The New Face of Terror in Afghanistan How so-called Democracy by sfx15166

VIEWS: 230 PAGES: 46

Issue #59     September 2006                                               $8.00

The New Face of Terror in Afghanistan:
 How so-called “Democracy” Empowered our Allies;
 the Fundamentalists, Warlords and Drug Barons

   Abdullah      Ahmadzai       Al-Mas              Arsala   Dostum     Fahim

  Hekmatyar        Khalili                                    Khan     Massoud

   Mohaqiq       Mojaddedi                 Karzai            Muhsini    Qadir

   Qanooni        Rabbani      “Rocketi”            Sayyaf   Sherzai   Shinwari
           Press for                        The New Face of Terror in Afghanistan
Conversion!                                                                                  Background
         Published by the                   The “New” Face of Terror in Afghanistan........................................................................3
Coalition to                                The Warlord Index.................................................................................................................5
                                            Meet our Afghan Allies, the Northern Alliance...............................................................6
Oppose the                                                                      2001: Bonn Agreement
Arms                                        Major Powers Pulled the Strings at Talks in Bonn .........................................................8
                                            Canada: “The House Should be Pleased” / Warlords, not Women Dominate new Regime...9
Trade                                                                     2002: Emergency Loya Jirga
                                            Top Warlords Controlled the Emergency Loya Jirga.....................................................10
  cknowledgement                            Fundamentalists Emerge More Powerful than Ever...........................................................11
                                            The Loya Jirga was a Joke..................................................................................................12
Research, Editing, Design, Layout:
Richard Sanders                             Stifled in the Loya Jirga ......................................................................................................14
                                            Under the Shadow of Guns................................................................................................15
Mailing issue #58: Nick Aplin,
                                            The Warlords Win!............................................................................................................16
Hanna Clemann, Susan Fisher, June
& Johnny Johnson, Peter Mix, Ros-           Canada: “Strong Support” and “Congratulations” / HRW Statement......................17
alie Reynolds, Arthur & Richard San-                                   2003: Constitutional Loya Jirga
ders, Peggy Tyson & Drina Wethey.           Rubber-Stamping an Anti-Democratic Constitution.......................................................18
Computer support: Paul Gross                Canada: Canadians Central to the Process............................................................19
Proofreading: Jennifer Tsun                 Malalai Joya, Afghanistan’s Youngest Revolutionary...................................................20
                                            Hat Trick: Selling “Brand Karzai”......................................................................................21
Website: Richard Sanders
Union Liaison: Len Bush, NUPGE                                             2004 - Presidential Election
                                            Structural Problems with the Election..............................................................................22
                                            The Great Gamble.................................................................................................................23
    Extra Special thanks                    Recipe for Electoral Fraud..................................................................................................24
               to the                       The Motions of Democracy ..............................................................................................25
      N ational                             Postcard From Kabul..........................................................................................................26
                                            Canada: We Ensured that the Election met International Standards...............................27
      Union of                              Vote Rigging and Fraud Ensured Karzai’s Victory..........................................................27
                                            Ballots in Battlefields..........................................................................................................28

      P ublic and                           Afghan Elections: U.S. Solution to a U.S. Problem........................................................30
                                            Government Riddled with Drug Ties................................................................................31
      G eneral                                                          2005 - Parliamentary Elections
                                            U.S. Exporting Fake Democracy – By Force..................................................................32
      Employees                             Serious Flaws Marred the Wolesi Jirga Elections...........................................................34
                                            A List of Voting Problems...................................................................................................35
    for donating paper                      Not All MPs are “Warlords, Drug Lords & Smugglers”................................................36
    and photocopying!!                      Canada: Martin Applauded “Successful Elections / Warlords take Elections...............37
                                                                      2005-2006 - Life in Parliament
       Canada Post 40008371
                                            Joya Causes Uproar on the First Day of Parliament.......................................................38
                                            Joya’s Goal as MP is to Expose the Sham Parliament....................................................39
    Power Politics                          MP Attacked in Parliament for Denouncing Warlords!.................................................40

         he December-2001, Press for        Drug Trade Reaches right up into Afghan Cabinet........................................................41
        Conversion! (subtitled, “Oil,       Major Bloc in Parliament Controlled by Hekmatyar?.....................................................42
        Terror and the War Against Af-      Canada: The Fundamentalist Nonsense of “Canadian Values”..................................43
ghanistan”) examined some of the real       Canada: Killing “Detestable Murderers and Scumbags,” the Canadian Way................44
economic and geopolitical reasons for                                                               O
the Afghan war. One reason this war was                                                                    Much has happened since issue #46 was pub-
fought–and why it was necessary to estab-                                                           D      lished. A phoney democracy–dominated by
lish a “stable,” internationally-palatable gov-                                                     E      warlords and drug barons–has now been im-
                                                                                                    R      posed upon Afghanistan by the major west-
ernment in Afghanistan–was to secure a
much-coveted, pipeline route. The transAf-                                                          B      ern powers, including Canada. The current
                                                                                                    A      issue of Press for Conversion! (#59) outlines
ghan pipeline will transport the multibillion                                                       C
dollar, oil/gas resources from the Caspian Sea                                                      K      the key steps in that supposedly “democratic”
to the Persian Gulf for shipment to Asian mar-                                                             process. Thanks to our military, financial and
                                                                                                    I      diplomatic efforts Afghanistan’s most violent
kets. Afghanistan will also serve as a stag-                                                        S
ing ground for future wars to be fought to                                                          S      and dreaded terrorists are now in power.
                                                                                             See the back-cover coupon for
control the region’s strategic resources, and                                                       E
to counter nations that rival U.S. interests.                                                bulk prices and other details.
2                                                                         Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006

            The “New” Face of Terror in Afghanistan
By Richard Sanders, coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the         tion” was to drag Afghanistan out of its feudal existence.
Arms Trade, and editor of Press for Conversion!                           In his classic book on CIA wars, Killing Hope (2001),
                                                                 former U.S. State Department official, William Blum, outlined

          fghanistan is once again being ruled by a govern-      some of the actions of this fledgling, socialist government:
          ment dominated by warlords and drug barons. In            “[It] declared a commitment to Islam within a secular state,
          fact, many of the most powerful religious funda-          and to non-alignment in foreign affairs.... They pushed
mentalists in the current regime are the self-same warlords         radical reforms, they talked about class struggle, they used
who stalked Afghanistan’s halls of power during the horren-         anti-imperialist rhetoric, they supported Cuba, they signed
dous reign of terror that devastated the country between            a friendship treaty and other cooperative agreements with
1992 and 1996. These warlords have been returned to power           the Soviets and they increased the number of Soviet civil-
thanks in very large part to financial, logistical, diplomatic      ian and military advisers in Afghanistan.... In May 1979,
and “moral support” provided by the governments of West-            British political scientist Fred Halliday said ‘probably more
ern Europe and North America.                                       has changed in the countryside over the last year than in
        Military backing from NATO and individual warfight-         the two centuries since the state was established.’”
ing nations, including–most significantly–the U.S., Canada                Some of their more significant initiatives were to:
and Britain, has been essential in securing this regime change   ü cancel the debts of peasants to their landlords,
and in helping to ensure that the new government can retain      ü build hundreds of schools and medical clinics,
and increase its control over the entire country.                ü outlaw child marriage,
        Perhaps the biggest difference between this current      ü outlaw the exchange of women for money/commodities,
collection of ruling warlords and previous ones, is the pho-     ü legalize the formation and work of trade unions, and
ney aura of respectibility given to them by western govern-      ü promote women’s literacy and education.
ments and the corpo-
rate media. The trap-                                                                                The CIA’s Biggest
pings of western-style                                                                               Covert War Ever
democracy are now be-                                                                               The U.S. was determined to
ing used to cloak Af-                                                                               crush this socialist experi-
ghanistan’s most ne-                                                                                ment, and allied itself with
farious warlords.                                                                                   large landowners, tribal
        The goal of this                                                                            chiefs, businessmen and
Press for Conversion!                                                                               royalty. Within two
is to expose the Big Lie                                                                            months, the new govern-
about Afghan “democ-                                                            Zbigniew            ment was under violent at-
racy” spouted by our By early 1979, the U.S. was aiding
governments and re- various bands of fundamentalist,
                                                                               Brzezinski tack by various ultracon-
                                                                                                    servative groups of Islam-
peated ad nauseum un- Afghan terrorists in a deliberate effort to draw ist guerillas, called the
der the slick guise of the Soviets into the war to help their besieged allies. mujahideen.
objective news.                                                                                          William Blum cites a
        Before providing details about how real progressive classified, U.S. State Department report (August 1979) which
change has been thwarted at every stage of the supposed said that America’s
“democratic process” that has been imposed on Afghani-             “larger interests would be served by the demise of the
stan since the U.S. began bombing the country five years           regime, despite whatever setbacks this might mean for
ago, it would be useful to present some historical background.     future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.”
                                                                        In 1998, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor,
            A Fledgling Socialist Regime                        Zbigniew Brzezinski, revealed in a Le Nouvel Observatour
In 1973, Afghan’s monarch–King Zahir Shah, who had ruled interview (Jan. 15) that the president had signed an agree-
the country for forty years–was finally overthrown. The new ment to arm the mujahideen at least six months before the
government, led by Mohammad Daoud–one of the king’s Soviet invasion in late 1979. In fact, since at least early 1979,
cousins–was supported by leftist organizations and politi- the U.S. had been meeting with mujahideen warlords, assist-
cal parties, such as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).       ing their terrorist efforts and using them as cold-war pawns.
        The U.S. government quickly pressured Daoud to                  According to Brzezinski, the purpose of covertly aid-
sever all ties with the Soviet Union, offered $2 billion in aid ing these contras (as their drug-smuggling, counter-revolu-
and urged Afghanistan to become an American client state, tionary equivalents in Nicaragua were called) was to pro-
like Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. The Daoud regime began mov- voke the Soviets into sending troops to support their
ing into the U.S. orbit by killing a PDP leader, arresting many beseiged, Afghan-government allies. Brzezinski proudly de-
others and purging hundreds of PDP sympathizers from gov- fended this strategy saying:
ernment positions. In April 1978, the PDP, with military sup-      “What is most important to the history of the world? The
port, deposed Daoud. The stated goal of this “April revolu-        Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                              3
       “From 1992 to 1996, the Northern Al-
         liance was a symbol of massacre, sys-

                                                                                                                                      Kabul photo: Didier Lefevre, Panos Pictures
           tematic rape and pillage. Which is
               why...the U.S. State Department
               welcomed the Taliban when they
               arrived in Kabul. The Northern
               Alliance left the city in 1996
              with 50,000 dead behind it. Now
              its members are our foot sol-
               diers. What–in God’s name–are
               they going to do in our name?”
                Robert Fisk,
               The Independent, Nov. 14, 2001.
   up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the           ting in the Afghan parliament, and holding top cabinet posts,
   end of the cold war?”                                            are battle-hardened mujahideen fighters once tied to the ISA.
        Supplying these “stirred up Moslems” became the                      It was during this horrendous, four-year reign of ter-
largest CIA covert war in history. The U.S. spent untold            ror, that the ISA’s president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, welcomed
billions arming, training and supplying various ethnically-         Osama bin Laden and his network of jihadists into Afghani-
diverse bands of fundamentalist fighters who hated each             stan. They were given safe refuge for their military/terrorist
other almost as much as they hated the schools, health clin-        training camps, which had begun under U.S. tutelage.
ics, co-ops and other government facilities that they attacked.
        Just as the CIA, during its covert operations in south-
                                                                                     Taliban envoy in
east Asia and Latin America, had helped fund their dirty                              Pakistan, Mulla
wars with hidden profits from the multibillion-dollar drug                             Abdul Salam
trade, America’s mujahideen footsoldiers were on the                                   Zaeef, in his
frontline of opium production for export. Opium poppies pro-                          second, known
vide the raw material for the manufacture of heroin, of which                          meeting with
90% of the world’s supply now comes from the Afghanistan.                             William Milam,
                                                                                     U.S. Ambassador
    Soviet Occupation and Mujahideen War                                                to Pakistan.
Carter’s administration was finally successful in drawing
Soviet troops into the Afghan theatre. They entered the fray
in late-December 1979, and a Vietnam-like quagmire ensued.
A U.S.-led media campaign quickly turned world opinion
against this Soviet intervention. But, in a typical example of
double standards, the U.S. escaped criticism for its role in
                                                                      November 2, 2000.
building up the other side in that war; the various factions of          Taliban, the Ultra-Fundamentalists
right-wing, mujahideen terrorists, like Osama bin Laden.            In response to the ISA’s much-despised, warlord-based re-
        The war was also successful, from the U.S. stand-           gime, the Taliban movement spread like wildfire across Af-
point, in depleting Soviet finances (bled almost dry by the         ghanistan. To dfefend themselves from the Taliban, the be-
decades-long U.S. arms race and, before that, by their costly       sieged ISA government relied on a network of militias called
war against fascism). The Soviet’s Afghan war also created          the National Islamic United Front for the Salvation of Af-
strong internal dissent, thus further aiding America’s goal.        ghanistan, now simply called the Northern Alliance. Based
        After Soviet forces withdrew in 1989, the Afghan re-        largely in Afghanistan’s north, these warring fundamental-
gime of President Mohammad Najibullah held on for three more        ist groups were unsuccessful in protecting Rabanni’s ISA.
years, fighting the foreign-backed, terrorists on their own.                In 1996, when the Taliban seized control, many–in-
                                                                    cluding the U.S. government–welcomed their victory. One
    Fundamentalist Infighting and the ISA                           of their first acts was to overrun the UN compound and
After the fall of Najibullah’s government, the various funda-       hang former-president Najibullah, who had taken refuge there.
mentalist militias and their leaders, or warlords, became locked            The Taliban were then quick to establish a strong,
in a brutal war against each other. As they vied to see who         central government and military, to rule the country under
would control Afghanistan, its people and resources, much           their own strict, Islamist interpretation of sharia law. Being
of Kabul was reduced to rubble and some 50,000 innocent             open to U.S. business, they made a much-coveted deal with
civilians were massacred in the indiscriminate crossfire.           America’s Unocal to build a trans-Afghan oil/gas pipeline,
        The fundamentalist regime that these mujahideen             to help connect Caspian Sea reserves to the Arabian Gulf.
fighters finally established in 1992, was called the Islamic                America’s top man in Afghanistan, president Hamid
State of Afghanistan (ISA). Many of the warlords now sit-
4                                                                  Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
 Karzai, is a former, oil-industry consultant and was the
 Taliban’s foreign minister in 1996. And, a Unocal consultant,
 Zalmay Khalilzad, who was America’s ambassador to Af-
                                                                                  Name Index
                                                                     Abdullah 1,9,13,16,19,37            1,7,9,13,16,29
 ghanistan (2003-2005), is now the U.S. ambassador in Iraq.          Afghan National Liberation         Khalilzad, Zalmay
 He was an unabashed apologist for the Taliban until the U.S.          Front 18,28                       5,10,12,13,15,18,21,25,27,
 tide finally turned against them after September 11, 2001.          Ahmad, Qazi Nazir 40                28,32,33
          However, despite their closeness to U.S. power bro-        Ahmadi, Shukria Paikin 40          Khan, Ismail
 kers, the Taliban soon became a liability to American inter-        Ahmadzai, Ahmad Shah 1,26           1,10,13,15,29,32,42
 ests. In the eyes of global public opinion, the Taliban were        Al-Mas, Haji 1,33,36               Massoud, Ahmad Shah
                                                                     Arsala, Hedayat 1,2,9               6,7,9,16,17,29
 pariahs. Their misogynist treatment of women was espe-
                                                                     Barakzai, Shukria 36, 40           Massoud, Ahmad Zia 1,29
 cially offensive and was the target of many international           Brahimi, Lakhdar 8,10,12,18        Mohaqiq, Haji Muhammad
 campaigns. In what was perhaps a futile effort to clean up          Dostum, Abdul Rahim                 1,7,9,28,32,34
 their image, the U.S. funded a Taliban effort in 2000 which           1,7,9,10,11,24,28,31,32,42       Mojaddedi, Segbatullah 1,18,20
 virtually erradicated the country’s opium crop. But it was          Durranai, Parwin 40                Muhsini, Muhammad Asif 1,7
 too little, too late. With the so many people around the world      Fahim, Mohammad Qasim              Najibullah, Mohammad 4,6,7
 rejecting the Taliban, and with the international PR onslaught        1,9,12,13,14,16,36               Niazai, Saifoor 40
 against them gaining momentum, the U.S. turned course in            Hekmatyar, Gulbaddin               Pedram, Abdul Latif 25,30
 midstream and rejected their new allies in Afghanistan. A             1,12,13,15,42                    Qadir, Haji Abdul 1,9,10,13,16
                                                                     Hizb-i Wahdat-i Islami-yi Af-      Qanooni, Younis
 newly minted batch of Afghan warlords was then needed,
                                                                     ghanistan 6,7,9,11                  1,9,12,13,15,16,28,29,32,
 and they needed international “legitimacy.”                         Ishaqzai, Malali 40                 33,34,40
          The 9/11 attacks of 2001, conveniently supplied the        Ittihad-i Islami Bara-yi Azadi     Rabbani, Burhanuddin
 U.S. administration with a pretext to falsely justify their inva-   Afghanistani 6,7                    1,4,6,7,8,9,12,14,15,17,18,
 sion of Afghanistan. Catching bin Laden, stopping the               Jalal, Masooda 25                   19,25,27,33,34,39,40
 Taliban’s flagrant violations of human rights (especially their     Jamiat-i Islami-yi Afghanistan     Rocketi, Mullah Abdul Salam
 abuse of women) and building democracy in Afghanistan,                6,7,11,15,27,40                   1,33,36
 never were–and still aren’t–the real reasons for this war.          Joya, Malalai 20,21,38,39,40       Samar, Sima 13
          U.S. warplanes started bombing Afghanistan on Oc-          Junbish-i Milli-yi Islami-yi Af-   Sayyaf, Abdul Rasul
                                                                       ghanistan 6,7,11                  1,6,7,13,27,32,33,34,36,40
 tober 6, 2001, and by March 2002, their relentless attacks
                                                                     Karzai, Hamid                      Shah, King Zahir
 had killed 3,000-3,400 innocent civilians. By mid-November            1,5,8,9,11,12,13,14,16,18,        8,9,10,11,12,14,15,17,25,33
 2001, America’s proxy warriors–the terrorist Northern Alli-           19,21,22,25,26,27,28,29,         Sherzai, Gul Agha 1,10
 ance–with much support from the U.S. military had taken               30,31,32,36,39,41,42,43,45       Shinwari, Mulavi Fazal Hadi
 Kabul and were the defacto rulers of Afghanistan, again.            Khaksar, Mohammed 32                1,9,11,13,15
          All that remained was to make their reign seem demo-       Khalili, Abdul Karim               Sirat, Abdul Satar 25
 cratic. That was done over the next five years, in a multi-
                                                                               Note: Page numbers in bold indicate photos.
 stage process outlined in this Press for Conversion!

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 September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                    5
      Meet our Afghan Allies, the Northern Alliance

    n 1996, when the Taliban captured         Taliban. Children, including those un-      March 1995: Commander Massoud’s
    Kabul, groups opposed to the              der the age of fifteen, were recruited as   forces, the Jamiat-i Islami, captured
    Taliban formed an alliance called the     soldiers to fight against Taliban forces.   Kabul’s Karte Seh neighborhood and
National Islamic United Front for the         The Northern Alliance amassed a de-         according to the U.S. State Depart-
Salvation of Afghanistan. It was then         plorable record of attacks on civilians     ment’s human rights report, “went on a
commonly known as the United Front            between the fall of the Najibullah re-      rampage, systematically looting whole
[Editor’s note: It is now usually refered     gime in 1992 and the Taliban’s capture      streets and raping women.”?
to as the Northern Alliance].                 of Kabul in 1996.                           February 11, 1993: Forces of Jamiat-i
        The Northern Alliance sup-                                                        Islami and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf ’s
ported the government that was ousted                                                     Ittihad-i Islami, raided west Kabul, kill-
by the Taliban, the Islamic State of Af-                                                  ing ethnic Hazara civilians and commit-
ghanistan (ISA). The ISA’s president,                                                     ting widespread rape. Estimates of
Burhanuddin Rabbani, remains the titu-                                                    those killed range from 70 to 100+.
lar head of the Northern Alliance. His                                                            Northern Alliance factions com-
headquarters was established in the                                                       mitted other serious human rights vio-
northern town of Faizabad. The real                                                       lations. In 1994 alone, an estimated
power was, until his assassination on                                                     25,000 were killed in Kabul, most of
September 9, 2001, the Northern                                                           them civilians killed in rocket and artil-
Alliance’s military leader, Ahmad Shah                                                    lery attacks. One-third of the city was
Massoud, the ISA’s Minister of De-                                                        reduced to rubble, and much of the rest
fense.                                                                                    was seriously damaged.
                                                                                                  There was virtually no rule of
     Human Rights Record                                                                  law in Northern Alliance-controlled ar-
Throughout the civil war in Afghani-                                                      eas. In Kabul, Jamiat-i Islami, Ittihad
stan, the major factions on all sides re-                                                 and Hizb-i Wahdat forces engaged in
peatedly committed serious human                                                          rape, summary executions, arbitrary ar-
rights abuses and violations of inter-                                                    rest, torture and “disappearances.”
national humanitarian law, including                                                              In Bamiyan, Hizb-i Wahdat com-
killings, indiscriminate aerial bombard-       Burhanuddin Rabbani                        manders routinely tortured detainees
ment and shelling, direct attacks on ci-                                                  for extortion purposes.
vilians, summary executions, rape, per-
                                              Violations of International
secution on the basis of religion or          Humanitarian Law include:                        Accountability and
ethnicity, the recruitment and use of chil-   Late 1999 - early 2000: Internally dis-         the Cycle of Impunity
dren as soldiers, and the use of anti-        placed persons fleeing villages in and      Not a single Afghan commander has
personnel landmines. Many of these            around Sangcharak district recounted        been held accountable for violations of
violations were “widespread or system-        summary executions, burning of houses       international humanitarian law. Nor has
atic,” a criterion of crimes against hu-      and widespread looting. Several execu-      the Northern Alliance indicated any
manity. Violations involving indiscrimi-      tions were reportedly carried out in        willingness to bring to justice any of
nate attacks, or direct attacks on civil-     front of victims’ family members.           its commanders. To the contrary, the
ians, are increasingly recognized inter-      September 20-21, 1998: Several vol-         representative of the ISA (and the
nationally as war crimes.                     leys of rockets fired at northern Kabul.    Northern Alliance) in the U.S., Moham-
         Abuses committed by factions         One hit a crowded market. Estimates of      mad Eshaq, remarked in Washington,
of the Northern Alliance are well docu-       people killed range from 76 to 180. The     D.C., on October 2, 2001, that Northern
mented. Many violations of interna-           attacks were generally believed to be       Alliance atrocities have been “exagger-
tional humanitarian law committed by          carried out by Massoud’s forces. The        ated,” and while
their forces date to 1996-1998 when they      Red Cross (September 23, 1998) de-             “criminals should answer to a
controlled most of the north and were         scribed the attacks as indiscriminate          court…it should not be a demand
within artillery range of Kabul.              and the deadliest in three years.              that all the heads of the United Front
         The Northern Alliance was then       Late May 1997: Some 3,000 captured             [i.e., Northern Alliance] should be
pushed back into defensive positions          Taliban soldiers were executed in and          taken to court.”
in northeastern and central Afghani-          around Mazar-i Sharif by Junbish forces     This, he said, would not be “practical.”
stan. There were reports of abuses in         under Gen. Abdul Malik Pahlawan.                     This failure to hold its command-
areas held by Northern Alliance fac-          January 5, 1997: Junbish planes             ers to account for past atrocities raises
tions, including summary executions,          dropped cluster munitions and other         the prospect that if its political fortunes
burning of houses and looting, princi-        bombs on residential areas of Kabul.        turn, with U.S. or other external sup-
pally targeting ethnic Pashtuns and           Several civilians were killed and others    port, their past record of abuse and im-
others suspected of supporting the            wounded in this indiscriminate air raid.?   punity gives no reason to believe that
6                                                                Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
abusive commanders will feel discour-      not condoned, would embolden these          states assisting the Afghan opposi-
aged from committing further abuses.       very same commanders. Such support          tion–must take responsibility for how
        The provision of unqualified       may feed rather than break the lethal       this assistance is used. Failure to do so
material and political assistance under    cycle of impunity that has brought so       would entail complicity in abuses com-
such circumstances, rather than send-      much suffering to Afghanistan.              mitted, and they should be held ac-
ing a signal that human rights abuse is           The U.S, Russia, Iran–and other      countable for these abuses.

