Afghanistan underwent presidential and provincial elections this week with surprising success despite Taliban promises to wreak havoc. According to the Afghanistan Interior Ministry the casualties were limited to:
- 9 police officers dead
- 7 Afghan army members dead
- 89 insurgents dead
- 4 civilians dead
- 43 civilians injured
While we may balk at the thought of anyone murdered because of election day, these numbers are relatively low in perspective with the Taliban’s threat of violence.
However, the overall success of the democratic election remains to be seen. Preliminary results aren’t expected until April 24th; and if a candidate doesn’t secure more than 50% of the vote runoff elections will take place on May 28th.
Despite these stipulations there is a general approval for the implementation of the democratic process into a country plagued by one of the world’s most extreme terrorist organizations. A survey conducted by the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) showed that 92% of Afghan citizens support the idea of a democratic election. 73% of respondents also said that peace was among their top issues.
The frontrunners of the 2014 elections have been:
- Ashraf Ghani– former Finance Minister under Karzai’s administration
- Abdullah Abdullah – former Foreign Minister
- Zalmai Rassoul– former Foreign Minister
Afghanistan still has a long way to go. The withdrawal by the end of this year of most NATO troops has most countries worried. It is expected the Taliban will probably expand into troop vacated areas first, and unless the bilateral agreement is signed there won’t be any American forces there to stop it. President Karzai is still holding out on this, although all presidential candidates have said they will sign the agreement if elected.
The country as a whole resembles 1989 Afghanistan after the Soviet Union ended. That was the last time Afghanistan experienced a transitioning national government. The instability in the 90’s is what led to Taliban control of Afghanistan in the first place, whose to say history won’t repeat itself now?
The responsibility of fighting Taliban insurgency will fall on the Afghan National Security Forces, made up of 248,000 active troops and 28,000 local police. All of whom rely on international funding to function.
The next couple years will be an uphill battle for Afghanistan, and the winner of the recent presidential election will determine whether the country continues to progress or regress back into the Taliban’s clutches.