Published on 14 Dec 2010 at 03:30
By Zahir Eztarabi
An interview with Dad Noorani, Reporter and Political Analyst
Q: What do you think of the composition of the new Parliament?
A: From an ethnic point of view, Pashtun no longer have majority representation in the new Parliament. The number of Pashtun representatives has decreased this time because there were no elections held in some Pashtun areas.
In addition, the jihadi parties have a greater number of representatives than before, and they could dominate. Individuals from other political parties, such as the former Communist Party, as well as so-called “national” and “impartial” figures were not able to win the elections. Overall, there will be a lot of conflict in the new Parliament.
Q: What will be the top priorities for the new Parliament?
A: You know that the previous Parliament did not achieve as much as it should have; it just approved a few laws, but did nothing else. The new Parliament is not likely to have significant achievements, either. One thing is clear: conflicts and disagreements over various issues will increase inside the Parliament. Confirmation of the remaining Cabinet ministers will be a challenge. Furthermore, the new Parliament will discuss the legality of the presence of the United States in Afghanistan.
Q: How much power will critics of Karzai’s government have in the new Parliament?
A: Considering the level of corruption in various branches of the Afghan government, the position of Karzai’s critics is not strong. For instance, representatives of Jamiat-e-Islami – a jihadi party led by Burhanuddin Rabbani - will no longer oppose the government because their leader has been assigned as chairman of the High Council of Peace. Representatives of Shora-e-Nazar, known in the West as the Northern Alliance, a branch of Jamiat-e-Islami previously led by late Ahmad Shah Masood - will be divided. Those who are loyal to the vice president, Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, will support the government, while those who are loyal to Karzai’s rival, Dr. Abdullah, will oppose the government.
Q: Some analysts are concerned about the ethnic balance in the new Parliament. What do you think?
A: It could be a matter for concern. The number of parliamentarians from the Hazara ethnic group has increased, while the number of Pashtuns has dropped. Other challenges include sectarian issues, such as the differences between the Hanafi and Jafari schools of Islam, and the absence of precise statistics for Kuchis, or nomads. There is also the matter of the position of Speaker in the new Parliament.
Q: In your opinion, what is needed in order to conduct sound elections?
A: The main conditions for conducting free and fair elections in Afghanistan are countrywide participation of the Afghan people, security, and no use of money or force by candidates. In addition, we must have real independence of the electoral bodies.
Q: The new Parliament has not yet been inaugurated. What is the reason for this?
A: Presumably the main reason for the late inauguration of the Parliament are the numerous claims by losing candidates and the recent conflict between the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Attorney General’s office. In addition, there is as yet no agreement on the leadership of the new Parliament.
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