by Mahbob Shah Mahbob
Pajhwok Afghan News
May 27, 2014
JALALABAD: The people of eastern Nuristan province on Tuesday urged the government to bolster security ahead of the presidential runoff vote, scheduled for June 14.
They asked the departments concerned and security agencies to beef up safety measures so that people could cast their votes in the second round in a fear-free environment.
Haji Mirza Ali, a resident of Paron, told Pajhwok Afghan News security was bolstered only in the provincial capital and suburban localities in the last election. Voters in remote areas cast their ballots amid Taliban threats.
He demanded the government devise a stringent security plan to protect remote villages and polling sites so that people could elect a president of their choice.
“Anomalous elections were held on April 5 in Kamdesh, Barg-i-Matal and other far-flung districts because people feared militants’ reprisal if the cast vote,” he alleged.
Sultan Mir, another Nuristan resident, said the insurgents had warned voters to stay away from polling stations during the last polls. The government should work out a strategy to instill a sense of protection among voters.
“People fear their fingers will be chopped off if they cast ballot. It is imperative for the government to boost security ahead of the presidential polls,” he added.
Last time, election could not be held in Mandol district and ballot boxes were stuffed in other areas, he claimed.
Agha Gul, a resident of the district, said elections could not be held in his locality because of stout resistance from militants.
“Casting ballot is the constitutional right of every Afghan but the government should do its job of providing security,” he argued. The villagers were ready to take active part in the polls if security was improved.
A lawmaker from the province, wishing anonymity, said a very small number of women had voted in the April 5 presidential and provincial council election.
Most of the female did not take part in the ballot because of insecurity, she said, adding militants had warned people against voting.
Amanullah Inayatur Rehman, former provincial council member, said deteriorated law and order was a big hurdle hampering people’s participation in the vote. The government should adopt measures to ensure security of all active polling stations throughout the province.
Izzatullah Halim, provincial Independent Election Commission (IEC) director, acknowledged most of the districts were gripped by insecurity and problems created by insurgents.
Like much of Afghanistan, Nuristan was a mountainous province where security problems remained higher than other parts of the country, he added.
“We face serious problems and options are needed to be mulled to resolve them,” he reiterated. He went on to say that a strategy had been evolved to keep polling sites open in Mandol, a district where elections could not be held on April 5 due to militant threats.
Mohammad Zaher Bahand, the governor’s spokesman, said all institutions were ready to hold A peaceful second round. The governor has ordered a security boost for the crucial polls.
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