It was reported last week that Karzai held a meeting with the Warlord Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Minister Ismail Khan, Vice President Fahim, and Governor Mohammad Atta (who has presidential ambitions of his own) to press quorum to accept Sayyaf as candidate for president in 2014. The article points out that Atta did not commit, and suggests the matter is still under consideration by the powerful clique. That Sayyaf was suggested is surprising given the Karzai family’s own maneuvering of Qayum Karzai, although an early rejection of Sayyaf may make the field easier for a Karzai family nomination. There are not so many powerful Pashtuns with name-recognition left in the Karzai circle.
Graeme Smith is quoted in the article as saying “…among Afghans, this does not look that crazy at all;” sadly, it is not surprising for many Afghans, but for most Afghans, I would argue, a Sayyaf candidacy would be viewed as disastrous. While Sayyaf may be the only “legal” Pashtun warlord left from the anti-Soviet war and civil war period, he is hardly well-liked and stands accused of some human rights violations heinous even by Afghan standards, as Sekundar mentioned before. Short of a Gulbuddin Hekmatyar or Mullah Omar regime, a Sayyaf presidency may be the quickest way to dissuade Western donors from supporting the Afghan government, and Sayyaf himself would almost certainly call for the withdrawal of ISAF. It is worth watching in the months ahead who supports his candidacy.