Just days before September’s elections, AAN made the rash prediction that it would be interesting to see how the brothers, daughters and sons of the rich and famous would do in the polls. We had noticed just how many were running – a brother of Vice-President Khalili, two cousins of President Karzai, a brother of General Dostum, various relatives of former Ismaeli militia leader, Sayed Mansur, and so on. Would we see the younger generation of the new Afghan elite consolidating itself, we wondered. The answer, says AAN’s senior analyst Kate Clark (who wrote the original blog) is, like everything else in this election, complicated.
In September, I wrote:
‘In an election without parties, where the ideology of the two and a half thousand candidates is largely unofficial or confused, it is difficult to assess who is up and who is down in Afghan politics, but one clear trend is the high number of candidates who are the relatives of those already in power.’
(Read the blog ‘What’s in a name? Relatives of the powerful run for parliament’ here).
Just under half of the candidates, whom AAN considered to have powerful relatives, won their seats. In an election where most candidates lost, that seems a better than average performance. (See the end of the blog for a full list of the winners and losers.)
The clearest pattern was the advantage gained in being a relative stepping into the shoes of a ‘martyred’ MP. The brothers of former MPs, Sebghatullah Zaki (Takhar) and Sayed Mustafa Kazemi (Kabul) who were both killed in the attack on the Baghlan sugar factory in 2007, are both in the ranks of the new MPs, as is the son of Fazl al-Rahman Chamkani (Paktia) who was killed during the attack on the celebrations for Mujahedin Victory Day on the parade ground near Eidgah mosque in 2008. Another son taking up his father’s mantle is Makhdum Abdul Ali Mohammadi (Samangan). His father, who was assassinated in 2007, was Mawlawi Mohammad Islam Mohammadi, not only MP for Samangan, but also former Taliban governor of Bamyan and Jamiat strongman in the district of Ruy-e Du-Ab since the first days of the jihad.
Makhdum enters parliament dogged by his own controversies. After his father’s murder and his ‘consolation’ appointment as advisor to President Karzai, the president pardoned two rapists who had been fighters with Makhdum’s father. According to the victim and her family, these two (along with a third who died in prison) had been ordered to commit the rape by one of Mawlawi Islam’s sub-commanders during his 2005 parliamentary election campaign. They accused the son of pushing for the followers of his father to get out of jail.
As to whether it’s a help to be the relative of a live rich and powerful person, the record is less convincing. Some relatives have got in. Many have not. The list of losers is long: a brother of the finance minister, a brother of the Director of the National Security Council, two cousins of the president, the brother of the Second Vice President and the cousin of the minister of defence.
But there were many notable successes. Doing well – and this may just be coincidental – are the relatives of former and current ministers of education and interior and governors of Helmand. Close relatives of both the minister of education, Faruq Wardak, (brother) and one of his deputies, Seddiq Patman, (wife) will sit in the new parliament. There are also new MPs from the families of two former ministers of interior, Taj Muhammad Wardak (daughter-in-law) and Zarar Muqbil, who is currently Minister for Counter-Narcotics (brother). The brother of the former governor of Helmand (and currently a senator), Shir Mohammad Akhundzada, is to be among the new intake of MPs, as is the brother of the current governor, Gulab Mangal (although not his son who failed to get in).
Among the dynastic families fielding multiple candidates, the clear winners are the Naderis, led by the famous leader of the Kayyan Ismailis in Baghlan province who got no less than three of their fielded six candidates through into the house. Not only the family’s head himself, Sayed Mansur, also known as Sayed-e Kayyan, who was already an MP in the outgoing parliament, but now also one daughter in Kabul and a nephew in Kunduz can call each other wakil saheb when meeting at the tea table in the family’s ancestral home in the Kayyan valley. Two sons lost, including Jaffar – also known as Jeff and as a fan of Pink Floyd – lost in Badakhshan. The Gailanis somehow fared worse: Only one member of this clan won (Sayed Ishaq in Paktika, a nephew of Pir Gailani and not particularly close to his uncle), while a son of the patriarch (Sayed Mahmud Hossamuddin), lost his bid for parliament in Ghazni.
Trying to make sense of all this, it becomes clear that it was never enough just to have a close relative in power. At least some of various practical tactics were required: the relative’s networks needed to be mobilised, largesse needed to be spent, government facilities used and a campaign fought or fraud successfully implemented. As with other candidates, this had to be not just an E-Day effort, but a sustained affair. Even the most prominent and powerful candidates who were themselves running for office – the heads of jihad-era tanzims and powerful commanders – had to work to get the result they wanted. This explains some of the apparent anomalies in the list of failed family member candidates. Some relatives reportedly pulled out all the stops for their family member candidates. Others did not.
And of course, for other candidates, the family relation with power was not necessarily the most important factor in their campaign. One of the successful Khost candidates, the sitting MP Sahera Sharif may be the sister of General Sher Muhammad Karimi, the ANA chief of staff, but in these elections at least, it was more important that she was a prominent and popular lecturer in Khost University and managed to mobilise genuine support.
