The political and security situation of Afghanistan is very challenging currently. There is no short-term solution to overcome these challenges, because the root of the current challenges is related to regional, political and security situation in the region. Keeping in mind this situation and the complexity of peace and democratization of Afghanistan, one can say that there is no room for optimism.
The National Unity Government (NUG) and its allies within Afghanistan and also the International Community who are involved in this scenario claim that they are striving to promote reconciliation and the establishment of lasting peace in the country and institutionalization of a democratic government in such a way that they will have the maximum benefit.
Conducting election is the main component of the democratic system in the world, which, in current scenario in Afghanistan, is difficult to accomplish. Because even those countries that have a long history in democracy over the centuries are also facing challenges to hold transparent and fair elections.
Afghanistan is a country with a history of dictatorship over decades. The institutionalization of the democracy will be time-consuming and difficult to practice. The experience of the presidential and parliamentary polls, repeated several times over the past two decades, shows that this issue can be adapted in Afghanistan, but it will have its own pro and cons.
One of the important achievements of the post-Taliban political system in Afghanistan is the election and the peaceful circulation of power among political elite.
Regarding the current state of the affairs in the country, it can be said that the holding of transparent presidential elections in the year 2019 has the following challenges:
A) Lack of Security Across Afghanistan: One of the basic characteristics of a democratic system is that all citizens who are eligible can easily cast their votes. Since majority of the areas in country are not under the control of the central government, and it is not possible to hold transparent and fair elections in those areas. It is the main challenge in this process. The turnout in every election shows the level of security.
In some cases, liberal theorists have accepted that participation by majority of the people means the consensus of all citizens about the election, since 50+1 have participated in the election. In current situation, the central government faces many challenges in the places where they control. It can be hardly predicated that half of the citizens will participate in the elections due to blast and suicide attacks which contribute significantly to the level of turn out.
B) The Culture of Corruption: Three presidential and parliamentary elections have been held in Afghanistan over the past eighteen years. It is obvious that citizens, either individually or collectively, have been involved in fraud and lack of integrity with their future. It has been experienced that ordinary people try to vote several times on election day or even take several electoral cards at the time of registration to commit fraud and disturb the electoral process. It might be possible that some inner circles among the government authorities are involved in such cases.
C) Exemptions of Violators from Penalties: It has been observed repeatedly that perpetrators responsible for corruption and mismanagement in elections have not been brought to justice, rather they have been awarded and encouraged by their fellow community members.
D) Elections as Business: In the countries that are politically unsustainable, elections are considered as one of the phenomena that people do not believe in, and they see election as short time and unstable process. The candidates, therefore, strive to take their economic or political benefits in near future after elections, without any consideration for great aspirations.
E) Election Budget Dependency: Afghanistan’s budget is largely dependent on international financial assistance. Afghanistan cannot be finance it through its internal resources. Financial dependence is a technical and orderly affiliation that, in some cases, provides international interference.
Given the challenges, it can be said that the holding of upcoming presidential election on 28 September 2019 is a great challenge for Afghan government and its citizens. However, holding the election is not impossible, but if there is sufficient political will to hold a free and fair election, it is expected that the presidential election will be the manifestation of the national will and the maintenance of sovereignty in our country.