Mohammad Ibrahim Rashid: Rashid Pledges Clean Government

Candidate promises to tackle what he sees as pervasive corruption and abuse of power.

Mohammad Ibrahim Rashid: Rashid Pledges Clean Government

Candidate promises to tackle what he sees as pervasive corruption and abuse of power.

Friday, 1 September, 2006

Mohammad Ibrahim Rashid, one of 18 candidates running for president, says his country no longer needs foreign military assistance.

"The presence of foreign forces has had a bad impact on our country's traditional culture and their existence will never bring peace to Afghanistan, because the majority of our fellow countrymen don't have a good impression of them," he told IWPR. "So if I were elected president, I would train a professional army and police drawn from the people, and I would drive foreign forces out from Afghanistan."

Rashid strongly criticised the administration of the incumbent president, Hamed Karzai, saying that foreign military aid had fuelled corruption.

"The country does not have true independence. It's propped up by foreign support and its security is handled by foreigners," he said. "There is no social justice, corruption has reached its peak and Karzai uses governmental facilities to assure success in his election campaign."

Rashid, who has campaigned in provinces like Kandahar, Oruzgan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Mazar-e-Sharif, Pul-e-Khomri and Parwan, acknowledged his election campaign is weaker than Karzai's. He said he was prompted to run because of what he sees as pervasive corruption and abuse of power in Afghanistan.

"Because of a lack of national unity and rule of law, abuse of power is still in going on," he said. "There is little work for professional people, administrative corruption continues, and the wishes of mujahedin have not been met. Our government is controlled by someone else … so as a patriot and a servant of my country, I felt the responsibility to nominate myself for the presidential race."

Born in 1954 in Pul-e-Khomri, Rashid received a diploma in agronomy from Lodina University, India, in 1978. From 1984 to 1993, he was the head of a German-Afghan refugee organisation. He has travelled extensively - in Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and Uzbekistan - to solicit donations and assistance for Afghanistan.

He is fluent in Pashto, Dari, Urdu, German and English.

Rashid said peace and security in Afghanistan are his top priorities, particularly so reconstruction programmes can be implemented. He said Afghanistan needs an Islamic republic and military with Islamic values and pledged to fight administrative corruption, terror, foreign invasion and disorder.

He said his foreign policy would focus on bolstering independence, national unity and territorial integrity. His principles, he said, were encouragement of Islamic values, protection of Afghanistan's national and international dignity, and non-interference in other countries' affairs.

He also supports the idea of reparations to Afghanistan for the losses incurred during the Soviet occupation.

Rashid said that most candidates had only paid lip service to women's rights. He said candidates need to move beyond slogans and begin implementing practical measures that are guaranteed by the Afghan constitution.

"Up to now, many of the pronouncements which are delivered on women's rights have not been implemented yet," he said.

For his economic plan, Rashid said that foreign assistance was key, as was the development of Afghanistan's natural resources.

Rashid said he would "prevent corruption, bring up the level of education, to increase the salary of government staff, to give jobs to professionals".

He then added, "If I do not deliver on my promises, I will resign."

Abdul Jamil Sajad is freelance IWPR contributor in Kabul.

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