                            The Northern Alliance includes:
                                    Islamic Party of
                               The Jamiat-i Islami-yi Af-
                               ghanistan was established
                               in the 1970s by Kabul Uni-
                               versity students whose
                               leader,        Burhanuddin
                               Rabbani, was a lecturer in the
                               Islamic Law Faculty. Al-
                               though Rabbani remains of-
                               ficial head of Jamiat-i Islami,
                               the party’s most powerful
                               figure was Ahmad Shah                          Abdul Rashid Dostum
                               Massoud. [He was assassi-
                                                                   National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan
A h m ad S. M a s s o u d      nated on Sept. 9, 2001.]
                                                                 Junbish-i Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan brought together
                                                                 northern, mostly ethnic Uzbek, former militias of the commu-
                                                                 nist regime who mutinied against President Najibullah in early
                                                                 1992. It also included mainly Persian-speaking former lead-
                                                                 ers and administrators of the old regime from various other
                                                                 ethnic groups, and some ethnic Uzbek guerrilla command-
                                                                 ers. In 1998, it lost the territory under its control and many of
                                                                 its commanders defected to the Taliban.
                                                                          Its founder and principal leader was Abdul Rashid
                                                                 Dostum, who rose from security guard to leader of
                                                                 Najibullah’s most powerful militia.
                                                                          This group took control of the important northern
                                                                 city of Mazar-i Sharif in early 1992. A coalition of militias, the
                                                                 Junbish was the strongest force in the north from 1992 to
H a j i M . M o h a qi q       M. Karim Khalili                  1997, but was riven by internal disputes.
       Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s principal Shi’a party, Hizb-i Wahdat-i Islami-
yi Afghanistan, supported mainly by the Hazara ethnic com-
munity, was formed to unite eight Shi’a parties before the                                                          of
collapse of the communist government. Its current leader is                                                    Afghanistan
Muhammad Karim Khalili. The leader of its Executive Council                                                  This Shi’a party, the
of the North, Haji Muhammad Mohaqiq, commanded the                                                           Harakat-i Islami-
party’s forces in Mazar-i Sharif in 1997.                                                                    yi Afghanistan,
                                                                                                             which never joined
                           Islamic Union for the                                                             Hizb-i Wahdat, is
                         Liberation of Afghanistan                                                           led by Ayatollah
                         This party, the Ittihad-i Islami                                                    Muhammad Asif
                         Bara-yi Azadi Afghanistan, is                                                       Muhsini. It was al-
                         headed by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.                                                       lied with Jamiat-i
                         During the war against the Soviet                                                   Islami in 1993-1995.
                         occupation, Sayyaf obtained con-                                                    Its leadership is
                         siderable assistance from Saudi                                                     mostly non-Hazara
                         Arabia. Arab volunteers sup-             Muhammad Asif Muhsini                      Shi’a.
                         ported by Saudi entrepreneurs           Source: Human Rights Watch , October 5, 2001.
Abdul Sayyaf             fought with Sayyaf’s forces.  
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                               7
2001 - Bonn Agreement
    Major Powers Pulled the Strings at Talks in Bonn

 The Bonn conference was not meant to meet the democratic aspirations of Afghanis but
   to satisfy the requirements of major powers, above all the U.S. The whole affair
   was reminiscent of the gatherings of political stooges staged from time to time by
  European powers in the 19th century to give their colonial rule an air of legitimacy.
By Peter Symonds                           U.S. war in Afghanistan, is in the stron-       influence in Afghanistan. Islamabad
                                           gest position. Following the Taliban’s          has been desperate to prevent the NA,

         he UN-sponsored talks on the      collapse, NA troops seized large                backed by its arch-rival India, from gain-
         political future of Afghanistan   swathes of territory in the north and           ing a dominant position. It has there-
         opened on November 27, 2001,      west, including Kabul. Headed by Bur-           fore backed U.S. moves for a “broad-
in the Petersberg Castle, a luxury hotel   hanuddin Rabbani, the NA consolidated           based” administration and an interna-
just outside Bonn, Germany.                its grip on power, set up a Kabul police        tional “peacekeeping” force in Kabul.
         The gathering was billed as an    force, took over ministries and doled                   The CIA has been actively at-
opportunity for Afghanis to decide their   out official positions.                         tempting to recruit allies among the
own fate. UN officials have repeatedly              The delegations present in-            Pashtuns. In the midst of the opening
stressed that a solution would not be      clude the so-called Rome Group–rep-             sessions of the Bonn conference, the
imposed on Afghanistan from outside.       resenting the 87-year-old former king,          organisers broadcast a live call via sat-
         The whole affair is reminiscent   Zahir Shah, exiled in Italy since 1973.         ellite phone from Hamid Karzai who
of the gatherings of political stooges              There are two other much               declared that the conference was “the
staged from time to time by European       smaller delegations: the Pakistani-             path to salvation.” Karzai was unable
powers in the 19th century to give their   backed Peshawar group and the Cyprus            to attend because he was collaborat-
colonial rule an air of legitimacy. The    group, reportedly supported by Iran.            ing with the U.S. military and CIA in
Bonn conference is not to meet the         The Peshawar group was formed only              orchestrating the fall of Kandahar, the
democratic aspirations of Afghanis but     a month earlier at a Pakistani meeting          Taliban’s last remaining stronghold.
to satisfy the requirements of major       of about 700 Pashtuns–mullahs, former                   Afghanistan’s political future
powers, above all the U.S.. Who could      Mujahideen fighters and tribal leaders.         has already been mapped out by the
attend, the size and composition of the    Pompously titled “a Conference for              UN Security Council and UN envoy
delegations, the agenda, timing and        Peace and National Unity,” it was nomi-         Brahimi. An interim administration will
even location were all dictated by Wash-   nally convened by Pir Sayed Ahmed               be established. It will, over the next six
ington and its allies.                     Gailani, a religious and tribal leader, busi-   months, convene a hand-picked assem-
         None of the four Afghani fac-     nessman and supporter of the king, who          bly (loya jirga) of several hundred to
tions taking part have any popular man-    like Rabbani and others was armed and           choose a quasi-legislative body of
date. They are loose alliances of tribal   funded by the CIA in the 1980s to fight         about 120 to 150. It will establish an-
leaders, militia commanders, warlords      the Soviet-backed regime. The meeting           other interim regime and draw up a con-
and exiles, who are based on ethnic and    was so obviously staged by the pow-             stitution for elections–possibly in two
religious loyalties and completely reli-   erful Pakistani military intelligence           years time.
ant on foreign backers. The real deci-     agency, that the king declined to send                  All that is left for the Bonn meet-
sions have been taken already in the       any representative lest he be tarred            ing is to rubber-stamp the process and
flurry of preconference diplomatic ac-     with the same brush.                            haggle over who will fill the positions.
tivity, or will be made by “foreign ob-             Having been instrumental in cre-       They have three to five days to decide
servers” watching over their proxies.      ating and backing the Taliban since its         Afghanistan’s political fate and to form
         The Northern Alliance (NA),       formation in 1994, Pakistan now finds           an interim administration. It is hardly
which provided the foot soldiers for the   itself without any substantial means of         enough time in any vaguely democratic
8                                                               Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                                         Bonn Agreement - 2001
body to decide on the agenda and to                                  ‘The House Should be Pleased’
begin to discuss the complex issues of
a country ravaged by more than two                            “The agreement
decades of war. But it should be long                         very important.... It opens the way for a
enough for the major powers to bully                          transition to a new government that is
their Afghani surrogates into agreeing                        representative in nature. It includes
to the plan’s outlines.
                                                              women, which is one of the issues that
        The main sticking point re-
ported so far is NA opposition to hav-                        members of the House [of Commons] have
ing a so-called international peacekeep-                      been raising with concern.... This is one of
ing force in Afghanistan. Clearly, the                        the first items of good news in that poor
NA would prefer to maintain a position       country in a long time and the House should be pleased.”
where its militia are the only sizeably-
                                             John Manley, Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy PM
armed force within the country.
        The NA is under considerable         Source: Hansard, Canada’s House of Commons, December 10, 2001.
pressure to fall in line. The U.S. and its
allies have warned that US$6-$10 bil-        Warlords, not Women, Dominate New Regime
lion in reconstruction aid is contingent
on agreement to the UN plan.                 By Richard Sanders, COAT coordina-           and held top posts in King Zahir Shah’s
        If economic blackmail is not         tor, and editor of Press for Conversion!     government in exile. (Arsala can be seen

enough, then other methods will be                 lthough, Afghan representatives,       in the Bonn photo opposite: fourth from
used. A Washington Post editorial re-              handpicked by Western powers           the left, in the back row.)
cently spelt out a blunt warning:            for the Bonn meeting, included almost        Mohammad Qasim Fahim: This senior
   “The prospect of international recon-     no women (see photo opposite), John          military commander of the Northern Al-
   struction aid can be used as lever-       Manley and the Canadian government           liance, continued to command his own
   age; so can eventual Western and          proudly vested great import in the Bonn      personal militia until late 2003. In 2004,
   UN recognition for an Afghan gov-         Accord’s stipulation that women be in-       Fahim was elevated to Marshal, for life,
   ernment, which is something the           cluded in Afghanistan’s transitional         the highest rank in the Afghan military.
   Taliban never achieved.”                  government. Who were they kidding?           In 2006, Karzai brought him back into
        The Post went on to insist, how-             The men who crafted this agree-      government as an advisor.
ever, that the NA had to:                    ment did indeed stipulate that women         Abdul Karim Khalili: As a warlord in
   “accept the political primacy of the      be included in the interim authority, two    the military party, Hizb-e-Wahdat Islami
   southern Pashtuns, while retaining        to be exact. And that is exactly what        Afghanistan, Khalili commanded a mi-
   a significant role in the national gov-   Karzai–their man in Kabul–delivered.         litia estimated at between 15,000 to
   ernment... It’s worth giving our Af-      His administration of 30 ministers, in-      30,000 war-hardened fighters. He was
   ghan allies that chance to be reason-     cluded Suhaila Seddiqi (Public Health)       the Economic Minister (1993-1995) dur-
   able. Yet...if reason fails, stronger     and Sima Samar (Women’s Affairs).            ing Burhanuddin Rabbani’s repressive,
   steps should not be ruled out.”                   Samar was charged with blas-         fundamentalist regime.
        It does not take much imagina-       phemy by Supreme Court Chief Justice,        Security Advisor
tion to work out what “stronger steps”       Fazul Hadi Shinwari for saying she           Younis Qanooni: This warlord joined
the paper is referring to. The ruthless-     didn’t believe in Islam’s sharia law. The    the mujahideen in 1979 and was a close
ness with which the Bush administra-         Afghan penalty for this can be death.        advisor to Ahmad Massoud. Qanooni
tion has ousted the Taliban is meant to      Within three months, Samar resigned.         was the joint defence minister in the
serve as a warning that the same meth-
                                                                                          brutal mujahideen-led government of
ods will be used against anyone who          Warlords and more Warlords
                                                                                          president Burhanuddin Rabbani. When
stands in the way of U.S. interests in       At least 18 members of Karzai’s interim
                                                                                          it fell to the Taliban in 1996, Qanooni
Afghanistan or internationally.              government were men with close affili-
                                                                                          helped found the Northern Alliance.
        Just as the Bonn conference          ations with Northern Alliance warlords.
was about to begin, the U.S. military        Indeed, the most important of these          Ministers
landed more than 1,000 marines and           positions were filled by the brutal war-     Karzai appointed various warlords as
seized control of Kandahar airport. This     lords themselves.                            interim government ministers, includ-
delivered a clear message to the del-        Vice Presidents                              ing the following, who will be discussed
egates: we will do what we like in Af-                                                    in this issue of Press for Conversion!:
                                             Hedayat Arsala: Much of his adult life
ghanistan, whether you agree or not.                                                      Defense: Mohammad Qasim Fahim
                                             was spent in the U.S. where he worked
                                             for the World Bank (1969-1987). After        Deputy Defense: Abdul Rahid Dostum
Source: World Socialist Web Site, No-                                                     Foreign Affairs: Abdullah
                                             returning to fight the Soviet-backed
vember 29, 2001.                                                                          Interior: Younis Qanooni
                                             Afghan government, he was a senior
                                             advisor/member of the Supreme Coun-          Planning: Muhammad Mohaqiq
                                             cil of the Afghan Unity of Mujahideen        Urban Development: Haji Abdul Qadir
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                 9
2002 - Emergency Loya Jirga
Top Warlords Controlled the Emergency Loya Jirga

         nder the Bonn
          Agreement, a spe-
          cial commission of
the Interim Authority was
set up in to convene a loya
jirga–or grand council–in
June, 2002. The loya jirga
was to choose a head of
state for a second interim
government, approve pro-
posals for this government,
and appoint key ministers.

 Selection Process
The selection process for         G u l A g h a S h e r z a i Haji Abdul Qadir                   Ismail Khan
the loya jirga took place in
                                These Warlord Governors Manipulated the Loya Jirga Process
May and June. Local au-
thorities were to choose a set  Zalmay Khalilzad (U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan) and Lakhdar
of candidates, using a “tra- Brahimi (UN representative), pressured the Loya Jirga Commission
ditional manner” (i.e., local      to allow regional governors and military commanders to attend.
councils known as shuras).
Then, these candidates travelled to re- and their supporters. Pashtun repre- cedures. Other governors also at-
gional centers to vote for a smaller sentatives from several areas accused tended, in violation of loya jirga proce-
group of final representatives (from Khan of arresting Pashtuns standing dures, including the governor of
among themselves) who would attend for election to the loya jirga, threaten- Kandahar, Gul Agha Sherzai, the gov-
the loya jirga in Kabul.                   ing and beating most of them. Support- ernor of Nangahar, Haji Abdul Qadir,
        These stages were to be seen ers of the former king–Zahir Shah–were and Herat’s governor, Ismail Khan.
as “free and fair” by regional Loya Jirga also intimidated. Just before the loya           Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. spe-
Commission observers; otherwise it jirga, Khan arrested Rafiq Shahir, a cial envoy to Afghanistan, and Lakhdar
could void the elections and appoint prominent member of the Herat profes- Brahimi, the special representative of
delegates themselves. All concerned sional shura, a local civil society group U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
parties agreed that the overall aim of comprised of doctors, teachers, artists pressured the Afghan Loya Jirga Com-
the loya jirga was to create a “broad- and intellectuals, holding him for sev- mission to allow regional governors and
based, multi-ethnic and fully repre- eral days, inflicting severe beatings and military commanders to attend.
sentative” Afghan government.              threatening him not to participate. In          Many delegates and partici-
        The loya jirga selection process another province under Khan’s control, pants in the loya jirga process were so
and the meeting itself (June 10-21) were three candidates were killed during the afraid of local warlords that they re-
marred by manipulations and abuses selection process. HRW confirmed that fused to speak openly with HRW re-
by Afghan warlords, who interfered one of these killings was carried out by searchers. UN observers confirmed that
with the decision-making of more legiti- commanders loyal to Khan.                a climate of fear was pervasive through-
mate representatives. During the early            In the south, HRW also docu- out the elections.
stages of the selection process, Human mented a pattern of intimidation by lo-
Rights Watch (HRW) documented sev- cal leaders that resulted in several can-              At the Loya Jirga
eral cases in which local warlords im- celled elections and led to some del- There were more problems at the loya
posed themselves into decision-mak- egates withdrawing their nominations. jirga itself, including:
ing and voting processes, directly or             Throughout the country, war- • a widespread and systematic pattern
indirectly intimidating voters and del- lords and regional military command-         of intimidation and threats by war-
egates through threats and the heavy ers were selected for the loya jirga. Gen-      lords and regional leaders,
presence of armed troops. Many loya- eral Rashid Dostum, the deputy defense • covert and overt surveillance by in-
jirga delegates were little more than minister in the interim authority and re-      telligence agents allied with certain
puppets of local commanders, while le- gional leader of northern Afghanistan,        parties and
gitimate representatives of Afghan so- had himself elected to the loya jirga de- • a general failure by the Loya Jirga
ciety were in many cases afraid to speak spite the fact he was serving as a mili-    Commission, UN officials and other
or vote freely during the loya jirga.      tary commander and was accused of         international actors to enforce Bonn
        In almost every western prov- complicity in human rights violations.         Agreement provisions and loya jirga
ince, warlord Ismail Khan intimidated, Both factors made him ineligible for the      procedures meant to sideline military
arrested or beat loya jirga candidates loya jirga under the agreed-upon pro-         leaders and those with records of se-
10                                                          Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                          Emergency Loya Jirga - 2002
   rious human rights abuses.               their frustrations with the process.        a cabinet which was approved by a
        Numerous delegates com-                     In addition, a general sense of     vague “voice” vote. And, the loya jirga
plained of explicit threats from warlords   chaos and poor management marred            never approved any plan or proposal
warning them not to vote in certain         the loya jirga. Voting for Hamid Karzai’s   for the design of the government.
ways or interfere with their backdoor       presidency proceeded by secret ballot               The loya jirga chair, Mohammad
political dealings. One was threatened      and was largely uncontroversial. Some       Ismail Qasimyar, failed to exercise ef-
for a speech about women’s rights in        delegates were disappointed by the          fective control over the proceedings,
the Koran. The husband of the only          seemingly U.S.-imposed arrangement          and the UN failed to assist the Loya Jir-
female presidential candidate was           to have the former Afghan king, Zahir       ga Commission in preparing for a more
threatened by intelligence agents allied    Shah, withdraw as a candidate.              orderly meeting. Warlords were hand-
with the Jamiat party. There were many              Votes taken on the arrangement      ily able to manipulate the process and,
instances of intelligence agents threat-    of the transitional government and its      as a result, most legitimate participants
ening delegates who wished to speak         key personnel, were highly irregular.       were thoroughly disillusioned with it.
in debate, and many instances of agents     There was no debate or proper vote on
                                                                                        Source: World Report 2003. Human
taking photographs and writing the names    the composition of the next transitional
                                                                                        Rights Watch.
of delegates who spoke openly about         government. Instead, Karzai nominated

 Fundamentalists Emerge More Powerful than Ever
By Vikram Parekh
                                                                              President Karzai named Fazul Hadi

          fghanistan’s warlords emerged                                       Shinwari, chief justice of the Supreme
         from the emergency loya jirga with
         greater power and a new claim to                                     Court, a post he held under the funda-
legitimacy.                                                                   mentalist regime of the mid-1990s.
        Many delegates representing civil                                           Shinwari has said that under the
society said they were excluded from any                                      legal system of the new government:
real decision-making. As the loya jirga                                       ü adulterers would be stoned to death,
neared its end, they expressed fears about
the resurgent power of the warlords who                                       ü the hands of thieves amputated,
were active and abusive participants in the                                   ü consumers of alcohol given 80 lashes,
loya jirga process.                                                           ü Christians could be threatened, ex-
        “Afghanistan’s warlords are strong-                                      pelled or, as a last resort, beheaded.
er today than they were before the loya jirga                                       Decorating his office are two
started,” said Saman Zia-Zarifi, senior re-
searcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW).                                        grisly symbols of harsh sharia justice
“Short term political expediency has clearly                                  that were left there by the Taliban, a
triumphed over human rights.”                                                 sword and a leather lash for flogging.
        The cabinet named by Hamid Karzai,
head of the transitional government, differs only slightly        after the collapse of the Taliban, would include warlords
from that of the interim administration. The predominantly        who had reestablished their authorities in most of the coun-
Tajik Jamiat-e Islami party holds three key cabinet posts while   try during the fight against the Taliban. However, the transi-
the Shi’a Hazara party, Hizb-e Wahdat, gained a seat. Both        tional government to lead Afghanistan during reconstruc-
have been implicated in attacks on Pashtun civilians in the       tion, selected by delegates of the emergency loya jirga, was
north following the Taliban’s collapse. Jamiat has also been      supposed to reflect the voice of civilians, not warlords.
involved in an ongoing conflict with General Abdul Rashid                 HRW’s Zia-Zarifi said:
Dostum’s Junbish party in northern Afghanistan, where the            “Instead of creating the space for civilian leadership to
fighting and general insecurity has imperiled humanitarian           emerge during the six-month interval...warlords used that
aid operations.                                                      time to rebuild their military and political networks.”
        The appointment of Fazul Hadi Shinwari to the post                A delegate from Kabul said
of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court also raises serious            “Warlords who bombed Kabul are not supposed to be
human rights concerns. Shinwari was quoted in press inter-           here in the loya jirga. People who are contaminated with
views in January 2002 saying that Shari’a punishments in-            the blood of Afghans should not be elected as ministers.”
cluding stoning and amputation would be retained, albeit                  One group of delegates planned to submit a slate of
with stricter due process guarantees than under the Taliban.      candidates at the loya jirga who were not warlords, or affili-
His position contradicted Karzai’s assertion during a U.S.        ated with them. However, before they could do so, at least
visit that Shari’a punishments could only be imposed in so-       three members of the group received death threats.
cieties where social justice and freedom from hunger prevail.
        The framers of the Bonn agreement decided that Af-        Source: June 20, 2002.
ghanistan’s interim administration, established immediately
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                            11
2002 - Emergency Loya Jirga
          The Loya Jirga was a Joke
By Gary Leupp, associate professor,          crude, New England Town Meeting-
History, Tufts University and coordi-        style, democratic debate about the fu-
nator, Asian Studies Program.                ture of the Afghan nation. So this par-
                                             ticular loya jirga, the mother of loya

