Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, September 21st, 2018

IEC Integrity Is the Corner Stone for Credible & Transparent Elections

Recently, IEC has announced preliminary list of candidates nominated for Parliament for all provinces.  This list included candidates who have been disqualified due to various reasons – mostly technical, for example candidates had failed to meet conditions for providing one thousand supporters’ national identity papers (Tazkira). People of Afghanistan have noted that among these disqualified candidates, there are some influential and powerful persons who have been involved in murky activities in their provinces, which include smuggling, narcotics, illegal exploitation of mines and minerals to suit their vested interests, possession of illegal armed groups and illegal exploitation of their position in government and / or parliament. Supporters of some of these powerful candidates have already taken on social networks and are giving assurances that ‘IEC has committed mistake’, and that ‘the issue of disqualification is already resolved with IEC…’ etcetera and that ‘our candidate will be cleared and contest elections…’. Though there are candidates with murky past records in the parliament and outside parliament who are qualified by IEC and their names are included in the preliminary list, people believe that the next stage of surfing of these candidates by Independent Election Complaint Commission (IECC) based on complaints from people about each individual candidate can further remove those candidates who have stain of corruption and misdeed on their hands. But this belief among the people of Afghanistan is rooted in the present IEC standing on their position concerning current disqualified candidates. Therefore, it is important that IEC stand strong on its decision concerning disqualification of certain candidates so that people can continue to trust IEC, hence credibility of IEC will prevail and people will flock to polling booths in thousandson the elections day to vote.
IEC should know that failure or success of the very existence of democracy, establishment of inclusive institutions and bringing about inclusive economic and social development of the people of Afghanistan are at stake and depend on transparent and fair and free elections. Keeping in view the current challenges put up before IEC by corrupt officials in the government, local and regional warlords and their access to power centers in the government, which they will definitely use to leverage their position and gerrymander, it is incumbent on IEC to face and defeat these challenges. By law, IEC is the most credible and indispensible independent organization in the country. It is a platform whereby people of Afghanistan’s wishes are reflected without tampering in the process. Elections and electoral processes are important national events. Security forces put themselves on the line and sacrifice their lives in order to secure space for successful conduction of elections. They die in hundreds to achieve this goal. It is worth mentioning my personal account of a soldier whom I picked up from a military post en route to Kabul in Baghlan province while travelling from Kunduz, which was located right in the middle of an area checkered and attacked by insurgents frequently. The soldier, barely twenty-two years of age, asked for a left on compassionate basis to Parwan province – which was laying en route to Kabul. He was weeping profusely and told us that he got a message from Ghazni province about his brother’s death. His brother was a soldier and on duty in Ghazni city. ‘Their post was attacked by insurgents the night before’. He said ‘out of total twenty-seven people on duty in that particular post, nine people were martyred – including his brother - and the rest were taken away as captive by insurgents…’ He was weeping badly.This is a point to ponder upon, one family sending two of their dearest ones to frontline to put their life on the line!There are hundreds of Afghan families who have sent their dearest ones in army and police lines for the sacred duty to protect the people of Afghanistan. These sacrifices should not go in vain only because of IEC succumbing to pressures from influential individuals. IEC should preserve integrity at any and all costs. This is the way forward for building a stronger and stable Afghanistan at this critical juncture.
Few words for Afghanistan’s international friends, international community, regional and neighboring countries of Afghanistan: It is undeniable fact that regional powers, neighboring countries and international community – including countries whose military forces are in Afghanistan pursue their specific agendas in the framework of mandates given to them. They have huge impact on the success or failure of the upcoming elections in the country. IEC may not have the mechanisms and ground to face and stand strong against such a big tide with attempt to sway results and gerrymander in favor of certain candidates for their future niche in Afghan parliament, but it is incumbent on the government of Afghanistan to talk out all the worries with these stakeholders and reassure them about the fact that a stable and stronger Afghanistan can benefit all in the region in particular and in the world in general. Regional and international rivalries between neighbors of Afghanistan and major global powers have been taking huge toll on the country since last forty years now. It is time for these countries and powers to seek a common ground, agree on a viable mechanism to stabilize the country and let Afghanistan stand on her own feet. Continuation of ongoing debacle will continue to bleed resources, time and precious human lives of the stakeholder countries and Afghans. For international community and friends of Afghanistan, it is important to support legitimate Government and representatives of Afghanistan, buttress important national institutions including judiciary, police, army, support free market and provide opportunities for economic activities. A strong and centralized Afghan Government can effectively implement national strategies and exploit national resources including mines, ores, minerals, water, gems, gold and petroleum which are found and proven in big quantities in Afghanistan. A stronger and stable Afghanistan can deliver more benefits to stakeholders than a weak and unstable country, which can provide ungoverned space for terrorists and proxy armies to plan and disrupt peace in the region and the world. 
IEC and IECC are important national institutions related to general elections in the country. Prosperity of Afghanistan depends on a fair and free elections and it is incumbent on IEC to make sure wishes of ordinary Afghans are translated in bringing real representatives of the people to the threshold of power and authority. This is the way out from ongoing debacle in the country. At this point in time, things are moving in the right directions at IEC and IECC, keeping in view all the challenges alluded to in the previous paragraphs. It is possible for IEC to deny access to disrupting hands and quarters during the electoral process. They can conduct relatively secure, fair and free elections resorting to universal values, their legal authority and by sharing all and everything with the people of Afghanistan in case they become under pressure from certain quarters. No one person and no one organizations have the right to interfere in IEC and IECC affairs. In the event such interferences are noted, IEC commissioners should make them public without delays. People of Afghanistan support democracy honest supporters of democracy. Let’s stand strong and committed to protect Afghanistan’s democratic institutions.