Given how Afghans feel about Pakistan, this endorsement will probably have the opposite effect and reinforce Ghani’s bid.
UPDATE: Just in from Telegraph on 11 June:
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 11 June 2014
KABUL — In Afghanistan, perhaps no foreign institution is loathed as much as Pakistan’s notorious spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The ISI trained, armed, and funded Afghan resistance fighters against the Soviet Union. It was credited with forming the Taliban. And to this day Afghanistan accuses the powerful agency of providing safe haven on Pakistani soil to a number of extremist insurgent groups bent on overthrowing the government in Kabul.
So it comes as no surprise that Afghans are venting their anger after former ISI chief Hamid Gul gave a ringing endorsement of Abdullah Abdullah, the front-runner in Afghanistan’s runoff presidential election on June 14.
In an interview with AFP at his Rawalpindi home, the 77-year-old retired general said Abdullah was the best hope for peace in Afghanistan. This, Gul argued, was because of the candidate’s past as a resistance fighter and his wise choice of running mates — Mohammad Khan, an ally of powerful Islamist warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who has traditional ties to Pakistan, and Mohammad Mohaqeq, another powerful former Islamist warlord.
“Abdullah has a distinct advantage for future peace in Afghanistan — if that is the objective and it should be — [in] that he is a jihadi,” he said. “And the other people with him are also jihadis.”
“Ashraf Ghani is not a jihadi,” he noted in reference to Abdullah’s rival, a former Afghan finance minister who has spent much of his life in the West. “And for a jihadi to open a dialogue with a non-jihadi would be very difficult.”
Gul is known as the “Godfather” of Pakistan’s strategy of using militant proxies to exert influence in neighboring countries, and the airing of his personal take on who is the better candidate has provoked widespread anger and dismay among Afghans on social-networking sites Twitter and Facebook.
Ali Latifi, a Kabul-based freelance journalist, questioned on Twitter why Gul would make the remarks.
Phi Beta Iota: The following posts are specific to the run-off election in Afghanistan:
Robert Steele: Ghani Wins by 6% or More — 5,000 Mullahs for Ghani, Karzai Frantically Trying to Deal, Abdullah Promising Millions (But Out of Cash), with Pakistan Destabilizing to Stave Off Durand Line Challenge