Just days after the presidential ballot – mainly seen as a two-horse race between President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah – which featured 13 candidates, each of the two front-running teams has boasted of their victory well ahead of the official results. Running mate of President Ghani says that based on their team’s anecdotal evidence, they polled about 70 percent of the vote whereas Abdullah claims to have secured a clear landslide victory through the highest number of votes, ruling out the need for a run-off vote. On the other hand, six out of the 13 presidential runners have already made it clear that they won’t accept the election results due to, what they alleged, widespread rigging by the ruling contenders. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – who had also announced that if the election was transparent, he would definitely and one hundred percent be the future president – seems to have already been preparing for such a scenario.
These recent remarks are deliberately making way for the fiascos of the 2014 presidential polls to repeat because the recent vote, based on expert opinion, mirrors the deeply flawed previous presidential election. Since 2009, it would be a third team that frontrunners of the election are challenging each other’s victory. Unfortunately, Afghan presidential candidates since long tend to assemble competing alliances of political elites and then try to accuse rival camps of electoral engineering and fraud. At this hour, given Afghanistan’s track record, disputes over results should be curbed in order to prevent the country from degenerating into a full-blown crisis. These premature claims of victory bode badly for the country. The history shouldn’t be let to repeat itself and the leaders shouldn’t be a cause of making the country become divided again. Such a situation when there is a need for a foreigner to broker a power-sharing deal – the repercussions of such a doing in 2014 are still being regrettably endured by the Afghan nation – should be avoided.
The leaders should sternly avoid any act that is a sign of political crisis in the country. They should refrain from pre-announcing the results and patiently wait for the electoral bodies to broadcast the preliminary and final results; otherwise, given Afghanistan’s long history of post-election chaos, such a situation would wreak havoc to an already fragile system and give rise to an immoral wrangle about power. The Afghan leaders should respect the choice of Afghans and don’t be a hurdle to the full institutionalization of democracy and democratic practices, thereby accepting defeat or victory graciously and paving the ground for a smooth transition. A chance must be given to a viable leadership and dispensation which emerges and is acceptable to all Afghans. Only that would be able to pull this unfortunate country out of the morass of violence and put it on the path of a prosperous and better future. If the leaders fail to do so, they are in fact turning a blatant and blind eye towards the Afghans who risked their lives to vote and are making the country to plunge into the darkest turmoil.