The Dilemma of Voters in Sar-e-Pul: Lax Security, Ethnic Issues, and Fear in the Minds

The Dilemma of Voters in Sar-e-Pul: Lax Security, Ethnic Issues, and Fear in the Minds

11 Oct 2018

Sar-e-Pul is one such province where some of the residents keenly await the day of election, despite the serious security situations. Following the previous reports of Khabarnama on parliamentary election in the provinces, this time the election conditions in Sar-e-Pul province have been evaluated.

According to the latest security reports from Sar-e-Pul, the security situation of the province in the eastern part of the center, as well as in four our districts is concerning, and these areas are subject to high security threats. Also, given that many polling stations are closed in the province, people do not have much hope of taking part in the election

Prospect of Elections in Sar-e-Pul

11 days remain until the elections day. The electoral competitions of 33 parliamentary candidates continue in Sar-e-Pul province, of which 4 are women. Five people will reach the Afghan parliament with the highest votes, one woman and four men.

From Sar-e-pul province, five people will reach the Afghan parliament with the highest votes, one woman and four men

According to the Central Statistics Organization, Sar-e-Pul has seven districts with a population of more than 700,000 but due to security problems, only around 100,000 people have participated in the voter registration process.

“The participation of people in the registration process was good despite the security threats and over 100,000 people have gotten registered,” said Zabiullah Amani, a spokesman to governor of Sar-e-Pul province.

According to a report from the official website of the IEC, the exact figures for Sar-e-Pul’s registered voters in the electoral process are 135,600, of whom 68,374 are male and 66,373 are female; and 853 are from the Kuchi community.

In Sar-e-Pul province, 149 polling centers were established by the Independent Elections Commission (IEC), but due to security concerns, 67 of them are blocked.

Distribution of Tazkiras (National ID Cards)

One of the problems that the local authorities in Sar-e-Pul province mentioned during the voter registration process was the distribution of the Tazkairas.

“Many people were keen on participating in the registration process and ready to have the tazkiras attached with stickers, but they faced problem in obtaining the Tazkiras,” said Gulab Tayebi, a civil society activist in Sar-e-Pul province.

He added: “There were a number of women who had Tazkira, but they were from other districts, therefore they had to go to the same districts, which was not possible. Some people did not even have a Tazkira, and they encountered problems in receiving the IDs in the districts they live, because the Civil Registration Office did not reach many areas and they did not distribute Tazkiras in these areas; therefore, many people, especially women, are now deprived of their rights to vote. Also, the limited time and resources, and negligence of the personnel of Civil Registration Office caused many people in these districts to not be involved in the registration process.”

One of the problems that the local authorities in Sar-e-Pul province mentioned during the voter registration process was the distribution of the Tazkaira

“In the Tazkira distribution process, the serious problem was that many people, especially women, did not have Tazkira, and it began at the same time as the voter registration process started, and due to paucity of time, most people were unable to obtain Tazkira or register themselves as voters as per the complaints we have received from the villages and surrounding districts.” Aziz Ahmad Rasuli, the former provincial head of the Elections Commission in Sar-e-pul, told Khabarnama.

Kohistanant District in Control of Insurgents

The former head of the provincial Elections Commission in Sar-e-Pul province, while describing the participation of the people as impressive emphasized that the big test in the province is the security threat because of which the registration has not taken place in the Kohistanat district. There have been also a number of registration centers closed in districts such as in Sayyad and Suzma Qala.

He further noted that 17 polling centers were not open in the center of the province, and no registration took place in these areas. But in some other districts such as Balkhab which is one of the most stable districts in Sar-e-pul, the centers were opened and people vastly welcomed the registration process in cooperation with the security forces.

Gulab Tayebi also confirmed the dire security situation in Sar-e-Pul, adding that people in the province have difficulty in even traveling because the roads and highways are facing serious security hurdles.

“The security situation in all the provinces of Afghanistan is one of the challenges that has permanently disrupted the civilian and military activities in the country, but we do our best to secure the polling stations and create better conditions. “ Provincial police Chief, Abdul Qayyum Baqizi told Khabarnama.

Aziz Ahmad Rasuli said in this respect: “In Sar-e-Pul province, 149 polling centers were evaluated by the IEC, out of which, the registration process was carried out in 82 of them and 67 other centers were blocked due to security threats in which registration did not take place.”

The security situation in all the provinces of Afghanistan is one of the challenges that has permanently disrupted the civilian and military activities in the country

Spokesman for Sar-e-Pul Governor also said: “Out of the 149 designated centers, 63 centers have been under high-security threats and no one has been registered in these areas; 15 centers have partial security and voters are registered in some areas; and other 71 other centers have been active and are ready for the Election Day. ”

Balkhab District and Irresponsible Armed Individuals

The provincial governor’s spokesman, Zabiullah Amani, said that the province is also threatened by an irresponsible armed individual, saying that a person named “Mahdi Mojahed” has caused disturbance in electoral campaigns in Balkhab district.

“The man closed the electoral campaign, he tore up the posters of the candidates and warned that no one could hold elections in the district,” he added.

The spokesman for the governor of Sar-e-Pul added: “This irresponsible armed man was an ordinary citizen of the province of Sar-e-Pul who had only recently taken such acts, although local elders are trying to dissuade him from doing so; this was also reported to the central authorities and we await an action to be ordered by the central security authorities towards the Sar-e-Pul local authorities. Now, according to a direction given to local authorities, the matter is being investigated.”

But the Sar-e-Pul Police Chief told Khabarnama: “In some districts and areas we face ethnic problems, and the Mahdi Mujahid’s matter is one of those cases. We cannot arrest him because of ethnic considerations, however this is being discussed with the local and provincial council members, parliamentarians and security officials at the capital Kabul, and we are anticipating an action in this regard; if there were no ethnic issues, the security forces could arrest him in a few minutes and deliver him to the authorities.”

The Deteriorating Security Situation

The former head of the Elections Commission in Sar-e-Pul province, said, “Not only have the security threats in Sar-e-Pul have not been reduced, but they have heavily increased. As four active registration centers were closed in Sayyad district, after the end of the registration process, and during my duty in that province, I witnessed the collapse of two other districts. ”

Zabiullah Amani, spokesman for Sarapul Governor

“The biggest challenge now is the security barrier to the electoral process-security threats prevail, and people are trying to provide the security in the polling stations with the help of security forces,” he added.

“The efforts of security forces in the province are not enough, and more air and ground forces should be deployed to this province so that security could be provided with wider operations,” he added.

Gulab Tayebi told Khabarnama: “Even though security authorities have assured the people and officials that they can secure the polling stations, Sar-e-Pul still remains one of the most dangerous provinces in the northern zone, which is expected to fall at any moment.”

He went on to say that all people are disappointed with the elections by looking at the situation and hesitate whether or not to participate in the elections day.

However, discussing the security of elections in the province, Abdul Qayyum Baqizai, provincial police chief stressed that, “we are trying to stop the insurgents and control the districts by carrying out heavy operations. Also, with security measures scheduled for the day of election, we can ensure that the elections will take place in the province with the least challenges.”

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