Security officials in Afghanistan, both local and foreign, visited Kandahar province on Monday and called on the residents to participate in the election process.
The delegation to the southern province included Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak, National Directorate Security (NDS) chief Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai and the commander of the US-forces and NATO General John Nicholson. The American Ambassador to Kabul John R. Bass was also present.
The officials visited Kandahar to assess the security situation in the province and said security forces are trying to ensure security is maintained at voting centers across the country.
The Afghan security officials also said they would do everything possible to ensure the people’s safety on election day.
Speaking in Kandahar, Barmak said: “The police are required to provide security for these centers as well as security for polling stations during the elections and we assure people that they will go to polling centers without any fears.”
Stanekzai in turn said: “I ask the people who do not have ID cards, go and gets ID cards because it is a good time to get ID cards; you must know that ID cards are necessary for the elections … and also they are useful in your normal life.”
In addition, Nicholson and Bass said they both support the Afghan election process.
Nicholson called on the people to take part in the elections and said: “The more people that can vote, the more credible the election.”
“My pledge to you is, we will strongly support the MoI, the Independent Election Commission, the MoD, all the agencies in government whose job it is to provide security to the elections. We will give them all of our support,” said Nicholson.
Bass pointed out how important the elections were – both this year’s parliamentary and district council elections, and next year’s presidential elections.
“This election, this fall, and the elections next spring, gives all of your brothers who have been in the mountains an opportunity to make a different choice and to choose a future that they are involved in peacefully,” said Bass.
The Afghan and foreign officials also reiterated calls to the Taliban to join the peace process and reach their goals through political ways and to participate in the elections.
Nicholson also said the Afghan government and the international community’s move to put pressure on the group and on Pakistan was important in terms of reaching a negotiated, political settlement.
But the Taliban has rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s call for the group to take part in the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections.
In a statement issued by the group on Sunday night, they reiterated their stance that Afghanistan is an occupied country.
This comes after Ghani on Saturday officially launched the voter registration process and signed up to vote in the upcoming elections.
Speaking at the event, Ghani reiterated the peace offer made in February to the Taliban and said they must end the war and register as a political group.
He also said the Taliban should prepare themselves to take part in the elections adding that elections were a means to end disagreements.
The group also called on the people to boycott the elections.
The Taliban has still not however responded to Ghani’s peace offer made at the Kabul Process meeting at the end of January.