Gul Agha Sherzai
Gul Agha Sherzai is governor of Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan, who had been a strong candidate in the presidential election of 2009 but withdrew his candidacy in May. When President Barack Obama visited the country in 2008, He told The Independent
I will approach all the tribal elders to negotiate with the Taliban who have been brainwashed by other people...I won't rely on fighting and destruction and air strikes. There are a lot of other ways to approach this other than fighting."
Afghanistan is a tribal society and we can solve all the problems through jirgas [traditional tribal councils]...I will tell all of the people, whoever is tired of fighting, to bring their Talibs to me and I will negotiate."
His earlier terms as governor of Kandahar Province, from 1992 to 1994 and 2001 to 2003, were criticized, but he has met with more success in Nahaganar, winning the first Radio Free Liberty/Radio Liberty national "person of the year" contest, based on listener calls, for "eliminating poppy cultivation and working with US forces and tribal elders to create an island of relative security and prosperity. Yet questions over his human rights record remain, he has been linked to the drugs trade and, as one western official said: 'We're not sure if his private life would stand up to much scrutiny.'"
- Jerome Starkey (9 March 2009), "Gul Agha Sherzai, Former Afghani Warlord, To Fight Karzai In Elections", The Independent
- Sonia Winter (20 March 2008), "Afghanistan: Radio Free Afghanistan Names 'Person Of The Year'", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty