KABUL, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, one of the most powerful political figures in Afghanistan, passed away in his home on Sunday.
Fahim's sudden death has raised questions among the ethnically divided Afghans, especially in the political and media circles, as to whether his passing would affect the coming presidential elections in the country.
In an interview with Xinhua, Ahmad Sayyedi, a former diplomat and political analyst, said that since Marshal Fahim was a prominent figure over the past three decades of war in Afghanistan and a great commander in the war against the former Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan and then against the Taliban, no doubt his death would have a big impact on the political and security situation in the country.
Sayyedi, who had once served as an advisor to Fahim, said the vice president's demise would definitely have a big impact on the election process too.
Once a powerful warlord, Fahim, a popular leader among the former anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban fighters, had supported Adbullah Abdullah in the presidential elections slated for April 5.
His death certainly has its impact on the conduct of the elections and its outcome, Jawed Kohistani, another political analyst, said in a televised panel discussion.
Fahim was respected by both the government and the political opposition.
He had often looked after the security concerns of the country and had supported the government-backed national reconciliation and peace process with the Taliban and his death, according to some observers, would certainly affect the entire peace process.
"The late Fahim was of the view that peace and security won't return to the country unless all the citizens work within one government," a lawmaker, Daud Kalakani, said.
An ethnic Tajik and a military commander-turned politician, Fahim became the country's first vice president. He was a firm supporter of the rights of the country's minorities, such as Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek and Aymaq.
Some Afghans are convinced that even with his death, Fahim's supporters will still vote for Abbullah.
"Since Marshal Fahim's supporters are aware that he (Fahim) threw his weight behind Abdullah in the coming elections they will cast their votes in Abdullah's favor," an aide to Abdullah said.
A former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah challenged Hamid Karzai in 2009 presidential elections but lost. Since then, he became the opposition leader. He is now among the top contenders in next month's presidential election.
President Hamid Karzai led the nation in mourning the death of Vice President Fahim, describing him as "a great politician, patriotic and true servant of Afghanistan."
But as expected the Taliban, in a statement posted on its website, described Fahim as an "enemy of Taliban militants and a close ally of Karzai and the Americans." The militant group merely said that Fahim "has finally died."
Some observers said that with the death of Fahim, its biggest enemy, the Taliban could now hope to achieve its goal of returning to power in Afghanistan through an armed struggle.