Gul Agha Sherzai bigraphy, stories - Afghan warlord

Gul Agha Sherzai : biography


Gul Agha Sherzai () is the current Governor of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.

He previously served as Governor of Kandahar province, in the early 1990s and from 2001 until 2003.

Guantanamo connection

Gul Agha Sherzai's name was mentioned during the administrative reviews of three Guantanamo captives.

  • Abdul Razzaq Hekmati was alleged to have participated in a plot to kill Sherzai. After his death in custody Carlotta Gall and Andy Worthington published a profile of Hekmati that challenged the credibility of the allegations against him, because the Guantanamo intelligence analysts never realized that the Taliban had placed a $1 million bounty on his head.
  • Hajji Shahzada, a prominent landowner in Kandahar, was asked to explain why he might have been falsely denounced to the Americans.
 He explained that he might have enemies who would denounce him because he worked with Gul Agha Sherzai who he described as the "current Governor of Kandahar".   
  • An affidavit submitted on behalf of Haji Bismullah by his brother Haji Wali Mohammed, listed Gul Agha Sherzai as one of the prominent Afghans who would vouch for Bismullah.


Gul Agha was born by the name of Shafiq to a poor tea shop owner, who later became a famous Mujahideen commander, Haji Abdul Latif. He took the name Gul Agha when he joined his father in the Mujahideen, who were fighting against the Soviet invasion. His father was murdered and he added Sherzai (Pashto for "son of lion") as his last name. He is an ethnic Pashtun Barakzai from Kandahar. Haji Abdul Latif was also known as Haji Latif "Sagwan", ("Sagwan" means "dog owner" and was a famous dog fights leader in the Kandahar area). After the collapse of the PDPA government in 1991, Gul Agha served as Governor of Kandahar from 1992 until 1994.

Actions during U.S. invasion

His capture of Kandahar city in late 2001, with assistance from American special forces and airstrikes, marked the first time territory in southern Afghanistan had been captured from the Taliban.

Governorship of Kandahar, 2002

According to Matthieu Aikins, writing in Harper's magazine Karzai appointed a Mullah Naqib to the Governorship of Kandarhar. Aikins reported that American officials favored Gul Agha Shirzai over Karzai's choice, and encouraged him to oust Mullah Naqib.

An on-the-ground witness, Sarah Chayes, has written a well documented account of Sherzai's warlord behavior following the U.S. invasion.The Punishment of Virtue, Sarah Chayes, Penguin Press, 2006.

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

Political career after Kandahar

In 2004, Sherzai was appointed Governor of Nangarhar Province, after a spell as "Special Advisor" to Hamid Karzai. Sherzai was removed as Kandahar Governor after criticisms of his warlord-style leadership, poor human rights record and suspected involvement in opium trafficking in the province. However, Sherzai is an important political ally of Karzai, and looks to play a role in Afghan politics for some time to come.

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 the border town between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's prime minister Shaukat Aziz were also present there during the inauguration. Taliban forces took credit for the attack.

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.

He announced on 2 May 2009 that he would not be a candidate. Nevertheless his name was on the August 20, 2009 ballot, and preliminary results placed him 17th in a field of 38.

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