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Live Blog -- Afghan Presidential Debates

Radio Free Afghanistan and Afghan National Radio and TV are holding two presidential debates on February 15 and 16. Gandhara will provide live updates during the debates.


Summary

DAY 1: Akbar Ayazi, RFE/RL's regional director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, moderated the first presidential debate on February 15 (Saturday) between 1600 Afghanistan local time (UTC, 1130) and 1800 (UTC, 1330).

Islamist leader Qutbuddin Hilal, former Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, former lawmaker Daud Sultanzoi and former Governor Gul Agha Sherzai participated in the debate.

DAY 2: Akbar Ayazi, RFE/RL's regional director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, is moderated the second presidential debate on February 16 (Sunday) from 1600 Afghanistan local time (UTC, 1130) to 1800 (UTC, 1330).

Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, former senior presidential adviser Hedayat Amin Arsala and Prince Mohammad Nader Naim, grandson of former President Daud Khan's brother, participated in the second debate.

Abubakar Siddique
18:54 16.2.2014
This blog is closed.
18:53 16.2.2014
On Women's Rights And Youth:

Naim:
"Women’s rights is a serious and important matter. As you know, today women make up 50 percent of our society. We’ve gained some achievements in this regard, but those are not enough. We want to provide more opportunities for women ensuring that they have a 30 percent participation in our next government.”

Arsala:
"We must respect human rights and should not allow any violations under any circumstances. Women’s rights must be protected. We are fully committed to the protection and promotion of women’s rights and their role in our society in political, economic, and social matters. I would say a woman should be treated like a man or vise versa."

Ghani:
"Young people of Afghanistan make up the absolute majority in this country while remaining a political and economic minority. Unless this minority is converted into a majority, [Afghanistan] will not become stable. So the first point is youth employment -- both those who are educated and literate, and those who are not. As for job creation, we have a specific economic plan -- while creating jobs in any sector we will be focusing on youth."
18:20 16.2.2014
On the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the U.S.:

Arsala:
"I think that the people of Afghanistan -- with parliament being the official representative of the people -- have said that this [Bilateral Security] Agreement should be signed. I also think that this agreement is in the interest of the Afghan people. It is important for the stability of Afghanistan. This agreement should be signed. If, God willing, I become president, I will sign it. I do not have any problem with it."

Ghani:
"This agreement is the source of Afghanistan's national sovereignty. For the first time since international forces have been deployed in Afghanistan, the Afghan state will have the sole right to use force. Therefore [this agreement] ensures our national sovereignty in every aspect."

Naim:
"I encourage [the signing] of the [Bilateral Security] Agreement. And before an important event in Afghanistan -- I mean elections -- this agreement should be signed and the president of Afghanistan should take a clear and serious stance on it."
18:19 16.2.2014
Key Quotes:

Ghani:
"We need a government to be transparent and merit-based. Jihad is not the problem. The problem is the sectarian outlook of the country. This outlook divided a strong army and toppled a balanced administration of the country (eds: in place before Taliban came to power) and made Afghanistan vulnerable."

Ghani:
"Those who were involved in the war should be re-included in the mainstream because without this we cannot have durable peace. In our cabinet, the first priority is the national plan. The cabinet must ensure national unity, because without inclusion, without participation of youth, women, and without inclusion of other factions and layers of society, we cannot solve the problems of this country."

Arsala:
"The standards which I applied to the selection of my assistants were, first -- they should be clean; second -- experience; third -- they should not be involved in bloodshed and corruption. In the meantime, I wanted one of my vice presidential candidates to be a woman."

Arsala:
"Unfortunately, once jihad was over, some mujahedin leaders monopolized power for themselves and by doing so they have divided Afghanistan into different factions and groups. This sort of approach became the basis of many problems in the country. At the same time we should know that the mujahedin and their leaders were not alone in this -- there were foreign forces involved too. That’s why we could not enjoy the achievements of jihad. Nevertheless, now Afghanistan has an opportunity to move forward to peace and stability.”

Ghani:
"Today, [U.S.] President [Barack] Obama and all of our European partners have accepted the political solution to the Afghan conflict as a principle. The second dimension is regional, especially when it comes to Pakistan. The elected Pakistani Prime Minister [Nawaz Sharif] prefers a political solution but the intelligence and military apparatus of Pakistan have not arrived at this conclusion yet. Therefore, we have a fundamental obstacle in the region. Third -- it's the domestic dimension that includes corruption and cruelty, which in turn have caused violence in the country."

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