          n November 12, 2001, barely a      jirgas, was closely followed by west-
          month after the U.S. started its   ern news agencies from beginning to
          bombing campaign, the North-       end (June 11-19). It was designed to
ern Alliance took Kabul. The U.S. power      legitimize Karzai’s administration, was
structure seemed genuinely surprised         itself accorded in western reportage the
at the lightening success of “Operation      legitimacy of native tradition.
Enduring Freedom” and the weakness                    In fact there was little traditional     L a k h d a r B r a h i m i,
of the Taliban resistance.                   or legitimate about it. The warlords cur-        UN envoy to Afghanistan
          While the U.S. (and Pakistan)      rently enjoying U.S. support largely de-
had opposed the Alliance forces’ entry       termined the selection of delegates.             “Voting for the loya jirga
into Kabul before a nationwide confer-       Lakhdar Brahimi, UN envoy to Afghani-               has been plagued by
ence could determine the nature of the       stan, told reporters that:                       violence and vote-buying.”
post-Taliban government, their Tajik-           “Voting for the loya jirga has been
dominated militia forces occupied the           plagued by violence and vote-buy-            ground coaching Karzai throughout.
capital, to the dismay of most of its in-       ing. There were attempts at violence,                 Zalmay Khalilzad. This is the
habitants, and reestablished the hated          manipulation, unfortunately. Money           gentleman who, while employed by
Burhanuddin Rabbani regime. The Rus-            was used, threats were used.” (ABC,          Unocal and involved in oil pipeline ne-
sians and Iranians immediately em-              June 12).                                    gotiations with the Taliban, argued as
braced the warlord clique, but the Bush                                                      recently as 1998 in a Washington Post
regime withheld diplomatic recognition,                                                      op-ed piece that
in part to avoid antagonizing the Paki-                                                          “The Taliban does not practice the
stanis who have, since November 1994                                                             anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism
(when they broke ties to CIA                                                                     practiced by Iran. We
Frankenstein Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,                                                                willing to offer recognition and hu-
blamed for some 50,000 civilian deaths,                                                          manitarian assistance and to pro-
in favor of the Taliban), been on hostile                                                        mote international economic recon-
terms with the Northern Alliance.                                                                struction. It is time for the U.S. to
         With some help from Russia and                                                          reengage [the Afghan regime].”
Iran, the U.S. orchestrated the meeting                                                      Then he wrote a book about Afghani-
in Bonn (Nov. 27-Dec.4, 2001) that pro-                                                      stan as a “rogue state.” A real man of
duced a bogus new government domi-                                                           principle, here. So, what were his con-
nated by the Panjshiri Valley thugs. (Of                                                     tributions to Afghan nation-building?
the 30 government members, 18 were                                                           (1) He pronounced a U.S. veto on the
from the Northern Alliance.) The chair-                                                      appointment of Zahir Shah, the former
man of the interim administration,                                                           king, as head of state and (2) he obliged
Hamid Karzai, an English-speaking,                                                           Karzai to seek loya jirga approval of at
longtime U.S. resident, is a Pashtun                                                         least some of his cabinet appointments.
who had been a deputy foreign minis-                                                                  On June 9, between 800 and 900
ter in Rabbani’s government in the mid-                                                      of the 1600 delegates assembled in Ka-
1990s. (And, although it’s probably im-                                                      bul signed a petition asking that Zahir
polite to bring it up now, Karzai was the                                                    Shah serve as head of state.
Taiban’s foreign minister in 1996.)                                                                   Mohammed Fahim, an ethnic
         The Bonn meeting resulted in
                                              Warlord Younis Qanooni
                                                                                             Tajik and the defense minister, fearing
an agreement that a loya jirga (Grand        became Education Minister                       that a major role for the Pashtun former
Council) would be held in June to de-                 Disproportionate representa-           king would undercut his own faction’s
termine the composition of a more per-       tion was given Uzbek and Tajik regions          position, warned Karzai late that day
manent government structure. The term        controlled by the Northern Alliance (The        that delegates representing the North-
“loya jirga” has such an exotic sound        Nation, May 11). At the meeting, the            ern Alliance would withdraw from the
to it. There have been loya jirgas for       U.S. was much in evidence, and calling          loya jirga unless Zahir Shah agreed to
centuries–gatherings involving wise          all the shots. Afghan-American, Big Oil         seek no political post. He also threat-
and powerful men from all the tribes         man Zalmay Khalilzad, the State Depart-         ened to place his troops on alert (New
and clans, engaged (or at least this has     ment’s chief envoy to Kabul and                 York Times, June 12). Since the Alliance
been the mainstream press spin) in           Donald Rumsfeld intimate, was on the            is the dominant military presence in the
12                                                                Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                     Emergency Loya Jirga - 2002
                                 after all, had already told him he was
capital, these were serious threats.
                                 president). He was indeed elected on
        The U.S. position in Afghani-
                                 June 13th, overwhelmingly, challenged
stan is thoroughly dependent on its
                                 only by two little-known candidates,
alliance with the Northern Alliance. So
                                 one of them a woman ridiculed and
one-time Taliban apologist Khalilzad
                                 threatened by the fundamentalists.
resolved the situation, pressuring the
aging, former monarch to bow out, while   The puppet’s legitimacy was
                                 thus assured. We will probably be told
softening the blow by persuading the
                                 time and again that he was the clear
interior minister, Tajik warlord Younis
                                 choice of the Afghan people in this
Qanooni, to step down in favor of the
Pashtun, Taji Mohammed Wardak. AsGrand Council. Even so, his position is
                                 shaky. “If the president does not fol-
the meeting opened belatedly, under a
                                 low the Islamic values,” warned war-
grand tent on June 11, delegates learn-
ing of the backdoor deal expressed out-
                                 lord Abdulrab Rassoul Sayyaf, “then                  Mohammad Fahim
                                 the Prophet advises us to follow him
rage. “This is not a democracy, it is a                                               remained Defence
                                 anywhere, to oppose, protest and strike
rubber stamp,” declared Minister of
                                                                                     Minister and became
                                 against him.”
Women’s Affairs Sima Samar. “Every-
thing has already been decided by the     The next item of business was               Deputy Pr esident.
powerful ones.”                  to select the new cabinet, and in this,          tion party has accepted the Minister of
        Another delegate, Asella the dreaded warlords had final say. Sit-         Education portfolio and (perhaps more
Wardak, protested,               ting in the front seats, they weren’t even       significantly) has agreed to serve as in-
                                 supposed to be there. “We were told
   “Everything seems to have been de-                                             ternal security advisor. (His successor
                                 that this loya jirga would not include
   cided. We don’t need anyone to de-                                             as Interior Minister, Taji Mohammed
                                 all the people who had blood on their
   cide for us. We have had enough of                                             Wardak, has met with violent opposi-
                                 hands,” complained one delegate, Safar
   foreign interference in our country.”                                          tion from Qanooni’s thugs while merely
                                 Mohammed, to his fellows, drawing ap-
        Confusion reigned as Karzai                                               attempting to settle into his office.)
misinterpreted his nomination as presi-                                                   A son of Herat’s warlord Ismail
                                    “But we see these people every-
dent as confirmation. (The Americans,                                             Khan was brought into the administra-
                                           where. I don’t know whether            tion. The suave, English-speaking
                                           this is a loya jirga or a [military]   Abdullah, remains Foreign Minister.
                                           commanders’ council.” (Inde-                   Mulavi Fazal Hadi Shinwari was
                                           pendent, June 13).                     appointed Chief Justice; an earnest pro-
                                          Even in the loya jirga’s intimi-        ponent of sharia punishments (includ-
                                        dating atmosphere, Karzai was             ing stoning and amputation). He’s a fan
                                        unable to win ready acceptance            of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
                                        of his cabinet nominees, and on                   In a word, the loya jirga has
                                        June 17, half of the delegates            empowered monsters, while excluding
                                        walked out, some protesting for-          the more progressive forces; Sima
                                        eign manipulation of the proceed-         Samar was intimidated into resigning
                                        ings and warlord intimidation.            as Minister of Women’s Affairs. As
                                          Karzai announced he would se-           Ahmed Rashid said in Eurasia Insight
                                        lect a cabinet without loya jirga         (June 24):
                                        approval, but, outside the grand             “Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s
                                        tent Khalilzad informed him that             new cabinet configuration should
                                        the Bonn agreement of 2001                   yield even greater political and mili-
                                        specified that loya jirga approval           tary powers to the already dominat-
“This is not a democracy, it is a was required.                                      ing faction of Tajiks from the Panjshir
rubber stamp,” declared Sima              Two days later, the loya jirga             Valley, as well as to other warlords.”
Samar, the Minister of Women’s          concluded, its delegates having                   Assadallah Wolwaliji, a member
                                        approved Karzai’s cabinet                 of the independent commission over-
Affairs. She was forced to resign choices for most cabinet posi-
                                                                                  seeing the conference with UN assist-
after receiving death threats tions. Mohammad Fahim remains                       ance, said: “We cannot say this was a
from fanatical fundamentalists, Defense Minister, and is ap-                      democratic loya jirga.”
including Afghanistan’s Chief pointed deputy president.                                   It was, in any case, clearly a be-
Justice of the Supreme Court,             Meanwhile, warlords Haji Qadir          trayal of the expectations of the Afghan
                                        and Karim Khalili were also               people, a joke of a jirga achieved under
Fazul Hadi Shinwari. He had her named deputy presidents.
                                                                                  U.S. auspices.
charged her with blasphemy, a             Qanooni after some hesitation
                                                                                  Source: Counterpunch, June 27, 2002
crime that can result in execution. and a threat to form an opposi-     
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                       13
    2002 - Emergency Loya Jirga
                                     Stifled in the Loya Jirga
    By Omar Zakhilwal

         am a member of the loya jirga’s si-
        lent majority–or rather, silenced ma-
        jority–who came to Afghanistan’s
   capital expecting to shape our nation’s
   future but instead find ourselves being
   dragged back into the past.
            We came from all parts of the
   country to claim our freedom and de-
   mocracy. Instead, we are being met with
   systematic threats and intimidation. We
   came strengthened by international
   declarations on human rights, but now
                                                                                   Interim president Hamid
   are facing international complicity in the                                      Karzai bows before former
   denial of our rights. We came to repre-                                       King Zahir Shah, who ruled
   sent the diverse interests of the entire                                   Afghanistan from 1933 to 1973.
   nation, 1,500 delegates for 25 million                                  Many loya jirga delegates thought
   people, but are being pressured to sup-
   port the narrow agenda of warlords and
                                                                       that returning Shah to power might help
   their foreign sponsors. We came to in-                           curb the control of Afghanistan’s warlords.
   augurate an inclusive and professional                                         However, representatives of
   transitional government, but instead are                                       the U.S., the UN and Karzai’s
   being compelled to rubber-stamp the                                            interim government quickly
   Bonn Agreement’s unjust power-shar-
   ing arrangements.
                                                                                 pressured the king to decline.
            The fundamental question we         tablished.                                  Rather than address the issue demo-
   face is this: Will the new government               The same consensus holds in          cratically, almost two days of the six-
   be dominated by the same warlords and        the loya jirga. At least 80% of delegates   day loya jirga were wasted while a pa-
   factional politics responsible for two       favor excluding all warlords from gov-      rade of high-level officials from the in-
   decades of violence and impunity, or         ernment. The 200 women delegates are        terim government, the UN and U.S. vis-
                   can we break with this       especially outspoken on this. In a spon-    ited Zahir Shah and “persuaded” him
                        legacy and begin to     taneous display of democracy, they          to renounce his political ambitions.
                           establish a sys-     publicly rebuked two powerful symbols               When the loya jirga recom-
                             tem of law and     of Afghanistan’s violent past–              menced, the delegates were surprised
                              professional      Burhanuddin Rabbani, president of the       to be greeted by Afghanistan’s 30 pro-
                               governance?      mujaheddin government from 1992 to          vincial governors, none of whom was
                                    The Af-     1996, and General Mohammed Fahim,           elected to the grand assembly. They
                                ghan people     former intelligence chief and defense       served as arm-twisters for the interim
                                have spoken     minister in the interim government.         government, which is dominated by
                                clearly on             But because of behind-the-           Northern Alliance warlords. The gov-
                                this issue. I   scenes pressure, our voices are being       ernors leveraged their local military and
                               participated     silenced and the warlords empowered.        financial power to pressure delegates
                              in a U.N.-com-           When the loya jirga opened,          from their provinces to support hand-
                             missioned as-      support for the former king, Moham-         picked candidates allied to the North-
                            sessment mis-       med Zahir Shah, was extremely strong.       ern Alliance. At a gathering I attended,
                          sion by the Center
                          for Economic and        “When I complained about our re-
King Zahir Shah Social Rights. Our               stricted role, a top UN political ad-
                          report documents
   widespread agreement among all Af-            viser told me in no uncertain terms
   ghans, from urban professionals to lan-       that the loya jirga was not intended
   dless farmers, that there should be no        to bring about fundamental political
   role for warlords in the country’s fu-        change, such as ridding the government
   ture, and that international aid will be
   wasted unless the underlying condi-
                                                 of warlords.”
   tions of peace and security are first es-      Omar Zakhilwal, loya jirga delegate
    14                                                             Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                               Emergency Loya Jirga - 2002
one governor made his threat explicit:
   “You are all with me. You will do what               Under the Shadow of Guns

   I tell you to do. If you dare disobey,
                                                       he majority of our wounded and            When violence against women and girls ends, I will...
   we all go back to our province after
                                                        bewildered people, who have
   this, don’t we?”
                                                        borne the constant blows of the
Such threats are enhanced by scores
                                               past ten years, look at the loya jirga
of Interior Ministry agents circulating
                                               with disappointed eyes. It was con-
in the loya jirga compound and openly
                                               vened under the patronage of guns,
intimidating outspoken delegates.
                                               threats and the corruption of funda-
         Equally discouraging is the role
                                               mentalists. At least eight candidates for
played by international organizations.
                                               the loya jirga were killed during the elec-
When I complained about our restricted
                                               tion process.
role, a top U.N. political adviser told me
                                                        According to the Loya Jirga
in no uncertain terms that the loya jirga
                                               Commission, those involved in war
was not intended to bring about fun-

                                                                                             Photo: Joyce Tenneson
                                               crimes and human rights violations
damental political change, such as rid-
                                               were not qualified for membership in
ding the government of warlords. Mean-
                                               the loya jirga. Many well-respected
while, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special
                                               candidates who were clean of the shame
envoy on Afghanistan, has caused dis-
                                               of affiliation with any fundamentalist
appointment in the loya jirga through
                                               party were rounded up and pushed
pressure tactics to undermine popular                                                                                                       Zoya
                                               aside. Such displays of power were
support for Zahir Shah.
                                               more pronounced in Herat under the
         In reality, the loya jirga is being                                                 Revolutionary Association of
                                               domination of warlord Ismail Khan.
treated as a ratification tool for back-                                                      the Women of Afghanistan
                                                        The composition of the Loya
room political deals. The media have
                                               Jirga Commission is itself unfair. How
reported on the “voluntary” decision                                                                  visors and there is no effective UN
                                               could Musa Tawana, a leader of Jamiat-
of Interior Minister Younis Qanooni to                                                                peacekeeping force, how can we expect
                                               e Islami, with close ties to Rabbani,
drop his candidacy. But it is reporting                                                               that the loya jirga would be comprised
                                               think of anything other than infusing
that he may become prime minister in                                                                  of well-respected, democratic, anti-
                                               more of his band of traitors into the loya
the new government, or that his in-                                                                   jihadi and anti-Taliban people?
                                               jirga? He and others like him could only
tended replacement is also member of                                                                          It is undoubtedly clear that the
                                               have been real members of the Com-
Qanooni’s Northern Alliance faction.                                                                  loya jirga has been polluted by the filth
                                               mission if they had exposed the whole
         I asked a taxi driver what he                                                                of the fundamentalists. By no means is
                                               truth about the crimes and treasons of
thought of the loya jirga. He shrugged                                                                it what our people were hoping for.
                                               insane fundamentalist gangs and cut
his shoulders and pointed at Kabul’s                                                                          As the Revolutionary Associa-
                                               off affiliations with them.
ruined landscape: “The same people                                                                    tion of the Women of Afghanistan
                                                        Meanwhile, the so-called Chief
who destroyed these buildings are sit-                                                                (RAWA) has reiterated, unless the
                                               Justice Mulavi Fazal Hadi Shinwari,
ting in the front row of the loya jirga.”                                                             pathogen of fundamentalism is elimi-
                                               who runs a madrasa (fundamentalist
         On the loya jirga’s first day, we                                                            nated from the government, no devel-
                                               school) in Dara Adam Khil, has said this:
were filled with hope and enthusiasm.                                                                 opment, no institutions and no deci-
                                                  “Gulbaddin Hekmatyar and his sup-
Most of us stayed up past midnight in                                                                 sions will be untainted.
                                                  porters played a great role in the
spirited debates about the country’s fu-                                                                      Despite all these bitter facts,
                                                  Afghanistan jihad and therefore de-
ture. By the third day, a palpable de-                                                                some are of the opinion that the partici-
                                                  serve to be considered in the com-
moralization had set in. Our time is be-                                                              pation of democratic and anti-funda-
                                                  ing government. Neither Gulbaddin
ing wasted on trivial procedural mat-                                                                 mentalist forces is still possible. We
                                                  nor any other body committed
ters. We feel manipulated and harassed.                                                               hope it would be so. The importance of
                                                  crimes and hence there is no reason
Our historic responsibility to the Af-                                                                their presence will be most felt when
                                                  to impose restrictions on them.”
ghan nation is becoming a charade.                                                                    they strongly expose the real nature of
                                               Thus, from this Chief Justice’s point of
         We are in Kabul because we                                                                   the fundamentalists with whom they sit
                                               view, the killings of 50,000 people–in
believe that participation and democ-                                                                 and who want only to give legal status
                                               Kabul alone between 1992 and 1996–
racy are more than words on paper. We                                                                 to their heinous crimes.
                                               must have been done by birds in the
are not asking for much, after all: sim-                                                                      RAWA will be in agreement with
ply the right to determine our own gov-                                                               loya jirga members who confirm their
                                                        When the Chief Justice of a ru-
ernment and future in accordance with                                                                 loyalty to democracy by taking a
                                               ined country so shamelessly ignores
the human rights ideals so loudly trum-                                                               staunch stand against all the jihadi and
                                               the shedding of blood by Gulbaddin
peted by the international community.                                                                 Taliban bandits.
                                               and Co.; when fundamentalist bandits
Source: Washington Post, June 16,              use guns and money to ruthlessly re-                   Source: Revolutionary Association of
2002.              press people; when the UN envoy is                     the Women of Afghanistan, June 9,
                                               encircled by vile-minded and biased ad-                2002.
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                                15
2002 - Emergency Loya Jirga                                             Abdullah, who joined the
                                                                        mujahideen in 1986, was
         The Warlords Win!                                              an advisor to Ahmad Shah
By Prof. Omar Zakhilwal, Economics,          tries of defense and       Massoud, and became the
University of Ottawa and Adeena Niazi,       foreign affairs re-        Northern        Alliance
Afghan Women’s Assoc. of Ontario.            mained with Muham-
                                                                        foreign minister in 1998.
                                             mad Qasim Fahim

         n the final night of the emer-      and Abdullah, both         He was Karzai’s Foreign
         gency loya jirga, more than         from the Northern Al-      Minister (2001-2006).
         1,500 delegates gathered for        liance. Younis Qa-
the unveiling of the new cabinet. Our        nooni, of the same faction, was              resident asked us.
hearts sank when we heard President          switched from the interior ministry to               While the Bonn Agreement and
Hamid Karzai pronounce one name af-          education. The powerful Northern Alli-       the rules of the loya jirga entitled us to
ter another. A woman activist turned to      ance commanders–Fahim, Haji Abdul            choose the next government freely, we
us in disbelief saying it was:               Qadir and Karim Khalili–became vice          delegates were denied anything more
   “worse than our worst expectations.       presidents. These are the very forces        than a symbolic role in the selection
   The warlords have been promoted           responsible for countless brutalities un-    process. A small group of Northern Al-
   and the professionals kicked out.         der the former mujahideen government.        liance chieftains decided everything
   Who calls this democracy?”                        As the loya jirga folded its tent,   behind closed doors and then dis-
        Interim government ministers         we met with frustration and anger in         patched Karzai to give us the bad news.
with civilian rather than military creden-   the streets. “Why did you legitimize an              This is not what we expected
tials were dismissed. The key minis-         illegitimate government?” one Kabul          when we gathered to participate in one
                                                                                          of the most extraordinary events in Af-
Warlords had Front Seats at Loya Jirga                                                    ghan history. Delegates from all back-
                                                                                          grounds–Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and
                                                         “I was amazed to                 Uzbeks; urban and rural; Sunni and
                                                        see in the first and              Shiite–sat togetheras if we belonged to
                                                                                          a single village. Men and women min-
                                                         second rows those
                                                                                          gled openly and comfortably. In toler-
                                                        so-called warlords                ant and lively exchanges, we discussed
                                                         sitting together.”               the compatibility of women’s rights with
                                                       Klaus-Peter Klaiber,               Islamic traditions. Women played a
                                                       European Union                     leading role. We were living proof
                                                       special representative.            against stereotypes that Afghans are
                                                       Agence France Presse,              divided by ethnic hatreds, that we are
                                                       June 13, 2002.                     backward and not ready for democracy
                                                                                          or equality.
                                                                                                  Within a day we had developed
                                                                                          a common wish list focused on national

                                                                                             Loya Jirga Quotes
                                                                                          “When I heard [Karzai’s] speech I real-
                                                                                          ised he can’t solve the problems of Af-
                                                                                          ghanistan. He only mentioned the lead-
                                                                                          ers of the armed factions. They all sup-
                                                                                          port him. If you see who has destroyed
                                                                                          Kabul, killed tens of thousands of peo-
 Tajwar Kakar, a loya jirga delegate                                                      ple, how can it be possible for them to
                                                                                          be in power again?”
   “I told the country these men are responsible for the                                  Mir Mohammed,
  destruction of the country, for the widows and orphans                                  a loya jirga delegate from Kabul
       who have nothing to eat. They should be in jail,                                   The Independent, June 14, 2002.
       not sitting in the front seat in the loya jirga.”                                  “The Northern Alliance are the ones
  Tajwar Kakar, the deputy minister of women’s affairs, was a delegate at the             now warning us not to forget to wear
  emergency loya jirga where she stood up to powerful warlords and called for             our burqas.... They threaten to throw
  their removal. Many of the warlords now in control of the provinces are the             acid in our faces if we don’t.”
  mujahideen (or so called “freedom fighters”) who fought against the Soviets             Shahla Mahindost,
  [and, later, each other]. Some are now fighting hard to subjugate women.                a loya jirga delegate from Badakhshan
  Source: Fariba Nawa,, June 30, 2002.                               , June 16, 2002.
16                                                               Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                          Emergency Loya Jirga - 2002
unity, peace and security. We also em-
phasized access to food, education and       “Strong Support” and “Congratulations”
health services in neglected rural areas.
The one issue uniting delegates above
                                             “We expressed our strong
all others was the urgency of reducing       support for the emergency
the power of warlords and establishing       loya jirga currently underway
a truly representative government.           in Afghanistan, and offered
         After the former king, Moham-       our congratulations to Hamid
med Zahir Shah, was strong-armed into
renouncing any meaningful role in the
                                             Karzai for his election today
government, the atmosphere at the loya       in Kabul. We commend Chair-
jirga changed radically. The gathering       man Karzai, his cabinet and the
was now teeming with intelligence            Afghan people for the extra-
agents who openly threatened reform-         ordinary progress they have
minded delegates, especially women.
Access to the microphone was control-
                                             made in the last months in
led so that supporters of the interim        rebuilding the Afghan state.
government dominated the proceed-            The loya jirga is a vital step
ings. Fundamentalist leaders branded         in the creation of a represent-
critics of the warlords as traitors to Is-   ative, inclusive and effective
lam and circulated a petition denounc-                                                           Bill Graham,
ing Women’s Affairs Minister Samar as
                                             transitional authority and a
                                                                                           Foreign Affairs Minister
“Afghanistan’s Salman Rushdie.”              critical step towards demo-
         Aware that in our country po-       cratic elections due in 2004.”
litical intimidation can turn quickly into   Source: Statement at the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting, Whistler, B.C., June 12-
violence, many delegates lost the will       13, 2002.
to demand their democratic rights. A
leading activist for women’s rights,          Human Rights Watch Statement
who prefers to remain anonymous due
to these threats, explained:                         everal delegates, including some      “should not have been involved in
    “Today we are loya jirga delegates,              women, reported threats when          … abuse of human rights, war crimes,
    but tomorrow we go home as indi-                 they complained about the war-        looting of public property… [or] in-
    viduals. Who will protect us if we       lords’ participation in the grand na-         volved indirectly or directly in the
    continue to express our views and        tional assembly. Others reported alarm        killing of innocent human beings.”
    fight for our rights?”                   at the heavy presence of agents from               A woman delegate, who asked
         Of course we are discouraged        the Afghan Intelligence Service.           to remain anonymous, said “We are
that our experiment in grass-roots de-                Senior researcher for Human hostages of the people who destroyed
mocracy was suppressed. We are dis-          Rights Watch, Zia-Zarifi, said:            Afghanistan.” As a result of a public
appointed that our leaders are not will-        “After subverting the voting proc- complaint, she was threatened by men
ing to recognize women’s rightful par-          ess in many regions... the warlords associated with one of the warlords.
ticipation. Above all, we regret that they      are now trying to hijack the loya jirga         Other delegates were troubled
and the international community aban-           itself.... If the                                                by the intru-
doned any commitment to democratic              w a r l o r d s After subverting the voting process sive presence
rights as soon as we sought to exercise         succeed in in many regions... the warlords are of Afghan in-
those rights.                                   their nefari- now trying to hijack the loya jirga. telligence serv-
         The course of the loya jirga dem-      ous quests,                                                      ice agents and
onstrated that powerful forces inside           the security of the Afghan people their obvious efforts to monitor discus-
and outside the country remain cat-             will be put squarely in the hands of sions. This spy agency is widely be-
egorically opposed to democratic ac-            those most likely to threaten it.”      lieved to be dominated by a party
countability. The dangers of challeng-                According to some delegates, a founded by former president Burha-
ing the power of the gun, especially in      number of the most prominent warlords nuddin Rabbani and the late Northern
the absence of genuine international         gathered on the evening of June 10 to Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.
support for the rule of law, are substan-    divide power in the next government.       Their party holds the key cabinet posts
tial. But the reactions we saw on the                 Several women delegates com- of defense, interior and foreign affairs.
streets of Kabul showed that the popu-       plained publicly about the presence of
lar will of Afghans will not tolerate a      figures widely held responsible for Af- Source: “Afghanistan: Loya Jirga Off
retreat into the past.                       ghanistan’s devastating decade of civil to Shaky Start: Delegates Coerced,
                                             war and ensuing atrocities.                Threatened, Spied On,” June 13, 2002.
Source: New York Times, June 21, 2002.                Rules governing the loya jirga                  state clearly that delegates:              4039.htm
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                          17
2003 - Constitutional Loya Jirga
 Rubber-Stamping an Anti-Democratic Constitution
By Peter Symonds                               editor and Karzai critic, 251 votes to 154.
                                                        From the outset, the entire proc-

