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Defence`s Feeds

US Army’s Precision Strike Missile moves ahead, as US-Russia INF Treaty falters

Jane's Defense News - Tue, 23/10/2018 - 04:00
Tests are upcoming in 2019 for Raytheon and Lockheed Martin systems competing for the US Army’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) programme, a top acquisition priority to replace the legacy Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). PrSM and similar projects could assume extra urgency as the United
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US showcases Arctic naval operations

Jane's Defense News - Tue, 23/10/2018 - 04:00
The United States has recently conducted maritime missions in the Arctic in the form of US Coast Guard (USCG) and US Navy (USN) operations. USCG Cutter Healy (WAGB-20) completed the second mission on 18 October of its Arctic West Summer 2018 deployment to study stratified ocean dynamics in the
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Egypt shows MiG-29 with Kh-31 missiles

Jane's Defense News - Tue, 23/10/2018 - 03:00
The Egyptian Air Force (EAF) has acquired Kh-31 supersonic air-to-surface missiles with its new MiG-29M/M2 multirole fighters, a photograph released by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s spokesperson on 19 October revealed. The photograph showed Sisi with EAF personnel in front of a two-seat
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Embraer Releases Two New Biz-jets with a “Top Gun” themed commercial

The Aviationist Blog - Mon, 22/10/2018 - 23:06
Brazilian Aerospace conglomerate Embraer just rolled out a new marketing campaign seemingly aimed directly at Top Gun fans. Embraer released two new private business jets on Sunday, October 14, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. The company’s new Praetor 500 and the Praetor 600 midsize and super midsize personal jets are being marketed with a new ad […]
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Belgium Reportedly Chooses F-35 Stealth Jets over Eurofighter Typhoons To Replace Its Aging F-16s

The Aviationist Blog - Mon, 22/10/2018 - 17:59
According to several media outlets, the Belgian Air Force has picked the Lockheed Martin F-35. Belgium may become the 12th country to join the F-35 program. Citing Government sources, Belga news agency reported on Oct. 22, 2018 that a decision has been made to pick the U.S. 5th generation stealth aircraft over the European Typhoon […]
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Election Day Two: A triumph of administrative chaos

The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) - Sun, 21/10/2018 - 20:06

The second day of the Afghan parliamentary election has been as chaotic as the first. Because many polling centres failed to open or opened late on Saturday, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) ruled that some could also open today. However, only some actually opened today and voters were presented with the same bureaucratic and technical difficulties as yesterday. It is difficult, overall, to feel confident about the statistics the IEC has given, and it has already come under scathing criticism from the Election Complaints Commission about its management of the election. Yet none of this, reports Jelena Bjelica and the rest of the AAN team, appears to have had any bearing on the self-congratulatory rhetoric of the election organisers and the country’s political leadership.

This is a follow-on from our reports on election day “A Rural-Urban Divide Emerging and “Voter Determination and Technical Shambles”.A dossier of our pre-election coverage can also be read here.

It is hard and confusing to tell exactly how many and which polling centres opened today, Sunday, 21 October, the extra day given for Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections. The confusion was mainly caused by the IEC’s impromptu decision (number, 89-1397) to allow the opening, not only of those polling centres that failed to open yesterday, but also those that opened very late, after 1pm. At his late-night press conference on Saturday 20 October, IEC chief Abdul Badi Sayyad had only mentioned the centres that failed to open, meaning voters whose stations opened late were left unsure whether they would be opening today or not. Confusion was only amplified by the IEC’s decision to open stations at 9am this morning, rather than the usual 7am.

The numbers: polling stations that were closed on Saturday and should have opened on Sunday 

Sayyad said that 401 polling centres which did not open because of technical problems or security threats on Saturday would open today (21 October). Many, AAN was told, had not received the electoral material in time. The 401, he said, was out of “over 4,900” polling centres countrywide. This figure should have already excluded the 172 allocated to Kandahar province where elections have been delayed for a week after the murder of senior officials [para corrected on 28 Oct. 2018].

The IEC, had said in an earlier press conference that 370 polling centres had remained closed on election day (see this AAN analysis of the Day one). More reports of closures must have come in after the first figure was publicised.

[updated on 22 Oct. at 10am] At the end of the day on Sunday at a press conference, IEC chair Sayyad said that a total of 4,567 polling centres had opened, on both elections days, 20 and 21 October. On Saturday he had given a number of 4,530 polling centres for 20 October only, which would mean that, of the 401 which did not open on Saturday, only 37 opened on Sunday. Another IEC official gave a strikingly different number again to AFP on Sunday saying that of 401 polling centres that were supposed to open on Sunday, 253 had indeed opened and 148 had not.

However, observers were skeptical. AAN received indications that maybe only 80 polling centres actually opened on Sunday, and among these were many that had been open before 1 am on Saturday, too. A source in Nad Ali district in Helmand province, for example, told AAN that in Zarghon Kalai (Green village) and Shin Kalai (Blue village) polling had continued for the second day in a row. Moreover, Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) spokesman Ali Reza Rohani, reported, that in the centres which did open on Sunday, “Most of the problems we had yesterday were still there today.” He said election workers were still struggling to use the biometric verification devices, and voter rolls were “either incomplete or non-existent.” Some polling sites had again opened late, he said and had insufficient ballot papers.

No numbers: polling stations that opened very late on Saturday and should have opened on Sunday

IEC decision number 89-1397 made on 20 October ruled that, “for the polling centres that were not opened until after 1 pm, the elections will be held tomorrow.” This meant that some centres were open for a day and a half with seals on election materials broken and left overnight – with obvious concerns over the opportunity this gives for ballot rigging. The IEC has also yet to give the exact number of centres that opened after 1pm on Saturday. It has also not given the number of how many polling stations closed on time – at 4 pm – on Saturday, or after an extension – to 8pm – for those that opened late, but before 1 pm, on Saturday.

