KABUL – Presidential polls in Afghanistan should not be held in the midst of an ongoing peace process with the Taliban, former president Hamid Karzai said on Thursday.
Karzai told reporters in Kabul that he was suspecting some conspiracy because “elections are not in the interest of the nation” as the democratic exercise was being held “strongly under (a) foreign influence,” making it a less credible.
“I am in no way optimistic...but consider it as a conspiracy against Afghanistan. The election is not in the hands of Afghans, our elections are in the hands of foreigners, particularly America. Whatever America wants, it can do with our elections,” he said.
“These are not our elections, it will be ours when there is no bloodshed and we have a powerful government in place with full control of this land.”
Afghanistan is all set to hold its next presidential polls on Sept. 28. There are 18 contestants, including incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and his Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, in the fray. Some nine million people are eligible to vote.
Karzai said he favored no one among the candidates and instead encouraged them to forget about elections and join their hands for success of the peace process.
“Afghanistan first need to have a peace and its own authorities, then it can go for elections. We need to focus on peace process.”
He said every country, including the United States and Pakistan have their own interests in the ongoing peace process, and Afghans should be aware how to secure their own interests in the interest of “a lasting and stable peace.”
The presidential polls, the fourth since the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001, are being held amid peace talks between the US and the Taliban. The two sides are expected to start the eighth round of talks soon in Qatar amid wide hopes of finalizing an agreement.
The agreement between the US and Taliban is expected to culminate into intra-Afghan talks between government and the insurgent group that has so far rejected to hold face-to-face talks with representatives appointed by President Ghani’s administration.
The Afghan government on Wednesday announced formation of a 15-member negotiation team for talks, days after it announced that direct parleys with Taliban were expected to begin soon in an unnamed European country.