Stable Afghanistan also good for Pakistan: Zalmai


One of the top three contenders in Afghanistan’s presidential race said on Thursday that he won’t challenge the results even if he loses and suspects fraud and also urged his opponents to do the same.

“I will accept the results for the sake of Afghanistan even if I have a fear of fraud,” Zalmai Rassoul said in an interview with The Associated Press.

A soft-spoken Rassoul warned that anything but a “clean and clear” election on April 5, when Afghans will pick a successor to President Hamid Karzai, will undermine the country’s nascent democracy.

Rassoul’s opponents have raised suspicions that his close association with Karzai could lead the government to intervene to aid him.

Rassoul responded that all three front-runners have friends in the government and that his main rivals – Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai’s leading opponent in the fraud-tainted 2009 elections, and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, an academic and former World Bank employee – have worked in Karzai’s administration.

Still, he warned that Afghanistan’s stability is at risk if there is a repeat of the massive vote-tampering seen during the election five years ago that returned Karzai to power.

“The important thing for me is the institutions of the government should not be used to support a candidate,” he said.

The 71-year-old Rassoul is a former foreign minister and long-time loyalist of Afghanistan’s King Zahir Shah, who was toppled in a 1973 coup and died in 2007.