Afghan elections ignite hope for good future

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 8, 2019
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Afghan President and presidential candidate Mohammad Ashraf Ghani (R) casts ballot at a polling center during presidential election in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, September 28, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Afghanistan has successfully held a presidential election despite threats and uncertainty. The process was relatively peaceful and strengthened hopes for the country's democratic future.

The fourth such election since the toppling of the Taliban government in 2001 was postponed twice due to different reasons before finally taking place on September 28. 

The preliminary results are not expected to be known before October 17. The final outcome will be announced on November 7. For the various stakeholders, it is time to hold the breath and keep the fingers crossed.  

There were more than a dozen candidates, but only two key contenders: incumbent President Ashraf Ghani, and the Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah. 

More than 9 million registered voters had the right to vote; a candidate needing to win at least 51% of vote cast can avoid a run-off between the two top vote getters. 

Initial reports suggest a low turnout, although the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan has not shared any data on this so far.  

The exit polls and existing trends show either Ashraf Ghani or Abdullah Abdullah being victorious. The two shared a unity government after the controversial elections in 2014 when Abdullah refused to accept the outcome in favor of Ghani. 

He has acted as an uneasy deputy president under a weird nomenclature of Chief Executive Officer. Yet, it has worked as both men kept each other on a tight leash. Though, the dichotomy often exasperated efforts for good governance. 

Security was tight on election day, with more than 70,000 troops and security personnel deputed to prevent attacks by the Taliban who had threatened to target polling stations. 

The overall conditions were positive despite some scattered incidents. Two policemen and one civilian were killed in small scale attacks; around 40 people were injured. 

The election had been heralded as important for the future because Afghanistan stands at the crossroads. The result will have a bearing on the peace process that is expected to re-start after the final outcome is known. 

The new president will oversee the most crucial part of the current history of his country. His political acumen, sagacity and ability to carry along the people will be the single most decisive factor in the dialogue with the Taliban.

Before the elections, the Taliban and U.S. had agreed on a draft agreement, but the final signing was canceled. The peace process is expected to be back on track once the new Afghan leader takes up the reins. 

Whosoever wins will preside over the intra-Afghan dialogue will decide the fate of the country.

Afghanistan has suffered from violence in one form or another for the last four decades. The trouble started when troops of the former USSR entered the country at the end of 1979. Since then, successive generations have seen nothing but wars.   

The unending bloodshed has also ignited a strong thirst for peace, and almost every Afghan wants an end to the fighting and bombings. The Taliban have also shown inclination to mend fences and have nearly sorted out the main issues with the Americans. 

A clear and big victory of one of the presidential candidates will be a blessing for the country as only a strong leader without strings attached can deliver the desire results in the years to come. 

The new president will have tough choices to make as the Taliban have proved to be real tough negotiators. He should not be tainted of electoral fraud or any other such vulnerability, otherwise his bargaining position will be compromised. 

The Taliban will become more stubborn and increase the price tag for ending the violence. Already they think that they have nothing to lose in case of no deal scenario.

The Taliban believe the Americans are war-weary and ready to go home, while the credibility of the successive Afghan governments has been eroded due to allegations of corruption. 

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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