Afghan women line
up to vote. Below: Counting of votes
Afghan Elections are Still a Step Forward
Special to the South Asia Tribune
Afghanistan, October 2: Millions of Afghan men and women traveled
to polling stations across the country on September 18 to vote
in Afghanistan’s historical parliamentary elections. Some
12.5 million registered voters were to proceed to polling centers
to vote for their legislature for the first time in more than
security threats and concerns, fortunately, the overall state
of affairs remained peaceful and orderly. This itself was an indicator
of political awareness of Afghan people and their across-the-board
political participation. They made a record during the October
2004 Presidential Elections which, however, was not refreshed
simultaneous elections in 34 provinces for Wolesi Jirga (Lower
House of National Assembly) and Provincial Council were carried
out where 2,753 candidates for 249 Wolesi Jirga seats and 3,013
candidates contested for 420 Provincial Council seats. 12 per cent of
Wolesi Jirga and 8.1 per cent of Provincial Council candidates were women.
Women have 68 seats reserved for them in the Wolesi Jirga.
This is considered to be one the
greatest achievements of the governmental institution in Afghanistan;
however, it cannot guarantee women’s rights and human rights
overall analysis of election particularly in comparison to the
Presidential Elections yielded somewhat mixed results. The turnout
was less than expected. However, as mostly understood, the reasons
were not the threats and intimidation posed by Taliban and their
terrorist brethren. There were several other reasons for the end
result. Taliban’s terrorization can be one valid reason
in some of the areas, mostly in the far located districts, however
for the rest of the country this was not the case.
presence of warlords with their enormous capital and extravagantly
carried out election campaigns can be held responsible as one
of the major reasons. The people of Afghanistan could not see
the reflection of the real representatives of their country in
these candidates and so were not enthusiastic about voting.
the warlords and their brethren such as Sayyaf, Qanuni and others,
upper and upper- middle class candidates like Ghafar Dawi were
also competing, who as one single example of this bloc, besides
other holdings, owns more than 15 trading companies. Sources reveal
that the electoral operating expenses of some of these candidates
crossed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dawi and candidates
like him could in no way represent the general mass of population
of any of Afghanistan’s provinces.
was another group of candidates who from the beginning had the
realization that their chances of scoring a win were negligible.
But they took part in the elections only to put on name and fame.
Besides they expected bargains to take place which didn’t
happen as such. Bargains do not happen in such uncertain conditions.
rationale for the low turn out is the truth that the people of
Afghanistan feel let down. They put faith and had hope that the
Karzai Administration would herald the beginning of the end of
warlordism and will secure peace and harmony. Consequently, they
wholeheartedly took part in the Presidential Elections and elected
him as their President.
Karzai failed in fulfilling the promises he made to the people.
This obviously drove the people to the conclusion that the lower
ranks are no good than the higher. This came as the finale of
Karzai Administration in the eyes of Afghan people who have suffered
so much and can bear no more. Will the Parliamentary candidates
come up to their expectations? Not a chance, more than ever when
the promises made were too good to be fulfilled.
the other hand, there were some candidates like Bashar Dost who
competed successfully and are expected to win with the vote of
the people, without lavish expenses. This indicates that the judgment
of Afghan people is based on numerous values and they have realized
the importance their vote carries and the critical role it plays
in determining the future of the country and their own fate.
to an estimate some 20 to 25 per cent of people have voted with
awareness. And the most important of all is the fact that masses
never committed to any one. This shows that they, at the last
instance, made their mind to keep their right with them, the right
is one example worth mentioning. Sayed Ali Javed who was the ex
Minister for Planning and Transport was rejected by the people
of Sholgara District in Balkh Province. He gave his best to attract
the Shia community in that province but failed. The people of
the district supported an Engineer who was imprisoned under the
Soviets. He was a person of limited means and even had no money
to print his posters. The people established a committee and contributed
for his electoral expenses.
gave it their best to mould the situation in their own favor,
which didn’t work that way. Mujadidi, who is the chairman
of the “Commission on National Reconciliation”, on
behalf of the government, even invited Mullah Umar and Gulbadin
Hekmatyar to join the “National Reconciliation” which
was later invalidated by the government authorities.
to the report submitted by the “Independent Commission of
Human Rights” and UNAMA, ‘16 per cent of Parliamentary
candidates are either the commanders themselves or their stooges
and 4 per cent of them shall – as soon as possible –
undergo disarmament for the reason that they pose the greatest
danger to the security during polling and not the “terrorists”.’
However, the report, despite the initial loud propaganda could
achieve nothing and the commanders made their way easily to the
new parliament will not be some thing more than a caricature of
democracy. It will be used as a means for legitimization of the
crimes committed by the Northern Alliance commanders. They may
act more savagely; for they will be handed over the license to
kill, as “Elected Representatives of the People."
new Parliament is going to be mostly populated by the warlords
though it still is a step forward.
writer is a free lance contributor with independent views