Abdullah Abdullah, a front-runner in the Afghan presidential elections, believes his country could have done better in the past decade. He tells DW that he would do his best to turn things around for his country.
DW: If elected as the next Afghan president, would you be different from the incumbent President Hamid Karzai and if so, how?
Abdullah Abdullah: We will be different in many ways, and the people of Afghanistan will notice it. Our country needs to undertake reforms in a number of areas, as it faces challenges in governance and security. We would definitely introduce new policies if we are successful in the elections.
Would you sign the pending Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States?
The BSA is necessary for Afghanistan. Our country still needs foreign military assistance; therefore, we believe the agreement is crucial for Afghanistan's future.
How would you deal with the Taliban?
The door should always be open to negotiations. The majority of Afghans want lasting peace but I have no doubt that most of them are against Taliban ideology. We are not prepared to compromise to please a small number of militants.
What is the biggest challenge your country is facing at the moment?
We can not say for sure which one is the biggest challenge. However, for most Afghans, security is the foremost issue. But all of our problems are somehow interlinked to each other. Corruption, unemployment and poverty could lead to violence, whereas lack of security impedes development process.
How do you plan to overcome these challenges?
We must improve governance, curb violence and create employment opportunities for people to pull them out of poverty. We have talked about it in our manifesto and the people have appreciated it.
What is your plan to improve Afghanistan's economy?
It will take time for our economy to be self-sufficient. For now, the Afghan government needs international support. Simultaneously, we need to efficiently use our natural resources, modernize and invest in the agriculture sector which employs a large number of Afghans. The next Afghan government should also work with regional economic corporations.
What foreign policy would you pursue in order to avoid conflicts of interests with Afghanistan's neighboring countries?
Our foreign policy is aimed at protecting Afghanistan's national interests and at the same time establishing and maintaining relations with neighboring countries and the international community. Unfortunately, our relations with some of our neighbors are strained. We should work on it. Afghanistan must do whatever it takes to restore its international prestige.
The interview was conducted by Parwana Alizada.