DAWN and Kerala News, October 7, 2004

RAWA: Afghan election unlikely to bring peace and tranquillity
By Ashfaq Yusufzai

World News, PESHAWAR: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) has rejected the October 9 polls in the war-torn country, saying that fair, free and impartial elections were impossible because most of the contestants happened to be notorious criminals.

Speaking at a news conference here on Wednesday, Seher Saba, a member of the international committee of RAWA, said that the first-ever Afghan elections were unlikely to bring about peace and tranquillity in the embattled country because of lack of security, rampant corruption, red tape, bribery, drug trafficking and abduction of children.

Mentioning the names of some of the contenders - Ahmed Shah Ahmedzai, Hafiz Mansoor, Abdul Hadi Dabir, Latif Pedran, Younas Qanooni, Abdul Rashid Dostum and Muhaqiq - she said they should be tried in courts for their crimes against poor Afghans.

She claimed that some 150 complaints had been lodged with the election commission against gross violations of law committed by the notorious contenders, but no action was taken.

"The so-called national army, police and election commission are dominated by warlords and their cronies in whose presence the holding of free and fair election was nothing but a pipe dream," she said.

Lack of security for voters was one big problem and people were likely to stay away from the polls, she said, citing the stance of President Hamid Karzai who, she said, was himself protected by the US forces.

She also accused the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) of patronizing the Northern Alliance, "because they killed the Afghans and not the US forces."

"Under the shadows of guns and terrorism let loose by the infamous warlords, there is no ray of hope that fair elections would be held and true representatives of the people would reach the corridors of power," she said.

She said there was no candidate running for the office of the president who could be called as a representative of women. Two candidates, Shafiqa Habib and Masooda Jalal, had close connections with Gen Rashid Dostum and Jamiat-e-Islami of Burhanuddin Rabbani, respectively, who had been responsible for a lot of bloodbath in the country.

"Even the representatives of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar had not been barred from contesting. The same holds true for the people who had been the agents of Khad," she said.

She, however, said that the US-backed president Hamid Karzai could emerge as winner, because people "had to differentiate between him and the criminals." She was of the view that people would extend their support to Mr Karzai if he promised to take on the warlords.

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