        he loya jirga, or grand tribal coun-   ess was carried out behind the backs
        cil, is a thoroughly cynical po-       of Afghans. The framework was de-
        litical exercise. For all the hype     cided at a UN-sponsored conference
about consulting the Afghan people, a          in Bonn, Germany, in December 2001,
select group of 500 delegates has been         shortly after the collapse of the Taliban
convened to endorse an undemocratic            regime. While the UN organised the
constitution and to consolidate the po-        affair, it was the Bush administration
sition of Washington’s political pup-          that called the shots, insisting Karzai
pet–President Hamid Karzai.                    be installed as interim president.
        The gathering is taking place in                The hand-picked delegates in
a large tent in the grounds of Kabul           Bonn also rubber-stamped the proce-
Polytechnic Institute, heavily guarded         dure for drawing up and approving a
by army units with tanks and machine           constitution and for national elections.      Karzai’s choice to chair the
gun posts. Soldiers from the 5,500-            Whatever their factional differences, all     constitutional loya jirga was
strong International Security Assist-          present traced their origins to the vari-     Segbatullah Mojaddedi. He
ance Force are patrolling nearby hills         ous right-wing Mujaheddin militia that        had lead the Afghan National
to prevent rocket attacks.                     were financed, trained and equipped by
        The loya jirga was postponed           the CIA in the 1980s to fight the Soviet-     Liberation Front and was the
for a day and opened on December 14,           backed regime in Kabul. Karzai devel-         founder and first president
2003. Karzai and his backers used the          oped an especially close relationship         of the fundamentalist regime
time to consolidate support for his            with Washington when he ran the Pa-           of feuding warlords and drug
choice of chairman–Segbatullah                 kistani office of the group headed by         barons that ruled Afghani-
Mojaddedi–and for the proposed con-            Segbatullah Mojaddedi.
stitution that concentrates enormous                    In June 2002, to provide a demo-     stan from 1992 to 1996.
                                                                                             ministration applied the same anti-
                                                                                             democratic methods to the constitution.
                                                                                             A carefully-selected committee drafted
                                                                                             it in secret. The much-vaunted public
                                                                                             consultative process, which involved
                                                                                             stage-managed discussions with “fo-
                                                                                             cus groups,” began in June and was
                                                                                             completed in late July 2002, before the
                                                                                             draft constitution was even available.
                                                                                             When it was finally published on No-
                                                                                             vember 3, 2002, it clearly reflected the
                                                                                             desire of Karzai–and Washington–for
                                                                                             an autocratic presidency.
  This loya jirga rubber-stamped a new constitution that                                              The final draft eliminated a pro-
  gave extraordinary powers to Afghanistan’s President.                                      posal, contained in earlier versions, for
                                                                                             establishing a prime minister as head
power in the hands of the president.           cratic veneer for the arrangements made       of government. Instead, the president
        Former president Burhanuddin           in Bonn, an emergency loya jirga was          will have extensive powers, including
Rabbini, a key Northern Alliance leader,       convened in Kabul. Some 1,600 heav-           the appointment and dismissal of min-
has been one of the main figures criti-        ily-screened delegates were bullied,          isters, the attorney general, the central
cising the proposed constitution. On           threatened and bribed into approving          bank governor, judges, officers of the
Saturday after a flurry of high profile        Karzai as president as well as his pro-       armed forces, police and national secu-
visitors, including Karzai, U.S. ambas-        posals for three vice-presidents, the         rity, diplomats and other high ranking
sador Zalmay Khalilzad and UN spe-             chief justice and cabinet. Even at this       officials. The president will also appoint
cial envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Rabbani in-        stage-managed affair, there was bitter        one third of the members of the upper
dicated that he would accept a presi-          criticism of the standover tactics, par-      house of the national assembly.
dential system “with certain checks.”          ticularly those used by Zalmay Khalil-                 The president will be the desig-
        The behind-the-scenes deal             zad, the U.S. special envoy to Afghani-       nated commander-in-chief of the armed
making was evident on the first day            stan [Editor’s note: Khalilzad is now the     forces, with the power to declare war or
when Mojaddedi was elected chair, de-          U.S. ambassador to Iraq.]                     a state of emergency and to dispatch
feating Abdul Mansoor, a newspaper                     Karzai and his transitional ad-       troops to foreign countries. He or she
18                                                                 Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                      Constitutional Loya Jirga - 2003
will preside over the government as          from his nominal allies as well as his ences between the delegates, it is highly
chairperson of the cabinet and have the      enemies. Until now, he has had to coex- likely that a majority will approve the
power to issue decrees. The president        ist with a cabinet in which the Northern draft constitution with minor amend-
will be able to convene loya jirgas–de-      Alliance–composed of ethnic Tajiks, ments. In part, this reflects the fact that
clared to be “the highest manifestation      Uzbeks and Hazaras–holds the key those present have either been ap-
of the will of the people of Afghani-        posts of foreign affairs and defence.      pointed directly by the president or
stan”–that will have the power to amend              Under the new constitution, the have been “elected” by carefully vet-
the constitution and override the na-        president will have significantly more ted groups of district representatives.
tional assembly. He or she will also be      powers than any of his ministers, in- It is also a product of the enormous
able to call a referendum, which can be      cluding the right to dismiss them. This clout that Washington wields behind
used to sidestep parliament.                 is the main reason for the opposition the scenes. On December 13, 2003,
        The two houses of the national       from Rabbani and sections of the North- Karzai insisted that he would only
assembly will have very limited means        ern Alliance, who view the proposed stand in next year’s presidential elec-
to constrain the president. While both       constitution as a threat to their own tion if the presidential powers were
will have to approve laws, they will not     power bases. Their criticisms also ap- passed intact. His statement only car-
be able to delay government bills in-        pear to have behind-the-scenes sup- ried any political weight because all the
definitely. The lower house may ques-        port from the European Union, whose powerbrokers in Kabul were well aware
tion and impeach ministers, but presi-       representative Frances-
dential impeachment needs a two-thirds       co Vendrell, argued that The European
vote in the lower house to convene a         the regional warlords Union represent-
loya jirga, a two-thirds loya-jirga vote,    had to be given a parlia- ative, Francesco
and approval of a special court, making      mentary avenue in order Vendrell, said
such an eventuality all but impossible.      to convince them to dis-
                                                                           Afghan warlords
        The draft constitution is dress-     band their military forces.
ed up with a list of fundamental rights              The only other had to be allowed
for citizens. All of these are routinely     opposition inside the into parliament
flouted, not only by warlords, military      loya jirga to the draft so they might
commanders and tribal chiefs who con-        constitution came from disband their
trol most of the country outside Kabul,      fundamentalists who in-
                                                                           military forces.
but by the U.S. military. U.S. troops con-   sist that it does not go
duct operations, often with terrible con-    far enough to entrench reactionary Is- that behind the non-entity Karzai
sequences for civilians, free of any con-    lamic law. They demand restrictions on stands the Bush administration.
straints. Whatever the loya jirga de-        the basic rights of women and a form of
cides, it is certain that basic constitu-    retributive justice that is not so differ- Source: World Socialist Web Site, De-
tional rights will not apply to prisoners    ent from that imposed by the Taliban cember 18, 2003.
held indefinitely without charge or trial,   regime before the U.S. ousted it.
interrogated and tortured at U.S.-run                Whatever the factional differ- afgh-d18_prn.shtml
detention centres in Afghanistan.
        The U.S. actions have gener-                          Canadians “Central” to the Process
ated widespread opposition to its oc-
                                                              “When we were pursuing the Bonn agenda.... we
cupation of the country. In the leadup
to the loya jirga, the U.S. military con-                     had to... ensure that the country hosted the loya
ducted a massive sweep involving                              jirga to fashion a new constitution – Canadians
2,000 U.S. troops along the border with                       were central to that.” Chris Alexander,
Pakistan, in part to preempt attacks on                       Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan (2003-2005)
the assembly in Kabul. Washington’s
tenuous position in Afghanistan is the
prime reason it has insisted that the con-
                                             O     n September 27, 2003, shortly be
                                                   fore the constitutional loya jirga,
                                             Afghan interim president Hamid Karzai
                                                                                                       PM Chrétien meets
                                                                                                        Karzai in Ottawa
stitution concentrate power in the
                                             (and his Foreign Minister, Abdullah) did
hands of its stooge Karzai, even at the
                                             some photo ops in Ottawa at the invita-
expense of the Northern Alliance, its
                                             tion of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
main military ally in ousting the Taliban.
        For his part, Karzai is completely   focus/karzai_visits_canada-en.asp
dependent on the U.S.–politically, fi-
                                                                                         Turkmenistan’s notoriously authoritarian
nancially and militarily. He has no sig-       Chretien in Central Asia                  president Saparmurat Niyazov, to dis-

nificant base outside a limited one               year later, on September 3, 2004,      cuss a multibillion dollar trans-Afghan
among his own Pashtun tribe. So pre-             former-PM Chrétien, then-“Special       pipeline, needed to transport Turk-
carious is his position that the U.S. is     Advisor on International Relations” to      menistan’s vast Caspian Sea oil and gas
providing a special guard to protect him     Calgary’s PetroKazakhstan Inc., met with    reserves to South Asian markets.
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                         19
2003 - Constitutional Loya Jirga
Malalai Joya, Afghanistan’s Youngest Revolutionary
By Sonali Kolhatkar

         n December 17, 2003, a 26-year-
         old woman named Malalai
         Joya joined hundreds of oth-
ers in a large tent in Kabul, Afghani-
stan, to adopt a new constitution for
their war-torn nation. The traditional
gathering, called a loya jirga (grand as-
sembly), was dominated by U.S.-
backed warlords responsible for mass
slaughter and violence in the 1980s and
early 1990s. Malalai Joya was present
as an elected delegate from Farah prov-
ince in western Afghanistan.
        Like the rest of the independent
delegates in the tent, she despised the
warlords. When Joya was granted per-
mission to address the assembly, she
did what no one expected by publicly
and unequivocally denouncing them:
   “My criticism on all my compatriots                          An Interview with Malalai
   is: Why are they allowing the legiti-    In February 2005, Sonali Kolhatkar in-            They said some things against me.
   macy and legality of this loya jirga     terviewed Malalai Joya at her office in        For example, “Die Malalai, she is not
   to come under question with the          Farah City, Afghanistan:                       telling the truth,” “We are against
   presence of those felons who                Kolhatkar: When you were at the             Malalai.” They called me a prostitute,
   brought our country to this state?...    loya jirga in 2003, did you plan on say-       an infidel, a communist, etc.
   The chairman of every committee is       ing the words you said?                           I promise that while I am alive and
   already selected. Why do you not            Joya: I wanted to ask our govern-           have energy, I have decided to work
   take all these criminals to one com-     ment and the countries that helped Af-         more and more for my people and strug-
   mittee so that we see what they want     ghanistan, especially the U.S., “Why           gle until we achieve rights for the
   for this nation? These [men] turned      did you replace the Taliban with the           women of Afghanistan.
   our country into the nucleus of na-      Northern Alliance?” They destroyed                Kolhatkar: How did people of Af-
   tional and international wars. They      our country from 1992 to 1996.                 ghanistan show their support for you?
   were the most anti-women people in          When I went to the loya jirga, I saw           Joya: I am honored and proud. I re-
   the society . . . who brought our        the situation becoming worse each day.         ceived a lot of warm messages. I am a
   country to this state, and they in-      This was not a democratic situation. I         servant of my people. Now I accept this
   tend to do the same again. I believe     finally went to the chief of the loya jirga,   risk because of my people.
   that it is a mistake to test those al-   Mojaddedi, and told him that I wanted             They [warlords] killed a lot of demo-
   ready being tested. They should be       to make a speech on behalf of the              cratic people. Maybe one day they will
   taken to national and international      young generation of Afghanistan.               kill me. But I will never be afraid.
   court. If they are forgiven by our          Before the loya jirga, I made a speech         Kolhatkar: What did you think
   people, the bare-footed Afghan peo-      in Farah. Some told me, “Your speech           about the clause in the constitution
   ple, our history will never forgive      is very dangerous. The warlords are in         that makes Islamic Sharia law the su-
   them. They are all recorded in the       power and they will kill you.” I said, “I      preme law of the land?
   history of our country.”                 will never be afraid. Because I spoke             Joya: The warlords are using the
        Her microphone was cut off be-      the truth and I’m sure that if they kill       name of Islam for their own benefit.
fore she could finish, but the two-minute   me, my people are with me.”                    They are not real jihadis. They are the
speech changed Malalai Joya’s life. She        Kolhatkar: What kind of threats did         enemies of our countries that used Is-
became a heroine of the Afghan people       you receive?                                   lam for about 25 years of war. After the
and a target of the warlords’ wrath.           Joya: After the loya jirga my life com-     Russian puppet regime they committed
Since 2003, she has had her home and        pletely changed. That night the Na-            all kinds of crimes under the name of
office ransacked by warlord support-        tional Army escorted me because they           Islam. Now our people know very well
ers, and has survived four assassina-       knew I was not safe. All of the criminals      that they are not Muslim. But the peo-
tion attempts. The BBC has called her       were very emotional. They attacked the         ple are afraid of them. They have to
“the most famous woman in Afghani-          place where I was staying, the special         obey them.
stan.”                                      place for women at the loya jirga.                Kolhatkar: After the loya jirga, the
20                                                               Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                               Constitutional Loya Jirga - 2003
     then U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan,           en’s rights?”                                  now wear a “suit of democracy.” They
     Zalmay Khalilzad, wrote in the Wash-              Kolhatkar: George Bush and his ad-          have learned to speak about democracy.
     ington Post that the fact that you were        ministration have told Americans that          Some of them are now in the new cabi-
     able to make that speech at the loya           Afghanistan has been liberated, that           net of Afghanistan. Our people are
     jirga was an example of democracy.             Afghan women are now free and that             afraid even of their shadow.
     How do you respond to that?                    there is democracy and elections. How             Also, our people requested of the
        Joya: Why didn’t he say what hap-           do you respond to these claims?                government of Afghanistan, “Please
     pened after the speech? Now, nobody               Joya: It’s just a slogan. There is no       change these policies–do not make
     knows! Now what kind of life does              fundamental change in Afghanistan. In          compromises with the warlords.” In the
     Malalai have? Every step of my life is a       the capital, it’s true that women can          presidential elections, our people once
     risk of death. Now I have to be in the         have jobs and go to school. But in fara-       again trusted Mr. Karzai because they
     house with bodyguards! I hate guns!            way provinces they have many health            wanted to show their hatred for war-
     The guns destroyed our country. But            and educational problems. They have            lords. He promised: “I will never com-
     now I have to wear a burqa! I have to          local warlords that have ideas against         promise with warlords.” I met with Mr.
     take care of my security                       women and girls.                               Karzai. He also promised me that he
        I want you to tell the American peo-           We have two kinds of problems. Our          wouldn’t work with the warlords but
     ple, “Why don’t you ask why they at-           country is a male-dominated. But the           he appointed them to his cabinet.
     tacked this girl in the loya jirga? Does it    other problem, which is even more im-
     mean democracy? Does it mean wom-              portant, is warlords. Some of these men        Source: Clamor, June 10, 2006.

      Hat Trick: Selling “Brand Karzai”
     By Marc W. Herold                              reporting that Karzai was pleased with
                                                    his fame as a “fashion plate.”2 Georgie

           he centrality of image over sub-         Anne Geyer added,
           stance as regards Karzai was re-            “The Washington Post’s congeni-
           vealed in the first weeks after             tally snippy Style Section went fur-
   the Taliban was bombed out of power                 thest in falling all over itself, when
   in December 2001. Besides being a                   writer Robin Givhan wrote breath-
   known and compliant asset of the West,              lessly of Karzai, ‘there is a lot of Hol-
   Hamid Karzai could be marketed to the               lywood’ in the man. ‘Many are cap-
   general public as a man of taste, chic              tivated by his signature hat and bil-
   and aristocratic heritage. Within a                 lowing cloaks in vivid shades of
   month after the Taliban had abandoned               emerald green or exuberant ribbon
   Kandahar, the western press was pro-                stripes,’ she went on. ‘They like his
                             moting Af-                flowing shirt with its banded collar....
                             g h a n i s t a n ’s      Karzai is an alpha male with a pea-
                             “Mr. Chic.”               cock’s flamboyance. Might other
                             Karzai was said           men follow? Designers can only
                             by the poised             dream.’”3
                             BBC to have,                   By mid-2002, he was touring
                             “broken new            Western capitals establishing himself
                             sartorial                 “as a well-educated, westernized
                             ground           by       and stylish [leader]...He won
                             marrying clas-            ...praise from the Gucci fashion
                             sic tailoring             house for his trademark green-and-
                             with ethnic               white traditional Uzbek coat and his
                             fashions.... Mr.          ceremonial karakul hat.”4
                             Karzai has a                   The western press had success-          Gucci’s creative director
                             knack for com-         fully leveraged Karzai’s fashion style           Tom Ford calls Karzai
                             bining classic         into statesmanship. But many Afghans           the world’s “most chic man.”
The pre-makeover and ethnic.                        well knew that “Karzai is not the presi-
      Karzai                 One of his             dent of Afghanistan, B-52 is president.”          than   Good     Fashion      Sense,”
                             trademarks is                                                  , February 1, 2002.
      to layer Nehru-collar shirts, waist-
                                                    Endnotes:                                      4. “Hamid Karzai: Shrewd Statesman,”
                                                    1. See “Picture Gallery: Afghanistan’s ‘Mr.       BBC News, June 14, 2002.
      coat and jacket. He is also well                 Chic’,” BBC News, January 17, 2002.
      known for sporting Astrakhan                  2. “Aghan’s Karzai Aims to be More than a      Source: “Hat Trick: Selling Brand
      hats.”1                                          ‘Fashion Plate’,” Reuters, Jan. 21, 2002.   Karzai,” March 10, 2006.
           By January 2002, the press was           3. “Karzai’s Colorful Clothes Show More
     September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                21
2004 - Presidential Election
                Structural Problems with the Election
Human Rights Watch (HRW) uncov-                      HRW, as well as other observ-        voting will be the marking of voters’
ered significant shortcomings in the         ers and journalists, have found that in      hands with indelible ink when they vote.
registration and election administra-        most provinces it is easy to find men        There may be ways around this safe-
tion process, as well as with interna-       and women who admit they have regis-         guard as well–from bribing officials to
tional monitoring efforts.                   tered more than once.                        allow voters with marked hands to vote
                                                     UNAMA, JEMB and AIHRC                again to various methods allegedly
Registration                                 had numerous complaints of people            available to remove the ink from vot-

        he registration of voters in Af- registering multiple times believing             ers’ hands. [Editor’s note: See pp. 27,
        ghanistan is being widely they could sell their cards to political                28, 29 and 37 for information about “in-
        touted as a success, as up to 11 parties, who would then presumably               delible” ink that was easily washed off.]
million people are expected to register photocopy them for nominating candi-
by election day, including refugees in dates (potential presidential candidates             Monitoring and Election
Iran and Pakistan. But overall numbers need 10,000 photocopied voter cards;                    Administration
are almost certainly inaccurate. As the parliamentary candidates need 500).               The presidential election is going for-
Afghanistan Research and Evaluation                  The Afghan government has            ward with inadequate international elec-
Unit noted in a recent report, the number publicly underplayed the problem.               tion monitoring and staffing for polling
of registered voters in several prov- When asked about multiple registration              sites. The election is certain to be af-
inces is significantly larger than the es- at a press conference with U.S. Secre-         fected by a serious shortfall in staffing
timated population of known eligible tary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in                   for the approximately 5,000 polling
voters.1                                     Kabul on August 11, 2004, Karzai said:       sites. It was originally estimated that
        While population estimates in           “As a matter of fact, it doesn’t bother   125,000 staff would need to be hired.
Afghanistan are a source of contro-             me. If Afghans have two registration      As of a month before the elections, al-
versy, the phenomenon of over-regis-            cards and if they would like to vote      most 100,000 poll workers still had to
                                                                              twice,      be hired and trained–an essentially im-
                                      “If Afghans have two                    well,       possible task.
                                      registration cards and if               w e l -             One senior international NGO
                                                                              come.       official working on election monitoring
                                      they would like to vote
                                                                              This is     issues told HRW in late August:
                                      twice, well, welcome.                   an exer-       “We are 100,000 staff short. The elec-
                                      This is an exercise in                  cise in        tions are only six weeks away and
                                      democracy. Let them                     democ-         there is no polling manual. It is a poor
                                      exercise it twice.... If                racy. Let      process. You need knowledgeable
                                                                              them ex-       officials in the polling stations. If
                                      somebody gives me three
                                                                              ercise it      they get a challenge, will they have
                                      cards, I will take it and               twice.         the knowledge and authority to re-
                                      will go and vote... We are              But it         solve it? Lots of people are complain-
                                      beginning an exercise.                  will not       ing that their voter registration cards
                                      We cannot be perfect.”                  have an        were taken from them…. 10 million
                                                                              impact         voters registered, how many will
tration has occurred in several differ-         on the elections. If somebody gives          show up? 8 million, 4 million? We
ent areas in Afghanistan and exists             me three cards, I will take it and will      don’t know.... Are these elections re-
even when measured against the high-            go and vote. But my choice in vot-           ally legitimate?”3
est population estimates for those ar-          ing will be the same. We are begin-               By late September, hiring had
eas. No data is yet available to estimate       ning an exercise. We cannot be per-       accelerated, but election officials admit-
the number of multiple registered vot-          fect.”                                    ted to HRW that it was likely that sig-
ers, but many officials in UN Assist-                At the end of the same press         nificantly fewer staff would be hired
ance Mission in Afghanistan conference, he correctly noted that                           than the planned 125,000.4
(UNAMA), the Joint Electoral Manage- voters’ hands would be marked with an                        There are certain to be serious
ment Body (JEMB), the Afghanistan indelible ink when they voted, and that                 problems at all polling sites that are
Independent Human Rights Commis- persons with ink on their hands would                    understaffed or have poorly-trained
sion (AIHRC), and Afghan and inter- not be allowed to vote again.                         staff. The staffing problem is especially
national NGOs told HRW that they be-                 It is not clear how much multi-      acute with women. Each polling site is
lieve the overall number of registered ple voting may occur on election day.              supposed to have separate stations for
voters is vastly inflated. Several elec- Voter registration is one safeguard              women, staffed by female poll workers.
tion officials in Kabul told HRW that against voter fraud, and the voting card            In September, the JEMB gave up on the
the number of Afghans expected to vote one of the tools. But now the only re-             goal of recruiting the adequate num-
could be as low as 5 to 7 million.2          maining safeguard left against multiple      bers of female staff (half of whom must
22                                                               Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                                            Presidential Election - 2004
be literate under election laws), and are     dation, various NGO observers, and
now training and appointing elderly           representatives sent by various foreign                            The Great
men to serve at some of the voting sites      embassies in Kabul. Afghan observers
for women, on the theory that sensi-          from registered political parties will also                         Gamble
tivities about women mingling with            monitor polling sites. A coalition of Af-
                                                                                                          By Christina Bennett, Shawna
men, in more conservative areas, will         ghanistan-based NGOs are also at-
                                                                                                          Wakefield and Andrew Wilder, Af-
thereby be assuaged. Nevertheless,            tempting to organize and train hundreds
                                                                                                          ghanistan Research and Evaluation
given those same sensitivities, the           of domestic poll-watchers. In any case,
shortfall in female staff could seriously     the observers can only cover about 10

undermine women’s ability to exercise         to 20% of the approximately 5,000 poll-
                                                                                                                ust as elections have the potential
their right to vote and participate           ing sites and 25,000 polling stations.
                                                                                                                to be a catalyst for positive
equally in the election.                      The majority of stations will not be ob-
                                                                                                                change, there is also significant
        Monitoring efforts are also           served by independent monitors–Af-
                                                                                                          risk that if held before key conditions
anemic. UNAMA and AIHRC launched              ghan or international. Thus, the overall
                                                                                                          are in place, they will actually do more
a project for “verification of political      international election-monitoring effort
                                                                                                          harm than good. There is a real danger
rights” and will monitor the political        will be severely shorthanded, and none
                                                                                                          that the enormous, human and finan-
process through the October 9 election        of the monitoring teams will be able to
                                                                                                          cial resources spent on getting a presi-
and next year’s parliamentary elections.      make a comprehensive evaluation.
                                                                                                          dent elected will be at the expense of
This project is not comprehensive, it                 A senior JEMB official said:
                                                                                                          the more important task of reforming
involves less than one hundred staff.            “There will be major flaws in the
                                                                                                          and strengthening state institutions.
        The Organization for Security            process, and everyone knows it. The
                                                                                                                   In the absence of effective meas-
and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),                context of this election means that if
                                                                                                          ures to disarm local militia commanders
which was asked by the Kabul govern-             a real up-to-snuff election observ-
                                                                                                          and regional warlords throughout the
ment to help monitor the elections, de-          ing mission were...monitor, this elec-
                                                                                                          country, as well as to tackle the narcot-
cided in late July that it could not send        tion would be seen as flawed.”6
                                                                                                          ics trade, it seems likely that elections
an observation team. An OSCE Explora-                 The implications of this lack of
                                                                                                          will be won by candidates with the most
tory Mission Report by the Office for         monitoring are clear: In the absence of
                                                                                                          power to intimidate or buy voters.
Democratic Institutions and Human             a proper evaluation, the election may
                                                                                                                   It will indeed be a cruel irony for
Rights (ODIHR) concluded that the             be seen–erroneously–as a success. No
                                                                                                          Afghans if their first experience of cast-
   “present conditions...are signifi-         election in a country in transition, with
                                                                                                          ing a ballot in national elections is be-
   cantly below the minimum regarded          such an international profile and so
                                                                                                          ing forced to vote for those who have
   by OSCE/ODIHR as necessary for             much international involvement–such
                                                                                                          been responsible for so much of their
   credible election observation.”            as in Cambodia, El Salvador, South Af-
                                                                                                          misery during the past two decades.
        Remarkably, the report recom-         rica–has ever had such an anemic moni-
                                                                                                                   There are real risks in allowing
mended that the OSCE should avoid             toring effort.
                                                                                                          foreign agendas to become the driving
observing the election because it was
                                                                                                          force pushing for elections within a
likely that the monitoring process            Endnotes                                                    timeframe that may jeopardise Afghani-
would uncover substantial flaws and           1. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation
                                                                                                          stan’s future. At present, the U.S. is one
“challenge public and international con-         Unit, “Free, Fair or Flawed: Challenges
                                                                                                          of the strongest advocates (and the
fidence in the process.” In essence, the         for Legitimate Elections in Afghanistan,”
                                                 September 2004.                                          largest donor) for the 2004 elections.
OSCE concluded in advance that it
                                              2. HRW interviews with UNAMA and                                     There is a widely-held percep-
would be critical of the process and
                                                 NGO observation team officials, Kabul,                   tion that this enthusiasm for the elec-
therefore decided not to send a moni-
                                                 September 22 and 23, 2004.                               tion is a result of the Bush administra-
toring team because the criticism might
                                              3. HRW interview with D.L., Aug. 26,                        tion’s need for a foreign policy and
not be “fair, helpful or constructive.”5         2004.                                                    ”war-on-terror” success ahead of the
        The European Union also de-           4. HRW interview with JEMB officials,                       U.S. presidential elections in Novem-
cided against sending monitors for the           Kabul, September 21 and 22, 2004.
                                                                                                          ber 2004, particularly as Iraq appears to
elections, although it will, like the OSCE,   5. Report of the OSCE/ODIHR Explora-
                                                                                                          be less of a success by the day.
send a smaller representative team to            tory Mission to Afghanistan, July 21,
                                                 2004, on file with Human Rights Watch.                            Afghan elections could well le-
observe a few posts in urban areas, and
                                              6. HRW interview with senior JEMB offi-                     gitimise the very individuals deemed to
not make a comprehensive report.
                                                 cial, Kabul.                                             be the most illegitimate by the majority
        There is a lack of will and lead-
                                                                                                          of Afghans.
ership by the JEMB, UNAMA and
among U.S. and international actors in        Source: “The Rule of the Gun: Human
                                              Rights Abuses and Political Repression                      Source: “Afghan Elections: The Great
Kabul, to take the lead on organizing a
                                              in the Run-up to Afghanistan’s Presi-                       Gamble,” Briefing Paper of the Afghani-
monitoring and observation effort. In
                                              dential Election,” HRW Briefing Paper,                      stan Research and Evaluation Unit,
October, the final monitoring effort will
                                              September 2004.                                             November 2003.
consist of a patchwork of international
                                              w w w. h r w. o r g / b a c k g r o u n d e r / a s i a /
observers sponsored by the Asia Foun-                                                                     20elections%20brief.pdf
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                                 23
2004 - Presidential Election
          Recipe for Electoral Fraud
By Andrew Reynolds and Andrew                 leaves considerable scope for the ma-
Wilder, Afghanistan Research and              nipulation of ballots and the intimida-
Evaluation Unit.                              tion of voters.
                                                       Doubts about the Afghan elec-

