The prize for the boldest election poster goes to Shahnawaz Tanai, another presidential candidate from the South-East, from Khost province to be precise where his Tani tribe dwells in the dry plains outside Khost town ‘where only stones grow in the field’ as a local friend describes it and in the chromite-(holding) hills to the South from where a less described smuggling business to Pakistan is thriving.
On his election poster, Tanai has himself portrayed in his Khalqi general’s uniform of the late 1980s complete with red banderole around his general’s cap and moustache, when he was defense minister of the PDPA/Watan regime, before in February 1990 – in an impressive turn-about – he joined hands with Hezb-e Islami chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in a failed but still bloody coup against President Dr Najibullah, the Afghan Gorbachev. Of all available near and far neighbours, he fled to Pakistan with a helicopter. There were accusation that he worked with the ISI and the Taleban (some former Khalqis flew their few jets). From there he returned in summer 2005 to the despise of the Khost mujahedin and settled down in Kabul mikrorayon.
But maybe it is positive that apparently no one takes offence of this large poster fixed at a derelict historical shop-front on the north bank of the River Kabul, opposite Timur Shah’s restored mausoleum. The 59 year old ex-general did not run for parliament, but leads one of the many factions of the PDPA’s former Khalq faction that fail to re-unite since they started open political work after the collapse of the Taleban regime: De Afghanistan de Sole Ghurdzang, or Afghanistan Peace Movement.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020