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Asia-pacific

Candidates: Women, ex-Taliban in the mix

©

Text by Leela JACINTO

Latest update : 2009-07-23

In Afghanistan, it is often said, only the strongman can stand. But the 2009 list of Afghan presidential candidates features a number of lesser known presidential hopefuls – including two women and a former Taliban commander.

 

MULLA ABDUL SALAM RAKITY – THE FORMER TALIBAN

 

 

Which tribe?
Pashtun

 

Languages:
Native Pashto (no information on other languages)

 

Background:
Earned his well-known nickname for his skill with a rocket launcher during the anti-Soviet resistance. When the Taliban seized power in most of Afghanistan, Rakity served as the Taliban’s governor in the southern province of Uruzgan, where he developed a reputation as a fierce commander.

 

After the 2001 fall of the Taliban, Rakity switched sides and joined the international coalition-aided government side. He has since proved adept at re-fashioning himself according to the times and defined a role for himself as a negotiator in talks with the Taliban. Is popular in the Pashtun areas around Kandahar, where battle tales of his Taliban-era bravery still make the rounds. Currently a representative in the Afghan parliament.

 


FROZAN FANA – A WIDOW’S WINDOW

 

 

Which tribe?
Tajik

 

Languages:
Dari

 

Background:
Wife of former Afghan Tourism and Aviation Minister Abdul Rahman, who was killed on the Kabul airport tarmac in Feb. 2002. Initial news reports said he was killed by an enraged mob of pilgrims prevented from travelling to Mecca, but several senior Afghan officials say the killing was politically motivated.

 


SHAHLA ATA – THE OTHER FEMALE CANDIDATE

 

 

Which tribe?
Mohammadzai clan - Pashtun

 

Languages:
Pashto, Dari, Urdu, English

 

Background:
An MP from Kabul, the 47-year-old politician was born in Kandahar. She worked as a physician’s assistant in Pakistan and the US before returning to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.

 

 

The odds:
Very slim. Atta’s shopping list of election promises is almost identical to those of her rivals. Running on a socialist platform, Ata has vowed to follow the progressive policies of former Afghan President Mohammad Daud Khan, who was killed in a 1978 coup. Her strongest selling point is her bravery for defying the odds and running for office in a deeply patriarchal state.

 

 

 

 

Date created : 2009-07-22

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