• Deanna Coleman

November: Diplomat of the Month

Afghanistan’s most powerful politician, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, has proved himself as most suitable for Diplomat of the Month. The reasons for this choice are grounded within his new plans to run for candidacy for the April 2019 presidential elections.

Atmar has previously held numerous highly-esteemed positions, which make him perfect for the role. These positions include the Interior Minister of Afghanistan (2008-2010), Minister of Rural Rehabilitation (2002-2008), and Development and Minister of Education (2006-2008). His most recent position has been National Security Adviser (2014-2018), which he quit due to difference between himself and the government in their approach to maintaining peace in the country.

Atmar at the graduation of Afghan National Police Academy cadets.

In the wake of attacks on the June 2010 Afghan Peace Jirga, Atmar was removed by Hamid Karzai. Along with the chief of the National Directorate of Security, Amrullah Saleh, the two resigned due to their error is not providing enough security during the vent.

Atmar’s announcement for candidacy has sparked controversial debate. While many believe his resignation as National Security Advisor, was an obvious tactic, others believe his previous inability to provide enough security for the 2010 Afghan Peace Jirga would make him incompetent as leader of an entire state.

Consistently referred to as one of the most powerful men in Afghanistan, Atmar has signed the 2014 Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States, and had been heavily involved in the 2016 peace deal with Hizb-i-Islami. His role in the fight against the ISKP prevent the group in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar. The last ten years in particular have shown Atmar to be a key decision maker, and the center of Afghan politics.

Atmar as Interior Minister

These actions show Atmar as a persistent tackler of terrorism – a heavily important issue in the region – and persistent in peace talks and amending relations. Therefore, this arguably makes him a suitable candidate for the presidential elections. In addition, this role will influence the international community, specifically the United States who are willing to respond to the elections ‘by force’ should a different leader be chosen.

In conclusion, Atmar was chosen for this month’s spotlight due to his regular desire to promote peace in the region, and with the international community; often strongly going against the actions of the current government. This is a particularly noble and courageous step for the politician.

At the time of writing, Deanna Coleman is a third year student at the University of St Andrews. She is studying International Relations and Spanish. Areas that interest her the most are diplomacy and humanitarian action.