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Homayun Shah Asefi: Asefi Make Disarmament a Priority

The candidate and his running mate say international troops are still needed to provide security in the capital.
By IWPR staff

Homayun Shah Asefi is not well known among his fellow Afghans.

An ethnic Pashtun with close ties to the family of Zahir Shah, the former king of Afghanistan, Asefi lived abroad in France and Italy for many years before returning after the collapse of the Taleban.

Nelab Mobarez, one of Asefi's two running mates, acknowledged that their election campaign was poorly financed and their chances of winning were remote.

"Our election campaign centre is Asefi's house," she said. "We pooled our campaign expenditures, which added up to less than 10,000 US dollars. And Asefi sold 120 square meters of his own land to help finance the campaign."

One of Asefi's top priorities as a candidate is the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programme, DDR, which he maintains has been too slow in disarming local militias.

Mobarez said that powerful figures in the defence ministry were partly to blame.

"One of the main reasons for the failure of DDR is that the person running the ministry of defence is himself a militia commander, and hasn't been willing to decommission his own militia groups," she said.

Mobares said she and Asefi were taking part in the presidential race because "the situation in the country is heading toward very serious conflict, and, unfortunately, security hasn't been established and the central government hasn't been able to extend its reach throughout the country".

She also charged that some powerful militia commanders "have been involved in drug trafficking instead of ensuring security".

Asefi was born in 1940 in Kabul. In 1959, he graduated from Istiqlal High School, a French lyceum in Kabul that also boasts legendary guerrilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud among its graduates. Asefi went to France to study law, graduating from Dijon University in 1965.

He served in the Afghan ministry of foreign affairs ministry from 1973 to 1978.

Mobarez said that if elected, he would ask parliament whether suspected war criminals should be prosecuted. If parliament decides to pursue charges, he said his government would establish a special court to try such cases.

Mobarez said Asefi said they would both focus on women's rights in a future government.

"The constitution guarantees it [women's rights]," Mobarez said. "Some laws are on paper, and there are decrees issued by the executive branch, but no one is implementing them. We would defend women's rights within the limits Islam allows. Islam is the first religion defending women's rights."

Mobarez said they would encourage vocational training for women and would bring them into the government in an effort to forge national unity.

Security is also an important issue for Asefi's campaign. If elected, Mobarez said his government would begin a weapons-collection programme immediately.

"Since the ministries of defence and interior have become unable to collect the stockpiles, we … will try to overcome their lack of success," she said. "Our national police and our national military would be formed as quickly as possible."

Regarding the presence of the international forces in Afghanistan, Mobarez said, "Today, Afghanistan is in need of both the international forces and the coalition forces, as their mission is the eradication of terrorism. Everyone knows that al Qaeda still exists, so if we create obstacles to the coalition forces, we in fact are helping international terrorism."

She added that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is critical to providing security in the capital. "We cannot insure security in Kabul without their presence, and we have to ask them to remain in Afghanistan," she said.

Mobarez also had strong criticism for incumbent President Hamed Karzai's administration, saying the growth of the opium trade showed the interim leader's weakness.

"A lack of responsibility, central government and rule of law all encourage corruption in the administration," she said. "This has caused the growth of the mafia and has made Afghanistan as the number one producer of opium in the world. It is a sign of Karzai's failures."

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