The confusion has only been exacerbated by a discrepancy in the numbers shared by the IEC publicly and those shared somewhat secretly. According to a spreadsheet the IEC shared with independent observers and international organisations, which AAN received, on Saturday morning the IEC reported that 3,187 polling centres (63 per cent) had opened. Publicly, however, it has repeatedly claimed that 4,530 polling centres (92 per cent) had opened. Aggravating the muddle still further, the publicly-available document on the IEC website which details the number of polling centres by province says that 5,074 centres opened on Saturday. The list still includes Kandahar and must have been uploaded way ahead of election.

The lack of publicly-accessible data on the IEC website is egregious. So far, it has published only a summary of the 20 October press conference in its main, Dari section and no updates on its English section.

Turnout – unknown 

Head of the IEC Abdul Badi Sayyad said on Saturday evening that more than three million people had voted on Saturday. Already this was unusual as, normally, such figures are not rounded up or down, but are exact to the last digit. In the IEC election ‘flash report No.2’ distributed to reporters on Saturday afternoon, the IEC had said that by 2pm, turnout had been 1.5 million voters (in 27 provinces). It is hard to believe that 1.5 additional million voters showed up that afternoon to cast their votes (this would mean that people went to vote between 2pm and 4pm, and in the late opening polling centres, until 8pm). It goes against what AAN researchers in various provinces, as well as accounts from many other sources, journalists, civil society and observers, witnessed, that turnout decreased in the afternoon hours. Nevertheless, given the varying figures of how many polling centres were open or were reported open on Saturday, as well as problems with communication (Badghis province, for example, was out of reach all day on Saturday while four other provinces, including Kunduz, was out of reach for much of the day), it is really hard to say how accurate the IEC’s turnout estimate may or may not be.

The long queues reported on 20 October morning in many places, with great numbers of people waiting between ninety minutes and three hours to cast their vote, may be an indication of massive turnout – or of administrative failures. These failures were reported from all over country and ranged from biometric verification devices not working or working only slowly or not sufficiently charged for the whole day or staff not knowing how to use them; to staff arriving late, some of because they had not been told which centres to go to; to voters with stickers on their tazkeras, proving they had registered, finding their names were missing from the voter lists. Some of the latter were allowed to vote (and their names added on a separate list). Others were not. In other words, there was inequality in dealing with this particular, widespread glitch.

Despite all of this, the IEC’s Sayyad was confident that voter turnout would rise to more than five million after figures from the remaining centres arrived, including those opening on Sunday. In the end, the figure he gave at a press conference on Sunday evening was somewhat lower, 4 million voters, a third of whom, he said, were women.

Bearing in mind that nine million Afghans had registered, turnout can hardly be said to have been good. Moreover, several million other eligible voters were unable even to register because they live in Taleban-controlled areas; the IEC only managed to register voters in two-thirds of its polling centres. By these metrics, the IEC’s estimate of turnout, even if correct, looks a great deal less healthy.

Known irregularities and election-day casualties

On top of all the confusion over turnout and the number of opened/closed polling centres, counting was allowed to start in some places and tally reports are now trickling in from some provinces. In Takhar, for example, counting began last night and ended around midnight. The counting happened despite voting having been authorised for a second day in 15 polling centres (ten had been closed and five centre opened late in Yangi Qala and Dasht-e Qala districts on Saturday). This was probably the result of a lack of instruction by the IEC. However, it should have seemed obvious, surely, that counting cannot start until all voting has ended. This could invalidate the election in Takhar because candidates or officials would know how many votes were needed to tamper with the election result (and turnout figures) ahead of the continuation of voting on Sunday. This is something to watch, especially bearing in mind that candidates’ observers in Takhar told AAN their estimate of turnout on Saturday in the province was very low and most of the candidates had got unexpectedly low numbers of votes.

Some observers’ initial reports are also coming in. The Fair and Free Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) had 1,500 observers in over 1,000 polling centres countrywide. (1) The head of FEFA, Muhammad Yusuf Rashid told AAN that, of over 1,000 centres the organisation observed on Saturday, around 130 had opened late. He said the biggest issue it witnessed was late opening. (2) “There were also issues with the biometric voter verification (BVV), a lack of printing paper and a lack of IEC staff in many stations,” he said.

Among other serious irregularities FEFA observed were illegal armed groups interfering in the voting in some provinces by forcing people to vote for certain candidates. Rashid also told AAN that “In a number of provinces – Logar, Kunar, Kabul, Takhar, Badakhshan – candidates’ agents interfered in the voting by distributing money to voters who agreed to vote for their contenders.” He also said that in some provinces, “linkages between IEC staff and political candidates had been observed.” AAN has also been told about similar incidents, of voters being interfered with by armed men including in the Deh Sabz district of Kabul.

Some agents have complained about irregularities and ballot stuffing in Kabul city. AAN also received reports about possible ballot stuffing in Paktia and in Mazar-e Sharif and of boxes full of ballot papers without the marks of the IEC.

Tolonews has reported that it received at least 10,000 complaints from voters across the country via WhatsApp and hundreds more on Facebook. Complaints covered a wide range of issues, including “polling station chaos,” Tolo said.

The government also appears to have underplayed the number of Afghans killed and wounded in election-related violence on Saturday. Minister of Interior Barmak at the end of the day reported that 17 civilians had been killed and 83 wounded, with 11 members of the Afghan National Security Forces also killed and 17 injured  (see this AAN analysis). AFP, carrying out its own round-up of casualties, has put the total number of civilians and members of the security forces killed or wounded in polling-related violence on Saturday much higher, at nearly 300.


 The IEC has already come in for damning criticism by the Electoral Complaints Commission for the “serious problems in the management of the elections”  which the EEC said could call into question the “transparency and fairness of the elections.” In this, the discrepancy in the numbers for polling centres open on Saturday given by the IECto the public (4,530 opened) and in its off-the-record, shared spreadsheet (3,187) is particularly worrying and needs to be cleared up as soon as possible.

