Last week, President Hamid Karzai appointed Abdul Rahman Hotaki, Gulalai Achakzai, Sharifa Zurmati, Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani, Sareer Ahmad Barmak, Laila Ihrari, Qazi Suleman Hamid, Mohammad Aziz Bakhtiari and Mohammad Hussain Garziwani as IEC members.
They were sworn in at a ceremony at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday. The new commissioners pledged to demonstrate complete neutrality and ensure transparency in the polls.
Dr. Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani, Chairman: Born in 1947 in the Shigram village on the outskirts of Paron, he received his early education at the Rahman Baba High School in Kabul. From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Nuristani worked as a Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant at the Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona in the United States of America.
He also worked as Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Kabul University. He received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Arizona. Nuristani was the spokesperson for President Hamid Karzai and chief of the presidential media team during the interim administration. Subsequently, he was appointed as a minister of irrigation and 1st deputy defense minister.
Abdul Rahman Hotaki, Deputy Chairman: Born in 1961 in Kabul, he completed high school education in the capital before travelling to Moscow, where he earned a Master’s in Social Sciences from a government-run university.
Over the past 12 years, he has served as a human rights campaigner, Civil Society Coordination Jirga chairman, member of the South Asians for Human Rights and held senior positions in private-sector universities in Afghanistan and abroad.
Gulalai Achakzai, Secretary: Born in 1963 in Kandahar City, Achakzai completed her high school education in the southern city before obtaining a degree from the Shariah Faculty of Kabul University. She also earned a master’s in Social Sciences from the same university.
After that she taught at various high schools. She worked at the Education Ministry and remained associated with an organisation assisting people with disabilities. She had also served on the Afghanistan Human Rights Commission and represented Afghan civil society at the Berlin International Conference on Afghanistan. A member of the consultative Loya Jirga, Achakzai has recently served as a senior advisor at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. She denies having links with any political parties.
Prof. Hussain Garziwani, member: Garziwani was born in 1956 in the Garziwan district of northern Faryab province. Having a medical degree from the medical faculty of Kabul University, he did his masters in geology from Azerbaijan.
He taught geology at the Kabul University and served as deputy head of the geology faculty. He has been a commissioner on the IEC over the past one and a half year.
Sharifa Zurmati, member: Born in 1969 in the Zurmat district of southeastern Paktia province, Zurmati studied literature at the Kabul University. A former member of the Wolesi Jirga, she represented the civil society at the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan. A member of the Consultative Loya Jirga, she had served as advisor to both houses of parliament.
She has worked as spokesperson and reporter for the Afghanistan Radio and Television and other media outlets. She was deputy head of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Union and a member of board of the Journalists Federation. Having worked voluntarily with foreign aid agencies, she was member of the Afghanistan Free and Fair Election Foundation and also worked at the ministries of women’s affairs and public health.
Mohammad Aziz Bakhtiari, member: Born in 1963 in the Jaghori district of southern Ghazni province, Bakhtiari completed his high school in the same district. He obtained a master’s in Islamic Education and Sociology from the Qom University in Iran, where he taught the same subjects at the Imam-i-Khomeini University.
Founder of the Katib University in Kabul, he served as advisor to the Ministry of Education in Kabul.
Laila Ihrari, member: Laila Ihrari was born in Herat City, the capital of western Herat province, in 1970. She completed her high school education in Herat and obtained a master’s degree in pharmacy from Kabul University. She went to India for studies concerning elections.
Ihrari said she had been studying political sciences at Kabul University, but left incomplete her studies in the third semester due to some problems. She served as head of medical faculty of Kabul University and worked with UNICEF. She was member of the Consultative Loya Jirga from Herat. She served at the IEC for capacity building and creating awareness about elections.
Sareer Ahmad Barmak, member: The 35-years-old was born in Kabul, but his ancestors belong to central Panjsher province. He completed his high school education at the Nadiria High School in Kabul and obtained journalist degree from the Kabul University. He obtained a diploma in South Africa in human rights and transitional justice. He said to have obtained a master’s degree from a UK university in governance and international development.
He headed UNDP good governance programme and served as adviser to the IEC and spokesman for the Judicial and Justice Centre’s anti-narcotics section. He was chief of the Global Rights organisation.
Member Qazi Suleman Hamid, member: Hamid was born in Qala-i-Naw, the capital of northwestern Badghis province, in 1960. He completed his high school in Qala-i-Naw before joining the Imam Fakhar Razi seminary in Heart to peruse religious studies.
He did his master’s in Criminal Justice Identification from the Payame Noor University in Iran. Hamid was head of the Herat commerce court and Badghis court. He represented Badghis in the Loya Jirga on the constitution and the consultative jirga. He was adviser to President Karzai on justice and judicial affairs and deputy Haj and Auqaf Minister. He served for four years as commissioner on the IEC.
by: Abasin Zaheer