List of family member candidates; the names of those who won are in bold:
1. Abdul Wali Baz (Kabul), brother of Karim Baz, Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Affairs;
2. Adela Bahram (Kabul), sister-in law of the head of the Republican Party and head of the Policy Department of the President’s Office, Sebghatullah Sanjar;
3. Ahmad Wahid Taheri (sitting MP for Herat) brother of Ragin Dadfar Spanta, head of the National Security Council, disqualified for alleged fraud;
4. Ajmal Chamkani (Kabul), son of Haji Mohammad Chamkani, a tribal leader turned (party-less) vice president, who was acting president for two weeks during Dr Najibullah’s rule;
5. Dr Almas Bawar Zakhilwal (Kabul), brother of Minister of Finance, Omar Zakhilwal;
6. Ehsan Munawar (Nangrahar), brother-in law of Zalmai Khalilzad, former US Ambassador to Afghanistan and father of Wali Munawar, Afghan Ambassador to Qatar;
7. Ezzatullah Wasefi (Kandahar), former Farah governor and controversial former head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, son of Alekozai leader in Kandahar and former minister from Daud Khan’s government, Azizullah Wasefi;
8. The Gailanis: Sayyid Mahmud Hossamuddin (Ghazni) – not strictly yet a loser as the results have been delayed from Ghazni but he was not among the leading candidates there; Sayyid Eshaq Gailani (Paktika), both sons of the jihadi factional leader, Pir Sayyid Ahmad Gailani;
9. Hashmat Karzai (Kandahar), cousin of President Karzai and owner of the Asia Security Group (although ownership has recently been denied), disqualified for alleged fraud, and Jamil Karzai, a distant cousin of the President and sitting MP for Kabul);
10. The Kufi sisters: Fauzia, MP (Badakhshan) and Mariam, winner candidate (Takhar);
11. Abdul Qader Imami Ghori, MP in Ghor, who, this time round, is standing as a candidate in Faryab, while his daughter Jamila Ghori runs in their home province;
12. Mirza Mangal (Paktia), brother of deputy Paktia governor, Abdul Rahman Mangal;
13. Mohammad Eshaq (Kandahar), brother of former Minister of Tribes and Borders and presidential advisor, Aref Nurzai;
14. Mohammad Zia Yari (Kabul), son of Senator Sulaiman Yari;
15. Haji Nabi Khalili (Kabul), brother of Second Vice President and leader of one of the split factions of Hezb-e Wahdat, Karim Khalili;
16. The Naderi family: Sayid Mansur, MP (Baghlan) former commander of an Ismaili militia and the current leader of Paiwand-e Maihani party); his son, former commander and former governor of Baghlan, Jaffar (Badakhshan); another son, Olfat (Baghlan); daughter, Farkhonda (Kabul); the nephew Sayyed Daud Naderi (Kunduz) and son-in-law, Hossamuddin Haqbin, who is not running under his in-laws’ name and rival to Sayyid Mansour, was disqualieied for his failure to resign from his position in the MoD (Baghlan);
17. Qudratullah Zaki (Takhar), brother of the murdered MP and Jombeshleader in the Northeast, Sebghatullah Zaki;
18. Engineer Sher Wali Wardak (Kabul), brother of the Minister for Education, Faruq Wardak;
19. Sayid Ali Kazemi (Kabul), brother of the late MP and leader of Eqtedar-e Melli party, Sayid Mustafa Kazemi, who was killed in the 2007 attack on the Baghlan Sugar factory.
20. Qadir Tariq (Kabul), cousin of the Minister of Defence, Rahim Wardak;
21. Sahera Sharif (n.b. in last blog, a typo called her Zahera) (Khost), MP, lecturer in Khost University and sister of General Sher Muhammad Karimi. Chief of Staff of the ANA;
22. Qadir Dostum (Jawzjan), brother of General Abdul Rashid Dostam, factional leader of Jombesh-e Melli;
23. Razia Sadat Mangal (Paktia), the daughter-in-law of former Interior Minister and Paktia governor, Taj Muhammad Wardak;
24. Al-Hajj Nawab Mangal (Paktia) is the brother of Helmand Governor Gulab Mangal, and Ajmal Gulab (Kabul) is his son;
25. Haji Fazel Seyyedkheli (Parwan) is the brother of Maulana Seyyedkhel, the police chief of Kunduz (and earlier of Parwan and Baghlan); he was disqualified;
26. Muhammad Rahim Katawazai (Paktika) is the brother of this province’s former governor Muhammad Qayyum Katawazai, now deputy head of the NDS, disqualified for alleged fraud;
27. Mujib al-Rahman Chamkani (Paktia), son of the late Paktian MP, Fazl al-Rahman Chamkani who was killed during the attack on the 2008 celebrations at the Kabul Stadium for mujahedin Victory Day;
28. Makhdum Abdul Ali Muhammadi (Samangan), son of the late Mawlawi Muhammad Islam Muhammadi, MP, former Taliban governor of Bamyan and Jamiat commander, who was assassinated in 2007.
There are also some family member candidates whom we missed in the September blog:
29.Gul Mohammad Pahlawan, brother of Rasul and General Malek, now reconciled to Dostum and Junbesh (Faryab);
30. Khwaja Seddiq Ahmad Usmani (Parwan), former governor of Parwan with the Islamic State of Afghanistan (ISA), brother of the Minister for Counter-Narcotics and former Minister of the Interior, Zarar Muqbil;
31. Haji Haider Jan Naimzoi, (Kuchi) son of the President’s Advisor on Kuchi Affiars, former Guatanamo Bay inmate and former military commander during Taleban rule, Haji Naim Kochi;
32. Torpekey Patman, (Kabul) wife of the Deputy Minister of Education, Sediq Patman (a member of Afghan Mellat party);
33. Muhammad Nasim Mudabir (Baghlan), brother of General Khalil-e Juma Khan Andarabi, Faryab Chief of Police, was disqualified;
34. Muhammad Azim Mohseni (Baghlan), brother of General Mustafa Mohsini, Logar Chief of Police and Rasul, head of Baghlan Provincial Council;
35. Massud Khan (Helmand), son of former PDPA commander, commander Khano;
36. Haji Abdul Hai (Helmand), brother of former governor of Helmand and current senator, Sher Muhammad Akhundzada.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020