Hanif Atmar: The Panic Button For Afghan Mujahedeen And Militia-Men – OpEd


As Afghanistan’s national security adviser continues to show his influence in the upper echelon of politics, feudal warlords are attempting to undercut that power, leveling false accusations against the politician.

Hanif Atmar has been in the center of Afghan politics and decision-making at the highest level in post-Taliban era. He served as the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (2002-2006), Minister of Education (2006-2008) and Interior Minister (2008-2010) during the Karzai administration. He was regarded as “the most competent” anti-corruption cabinet member in Afghanistan by western nations.

Atmar is one of the few technocrats at the highest level who rose to prominence solely through his leadership, management and effective strategy mindedness, while a majority of the rest of his fellow cabinet members were former warlords and had military power. Born in 1968, Atmar was also the youngest cabinet member in the period of 2002-2010.

Days after taking office as president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani appointed Atmar as his national security adviser. This was one of the initial political appointments made by President Ghani. Even though technically an adviser has no executive authority, Atmar has made his presence felt by leading National Security Council meeting sessions. He is now President Ghani’s go-to person because of his understanding of the domestic, regional and international politics.

In his very first days as national security adviser, Atmar was tasked to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States on behalf of Afghan government. That showed the elevated trust and reliance of President Ghani on him. His endeavors and opinions matter more than other National Security Council members, even the ones with much more executive authorities.

That has created animosity among other Afghan politicians, especially former warlords and former president Karzai’s loyals, against Atmar. For example, last year when Islamic State’s hostility emerged in Nangarhar besides that of Taliban, they killed many civilians and seized several areas. Zaher Qadeer, deputy speaker of Afghan parliament blamed Atmar for stirring those particular events of violence in eastern Nangarhar.

The reason behind Qadeer’s allegations was Atmar’s opposition to his use of force by his militias against ISIS on his own and beyond Afghan government’s subjection. Qadeer received financial support from Iran in order to thwart ISIS in Nangarhar. Atmar opposed Qadeer’s militia making, rightly so because further inclusion of Iran in Afghan conflict will elevate sectarian tension.

Atmar suggested that all anti-terrorism military operations be taken under the Afghan Security Forces’ supervision. He knew if being let loose, Qadeer could well create a strong militia group of his own besides the existing ones. Militias have historically posed threat to democracy and rule of law to all nations in the phase of post-conflict rehabilitation. Qadeer later reportedly apologized to Atmar during his visit to Nangarhar.

Jamiat-e-Islami, Dr. Abdullah’s political party, too finds it hard to get along with Atmar. Time and again they blamed Atmar for political upheavals and the expansion of havoc to northern Afghanistan. Recently, Jamiat criticized President Ghani and Atmar for gravitating and centralizing power into their own hands. Jamiat also said that Atmar is seeking support from Afghanistan’s international partners to create a presidential guard of 10,000 forces. Even though that is not officially confirmed and still remains a rumor, the presidential guard could well diminish Afghan warlords’ threat to the government and play a force vis-à-vis their militias. After the collapse of Taliban, Afghan warlords and militiamen have constantly challenged rule of law and effective governance. That guard, if formed, could be used to daunt warlords and refrain them from using military force beyond government subjugation.

Last month first vice-president, General Abdul Rashid Dostum’s convoy was attacked in Ghormach district of Faryab province. After narrowly surviving the attack, Dostum held a press conference and accused Atmar for plotting the attack. He also criticized Atmar for usurping authority he is not entitled to. Seeking common ground, Jamiat members took advantage of the opportunity and started supporting Dostum’s stance.

Hoping to decrease President Ghani’s faith in Atmar, a Northern Alliance loyal, Razaq Mamoon wrote an article theorizing a conspiracy that Atmar was recently planning a coup against President Ghani. That theory and other media propaganda were bogus and futile attempts to distance Atmar from the president.

First, this is technically impossible given Atmar’s professional background, he is a firm believer in democracy and institutionalization, and also he does not have any militia or military power that would support disobedience of that sort.

Second, President Ghani has never opposed with him over any national issue. Atmar has shown great temperament towards media and has never showed any angry or sentimental reaction toward the accusations and allegations, he never succumbed to any pressure. After all the media allegations, President Ghani conferred the highest state medal upon Atmar in return for his services to Afghanistan.

Atmar has not only been involved in domestic security policies, he has also proved his effectiveness in the expansion of Afghanistan’s regional and international diplomatic horizon. He was the main actor who helped President Ghani restore NATO’s trust in Afghanistan, after which consequently NATO in Warsaw summit in July of 2016 pledged $4 billion to Afghanistan until 2020. He has also been the major actor behind the peace deal with Gulbudin Hekmatyar, which was signed in September by President Ghani and Hekmatyar.

One thing Atmar’s foes have in common, is their bleak background of warlordism. They know that Atmar is Ghani’s top ally and strategist, and is in pursuit of creating an institution driven government and military, rather than individual driven system. This is the sole reason a majority of former warlords envy Atmar’s proposed policies and actions. They know there is no space for them in an institutionalized government.

*Samim Arif is a Fulbright scholar & studied Master in Journalism and Public Relations at Indiana University Bloomington. He can be reached at [email protected]

14 thoughts on “Hanif Atmar: The Panic Button For Afghan Mujahedeen And Militia-Men – OpEd

  • November 23, 2016 at 5:01 am

    Great artcle reflecting truth and commitment if Mr. Atmar. The warlords and their cruelty on the innocent Afghans will soon diminish God Wiling.

