Former Afghan FM Abdullah emerges as serious challenger to Karzai

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Kabul, July 24 (ANI): Afghanistan's former Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, has emerged as a serious challenger to President Hamid Karzai, who is bidding for a second consecutive term in office.

According to a New York Times report, Dr. Abdullah may have started his presidential campaign late, but is drawing larger crowds than Karzai in the six provinces that he has canvassed in.

He is being given a rapturous welcome wherever he goes, as he is being seen as a potential future president.

Dr. Abdullah, himself, is in no doubt about his popularity with the Afghan masses.

In an interview to the NYT, he said: " I have no doubt that people want change. Today, they are hopeful that change can come."

Presidential elections in Afghanistan will be held on August 20, and Dr. Abdullah, a 48-year-old ophthalmologist, has the backing of the National Front, the largest opposition group in Afghanistan.

He also has the requisite political background that includes years of political resistance against Soviet occupation and Taliban rule. He also played a significant role in forming a democratic government after the exit of the Taliban in October 2001.

He was Afghanistan's Foreign Minister for five years from 2001 to 2006, and has since criticized the Karzai administration vociferously, and even refused to be the latter's running mate.

He is seen as a part of the younger generation, which is keen to move away from the warlord system of yore. (ANI)

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