Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Political Landscape

A response to AAN Election Blog No. 23

Martine van Bijlert 2 min

A reader responds to AAN Election Blog No. 23 (How much are we expected to believe?): “This article was forwarded to me by a friend. I was impressed with this article as it really reflects the concern of an Afghan who stepped out of his/her house with a hope and besides all risks cast his/her vote on 20th August to select the future leader of the country through a democratic process.

I thought I should use one of my experiences which might be relevant to the comments you have made on the number of votes in thr province of Kandahar. Until 1st May 2009, I was [a senior official in] the National Soldarity Programme, one of the largest community driven development programmes implemented by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) in Afghanistan with over USD 1bn budget. For further information about this programme you could look at the NSP website.
I visited Kandahar in April this year. I met with the elders of Panjwai, Khakrez and Zherai trying to find ways to implement NSP with consultation of District Development Assemblies (DDAs) and members of Community Development Councils (CDCs). Members of CDCs could not participate at all, as they were afraid to come to city and then return back to their villages. Some members of District Development Assemblies attended the meeting and MRRD even recorded their interviews on film, but these members were living in the city of Kandahar and only occasionally travelled to their districts.

During a brainstorm on how to restart NSP, since UN-Habitat a facilitating partner of NSP had suspended activities, the members of the DDAs told us that it was impossible to work in the majority of the villages of Panjwai, Khakrez and Zherai. They also said that in the few villages where they feel the situation is relatively secure, they use other initiatives like calling for charity and when the money was collected then they also used NSP resources to implement their sub-projects. Even the type of projects they implemented were very selective: not getting more than 3 or 4 people involved. This helped them not to attract the attention of Taliban. They also said that when they do canal cleaning using NSP resources, they first take permission from the Taliban and tell them that this is Ashar (a type of community voluntary work).

Now reading this article I was also surprised with the unofficial statements of 50,000 votes in Khakrez and 30,000 votes in Zheray. I am sure Panjwai should be somewhere in the middle of these two.

As an Afghan this question seems well justified to me to ask myself: How much are we expected to believe?

Another mechanism to compare the validity of ballot boxes is to look at the list of where NSP is not operating in the insecure areas. I am 100% sure that where NSP with all its flexibility could not be implemented, people could not register themselves to attain voter cards and they can not cast votes.

With best regards


Democratization Elections Government


Martine van Bijlert

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