KABUL (PAN): Presidential contender Abdur Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, blaming the government for what he called inconsistent policies to control terrorism and ensure economic growth, says he will work out effective policies to tackle challenges.
In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, the presidential hopeful suggested implementation of the Sharia law in the country would prevent militants from perpetrating violence in the country.
Also, talks should be held with the elements fuelling militancy, insurgency a
nd Talibanisation in Afghanistan, the noted jihadi leader said, alleging the Taliban were being used as a tool by outsiders for promoting their vested interest in the war-battered country.
Implementation of the criminal law would help tackle militancy, he believed, criticising the sitting government for demonstrating a weak approach to dealing with rebels. He intends to form a consensus government where officials would be appointed on the basis of experience, qualifications and credibility.
Measures would be taken to curb corruption through a system of rewards and punishments in every sector. Administrative corruption and lawlessness are threatening the very fabric of society, according to Sayyaf, who said he would take accelerated steps to ensure security.
He supported freedom of expression as a birth right of every individual, but underlined the need to determine its limits. If elected, holding parlays with the fighters would be among his priorities. He will ensure the freedom of expression and respect for women’s rights.
Asked why he had jumped into the presidential race, the former professor said his sole objective was to serve the country. He would leave no stone unturned to bring peace and prosperity to the people. The country was faced with internal as well as external challenge, he noted, saying the government’s weak writ had multiplied the problems.
Weak states were always vulnerable to interference and that was why there was a dire need for Afghanistan to achieve economic self-reliance and security, he proposed. “We pray for Afghans to stand on their own feet and resolve their economic problems. Once we are stabilized, no one will dare cast an evil eye on us. We have a rich culture and a brilliant history.”
Afghanistan needs a multidimensional strategy to ensure peace and security, the scholar said, lamenting as a nation “we have failed to differentiate between foes and friends”. He said terrorists had been planting mines on roads before mingling into the common people and security forces would continue to face enormous problems unless foes and friends were clearly told apart.
Security forces were paying a heavy price to ensure peace in a country where funerals were offered for the masses and officials on a daily basis, he said, saluting the bravery of law-enforcement personnel.
Law of the land should be applied to everyone irrespective of their social standing, he suggested. There was a dire need to take decisive action against militants and if the government demonstrated a firm stand, militancy could be eradicated.
“If I win the election, I believe we can control the insurgency through an inclusive strategy. We hope applying the law equally to militants will ensure peace,” he remarked.
Referring to his suggestion to differentiate between foes and friends, he said the country had too many rivals and that he planned to identify them at the right time. Once he wins the elections, no one would dare to carry out sabotage acts.
To the question whether he would hold talks with Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), he said a strategy would be worked out to listen to genuine grievances of militants and talks would be held with those fuelling the insurgency through the Taliban.
The entire world knew who was supporting the Taliban, he maintained, saying militants had no arms depots either in Spin Ghar or Tor Ghar — the two famous mountains in Afghanistan. Their financial and logistical support was coming from outside the country, he charged.
“A weak economy and reliance on foreign states in various sectors have made the country vulnerable to foreign interference, which is a matter of concern for us,” he added. He vowed to make revelations at an opportune time as to who was aiding the militancy and terrorism in Afghanistan. “Our priority will be to hold talks with Taliban and convince them to shun violence and embrace peace. I am sure we can convince the insurgents. Being an Afghan, I know how the insurgency problem can be addressed and who is behind it,” he added.
Lauding the efforts, sacrifices and courage of Afghan security forces, he said active and sustained support form the nation was more important than the latest technology. “I plan to utilise all domestic resources for better equipping security forces because foreign aid is never reliable as it can be squeezed anytime.”
Referring to the post-2014 status of foreign forces in Afghanistan, he refused to talk in detail on the subject as the consultative Loya Jirga had already taken a decision that should be acceptable to all and sundry.
A proper strategy was needed to eliminate corruption, he said, promising accountability of all to curb the scourge. Judicial organs were more corrupt than other institutions, he claimed, pledging fast-paced action to discourage graft.
“I will follow the trend introduced by first Caliph Abu Bakar Sadiq (RA) that every stronger is weaker to him and every weaker is stronger to him until their due rights are returned,” he pledged.
He said government would be formed with consensus and every ethnic group would be given their due share in government, however, talent, competency and eligibility would dominate his rule.
Peace and stability are important factors for sustainable economic growth in the country. A transparent financial system was needed to be introduced to curb cases of financial corruption, he said. He pledged his government would offer vast opportunity for investment in various sectors in a move to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.
Natural resources of Afghanistan could expedite the country’s progress, prosperity and development, who said steps would be taken to pave ground for extraction of natural resources. Minerals and other natural resources should be better utilized to attain economic self reliance, which would usher an era of prosperity in the country. “I will introduce a strategy to control spending and reining in administrative graft. If a comprehensive plan is properly pursued then the country can progress well,” he said.
No doubt, a lot of progress has been made in this important area — decades after the destruction of schools and the entire educational framework, he acknowledged. Following the Taliban’s fall, he said, the whole thing was started from the scratch. Despite the killing of teachers and students, millions of children defied threats going to school, he said, stressing the need for doing more to make educational institutes self-sustaining. But it’s a natural deficiency, not the result of any failure. Reinforcing these institutes is a time-consuming process.
Sayyaf stressed Afghanistan should start making strenuous efforts right away for attaining financial self-sufficiency by exploiting its natural wealth (minerals, etc), controlling unnecessary spending and reining in administrative graft. If a comprehensive strategy was properly pursued, Afghanistan would not face any major problem, he believed.
Freedom of expression & women’s rights:
Just like seeing, hearing and free movement, free speech is a basic human right, according to the religious scholar, who said Islam has laid clear principles for the implementation of this value. Other societies also have their own laws and priorities in this regard. For instance, he said, you have ears, so hearing is your right, but you don’t have to overhear or snoop on others. This is forbidden by Islam. You can walk, but should not stray into prohibited areas. We are duty-bound to speak the truth, but should avoid disclosing secrets of others or speaking ill of them. Generally speaking, religion guarantees the freedom of expression. Those who can’t speak the truth have been likened to a dumb Satan by the Prophet (PBUH). It’s a jihad speaking the truth in front of a cruel
“We are committed to maintain justice, which should be followed by solid reasons. I believe that a wrong doer be punished after fair and thorough investigations. We should identify who started the war inside the country and who prolonged it then we can say that now transitional justice could take place,” he added.
Every government should assess every case impartially and ensure speedy justice, he said, adding he was supporting fair justice system in the country.
Referring to his foreign policy, he would forge close ties with the US and other neighbouring countries by keeping his country’s interests supreme. In addition, brotherly relations would be established with all Islamic states and other countries of the world.