More than 50 people were killed and injured in an electoral rally in Takhar province on 13th October, just a week before the Afghan parliamentary elections are to take place.
Security officials confirmed that the explosion took place in a candidate’s electoral campaign in Rostaq, Takhar province. The explosion, which was caused by explosives rigged in a motorcycle, targeted the elections campaign of parliamentary candidate Ms. Nazifa Yosufi. The Takhar police chief assured that the candidate had not been hurt.
“The explosion left 22 killed and 36 wounded,” the spokesman for Takhar province informed. He also added that “The enemy is waiting for an opportunity at any moment to harm the people, they managed exploit this opportunity during the election campaign of Ms. Nazifa Yosufi, which unfortunately claimed lives and wounded many. Although the security forces were stationed there, open space helped the insurgents to succeed. ”
With such attacks causing hesitation and fear among citizens, it seems that there is less optimism in terms of active and widespread participation of Takhar residents for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
However, local officials in the province have reported a high level of participation by women and men in the registration process. Speaking to Khabarnama, they said that the Takhar residents eagerly came to the centers to take part in the registration process. Although some were disappointed with the representatives of the previous period and did not register at first, they registered once they found out about the active participation of young people in electoral campaigns.
Out of a population of 1.3 million, 289178 people have registered themselves to cast vote for the parliamentary elections in Takhar.
“In Takhar, 60 percent men and 40 percent women have participated in the registration process,” said Jamshid Kondali, a local journalist of Takhar.
Takhar, with 73 parliamentary candidates competing (of which 12 are female candidates), can only send nine people to the House of Representatives.
Closed Centers and People’s Frustration with Previous Representatives
The Independent Elections Commission has set up 241 polling stations for the upcoming elections but some of these centers will remain closed.
“There are 247 centers where registration has taken place in and which are now open, but around 13 polling stations have been blocked due to the security problems in some areas. However, the registration process was conducted at these centers, and we are trying to prepare and open the centers for the voters until the election day “, the spokesman for the provincial governor told Khabarnama.
“Although Takhar saw a relatively good participation from the people in the registration process, many at first had shown no interest in the same because of their lack of trust in the representatives of the previous period. But after they saw new and young faces running for the elections, they started to participate, but sadly they realised a little late as the registration process was nearing its end,” said Zabihullah Ibrahimi, a civil society activist in Takhar.
The Security Impediment
According to Zabiullah Ibrahimi, along with the challenge mentioned above, the biggest problem in Takhar is security which is causing a rift in the electoral affairs as can be seen from some recent incidents that took place on Saturday. “The security challenge, which must be paid more attention to, took lives of 40 people on Saturday,” he added.
Local authorities in Takhar told Khabarnama that what is expected of the security situation is not feasible, and districts such as Eshkamesh, Darqad, Khajaghar, Yangi Qala, Dasht Qala,and Khaja Bahawuddin are under high security threats.
“Security in Afghanistan has always been one of the problems towards which many efforts have been made over the past several years toward to address it. Takhar is no exception, as an explosion occurred in an electoral rally of a candidate two days ago, leaving dozens dead and injured,” commented Jamshid Kondalli, a local correspondent in Takhar.
However, the Takhar governor’s spokesman told Khabarnama: “The insurgents’ attacks in any part of Afghanistan will have no effect on the decision and determination of the people of Afghanistan, and the government has taken measures to make the election transparent and secure.”
5 Districts Under High Security Alert
There are 17 districts in Takhar in addition to the center of the province, Taleqan. 90% of these areas are under the control of the government. However, some of these districts are also dominated by the insurgents.
“Five districts are facing high security threats. Only two out of 54 villages of Darqad district are under the government’s control. Additionally, half of Yangi Qala, Dasht Qaleh and Khwajah Bahauddin districts are controlled by the Taliban,” Takhar officials emphasized.
But Takhar governor spokesman, Jawad Hejri, denied the claim clarifying that there are no high security threats in these districts, and in fact there is a relatively good security in these areas.
Nevertheless, Takhar Police Chief, Abdul Rashid Bashir briefed Khabarnama about the security situation of elections in the province, “We have enforced our security measures and, in addition to deploying the police at all polling stations, we have designated a group that is mobile and which patrols the highway routes in 17 districts. ”
“We do not deny that there are security problems in some areas of Takhar, but we try to provide security to these areas with the greatest effort,” he said.