Amrullah Saleh is hugging President Ashraf Ghani

Reformist or opportunist; does Saleh tell truth?

Former Afghan spy chief, Amrullah Saleh, who is a running mate of the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani in 2019 presidential election, as early as yesterday, Sunday, November 24, claimed that he had accessed to an audio tape which leaks racist jokes made against the Hazaras of Afghanistan. Mr. Saleh, who is well recognized for his intelligence background, has claimed that a member of the partnership and stability ticket—led by the incumbent chief executive Abdullah Abdullah—makes racist jokes against the Hazaras, saying that the size of Hazaras’ share of power in future government will be as small as the size of a Hazara nose.  

Saleh’s claim—particularly about such a hated topic as racist joke—drew public attention. Many political activists, especially the Hazaras, condemned the act as racist joke and pressed Amrullah Saleh to release the audio tape on social media, something Mr. Saleh refused to do, saying to release the very audio tape, he required approval by the country’s Attorney General’s Office (AGO).  

Does the audio tape substantiate Saleh’s claim?

Kabul Now has accessed to the very audio tape which comprises 22 minutes and 37 seconds. Mawlawi Habibullah Hissam, who is a member of partnership and stability ticket, briefs audience about recent political development and election progress in the audio tape. In the minute 15 of the tape while Hissam is talking, someone apparently a late comer, interrupts to enter the room where the meeting is held. Mawlawi Hissam, addressing the late comer, says: “there is proverb which says that the Hazaras came late by the time nose was being distributed. At this instant, Qazi Saheb has come late… laughing.”

Amrullah Saleh, a Tajik from Panjshir, has worked in high profile security posts in the last 18 years. Under President Ghani, he briefly served as State Minister for Reform in Security Sector but resigned as internal rifts surfaced between him and his boss. Upon his resignation, in a televised interview, Mr. Saleh accused Ashraf Ghani of practicing nepotism and pushing the country into abyss of crisis.

But as campaign for the 2019 presidential election took momentum, Amrullah Saleh joined the state builder presidential ticket, running as first vice president.

“A member of partnership and stability ticket predicts the Hazaras look less likely to take part in protest [against election results]. The man who chairs the gathering says it does not matter if they take part, or do not. Hazaras’ share in power is in the size of their nose. When the God was distributing nose, He gave a small nose to Hazara and said you have two options: take it or see it,” Amrullah Saleh posted on his Facebook account late on Sunday.

Fabricating audio tape for group interest

Mr. Saleh, who ostentatiously shows off to be a principled nationalist Afghan politician, seems to have fabricated the very audio tape which recorded the minutes of meeting held by members of partnership and stability ticket.

Afghan politics has been a tricky game when it comes to power struggle. The political history of the country has been spotted by conspiracy and oft-bloody rivalry between cousins and communities. By fabricating the very audio tape, it looks Saleh has played a sheer game to muddy the water and catch fish.

Although Saleh has selectively responded to the questions raised against his recent inflammatory sayings, he is under typhoon of condemnation for his provocative Facebook post. Many political activists are of the opinion that Saleh’s effort to fabricate the very tape—in such a dishonest way as he has done—shows how dishonest Afghan politics is.