Though the cabinet's ethnic makeup has prompted much debate, Karzai is hardly the only Pashtun to ally with the Northern Alliance. On Oct 25, 2001, Pashtun commander Abdul Haq crossed the border from Peshawar, Pakistan, to Afghanistan. The Taliban captured Haq and executed him during his mission to raise anti-Taliban support among ethnic Pashtuns. Now Karzai has appointed his brother Haji Abdul Qadir, governor of the province including Jalalabad to the post of third Vice President. A Pashtun close to the Panjshiri Tajiks who dominate the former Northern Alliance, Qadir spoke to EurasiaNet on June 17 about what his future might hold.
EurasiaNet: There [was] a strong rumor that you would be taking a job in the Interior Ministry in the next government. Is there any credence to this rumor? Qadir: I'm not asking or pushing Karzai for [any job in the central government]. I love my province and I like very much to work there instead of here in Kabul. But if Karzai asks me to take this position, it is my duty and I will take it.
EurasiaNet: You accompanied [slain United Front leader] Ahmad Shah Massoud during the war with the Taliban. Your presence in the cabinet could help balance and stabilize the new government; after all you belong to the Pashtun ethnic group and are also close to the Northern Alliance leaders. Qadir: When the Taliban took over our country, all Afghans who were against the Talibs moved to the Northern Alliance's side. The martyr Massoud was head of the military force and it was a point of convergence for many people who wanted to rid the country from the enemy. For example I was representative of four provinces. But I have to emphasize, I am not representing all the Pashtuns. We have more than 300 sub-groups within the Pashtun and other ethnic groups here in this country. If I [were to] become a minister, it doesn't mean the Pashtun majority are suddenly happy. I would not be a Pashtun minister any more than I would be a Northern Alliance minister. We have to understand that.
EurasiaNet: Do you expect any changes in Karzai's administration? For example, do you think there is going to be a prime minister job? Qadir: Yes, there are going to be major changes. As far as a prime minister position, I don't think Karzai is interested in [instituting] it.
EurasiaNet: According to [Defense Minister] Marshal [Mohammed] Fahim, you are one of the members of the special military commission. Does that mean this commission would have more power than the existing Defense Ministry or is it the other way around? Qadir: Well. This new commission moves us on a more democratic path and to unity. The Afghan National Army will bring all Afghans together.
EurasiaNet: Who has to pay for this organization? Qadir: We just heard the US has agreed to pay this money. I don't know all the details.
EurasiaNet: It seems one of the big problems for Karzai's Interim administration has been collecting taxes from the province. As the governor of an important province, what have you did about this problem? Qadir: About my province, I told Karzai: anytime he wanted, we could send the tax to the [central government in Kabul]. This is related to Karzai and the Finance Ministry. Of course, I'm only talking about my province. I can't talk about the other provinces.
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist who specializes in Afghan and Iranian affairs. She is currently in Afghanistan reporting for EurasiaNet.