    • December 24, 2016 at 10:32 pm

      Warlord dustom was his communist
      Friend with his brutalies or Hakmatyar
      And tTaliban.
      Your also from same network

  • November 23, 2016 at 5:30 am

    God bless Atmar.
    We pray for him.
    Love you Atmar.
    And I appreciate the writer also Everlasting.

    • December 24, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      God is not with friend of criminal like
      Evil Atmar

      • June 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm

        Do u have any evidence that he is criminal? If u have it submit it to the court or if u talking baseless and nonsense then sit ur bloody dirty mouth and do not accuse some one
        Hope u understand , oh u guys don’t understand because urcriminal minded traitors

  • November 23, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    It is a mere propaganda article in favor of Atmar. I am quite sure the author has very close relations with Atmar. If you don’t believe me, you can go through his recent email and telephone contacts. Afghans are used to do anything for money and a potential position in the government, and Samim Arif is no exception. As a student I can understand how desperate he is.

    • December 24, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Great man
      Thanks for exploring realities

  • November 23, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    This is so partial and biased and is much more campaigning for a person. Where was Atmar During Soviet invasion of his country? where did he got insured and got disability? He was a member of the intelligence organization of the communist party. He came from London and has rise to power is very much suspicious. Nobody buy this notion that somebody can rise to power on merit and not connections in Afghanistan, especially connection with foreigners…

  • November 23, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    The Afghan people know very well who Atmar and Mujahedeens are. The writer of the article is too one sided- every thing is so positive about Atmar and he tris to blackmail a particular grope. Why did he not mention Atmar`s background under the Communis regime? Atmar was a brutal spy and killed many innocent students and poor believers. Only real support he got, is from security agencies in the west and region. Otherwise he could still be in UK! He has almost no sicial base, not even among pashtuns!

  • November 23, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Mr.Atmar, president Ghani and his governing team are centered around the idea of Pushton’s being in power and control of all other ethnic groups of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, they’ve chosen the wrong path. If they truly believe in democracy they should not traffic the Persian speakers of Afghanistan way of speech or writing. They should not act as dictators and take the power in their own hands.

  • November 24, 2016 at 4:54 am

    This is biased and is much more of a campaigning for Hanif Atmar. Where was Atmar During Soviet invasion of his country? where did he get injured and got disable? He was a member of the intelligence organization of the communist party. Betrayed his Khad Dr Najeebullah government and moved to Pakistan. From pro Soviet khad to Western block MI6. Got recruited, studied and trained in UK. I agree with the comment above that Nobody buy this notion that somebody can rise to power on merit and not connections in Afghanistan. Getting funding and support from MI6, Iran, CIA, ISI Saudi intellligence And RAW are all equally footsoldiers. If you call it a crime that Haji zahir Qadeer is getting funding from Iran against ISIS in Nangarhar, our whole ANA and security apparatus are getting funded and consulted by the above mentioned nations. Our enemy’s enemy is our friend so if anyone helps to fight these terrorists and zombies in Afghanistan therefore, we will accept their assistance. The people can no longer wait for central command to authorize operations!!!

  • November 25, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    With due respect to all
    As far as we can to go through Afghanistan recent decade history, its revealed all those who came to power, they have had same supporter out of Afghanistan to getting support frame neighbors Nations.
    But mine point is some of them used the getting outsider support to destroy the Afghanistan and were dangerous and fatal as Mujaheddin and Taliban.
    We as Afghan people have to chose among worse and bad. If we compare these two mentioned above regimes with which they falsely called communist regime. the Dr. Najeebullah government would be more appreciated by the people of Afghanistan even Mujaheddin them self ar agree upon this.
    So every person who had any position in farmer Dr.Najeebulla government will be acceptable then those named Mujaheddin and Taliban regime, which Hanif Atmar is one of them.
    however he gets support frame other but never used his power against ordinary Afghan innocent people. this Politician which getting money frame other but make these innocent people as parapet to them self.These people have not any rational reason to fight him except having blaming whit no reason.
    Best regards

  • December 24, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Who is Atmar,
    KGB trainee
    AFG intel no 6 branch VP
    Chang side to Peshawar
    ICRC worker
    ISI agent
    Karzai team
    MOI Minister dispatched Taliban to North AFG
    Supportered Taliban within Govermnent
    The worst personality in our country.
    CEO privet Compani contacrtor.
    Ghani adviser
    Hard core Pashtoonist Ghani decision maker
    Brutal background enemies of AFG and
    Anti other ethnic AFG citizens especially Tajiks
    Persian speaking
    Look Friendly with US and west but real enemies
    Of west.

  • June 8, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I can’t be more agree with you, people are tired and they want to see the change which is never happened. fight for corruption to just go after few powerless and low rank officials? fighting corruption to let people like Zakhilwal who were at the heart of Kabul Bank scandal out of hook? Fighting warlords by granting them more power and bringing Hekmatyar? Afghanistan has never suffered in the past 15 years as much as it suffered under the NUG with widen ethnic tensions, increased insurgency, increased presence of ISIS and high tolerance of the government towards the people who are regardless to human lives and civilian lives. People are tired of empty promises and they want to see the change they deserve and they want their government to uphold the rule of law, fight corruption, control ruthless warlords as well as some of those so called technocrats. Unfortunately people like Atmar do not believe in democracy and they use all their power to suppress democratic movements in whatever forms it takes.


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