Yet, despite the chaos, complaints, irregularities and the fact that several million eligible voters live in Taleban-controlled areas and could not even register to vote, both the election organisers and President Ghani have announced the parliamentary elections “a success.”


Edited by Thomas Ruttig and Kate Clark


(1) One FEFA observer was injured in Kabul in an attack on a polling centre. Several FEFA observers in the provinces were caught in the security incidents, but all of them were unharmed. In Logar, the IEC staff did not allow a FEFA observer to enter the polling centre. “After refusing to leave,” spokesman Rashid told AAN, “our observer was arrested by the NDS and kept in custody for several hours.”

The ECC also reported, “In some polling centres, observers were prevented [from entering the centres] or faced threats.” The ECC said  their own staff were not able to enter some polling stations or the necessary materials were not provided to them.

(2) Even Second Vice-President Sarwar Danish waited for 45 minutes for his polling centre to open. He told Tolo reporter that the centre, at the Baqir ul-Ulum mosque, only opened after election observers arrived.





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Election Day One (Evening Update): Voter determination and technical shambles

The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) - Sat, 20/10/2018 - 23:33

In our first update of the day, AAN reported on the mixed turnout – far higher in the cities and other secure places and lower in districts where the Taleban could close roads and prevent voting. Those determined to vote faced not only Taleban violence, but also many technical problems and late-opening polling centres. In response, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) ordered an extension of voting hours today for some centres and for some to be opened tomorrow. In others, the count has already begun. The Election Complaints Commission has been damning of the IEC’s management of the poll, saying it could call into question the “transparency and fairness of the elections.” Kate Clark, Thomas Ruttig and the rest of the AAN team, bring you this update of what has turned out to be the first day of Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections.

This is a follow-on from our earlier report on the day’s events. A dossier of our pre-election coverage can also be read here.

Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections were marred by Taleban threats and violence, and chaotic preparations by the IEC.

Taleban violence: rising casualty figures

As the day wore on, reports of attacks and explosions continued to come in – and the casualty figures kept rising. Minister of Interior Wais Barmak told Tolonews at the end of the day that 192 security incidents had been reported countrywide. While this looks like an underestimate, it is still grievous enough.

Barmak told Tolonews at least 17 civilians had been killed and 83 civilians wounded. 10 policemen had also been killed, he said, along with an Afghan National Army soldier, and 17 members of the security forces had been wounded (note: according to the Laws of War, the police, if guarding election sites, would be categorised as civilian). AFP, quoting officials in the late afternoon, reported a somewhat higher civilian casualty figure – 170 civilians killed and injured. Unfortunately, that figure may yet rise. In Baghlan, for example, the Afghan news website, Khabarnama, quoting provincial health officials said that in their province alone, 12 people had been killed and around 100 injured in election-related violence.

In the early evening came reports of a suicide attack on a polling centre in Kabul’s Sar-e Kotal area (PD 17) – between Khairkhana and the Shomali plain: five policemen and ten civilians were killed and 25 more people injured. Kabul, along with Kunduz and Baghlan, suffered the worst of the day’s violence. In Kunduz, where the Taleban sent more than twenty rockets into the city, health officials told AFP that three people had been killed and 39 injured.

Technical shambles

“Participation was good,” the IEC announced at a press conference at the end of the day, “despite problems and security threats.” The commission’s conclusion is curious, even based on its own statistics. By 2 pm, it said, 1,510,659 million people had voted in 27 provinces (it was still waiting for information from Badghis, Kunduz, Paktia, Wardak, Parwan). Even though the final turnout figure will be higher, it still looks as if only a small portion of Afghanistan’s nine million registered voters will have cast their ballots.

[The following two paragraphs have been corrected, 21 Oct 2018, 9.15am] The IEC further said that 4,530 
out of the 4,901 polling centres due to open had opened (92 per cent) and that only 370 polling centres had remained closed. There also was an unknown but definitely large number of polling centres that opened late, often hours later, judging by numerous media and other reports that had come in from around the country.

Moreover, the IEC has not specified how many polling centres will open on Sunday 21 October. These centres should include the 370 centres that never opened on 20 October and, according to a decision by the IEC, those that only opened after 1 pm on election day one. The IEC so far has not given that second number. It has also not given the number of how many polling stations closed on time, at 4 pm, or after the extended time, at 8 pm.

To make the confusion complete, a number of polling centres have already started the count “The closing of polls in Saturday’s Parliamentary elections,” wrote AP, “was as chaotic as the opening.”

AAN (see annex and our earlier update) and other observers witnessed the following technical problems:

  • Voting centres opening late, including staff turning up late. This affected some areas in particular – such as west Kabul where teachers hired for the elections had, reportedly, not been told which centre they should go to;
  • Lack of voting materials;
  • Biometric verification devices not working or working only slowly or staff not knowing how to use them;
  • Voters with stickers on their tazkeras (to prove they had registered) finding their names missing from the voter lists;
  • Long queues, with people having to wait several hours to vote;
  • Problems with the Kuchi ballots, with some polling centres not having any.

The IEC itself summed up today’s problems, as follows:

  • Ineffectiveness of IEC field staff;
  • Technical and administrative issues;
  • Polling staff – teachers – not showing up;
  • Security incidents perpetrated by insurgents and warlords and the use of force at some polling centres;
  • Lack of monitoring in some areas;
  • Late arrival of biometric verification devices;
  • Negative messages discrediting the process though social media.

The technical, bureaucratic and logistical problems were not evident at every polling centre in the country, but they were widespread enough to warrant AFP’s description of IEC preparations for this long-delayed ballot as “shambolic”.

