Security to remain major threat ahead of Afghan elections

KABUL: The Taliban-led insurgency, which has caused untold sufferings to the Afghan people, would remain a major threat to country’s third presidential election scheduled on April 5 next year, according to local analysts.

In fact, the Taliban has on several occasions publicly said that the upcoming electoral exercise “would be a waste of time” as it vowed to continue its attacks against security forces throughout the country.

“No doubt, there are security problems ahead of the presidential elections but I am hopeful that the government will be able to ensure security and conducive environment for anyone to use his or her right of suffrage free of security concerns,” political analyst Sayed Fazil Sangcharaki told Xinhua recently.

But like many others, Sangcharaki, who is a ranking member of National Coalition of Afghanistan — the main political alliance contesting the coming presidential elections — has also expressed his own concerns. He said if the government cannot ensure a safe environment, many Afghans, particularly in the rural areas, would opt not to cast their votes on the voting day.

Afghans are 186 days away from the presidential elections and those interested to run have already started their countdown to that historic polling day which would enable the country to have a new leadership to replace incumbent President Hamid Karzai.

Registration period for Afghan presidential candidates has been set from Sept. 16 to Oct. 5, 2013, and so far only one hopeful runner, a less known politician Bismillah Shir, has registered with the election body.

The Taliban militants, who have lashed at the elections as a ” trick of foreign occupiers to achieve their malicious designs in Afghanistan,” have stepped up their violent activities ahead of the coming elections.

In their latest attempt to sabotage the country’s stability, the Taliban fighters raided a security checkpoint in Obe District of the western Heart province on Monday morning leaving four policemen, three civilians and four attackers dead, police official Shir Agha Aliqozai told Xinhua.

To intimidate the people, the militants, who in the past chopped off the fingers of some people who voted in the 2009 elections, have killed the chief of election body in the northern Kunduz province and abducted two election staff in the northwest Faryab province over the past two weeks.

To demonstrate its ability to disrupt the polls, the Taliban fighters overran Kuran-o-Manjan District in the relatively peaceful Badakhshan province over weekend, prompting the Interior Ministry to promise that necessary preventive measures would be taken ahead of elections.

Confirming the retreat of police from Kuran-o-Manjan District, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said on Sunday that the police, in coordination with other related agencies, would spare no efforts in ensuring security for the electoral process.

“Lack of security is major problem ahead of the elections. In the absence of security the presidential candidates will not be able to go to Logar, Kandahar or other provinces to launch presidential campaign, hold public meetings and announce their programs,” Azizullah Ludin, the former chief election commissioner, said recently in a television panel discussion.