Afghanistan: Prospects and Perspectives, featuring Daoud Sultanzoy, Afghan MP and Chairman, Economic Committee


Afghan Member of Parliament Daoud Sultanzoy offered striking perspectives at The George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) on Friday, June 18, pegging Afghanistan’s natural resource wealth at “not two or three trillion … it’s trillions of dollars of natural resources that that country is sitting on” – and further suggesting that “if the war is not finished and if the United States leaves tomorrow, in three hours the Afghan government will collapse.” The discussion was part of HSPI’s Ambassadors Roundtable Series on International Collaboration to Combat Terrorism and Insurgencies. Frank Cilluffo, HSPI’s Director, moderated the discussion.

Sultanzoy’s comments focused largely on Afghanistan’s political culture and governance issues. He emphasized the need to invest in democratic and responsive systems and institutions, and cautioned against becoming dependent upon any specific personality or group. To that end, Sultanzoy highlighted the importance of upcoming parliamentary elections as a mechanism for creating accountability and investing Afghans in the future of their country. He went on to state the elections must be more than an exercise on paper. Moreover, if the international community walks back upon its pledge to bring democracy to Afghanistan, it risks suffering consequences to its own security and well-being. “It behooves [Afghanistan’s] allies, especially the United States of America, especially those of you who are aware of the value of democracy, and the value of people’s ability to exercise their will, to make sure we raise our voices for a free and fair election.”

Sultanzoy also argued that it was important to remember that the US was in Afghanistan for a cause and that its efforts had implications for political stability, human dignity, and democracy in Afghanistan and the broader region. He took issue with the reporting and interpretation of civilian casualties. “They happen when Taliban, and when the enemies of freedom, are hiding in civilian areas and they cause these civilian casualties; but it’s not talked about in that fashion because it isn’t popular.”

Mr. Cilluffo opened the roundtable discussion by noting the intertwined relationships that exist between and among economic development, security, democratic accountability, and good governance. “It almost goes without saying that economic growth and prosperity cannot occur without security underpinned by the rule of law. Who really is the rule of law, especially once you get outside Kabul?” asked Cilluffo. Sultanzoy replied that the rule of law is constantly under assault from corruption, nepotism, and special interests in Afghanistan. This, he stressed, is why it becomes so important to emphasize systems and structures over personalities – so that political accountability and the rule of law can enjoy real efficacy in Afghanistan.

Featured Speaker:

Daoud Sultanzoy, Member of the Afghan Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) from Ghazni Province, and Chairman of the Afghan Parliament's Economic Committee

Speaker Biographies

Daoud Sultanzoy, Member of the Afghan Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) from Ghazni Province, and Chairman of the Afghan Parliament's Economic Committee

Daoud Sultanzoy is one of the emerging personalities in the country’s political arena. Pashtun ethnic (as President Karzai and many Afghan leaders), he belongs to the Malakhil tribe that is part of the Ghilzai confederation.

A civil pilot by training, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan he defected on a plane to Germany. He then worked for foreign airline companies and settled in Southern California. After the fall of the Taliban regime he returned to Afghanistan and began engaging in the political life. He successfully ran for a seat in the Parliament. Outspoken critic of corruption and slow pace of reforms in the country, he is currently working towards establishing a party that would unify progressive and democratic forces of the Afghan society.


ARGO. (2008) "Afghanistan: Corruption is the Mother of All Problems." Interview with Daoud Sultanzoy. Rome, Italy: ARGO

Associated Press. (2010) "Karzai meets with insurgent group." Ottawa, Canada: CBC News

CIPE. (2008) "Building Democracy and Market Economy in Afghanistan." Interview with Daoud Sultanzoy [videos below]. Washington, DC: CIPE

Day to Day. (2008) "The Afghan Official from Malibu." Podcast. Interview with Daoud Sultanzoy. Los Angeles, CA: NPR

Duff, Gordon. (2010) "Pakistan's Role in Afghanistan." Pakistan Daily

Fänge, Anders. (2010) "The state of the Afghan state." Rome, Italy: ARGO

Filkins, Dexter. (2010) "Karzai is Said to Doubt West Can Defeat Taliban." New York, NY: The New York Times.

Frontline. (2010) "Conflict Zones: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq." Website. Boston, MA: PBS

Londoño, Ernesto. (2010) "Karzai removes Afghan interior minister and spy chief." Washington, DC: Washington Post

NATO. (2008) "Elections in Afghanistan - a potential tipping point." NATO Review. Brussels, Belgium: NATO.

Pinelli, Cesare. (2010) "The Loya Jirga in the Afghan institutional and political context." Rome, Italy: ARGO

Risen, James. (2010) "US Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan." New York, NY: The New York Times.

Rubin, Barnett and Jake Sherman. (2008) Counter-Narcotics to Stabilize Afghanistan: The False Promise of Crop Eradication. New York, NY: New York University

Rubin, Elizabeth. (2010) "Crazy Like a Fox: In a fit of anger, Hamid Karzai axes his director of intelligence, Amrullah Saleh. But is there method to his madness?" Washington, DC: Foreign Policy

Rubin, Alissa. (2010) "Militant Group Expands Attacks in Afghanistan." New York, NY: The New York Times.

Tisdall, Simon. (2009) "Behind the politics, Afghan army has a mountain to climb." London, England: The Guardian.

UNODC. (2009) Afghanistan Opium Survey. New York, NY: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Vogt, Heidi. (2010) "NATO General in Afghanistan: Taliban Train in Iran." New York, NY: ABC News

Daoud Sultanzoy; Building Democracy and Market Economy in Afghanistan (Part 1)

Daoud Sultanzoy; Building Democracy and Market Economy in Afghanistan (Part 2)

About HSPI's Ambassadors Roundtable Series

HSPI's Ambassadors Roundtable Series is designed to provide Ambassadors to the United States and their key diplomatic staff with a forum to discuss current and future counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts on a regional or country-specific basis. In an effort to draw upon various insights and experiences, the Ambassadors Roundtable Series builds upon and institutionalizes efforts over the past few years to engage in a dialogue with members of the international community, policy makers, and practitioners.