In mid-afternoon, the country’s Election Complaints Commission (ECC) also came out with a damning statement, listing what it called the “severe shortcomings on how the elections had been managed thus far.” For the first time, it said, it had at least one official in each polling centre to receive complaints from voters, observers and candidate agents and who could report own observations. The ECC therefore, presumably, felt confident in its criticism. Part of the statement, as seen on television, said:

  1. In a large number of polling centres and stations, polling centres have not been opened and activated yet.
  2. In a large number of other polling centres and stations, polling centres have been activated after hours of delay.
  3. In a number of polling centres, the necessary electoral materials, totally or partially, were not provided to the IEC staff on time.
  4. In some polling centres, the biometric system encountered problems and was not activated on time.
  5. In some polling centres, observers were prevented [from entering the centres] or faced threats.
  6. There are reports of boxes containing sensitive electoral materials not being intact.
  7. In some polling centres, representatives of the ECC were not provided with the opportunity to be present [in the polling stations] or necessary materials were not provided to them.

So far, the impact of violence and mismanagement have overshadowed reports about alleged fraud. AAN has however started collecting reports of incidents and hopes to give a fuller account of this in a future dispatch.


There is no doubt that hundreds of thousands of Afghans turned out to vote, showing commitment and bravery in the face of Taleban threats, and patience in the face of an often shoddily-run election. Where Afghans could vote, it seems they did try. Reports of people waiting several hours to vote were received from many provinces. If these elections were faulty, it was not because of a lack of commitment shown by Afghan citizens. At the end of what has turned out to be in some places, the first day of voting, the conclusion of the ECC may be the one to watch:

[S]erious problems in the management of the elections… have led to the disenfranchisement of some voters, to serious concerns among the citizens and election stakeholders, especially for the ECC. The continuation of the current trend can seriously call into question the transparency and fairness of the elections.


Annex: AAN observation of voter identification and voting

AAN has selected some observations by its researchers from various provinces on how voting went and what problems voters faced. Their reports illustrate why voting hours needed to be extended.


In Paktika, many voters complained that their names were not on the voters’ registration list. These were people who had registration stickers on their ID cards, but their names were not on the voter registration list. At the Ali Baba High School, with more than 3,800 voters registered, and the provincial hospital, with 2,247 voters registered, about 200 people found they could not vote and went back home disappointed. According to one tweet, two of Paktika’s candidates also found they were not on the list.

An official that AAN interviewed at the polling centre at the provincial hospital said there were two possible reasons why this had happened.

People got stickers outside of the registration process, ie they got a fake sticker. It might be that they bought or acquired stickers illegally from the IEC officials through a bribe, or the candidates illegally bought stickers to put it on the tazkiras of their people. The second possibility is that their names were among more than 30,000 names that were removed from the main voters’ database, in order to eliminate ‘ghost voters’.

The official did not address the possibility that there had been a bureaucratic muddle. As will be seen below, this was a very common problem.

Other than that, voting seen by the researcher – who visited Sharana and Yusuf Khel and Musa Kheldistricts – went normally and there were no major problems reported. Voters were enthusiastic in Sharana. There were no cases observed where voters refused to be photographed or ‘biometrically verified’. Observers appeared happy with the voting process and did not report irregularities other than the problem of names missing from the voter lists.


248 polling centres were reported open in Daikundi province. At four polling centres seen by AAN in the provincial capital, Nili, the biometric devices were not working. One voter told AAN that in his polling centre, around 150 voters showed up at 8am, only to find the biometric devices not working. He left for work, saying he might return later.

In the polling centre in the Sang-e Mum High School, most of the voters had to queue for two to three hours before they could cast a vote, but said once they got to the front of the queue, it took only a few minutes to vote. Voters reported similar timings in the polling center in Sar-e Nili High School – they waited more than three hours for their turn to vote, but then it took no more than four minutes to cast their ballot. The longest step in voting process, AAN observed in Nilli, was not the fingerprinting, but finding the voter on the voters’ list. The main concern of the voters was that they would not have an opportunity to cast their votes before the polling centres closed, if voting continued to be so slow. The polling centres reported this problem to the IEC.

In the polling centre in Chahar Dar High School, voters were also waiting for two and a half hours and then found it took five minutes to vote. There was no room in the polling stations for all the observers, so they were taking turns to monitor. They told AAN that 13 voters, with stickers issued from the centre, found their names were not on the voter list.


In Taloqan city, most of the poling stations had closed their doors by 4pm and counting had begun. Candidates’ agents continued to monitor. AAN visited around 20 polling stations and found some irregularities, with mismanagement and technical issues to do with the biometric devices and voters lists, mainly in the morning. There were no obvious signs of manipulation or fraud.

In most of the polling stations there were problems with the biometric system. For instance, in Bibi Marya, the biometric system in the women’s polling station did not work until 8:45am. IEC officials also had trouble finding people’s names on the voter lists. It took more than five minutes for the queue controllers to find each voter and check their name and sticker. In a few cases, AAN noticed voters had to go from one polling station to another to find their names. Observers and agents also raised no serious issues of concern; most of their complaints were about technical problems.

Outside the provincial capital, though, the security forces came under criticism from many candidates who complained they had not been able to secure the area and allow people to vote in Dasht-e Qala, Durqad, Yang-e Qala, Khawja Bahauddin and Khawja Ghar districts.


The polling centre in the Oil and Gas Institute in Mazar-e Sharif opened 20 minutes late. The biometric machines worked properly, but turnout was very low, at least initially. AAN observed some voters taking photos of the ballot paper while voting (a female observer also said she saw women photographing their ballot papers). They explained they had sold their votes and needed to take the photos as proof. (Photographing ballot papers is illegal – see here). There were 80 to 85 male observers, mainly candidates’ agents. A female observer told AAN there were 40 female observers, but the female voter turnout was very low in the centre.

In the Kart-e Bokhdi area of Mazar, an observer told AAN the polling centre was very crowded and that it had run out of ballot papers.

The voting process took between three and five minutes in most polling centres in Mazar, while checking the voter’s tazkeras against the voter registration took a little longer.

