As election fever hits Afghanistan, euronews spoke to the main opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah. The former foreign minister was also a candidate in the country’s presidential ballot last year, but pulled out of the election just before a run-off vote, claiming massive fraud. euronews reporter Mustafa Bağ spoke to Abdullah from Kabul. He began by asking him what will change in Afghanistan after this election, and what he thought the expectations of the Afghan people were.
Abdullah Abdullah: Afghan people want their candidates to go to parliament to defend their rights and their interests. But at the same time, Afghans are worried about the security and corruption in this election. The fear of the Afghan people is that the corruption that occured in the last presidential election should not repeat itself in this one. This is a question of their destiny. This is why the Afghan people will take part in this election. They are really very interested in this election.
Mustafa Bağ: Regarding the war that continues in Afghanistan, do you think the American or Western armies, or NATO, are succeeding in this war or have they failed?
Abdullah Abdullah: I think this war has reached a very sensitive point. But unfortunately the Afghan government could not succeed in using the opportunities they had, and the international community also made mistakes in Afghanistan. Today the Afghan people have some doubts about whether there will be success or failure in this war, in terms of cooperation, of international cooperation. Since the last one or two years the Taliban has increased its presence. I cannot say if the world has failed or not. There are too many problems, and if the way to solve the problem is not found, the situation will get worse and worse in Afghanistan.
Mustafa Bağ: If you compare the politics of Obama and George Bush, what is the difference between them? Do you think Mr. Obama will be able to rewrite the destiny of Afghanistan?
Abdullah Abdullah: The destiny of Afghanistan belongs to its own people. The Afghans expect the international community and the US administrtation to help them install peace in their own country. I think the difference between current policies and those of the past is that the Afghanistan issue is at the centre of Mr. Obama’s policy. This was so important. But at the same time, Afghan people are asking themselves many questions. The message that Afghans and the region get from Mr. Obama is not very clear – even though their cooperation is more significant than before. In terms of increasing military and social help, that has been good. But their message wasn’t very clear for the Afghan people.
Mustafa Bağ: What about women’s rights in Afghanistan. Has the progress of women’s rights met expectations?
Abdullah Abdullah: On women’s rights, human rights and democracy, the Afghan people have results. There are education and work opportunities for women. But there are still too many problems in our society concerning women’s rights. And there is discrimination in this country. In Afghanistan I think what we need is economic, political, educational and cultural evolution. This evolution has been so slow. On the other hand, in the area controlled by the Taliban, where they are very strong, human and women’s rights in those areas are completely destroyed.