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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 26, June 19, 2010

Karzai’s Move in Afghan Parliamentary Poll

Sunday 20 June 2010, by Mansoor Ali

From the beginning of this year President Hamid Karzai has been pursuing an active policy of preparing for the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan with the objective of bringing the Pathan majority to power. At the same time the Karzai policy aims at weakening the mujahideen influence in the country. For that purpose he is insisting on the approval of a law wherein the members of the Election Commission come under the control of the President’s office alone. The relevant Bill was introduced in parliament in February 2010 but there was no discussion there (the Constitution allows for it). The whole operation was planned beforehand and the Bill was brought before parliament at a time when the parliamentarians were out for their winter holidays. Thus the representatives of the northern provinces were denied of an opportunity to appeal against the legislation right away. The ulterior motive behind the Bill is crystal-clear before all: if it is approved Karzai, with the unstinted help and backing of members of the Election Commission, can regulate the distribution of votes in favour of his supporters in any constituency across the state.

That Karzai raised the requirements of the candidates contesting the parliamentary poll is a well-known fact. The criteria on this score would be practically impossible to be met by those in northern Afghanistan (who constituted the Northern Alliance). However, the details of the criteria were not divulged. It is now known that for electoral participation a candidate must have a minimum educational requirement of having studied upto Class XII, be able to pay a registration fee of $ 600, furnish the signatures of as many as 1000 supporters backing him or her. It is the educational requirement which will be most difficult to be fulfilled by a majority of the candidates from the northern provinces. The mujahideen unambiguously explain that they couldn’t study as they were busy fighting for Afghanistan’s independence, and most of them could finish barely upto Class IV. Hence this educational criterion would bring down the number of deputies of the Northern Alliance constituting the real Opposition to Hamid Karzai. By such a move the Afghan President has virtually banned the Opposition from taking part in the parliamentary elections. As for his own supporters, he would bank among his backers even those Afghans residing in other countries for they can easily meet the requirements set by himself.

Clearly this is not a level playing field!

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