midget friends have voting cards

Goats & chickens have voting cards hung around their necks

Only Taliban lurking behind distant trees don’t have them


From very far away the Taliban share a pair of binoculars

They see even a blind goat is going to vote

In the nationwide election for the next president

Everybody is going to make a difference but not the Taliban


Their Al Qaeda leader peers thru the binoculars & grimaces

He says something rude about what he sees

A swift arrow made in the USA cracks thru one of the lens

And sticks out the back of his head


As the Arab falls-over a voting card is suddenly revealed

To his “holy war” buddies

It is nailed on the tree beside which their leader has been sitting

They look around ~ all the trees have voting cards…


(Text Copyright Clyde Collins 2014)


b and w by Chris Shields

The Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II


Trends In Upcoming Afghan Elections


by Abhimanyu Singh & Ashok K. Behuria

IDSA (The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses)

New Delhi, India

March 12, 2014


There have been three major surveys held recently predicting the future leader of Afghanistan, which indicate that the Presidential race is almost certain to enter the second round as none of the candidates may be able to poll more than 50 percent of the votes.

The poll survey was conducted by Glevum Associates, in which 2,148 prospective voters from 34 provinces of the country gave their views on the candidates and overall election scenario in Afghanistan. The trends emerging from the survey are: 90 per cent of the respondents said that they would not vote for a candidate against whom there are allegations of corruption; 61 per cent said they would vote for someone who could open talks with Taliban; 51 per cent supported candidates willing to maintain good relations with Pakistan; and 71 per cent for those who advocated good relations with the USA.

Coming to their view on the candidates, 29 percent supported the candidacy of Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank expert, who is one among the three probable candidates President Karzai is supposed to favour.  Abdullah Abdullah, runner up in a 2009 Presidential poll and former Foreign Minister, came second with 25 percent. The rest of the candidates, including Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayaaf, polled under 10 percent and have little hope of success in the upcoming elections, unless some dramatic event alters the equations drastically.

The two other polls put Ashraf Ghani in second place. The first among them was done by Democracy International, based in the United States. It found in its survey, out of the three planned, in January 2014, that 25 percent of the 2,500 people it surveyed would vote for Ashraf Ghani, while 31 percent of them supported Abdullah’s candidacy. The third poll by Tolo News and ATR Consulting, both based in Kabul, placed the candidates roughly in the same order as Democracy International, with Abdullah leading the race. Though the methodology of this poll is far less exhaustive, the last poll is regarded by observers in Afghanistan as more credible. It is believed that Tolo News has extensive reach in Afghanistan as the most-watched television channel in Afghanistan and thus its pre-poll survey may have more impact on the people than the other two provided above.

In all these opinion surveys, there is a clear preference for two candidates— Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. Among the two, Abdullah, despite his father being a Pashtun, is regarded as Tajik among the people. Claiming to represent the legacy of legendary Tajik leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud, he has Muhammad Khan, a Hizb-i-Islami leader, and well-known Hajara leader, Muhammad Mohaqiq, as his vice presidential nominees. The fact that Massoud’s brother is in the fray as a vice presidential candidate with Zalmai Rassoul may divide Abdullah’s votes among the Tajiks and pose a critical challenge for him in the election. Nevertheless, his continuing efforts to reach out to the people at the grassroots may work in his favour, as massive turnouts in his campaign trail indicate.

Interactions with Afghans suggest that Ghani also runs an equally good chance. He is perceived as a liberal who has introduced a new kind of politics in the war-torn country, where ethnicity-based political system focussing primarily on tribal loyalty has been determining the course of elections for many decades. He favours inclusive politics. Ghani has tried over the years to reach out to all the factions and ethnicities in the country. As per media reports, he is even popular among religious leaders, some of whom are affiliated to Taliban, despite being a liberal.

In his campaigns, he is presenting a very sanguine picture of Afghanistan by assuring people about his intention to include people from all ethnicities in his cabinet, who have the will and potential to steer the country out of its present mess. He has even claimed that if he wins he would knock on the doors of Abdullah a hundred times to include him in his cabinet as foreign minister, a responsibility Abdullah had earlier shouldered quite ably for four years. This is something very new to Afghan politics, where such amity among factions and ethnicities is rarely seen. He has strong vice presential running mates in the Uzbek strongman, Dostam, and the moderate Hazara leader, Sarwar Danish, popular among urban youth. His success in the elections will largely depend on his ability to woo Tajik votes.

Apart from these two, recent political developments have catapulted Zalmai Rassoul, former foreign minister, to the political center-stage as the third most probable candidate. This is so because Karzai’s elder brother, Qayum Karzai, withdrew from the presidential elections barely a month before the polling, despite the fact that a tribal Jirga in Kandahar had voted overwhelmingly in his favour as the preferred candidate between the two, in February. Apparently, it was Karzai who played a major role in dissuading his brother and the Jirga-men, in support of Rassoul’s candidacy. Rassoul is a moderate and has a relatively clean record as a politician. Moreover, the vice presidential nominees in his presidential ticket have cleaner records compared to that of others in the fray. One of them is the only female candidate in the election, while the other is the brother of Ahmad Shah Massoud, who is likely to eat into the Tajik votes creating problems for Abdullah as has been noted above.

Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf is another heavyweight who has a decent chance of turning the tide in his favour as well. As a former mujahideen leader he has his own pockets of support in the tribal hinterland. Moreover, as a proponent of the west-sponsored democratic experiment in Afghanistan, he has managed to appeal to the liberals, who look upon him as an ideal candidate for post-election reconciliation with radical elements, and also as somebody who can provide an ideological alternative to the Taliban. He has Tajik warlord, Ismail Khan, of Herat and conservative Uzbek politician,  Abdul Irfan, from Takhar as his running mates, through whom he may access some minority votes as well.

Others in the fray have less chances of making it to the run off. Important ones among them are Qutubddin Helal, Gul Agha Sherzai, Mohammad Naeem Khan, Abdul Rahim Wardak and Dawood Sultanzoi. Helal has received support from Hezb-i-Islami chief,  Gulbudin Hekmatyar,  which may ensure Pashtun support for him in the eastern pockets of the country. Sherzai, a regional strongman and former governor of Kandahar and Nangarhar, has some following among the Pashtuns and may win the support of another Pashtun candidate, Hedayat Amim Arsala, as media reports suggest. Naeem Khan is the grandson of former King Zahir Shah. Wardak, former defence minister, has some support among the Pashtuns. Sultanzoi, a Pashtun and a pilot by training, had polled well in the last election among Pashtuns in Ghazni. However, none of them has any chance of getting anywhere close to the run off.

As things stand today, none of the candidates is likely to get more than fifty percent of the votes in the election scheduled for April 5, 2014. Afghan analysts also say there might be delays in the run-off, if the election commission is called upon to investigate into allegations of poll irregularities, which may prolong the phase of political uncertainty unnecessarily. Therefore, coalitions are being worked out behind the scene to avoid a run-off. However, given the divisions within each of the ethnic groups in Afghanistan, it is unlikely that any decisive bipolar coalition will emerge before the election to spare the country of yet another round of election.

In all probability, Abdullah runs the best chance of making it to the run off at the moment, followed by Ashraf Ghani, unless of course, Qayum Karzai’s support works magic for Zalmai Rassoul propelling him to the second place. In case of a run off, it is likely that all Pashtun votes may get consolidated against Abdullah, making it difficult for him to win in the end. But a lot will depend on whether the Pashtuns will come out to vote despite the Taliban warnings not to participate in the elections.


Views expressed are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.