One observer told AAN that many centres had received the wrong voters’ lists, and that voters who were not on the list of the polling station they had (or thought they had) registered and were sent to wander from centre to a centre in search of their names. AAN interviewed one female voter whose name the IEC staff said they had been unable to find. She was asked to wait outside for one hour, but went home instead, without voting.


In Herat city, polling centres opened an hour late, at around 8am. However, it seems there was a good turnout. Beginning from about 6:30am, queues were already forming, for men outside the polling centres and for women inside. The queues were already long by 08:00am when the polling centres opened.

In the districts, some polling centres opened much later. One in Guzara district opened at 11:00am. Polling centre officials said election materials had not been provided to them. In some polling centres, election staff did not come on time. Many people have had to wait for more than an hour to get into the polling station.

It generally took more than ten minutes for each voter to cast their vote (less than five minutes in less busy stations). In some cases, the biometric equipment was not working. A more common problem was that the names of some voters could not be found on the voter list, despite having the relevant sticker of the polling centre pasted on their tazkera.


Read our earlier report about Election Day One here.




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Election Day One: A rural-urban divide emerging

The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) - Sat, 20/10/2018 - 13:52

Afghanistan’s third post-Taleban parliamentary elections have started slowly, with a lot of technical chaos and significant fighting in a number of provinces. Polling hours have now been extended. Even in many areas of Kabul, polling centres had not opened by 9:30am. There are widespread reports of a lack of polling material, electoral staff being unfamiliar with the biometric devices, that are being used for the first time to try to prevent multiple voting, and reports of explosions, attacks and Taleban closing roads and keeping away voters. By noon, dozens of casualties from rocket and mortar fire and explosions had been reported in Kunduz and later in Kabul. Apart from in Daykundi, where the governor held a small ceremony in the capital, Nili, voting began without ceremony. Thomas Ruttig and the rest of the AAN team have put together this initial look at ‘E-Day’ 2018. With reporting from Ali Mohammad Sabawoon (Kandahar), Obaid Ali (Taloqan), Rohullah Sorush (Mazar-e Sharif), Ehsan Qaane (Nili/Daikundi), Said Reza Kazemi (Herat), Fazal Muzhary (Sharana/Paktika) and Ali Yawar Adili and Jelena Bjelica (Kabul).

General observations on preparation and turnout

By noon, according to IEC sources speaking unofficially, only around 3,000 polling centres were open around the country, about 60 per cent (by 10am, it had been 2,300). Measures were underway, the sources said, to increase that number. Voting had been scheduled to close at 4pm, but IEC chairman Abdul Badi Sayyad has now announced at a press conference that polling centres will stay open beyond that, to “compensate” for the lost time. He apologised for the late opening. Sayyad said that polling centres where opening was delayed can now stay open until 8pm today, while in those not open before 1pm, polling would also take place on Sunday, 21 October (media reporting here). (1)

In many areas of Kabul and Herat as well as in Paktika and Balkh, IEC staff arrived at polling centres only at 7am when the centres were due to open. They started preparations and often did not allow observers to watch this. (2) AAN staff observed in a polling centre in Rahman Mena in southeastern Kabul that ballot boxes were not ready and observers were not allowed in, while long queues of voters gathered, on both the women’s and men’s sides. Voting started late at 7:45. AAN received reports from local sources in Paktika that, in a number of polling centres, voter lists were incomplete and many names were missing. (3) IEC personnel in the Paktika capital, Sharana, defending the late start, told AAN that people in the province “only wake up or start working about 8am.” In many places, IEC staff also banned the use of phones with cameras, probably to prevent voters from taking photos of their ballots (a method used to show to candidates who might have paid for the vote that the voter had complied), but also making observation difficult. Those voters then had to leave because there was no provision for leaving phones outside the centres; some may not return to vote. There were complaints that the IEC had not announced this ban.

In Kabul, only a few polling centres opened as scheduled at 7am. They included Amani High School where President Ashraf Ghani and IEC chairman Sayyad cast their votes. Ghani held a short, uninspired speech, explaining once more why the vote in Ghazni and Kandahar had been postponed and assuring voters there they would not lose their franchise. In Herat, as AAN witnessed, voting mostly began around 8am. Afghan media have published photos of a number of provincial governors casting their votes.

It appears that in many rural areas, however, there has been no voting, either after threats on the eve of elections or because the Taleban closed roads or there was fighting (reported from at least ten provinces). The first security incident in the morning was reported from Khushi district of Logar province where a polling station came under fire from a nearby hill shortly after polling opened officially. According to security sources in Kabul, there have been 107 incidents countrywide, 27 of them in Kabul province by noon. Most of the other incidents were reported from Kunar and the northeast, particularly Kunduz.

At noon, one of the country’s major observer organisations, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) said “the situation is out of the control of the IEC.”

According to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Najib Danesh, quoted by Kabul-based news agency, 4,900 polling centres with more than 20,000 polling stations (4) should have opened in 32 of Afghanistan’s provinces. The figure looks overstated – very likely this is the number the Independent Election Commission (IEC) intended to open. By mid-morning, anyway, many were still shut.

On the eve of the elections, the IEC had given a number of 5,074 polling stations it intended to open (a few days before the elections, it had used a figure of “around 5,100”), but Kandahar has [corrected: 172] polling centres and voting there was delayed after the murder of Provincial Police Chief General Abdul Razeq on Thursday (read AAN analysis here) , so neither figure is fully accurate. Even before that, another 2,292 polling centres originally envisaged to be used were dropped, as the Afghan security forces could not see themselves able to defend them (more detail in this AAN overview).

