Russia’s Envoy for Afghanistan “Spoke Highly” of Hanif Atmar, One Presidential Hopeful

There are several Afghan political leaders who will be running for Afghanistan’s next presidential elections which is scheduled for June 2019 – although the elections might be delayed as Afghanistan is also dealing with a peace process. Among the many candidates are current president, Dr. Ashraf Ghani, incumbent president’s former National Security Advisor, Mr. Hanif Atmar, and current Chief Executive Officer (equivalent of a prime minister position) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, both competing against the incumbent president.

Russia’s Envoy for Afghanistan, ambassador Zamir Kabulov, is scheduled to meet with his American counterpart, ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, in Turkey on Friday February 22. In interview with Anadolu Agency Kabulov has expressed optimism about the Afghan peace process in which Russia is playing a role. Thus far Russia has hosted several dialogues in Moscow. The two recent ones were a meeting held in Moscow, one in November 2018 where the Taliban, representative of the Afghan High Peace Council and several regional countries, and a second meeting was held among several Afghan political parties and elite with the Taliban in early February.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency Kabulov “spoke highly” of Mohammad Hanif Atmar who is considered as one of the top contenders.  Kabulov has said that “everyone in Afghanistan knows that this is a prominent politician with a broad base of political support. He has one undeniable advantage: he held high positions in both the government of Hamid Karzai and the current administration. He is brilliant, by Afghan standards, top manager, who knows the problems of Afghanistan and knows how to deal with them.” He added that “Atmar also has good relations with Washington.”

Perhaps Ambassador Kabulov’s assertion is true as Mr. Atmar is a recognized face in the Afghan politics, but so are Dr. Ghani and Dr. Abdullah. Praising or endorsing a presidential hopeful in another country can be perceived as interference to the country’s sovereignty. Given Russia’s history of middling in the elections of liberal democracies from Europe to the United States, perhaps Mr. Kabulov should stay out of the Afghan internal politics. In order to support stability and democracy in Afghanistan the international community should focus on bringing peace to the country. A peace that can serve not only Afghanistan’s interests but in the words of Mr. Kabulov ” the security interests of Russia’s and its allies.” Let Afghans vote and elect their own future leader.

Photo credite: AP