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Daily News Analysis

Warlord, vice president and Marshal, Fahim is dead

Crescent International

With the death of warlord, 'Marshal' Mohammad Qasim Fahim (of natural causes, mind you), Afghanistan's stock of warlords is dwindling. President Hamid Karzai expressed grief at losing his 'first” vice president. Three days of mourning have been declared. Who will mourn the butcher from the north?

Peshawar, Crescent-online
Sunday March 09, 2014, 10:39 DST

Afghanistan's first vice president and carrying the pompous title of ‘Marshal’, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, died earlier today (Sunday, March 9). He was 57. The official statement said he had died of natural causes.

A notorious warlord who had the blood of thousands of innocent Afghans on his hands, Fahim had been a top commander in the Northern Alliance led by another notorious warlord, Ahmed Shah Massoud. Both were Tajik and carried a deep grudge against the majority Pashtuns from whose ranks the Taliban have emerged.

Both the Americans and Hamid Karzai courted him for support against the Taliban disregarding his atrocious record.

Human Rights Watch said in a 2005 report that Fahim was “one of the most notorious warlords in the country, with the blood of many Afghans on his hands from the civil war.”

He was one of three most powerful elements in Afghanistan, the others being Karzai and the Americans. The three-legged stool just lost one leg. Will Karzai lose his grip now that Fahim is gone and he is not on speaking terms with the Americans who are demanding his signature on the dotted line for continued presence of US troops in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 deadline?

Karzai was voluminous in his praise of Fahim. “It is with deep sadness that we learn of the passing away of Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, the First Vice-president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. May his soul rest in peace.” He then declared three days of national mourning.

Who will mourn a butcher from the north is not clear but given his usefulness to the Americans and the United Nations, they all expressed sadness at his sudden death. The UN mission in Afghanistan called Fahim “a good and trusted partner of the UN.”

He had played a powerful role behind the scenes and together with fellow Northern Alliance members, was effectively in control of government. Karzai has acted merely as a front bereft of support from within his own tribal and ethnic base.

Karzai had recently become a dad again—for the third time—with the birth of a baby girl born in a hospital in India where his wife Zinat had gone for delivery. He was said to be pleased even though Afghans do not normally celebrate the birth of girls.

With Fahim’s death, Karzai may be more vulnerable to Northern Alliance intrigues especially coming from Abdullah Abdullah, a staunch opponent of the incumbent president.

Presidential elections are due on April 5 and Karzai’s brother, Qayyum himself a contender, has thrown his support behind the former foreign minister Zalmay Rassoul. The ticket is believed to have Karzai’s approval.

It will be interesting to see whether the pair will succeed against Abdullah Abdullah who is backed by the Americans as well as India. There are reports that the Americans have flooded Afghanistan with millions of dollars in support of Abdullah.

As in the US, elections in Afghanistan are purchased. The only difference is that the Afghans are content with millions while in the US it is a game of billions.


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