The IEC had also officially claimed that there would be no voting in ten districts in five provinces, Musa Qala, Dishu, Nowzad, Reg/Khaneshin and Baghran in Helmand; Kakar/Khak Afghanin Zabul; Yamgan and Warduj in Badakhshan; Dahana-ye Ghori in Baghlan and Kohistanat in Sar-e Pul. However, AAN found from local sources that in Zabul, for example, there was no voting before noon in four districts – Arghandab, Mizan, Syuray and Kakar/Khak Afghan – due to ongoing fighting. The way to another Zabul district centre, Shahr-e Safa, was also closed due to fighting in the morning, so that election material only arrived briefly before noon. In Shajoy, the wrong election material was sent to one polling centre. This had to be corrected before voting could start. After noon, government forces started operations in two Zabul districts where the election process had also not started, Syurai and Mizan.

At the IEC press conference the day before the elections (19 October), IEC chairman Sayyad had called on the Taleban to allow the people to vote by announcing a ceasefire on that day. This plea remained unheeded. Over the days immediately before the election, the Taleban had instead issued a series of statements: they called on teachers and ulema not to support the elections, while the movement’s military commission threatened to close “all major and minor roads” on election day and called on people to stay indoors (quoted here). In early October, the Taleban had called for a boycott, stating it would “leave no stone unturned” to prevent the elections from taking place, but adding the movement would “instructs all its Mujahideen (…), while taking extensive and intensive care of civilian Afghan lives and their properties” and only attacking those who “secure” the polls (quoted here).


Turnout has, so far, been mixed. In the large cities and many of the provincial centres, it has been good. Footage from Afghan media has shown queues of both male and female voters in Kabul, Herat, Maimana, Jalalabad, Lashkargah and Gardez, as well as some districts near to cities like Injil and Guzara in Herat province, and Batikot near Jalalabad, and Panjshir province as a whole. The tendency of good turnout in the cities and nearby districts was also confirmed by AAN staff members in Herat and Mazar-e Sharif.

In some places, such as Hazara-dominated west Kabul and some parts of Tajik-dominated Khairkhana, the turn-out has been massive. At one polling station in Khairkhana, however, voters reported to AAN that there were “more observers than voters” and that three candidates had distributed money to voters. In one centre in Nili, AAN saw 500 voters already queuing at 6:30am. In Mazar-e Sharif, it was good in the morning, but had dropped significantly by noon. In other places, there have been fewer voters. At one centre in Paktika’s capital Sharana, only one out of 25 registered women appeared to vote this morning.

In many places, voters arriving early or on time were left waiting because of the lack of IEC preparation; anger was already growing. In Qarabagh district, north of Kabul, angry voters blocked the main Kabul-Parwan highway with burning tires in protest that no election material had been delivered.

Government officials talking to AAN who wanted to remain anonymous played down the problems, saying there had only been “some minor difficulties” with IEC staff being late.


As to the new biometric procedures, AAN found that in Paktika’s provincial capital Sharana, the process took between four to eight minutes – rather than the one minute envisaged (see AAN reporting here). It appeared the Biometric Voter Verification (BVV) devices did not easily read voters’ fingerprints, but most of the  devices did work. Those not functioning were sent for repair or to be changed.

In at least four polling centres in Daykundi’s provincial capital Nili the biometric devices did not work. In the polling centre in Sang-e Mum High School most voters had to queue two to three hours before they could cast a vote. A group of ten observers, mainly from candidates, AAN talked to at this polling centre said the process was very slow. The longest step in voting process, AAN observed in Nilli, was not fingerprinting, but finding the number of a voter on the voters list. In one centre, where there were problem,  some voters left, saying they would come back later.

In several polling centres in Taloqan city there were issues with the biometric system that failed to operate. IEC workers spent more than five minutes on each voter, and it took a long time for the queue controllers to find a voter name on the voter registration list. In few cases AAN noticed, voters had to go from one polling station to the other to find their names.

In Kart-e Bokhdi area of Mazar, an observer told AAN that the polling centre in the area was really crowded and that it had run out of ballot papers. An observer told AAN that many centres had received the wrong voter lists, and that the voters were sent off to wander “from centre to centre” in search of their name.

In Mazar-e Sharif, AAN observed that some voters took photos of the ballot paper while voting. They explained that they have sold their votes and they take photos for proof.

Afghan journalist Ahmad Wali Sarhadi reported via social media from Kharjui, Zabul, that a long line of voters was still standing in the polling station by noon and waiting for the biometric devices to work. In one Kabul polling centre visited by AAN staff, the whole voting process was taking between three and five minutes.

Female voters queue in Sharana, provincial capital of Paktika. Photo: Fazal Muzhary

Security incidents round the country

The most casualties by far were reported from Kunduz. According to an AAN colleague observing the region from Takhar, who spoke to journalists in Kunduz, around 30 people – civilians and members of the security forces – were wounded in the morning as a result of rocket and mortar fire and scattered clashes ongoing in some parts of the city, outside the city centre. According to election observers who spoke to AAN, two mortar rounds hit polling centres in the centre of Kunduz. According to officials from the Kunduz Provincial Hospital, the casualty figures later rose to three killed – among them two IEC staff who were killed at Charkhab secondary school east of the city centre – and 39 others injured.

The shelling in Kunduz had decreased by 11am, as more security forces came in and candidates tried to persuade people to come out and vote, offering transportation. Even so, many people were reported still to be too scared to vote. The Kunduz-Takhar highway remained blocked.

In Kabul, at least 30 people have been taken to a trauma hospital run by the Italian NGO Emergency, including a dead child, AFP reported. Afghan health officials said, there were at least three dead and over 30 wounded,

There were also reports of Taleban rockets fired on Lashkargah (Helmand). By noon, one person was reported injured – in Paktia (more on which below). Explosive devices were used mainly in Kabul, designed, it seems more to scare voters from voting, not to harm then.

The Afghan media has (so far) been notably quiet about security incidents. AAN heard from reliable sources working with the media that there was a tacit agreement between some key media outlets not to report security incidents until noon.


