On September 18th, nearly 2,500 candidates in 34 provinces will contest249 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, or the lower house of the Afghan parliament. Some four 430 of them are women.
In an attempt to disrupt Afghanistan's upcoming parliamentary elections, Taliban extremists have resorted to intimidation, kidnapping and murder. Women candidates and their supporters are among the most vulnerable to these deplorable acts. The Taliban has threatened to target anyone affiliated with the elections, from candidates and security forces, to campaigners, election workers and the voters themselves.
Afghan Security Forces have grown significantly in strength and confidence and have performed well in the face of insurgent attempts to disrupt the election.
"Violent intimidation of electoral candidates and their supporters undermines the right of all Afghans to a peaceful and democratic future for their country, and those responsible for the killings must be brought to justice," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Afghanistan’s upcoming parliamentary elections are an important milestone on the road to becoming a full and rightful member of the community of democratic nations. We encourage the Government of Afghanistan to provide adequate security measures that allow candidates and voters, particularly women, to fully participate and ensuring the election process reflects the democratic will of the Afghan people," she said.
The most important aspect of these elections is how they are judged by the Afghan people. A successful election will be one that is transparent, free, credible, and legitimate in the eyes of the Afghan people.