Gul Agha Sherzai

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Gul Agha Sherzai
گل آغا شیرزی
Sherzai speaking at the Rule of Law Conference for Eastern Afghanistan in October 2009
Governor of Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan
In office
12 July 2005 – October 2013
Succeeded byMaulvi Attaullah Ludin
Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs of Afghanistan
In office
25 July 2017 – 31 August 2021
Succeeded byNone (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan de facto abolished)
Personal details
Born1954 (age 69–70)
Kandahar Province, Kingdom of Afghanistan
Political partyIndependent
ProfessionPolitician, former Mujahideen leader

Gul Agha Sherzai (Pashto: ګل آغا شيرزی; born 1954), also known as Mohammad Shafiq,[1] is a politician in Afghanistan. He is the former governor of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan.[2] He previously served as Governor of Kandahar province, in the early 1990s and from 2001 until 2003. In October 2013, Sherzai resigned from his post as governor and formally announced himself as a candidate for Afghanistan's 2014 Presidential Election, and served as the minister of border and tribal affairs until the Taliban victory in 2021.[1]

Early years[edit]

Sherzai was born in 1954 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan[1] His father was Haji Abdul Latif, proprietor at a small tea shop in Kandahar who rose to become a famous Mujahideen commander. Sherzai took the name Gul Agha when he joined his father in the Mujahideen, who were fighting in the southern Afghanistan area against the Soviet and Afghan Government forces.

His father was later murdered and he added Sherzai (Pashto for "son of lion") as his last name. He is an ethnic Pashtun from the Barakzai tribe. His father was locally known as Haji Latif Sagwan, ("Sagwan" is a term used for a "dog fighter") which is a derogatory term used for gamblers, who was a well-known dog fighter in southern Afghanistan. Sherzai would later collaborate with then-Governor of Kandahar, General Nur ul-Haq Ulumi, to stage fake attacks on the Afghan military, resulting in the ISI increasing supplies sent to Sherzai, who would sell them in Kandahar with the blessings of the PDPA government.[3]

After the collapse of the PDPA government in 1992, Sherzai served as Governor of Kandahar.[2] He was known outside of Afghanistan as one of the major warlords until around September 1994 when the Taliban began their conquest in Kandahar. Sherzai resigned from his post as governor and remained hidden until late 2001 in Pakistan.

The Karzai administration[edit]

Sherzai's capture of Kandahar in late 2001, with assistance from American special forces and Hamid Karzai, marked the first time territory in southern Afghanistan had been captured from the Taliban forces.[4]

According to Matthieu Aikins, writing in Harper's Magazine Karzai appointed a Mullah Naqib to the Governorship of Kandarhar.[2] Aikins reported that American officials favored Sherzai over Karzai's choice, and encouraged him to oust Mullah Naqib.

In August 2003, Afghan President Karzai decreed that officials could no longer hold both military and civil posts, and replaced Sherzai with Yousef Pashtun as Governor of Kandahar.

Political career after Kandahar[edit]

In 2004, Sherzai was appointed Governor of Nangarhar Province, after a spell as "Special Advisor" to Hamid Karzai.

Sherzai speaking in 2009 with the governors of Nuristan, Laghman and Kunar province.

In July 2006, Sherzai narrowly escaped an assassination attempt at a funeral outside Jalalabad. The attempt killed five police officers and wounded several more people, including some children. He opened the newly built highway connecting Jalalabad city with Torkham, which is one of the most popular border towns between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan President Karzai and Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz were also present during the inauguration.

In 2008 he met Barack Obama.[5]

In January 2009, an article by Ahmad Majidyar of the American Enterprise Institute included Sherzai on a list of fifteen possible candidates in the 2009 Afghan Presidential election.[6] In May 2009, he announced that he would not be a candidate.[7] Nevertheless, his name was on an August 2009 ballot, and preliminary results placed him 17th in a field of 38.[8]

Sherzai's brother is Abdul Raziq Sherzai, a commander who captured Kandahar airfield in 2001-02 and was subsequently made the Kandahar wing commander of the Afghan Air Force.[9]

On October 2, 2013, Sherzai resigned from his post as Governor of Nangarhar Province and formally announced himself as a candidate for Afghanistan's 2014 Presidential Election.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Biographies of 10 presidential runners". Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN). 26 October 2013. Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Matthieu Aikins (December 2009). "The master of Spin Boldak: Undercover with Afghanistan's drug-trafficking border police". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  3. ^ Tomsen, Peter (2011). The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers. Public Affairs. p. 334.
  4. ^ Donald P. Wright and Contemporary Operations Study Team, A Different Kind of War : The United States Army in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) October 2001-September 2005, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. : Combat Studies Institute Press, 2009.
  5. ^ Rashid, Ahmed (2012). Pakistan in the Brink. Allen Lane. p. 72. ISBN 9781846145858.
  6. ^ Ahmad Majidyar (January 2009). "Afghanistan's Presidential Election" (PDF). American Enterprise Institute. Archived from the original on 2009-09-08.
  7. ^ Starkey, Jerome; Sengupta, Kim (2009-01-23). "Obama ready to cut Karzai adrift". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  8. ^ "Preliminary Result of Afghanistan Presidential Contest". 2009-08-20. Archived from the original on 2009-08-03. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
  9. ^ "Database".

External links[edit]

Preceded by Governor of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan
Succeeded by