Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

[op-ed snap] Endless wait: on Afghanistan Presidential election

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Afghan polls

Context

The announcement of preliminary results for the Afghanistan Presidential election is a significant step for the country.

Elections

  • This is the fourth presidential poll since the Taliban’s fall in 2001.
  • It consolidates the country’s democratic process in the face of continuing violence and terrorism there. 
  • According to the Independent Election Commission, President Ashraf Ghani has won 50.64% of the votes counted. It will obviate the need for a second round of polling. 
  • A second-round would prolong the uncertainty around the polls, given that even these results took more than three months to announce. 
  • These polls have been delayed for months, and almost canceled after progress in reconciliation talks with Taliban leaders, who do not recognise the electoral process. 
  • The U.S.’s decision to cancel the talks in September gave a breather for the September 28 polls and counting to be carried out. 

Questions remain

  • Voter turnout was a record low, with only about a quarter of 9.6 million registered voters voting. 
  • Thousands of votes were also disqualified after biometric match failures and other irregularities. It has set off allegations of voter fraud. 
  • Afghanistan’s former Chief Executive Officer and Mr. Ghani’s chief rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, has rejected the preliminary results. 
  • Mr. Ghani’s vote margin over Mr. Abdullah is only about 214,769, and if more votes are disqualified during the review process, they may have to fight the second round. 
  • Mr. Ghani, a Pashtun leader, has drawn much of his support from the Pashtun-majority south and Mr. Abdullah has won mainly in the Northern areas with Tajik presence. 
  • The U.S.-Taliban talks also cast a shadow over whether the results will be respected if the Taliban negotiates its way into a power-sharing arrangement in Kabul.

India

  • Modi reaffirmed India’s close and strategic partnership with Afghanistan since 2010. It is in sharp contrast to the rest of the world that has chosen to be more cautious at present.
  • U.S. Ambassador has reminded that “many steps remain” before the final results are certified and declared.
  • The UN has called for all candidates to “safeguard and complete the election”.
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