So Karzai wants the Ismaili vote. Why not? So who does he go to? I would go to the Agha Khan, as his network is a genuinely benevolent and effective NGO. But the Agha Khan and his network is not in the business of endorsing candidates. And Karzai needs someone who can get out the vote. And I mean “get.” So who does he go to? NYT with the answer:
Several thousand Ismaili men, women and children gathered from four northern provinces on Friday to meet their spiritual leader, Sayed Mansoor Nadiri, in the Kayan Valley before Mr. Karzai’s appearance. Many came over the mountain passes on foot and stayed overnight sleeping under trees, in gardens and in nearby villages to receive Mr. Karzai on Saturday.
Mr. Nadiri declared that the Ismailis had decided to give their support to Mr. Karzai for the Aug. 20 presidential election, and the people agreed without demur.
That’s Nadiri, linking arms with Karzai:
It’s pretty simple to the NYT:
Yet the Ismailis, an impoverished, remote community that suffered intensely under Taliban rule, will almost certainly follow their spiritual leaders’ direction.
“We, the Ismaili community, through our council and our political allies have chosen Hamid Karzai as our candidate and consider him better than the other candidates,” Mr. Nadiri said at a news briefing for journalists in Kayan. He praised Mr. Karzai as having brought democracy to Afghanistan and making his cabinet reflect many ethnicities. In tribal fashion, Mr. Nadiri hosted the gathering, feeding several thousand of his people for two days as they gathered to see Mr. Karzai.
Spiritual leader of a limited area? Sure. But don’t believe for a second that his authority derives solely from religious legitimacy, nor that he is the only power broker in the Ismaili community [note added: just to be clear, I'm referring to the area north of the Salang, I'm well aware he carries less weight the further you drive/walk in any direction]. First of all, who isn’t a Sayyed/Sayyid/Sayid or a Hoja/Khoja or an Ishan/Ishon these days? There is material, social and “physical” incentives behind the power of people like this who rise to the top of the “religious notables” pyramid. They may control resources, dispense patronage, marry strategically and/or physically intimidate people.
For an example of the last point, meet Sayyid Mansoor Nadiri’s son, Sayyid Jafar Naderi:
…his response when asked why he left New Jersey to return to Afghanistan and become a warlord: “Because I can f#*% and kill anyone I want.”
Wow. Points for honesty.
So what does Naderi’s son do, beyond perpetuating warlord stereotypes? And besides allying with — at various times — the Communists, the Mujahideen and Rashid Dostum’s crew? Well, I saw this a long time ago, and it came to mind immediately. Just fast forward to 1:32 of this video. Trust me, it will be the mostest ZOMG moment of your week. And yes, I think that all warlords should have AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” as a soundtrack.
“We deal with both sides in Afghanistan”….fence-sitters, par excellence.
You can get all the dirty facts in this US government report (including harassment of the Agha Khan Development Network) and from The Ministry of State Failure. And for a laugh, this reputable Canadian online alternative offensive-as-possible magazine (PDF) has the story (sort of) on how he may have sent a demo tape to a punk band back in the 1980s.
God knows what Mansoor’s son is up to these days. But I barely even know what the father is doing. According to SayedKayan.com, he is doing alright. Good to hear. BTW, I will pay whatever it takes to get Mansoor’s shirt. Could someone who is up north ask if he (a) still has it in his closet and if (b) his son still “F@#*s and kills anybody he wants”?
And don’t mistake this post as me taking a shot at the Imailis. I’m a fan of the Agha Khan Development Network and I’ve liked every single Ismaili that I’ve met. I just haven’t met Sayed Jafar Naderi yet.
[Added August 21st in resonse to comments]:
I have not deleted any of my comments. I have deleted comments by people pretending to be me. I have also deleted all the spam. And the racist comments about black men have also been removed (Ugandans or any other kind). And any comments on anybody’s sexuality have also been deleted.
However, you are welcome to tell me that I’m wrong and an idiot, and to explain why.
All the abusive comments are from two IPs in Houston and Toronto. In the future, any comments from these IPs will automatically go to moderation before appearing. If you are in these IP ranges and are not one of the racist homophobes who have been impersonating me, I apologize. I will check the moderation queue for legit comments.
As for the person in southern Ontario, do you realize that you are not anonymous? You may be anonymous for me, but not for the police. You should really read the latest articles on how to be anonymous online. If you threaten me, I will contact the Ontario Provincial Police. They process IP warrants quite quickly in Canada.
As for the people who have make constructive comments, thank you.