KABUL (Pajhwok): A presidential runner says nobody reserves the right to monopolise national issues, accusing President Ashraf Ghani of using the Consultative Peace Jirga as an election campaign tool.
Enayatullah Hafeez, the candidate, was born in the Behsud district of MaidanWardak province in 1978. Hailing from the Hazara community, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a Masters in Business.
He has served as advisor to the Ministry of Transportation for the past few years. Jannat Khan Fahim is his first deputy and Abdul Jameel Sherani his second deputy.
President Ashraf Ghani, CEO Abdullah, Hanif Atmar, Rahmatullah Nabil, Zalmai Rassoul, Noorul Haq Ulumi, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Ahmad Wali Massoud, Faramarz Tamana and Gulbadin Hekmatyar are in the battle for the presidency.
Latif Pedram, Ibrahim Alokozai, Ghulam Farooq Nijrabi, Hakim Torsan, Syed Noorullah Jalili, Mohammad Shahab Hakimi, Noor Rahman Lewal and Enayatullah Hafeez are also in the run for the September 20 ballot.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Hafeez alleged the incumbent government had failed to enforce peace, stability, economic development and national unity. The president had great plans to eradicate poverty, combat narcotics and insecurity and ensure economic prosperity.
However, he said, the sitting president never implemented those schemes. Peace was an issue for all Afghans, he remarked, supporting every step in this direction. He cautioned that no group or individuals had the authority to hold monopoly over the peace process.
Criticism of government
Hafeez said, Ashraf Ghani had unveiled wonderful strategies and plans during his election campaign but failed to implement them due to weak leadership. As a result, the country is yet to be steered out of the woods.
Commenting Ghani’s governance style, he said the president should have 95 percent leadership skills and five percent administrative expertise.
“Unfortunately, Ghani acts contrarily: He has no leadership skills, no trust in his team and interferes in affairs of police chiefs, governors and other officials,” Hafeez charged.
By interfering in the affairs of governors, district chief and police chiefs, the president generated more troubles and reduced the authorities of other institutions, he believed.
Hafeez said the president was reliant on a micro-management system in running the country. This system had created chaos and anarchy for a set-up hemmed in by a whole host of handicaps.
He expressed worries over growing insecurity in the country and said: “When president Ashraf Ghani took over, 75 percent land of Afghanistan under the state control but now 50 percent land is under the government control.”
In addition, he said the president failed to bring security and peace to the country. “Since he took over one day we hear the fall of a district and another day we come to know about the fall of a battalion,” he added.
Corruption within security institutions was the main reason behind insecurity and defeat of the security forces, he believed, saying commanders visited foreign countries for sightseeing after stealing money set aside for the security forces.
Soldiers handed overs their weapons and bullets to the enemy to survive, the presidential wannabe commented, calling the stay of families of 80 percent government officials in foreign countries a huge setback to the economy and security of the country.
If elected, Hafeez would not allow government officials to live abroad. Families of government servants should stay within the country so that they could ensure the security of other people just like do for their family members. He promised resolving the prevailing crisis in consultation with the people.
Foreign policy
Hafeez said Afghanistan’s dependency on foreign products, differences on the Durand Lineand rifts over water distribution were among the major issues which paved the way for interference from Iran and Pakistan in internal matters of Afghanistan.
He termed cordial relations with regional countries and the US vital, saying: “Sometime government officials issue unnecessary statements that damage Afghanistan’s relationship with neighbours and the world at large.
“A friendship with the US is compulsory for us. There is need for a strong relationship with US to the extent that a fear is instilled in neighbouring countries until we have strong security forces.”
Referring to the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), he insisted the US was bound to support Afghanistan until 2024. He called the agreement vital in terms of Afghanistan’s territorial and airspace defence. He called for greater efforts to reinforce these two areas.
“Security officials have so far not gone through the BSA and therefore did not consider it seriously. If I win the election, I will consider it seriously and ensure its implementation,” he said.
CEO & PM slots
Hafiz opposed the chief executive officer (CEO) and prime ministerial slots. “As long as the problems of the ethnicity and monopoly over power are not eliminated, the existence of CEO or change of the presidential system is not in the interest of the public.”
The runner termed the presidential system the best option in the current situation. However, he opposed the decentralisation of power.
In response to the question which system was in the interest of Afghanistan, he said: “Currently, presidential and federal systems are in place in different countries of the world but both have merits and demerits.”
Coalition with other candidates
Hafiz claimed having good relations with every nominee. However, he has not yet decided to enter an alliance with anyone.
Role of foreign countries
He implied the US, which had spent a large amount of money and kept troops in Afghanistan for the past 18 years, might support a specific candidate against its rivals.
In order to strengthen the government, maintain stability and ensure good economy, he promised good ties with foreign countries. He lamented damage to relations with regional states.
“Withdrawal of foreign troops is against the interest of Afghanistan and we need their presence. A pullout of international troops will be unwise,” he said.
Election engineering by Ghani team
As there was no proper electoral system, he explained, members of the poll panels needed support from citizens and institutions concerned, he said in response to question about the ability of election commissions.
“If the election process is supported by the nation, no one will be able to manipulate it. We urge the government leaders to avoid interfering in the election process,” he reasoned.
He urged all presidential hopefuls to work in coordination to ensure transparent and rigging-free elections.
NUG and Karzai govt
The tenure of then president Hamid Karzai began after war and he respected the feelings of all people, the candidate recalled.
He viewed drugs more detrimental to Afghanistan then Taliban and Daesh, blasting the government of Hamid Karzai for being unable to eradicate the scourge.
Criticising the National Unity Government, he said: “Unfortunately, President Ghani could not forge national unity. He could not inaugurate the dam projects initiated by his predecessor.
“Our water flows to other countries against zero concession but the NUG could not do something in this regard, if the water controlled the government would get large amount of money, he remarked.
“If our team succeeds in the election, we will keep control on our water resources. The surplus will flow into neighboring countries in accordance with international law,” the candidate pledged.