        ocal police and particularly their    toral process meeting international
        “deputised” substitutes (who          standards have created a dilemma for
        are often militia or former militia   international organisations that usually
members), are open to both manipulat-         send substantial electoral monitoring
ing the vote and themselves being ma-         missions to observe and judge the qual-
nipulated by powerful local or regional       ity of elections. For example, the Or-
commanders–some of whom are presi-            ganisation for Security and Coopera-
dential candidates.                           tion in Europe (OSCE), in the July 2004
         In many areas, it is likely that     Mission Report of its Office for Demo-
hastily-recruited polling staff from lo-      cratic Institutions and Human Rights,
cal villages will be guarded by local po-     stated its concern that the election proc-
lice and observed by local monitors (if       ess might be so flawed that
there are any monitors at all), all under        “scrutiny of the election could chal-       Warlord Abdul Rashid
the watchful eye of the local warlord.           lenge public and international con-
                                                                                            Dostum, Minister of De-
This is a recipe for electoral fraud.            fidence in the process, in the event
         At this late date, the security         that observation identifies substan-      fense, voting for himself in
plan for protecting marked ballots and           tial failings, as conditions described    the presidential elections.
moving them from polling stations to             in the report could envisage.”
regional counting centres remains un-         The report goes on to note that              on the elections could be that it would
clear. The safe and secure movement              “election observation can only lend       leave western governments and insti-
of marked ballots, and stringent secu-           credibility to an election process if     tutions in the awkward position of hav-
rity measures during the counting of             indeed the process is a credible one.”    ing to question the credibility of the
the ballots, must be made a top priority.              Based on this concern, the          electoral process they have pushed,
         In the lead up to presidential       OSCE will not send a “monitoring and         and potentially undermine the victory
elections, the UN Assistance Mission          observation” team, but a small “sup-         of the candidate they would like to see
to Afghanistan was outspoken on the           port team” of between 35-45 individu-        win. The apparent lack of interest and
need for disarmament, demobilisation          als. Similarly, the European Union will      importance being given to monitoring
and reintegration of combatants as a          send a “Democracy and Electoral Sup-         the elections, however, risks sending a
precondition for free and fair elections.     port Mission” consisting of 25 individu-     message that the international commu-
While some progress was made, much            als. There will also be 36 observers from    nity is not actually interested in the qual-
more remains to be done.                      the Southeast Asia-based Asian Net-          ity of the process, only having an end
                                              work for Free Elections supported by         result. This could prove to be tragically
     Election Observation                     The Asia Foundation. Recently, the UN        short-sighted if it ends up detracting
        and Monitoring                        put out a call requesting volunteers to      from the long-term credibility of elec-
An important way to minimise the worst        assist in elections monitoring across the    toral politics in Afghanistan.
incidents of election fraud and intimi-       country, but it is unlikely that at this              The Free and Fair Elections
dation, not to mention being able to          late stage many internationals will be       Foundation of Afghanistan initially
ascertain the legitimacy of the result, is    able to be engaged. This means that          planned to observe 60% of polling sta-
to flood a post-conflict election with        the total international observer pres-       tions, but with limited resources and
international and domestic observers          ence for the presidential elections will     capacity it now estimates it will be able
for the campaign period, vote and             be less than 150.                            to observe only 12%. These will only
count. This strategy was used in Cam-                  The position of international       be in Kabul city and Kabul province,
bodia, South Africa, East Timor, Haiti,       observer missions, all of whom have          as well as in the 33 other provincial capi-
Bosnia, Mozambique and Namibia, and           made clear that they will not be issuing     tals. Most of Afghanistan’s approxi-
for many other post-conflict elections.       public statements on the quality of the      mately 400 districts will therefore have
         Because of security considera-       election process or the legitimacy of the    no independent monitors.
tions, and more dubious issues of po-         final results, amounts to nothing less       Source: “Free, Fair or Flawed: Chal-
litical will, the Afgan presidential elec-    than a damning vote of no confidence         lenges for Legitimate Elections in Af-
tions will not be adequately observed         in the electoral process. All have ap-       ghanistan,” Briefing Paper Series, Af-
by independent groups. The lack of            parently adopted the position that if        ghanistan Research and Evaluation
credible and comprehensive observa-           you can’t say anything nice, don’t say       Unit, September 2004.
tion is a serious threat to a legitimate      anything at all. Of course, an un-stated
electoral process in Afghanistan. It          reason for not making a pronouncement        2004/aeru-afg-13sep.pdf
24                                                                Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                            Presidential Election - 2004
                                                                                       a population of about 28 million have
        The Motions of Democracy                                                       been registered to vote. Afghanistan
                                                                                       watchers say that more than 30% of the
                                                                                       electorate registered their names many
                                                The only woman can-                    times. The names of children also found
                                                didate in the presi-                   their way onto the list. In the areas un-
                                                dential elections was                  der the influence of the Taliban such as
                                                Dr. Masooda Jalal, a                   Zabul province, registration was
                                                paediatrician.                         around 55%.
                                                                                                Only half the Afghan population
                                                   She refused to cast                 is of voting age. Many of the voting
                                                her vote saying that the               cards were issued just before the elec-
                                                election was massively                 tion, stoking suspicions about the elec-
                                                rigged and that people                 toral process. When it was pointed out
                                                could “vote ten times.”                to Karzai that many people were regis-
                                                                                       tering their names more than once, he
                                                   In December 2004,                   said it reflected the growing interest in
                                                she was appointed                      the electoral process.
                                                Minister of Women’s                             Both Karzai and Khalilzad,
                                                Affairs.                               known as the American “Viceroy in
                                                                                       Kabul,” were employees of Unocal, the
                                                                                       American energy giant. Both are also
By John Cherian                             Karzai made a mockery of the election      known to have strong links with U.S.
                                            as it “denied a level playing field” for   intelligence agencies. Khalilzad is a

       rom all available indications, the   all the candidates.                        naturalised first-generation American of
       2004 presidential election in Af-            Another candidate [Abdul Latif     Afghan origin. Until September 2002,
       ghanistan was deeply flawed,         Pedram] told the media that October 9,     the Bush administration was seriously
though U.S. President George W. Bush        2004, was “a very black day” and said      negotiating with the Taliban for a gas
claims it as one of his more notable for-   it marked “the occupation of Afghani-      pipeline through Afghanistan. Unocal
eign policy successes.                      stan by America through election.”         was keen on a pipeline from Turkmen-
        The only woman candidate run-               Many observers believe that the    istan to Pakistan, through Afghanistan.
ning for the election, Masooda Jalal,       voters’ list itself was flawed. A re-      Speaking to Indian journalists in Kabul
refused to cast her vote saying that the    searcher on Afghanistan working for        in October 2004, Khalilzad talked about
election was massively rigged. She said     Human Rights Watch (HRW) said there        the pipeline, predicting that stability
that the ink could be rubbed off peo-       was “widespread/multiple fraudulent        was around the corner in Afghanistan
ple’s hands in a minute and that people     registration so the numbers are highly     and so India should once again start
could “vote ten times.” She said that       unreliable.” HRW finds it impossible to    giving serious thought to the trans-Af-
the Bush administration’s support for       believe that 10.5 million Afghans out of   ghan pipeline from Turkmenistan.
                                                                                                Khalilzad is widely perceived as
                                                                                       the “eminence grise” behind Karzai. He
  Uzbek presidential
                                                                                       is credited with persuading Burha-
  candidate Abdul Satar                                                                nuddin Rabbani, a leading light in the
  Sirat, a former aide to                                                              Northern Alliance, to switch to Karzai’s
  Afghanistan’s last king                                                              camp. One of Rabbani’s sons has been
  Zahir Shah, said:                                                                    assured of a senior position in the new
                                                                                       Karzai dispensation. Both were likely
   “Today’s election is not                                                            to be accommodated in senior posi-
   a legitimate election.                                                              tions.
   It should be stopped                                                                         UN-approved “poll facilitators”
                                                                                       from the Organisation for Security and
   and we don’t recognize                                                              Co-operation in Europe have conceded
   the results.... This vote                                                           that there were shortcomings in the elec-
   is a fraud and any                                                                  tion but said that nullifying the results
   government formed                                                                   would amount to a great injustice to
   from it is illegitimate.”                                                           the people of Afghanistan.

  Source: Paul Haven, “Afghan                                                          Source: Frontline (India), October 23 -
  Opposition Alleges Election                                                          November 5, 2004.
  Fraud,” AP, October 9, 2004.                                               
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                           25
2004 - Presidential Election
                Postcard From Kabul
By Christian Parenti                         lots, still others ran out of ballots or
                                             space in ballot boxes. On top of that,

          espite a large voter turnout in    there were numerous allegations of in-
          Kabul and other major cities,      timidation. One presidential candidate
          the Afghan presidential elec-      claimed his observers saw the police in
tion has been a farce. Instead of Taliban    Kabul telling people to vote for Karzai.
violence, the balloting was besieged by              By noon most of Karzai’s oppo-
a wave of fraud and technical errors.        nents, or their deputies, had gathered
All of Karzai’s opponents denounced          at the home of one candidate, Satar
the vote as illegitimate, triggering a lo-   Sirat. A crush of journalists soon de-
cal and perhaps international credibil-      scended. In came the UN and EU repre-
ity crisis for the U.S.-appointed Presi-     sentatives. The U.S. Ambassador was          “We have all sworn not to
dent Hamid Karzai and the international      said to be on his way, but cancelled.       join Karzai’s cabinet. Just
occupation of Afghanistan.                   When candidates emerged after hours
        Real trouble began at dawn on        in seclusion, Sirat addressed the throng
                                                                                           let him try and govern,”
October 9, 2004, when voters found that      of reporters. He denounced the elec-        said presidential candidate
the indelible ink used to mark their         tions as a fraud and reeled off a list of    and warlord, Ahmad Shah
thumbs and prevent repeat voting was         irregularities. “This is not a legitimate   Ahmadzai, a former prime
washing off. This, combined with the         election. We call for a boycott of the        minister of Afghanistan
proliferation of fake voting cards, meant    election.... Karzai should resign.”
that many people were able to cast                   Other candidates added their
                                                                                           (1995-1996) during the
votes multiple times.                        own comments. “We should postpone              fundamentalist regime.
                                                                                         sanctum of the classy, but slightly run-
                                                                                         down, presidential palace, we met
                                                                                         Karzai. The exchange that followed was
                                                                                         at times surreal and sadly comical.
                                                                                                  “The commission will look into
                                                                                         all of these problems but I am sure the
                                                                                         vote was free,” said the cloak-draped
                                                                                         Karzai after a few jokes and greetings.
                                                                                             “Who is more important, these 15
                                                                                             candidates, or the millions of people
                                                                                             who turned out today to vote?”
                                                                                         Karzai went on to say:
                                                                                             “Both myself and all these 15 candi-
                                                                                             dates should respect our people, be-
                                                                                             cause in the dust, snow and rain,
                                                                                             they waited for vote.”
  “I voted three times,” said an Afghan soldier guarding                                          At several points, Karzai,
                                                                                         sounding increasingly defensive, in-
     the presidential palace. “But I can’t tell you who
                                                                                         voked the image of “a poor hungry, cold
 I voted for, it’s a secret,” he added with a straight face.                             Afghan woman waiting to vote. She
        “I voted three times,” said an       and vote again after Ramadan,” said         cannot be intimidated.”
Afghan soldier guarding the presiden-        Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai. “We have all                    When pressed with specific ex-
tial palace. “But I can’t tell you who I     sworn not to join Karzai’s cabinet. Just    amples of allegations that his campaign
voted for, it’s a secret,” he added with a   let him try and govern,” threatened the     used fraud and intimidation, the presi-
straight face.                               old mujahideen veteran.                     dent grew visibly irritated:
        “I saw a man vote six times, I               A serious crisis had emerged.           “What report? Human Rights
swear,” said a female election observer              Despite the candidates’ lunch-          Watch? They do not understand
at a poll across town. A few Western         time call for a boycott, the UN decided         Afghan culture. Tribal culture, it is
journalists watched as their drivers         to carry on with the vote. Then, in the         very democratic. Tribal elders can-
voted three and four times.                  late afternoon, Karzai held a restricted,       not be intimidated. They do not
        When news of the vanishing ink       invitation-only press conference. Some          know what is really going on.”
spread, some polls closed, then reo-         of us uninvited journalists talked our      Source: The Nation, October 9, 2004.
pened. Other polls ran out of ballots,       way in, through layer upon layer of
others had no pens for marking the bal-      DynCorp security guards. In the inner       20041105001405300.htm

26                                                              Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                             Presidential Election - 2004

   Vote Rigging and Fraud Ensured Karzai’s Victory
By Khalid Bhatti                            them. Money was provided to differ-          main candidates used their force in their
                                            ent tribal chiefs and elders. Many of        strongholds. Almost two million votes

         amid Karzai won the first presi-   them said that they received US$10,000       were falsely registered. These were used
         dential election in Afghani-       to US$80,000 to buy votes for Karzai.        to show a high turnout. Many people
         stan, with American help,                  Khalilzad also used his influ-       confessed that they had cast more than
money and rigging.                          ence to ensure that some Pashtun can-        one vote. In Paktia, 100 voters were in-
        People had no choice in this        didates withdrew from the contest. He        terviewed by one Pakistani TV reporter.
election, except to choose a ‘lesser        promised to give important positions         Sixty-five confessed that they cast be-
evil.’ All the candidates represent one     to many warlords in the future govern-       tween two and five votes. This was the
or another section of the elite. All the    ment if they supported Karzai. It was        case in many areas. A more realistic es-
candidates were part of the U.S. hand-      Khalilzad who persuaded all the candi-       timate of the turnout was given at
picked, interim government. Most are        dates to accept the results of the elec-     around 58% – among Afghan refugees
warlords and ex-guerrilla leaders           tion and to end their boycott.               in Iran, 40%. Only 32% of women reg-
                                                                                         istered. And in many areas they were
                                                                                         not allowed to vote by local fanatic
                                                                                         groups and tribal elders. It is not possi-
                                                                                         ble to get a high turnout without fraud,
                                                                                         multiple voting and rigging.
                                                                                                  Karzai promised a better life if
                                                                                         he was elected. He also warned people
                                                                                         that if he lost, reconstruction would end,
                                                                                         with the so-called ‘international com-
                                                                                         munity’ would not give any more
                                                                                         money. Many who voted for him be-
                                                                                         lieved that. The reality is quite differ-
                                                                                         ent. Karzai has failed to solve any of
  ...and, thanks to a little help from his friends...                                    the fundamental problems faced by the
                                                                                         Afghan masses. Education, health, em-
  Karzai won the presidential election in Afghanistan,                                   ployment, electricity, clean drinking
thanks to substantial U.S. help, financing and—of course—                                water, land irrigation and a free and se-
   the widespread vote rigging and fraud also helped.                                    cure life are still just a dream, after three
                                                                                         years of American rule.
Zalmay Khalilzad                            Vote Rigging and Fraud                                The previous record of Karzai
Afghan-born American ambassador in          The allegations of vote rigging, fraud       has shown that he is just a puppet of
Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, played       and irregularities were made by all the      U.S. imperialism. He has no interest in
the most important role in Karzai’s vic-    defeated candidates. The main issue          solving the problems of the people. His
tory. In fact, he was in charge of the      was the use of ‘indelible ink’ on the vot-   rule is completely dependent on U.S.
campaign and holds the real power. Ac-      ers’ thumbs. It could be washed off!         and NATO forces.
cording to leading Pakistani newspa-        That provided the opportunity for many       Source: “Democracy in Afghanistan,”
pers, like Dawn and the Daily Times,        to cast more than one vote. Fake regis-      Socialism Today (London, England),
the U.S. spent US$195 million to get        tration was also reported.                   December 2004-Jan. 2005.
Karzai elected. This money was paid to              There is no doubt that all the
different warlords and local command-
ers to secure their support. Burha-                                Canada had to Ensure Election
nuddin Rabbani’s party, Jamiat-i-Islami,
got US$1 million. Abdul Rasool                                     “met International Standards”
Sayyaf’s party, Ittehad-e-Islami, got                              “When we were pursuing the Bonn
US$1.3 million. One local commander                                agenda....we had to... ensure that the
from Jalal Abad said that he got                                   interim President Karzai, competed in an
US$30,000 to buy votes for Karzai.
        Afghan refugee camps in Paki-
                                                                   election that met international standards,
stan witnessed the same tactics. In one                            which he obviously did with great gusto
camp near Peshawar, US$10 were given                               and great success.”
for each vote. Karzai hired 700 people
in Pakistan to run his campaign. Each
                                            Chris Alexander, Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan (2003-05)
of them was paid US$100 per day and         Source: Canada’s Role in Afghanistan, August 2005.
150 luxury jeeps were also given to         cip-pic/current_discussions/afghanistanbackground-en.asp
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                 27
2004 - Presidential Election
                                      Ballots in Battlefields
By Farooq Sulehria                           torn apart in the last quarter century.       the Los Angeles Times, Khalilzad met
                                             The National Assembly of Afghanistan,         so many candidates and potential can-

          amid Karzai won the election.      a coalition of over 100 nationalist, secu-    didates to “persuade” them to with-
          That was hardly a surprise.        lar political groups, lent support to         draw, that warlords from the Northern
          None of Karzai’s 14 rivals, as     Karzai, despite all their criticism of him,   Alliance met to discuss Khalilzad’s
was expected, posed any serious chal-        in order to block a complete Northern         “arm-twisting.”
lenge. The main challenger and runner        Alliance victory.                                     Khalilzad began with friendly
up, warlord Younis Qanooni, a North-                 The Afghan left, on the other         offers of road-building or ministerial
ern Alliance leader and ethnic Tajik,        hand, was too weak to form a united           posts, but if that didn’t work, he’d turn
could hardly secure 16%, while Hazara        front and present a candidate. Rem-           to more “muscular” measures. “He told
warlord Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq and            nants of the old Peoples Democratic           me to drop out of the elections,” said
notorious Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid         Party of Afghanistan and the Maoist           presidential contender Mohammed
Dostum got 11% and 10%, respectively.        Afghan Liberation Organization (ALO)          Mohaqiq, “it was like a request.” But
        Karzai was initially recruited by    are in the process of re-organizing.          when Mohaqiq’s demands for a gover-
Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence       Most of Afghan’s left gave critical sup-      norship or cabinet position weren’t met,
(ISI) for the Afghan National Liberation     port to Karzai. Said ALO’s Tahir Khan:        he insisted on running. Khalilzad “left,
Front (ANLF) in 1982. The ANLF was a            “None of the candidates were desir-        and then called my most loyal men, and
CIA-ISI project to co-ordinate ‘jihad’          able for us, but since the people’s        the most educated people in my party
activities. Son of a Kandahar-based             struggle is centered against funda-        and told them to make me–or request
Karzai tribe, Karzai since has been in          mentalism, and most people were            me–to resign,” Mohaqiq said.
the service of the CIA.                         afraid that once again a fundamen-            “It’s not only me. They have been
        Karzai even lent help to the            talist person might come to power,            doing the same thing with all candi-
Taliban, supplying it with arms when it         and therefore preferred Karzai                dates. That is why all people think
seized control of Kabul [in 1996]. The          among all other candidates. Consid-           that not only is Khalilzad like this,
U.S. imposed him as an interim presi-           ering the lack of an independent and          but the whole U.S. government is
dent in violation of the loya jirga. Be-        democratic candidate and preferring           the same. They all want Karzai–and
ing a U.S. choice and an old CIA agent,         the worse than the worst, the ALO             this election is just a show.”
he was quite unpopular, because the             also favored Karzai.”                      Despite Khalilzad’s, efforts, however,
U.S. is hated in Afghanistan, as in the              Arif Afghani, leader of the Af-       only two candidates withdrew.
rest of the Muslim world. The Afghan         ghan Solidarity Party, a component of                 The next problem for Khalilzad
people want to see U.S. troops leave as      the National Assembly of Afghanistan,         and Karzai was that all fourteen of
soon as possible. But by voting for          said “It is an historic tragedy that the      Karzai’s rivals declared a boycott of the
Karzai, Afghans [believed they were]         left had to lend support to Karzai.”          election. This would have cast a
voting against warlords of all hues.                 Behind the scenes, the U.S.           shadow over these first-ever Afghan
Karzai was seen as a lesser evil. At least   Ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, may             presidential elections. However,
he had not been running a militia and        have been the busiest person in Af-           Khalilzad managed to woo all candi-
committing atrocities, looting and plun-     ghanistan during the election cam-            dates back into the electoral arena.
dering like the other candidates.            paign. A former consultant to the U.S.                The basis for the boycott was
        In addition, many voted for          oil firm Unocal, Khalilzad first tried to     the charge of election rigging. These
Karzai in the hope of peace.                 persuade Karzai’s electoral rivals to         charges were not baseless, but candi-
        But, above all, it was a vote to     withdraw from the race. According to          dates denouncing such fraud were also
reject warlordism. Although the run-
ners-up, all notorious warlords, also                                     U.S. War Ambassador,
managed to garner a big chunk of votes,                                     Zalmay Khalilzad:
their votes remained limited to their                                        Afghanistan (2003-05)
fiefdoms. Guns, money and ethnicity,                                          Iraq (2005-present)
all played a role in securing their votes.
        The landslide for Karzai not only
showed Afghani frustration with
warlordism, it was also a question of
lacking any alternative.
        The 25-year-long civil war has
impoverished and disempowered the
Afghan masses and civil society. The
tribal structure, political parties, trade
unions, student unions–in short every
component of civil society–has been
28                                                               Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                               Presidential Election - 2004
                                                                                           on warlords as a transitional phase in
                                                                                           which he needs to depend on them until
                                                                                           he is strong. This was a paradox Af-
                                                                                           ghan voters had to face. They voted
                                                                                           for Karzai to reject warlordism, despite
                                                                                           Karzai’s dependence on warlords.
                                                                                                   “On winning elections, Karzai
                                                                                           will get rid of Northern Alliance,” hoped
                                                                                           Afghan Solidarity Party leader Arif
                                                                                           Afghani, trying to clarify this paradox.
                                                                                           Will Karzai be able to use the legitimacy
                                                                                           obtained from his electoral victory to
                                                                                           control the all-powerful warlords?
                                                                                           That’s close to impossible. The war-
                                                                                           lords command militias comprising
                                                                                           40,000 to 60,000 men. In 2004, the com-
   Ahmad Zia Massoud                                   Karim Khalili                       bined strength of the Afghan police and
                                                                                           Afghan National Army (ANA) did not
The policy of Karzai’s regime is that of appeasement and                                   match the militias’ strength in either
accommodation to warlords. In fact, Karzai and his U.S.                                    men or material. Karzai has the backing
masters depend on warlords to run the government. One of                                   of around 18,000 U.S.-led troops and
his two vice presidents, Karim Khalili, is an ethnic Hazara                                8,000 NATO-led troops. By contrast,
                                                                                           Karzai’s fledgling army has 14,000
warlord. The other, Ahmed Zia Massoud, is the brother of
                                                                                           troops. No reconstruction is possible
revered Northern Alliance warlord, Ahmad Shah Massoud.                                     unless the ANA and the Afghan police
                                                                                           disarm the warlord’s militias.
doing the same thing. All the powerful           me if Afghans have two registration
                                                                                                   But the policy of the U.S./Karzai
warlords either bought votes or coerced          cards and if they like to vote twice,
                                                                                           regime has been that of appeasement
people in their fiefdoms to vote for             well welcome.... This is an exercise
                                                                                           and accommodation. Not only have
them. Sahar Saba, a leading member of            in democracy and let them exercise
                                                                                           warlords been accommodated, an at-
the Revolutionary Afghan Women’s                 it twice.”
                                                                                           tempt has been made to woo sections
Association, said:                            And many voters did indeed “exercise”
                                                                                           of the Taliban. With one group of war-
    “Qanooni’s men were standing out-         democracy in this way, in some cases,
                                                                                           lords on his side, Karzai will not be able
    side polling stations for immigrants      half a dozen times on election day.
                                                                                           to disarm another group of warlords.
    in Pakistan with dollars in their hands           Many Afghans, particularly
                                                                                                   Karzai’s decision to remove
    to buy votes.”                            men, registered many times. The rumor
                                                                                           Ismail Khan as governor of Herat prov-
         Prior to the elections, UN elec-     that one could sell a voting card for a
                                                                                           ince, just weeks before election, won
tion officials scrambled to explain why       hundred U.S. dollars drove poor Af-
                                                                                           Karzai widespread support. It also de-
more than 9.9 million voter cards had         ghans to make some quick bucks. And,
                                                                                           veloped an illusion among Afghans that
been issued, given that they had origi-       as a result, 5.63 million male voters reg-
                                                                                           Karzai would disarm the warlords as
nally estimated only 9.8 million voters.      istered, although the number of eligi-
                                                                                           soon as he strengthens his grip on
One example of gross disparity oc-            ble male voters was only 5.12 million.
                                                                                           power. It remains to be seen whether
curred in the province of Panjshir,           This means there were at least half a
                                                                                           Ismail Khan’s removal was merely an
where more than 124,000 voting cards          million fake male voters.
                                                                                           election stunt or whether Karzai is seri-
were issued although the original voter               The future of Afghan democ-
                                                                                           ous about disarming warlords.* Is
estimate was only 49,573.                     racy depends, above all, like everything
                                                                                           Karzai’s Washington master serious
         The explanation was simple: the      else in this war-torn country, on the
                                                                                           about democratizing Afghanistan? Or,
voters’ lists were fake. “We know that        security situation. Karzai must expand
                                                                                           was this a one-time show for a Bush
multiple registration has happened,”          an undersized army and police force
                                                                                           “foreign policy” success on the eve of
UN spokesperson Manoel de Almeida             and persuade 40,000 militiamen to give
                                                                                           the U.S. presidential election?
e Silva confessed.                            up their weapons in a bid to dilute the
         Afghan President Hamid Karzai        power of warlords. But he himself and        * Editor’s note: Karzai’s removal of
acknowledged that between 1,000 and           his U.S. masters depend on warlords to       warlord Ismail Khan as Herat governor,
100,000 people had more than one vot-         run the government.                          was indeed an election charade to de-
ing card. But instead of being apolo-                 One of his two vice presidents,      ceive the electorate. Once elected,
getic for this grave mishandling, he jus-     Karim Khalili, is a warlord from the         Karzai made Khan the minister respon-
tified it. At a Kabul press conference        Hazara minority. The other, Ahmed Zia        sible for water and energy.
with U.S. Secretary of Defence Donald         Massoud, is the brother of revered
                                                                                           Source: ZNet, October 31, 2004.
Rumsfeld beside him, Karzai said:             Northern Alliance warlord Ahmad Shah
    “As a matter of fact, it doesn’t bother   Massoud. Afghans see his dependence          itemID=6531%20&sectionID=49
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                29
2004 - Presidential Election
  Afghan Elections: U.S. Solution to a U.S. Problem
By Jim Ingalls and Sonali Kolhatkar, co-
directors of Afghan Women’s Mission.

