The eye-opening investigation of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) about industrial-scale rigging in the last year’s presidential and provincial councils’ polls has stunned many. The IECC has disclosed the other day that the unprecedented rigging was engineered by 10,000 temporary and 20 permanent employees of the Independent Election Commission (IEC). Spokesman of the IECC, Nadir Mohseni, said the IEC’s staffers involved in the fraud have been blacklisted and would not be allowed to become part of the election commission in future, unless convinced the body of their innocence. However, the key question regarding the degree of punishment for the blacklisted ex-employees was left untouched—an unhealthy practice that is very common even in the uncommon circumstances. It is imperative for nourishment of the nascent democracy to give exemplary punishment to the tainted IEC staffers, because public support is all times low for the two electoral bodies that ultimately widened the gap between the government and the public.
Unfortunately, elections are taken as tug-of-war by the contenders where they consider unfair means such as support from foreigners as legitimate tools to win. Mostly, important role in the rigging are played by those people who are inducted into the IEC for this sole purpose. Though, it has been over a decade but there is no end in sight to the interference of influential people in the polling process. Practicing undemocratic trends under the pretext of democracy is eroding public support for the very system and makes it weak. Therefore, the system collapse and gives way to rebellion, autocracy and tyranny. A system that could not respect public mandate and falls victim to power struggle and electoral deadlock could not be painted promising through hollow or catchy statements.
Since the massive-scale rigging in the recent polls have ignited public anger and hatred, therefore it would be better to introduce reforms on priority basis and discourage the anti-democratic forces by introducing more comprehensive electoral laws and redlines. As a matter of fact, general public don’t trust the two electoral bodies where anomalies are order of the day. To refurbish the election commission it should be tamed through another body—comprising of neutral people enjoying wide public support. However, it shouldn’t be the Wolesi Jirga.
To address the gray areas in order to assure public of free and fair elections in future, the government should make a conscious choice—to act as a silent spectator or roll up sleeves and take concrete steps. The further delay in drawing the red lines would result in serious controversies in the upcoming Wolesi Jirga polls. Timely measures could save the country from another electoral deadlock or continued protests.