Atmar: The Chess-Queen Of Afghan Politics – OpEd


His name is Mohammad Hanif Atmar, and he has been a very prominent political figure in the past 15 years, being so popular that almost all Afghan people and most international politicians know him.

When the first time he caught the attention of the international sector, particularly the US and UK, he was being framed as a new-found rising star in the eyes of “the Americans” (of course those non-military American power-brokers who make their way in and out of Kabul and the US embassy).

The streets of Kabul were filled with rumors about the implications of Biden’s visit on January 10, 2009 including talk of another “regime change”.
Speculation in the wake of Biden’s visit was fueled in part by critics who hold senior posts in Karzai’s own administration. Among the comments that circulated in the Afghan capital were that Biden flatly had told Karzai he was on his way out, and that the incoming U.S. vice president’s visit to the Afghan Interior Ministry during his stopover was really an effort to find a suitable replacement.

Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar was tipped by some to be a possible presidential candidate, and Biden’s visit with him was seen by some observers as a significant gesture.

To be honest, I have no way of knowing “who” and “how many” of “the Americans” were pushing his name. Of course, at that time, Mr. Ashraf Ghani (the current president) was in no ways in the picture for the Americans. Ergo, the Americans and British came up with the current government structure (unity government) and asked Atmar to be the candidate for the presidential elections and the aftermath would be as the Chief Executive Officer of the Afghan government but he did not agree. Analytically, based on his capability, proficiency and intelligence he was the only option for the Americans and British when they had not even thought of Mr. Ghani.

Before the presidential elections of 2014, it was he who designed Mr. Ghani’s team (his vice presidents) and told him the positive outcome of the team he had designed. Meanwhile, President Karzai believed that he was making things in accordance to his plan and intention. In his first days of taking over the office as National Security Advisor to the President, there were rumors that he was targeting the Jeshadi leaders and/or warlord in one or other way. Furthermore, some two months ago another strong rumor turned peoples’ attention that Mr. Atmar planed a coupe against President Ghani.

According to several secret sources pertinent to power players (power brokers) in ARG (the palace) and its peripheries, a collective move for toppling Ghani from power was organized. Seizure of the Palace, was unilaterally organized by Hanif Atmar, the National Security Adviser to the President and was supported by Hamid Karzai, but foiled in the bud.

Recently, President Ashraf Ghani, in a meeting at the palace, passed a satirical comment, by saying that there was no need to send students to study political science abroad to the US or Europe, while they can do so in Laghman province, (the birth place of Atmar). He really meant the coupe, because the coupe was spawned mainly by the Laghmanies; him and his deputy Akhtar Ibrahimi.

Moreover, Dostum (Afghan Vice-President) accused the National Security Council (indirectly Mr. Atmar) for the recent attack on him. Additionally, the rumors add that Dostum assassination was also part of the coup agenda. Akhtar Ibrahimi had been tasked right from the outset to kill Dostum at an opportune time and no wonder why he was looking for someone to have as his deputy who could do the job.

Now, since, a senior Afghan official (Ahamd Eshchi the former vice-chairman of Dostum and governor of his home province of Jawzjan in the north) says he was violently kidnapped and sexually molested on the orders of Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum spreads more fear among the warlords and politicians. According to the rumors, the warlords and some other politicians believe that Ahmad Eshchi was part of the plan to attack and assassinate Dostum but it was failed. Later, Atmar and his key partners secretly exposed the secret so Dostum could react against Ahmad Eshchi, and he did.

In conclusion, the warlords and other out-pictured politicians are trying to overcome the fear. They believe that Atmar, who has a strong hold on most interior affairs, is also in deep and long-lasting contacts and relations with foreigners particularly the US, British and Russia, which might not only pave the road for this astute, nimble and bold manager and leader to be the coming or next president, but also wash them up as he has already started with the Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum.

Analytically, the accusation of planning a coupe against President Ghani does not make any sense for many reasons. First, the accusation was made by one group and/or party only, namely, the Jamiat. Secondly, in the presence of the foreign troops and political institutions toppling Ghani’s government would be a dream only.

Thirdly, even if it were true, the victims of the coupe would be President Ghani and CEO Abdullah, but no reactions have been seen from their end so far.

Furthermore, planning the attack on Dostum’s convoy by the National Security Council and/or Atmar is childish. Dostum should not forget that his right hand man Faizullah Zaki is one of the most senior officer in the National Security Council. Additionally, he in an interview with the media said that 90% area of where he had gone to fight against Taliban was controlled by Taliban. Saying that, on a military mission to an area where the armed opponents are all around should have such consequences.

Moreover, pulling Atmar’s leg in Eshchi’s case is ways naive and foolish, as it could be believed if Mr. Vice-President does not enjoy a background full of similar cases. Elaborating on that, Atamr was not in the current position when Dostum offended the exact inaction against Akbar Bai in early 2008. Finally, the warlords especially, the northern alliance feel the fear not because Atmar is to wipe them out anyways, but to bring reforms and stability into the Afghan political system, which is of course an eye bramble at any rate. Non-lasting enjoyment for the warlords particularly Jamiat is to an end now, it’s no more the time and opportune for them if Bismillah Khan is dismissed from the interior ministry but appointed and approved for the ministry of defense. It should be now or after a decade, an Atmar or an X.Y.Z, things shall get changed and of course into a reform, educated, systematic and developed manner.

*Najibullah Azad is an advocate, consultant, author, researcher and founder of Focus Research & Investigation Center, Kabul. He can be reached at: [email protected] and

4 thoughts on “Atmar: The Chess-Queen Of Afghan Politics – OpEd

  • December 24, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    We pray for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan and strong relationship with neighbouring countries especially Pakistan. I’m disappointed about all the negative propaganda. Afghanistan and Pakistan are brothers and our futures are intertwined. We should work together and forge a new friendly alliance for our mutual prosperity and not let outsiders put roadblocks in our progress. #pakistanandafghanistanbrothers!

  • December 28, 2016 at 2:02 am

    Chess Queen?! Really? Why not chess king???. Please get the gender right , or stop using such analogies all together . Please!!!

    • May 9, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Because the King is nothing more than a figurehead. The Queen (Wazir as it is known in the East) is the one with the most power and moves.

  • May 10, 2017 at 5:24 am

    One needs to look to his background and how he raised from nothing to something. The guy is a manipulative thug who swaps sides like a prostitute. He is not loyal to Afghanistan but accused being a spy for a foreign country. If you look his personal and your family life, one can draw his or her conclusion.


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