     . Alexander Thier, a former legal ad-
     viser to Afghanistan’s Constitu-
     tional and Judicial Reform Commis-
sions, is one of the few commentators
who has dared to utter the simple fact
that elections do not equal democracy:
   “Elections themselves are only a
   small part of democracy.... Effective

                                                                                                                                  Photo: Christopher Anderson
   government service, protection of in-
   dividual rights, accountability -
   these are the true fruits of democ-
   racy. Holding elections without the
   rule of law can undermine democ-
   racy by sparking violence, sowing
   cynicism and allowing undemocratic
   forces to become entrenched....
   [Elections are merely] the end prod-        Women line up to vote during the presidential elections.
   uct of a successful democracy.”
        Regardless of who wins the elec-   population but only 43% of registered nesty International (AI) reveal that
tions and by what means, civil society     voters. Additionally, sharp differences sexual violence has surged since the
in Afghanistan is anything but demo-       in literacy between men and women put fall of the Taliban, and there has been a
cratic. Foreign influence, particularly    women at a huge disadvantage. Only sharp rise in incidents of women’s self-
U.S. influence, has ensured that inse-     10% of Afghan women can read and immolation in western Afghanistan. AI
curity, warlordism and a severely cur-     write. While school attendance of girls also documented an escalation in the
tailed media are entrenched features of    has increased to about 50% nation- number of girls and young women ab-
the political landscape.                   wide, it is too early to affect women vot- ducted and forced into marriage, with
                                                                      ers. Furthermore, collusion from the state. (Those who
                         On International Women’s under Karzai’s resist are often imprisoned.)
                         Day 2004, Hamid Karzai presidency, mar-                               U.S. policy has empowered ex-
                         implored men to allow their ried women were treme fundamentalists who have further
                         wives and sisters to register banned from at- extended women’s oppression in a tra-
                                                                      tending schools ditionally ultra-conservative society. In
                         to vote, assuring them, in late 2003.                          a public opinion survey conducted in
                         “later, you can control who                         W h i l e Afghanistan in July 2004 by the Asia
                         she votes for, but please, let much mileage Foundation, 72% of respondents said
                         her go [to register].”                       was squeezed that men should advise women on their
                                                                      out of the notion voting choices and 87% of all Afghans
Women as Pawns in Election that the U.S. “liberated” Afghan women, interviewed said women would need
The Bush administration constantly only US$112,500 out of US$650 million their husband’s permission to vote.
calls attention to the fact that 4 million of U.S. financial aid sent to Afghani-              On International Women’s Day
of those who registered to vote in Af- stan in 2002 was actually given to wom- 2004, Hamid Karzai only encouraged
ghanistan were women. Just as the “lib- en’s organizations. (That’s one dollar such attitudes. He implored men to al-
eration” of Afghan women was used to out of every US$5,000.)
justify the bombing of Afghanistan In 2003, according to When presidential can-
three years ago, women’s participation Ritu Sharma, Executive
                                                                           didate Abdul Latif
in U.S. imposed election is again used Director of the Wom-
to justify the U.S. approach. While the en’s Edge Coalition, Pedram, went so far as
administration deals in broad statistics that amount was re- to suggest that polygamy
to paint a rosy picture, a closer look duced to US$90,000.                 was unfair to women, he
reveals that the Afghan political envi-             M e a n w h i l e , was barred from the
ronment, controlled by U.S.-backed women have increas-
                                                                           election and investigated
warlords and a U.S.-backed president, ingly been the targets
remains extremely hostile to women.        of violence. New stud-
                                                                           for “blasphemy” by the
        Women comprise 60% of the ies by groups like Am- Afghan Justice Ministry.
30                                                            Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                             Presidential Election - 2004
low their wives and sisters to register                                “Afghanistan is now at a stage where
to vote, assuring them, “later, you can
control who she votes for, but please,                                 democracy has taken root and is paying
let her go [to register].” Most of the                                 dividends, in particular in terms of
candidates running against Karzai have                                 building the confidence and pride of
mentioned womens rights in some form                                   Afghans in their country. Both the
or another as part of their campaign plat-                             adoption of a constitution and the
forms. While this is obligatory in post-
Taliban Afghanistan, it is little more                                 presidential election last October are
than lip service. Latif Pedram, a candi-                               watersheds in Afghanistan’s transition.”
date who went slightly further than oth-                               Source: “Statement to the UN Security Council on
ers by suggesting that polygamy was                                    Afghanistan,” August 23, 2005.
unfair to women, was barred from the                         
election and investigated by the Af-                                   unsc_statements-en.asp?id=5941&content_type=2
ghan Justice Ministry for “blasphemy.”
         Just like the Afghan constitu-      Allan Rock, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN (2003-2006)
tion signed earlier this year, which gives
                                                concern, followed by reconstruction        afraid of disobeying them.”
equal rights to women on paper, this
                                                and economic development.”              The intimidation tactics of Abdul
election will probably have little bear-
                                             To 65% of respondents, “warlords and       Dostum and others are no secret.
ing on the reality of Afghan women’s
                                             local commanders are the main sources              But the wider context of the
lives. Denied an education and
                                             of instability in the country.”            warlords’ power is rarely mentioned. As
underrepresented in voter rolls, with lit-
                                                      While most women may need         part of Bush’s “War on Terror,” the U.S.
tle control over the patriarchal justice
                                             permission from their husbands to vote,    made deals with Northern Alliance war-
system and sexist family attitudes,
                                             their choices will be extremely limited,   lords in his crusade against the Taliban.
women are once more simply pawns
                                             since most Afghans are being intimi-       Warlords were appointed to high-level
within the U.S.-designed, Afghan po-
                                             dated by U.S. backed warlords into vot-    government posts and allowed to re-
litical structure.
                                             ing for them. According to Brad Adams,     gain regional power.
         A recent countrywide survey of
                                             Asia Director at Human Rights Watch:
Afghans by the International Republi-
                                                “Many voters in rural areas say the     Source: CommonDreams, Oct. 7, 2004.
can Institute found that more than:
                                                [warlord] militias have already told
    “60% cited security as their primary                                                31.htm
                                                them how to vote, and that they’re

                    Government Riddled with Drug Ties
By Scott Baldauf and Faye Bowers, staff writers, The Chris-
tian Science Monitor.

        he post-Taliban boom in opium production means
        that drug money now permeates every stratum of
        Afghanistan’s society–from farmers cultivating pop-
pies to the highest levels of the government, according to
senior Afghan and European officials working here.
        “We are already a narco-state,” says Mohammad
Nadery at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commis-
sion, which has studied the growing impunity of former mili-
tary commanders and drug dealers working in government:
   “If the governors...are involved in the drug trade, if a min-   warn that this fledgling democracy is being undermined as
   ister is directly or indirectly getting benefits from drug      Afghan officials make decisions based on what’s good for
   trade, and if a chief of police gets money from drug traf-      the drug trade, rather than the electorate.
   fickers, then how else do you define a narco-state?”                   Ursula Müller, political counsellor at the German Em-
        Abdul Karim Brahowie, Afghanistan’s minister of            bassy in Washington, has said: “Those the drug
tribal and frontier affairs, says that the government has be-      business are in all levels of Afghanistan’s government.”
come so full of drug smugglers that cabinet meetings have                 Many regional warlords and opponents of the Taliban
become a farce. “Sometimes the people who complain the             are now top officials in the Karzai government. One of the
loudest about theft are thieves themselves,” he says.              most complicated tasks is to get corrupt officials to turn
        The UN reports that poppy cultivation increased by         away from the drug trade as a source of personal income.
two-thirds in 2004 to 323,708 acres. Afghanistan now pro-
duces 90% of the world’s opium. Most of it ends up on the          Source: The Christian Science Monitor, May 13, 2005.
streets of Europe and Russia as heroin. European officials
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                            31
2005 - Parliamentary Elections
         U.S. Exporting Fake Democracy — By Force
By Sonali Kolhatkar and Jim Ingalls

             arlords, most of whom have
             past or present U.S. back-
             ing, still rule much of the
countryside and will play a big role in
the 2005 elections. A survey by the
Human Rights Research and Advocacy

                                                                                                                                    UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Consortium found that most Afghans
are fearful that the elections will be used
by the “commanders” [i.e., the warlords]
to cement their power.1
        According to election rules,
those commanding private armies are
to be disqualified. In July 2005, the Elec-
toral Complaints Commission “black-
listed”208 candidates with ties to ille-
gal armed groups. But by mid-Septem-
ber, only 45 low-profile candidates were
actually disqualified. Meanwhile, war-             A Voter Searches for his Candidate on the Ballot
lords like Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf, whose
criminal past has been documented by        strongmen is a wise policy.”                  What Will Change?
Human Rights Watch, are openly run-                 Karzai’s government also prom- Many analysts suggest that the Sep-
ning for Parliament. So are former          ised former Taliban fighters immunity tember 2005, elections will probably re-
Taliban officials, like ex-deputy interior  from prosecution for war crimes. Under sult in very little change. There will be
minister Mullah Khaksar. [Sayyaf won, this U.S.-initiated program, even Mullah 5,800 candidates running for 249 seats
but Khaksar did not. The latter was as-     Omar, the notorious Taliban chief, in the Wolesi Jirga (House of the Peo-
sassinated in January 2006.]                would receive immunity if he recants.2 ple), and 34 representatives on provin-
        U.S.-backed president Hamid                 Particularly relevant to the par- cial councils. Rules set up by Karzai,
Karzai defended the right of warlords       liamentary elections, a recent report by with the approval of the U.S., allow po-
to run for parliament, in the interests of  the Kabul-based Afghanistan Justice litical parties, but don’t allow party af-
“national reconciliation.” This was just    Project, concludes that                   filiations to be printed on electoral bal-
one in a series of conces-                                                            lots. Joanna Nathan of the International
sions that Karzai made to                                                             Crisis Group predicts that the assem-
warlords. In October                                                                  bly will be a “weak and fractured, pos-
2004, he ran for president      Former Taliban                                        sibly even paralyzed body.” Barnett
on an ostensibly anti-          officials, like                                       Rubin of New York University says that
warlord platform, saying,       the ex-deputy                                         the elections won’t make much differ-
“Private militias are the       interior mini-                                        ence because:
country’s greatest dan-                                                                   “Until Afghanistan has a function-
                                ster Mullah
ger.” To back up his                                                                      ing, legal economy and basic insti-
rhetoric, Karzai sacked         Mohammed                                                  tutions, there’s nothing for a parlia-
two warlords in his cabi-       Khaksar, were                                             ment to do except act as a kind of
net and pretended to fire       allowed to run in                                         puppet platform for people’s views.”
warlord Ismail Khan by          the parliamentary                                              In a recent trip to Afghanistan
removing him as gover-                                                                we interviewed Noorani, editor of Ka-
nor of Herat. After he                                                                bul’s weekly paper, Rozgharan. He de-
won the elections, Karzai                                                             scribed three groups that will be repre-
appointed Khan Minister                                                               sented in the parliamentary elections:
of Energy, and brought in the feared           “U.S. forces have jeopardized pros-        “Firstly, Karzai and his technocrats,
warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, former            pects for establishing stable and ac-      another group belonging to Qa-
Defense Minister and presidential can-         countable institutions in Afghani-         nooni, Dostum and Mohaqiq [war-
didate, as Army Chief of Staff.                stan, have undermined the security         lords] and the third, a group of intel-
        The U.S. ambassador to Af-             of the Afghan people … and have            lectuals, who are unhappy with the
ghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad endorsed            reinforced a pattern of impunity that      failure of Karzai and the warlords.”
Karzai’s decision, saying in March 2005        undermines the legitimacy of the                Noorani complained that the
that giving “a role to…regional                political process.”3                   third group has no support from the
32                                                             Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                        Parliamentary Elections - 2005
world community. In addition, they              secular society, a disarming of the      Endnotes
have little economic power and are un-          country, and freedom of the press.”      1. “Afghan Voters Worry ‘Guns and
der threat from the warlords.                Between 30% and 40% of SPA’s mem-              Money’ Will Affect Election,”
        In this third group, there are nu-   bers are women. Engineer says the Soli-, September 13, 2005.
merous parties organizing against fun-       darity Party is not alone–but are part of   2. Paul McGeough, “Old Ways Linger Be-
damentalism and for social justice and       a forum of 16 anti-fundamentalist par-         neath a Veil of Votes,” Sydney Morning
                                             ties throughout the country.                   Herald (Australia), September 10, 2005.
democracy. The Solidarity Party of Af-
                                                                                         3. Casting Shadows: War Crimes and
ghanistan (SPA), for example, criticizes             Washington likes to highlight
                                                                                            Crimes Against Humanity, 1978-2001,
both Karzai and the warlords. SPA rep-       its contributions to Afghanistan’s
                                                                                            Afghanistan Justice Project, July 2005.
resentative, Wasay Engineer, said his        progress toward “democracy,” but U.S.
party’s platform is based on                 actions in the name of democracy un-        Source: Foreign Policy In Focus, Sep-
   “women’s rights, democracy and            dermine real democracy-building.            tember 16, 2005.

               Zalmay Khalilzad’s Career                                                     Parliamentary
   1979-89: Worked with Zbigniew Brzez-
inski, Carter’s National Security Advisor.                                                     Elections
   1984: Accepted Council on Foreign
Relations fellowship to State Department.
   1985-89: Senior U.S. State Department
                                                                                         E    lection authorities declared that in
                                                                                              the parliamentary elections, only
                                                                                         53% of registered voters participated,
official advising on the war in Afghani-                                                 as compared with over 75% of voters
stan and Iran-Iraq war, and Special Advi-                                                in the presidential elections of 2004.
sor on Afghanistan, promoting a mujahi-                                                          Although there were no secu-
deen-led government. Special assistant                                                   rity problems in Kabul, only 36% of the
to Reagan and Bush (senior) for South-                                                   registered voters showed up at the polls.
west Asia, Near East and North Africa.                                                   Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that
   1991-92: Senior U.S. Defense Depart-                                                  voters were put off by the complexity
ment official for policy planning, and a                                                 of the ballots, disenchantment with the
counsellor to Donald Rumsfeld. Khalilzad                                                 performance of the government and in-
viewed the Taliban as a potential force                                                  ternational community, and the pres-
for stability and a counter balance to Iran.                                             ence of too many candidates with
He only changed these views after 9-11.                                                  records of serious human rights abuses.
   Mid-1990s: Worked for Cambridge En-                                                           HRW documented attempts by
ergy Research Assoc. (an oil-industry/                                                   warlords to subvert the elections. Regu-
gov’t think tank) doing risk analyses for                                                lations barring candidates associated
UNOCAL’s proposed 1,400 km, US$2-bil- Rumsfeld and Khalilzad                             with armed factions from running for
lion natural gas pipeline from Turkmen-       The Biggest Warlords                       office were poorly enforced, and armed
istan through Afghanistan to Pakistan.                                                   factions supported their candidates by
   1993-99: Director of the Strategy, Doc-
                                                    in Afghanistan
                                                                                         threatening independent candidates
trine and Force Structure program of the RAND Corporation’s “Project Air Force.”         and intimidating voters. Women candi-
   2001: Special Assistant to the President and the National Security Council’s          dates, who were guaranteed at least
Senior Director for Gulf, Southwest Asia and Other Regional Issues.                      25% of parliament’s seats, faced par-
   2003-05: U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. Received a U.S. Department of                ticular challenges in reaching out to
Defence (DoD) medal for outstanding public service. (See DoD photo above.)               voters and campaigning.
   2005-present: U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.                                                        Among the more infamous, suc-
Source: Zalmay Khalilzad, Wikipedia,              cessful candidates, implicated in war
                                                                                         crimes and crimes against humanity that
          Khalilzad’s Oil and Gas Connections                                            occurred in Kabul in the early 1990s
                                                                                         were: Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Burhanuddin
T    o assure that the natural gas pipeline would proceed, the Afghani-American
     Zalmay Khalilzad, who had been a member of the CentGas project, became
the President’s Special National Security Assistant. Khalilzad then became Presi-
                                                                                         Rabbani, Mullah Taj Mohammad,
                                                                                         Younis Qanooni, Haji Al-Mas and
                                                                                         Mullah Ezatullah. Even Mullah Abdul
dent Bush’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan.
                                                                                         Salim “Rocketi,” a notorious Taliban
        Khalilzad is the son of a former government official under King Zahir Shah.
                                                                                         commander, ran and won in Zabul prov-
Khalilzad was a special liaison between U.S. oil-giant UNOCAL and the Taliban
government. Khalilzad also worked on various risk analyses for the pipeline project
under the direction of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, a former mem-         Source: World Report 2006. Human
ber of the board of another oil company, namely Chevron.                                 Rights Watch.
Source: Dr. Norman D. Livergood, “The New U.S.-British Oil Imperialism.”                 w w w. u n h c r. o rg / c g i - b i n / t e x i s / v t x /                                                            print?tbl=RSDCOI&id=43cfaea029
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                               33
2005 - Parliamentary Elections
  Serious Flaws Marred the Wolesi Jirga Elections

        ignificant problems marred the
        parliamentary elections for the
        Wolesi Jirga (WJ, or House of
the People). There were allegations of
intimidation and vote rigging on elec-
tion day, and widespread reports of
fraud during ballot-counting.
         The elections were also a victim
of Afghanistan’s weak judicial institu-
tions as well as a preference to accom-
modate rather than confront many can-
didates with the potential to cause trou-
ble. The resulting lax candidate-vet-
ting process enabled many candidates
with links to illegal armed groups, nar-
cotics trafficking, criminal gangs, as
well as some facing war-crime allega-
tions, to contest and win seats. These
factors undermined the perceived cred-
ibility of the elections and tarnished the     Younis Qanooni not only won his seat, he then defeated
image of the new National Assembly in
the eyes of many Afghans
                                              several other top elected warlords (Mohammad Mohaqiq,
         The Joint Electoral Manage-              Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ismail Sayyaf), in the
ment Body (JEMB), which consisted of           subsequent race to become the Speaker of Parliament.
nine Afghan members and four inter-
national members [including one Cana-                About 133 of the 249 WJ mem-           60% in the capital Kabul have links
dian] plus the Chief Electoral Officer,      bers fought in the jihad, which suggests       to armed groups.”4
had overall authority for the elections.     a conservative outlook. About 113 be-               The ECC disqualified 17 candi-
         The Electoral Complaints Com-       long to, or are affiliated with, parties   dates during the candidate challenge
mission (ECC)–the official, independ-        that could be classified as conserva-      process, and 37 more who actually ap-
ent body established by law to handle        tive/fundamentalist or moderate/tradi-     peared on the ballots. Of these 54 can-
electoral grievances–was inundated           tionalist Islamic parties.                 didates, 34 were disqualified for hav-
with 5,397 registered complaints, which                                                 ing links to illegal armed groups, 12 for
delayed the announcement of the final                 Law Makers or                     holding a prohibited government posi-
election results until mid-November.1                 Law Breakers?                     tion, five for having insufficient valid
         Most of the allegations were not    The unsavoury reputations of a large       signatures to support their candidacies,
sufficiently substantiated to be consid-     number of newly elected WJ members         and three for violating the election
ered by the ECC, and the JEMB did not        are tarnishing the image of the WJ be-     Code of Conduct or law.5
believe that the level of fraud affected     fore it has even convened. The inter-               However, the vetting of candi-
“the integrity of the elections.”2           national and national press have pub-      dates was not always a transparent
         However, research conducted         lished numerous stories on the war-        process or one that was uniformly ap-
for this study, and interviews of voters     lords, drug lords, human rights viola-     plied. In Ghor Province, for example,
and candidates appearing in the press,       tors and plain criminals that won seats    considerable evidence existed to dis-
suggest that public perceptions of           in the National Assembly. According        qualify a candidate with well-known
these elections are considerably less        to one well-informed analysis, the         ongoing links to an illegal armed group.
positive than the JEMB’s assessment.         newly-elected WJ will include 40 com-      However, the name of the candidate was
                                             manders still associated with armed        reportedly not submitted to the ECC as
        Election Results                     groups, 24 members belonging to crimi-     there were concerns that his disqualifi-
Not surprisingly, a predominately con-       nal gangs, 17 drug traffickers and 19      cation would be “destabilising.”6
servative society has elected a pre-         who face serious allegations of war                 These political considerations
dominately conservative parliament.          crimes and human rights violations.3       help explain why, according to one elec-
Several religious scholars and leaders               An even more pessimistic as-       tion official’s estimate, 207 candidates
were elected, including Professor            sessment was given by the Deputy           with links to illegal armed groups made
Rabbani and Professor Abdul Rasul            Head of the Afghan Independent Hu-         it through the vetting process.7
Sayyaf, and 17 other candidates with         man Rights Commission, who stated:                  It is clear that electoral bodies
religious titles attached to their names,        “more than 80% of winning candi-       like the ECC should not be expected to
such as mawlawi, mullah, Qazi and Qari.         dates in the provinces and more than    take on the role of courts and make de-
34                                                              Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                          Parliamentary Elections - 2005
cisions on crimes against humanity and
links to armed groups.8 However, the                     A List of Voting Problems
diminished reputation, moral authority                                                     agents inside polling centres, as offend-
                                                     Technical Problems

