Update: Of Rumors & Resignations

Since rumors of “political infighting” and even a “coup” conspiracy have surrounded the recent resignation of president Karzai’s ex-chief of staff, Mr. Ludin himself has come out to set the record straight:

KABUL (Pajhwak News) – President Hamid Karzai’s former chief of staff Javid (sic) Ludin has rejected as baseless reports about his removal from the top position. Speaking to Pajhwok Afghan News, Ludin said he wanted to resign from the job some six months back, but the president asked him to continue. Ruling out any conspiracy behind his leaving the Presidential Palace, Ludin said he was intended to go abroad for higher education. He said President Hamid Karzai had offered him the posts of deputy foreign minister, advisor to the president on international affairs and ambassador… Terming reports about his sacking as baseless, Lundin (sic) said he had developed no grudge against any one, nor there (sic) any conspiracy behind leaving the job. He also rejected the notion that a group of officials was influencing upon (sic) the decision of the president. Karzai is the president of the whole nation and not a single community or nationality.

While this is certainly welcome news through and through, as this and similar incidents demonstrate, political stability in Afghanistan remains fragile and is vulnerable to misinformation, bad PR, and poor government transparency. Clearly there is a felt need for change in that area.

What is in reality a voluntary resignation to continue studying abroad or an anticipated re-assignment (or as it may happen, a desire to “spend time with wife and children”) should not -and does not normally, elsewhere- fuel rumors of a “coup.” A COUP for chrissakes!! (The sheer absurdity of it makes me want to apply all the font editing that WordPress allows.)

And let’s not forget that this was not in just any tabloid either but the UK’s Daily Telegraph – although I suspect that many will follow Askar Guraiz’s example (read his comments on prev. post) of taking Ahmed Rashid a bit less seriously when he next tries to act like the Seymour Hersh of South Asia, and relying on his palace contacts break Big news.

As for the state of the free press in Afghanistan, barring the arrest and sentencing to death of two now-exiled newspaper editors some two years back (and we can only assume subsequent self-censorship by many who did not want to follow the example,) the media is otherwise making a slow but sure-footed progress. The TV medium in particular has been a source of info-tainment for the public and a constant nuisance for conservative and Jihadi MPs in the National Assembly.

The print media also serves a useful -if unintended- purpose as bundles of fresh off the press newspapers (funded by enthusiastic supporters of democracy and its requisite free press -but alas, not of its requisite literacy rate) see widespread circulation only in the form of wrappings for steaming naan loaves and assorted grocery items.

As a last note, sincere wishes to Mr. Ludin in his expressed desire of continuing his higher studies abroad- so far as I can tell , he has served the part of a model public servant over the years with Mr. Karzai’s office, the kind that Afghanistan so badly lacks and so urgently needs. I just wish his departure had been less dramatic.

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