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Is this woman Afghanistan's next president?

October 24th, 2012
06:15 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Fawzia Koofi would like to be the next president of Afghanistan. But that is nearly inconceivable, because Koofi is a woman.

The Taliban has tried to kill her multiple times.  When she travels for her work as a member of Afghanistan’s parliament, she leaves goodbye letters for her two daughters, in the event that she does not return.

“We need to start thinking about changing our mindset,” Koofi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “Still there is this wrong understanding of culture and tradition.  But that’s a fight.  One has to take on the risks and go for it.”

Just one in ten Afghan women are literate, though the literacy rate is three times higher than it was in 2001.

And after 11 years of coalition troops in Afghanistan, A woman can still be routinely executed by the Taliban for even the suspicion of associating with a man who is not her husband.

And beyond that, there is speculation that President Hamid Karzai may try to cling to power after his second five-year term ends in 2014, when he is constitutionally mandated to step down.

It was a charge he vociferously denied in an April interview with Amanpour, saying he was “surprised when there is this question asked.”

The 37-year-old Koofi was clear on the risks posed by Karzai.

“He might support somebody very close to him,” she said, “because they have all the means of power in their control.”

And as international forces get ready to withdraw in 2014, Koofi said, security may deteriorate and “the possibilities for having elections become lesser and lesser.”

But Afghans’ biggest fear, according to Koofi, is not that Karzai maintains a hold on power. It “is the fear for going back to the dark period of our history, where we experienced civil war and Taliban.”

As a woman, Koofi said, she does not want to see Afghanistan’s “blood and treasure” go to waste.

“Women of this country deserve peace more than anybody else; but that peace has to be inclusive, so that there is no fear of losing the gains we have had in the past 10 years,” Koofi said.

The United States has advocated a negotiated peace with the Taliban, but talks have thus far been unsuccessful.

“We all believe that issues can only be solved through discussions and talks, not through means of violence,” Koofi said. But “if Taliban would like to become political players, they need to put weapons away, they need to respect Afghan constitution.”

Both U.S. President Barack Obama and his challenger, Mitt Romney, have committed themselves to the 2014 withdrawal date from Afghanistan.  But Koofi seemed to issue a warning to the international community. 

“We have experienced the 2001 attack; we know that security in Afghanistan is the security of the world,” she said. “I think the international community has a bigger role in terms of helping Afghan people to safeguard the gains they have had, particularly the women’s rights. “

Koofi said that the day women are no longer seen on the streets of Kabul, no longer feel free to work and move freely, “that is the day that there will be Taliban.”

Koofi’s commitment to Afghan women’s plight stems not only from her desire to be Afghanistan first female president.  As a baby, her parents abandoned her and left her outside in the hot sun.  They later had a change of heart and took her back.

“I think most of what happens in Afghanistan,” she said, “goes to tradition, to wrong … understanding of religion.”

“Perhaps my mother suffered as a woman a lot, and she didn’t want yet another girl to suffer as much as she suffered in this world.”

It is a reality she hopes to change.

CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Farid Muti

    Congrtulation Fawzia Koofi as a Candit for President of Afghanistan I am proud of her ,I have a question from fawzia ,when she become president of Afghanistan ,She can bring more women on her cabinet and my request from fawzia koofi ,to hire a women in kabul city mayer and higher education ,education department ,Kabul University,Transportation,finance department ,I am happy for her cabinet tobe all woment,
    Thanks
    Engineer Farid Muti

    October 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Reply
    • daoud ahmady

      I agree with you 100% because study show WOMEN ARE MORE HONEST, CLEANER AND ORGANIZER THEN A MEN !!!!
      This is the best thing happen to Afghanistan and I hope President Obama fully support her and Mr Amrollah Saleh !!!

      November 12, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
  2. Mike Sadeghi

    Hej Amanpour, My name is Mike Sadeghi. I am iranian living in Sweden. I am agianst Iran getting newclear wapen but I believe if Mitt Romney get elected as president it vill mean 100 procent war with Iran. The cain of events will force USA to attack Iran by grand trupp. Först Israel will attack Iran. Iran decide two things go ahead with newclear program and attack oil raffinederis around persian golf and Israel , then USA has no choice but to ivide Iran by grand trupps at least to stopp IRAN S newclear program. Sincerely yours Mike

    October 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  3. Farid Muti

    If fawzia koofi be come president of Afghanistan ,will make a diffrent life for all women in Afghanistan
    Good Luck.
    Engineer Farid Muti

    October 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  4. Daoud Ahmady

    She is one of the best women in Afghanistan, regarding any issue and will be good weapon for future of Afghanistan and people, specially women.
    President Obama should thing about this matter and will be the best idea for USA & world and he should not get fool by PAKISTAN & SAUDI ARABIA, when George Bush got fooled in 2001 by those countries and propaganda about MAJORITY OF AFGHANISTAN IS PASHTON, because such statement is not true and accurate, beside they never pashton want to count the country tribes, because Pashton have the power by force or cheat on election and they always propaganda for the Pashton advantage.