and legitimacy of the WJ could be one                                                      ers sought to influence outcomes or to
                                                        he Afghanistan Independent
of the many consequences of the inat-                                                      disrupt the electoral process.
                                                        Human Rights Commission
tention to transitional justice issues by
the government and the international
                                                        (AIHRC) identified the follow-     x At some polling centres in Logar,
                                               ing technical problems on election day      Parwan and Kabul provinces some
community for the past four years. Sev-
                                               (September 18, 2005):                       JEMB staff violated voters’ freedom of
eral interviewees expressed concerns
                                               x Delays in opening of polling sta-         expression by marking ballots them-
that the prestige previously associated
                                               tions, ranging from half an hour to two     selves, claiming that as the voters are
with being an MP would be lost due to
                                               hours in some places. This showed that      illiterate, they were helping them.
the bad reputations of so many newly-
elected members. A WJ candidate from           Joint Electoral Management Body             x Polling stations were not pro-
Kandahar questioned the return that            (JEMB) staff were ill-prepared. This        vided in prisons, detention centres or
will be given on the major investment          caused frustration among voters. Some       hospitals, and people with some types
in elections at this point in time:            left without voting.                        of disabilities could not vote. The po-
   “There will be three groups in par-         x Electoral staff at many poll-                       litical rights of many Afghans
   liament–smugglers, commanders               ing centres did not have suf-                              were denied. This was a
   [warlords] and educated people.…            ficient training. Some cen-                                   systematic offence
   They should not have spent this             tres were disorganised                                          throughout the elec-
   much on elections. They should              and staff were unaware                                            toral process as
   have just selected some people from         of their duties and                                                JEMB ignored rec-
   the provinces and districts. Now            what steps to take                                                 ommendations to
   we’ve spent lots of money only to           when confronted with                                               address these is-
   send warlords and criminals to par-         difficulties.                                                      sues.
   liament. Human rights organisations         x Insufficient                                                   xSome JEMB staff
   in other countries are taking war           quantities of indelible ink                                     entered polling booths
   criminals to court, but in Afghani-         were provided and indel-                                      allegedly telling voters
   stan, war criminals…are being al-           ible ink was washable.           AIHRC                      who to vote for.
   lowed to contest and win elections.         x Information advising voters                             x JEMB staff directed
   Elections shouldn’t have been held          about disqualified candidates was not       children and women to vote for certain
   yet–people are still scared of war-         provided. Some voters therefore likely      candidates.
   lords and couldn’t vote freely.”9           voted for ineligible candidates. Even       x Candidates were observed cam-
                                               JEMB staff did not know which candi-        paigning inside polling centres, particu-
                                               dates had been disqualified.                larly in the south of the country.
1. Media release, Nov. 10, 2005, “Com-
   plaints Process Promotes Rule of Law.”      x Closing of the polling stations           x Candidate campaign posters were
2. AFP, Oct. 16, 2005, “First Results Fi-      was marred by confusion among JEMB          seen at several polling centres.
   nalized after Afghanistan Vote.”            staff as to what the final procedure was    x Large numbers of candidate
3. Personal communication with interna-        and whether ballot boxes should be          agents were observed at many polling
   tional official, Kabul, Nov. 10, 2005.      transferred, and where to.                  booths.
4. IRIN News, Oct. 18, 2005, “Rights body
   warns of warlords’ success in elections,”   x In most areas, monitors and ob-
   Afghanistan Research & Evaluation           servers for political parties and candi-                Electoral Fraud
   Unit.                                       dates were not clear about their respon-    x     Men were found to be voting sev-
5. ECC media release, Op. cit.                 sibilities and duties. Their lack of un-    eral times “on behalf of” the female
6. Interview, Herat, September 26, 2005.       derstanding and coordination caused         members of their family.
7. “Afghanistan votes: A Glass Half Full,      panic among voters, while in some other     x The ballot box in a women’s poll-
   An Opportunity Wasted,” The Econo-          cases they were very provocative.           ing station was full of votes, despite
   mist, September 15, 2005.                                                               very few women actually coming to the
8. See the OSCE report, “Election Support           Repeated Electoral                     polling station. In other polling centres,
   Team to Afghanistan: Recommendations
   on 2005 Parliamentary Elections,” Oc-
                                                    Offences Observed                      children were observed voting.
   tober 6, 2005.                              x     Voter intimidation included:          x At others, broken ballot boxes and
9. Interview with WJ candidate, Kandahar,            (1) Lack of security in certain re-   irregularities in the numbers of ballot
   October 6, 2005.                            gions resulted indirectly in the intimi-    boxes were recorded.
                                               dation of people in general, and women
Source: Afghanistan Research and               in particular away from polling centres.    Source: AIHRC Media Release, “Af-
Evaluation Unit, Briefing Paper: “A                  (2) Women as a group were in-         ghan Parliamentary Elections,” Septem-
House Divided? Analysing the 2005              timidated from voting in some districts.    ber 19, 2005.
Afghan Elections,” December 2005.                    (3) There was direct intimidation
                                               by some JEMB staff, and by party            elec_19_09.htm
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                35
2005 - Parliamentary Elections
Not All MPs are “Warlords, Drug Lords & Smugglers”
By Declan Walsh
                                                             Conflicting Faces in Parliament

            rich cast of characters will fill
           the 249-seat Wolesi Jirga par-
           liament that was elected in
September 2005. For some legislators,
just sitting together will be a major feat.
         Grizzled warlords will sit near
fresh-faced young women. Former guer-

                                                                                                                                Photo: Declan Walsh
rilla commanders and retired army gen-
erals from the 1980s conflict against the
Soviet-controlled Afghan government
will also sit side-by-side. And to reach
their seats, some may have to squeeze
past a retired Taliban fighter or a re-
cently-returned Afghan American.                                                             Mullah Abdul Salam,
         At a training session for MPs,                                                    or “Rocketi,” is a former
Mullah Abdul Salam “Rocketi” of Zabul
province shook hands and cracked
                                                                                          Taliban fighter named for
jokes with fellow legislator Shukria                                                      his skill at aiming rockets.
Barakzai. “She is my new friend,” smiled
Rocketi, a bearlike former Taliban fighter          Shukria Barakzai, Editor-in-Chief and founder of
named for his skill at aiming rockets.           Aina-E-Zan (Women’s Mirror), a weekly Kabul newspaper.
         “If people want to change their
                                                “The failed policies of the last three not protect
ideas, we should give them a chance,”
said Barakzai, one of 68 women elected          the security of Afghanistan but are obstacles to it. The
under a gender quota. “But they must            support of armed groups and outlaws does not support the
remember the past is the past.”                 people and has slowed down the democratic process.
         Human Rights Watch (HRW)                 In many provinces and villages...there is no difference
estimates that 60% of the new legisla-
                                                between before the Taliban regime, the time of the Taliban,
tors have links to warlords. HRW sin-
gled out Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a power-           and now. Child marriage, forced marriage and violence
ful militia commander whose guns rav-           against women are still common and accepted practices....
aged Kabul residents in the 1990s, and            It is still a great risk to be a journalist. Journalists are
Mohammed Fahim, a former defense                often jailed and their lives threatened.”
minister accused of war crimes.
         Sam Zarifi, who heads the Asia         for the Afghan national airline, he                “A war criminal is someone who
division for HRW, said:                         sought asylum 25 years ago after di-      killed innocent people,” said Haji Al-
    “There is widespread cynicism               verting a DC-10 jet to Germany. He then   Mas, a former commander [warlord] in
    about this parliament. How can peo-         moved to California to earn US$22,000     Kabul. “But those who fought against
    ple trust a government which allows         a month as a United Airlines pilot. He    terrorism and the Taliban are not war-
    warlords and notorious human                said the prospect of sitting beside men   lords. They are holy warriors.”
    rights abusers into power?”                 notorious for Afghanistan’s worst                  Another concern is corruption.
         A European diplomat, who asked         bloodshed was “stomach churning.”         The parliament’s first task will be to
not to be named, said that about 20 leg-                Some analysts say it’s anyone’s   elect a speaker–a race that has already
islators still have active private militias     guess whether such a diverse group–       been marred by allegations of vote-
and that at least 20 more have been in-         an estimated 20% is illiterate–will be    buying at up to US$600 per vote.
volved in drug smuggling. Afghanistan           able to work together to pass legisla-             Many MPs appealed to critics
produces 87% of the world’s heroin, ac-         tion. A fractious parliament might suit   not to write them off. “Don’t forget
cording to a recent U.N. study.                 Karzai, who still wields most political   this is not just a collection of warlords,
         But the parliament also has            power. But a weak assembly could dam-     drug lords and smugglers,” Barakzai
many political newcomers who say they           age his reform credentials and breed      said. “We have good people as well.”
are determined to make a difference–            widespread disillusionment about long-
including one from Southern California.         promised reconstruction.                  Source: Chronicle Foreign Service,
         Daoud Sultanzoi left his Malibu                One of the first issues new MPs   December 19, 2005.
beachfront house in October 2005 to             might have to confront is whether to
sit in the new parliament. A former pilot       bring human-rights abusers to justice.    2005/12/19/MNGOEGA9T81.DTL

36                                                                Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                          Parliamentary Elections - 2005
     Bush Congratulates Afghans                                     Warlords take Elections
      for “Successful Elections”

                                                                              hmad Fahim Hakim, deputy

H     ere is U.S. President George W. Bush’s official response
      to parliamentary elections in Afghanistan:
   “I congratulate the Afghan people and Afghan govern-
                                                                              chairman the Afghan Inde-
                                                                              pendent Human Rights
                                                                    Commission, reported that:
   ment for today’s successful parliamentary elections, which           “More than 80% of winning can-
   are a major step forward in Afghanistan’s development as             didates in provinces and more
   a democratic state governed by the rule of law.”                     than 60% in the capital Kabul
Source: “Bush, Rice Congratulate Afghanistan on Success-                have links to armed groups.”
ful Elections,” Office of the Press Secretary, Sept. 18, 2005.      He added that some of the new MPs                 were themselves notorious warlords.
                                                                             Horia Mosadiq, country di-
  JEMB says Elections were Fair                                     rector for the Human Rights Re-

T    he Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) announced
     that it had completed the certification of all final results
from this year’s historic Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council
                                                                    search and Advocacy Consortium, Ahmad F.Hakim
                                                                    said one of the main reasons for the
                                                                    low voter turnout was the presence of candidates linked to
elections. Bissmillah Bissmil, Chairman of JEMB said:               illegal, armed groups.
                            “With the certification of final re-             Electoral law barred anyone with links to armed
                                sults for Kandahar and the          groups seeking election, but many warlords involved in the
                                   country-wide Kuchi con-          bloodshed of the past quarter-century slipped through a
                                     stituency, we have now         UN-backed review.
                                       completed certification               Local analyst Qasim Akhgar warned that having war-
                                        of all final results for    lords in parliament would disappoint many Afghans seeking
                                        both the Wolesi Jirga       an arms-free society after more than 20 years of war and
                                        and the Provincial          destruction: “If warlords infiltrate the parliament, the parlia-
                                        Council elections. To-      ment would lose the support of people…and it will deceler-
                                        day marks an impor-         ate the process of democracy.”
                                       tant milestone in Af-                 At least 50 [JEMB] electoral staff were fired for al-
                                      ghanistan’s transition to     leged fraud, following accusations of irregularities that
                                   a stable and strong democ-       sparked protests across the country.
                                 racy. The newly elected mem-                Electoral officials said about 680 ballot boxes (3% of
                             bers will go on to represent and       the total voteswere taken out of the counting process be-
                     serve the people of their provinces and        cause of the fraud allegations.
   the hopes and aspirations of the people are with them as
                                                                    Source: IRIN News, October 18, 2005. Integrated Regional
   they work to help rebuild our country.”
                                                                    Information Networks, UN Office for the Coordination of
Source: “JEMB certifies all final results for Wolesi Jirga and
                                                                    Humanitarian Affairs.
Provincial Council elections,” Government of the Islamic  
Republic of Afghanistan, November 12, 2005.                         Region=Asia&SelectCountry=AFGHANISTAN

                                              Martin Applauded “Successful” Elections

                                                    rime Minister                                   accountable institu-
                                                     Paul Martin is-                                tions of government.
                                                     sued an official                                    Canada con-
                                             statement praising the                                 gratulates the Afghan
                                             Afghan parliamentary                                   government and eve-
                                             elections and Cana-                                    ryone who worked so
                                             da’s role in them:                                     hard to make these
                                                “These successful                                   elections a success:
P    ierre Pettigrew, Canada’s Foreign
     Affairs Minister (2004-2006) met
with Afghanistan’s Foreign Affairs
                                                elections represent
                                                a major step for-
                                                                                                    elections officials and
                                                                                                    everyone who partici-
                                                ward on Afghani-                                    pated on the Joint
Minister Abdullah, in Montreal on May
                                                stan’s path to             Prime Minister           Electoral Manage-
30, 2005. This was Abdullah’s second
                                                greater stability and                               ment Body, as well as
visit to Canada since his appointment
                                                peace. Canada will
                                                                      Paul Martin (2004-2006) national and interna-
to the post in 2004.
                                                continue to support democracy in tional observers.”
Source: www.canada-afghanistan.                 Afghanistan by helping to keep the Source: Media Release, Office of the                     peace and to build responsible and Prime Minister, September 19, 2005.
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                               37
2005 - Life in Parliament
Joya Causes Uproar on the First Day of Parliament
                                                                                    “I offer my condolences to the
                                                                                    people of our country for the
                                                                                    presence of warlords, drug lords
                                                                                    and criminals [in Parliament].”

                                                                                    “Those with money, power and
                                                                                    backed by foreign countries
                                                                                    came into parliament. Their
                                                                                    presence pollutes our parl-
                                                                                    iament as a legislative source.”

                                                                                    “President Bush owes us an
                                                                                    apology for supporting extrem-
                                                                                    ist warlords, the Northern
                                                                                    Alliance criminals.”

A     mong Afghanistan’s legislators are
      some accused of human rights
abuses and many are unhappy at the
                                             M      alalai Joya is one of the most out-
                                                    spoken critics of the makeup of
                                             the new parliament, whose members in-
                                                                                          M      alalai Joya was the only discord-
                                                                                                 ant voice on December 19, 2005,
                                                                                          at a very consensual ceremony [to open
preponderance of such figures in par-        clude warlords, militia commanders and       Afghanistan’s new parliament].
liament. Malalai Joya, known for her         former Taliban officials. She said:                  Denouncing the presence of war
outburst against them at the constitu-          “I’ll try to introduce legislation that   lords in parliament, she asserted that
tional convention, again denounced              will protect the rights of the op-           “the men and women of Afghanistan
their presence in the National Assem-           pressed people and safeguard wom-            are like pigeons who have been freed
bly.                                            en’s rights... Those who came here           from Taliban cages, but whose
        “I offer my condolences to the          under the name of democracy should           wings have been cut off and who
people of our country for the presence          not be given the chance to continue          are in the claws of vampires who
of warlords, drug lords and criminals           their crimes under the slogan of de-         suck their blood.”
[in Parliament],” Ms. Joya said at an           mocracy... I will continue my strug-      She added that “most of those vam-
impromptu news conference after the             gle against warlords... especially        pires are to be found in parliament.”
swearing-in ceremony. The people of             against those parties who destroyed               Directly attacking the American
Afghanistan have recently “escaped              our country.”                             godfather, she added:
the Taliban cage but still they are          Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, De-          “President Bush owes us an apol-
trapped in the cage of those who are         cember 20, 2005.                                ogy for supporting extremist war
called warlords,” she said.                                                                  lords, the Northern Alliance crimi-
        Hers was the only angry voice
of the day.
The New York Times, December 19, 2005
                                             M      alalai Joya has vowed to stand
                                                    up against warlords elected to
                                                                                          Le Monde, December 20, 2005.

M       alalai Joya said the cycle of vio-
        lence in her country would not
                                                “Our people are concerned that the
                                                election took place in an armed en-
                                                vironment, and that is why our peo-
                                                                                          A     debate erupted over the poten-
                                                                                                tially explosive issue of warlords
                                                                                          sitting among the elected representa-
end until those who commit violence             ple and the international community       tives.
are punished, rather than being allowed         should not have expected democratic                Malalai Joya called for all of Af-
to sit as members of parliament. But she        elections, which didn’t take place....    ghanistan’s human rights abusers and
was not optimistic that this would hap-              Those with money, power and          “criminal warlords” to be brought to
pen anytime soon:                               backed by foreign countries came          justice. Delegates responded by
   “How can our people be hopeful that          into parliament. Their presence pol-      pounding their fists on the tables to
   the parliament will arrange a way to         lutes our parliament as a legislative     demand that she sit down. She refused,
   put the war criminals of our country         source. But...some real and true rep-     shouting that it was her right as an
   in international or national courts          resentatives of people also came into     elected official to speak.
   when some of the most famous crimi-          this parliament. But, unfortunately,      USA Today, December 20, 2005.
   nals in the country are in parlia-           they are in a minority.”
   ment?”                                    Golnaz Esfandiari, Radio Free Europe         Source: Website, Defense Committee
Asia Times, December 21, 2005.               / Radio Liberty, December 19, 2005.          for Malalai Joya.
38                                                               Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                                      Life in Parliament - 2005
Joya’s Goal as MP is to Expose the Sham Parliament
   Sonali Kolhatkar: Why did you run           cannot conclude that people elected          painful and disgraceful way. The U.S.
for parliament?                                their killers as their representatives. It   is relying on the killers of tens of thou-
   Malalai Joya: Hundreds of people            was a fraud and an unfair election proc-     sands of Kabul residents and allowing
from Farah and other provinces insisted        ess that made them MPs.                      representatives of these killers to enter
that I run. I was intending to decline            Kolhatkar: What is the U.S. posi-         and dominate the parliament and impor-
because I believe parliament will never        tion on warlords today?                      tant posts in the government.
bring anything positive for the nation.           Joya: As the U.S. administration re-          Kolhatkar: How can you change the
But my supporters kept saying “Your            vived the warlords in the first place, it    political status quo with so many war-
voice at the loya jirga gave us hope           continues to support and rely on them.       lords in parliament alongside you?
that there is at least one who under-          The U.S., as before, is not bothered by          Joya: I think that such a claim would
stands our suffering. Now we want you          which criminal band rules the country        be too much for me, or any other pro-
to be the voice of voiceless at parlia-        as long as it is obedient to Washing-        people MP. But, as I’ve promised to my
ment.” I couldn’t help but accept the          ton, no matter how cruel, corrupt and        people, I’ll never get tired of unmask-
honor to be the voice of my oppressed          anti-democratic it is. Many in Afghani-      ing the criminals in the parliament, gov-
nation in a parliament dominated by            stan are of the opinion that America’s       ernment or judiciary.
criminal warlords.                             highly-trumpeted “war against drugs              I feel my presence in the parliament
   I will feel satisfied if I succeed in ex-
posing the real nature of the current                                                  “The criminals sitting there [in
parliament and informing the Afghan                                                    Parliament] are making laws for
people from within the parliament that                                                 the benefit of the rich, the drug
the criminals sitting there are making                                                 traffickers, warlords and high-
laws for the benefit of the rich, the drug
traffickers, warlords and high-level bu-                                               level bureaucrats.”
reaucrats, and against the aspirations
                                                                                “America’s highly-trumpeted
of the down-trodden masses.
   Kolhatkar: If the warlords are so un-                                        ‘war against drugs and terror-
popular, how is it that so many of them                                         ism,’ and its campaign to
were elected to the parliament?                                                 ‘promote democracy,’ are bogus
   Joya: Afghanistan is still a country                                         because the U.S. has forged a
strangled by the hands of the Northern
                                                                                unity with the most infamous,
Alliance. These are fundamentalist
bands notorious for their terrible crimes                                       anti-democratic, religious
between 1992 and 1996. After 9/11,                                      Malalai terrorists and drug-mafia
America and its allies helped these                                      Joya forces in Afghanistan’s history.”
criminals oc-
cupy Kabul                                     Burhanuddin Rabbani was                 “The warlords have not been
and dominate                                   the president of Afghan-                elected by the people but by
the      entire                                istan during the mujahe-                the killing machine, political
country. In a
country under
                                               deen’s fundamentalist                   power, billions of dollars and the
such religious                                 regime (1992-1996).                     intimidation of fundamentalists
fascists, hold-                                He was elected to parl-                 supported by the U.S. and
ing free and                                   iament as an MP in 2005.                numerous NGOs.”
elections is out of the question. Elec-        and terrorism,” and its campaign to          will lead to a small increase in political
tions in such conditions are widely            “promote democracy,” are bogus be-           consciousness. If that does not hap-
rigged. It is unbelievable, but still a re-    cause the U.S. has forged a unity with       pen, then I will definitely resign. I would
ality, that regarding the issue of multi-      the most infamous, anti-democratic, re-      like the world to know that the Afghan
ple voting, Karzai himself openly justi-       ligious terrorists and drug-mafia forces     parliament is another instrument in the
fied it by saying “This is an exercise in      in Afghanistan’s history.                    hand of fundamentalists to try to legiti-
democracy. Let them exercise it twice!”           The U.S. government has its own           mate and perpetuate their bloody rule
   The warlords have not been elected          strategic agenda in our country. The         in the country.
by the people but by the killing machine,      U.S. ambassador and secretary of state       Source: “If I Arise: Talking with Malalai
political power, billions of dollars and       have claimed that the U.S. will not re-      Joya, Afghanistan’s Youngest Revolu-
the intimidation of fundamentalists            peat its past mistake of supporting fun-     tionary,” Clamor, June 10, 2006.
supported by the U.S. and numerous             damentalists. However, the U.S. is re-
NGOs. It was not a free election, so one       peating that “mistake” in a much more        ItemID=10406
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                  39
Life in Parliament - 2006
MP Attacked in Parliament for Denouncing Warlords!
This report was written by an Afghan
journalist in Kabul, who–for security
reasons–wishes to remain anonymous.

