Massoud Day and the Elections
The day before the anniversary of Ahmad Shah Massoud’s assassination by two Arab infiltrators, Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah demanded his supporters not to dishonor Massoud Day, or officially Shaheed Day, by mixing it with ongoing electoral politics. This was viewed as wise move by his camp as the election tensions are flaring these days. However, despite the call from Abdullah, the ceremony for commemorating the Day was marked by chaos as the participants disrupted Mujaddadi’s speech, who was one of the supporters of candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.
The incident in the ceremony was only a small example of how Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary commander of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, still wields influence on Afghan politics after 13 years. Abdullah was a close ally and comrade to Massoud during fighting communist invasion and its affiliated government in Kabul as well as later the Taliban regime. During past thirteen years, some prominent disciples of Ahmad Shah Massoud dominated the government in key security and other important positions. However, in the past few years, their presence on key government positions thinned, but still President Karzai remained highly reliant on supports from figures such as Marshall Fahim, who was also a key figure under Massoud.
With the closing of the election season, Abdullah managed to build a large alliance – initially mainly from the northern alliance and later attracting other ethnic and political trends – for which the Massoud legacy had a prominent and decisive role. Ironically, Massoud’s brother, Ahmad Zia Massoud, the former first Vice President, joined Ashraf Ghani’s election camp making the election alignment further cross-ethnic conglomeration. Previously, such ceremonies and national events have been used as an stage to promote and advance political agendas by opposing political groups. With the election in deadlock now, it was feared that the anniversary could be used for political purposes of the two candidates given that both sides could affiliated themselves to Massoud’s legacy.
Seemingly, in an unwritten agreement, Abdullah and Ahmad Zia Massoud and other influential followers of Massoud who plays role in today’s electoral politics managed to avoid such a confrontation. The figures belonging to the anti-Taliban northern alliance and Massoud loyalists still heavily dominate Abdullah’s camp but still the key figures are split between the two election camps. And this provides an opportunity for the Afghan politics to utilize for resolving the election stalemate. Afghan politics based on mere ethnic lines are always dangerous and Afghan politicians should use the rare chance of the current cross-ethnic amalgamation of Afghanistan’s politics to resolve the stalemate.
By: Abdul Maruf ‘Ghiasee’