    October 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  5. ajmalshah

    Fawzia Koofi is my sister and i would die protecting her honor , but the facts speak for themselves. In America millions of non muslims blame the Bush administration for the 9/11 attacks, the current situation in Afghanistan in the past 10 years has even worsened, from women rights, education, poverty, civilian deaths, morality exc. O yeah women are not confined to their homes in islam, in sharia women have far more rights then they do in democracy, we have yet to see a women president in the history of america. So please dont talk without the facts in order because the people of Afghanistan are intelligent, the people of the world are intelligent. So please dont talk irrational when it comes to islam because Allah knows all and if you are trying to get international political gain by saying what is in there interest of gaining international support, then you are no better than the rest. love you sis, hit me back!

    October 24, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  6. Anies Rezaie

    i think that this woman can be a good change for afgahnistan especially in terms of women's rights and i hope she brings some peace for afghanistan and reduce the amount of corruption that is happening in Afghanistan. i am not against Karzai but its time that the people of Afghanistan started thinkng differently about women and how much potential women actually have. i hope that one day our war torn nation has the same rights for women as men and that peace and harmony emerges so that people will be able to return to Afghanistan and live among our fellow Afghan brothers and sisters.

    October 25, 2012 at 12:03 am | Reply
  7. obuzor-bashi, n. g.

    What is important is peace in Afganista. Who becomes their next president maybe a step for a truce 4 lasting peace. The blood thirsty warlords may've a genuine reason but violence is never the best alternative. Afgans let there be peace for your children to inherit.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:07 am | Reply
  8. Sovereignty

    The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan should resolve to rid themselves of warlords and establish it's de jure borders. The British, Russians, and Americans cannot resolve the warlordism that prevails throughout the countries. Concerning a woman being President of Pakistan – Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India with 700 million people. Fawzia Koofi potential is her desire to be the first woman President and I wish her success. Lastly, do not be decieved by the media. The U.S. is signatory to most UN Human Rights Treaties, but they are not enforceable in the U.S. for any person due to the declaration of the U.S. Senate. So, there is deceit in believing the US is the leader in human rights.

    October 25, 2012 at 5:27 am | Reply
  9. Rafi

    What an irony!!! An intelligent and qualified woman cannot become a president in a country like Afghanistan because of this country being very conservative, but Fawzia, a woman , can become the next president not because she is intelligent it but only because she is a women. The people of Afghanistan are sandwiched between two extremes non of which represents Afghanistan's and its genuine needs.

    October 31, 2012 at 6:40 am | Reply
  10. Amjad Izhar

    You can never change the mentality of Taliban, it does not mean that we should not struggle for change in the other sects of society. In Pakistan there are 2.5 million Taliban get together in their congregation at Raiwind Lahore. Their mentality there is that they want to change the whole world and would never change themselves. Total Talibans are less than 2% of Pakistan's population but they have strongholds in all major cities of Pakistan on gun point. They don't watch TV, don't go to movies, never keep photographs, no camera, no phone, no bank, they have their own system of marriages between themselves and spend whole life in Tablighee Jamat and in their congregations. I often went to their strongholds and found no guns but brain washing centeres for young children where they first brain wash our children that west is "Kafir" and to kill them is guarantee to go to paradise.

    November 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  11. irfanullah

    i have always seen this woman condemning the tradition and values of afghan people. she is all doing this to gain power and money. does anyone asks her? that why her brothers in her own native province are on the biggest mafias . they are smuggling using the government vehicles provided to her by the government. and she is always to condemn karzai and other people. one thing i should tell you if you dont like the tradition and culture of our homeland . dont do disrepect. i strongly condemn and curse you.

    November 19, 2012 at 11:51 am | Reply
  12. monkeygoddess91

    Reblogged this on Mystical Traveling Sisters and commented:
    This is an article that Linda Iverson wanted to share with the group, since we are going to be sponsoring a woman from Afghanistan.

    January 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  13. Ahmad

    In 2014 if she become a president it's will be really cool we want to Afghanistan make such a power country like now in Afghanistan some people poor they can't find food, in UK,USA, more country have child-law if some one parent is died government help these children we want Afghanistan as well like this we want fawzia as soon as possible but if she's good but some people before president saying Afghanistan will be a good country if I become president but after president doesn't do that good luck...!!!

    February 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  14. Matiullah Oriakhail

    I hope she will be good but if she will like more president in Afghanistan doesn't come advancement I am 10 year old in UK I will try to be a president of Afghanistan hopefully i will be make Afghanistan super power country in the world.good luck again ahmad

    February 2, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  15. Engineer Farid Muti

    I support women right protection in Afghanistan ,i want women be come president in Afghanistan and control Afghanistan government ,my father professor Dr Mohammad Hassan Muti The first professor in Kabul university teach us and his students about honesty and Justin, my dad also support women right protection in Afghanistan but my father past a way on nov 4 , 2008 in the USA , fozia Koofi continue for next year president election ,

    June 25, 2013 at 8:44 am | Reply

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