KABUL — Abdul Hazizi is not just your average, run of the mill Taliban commander. He’s also a patriotic publicly-elected Afghan official. And while it’s not so easy to juggle two full-time jobs, Hazizi thinks he has it all figured out.
“Both jobs very complementary you know,” Abdul Hazizi told reporters in an interview, as he finished his last sip of tea before slipping out of his man-jam fatigues and into a cheap suit. Once changed, he gave his aide his AK-47 in exchange for a bulky gold Rolex watch.
“That’s a gift you know. From Russia friend of mine,” he said, motioning toward the watch. Hazizi speaks English fluently, although he has a heavy accent and commits occasional grammatical errors.
He learned it from CIA operatives who trained him to fight the Soviets when he first got his start in Afghan politics some 40 years ago.
“I would say about 90 percent of us work two full time jobs here,” Hazizi explains. “That’s the only way you get a livable wage. Taliban and government work, very much like how you say? Peanut butter and jelly?”
Most recently, Hazizi has been engrossed in an ongoing debate over funding for the Afghan National Army, which he says has too few weapons and not enough training. Although at times, even Hazizi can get mixed up as to which job he’s currently doing.
“These brave soldiers need more training and equipment,” Hazizi said in a recent floor speech to parliament. “And what about that new suicide bombing center for excellence. Excuse me. A new [Afghan National Army] training center for excellence!”
Still, Hazizi has become a strident critic of government corruption, especially among his fellow Afghan officials.
“Those Defense Ministry officials are incompetent,” he said. “So I won’t vote for any funding measure unless I oversee the supply convoys myself.”
He added: “Given my military expertise, I should be the one who schedules the times for exactly when those convoys depart.”
Following his speech, another Afghan MP offered support for his colleague, adding that he should also oversee transfers of money from the US to the Afghan government.
“My colleague, Abdul Hazizi, is the most trustworthy man I know, and he will deliver that money directly to the troops who need it.”
At press time, Hazizi and about a dozen other MPs were seen leaving Parliament to head to a meeting with US military experts to discuss the latest methods for disarming improvised explosive devices.