United Nations officials say Afghanistan’s elections can be held on September 18th as scheduled, despite the threat posed by Taleban insurgents. Millions of Afghan voters are expected to choose parliamentary and provincial assembly representatives from some six-thousand candidates.
A voter-registration campaign is now underway. More than three-hundred-forty thousand new voters have registered since June 25th. Sultan Ahmad Bahin, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s electoral commission, said, “registration cards will be granted to people who had not attained the requisite age for registration during the presidential campaign, refugees who had recently returned, and people who had migrated from one province to another.” Masooma recently returned to Afghanistan from Iran. “I have obtained my voting card and will participate in my country’s political process,” she said.
Taleban insurgents have stepped up attacks on election workers, registration centers, and political candidates. Aktar Mohammed Tolwak, a candidate for parliament, was shot dead in southern Ghazni province in May. In June, Taleban insurgents murdered another candidate for parliament, Haji Mohammed Wali, in Uruzgan province. But these attempts to terrorize the Afghan people are not working. Shafika is an ethnic Hazara. “If we are afraid to vote, then who will choose our representatives and who will govern our country?” she says.
U.S. Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky says the U.S. has good reasons for supporting Afghanistan’s steps toward democracy:
“Functioning representative governments with [the] rule of law, economic opportunity, and other tenets of a free society do not make fertile recruiting grounds for terrorists, do not produce massive outflows of refugees, do not cause famine, and do not war with other democracies.”
President George W. Bush says the U.S. “will stand by the people of Afghanistan and Iraq as they build free and democratic societies in their own lands.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.