Visiting Afghan Scholars’ and Students’ Insights on Afghanistan’s Future

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Daud AbdulFattah Batchelor

Abstract

The Karzai government's former Finance Minister, Ashraf Ghani is currently the leading 2014 presidential candidate among Afghan students. This is one of the findings of a survey of 13 legal scholars and judges of a visiting delegation and 47 students attending Malaysian universities. The survey was conducted in the greater Kuala Lumpur area by the International Institute for Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia earlier this year. 

The government lawyers surveyed were all university-educated men, mainly 30 to 50 years old. 69 per cent put their first language as Dari/Persian and 31per cent as Pashto. The great majority indicated affiliation with Sunni Islam followed by "Reformist Islam". All but two indicated that Shi'a Muslims were well treated in Afghanistan. Their overall assessment of the Karzai government was that its performance was only "average" to "poor". The major issues that will need to be addressed by the new government to be elected in 2014 were seen to be education, employment and job creation, and achieving national unity. Rule of law, strong military and police forces, and the provision of a basic infrastructure were also important. To the question "Should Islam be the only foundation for laws in Afghanistan or can codified secular laws or Pashtunwali customary principles be used?" 54 per cent replied that Islam and other principles could be used, while 31 per cent stated only Islam should be used. A clear majority preferred an "Islamic state" to the present constitutional framework. A majority preferred the election of provincial governors rather than as at present, their appointment by President Karzai.

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Events and Significant Developments

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