Representatives Question Security on Eve of Elections in Afghanistan
Members of the House International Relations Committee examined the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan during a hearing on US security policy in Afghanistan last Thursday. According to Chairman Henry Hyde's (R-IL) opening statement, "While this is a commendable achievement and an important milestone in Afghanistan's political reconstruction effort, it will only be a marred snapshot in time if the United States and the international community fail to provide adequate security to protect the electoral process in Afghanistan."
Representative Diane Watson (D-CA) asked witnesses how there can be free and fair elections on October 9 without adequate security in Afghanistan. With warnings from the Taliban directed at voters and continuing violent attacks against US and coalition forces, international aid workers, and Afghan citizens, security issues continue to threaten the elections. Some 550 aid workers have been killed over the past six months – making it the most violent period since the fall of the Taliban, according to Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group. In addition, there have been recent reports that Afghanistan's registration process is flawed due to multiple or invalid registrations.
A leading human rights organization reports that warlords are threatening voters, candidates and political organizers preventing the first post-Taliban presidential elections from being fair and free. The director of the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch (HRW) asserts that “the warlords are calling the shots. Many voters in rural areas say the militas have already told them how to vote, and that they’re afraid of disobeying them. Activists and political organizers who oppose the warlords fear for their lives.”
The Feminist Majority is leading the call for a significant increase in the number of peacekeepers throughout Afghanistan to provide security and stability. Without adequate resources and security, women in Afghanistan will never be able to fully exercise their rights, and the country will never have sustained peace and democracy.