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Political parties in Afghanistan put their own interests first: Kamawal

Political parties in Afghanistan put their own interests first: Kamawal

Aug 22, 2011 - 16:27

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): Political parties are out for their own interests, according to young 29-year-old Kabul MP Sharifullah Kamawal, so he will not join any of them.

His four-story office building in Kabul’s Kart-e-Char neighborhood has a visitors' office, library and a private business office. A Pajhwok reporter interviewed the representative in the well-appointed basement, which featuresinfo-icon a concert stage.

A banner noticeable from the entrance reads “Ketabtoon,” or library, leading the visitor to think the building’s tenants spend a great deal of time reading. But when asked about his hobbies the MP, who is enrolled in two universities, complains he has no time for reading.

He said however that he is a fan of volleyball and cricket and plays those sportsinfo-icon whenever he finds time. The MP wore a suit for the interview but claims he often wears Afghan dress, including the traditional pakolinfo-icon.

A guard stands outside his office. Every visitor is frisked before entering.

Kamawal was born in the eastern province of Nangarhar and was a student during the Talibaninfo-icon period. He began work as a construction manager. He qualified for Kabul University’s department of Psychology and Educational Sciences, but could not enroll because of poor healthinfo-icon. He also studied at Kabul Educational Institute for two years, but never worked in the field, he explained.

He now studies law and political science at Kabul University and also studies law online with an Indian university. 

He has established youth organizations, including the Afghan Youth Social Movement and Afghan Youth Relations in Kabul. The organizations have not only provided educational opportunities for educated Afghan youth domestically and internationally but have also trained scores of uneducated youth with bicycle-making, tailoring and carpet weaving skills, he said.

Claiming no association with any political or former jihadiinfo-icon parties, he complained: "There are limited numbers of political parties in Afghanistaninfo-icon and they think only about their personal interest."

There are over a hundred registered political parties in Afghanistan, according to the Ministry of Justice.

Kamawal is however affiliated with the Parliamentary blocs “Saba” and the “Coalition for the support of law,” and leads the lower house (Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon) commission on MPs’ rights, protections, and privileges.

The MP says he supports government policies and has accomplished about 20 percent of the objectives he has set for himself. He hopes to accomplish the rest in his remaining time as an MP. He said he receives constituents in his office every Monday, and monthly helps over a hundred of them with government-related issues.

Among his accomplishments the MP mentioned his assistance building a mosqueinfo-icon for the people of Laghman who supported his campaign. Asked what he has done for his constituents in Kabul, Kamawal replied, "It shows the ability of an MP to reach out to people of other provinces, in addition to his own."

Putting himself in his constituents’ shoes, he said he is about 30 percent satisfied with his accomplishments and hopes it will increase to a hundred percent shortly.

Asked about accusations that some current MPs appoint their relatives to high government posts, steal land, are involved in smuggling, and keep illegal armed militias, Kamawal said MPs must avoid such behaviour. But he continued: “MPs might try to get their relatives appointed to some government positions, because they might have promised that during their campaign, and I don’t oppose that, unless the MPs overdo it."

"Service to Islamic societyinfo-icon" used to be a visible motto on Kamawal's campaign posters. Asked to explain this slogan, he replied that serving Islam meant voting for Islamic laws and opposing anti-Islamic western laws.

Kamawal attributes his electoral success to his campaign, on which by his account he spent 1.8 million (about $38,000) afghanis of his own income.

The father of three owns three houses in Kabul and receives 98000 afghanis (about $2,000) monthly salary form the house, he said.

He said the current house is better than the previous one because the MPs are younger and equipped with the experiences of their predecessors.

Kamawal was listed as one of 62 MPs to be disqualified by the special election tribunal. Kamawal believes the court’s decision is illegal. If enforced, the verdict would have meant the replacement of five MPs among the 33 MPs allocated to Kabul province in the house.

Kamawal said those named as replacements were among those involved in electoral fraud, alleging: “They filled ballot boxes at night.” He declined to explain further.

President Karzai has since dissolved the special court and referred the controversy to the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) for final resolution.

The IEC on Sunday disqualified nine sitting MPs in the Wolesi Jirga, none from Kabul.

Some in Kabul accuse Kamawal of election fraud, but the MP, who says has received many threatening telephone calls for reasons he did not know, rejects the allegations as unfounded.

He supports the government’s bid for reconciliation with the Taliban and says that Afghanistan is the motherland of all Afghans, and Afghans must join hands in building the country.

Peace will automatically prevail in Afghanistan with improved educationinfo-icon, economic development, and a strong government, he said.

He lauded the security transition process, saying that it will help Afghan security forces to stand on their own.


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