must be a citizen of Afghanistan, a Muslim and born of Afghan parents, and he or she should not have citizenship of another country;
on the day of becoming a candidate, should not be younger than 40; and
should not have been convicted of crimes against humanity, a criminal act, or deprivation of civil rights by a court.
The Main Contenders:
Ali Ahmad Jalali, who served as Afghanistan’s interior minister from 2003 to 2005, and now lectures at the U.S. Naval Defense University. Jalali, who quit the Interior Ministry in what many observers saw as a dispute over corruption and patronage, enjoys a reputation for strength and probity among Afghans. He even has a Facebook following. Born in 1940, he is the oldest of the major contenders, but this is not necessarily a drawback in a country that reveres its elders. Jalali lived and worked in the United States for more than two decades, returning to Afghanistan in 2003 to take up his position in the Interior Ministry. At present he is the front runner; one Western diplomat who has been very active in election preparations said, when pressed, “I think Jalali will win.”
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, former finance minister, currently chancellor of Kabul University and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. Ashraf Ghani has been a prominent and highly respected figure in Afghan politics since his term as finance minister, 2002 to 2004, when he set up the country’s monetary system. He was widely seen as a strong contender for the top position, both in Afghanistan and in international circles, but his battle with stomach cancer seemed to take him out of the running. In a recent interview with CNN, Ashraf Ghani said he was “seriously considering” running for president, and he looked fit and ready. His distinguished resume includes a Ph.D. from Columbia University, stints at the World Bank, and numerous publications, including “Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World,” which he wrote with close associate Clare Lockhart. Ashraf Ghani reportedly enjoys excellent relations with many in Washington’s power elite, including Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He, too, is listed on Facebook.
Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, to Iraq, and, most recently, to the United Nations. During his tenure in Kabul, Khalilzad was known as the “Viceroy” for the extraordinary degree of influence he held over the Afghan president. Afghans would joke that Khalilzad was the “real” president of Afghanistan. Khalilzad, an Afghan-American who was seen as a Rumsfeld protege at the Department of Defense, may