          n May 7, 2006, Malalai Joya re-
          sponded in parliament to a
          warlord who referred to the
brutal and criminal atrocities of the
mujahaeen regime as “mistakes.” Joya
said: “There is a big difference between
mistakes and crimes.” She then said:
    “There were two types of mujahi-
    deen, one who were really mujahi-
    deen, and the second who killed tens
    of thousands of innocent people and
    used the holy war of Afghans against
    the Soviet Union as a motive to gain
    power and destroyed our country.”
         When her speech finished, some
MPs hurled bottles at her, including:
• Parwin Durranai, a woman MP who–
   with the help of Saudi Wahabis–was        P.Durranai             Q.N.Ahmad                 S . Ni a z a i     M.Ishaqzai
   granted a seat in parliament to repre-             Those supporting Joya have           received death threats because of the
   sent Afghan nomads.                       also received death threats. Mr.              press conference they held for Joya
• Qazi Nazir Ahmad, a commander of           Qazizada, an MP from Herat, told Joya         after she was attacked by warlords.
   Rabbani’s Jamiat-e-Islami gang, an        that if he is killed, it would be by war-
   Islamic party in power (1992-1996).       lord Ismail Khan’s followers. A Kabul-        Source: May 9, 2006. Malalai Joya
• Saifoor Niazai, an executive member        based journalist’s association said they      website:
   of Jamiat e Islami in Mazar e Sharif (a
   northern Afghan city).                    Some Women MPs Walk Out in Protest
• Malali Ishaqzai from Qandahar, the
   unofficial capital of the Taliban.        By Jean MacKenzie and Wahidullah
         Some well-respected MPs             Amani.
quickly formed a human ring around
Joya and called for security forces.
         However, other warlords imme-
                                             T    he attack against Joya in parliament
                                                  sparked a walkout of female mem-
                                             bers. On May 9, 2006, they boycotted
diately began insulting her with foul        the parliamentary session for several
language, calling her a prostitute and       hours, until the speaker, Younis
ordering their followers to rape her.        Qanooni, himself a prominent figure
Some warlords yelled at Joya, calling        from the mujahedin era, apologised.
her a communist and accusing her of                  “There were about 30 or 40 of
being a member of the Revolutionary          us,” said Shukria Paikan Ahmadi, a
Association of Women of Afghanistan.         deputy from Kunduz. [Editor’s note:
         Shukria Barakzai, a woman MP        That is about half of the women MPs.]
from Kabul, later confirmed during an           “The mujahedin are always intimi-
interview with Tolo TV, that warlords           dating us and we can’t say what we
had threatened to rape and kill Joya.           want. When a women was speaking,           Shukria Paikan Ahmadi
         According to another MP, a fa-         a commander [warlord] from Herat
mous warlord–Rasul Sayyaf–ordered                                                             “We cannot accept this... We just do
                                                told her to be quiet, otherwise they’d
someone to wait by the door and knife                                                         not have the patience. It would be
                                                do to her what they did to Malalai
Joya as she walked out.                                                                       better to leave parliament forever.”
                                                [Joya].... The warlords are a majority
         [Burhanuddin] Rabbani and              in parliament. And even though they        Source: “Afghanistan’s Buzkashi Par-
Sayyaf, two gang leaders [warlords]             are all from different factions, in this   liament,” Afghan Recovery Report,
who had committed atrocities under the          they are together. They are all            May 17, 2006. Institute for War and
name of Islam and jihad, unsuccessfully         against us, against the women.”            Peace Reporting.
tried to use Joya’s speech as a reason               Ahmadi described as “savage”
to discuss her status in parliament.         the behaviour of those attacking Joya:        news/index.php?articleID=60
40                                                               Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                                  Life in Parliament - 2006
  Drug Trade Reaches right up into Afghan Cabinet
By Toby Harnden
                                                                       Some Afghan cabinet ministers are

        ome Afghan cabinet ministers
                                                                       deeply implicated in the drug trade
        are deeply implicated in the
        drug trade and could be di-                                  and could be diverting foreign aid into
verting foreign aid into trafficking,                                 trafficking, said Habibullah Qaderi,
said Habibullah Qaderi, the coun-                                     Aghanistan’s anti-narcotics minister.
try’s anti-narcotics minister, on Feb-
ruary 4, 2005.
         The admission will dismay
Western governments, which just
pledged US$10.5 billion in aid to help
fight poverty, improve security and
crack down on the drugs trade.
         It raises the prospect that
money being donated by the West
could be used indirectly to kill Brit-
ish soldiers, 3,300 of whom will be
stationed in anarchic Helmand prov-
ince, where corrupt officials, insur-
gents and drug lords overlap.
         “I don’t deny that,” said
Qaderi in a Sunday Telegraph inter-
view, when asked whether corruption            ing. We all know the names. But I           tion. But there are legitimate targets–
linked to the £2.7 billion-a-year drug         have never seen any direct evidence         mobile labs and stockpiles–which
trade went right up to the cabinet.            and I don’t know anyone who has.”           only drug lords, rather than ordinary
         Such high-level criminality, he            Ali Ahmad Jalali, who resigned         poppy growers, are involved with.”
said, would help account for why “a lot     as Afghanistan’s interior minister last             A British official said that some
of trafficking through different parts of   year, said:                                 Afghan MPs are linked to the drug trade
the country” was being conducted with          “Sometimes government officials al-      and that some officials had to be cir-
apparent impunity.                             low their own cars to be used for a      cumvented because they were cor-
         But Qaderi declined to name           fee. Sometimes they give protection      rupted by drugs:
names and said Afghanistan’s weak              to traffickers.                             “There are plenty of people in the
justice system, itself bedevilled by cor-           In Afghanistan, corruption is a        national assembly who are very
ruption, meant that it was difficult to        low-risk enterprise in a high-risk en-      dodgy. Corruption is endemic so I
convert allegations and rumours into           vironment. Because of the lack of in-       have to be careful with some figures
fact. “The question is how to find evi-        vestigative capacity it is very diffi-      in the Afghan set-up who might not
dence against these people.”                   cult to get evidence. You always end        be 100% committed to eradicating
         In Kabul, the houses of several       up arresting foot soldiers.”                drugs.”
senior politicians resemble small pal-              But he accused Western gov-                 The World Bank recently casti-
aces with marble corridors, painstak-       ernments of exaggerating the problem        gated Western governments for failing
ingly manicured lawns and dozens of         to justify limiting their long-term com-    to channel money through the Afghan
armed guards. Even in a provincial town     mitment to rebuilding Afghanistan. The      government, leading to vast amounts
such as Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah,     “drug problem in Afghanistan is de-         of cash being spent on exorbitant sala-
ostentatious homes stand in stark con-      mand-driven” from the West, he said,        ries, security guards and fortified ac-
trast to the surrounding poverty and        with 90% of profits being made outside      commodation for aid workers.
are known as houses of “smugglers,”         the country. NATO policies, moreover,               The Kabul Weekly, an Afghan
a euphemism for drug traffickers.           had helped to consolidate the drug          newspaper, summed up the dilemma:
         Western aid officials and sev-     lords because they had focused solely          “If aid is given to NGOs, huge
eral European diplomats named the           on fighting Taliban and insurgent              amounts go into their own expendi-
same high-ranking politicians and offi-     forces rather than attacking the trade.        tures. If it’s given to the Afghan
cials, including one with close links to            Jalali urged British troops in         government, the poor bureaucracy
Afghan president Hamid Karzai, as drug      Helmand not to ignore narcotics, 90%           and corruption waste it.”
lords. A veteran European diplomat in       of which end up in Europe:
Kabul said:                                    “I understand NATO’s argument            Source: The Telegraph (UK), February
   “The problem, as ever, is the smok-         that if they eradicate poppy fields      5, 2006.
   ing gun. We all know it is happen-          then that antagonizes the popula-
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                             41
2006 - Life in Parliament
Major Bloc in Parliament Controlled by Hekmatyar?
By Wahidullah Amani                                                                               Hekmatyar is currently in hid-
                                                                                          ing. Observers say he continues to have

          ezb-e-Islami is back, green flag                                                broad popular support, especially in the
          and all. The most radical and                                                   Pashtun-dominated south. An ethnic
          powerful of Afghanistan’s Is-                                                   Pashtun, he appeals to many who want
lamic movements is an officially-recog-                                                   a strong Islamic statein Afghanistan,
nised political party which now claims                                                    and who condemn what they see as the
to be one of the largest blocs in parlia-                                                 corrupting influence of the West.
ment.                                                                                             His supporters say he has been
         Party leaders say they will                                                      unfairly excluded from power. They
sweep to power in future elections now                                                    point to other former mujahedin lead-
that they can campaign openly.                                                            ers and militia commanders who have
         They also say they have bro-                                                     been accepted into the new govern-
ken ties with the man most closely iden-                                                  ment, and ask why Hekmatyar’s alleged
tified with Hezb-e-Islami, its founder                                                    crimes are deemed worse than those
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the U.S.                                                        ascribed to General Abdul Rashid
lists as a terrorist.                                                                     Dostum, the former strongman of the
         Many political analysts, how-                                                    north who is now chief of staff of the
ever, are sceptical of the party’s claim                                                  armed forces, or of Ismail Khan, who
that it has reformed.                                                                     ruled the western province of Herat
         Hekmatyar, one of the major                                                      with an iron hand until being made en-
                                              Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
commanders [warlords] in the resistance                                                   ergy minister in December 2004.
to the Soviet occupation of the 1980s,       political landscape, with 81 parties, this           Abdul Gheyas Eleyasi, head of
is an unrepentant mujahedin. He has          represents a significant achievement.        the political parties department at the
called repeatedly for a new holy war         Wahedyar says the party would have           justice ministry, acknowledged that of-
against the foreign occupiers and those      been even more successful if it had          ficials were initially reluctant to grant
who cooperate with them–including the        been allowed to register earlier:            Hezb-e-Islami an official license. Eleyasi
current Afghan government.                      “The justice ministry did not want        explained:
         He has publicly vowed that his         to let Hezb-e-Islami conduct politi-         “We registered them only after we
supporters will never join the present          cal activities.... They wanted us to         received confirmation from the min-
regime.                                         change our name and flag. But we             istries of defence and the interior, as
         “Hekmatyar does not represent          resisted.”                                   well as the security organs and
Hezb-e-Islami,” said Sayed Rahman                    It took repeated negotiations           UNAMA [the UN Assistance Mis-
Wahedyar, a Kabul member of the fac-         with President Hamed Karzai, and one-           sion in Afghanistan] that the party
tion. “We have cut all ties with             and-a-half years, to overcome the gov-          no longer had links with Hekmatyar.”
Hekmatyar.”                                  ernment’s reluctance to see the sym-                 But many suspect that
         According to Wahedyar, the          bols of Hekmatyar’s once-formidable          Hekmatyar is still running the show.
current Hezb-e-Islami party supports         power officially displayed.                  Political analyst Fazul Rahman Orya
the country’s ongoing peace process,                 Hekmatyar has a host of en-          said:
and even tolerates foreign troops, view-     emies among those now in power. He              “Hekmatyar has played many such
ing them as necessary in the currently-      engaged in a vicious civil war with many        games and he has always won
unstable, security environment.              of them after the collapse of commu-            them.... Hezb-e-Islami is certainly
         Wahedyar added that MP              nist rule in 1992, when mujahedin com-          here with Hekmatyar’s agreement.
Khalid Farooqi, a powerful Hezb-e-           manders destroyed Kabul and much of             They are behaving according to
Islami commander in Paktika province         the rest of the country in a fierce power       Hekmatyar’s wishes, so as to accom-
during the mujahedin years, is the par-      struggle. He was twice prime minister           plish his goals.”
ty’s new leader.                             between 1992 and 1996.
         But the new-look Hezb-e-Islami              When the Taliban came to power       Source: “Have Hekmatyar’s Radicals
does not appear to have deviated far         in 1996, Hekmatyar went to Iran, where       Reformed?,” Afghan Recovery Report,
from its fundamentalist roots.               he continued to run Hezb-e-Islami.           April 6, 2006. Institute for War & Peace
         As a result of the September                His outspoken condemnation           Reporting.
2005 parliamentary election, Hezb-e-         of the invasion of Afghanistan and of
Islami has 34 members in the lower           the interim government established in
house of parliament, making it one of        the wake of the September 2001 attacks       A powerful faction in the new Afghan
the largest groups in the 249-member         on the U.S. got him expelled from Iran       parliament may still be controlled by a
body, according to Wahedyar.                 and earned him a place on the U.S. gov-      man regarded as a terrorist, even by the
         Given Afghanistan’s chaotic,        ernment’s list of most-wanted terrorists.    U.S. government.
42                                                               Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                                                                                              Life in Parliament - 2006
The Fundamentalist Nonsense of “Canadian Values”
By Richard Sanders, coordinator, Coa-
lition to Oppose the Arms Trade and
editor, Press for Conversion!

      ust as Prime Minister Jean Chretien

                                            CP photo: Tom Hanson
      had done (in October 2003), Prime
      Minister Stephen Harper made a
surprise, “morale-boosting” visit to
Afghanistan (in March, 2006). After
narrowly winning Canada’s January
elections, Harper was soon off on his
first foreign trip. The destination? Af-
                                                                        Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives the thumbs-up to
ghanistan! While there, Hamid Karzai
became the first foreign head of state                                 media from a U.S. “Blackhawk” helicopter gunship after
to shake Harper’s newly-elected hand.                              visiting Canada’s military base in Kandahar. March 13, 2006.
         As U.S. helicopter gunships cir-                          Source: CTV.
cled noisily overhead, the two smiling                                     Indeed, the spouting of child-          speechwriters–seem to have a natural
leaders exchanged political pleasant-                              like truths is a near-glorious pastime in       propensity for simplicity in both speech
ries. Karzai, whose election owed much                             which our great, political leaders so of-       and thought. They can easily gush
to Canada’s diplomatic, military, log-                             ten excel. Unfortunately, exposing their        praise upon Canadian troops for “tak-
istical and financial support, dutifully                           myth-making talk cannot be challenged           ing a stand” to promote democracy
expressed thanks to Canada for giving:                             in polite company, such as the media            abroad or for carrying on that other ap-
   “the lives of your sons, for contrib-                           companies that regularly parrot our             parently great national tradition, which
   uting in money, for contributing in                             politicians’ utter nonsense. To people          Harper, while in Afghanistan, called
   soldiers and for being one of the big-                                                                          “doing good when good is required.”2
   gest helpers in Afghanistan.”1                                                                                          In a similarly-simplistic vein, Lt.-
         During his photo-op laden jour-                                                                           Col. Tom Doucet, Canada’s “team com-
ney to rally public support for the Lib-                                                                           mander” in the Afghan war zone,
eral-initiated war in Afghanistan,                                                                                 summed it up for docile media like this:
Harper–like Chretien before him–was                                                                                   “Once we get rid of the bad people,
filmed speaking to Canadian soldiers.                                                                                 we can carry on with full force...the
He thanked them for “defending Cana-                                                                                  reconstruction and development.”3
da’s national interests,” for “demon-                                                                                      However, neither Doucet nor
strating an international leadership role                                                                          Harper–or, for that matter, the Liberal
for our country,” for building democ-                                                                              “do gooders” who set the whole stage
racy, promoting women’s rights and                                                                                 for this horror–ever wonder how Af-
                                                                    To fundamentalists behind
protecting Canada from the “threat of                                                                              ghan’s will ever get “rid of the bad peo-
terror [and] the threat of drugs.”                                  Canada’s peacekeeping
                                                                                                                   ple” who now run their government. To
         Using the kind of Cold War                                 myth, Afghan’s ruling war-                     the fundamentalists behind Canada’s
rhetoric we expect from U.S. presidents,                            lords are the ‘good guys’                      peacekeeping myth, these Islamic ter-
Harper said our war in Afghanistan was                                         empowered by                        rorists and drug barons are the “good
“ the free world.” Saying Ca-                                                                            people” who our blessed democracy
                                                                               our blessed
nadians don’t “cut and run,” Harper                                                                                has empowered to rule Afghanistan.
served Canada’s warfighters with a                                             democracy.
medley of folksy, sports idioms, talking                           like Chretien, Martin and Harper, the ar-       References:
of “stepping up to the plate”and say-                              dently-held, but sadly-naive, belief in         1. “PM rules out parliamentary vote on
ing “you can’t lead from the bleachers.”                           “Canadian values” amounts to a kind                Afghan mission,” March 14, 2006.
         And, according to Harper, “carp-                          of sacred doctrine. It is, in effect, a reli-
ing from the sidelines” is also a no-no.                           gious fundamentalism; the expression              03/14/harper_afghanistan 060314.html
It’s just not part of that great “Cana-                            of an all-too-literal take on the widely-       2. “Address by the Prime Minister to
dian tradition” of talking loudly about                            accepted, official PR line that Canada             the Canadian Armed Forces in Af-
peace while quietly profiting from wars.                           is a global force for peace. (Ironically,          ghanistan,” March 13, 2006.
Apparently though the reduction of                                 our support for “world peace” is more-  
complex political, economic and                                    and-more being proudly recognized as            3. “Canada committed to Afghan mission,
geostrategic issues into simple, black-                            a function of our military prowess.)               Harper tells troops,” March 13, 2006.
and-white idiomatic expressions is as                                      Those keepers of the political  
Canadian as a good old hockey fight.                               faith, like Harper–or, at least, his              03/13/harper_afghanistan060313.html
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                                                          43
   Killing “Detestable Murderers                                                                places that are unstable and there-
                                                                                                fore have acted as hotbeds for sup-
 and Scumbags,” the Canadian Way                                                                porting terrorism.”
                                                                                                     To use military language, Hillier
By Justin Podur and Sonali Kolhatkar.                 Hillier was explicitly trying to      created an “opening” that Major Gen-
                                              dispel this image, and not merely with        eral Andrew Leslie then exploited at a

          n July 11, 2005, with great nu-     the tactics of demonization (“detestable      conference in August 2005 called
          ance and tact, Canada’s Chief       scumbags”), fear and racism (“they            “Handcuffs and Hand Grenades”:
          of Defence Staff, General Rick      detest our freedoms”), and repetition             “Afghanistan is a 20-year venture
Hillier, described those arrayed against      (“they detest our liberties”). Hillier also       [but] there are things worth fighting
the NATO mission in Afghanistan as:           wanted to dispel perceptions of the               for. There are things worth dying for.
    “detestable murderers and scum-           Canadian military as a peaceful, humani-          There are things worth killing for.”
    bags, I’ll tell you that up front. They   tarian force in world affairs: “We are        Explaining why Canada had to be in Af-
    detest our freedoms, they detest our      the Canadian Forces, and our job is to        ghanistan for 20 years, Leslie said it
    society, they detest our liberties.”      be able to kill people,” he said.             was because “every time you kill an an-
        This was not Canadian official-               Hillier continued the fear cam-       gry young man overseas, you’re creat-
dom’s typical line on operations abroad.      paign: “Osama bin Laden, some time            ing 15 more who will come after you.”
Canada’s foreign policy is usually pre-       ago, indicated Canada was a target.”                   It doesn’t take a military genius
sented publicly as “peacekeeping,” or            “As a responsible citizen of the           to recognize that Hillier and Leslie are
helping “failed states” to build “capac-         world, we have been involved in the        making self-contradictory statements.
ity.” Even Canadian military operations          campaign against terrorism and, of         If every time Canada kills someone over-
are somehow presented as peaceable.              course, we try to bring stability to       seas it’s creating 15 “angry young

       Meet Lt. General Rick Hillier, Canada’s Chief Warlord
By Richard Sanders, coordinator, Coa-
lition to Oppose the Arms Trade and           Canada’s
editor, Press for Conversion!

         anada’s highest-ranking mili-        Hillier
          tary officer says he “never         was the
          wanted to be anything other         Deputy
than a soldier.”1 “I knew right from the      Commanding
start what I wanted to be,”2 says Hillier,
whose overwhelming desire to join the
armed forces began in early childhood.        of the
         A Globe and Mail puff piece          U.S. Army’s
presents Hillier as both (a) “a fresh         “III Corps.”
breed of ‘tell it like it is’ leader [that]
the country needs to face the realities
of a new world” and (b) a “typical” Canadian:                    Quotations from General Hillier:
   “Gen. Hillier’s roots couldn’t be much more Canadian.                On Canada in Afghanistan...
   He began sending earnest letters to the Canadian
                                                                 “These are detestable murderers and scumbags.... They
   Forces at age 7.... The military wrote back in an effort
                                                                 want to break our society. I actually believe that... It
   to recruit him.... His imagination just went wild at the
                                                                 doesn’t matter whether we are in Afghanistan or any
   thought of enlisting in the army....
                                                                 place in the world. We are going to be a target in their
         He was in many ways a typical teenage boy, who
                                                                 sights. They detest our freedoms. They detest our soci-
   would get together with friends to drink beer and
                                                                 ety. They detest our liberties... We’re not going to let
   shoot a .22 around town.”4
                                                                 those radical murderers and killers rob from others and
         Although it’s not clear when this supposedly
                                                                 we’re certainly not going to let them rob from
“typical” Canadian teenager began to “drink beer” and
                                                                 Canada...We’re not the public service of Canada, we’re
fire a rifle “around town,” we know he was 17 when he
                                                                 not just another department. We are the Canadian Forces
left Campbellton, Newfoundland, to join the army.5
                                                                 and our job is to be able to kill people.”9
         The rest, as they say, is history. During his rise to
the top of Canada’s military, Hillier even served as the                        On being a soldier...
Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army’s “III                ”I’m a little uncomfortable with the term warrior. I’m
Corps.”6 Nicknamed the “Phantom Corps” and “Ameri-               even more uncomfortable with the term peacekeeper.”10
ca’s Hammer,” it is described as “offensive in nature.”7
The Third Corps is based at Fort Hood, Texas, which is                           On being himself...
“billed...the largest military base in the free world.”8         “I’m not smart enough to be anybody else but myself.” 11
44                                                                Press for Conversion! (Issue # 59) September 2006
                                              able scumbags” creates 15 more en-          da’s more aggressive posture.
                                              emies, should that really be considered     The idea is that there are “failed
                                              a goal “worth killing for?”                 states” from which danger “leaks out”
                                                      Hillier and Leslie’s comments       into other areas. Afghanistan fits into
                                              can be understood as media operations       this scheme as a country with an
                                              intended to legitimize a more aggres-          “unfortunate history of war and mis-
                                              sive military role for Canada in the           rule... culminating in the rule of the
                                              world. That their speeches sound like          Taliban, their support for al-Qaeda
                                              warmed-over propaganda scripts of              and their attack on New York.”
                                              American neoconservatives should not                While there may seem to be a
                                              be surprising, since the U.S. is the only   large space between Graham’s “help-
                                              possible contemporary model Canada          ing” approach and Hillier/Leslie’s “kill
                                              could have for aggressive militarism.       people” approach, Canada’s real for-
                                              But the comments by the generals are        eign policy path is rather narrow: it in-
                                              more aggressive than Canada’s official      volves supporting and legitimizing U.S.
          Lt. Gen. Rick Hillier               foreign policy doctrine. That doctrine      foreign policy, whether through “failed
men,” does that make those 15 people          was more systematically expounded by        state” rhetoric, military support or prof-
“detestable scumbags?” If killing is so       Canada’s then-Foreign Minister Bill         itable arms exports. Canada’s Afghan
incredibly counterproductive, does it         Graham in a September 2005 speech on        mission fits the bill on all counts.
make sense to proudly announce that           Canada’s Afghan Mission.                    Source: Excerpt, “Detestable Murder-
“our job is to be able to kill people?”               In that speech, Graham de-          ers and Scumbags: Canada in Afghani-
And if every killing of these “detest-        scribed the ideology motivating Cana-       stan.”

      On being “very close friends”                                      How Politicians Responded to
        with Afghan warlords...                                          Hillier’s “Scumbags” Comment
“I was enthralled by the Afghan people.... You                           “He’s starting to give the pub-
had to experience their version of friendship                            lic an idea that the troops are
to understand it. I experienced it from nor-                             about to go in a dangerous
mal people..., right through to President Karzai                         area and he’s trying to explain
himself, and including many of the warlords.                             why they’re going there in the
                                                                         pursuit of terrorists.”
They weren’t necessarily malicious, so we                                Gordon O’Connor,
worked with these folks.... Many of these folks                          Canada’s Conservative
were incredible leaders. Many of them had one                            Minister of Defence
goal: a stronger Afghanistan.... Others went
                                                                                              “Controlled anger, given what’s
down the road of personal greed, into the drug                                                happened, is an appropriate re-
trade.... Some of them became very close                                                      sponse. We have a very commit-
friends.”10                                                                                   ted, level-headed head of our
                                                                                              armed forces, who isn’t afraid
References:                                                                                   to express the passion that un-
1. Gloria Kelly, “Assuming the Top Post,” The Maple Leaf, February
                                                                                              derlies the mission that front-
    16, 2005.
    807_03.pdf                                                                                line personnel are going to be
2. Daniel Leblanc and Shawna Richer, “He’s Armoured, But He’s Not                             taking on.... A bit of strong lan-
    Thick,” Globe and Mail, July 30, 2005.                                                    guage in the circumstances, I lines/                               don’t find that to be wrong.”
    LAC/20050730 /COVER30/comment/Comment                                                     Jack Layton, NDP leader.
3. Wire service interview, July 14 2005.
4. Op. cit., Globe and Mail.                                             “General Hillier is not only
5. Ibid.                                                                 a top soldier, he...has
6. Chief of Defence Staff.           served in Afghanistan. The
7. U.S. III Corps, Wikipedia                                             point he is simply making is                                 we are at war with terror-
8. Fort Hood, Wikipedia
                                                                         ism and we’re not going to
9. Op. cit., Wire service interview.
                                                                         let them win.”
10. “Q&A with chief of defence staff Lt.-Gen. Rick Hillier,” MacLeans,
    April 11, 2005.           Paul Martin, then-Liberal
    article.jsp?content=20050407_143846_1476                             Prime Minister.
11. Op. cit. Globe and Mail.                                             Source: Canadian Press, July
12. Op. cit., MacLeans.                                                  16, 2005.
September 2006 (Issue # 59) Press for Conversion!                                                                               45
  Putting the “fun”
 in fundamentalism!

                                                            A     lthough this is not
                                                                  exactly a real photo of
                                                            President George W. Bush,                    Extr
                                                                                                             a! E
                                                                                                                                      Please Order
                                                                                                                                  Extra Copies for:
                                                            he actually did make these
                                                                                                                                 • journalists
                                                                                                                                  • politicians
                                                                                                                                   • teachers
                                                            “We...discussed the                                                     • co-workers
                                                            importance of a demo-                                                    • libraries
                                                            cracy in the greater                                                      • activists
                                                            Middle East in order to                                                    • students
                                                            leave behind a peaceful                                                     • friends
                                                            tomorrow,” May 10,                                                           • clergy
                                                            2005.                                                                         • family, e t c .
 “The public education system in America is one of the most
 important foundations of our democracy.... It is where
 children...learn to be responsible citizens, and learn to have                                          C oalition to 541 McLOntario
                                                                                                                           541 McLeod St.
 the skills necessary to take advantage of our fantastic
 opportunistic society,” May 1, 2002.
                                                                                                         O ppose the K1R 5R2 Canada
 “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we.                                             A rms Email: site:
 They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our coun-
 try and our people, and neither do we,” Aug. 5, 2004.                                                   T rade         Phone: (613) 231-3076

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