President Karzai’s Realistic Approach
President Hamid Karzai discussed a wide variety of national issues on Wednesday in a major address in a joint session of the Parliament. Generally, we witnessed a more realistic approach from the president in his speech regarding to most critical issues such as the 2014 election, peace negotiations and Pakistan’s role and rights of the people. In his speech, the president tried to respond to the main concerns of the people, particularly at a time when the country is getting closer to the election date and the US-led NATO forces are withdrawing from an unpopular war.
Regarding the future presidential election, the president now seems to have a clearer stance on the election process and on his role for holding a legitimate and transparent election. The president said he was committed to a fair and free presidential election. He added that if there is a fair election, he would be remembered by history; otherwise, the people would blame him for all the miseries in the country. The president said he didn’t want to have a bad image in history of the Afghanistan. The comments are an explicit indication of the fact that the president is under pressure of foreign allies and domestic political players to remain committed to a sound and free election.
Previously, many doubted president’s will and determination for leading a fraud-free election, but in his address, the president assured the nation and palliated concerns from international community, domestic political parties as well as the people of Afghanistan. In fact, it was direct response to calls for a sound election and it is expected to be viewed positively by political parties and other parties involved in Afghanistan. But, still there are ambiguities whether what role the president would play and who he would endorse for the top post. Perhaps the president needs to answer this question as well.
Another issue highlighted in president’s address to the parliamentarians was making peace with the Taliban, which his government is determined to achieve before his term ends in 2014. The President stressed on Pakistan’s role in the peace efforts, calling on Islamabad to cooperate more seriously for achieving peace in Afghanistan. After initial hopes that Pakistan has shifted its policy towards Afghanistan and that the country is going to help Afghan government to cut a peace deal with Taliban, now it seems that there is still obstacles ahead of a sincere Pakistani cooperation in the peace process.
Recently, the government of Afghanistan strongly protested to comments made by Allama Tahir Ashrafi, the chairman of Pakistan’s Ulema Council on justifying suicide bombings in Afghanistan. All these recent developments and informal comments by Afghan officials on Pakistan’s ISI indicate that it would be naivety to believe that Islamabad is going to fully cooperate with the peace efforts and facilitate the ongoing efforts for starting negotiations.
Protecting rights and security of the people was rightly stressed by President Karzai. No doubt that the government is responsible to prevent all government institutions from violating rights of the people. In the meantime, the government is also responsible to stand serious against insurgent groups and fight for preventing violation of rights of the people by all groups including the Taliban.