Abdullah to forge close links with neighbours
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Leading presidential candidate Dr Abdullah Abdullah on Thursday promised a new spirit of friendship and partnership with Afghanistan's neighbours and global players including the United States, if voted to power in the June 14 presidential elections.
In an interaction with a Washington audience on Skype, Dr Abdullah promised to offer neighbours and the world at large "a new approach from our side and a new spirit of friendship and partnership."
At the event organised by Atlantic Council, an eminent American think tank, Dr. Abdullah called for the next government to act on a "fresh opportunity for Afghanistan to reset its relations with the international community and ... especially with the United States."
Abdullah, who led the first round of the presidential election but was unable to get the necessary 50+1 percent of the popular vote, is pitted against Ashraf Ghani in the June 14 run-off elections. Latest opinion polls suggest that the two are in a dead heat.
Responding to questions, Abdullah said the fight against corruption would be his top priority. "People will watch us from Day One" of the new government's tenure, he said, adding that if elected to power he will appoint government officials whose reputation reflects a commitment to the rule of law.
"Corruption is institutionalized at this stage. A lack of political will has been the main issue in delaying the passage and enforcement of aggressive anti-corruption policies by parliament and the Karzai administration. Rule of law has not been considered as a priority," he said.
He also spoke against letting Afghanistan being used by terrorists. "Ourselves having suffered from terrorism ... I am categorically against the presence of any terrorists in Afghan territory.”
In response to a question, he could not confirm the reported presence in northeastern Afghanistan of Pakistani militant leader Mullah Fazlullah, but said that if those terrorists were there, then it would be for the Afghan state to take action against them.
He said the outgoing President, Hamid Karzai, will continue to influence the government after leaving office. “Certainly he will have a political role to play" if he wishes. "We have not discussed" details of any role Karzai might play in a next administration,” he concluded.
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