Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Abdul Hadi Khalilzai: Khalilzai Points to His Experience

Although he has never been involved in politics, Abdul Hadi Khalilzai says voters will be attracted to his years of service to the nation.
By Mohammed Israr

Independent candidate Abdul Hadi Khalilzai dismisses charges that he lacks a political background and says that at 72, he has the life experience and education needed to serve his country.


The lawyer, teacher, writer and poet said, "If a scholar doesn't understand politics, he is not a scholar, I have completed my studies in jurisprudence and law."


He is pledging to restore security and the rule of law, bring national solidarity and unity and to ensure women's rights according to the law and Afghan culture.


But as an independent with no substantial financing or party machine behind him, Khalilzai is not seen as a major contender. He said that if there were an independent and fair election, "I would have 100 per cent chance of success, but I don't think that the election will be fair and transparent."


Khalilzai comes from a religious family from Sowkai district in the eastern province of Kunar.


He graduated from Kabul Arabic Maddrassa in 1962 and worked as a teacher in several schools and as a lawyer in various provinces.


He was a member of the Constitutional Commission for Afghanistan that drafted the country's constitution, which was approved at the Constitutional Loya Jirga earlier this year.


He has written and published 15 books on science and law. He said 13 more are awaiting publication.


The government has awarded him several medals and honoured him on many occasions for his service.


Khalilzai pledges to bring national unity and maintain security, "Afghanistan has suffered from destruction, adversity, disunity, injustice and factional wars for the last 23 years.


"Previous regimes have brought suffering to its Muslim people. So I decided to be a candidate in order to save the nation from all these adversities, to make country a place of peace and stability. I have no other political mission."


He promises to implement the rule of law and to continue to develop the national army and police force.


And he pledges to maintain women's rights according to the law and Afghan culture. "There was extremism here two years ago regarding women - but now much of this problem is solved," he said.


"I consider the role of women important in all fields according to the Constitution, accepted Afghan tradition and the holy religion of Islam. Within this framework, I support their campaign."


He supports the local trial of those accused of war crimes, "It is true that human-rights violations have occurred in recent years. I support the arrest of those accused of human rights violations and their trial.


"Once security is established, an Afghan court should be made available for the cases. Members of the [Afghan Independent] Human Rights Commission and United Nations should be called in as observers and both ordinary people and high-ranking officials should be tried equally - and there should be no amnesty."


Khalilzai believes that because of corruption, jobs are being given to unqualified people and says, "In my government, professional and talented people will be employed and they will be evaluated all the time, so that they are aware of responsibility. Without evaluation, corruption will continue in all offices."


Because of his age, some have questioned whether he will live long enough to fulfil the president's five-year term.


"Even though I am older, Afghanistan has never before had the chance to have a fair and independent election," he said. "So I want to lay the foundation of my homeland contributing my experience, and render service."


He said he could not take his electoral campaign to all the provinces because of a lack of money and the security concerns. But he is pleased with the way his campaign went in the places he visited.


He campaigned in Kabul and visited the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Nuristan, Laghman, Kunar, all of which have strong ties to his home province of Kunar.


"The security condition is critical in some provinces and there is no suitable opportunity to campaign there," he said.


Like other candidates, Khalilzai also accused the incumbent president, Hamed Karzai, of receiving foreign support. "The American Congress and government support him and American bodyguards ensure his security," he said. "If we let the nation choose their president, Karzai would not have a chance of wining."


Khalilzai said he is basing his candidacy of his years of achievement.


"I have the support of people because I have passed the test to my nation in the past 32 years," he said. "This means I am not a murderer or a robber. I did not take part in any civil wars. My hands are not coloured with the nation's blood, so I can proudly say that if God is willing, I will win."


Mohammed Israr Safi is a freelance reporter in Kabul.