Saturday’s Afghan election was the victory of the people’s resilience and belief that continuity of the process is the only way to defeat the militant mindset. Voters did defy Afghan Taliban threats against casting votes in the presidential elections, though turnout was as low as about 20 per cent of the registered voters. Low turnout, however, should not be an excuse to wrap up the process. The Afghan government used extraordinary arrangements to ensure the security of polling staff and voters and to their credit, polling took place in a relatively calm and peaceful atmosphere. The areas dominated by Taliban saw disruption in the voting process and as many as 400 small scale attacks were reported.
The world bodies should join the Afghan officials to analyse the factors leading to widespread disinterest in the election process and the reported flaws in polling. It is not unusual on an election day in a developing country that biometric machines do not work properly, election materials land in wrong hands and rigging allegations ensue. The third consecutive Afghan presidential election was not without its share of flaws but these shortcomings should be taken as lessons, not excuses against the system. Let us wait for preliminary results, which are likely to be out by October 19 and the final results will be declared by November 7.
Developments regarding the election process prove that Taliban do not want modern-day democracy and that engaging them in dialogue for a power-sharing formula was a flawed strategy. Even during the dialogue, they kept on with their militant activities, targeting innocent citizens. The continuation of the elections, hopefully, will heal the wounds inflicted by decades-long civil war, foreign invasions and fighting between factions across the country.
This time, the main contenders for the top slot are incumbent president Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah. Ghani and Abdullah shared the government for five years after a power sharing agreement brokered by the Americans. This time, it is hoped, the election results would have a clear majority for one of these two contenders and that both sides accept the results. By doing so, both Ghani and Abdullah both would do a great service to democracy and Afghanistan.