The capital had experienced ten small explosions by 12:30pm and one rocket, which landed in the Gulayi neighbourhood of Khairkhana in the city’s north. The first explosions occurred in the south-eastern area of Arzan Qemat (PD 12) in front of a high school polling centre and in Bibi Sara high school polling centre (PD 15). Two mines exploded outside Zabihullah Esmati school in Rahman Mena in southeastern Kabul (PD 8). The centre was temporarily evacuated. An explosion in Qala-ye Shahda (PD 6), in front of the Ahmadi mosque also caused the evacuation and closure off a polling centre. No casualties were reported in Kabul.

Voters from southeastern Kabul said there were sufficient police and NDS personnel, while reports from Hazara-dominated areas in the west said police were scarce.


Herat, like other cities, has strict security measures. There has been little traffic on the streets inside the city and the roads leading to it from nearby. The streets leading to the provincial government’s seat are all closed to public traffic.

In the contested districts of Obe and Pashtun Zarghun, voters turned out in the more secure areas. In Obe, a young man accompanying his wife, who is an IEC staff member, reported to AAN that people were voting “in good numbers” in about ten polling centres located in safe areas in the district especially those near the district centre. There were problems, he said, in the three remaining centres in the district. There, the Taleban had distributed night letters threatening all those working for or taking part in the elections, that they would kill them and cut off their fingers. In one of those stations, no one had turned up to vote this morning. Security forces had been deployed in order to make voting possible later in the day.

An IEC staff member in Pashtun Zarghun district reported that “Queues have formed for men and women, and people are voting. According to his estimation, there would  be a good turnout, with polling centres opened in about 70 per cent of the district. In the remaining 30 per cent, polling centres were closed and not expected to open. (It was unclear whether these were among the 2,292 the IEC said it would not be able to open or additional ones.)

Takhar and Kunduz

Polling centres are operating normally and groups of people are still arriving from villages to the nearest centre to vote. They were less crowded this afternoon. The polling in Takhar has been interesting because it seems more women are turning out to vote than men. The IEC workers and voters are now better familiar with the biometric verification devices and are quicker using them. In two PC, AAN witnessed it taking three minutes for voters to vote.

The capital Taloqan city is quiet with people making only limited movements. NDS has set up checkpoints at the entrances to the city. The army are also stationed around the city and the police are active inside and are in charge of security at the polling centres, where they search all voters. The NDS and the army are searching all vehicles wanting to enter the city. The Taleban destroyed a power line at around 11am, as a result of which at least parts of Taloqan city are without electricity. AAN has further confirmed fighting near Dasht-e Qala and Khwaja Bahauddin district centres. It is not clear whether this has stopped voting altogether in those places. The Taloqan-Dasht-e Qala road has also been closed by the fighting.

Kunduz city has no electricity since the Taleban have destroyed an electricity pylon. They have also closed the Takhar-Kunduz highway for the last two days. This, along with the frequent rocket fire and fighting in the morning kept turnout low. More security forces were being deployed and candidates were sending vehicles to take voters to the polling centres, so the turnout was slowly increasing.

Paktia and Paktika

A small explosive device was planted in Tera High School, just outside Gardez, the capital of Paktia early this morning, but it was defused. In the city, there was a good turnout.  In Zurmat district, a Taleban stronghold, only three polling centres have opened in the immediate district centre, in the Muqarabkhel and Batur neighbourhoods and in Zurmat Lycee. All other centres are closed and armed Taleban have been standing in front of them, so that election materials cannot be transferred. A rocket landed at Tamir, the district centre, and wounded one person.

In Paktika, Taleban fighters have fired rockets at the Jehad Mena area, which is about 15 kilometres to the north of Sharana city, as well as at locations in Urgun, Sarhauza, Matakhan and Sarobi districts. No casualties have been reported. According to deputy police chief Hamidullah Omarkhel, 2,000 security forces have been deployed to provide security for the election. They do not allow anyone riding motorbikes into the city, but they do allow cars.

Wardak and Logar

In Maidan-Wardak province, there was no voting in the Sayyedabad and Sheikhabad district centres. Near Sayyedabad, in Tangi-ye Duab, the Taleban have set up a checkpost and are not allowing people into the bazaar to vote. In Sheikhabad, after a local candidate visited the day before the elections, Taleban fighters appeared and started firing into the air. This morning, all the shops were closed, the bazaar was empty and there was no voting. The two IEC staff members and two policemen who turned up this morning also left. There is also no voting in Chak district, after the Taleban issued warnings to the population.

A similar situation was reported from local sources from Muhammad Agha in Logar province. There, also, the Taleban are not allowing anyone into the bazaar and no voting is taking place. Local people sent photos of Taleban in camouflage uniforms on motor bikes in the area. In the high school of Zahedabad village, near Muhammad Agha, voters turned up to cast their ballots at 9.30am, but there were no IEC staff, no ballot papers, no voter lists or biometric devices. The voters left again.


Local sources in Tala wa Barfak district of Baghlan told AAN that no polling stations were open and ballot boxes instead had been delivered to the guest house of one of the candidates, a sitting MP.

IEC information policy

Apart from two press conferences, the IEC has distributed information only very sparsely. It has so far not published any updates on their English website and the Dari website just has a summary of one of the press conferences. Candidates and voters have urged the IEC over social media to show up at problematic sites. The latest news item on its website is dated 26 Mizan (18 October 2018), its last tweet, made this morning, at the scheduled time of opening, is now over eight hours old.

Edited by Kate Clark and Martine van Bijlert


(1) More detail on the IEC decisions to address arising problems:

Since voting started this morning the IEC has issued two decisions to manage the fallout from issues that have plagued some polling centres but not others: late openings and problems with the voter lists and biometric devices. In decision 88- 1397 the IEC stated that in polling stations where the voter list is unavailable or where parts are missing, the provincial offices should print and send the lists. If this is not possible, voting should be done based on voter confirmation stickers [whoever has tazkera labelled with a registration stickers tied to the same polling centres should be allowed to vote] and a manual voter list be made.

