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He really thinks he’s the future leader and writes off Pakistan as a has-been. Can he escape the fate of other puppets: Karmal, Amin and Najibullah? A Pakistani diplomat’s account of meeting Abdullah Abdullah at an international conference in Morocco.
ZAFAR HILALY | Monday | 22 November 2010
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Enjoying Pakistan’s humiliation at the conference was Abdullah Abdullah who believes he would have been the President of Afghanistan but for a million or so votes that Karzai stole.
Attired in his four piece (matching socks) Brioni suit, Abdullah Abdullah was the toast of the conference even earning a ‘peace prize’ from the sponsors for, in their words, ‘agreeing to stand down in favor of Karzai and thereby giving a fillip to peace’. Former Pakistani foreign minister Khursheed Kasuri, who was also present, seemed for once to have been sartorially upstaged by his former Afghan counterpart.
I was about to ask Abdullah how allowing a rigged election to proceed unchallenged was the right thing to do but then thought better of it. After all one cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest. And Abdullah is desperately trying to construct a political career for himself.
However, I did engage Abdullah in a conversation about how he could as ‘a private citizen’ work to improve relations with Pakistan. Abdullah took a long time to explain why he was no longer ‘a private citizen’ but rather the ‘leader of the Afghan Opposition’. As I looked at him with what must have been ill-concealed surprise, wondering when he had been so designated by the Taliban, Abdullah read my mind as he responded, ‘Of course, I am the accepted leader of the legal parliamentary opposition’. Anyway, it turned out that he had no interest in engaging with Pakistan. Pakistan, Abdullah said, ‘was now worse off than Afghanistan’ just as he had warned meaning, thereby, that in his view it was far too late for any fence-mending with Pakistan.
It is remarkable what a metamorphosis superpower patronage brings about in third world, or is it third rate leaders? Babrak Karmal, Hafizullah Amin and Najibullah became communists because their king-mentors, the Soviet leaders, were atheists. Abdullah Abdullah’s current Jeffersonian posture owes its provenance to his democracy-loving American overlords.
Let’s hope that in return for his servility he does not end up hanging upside down from a Kabul traffic-light like Najibullah. Mr. Brioni would be most upset.
Adapted from a longer op-ed by the author, titled, One More Conference, published by The News International. Mr. Hilaly is a former Ambassador of Pakistan. Reach him at
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