Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 10th, 2018

Afghan Elections Dilemma: Political Parties Conflicting Demands and Terrorist Threats

Forthcoming elections in Afghanistan face a lot of challenges. They include the likely postponement of the elections due to violence from ISIS, Taliban and other terrorist groups, and conflicting demands of political parties in terms of reconsidering the electoral system. Recently, a number of major political parties closed the offices of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Balkh, Kandahar and Herat provinces over demands for a transparent election and a change in the electoral system. Further, the “Grand National Coalition” warned that the collation will close the IEC offices in Nangarhar, Kunduz, Bamiyan, Panjsher, Faryab and Jawzjan provinces if the NUG does not meet their demands. Following this, the supporters of the coalition established sit-in camps near IEC office in Balkh, insisting on the demands of the political parties including the use of a biometric system for elections, a change in election system and transparent polls across the country.
However, the Ministry of Interior has reacted to closure of IEC offices and has termed the closure of IEC offices as illegal. The Ministry has emphasized to ensure election offices safety and use force if needed. At the same time, the Independent Election Commission reacted to closure of its offices in the provinces and considered the act as in contravention of the country’s laws that hurdles a national process.
Considering the current fragile security in Afghanistan that many think the terrorist groups including the Taliban are moving forward and there is a risk Afghanistan will once again sponsor terrorism. And Taliban’s recent success attack in Ghazni, ISIS recent bloody suicide bombings in Kabul and Nangarhar, imply that they are capable of effective military action in different areas of Afghanistan and their terror operations are not limited to the southern and eastern areas from which they originate. It seems as though the Taliban, ISIS, HKN and other terrorist groups have a much more simple yet effective strategy capable of foiling government intelligence. In some complex operations it is clear that they do not act alone. 
Thus, considering such critical situation and keeping in mind that the National Unity Government does not seem to be united over many issues, using force may only exacerbates security in Afghanistan and will do no good to the elections, especially it will not have a positive impact on the democratic results of elections.
In addition to this, ISIS and other terrorist groups have repeatedly announced they will target the polling stations and IEC offices e.g ISIS targeted a voter registration center in a Shiite-dominated neighborhood in the west of Kabul, on April 22, that killed more than 50 people dead and around 120 wounded.  Many terrorism experts are concerned that the coming polling could be severely hindered by the Taliban and other insurgent groups that oppose the vote. They hold that these groups targeted previous Afghan elections, but the upcoming elections could prove to be deadlier as anti-government insurgents have increased their clout in Afghanistan.
Considering the current political and security situation of Afghanistan, the Afghan government shall ensure trust building between the government and the political parties and at the sometime the political parties shall ensure to pursue their legal demands through most civic and peaceful mechanisms in the framework of the law in order to have fair and free elections in Afghanistan.

Forthcoming elections in Afghanistan face a lot of challenges. They include the likely postponement of the elections due to violence from ISIS, Taliban and other terrorist groups, and conflicting demands of political parties in terms of reconsidering the electoral system. Recently, a number of major political parties closed the offices of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Balkh, Kandahar and Herat provinces over demands for a transparent election and a change in the electoral system. Further, the “Grand National Coalition” warned that the collation will close the IEC offices in Nangarhar, Kunduz, Bamiyan, Panjsher, Faryab and Jawzjan provinces if the NUG does not meet their demands. Following this, the supporters of the coalition established sit-in camps near IEC office in Balkh, insisting on the demands of the political parties including the use of a biometric system for elections, a change in election system and transparent polls across the country.
However, the Ministry of Interior has reacted to closure of IEC offices and has termed the closure of IEC offices as illegal. The Ministry has emphasized to ensure election offices safety and use force if needed. At the same time, the Independent Election Commission reacted to closure of its offices in the provinces and considered the act as in contravention of the country’s laws that hurdles a national process.
Considering the current fragile security in Afghanistan that many think the terrorist groups including the Taliban are moving forward and there is a risk Afghanistan will once again sponsor terrorism. And Taliban’s recent success attack in Ghazni, ISIS recent bloody suicide bombings in Kabul and Nangarhar, imply that they are capable of effective military action in different areas of Afghanistan and their terror operations are not limited to the southern and eastern areas from which they originate. It seems as though the Taliban, ISIS, HKN and other terrorist groups have a much more simple yet effective strategy capable of foiling government intelligence. In some complex operations it is clear that they do not act alone. 
Thus, considering such critical situation and keeping in mind that the National Unity Government does not seem to be united over many issues, using force may only exacerbates security in Afghanistan and will do no good to the elections, especially it will not have a positive impact on the democratic results of elections.
In addition to this, ISIS and other terrorist groups have repeatedly announced they will target the polling stations and IEC offices e.g ISIS targeted a voter registration center in a Shiite-dominated neighborhood in the west of Kabul, on April 22, that killed more than 50 people dead and around 120 wounded.  Many terrorism experts are concerned that the coming polling could be severely hindered by the Taliban and other insurgent groups that oppose the vote. They hold that these groups targeted previous Afghan elections, but the upcoming elections could prove to be deadlier as anti-government insurgents have increased their clout in Afghanistan.
Considering the current political and security situation of Afghanistan, the Afghan government shall ensure trust building between the government and the political parties and at the sometime the political parties shall ensure to pursue their legal demands through most civic and peaceful mechanisms in the framework of the law in order to have fair and free elections in Afghanistan.