Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Political Landscape

AAN Election Blog No. 5: The Best Candidates’ Posters (1)

Thomas Ruttig 4 min

In a loose series, AAN will introduce some of the best election posters and give some background on the respective candidates. Today: Foruzan Fana – positive vibrations and an unresolved murder.

Walking or driving through the streets of Kabul is quite interesting these days. The 38 presidential and over 300 Kabul provincial council candidates’ posters can be found at nearly every wall and neighborhood. They adorn bakery shops, lampposts, rear windows of cars, traffic signs. Only the guards booths of the police and diverse security companies seem to be impartial, this time.
Ms Foruzan Fana is 40 years old, an orthopedic surgeon and of Tajik ethnicity. She is one of only two female candidates for the presidency (the 2004 candidate with 1.1 per cent of the vote and later Minister for Woman Affairs Massuda Jalal had declared willingness to run early on but finally not registered) and never has held political office. Her vice-presidential candidates are Nasimullah Darman and Ghulam Jailani Darmani.
On this particular poster, Ms Fana’s candidate number is unreadable for minor vandalism or wind erosion. Clearly visible, however, is her election sign – a red apple and her slogan: ‘taghir-e musbat” – positive change. If successful, she wants to build schools, create jobs and talk to the Taleban. She thinks that Afghanistan is ready for a female president: ‘Why not? The constitution says any Afghan can be a candidate, be it a man or a woman.’
Her poster, a four-color print resembling the famous Andy Warhol portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley or Che Guavara clearly is the number one for me in the category ‘Best Art Work’.
(What I haven’t seen yet are graffiti. AAN website watchers are kindly requested to send in their findings on this issue.)
Ms Fana is the widow of a well-known politician, former Aviation and Tourism Minister Dr. Abdurrahman. He was killed under suspicious circumstances and ‘in full view of ISAF troops’ (Ahmed Rashid, Wall Street Journal, 22 Feb 2002) on Kabul airport on 15 February 2002, allegedly beaten to death by enraged Mecca pilgrims who had to wait for days for their departure, thought they might have lost their money deposit to corrupt officials and held the minister responsible for all of this.
There was another story, however, saying that it was a planned assassination and the Northern Alliance were involved. Then Interim President Hamed Karzai accused member of his interim administration of complicity in the case: ‘He was killed by people who planned it’ (Guardian, 16 Feb 2002), ‘[a]ll this… goes back to the days of the resistance’ (CNN 15 Feb 2002), ‘[s]ome of these people were working for the Afghan security services.’ (New York Times, 15 Feb 2002). According to eyewitness reports and the then Minister for Tribal Affairs Amanullah Dzadran, four men who did not wear the characteristic white clothes of Mecca pilgrims broke through a cockpit window of the plane the minister and threw him to the tarmac where he was beaten and stabbed to death. Meanwhile, the current strongest challenger of Karzai, Dr Abdullah, then Foreign Minister, rejected Karzai’s version and blamed it on the pilgrims (CBS 22 Feb 2002). Some media report linked the murder to the upcoming Emergency Loya Jirga and the expected return of former King Muhammad Zaher to Afghanistan from exile in Rome and interpreted it as a warning sign to the royalists. Dr Abdurrahman, a former member of the Northern Alliance, later participated in the pro-King Rome group meetings. According to various news reports, six people were personally implicated in the case: the head of the MoI intelligence Gen. Din Muhammad Jurat, deputy head of the Afghan intelligence Gen. Abdullah Jan Tauhidi, Gen. Qalandar Beg of the Defence Ministry, a Ministry of Justice employee, Haji Halim, the commander of the personal protection unit Gen. Abdulrabb and the commander of the airport security Major Faqir Muhammad. However, the arrested were later quietly released. The first unsolved murder of a high-ranking official in Afghanistan’s post-2001 history…
(See a contemporary report on Dr Abdulrahman’s funeral below.)

A new war is brewing in Afghanistan

Luke Harding in Kabul Wednesday February 27, 2002 The Guardian
(edited by AAN)

The scene was faintly reminiscent of Julius Caesar. Lying in a freshly dug
grave was Afghanistan’s murdered aviation minister, Abdul Rahman. As rain
drizzled down on Kabul’s muddy cemetery, Afghanistan’s interior minister,
Younis Qanooni, stepped forward. Dr Rahman, gruesomely murdered on his own
plane, was a fine man who survived imprisonment by the Russians, Mr Qanooni
said. He came back from exile only to meet an untimely death, he added.
There was only one thing troubling about Mr Qanooni’s funeral tribute – the
fact that his own intelligence chief appears to have played a key role in
bumping off Dr Rahman, the man lying in the ground. Two weeks ago
Afghanistan’s interim leader, Hamid Karzai, accused three members of his own
government of murdering Dr Rahman when he was besieged by angry pilgrims
whose plane to Mecca had failed to turn up. What, then, does this tale of
post-Taliban assassination mean for Afghanistan? The answer is depressing:
that Afghanistan is now in real danger of sliding back into civil war.
Rockets are not yet raining down on Kabul. And we have not returned to
1992-1996 when rival mojahedin factions shelled each other, during the bleak
pre-Taliban era. But the seeds of future conflict are being sown by a
political settlement that gives too large a role to the Taliban’s old
adversaries – the Tajiks – and too small a one to the ousted militia’s own
ethnic group, the Pashtuns.

The three officials who apparently killed Dr Rahman are all members of
Jamiat-i-Islami, the Tajik party (and faction of the Northern Alliance) that
effectively runs the country’s new administration. There are whispers that
Dr Rahman’s unIslamic lifestyle – he liked parties and women – may have
brought about his undoing. But the most credible explanation for his murder
is political revenge. Many of Rahman’s former Jamiat colleagues grew to view
him as a traitor when he defected from the party in the 1990s and joined the
royalist camp of Afghanistan’s exiled king, Mohammad Zahir Shah.

The fact that his enemies felt bold enough to plunge a knife, Cassius-like,
into him soon after getting jobs in government is ominous. Jamiat troops
took over Kabul last November after the Taliban’s speedy departure. In the
Bonn agreement that followed, the party was generously rewarded. It got the
defence, interior, justice and foreign affairs ministries. It also controls
the security and intelligence services.


Since reoccupying Kabul, Jamiat has appointed its own supporters to crucial
civil service posts. Many of the government’s new advisers are decent,
educated and pleasant, a refreshing change from the obscurantists who used
to haunt the Taliban’s ministries. The problem is that the new appointees
are almost exclusively Tajik. Sooner or later this imbalance is likely to
cause resentment in the Pashtun-dominated south.



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