Afghanistan’s Elections: A Gateway To Peace – OpEd
By Hamayun Khan
Weary from the prolonged turmoil, Afghans’ enormous participation in the presidential Election is remarkable despite being in dilemma whether to support the peace talks or go for elections? Two vital reasons drove people skeptical of the peace talks; (1) Mounting terror attacks amid the talks (2) overlooking the Afghan Government and talks with the external actors. after several rounds, Talks were abruptly called off by the President of the United United States Donald Trump and the elections were rescheduled to be held on September 28.
September 28, 2019 marked a significant day in the history of Afghanistan. Afghans despite harsh security threats from the Taliban militants, went to the polling stations and cast their votes in an unprecedented number. However, on March 20, 2019, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan abandoned the election by two months from July 20, to September 28 due to some technical issues and the peace talks.
The mounting terror attacks from the Taliban side was one of the key reasons for Afghans to distrust the peace deal, and chose to go for elections. The fear of security threats could not intercept Afghans go for the polls.
It has been reportedly said that the total number of eligible Afghans were 12million, nearly 9 million were registered voters including women, 21,000 polling stations that were being protected by 54,000 security forces. Unlike the previous elections this time voting was held in a relatively calm and peaceful atmosphere, transparent and with a great zeal. Al Jazeera’s correspondent on the Day of Election said, “They are trying to put a brave face on it that, yes despite the threats from the Taliban, the government has been able to maintain the certain level of security throughout the country even to the point that they extended the voting by two hours.”
What has to be done?
Peace is vital for Afghans and must prevail as quickly as possible but talks that paves a way for chaos is never a fair alternative for Afghans. Before the peace negotiations starts Elections is a must, therefore the Afghan government with support of the international allies conducted a successful election, soon the results will be announced in the coming month.
A tertiary negotiation (Afghanistan, USA, and the Taliban) can only be successful once a stable and a democratic government is built in Afghanistan, therefore, conducting election prior to the conclusion of the peace talks was a strategic choice by the Afghan government.
On the other hand, Pakistan has never been sincere for a long lasting peace in Afghanistan, yesterday Taliban had a formal visit to Islamabad, met with the exterior minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi, ISI chief and number of other diplomats, Pakistan should avoid supporting militant groups in Afghanistan and put out implementing the policies of 90s in the country, because a group of 8 people who have been provided shelters by the intelligence agencies of Pakistan, speak in borrowed voices, having no proper development plans for the country, cannot decide the fate of 35million people.
The firm stance of the Afghan government against the foreign actors including Pakistan showcases the dynamic perspectives of the Afghans that differs from that of the 90s, Afghans have been born and raised in chaos and they are fed up with the chaos being cropped up from the religious extremism, therefore the international community should support a democratic government in the country based on elections.
Installing an interim government will wreck havoc and push back the country to the 90s era which will not only be menacing for the Afghans but for the region as well. The international powers should exert pressure on Pakistan to stop bailing out insurgency and support a democratic government in the country.
As during the election campaigns some of the candidates were warning the likelihood of a mess-up and picking up arms in case they lose, these provocative statements evidently show an anticipation of another civil turmoil in the country in case an interim government is installed, therefore to reach out to a lasting peace, an elected government based on democratic perspectives is imperative.
*Hamayun Khan is from Afghanistan, an MBA final year student at I.K.Gujral Punjab Technical University (India).