“We will keep trying our best to address the questions that we have facing Afghanistan and to make sure that the wishes of the Afghan people come true towards achieving an effective clean government. My government will be for all Afghans and all those who want to work with me are most welcome.”The Afghan President Hamid Karzai conveys a sense of deja vu as he promises exactly what he promised five years ago. This time though a question mark remains over his credibility. Widespread fraud turned August’s presidential poll into a farce. In 2001, having driven the Taliban from power, the international community set about shaping Afghanistan’s political future. The Bonn agreements set the stage for an interim loya jirga government. Hamid Karzai’s credentials were impeccable. A former fighter against Soviet rule, the US backed him to run the country. Karzai’s task was not easy. He had to contend with ethnic rivalries which continue to plague the nation as well as the warlords who maintain the divisions. In 2004 he urged the loya jirga to agree a new constitution paving the way for free elections. Having established an Islamic Republic with a strong executive and a judicial commission in accordance with Islamic principles, international standards, the rule of law, and Afghan legal traditions, Karzai won an election with 55 per cent of the vote. But once the darling of the West, Karzai is no longer assured of the support he enjoyed following his inauguration. Unable to exert much influence in the countryside he has earned the derisory title of “Mayor” of Kabul and is reliant on a phalanx of bodyguards in the face of an upsurge in Taliban attacks.
Afghanistan: What next?