In decision 89- 1397 the IEC ordered that in polling stations where biometric machines failed to work or were not delivered, technical options [not clear what it means] should be used to solve the problem. If the problem remains [unresolved], contingency machines or the machines belonging to the closed polling centres should be used. If the problem still remains [unresolved], the voting should continue based on the voter list and people should be allowed to vote. At the end, the polling station chairperson and monitors should log the issue in the journal and get the approval of the agents and observers. 

It further decided that in polling stations where employees arrived late (the IEC said that some of the teachers working as IEC staff had been unable to report on time due to security problems) or election materials arrived late, voting would be extended (the written statement said 6pm, while the IEC chairperson during the press conference said that it should be extended until 8 pm] and the voting should continue until [all]the voters who are in queue by that time have voted. Fort he the polling centres that were not opened until 1 pm, the elections will be held tomorrow. 

(2) The IEC polling and vote counting procedure says that “the polling station chairperson shall announce the opening of the polling station for voting at 7am in the presence of agents and observers.”

(3) On the subject of unavailability of voter lists, the IEC decided that:

In polling stations where the voter list is not available at all or some letters [of the names] are missing, the voter list should be printed by the provincial offices and sent to the polling centres that are close to the provincial offices, and in other [faraway] polling centres, voting should be conducted based on the voter confirmation stickers [whoever has tazkera labelled with election stickers tied to the same polling centres be allowed to vote] and a manual voter list be made for them in accordance with the voter list sample [similar to the printed and real voter list] and approved by the chairperson and monitors of the polling station. [In this case], If the list of the excluded [those who had registered to vote but were later excluded from the voter list by the IEC] is available in the polling stations, the voters who are on this list cannot vote.

The text was unclear and AAN has put explanations in brackets; IEC deputy spokesperson Kobra Rezayi has confirmed our understanding.

(4) A polling centre consists of least two polling stations, one for female and one for male voters.




Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Afghanistan Elections Conundrum (21): Biometric verification likely to spawn host of new problems

The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) - Fri, 19/10/2018 - 17:00

Tomorrow’s parliamentary vote will use biometric voter verification machines, the first time ever in an Afghan election. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has said the use of these machines in every polling station will boost transparency and deter fraud. Yet questions abound. The decision was made at the last minute and because of political pressure. There are concerns that the system can trace fraud, but not prevent it, and that its linking of (encrypted) voter data to ballot papers raises questions about the secrecy of the vote. The IEC, in the meantime, seems mainly to have been preoccupied with the logistical task of actually receiving and shipping the devices to the provinces. On the eve of the election, AAN’s Ali Yawar Adili, lays out the new procedures and delves into the host of new problems which the new system could spawn (with input from Martine van Bijlert).

AAN has put together a dossier of dispatches related to the coming elections, looking at preparations and political manoeuvring. Each dispatch in the Election Conundrum series will be added to it.

What exactly did the IEC decide? A last-minute compromise

In a last-minute decision, only about one month before the election, the IEC decided to procure, ship and distribute 22,000 biometric devices to verify the identity of voters at polling stations on election day. In its official decision of 3 October 2018, the IEC said the last-minute change was made “to ensure more transparency, mitigate fraud and gain public confidence in the electoral process.” This was also reflected in its outreach video released on its Facebook page on 14 October 2018, only six days before the poll. Observers criticised the decision as hasty. Yusuf Rashid of Free and Fair Elections Afghanistan (FEFA) told AAN on 16 October 2018 that such a last-minute decision could have been justified if there had been previous technological infrastructure investment, expertise, and experience, all of which were absent. He called the decision unprofessional: “The IEC started from zero andon a much too short notice.”

However, the IEC had come under increasing pressure as it became clear that its new voter registration drive, that was implemented earlier this year (see here), had not resulted in a clean database of voters. A large number of political parties joined forces and – impractically – called for a completely new biometric voter registration. The current decision appeased the demands of the political parties, but has not solved the election’s looming problems to do with

How did the IEC come to its decision? Political party demands

At a conference in Kabul on 24 February 2018, the leaders and officials of 21 political parties and groups gathered to demand a change to the electoral system. (1) At the time, they were not yet calling for biometric voter registration. The IEC rejected their demand and gave a statement that, “Changing the electoral system at this sensitive time would seriously affect the preparations for the upcoming elections, and probably may [sic] result in delaying the elections.” On 25 March 2018, the political parties reiterated their position and threatened to reconsider their cooperation with the IEC if it continued to take “unconsidered stances.” (See AAN’s previous report here)

On 14 July 2018, the leaders of the parties met again. (2) This time they called on the government and the IEC to suspend voter registration and use biometric technology to start voter registration anew, calling the manual voter registration “flawed and fraudulent” (see media reports here  and here). The voter registration was launched on 14 April and ended on 6 July. (For details about its procedures, see AAN’s previous reporting here and here). The IEC was at the stage of verifying the registration at IEC headquarters when the parties made their call to suspend the whole process.

A joint committee was established on the president’s orders, to discuss the political parties’ demands; it consisted of representatives of the political parties, the government and the IEC, led by second Vice-President Sarwar Danesh. During one of the technical meetings, on 1 August 2018, a German company called Dermalog gave a presentation on the use of ‘biometric technology’. This was less than three months before the poll. (3) In the committee’s last of five meetings, on 5 August 2018, according to Danesh’s media office, the committee concluded that the government “had stressed the use of biometric technology in elections more than any other organisation in the past. Now if the IEC agrees, the government does not have any problem [with it] and also calls on the IEC to pave the way to use this technology in the [next] presidential election.” (emphasis added) See also here) (4)

On 8 August 2018, the IEC reiterated this same conclusion, saying that since only around 70 days were left before the election, it was no longer possible to procure and implement the necessary technology and promised  to use technology in the presidential elections scheduled for 20 April 2019, to ensure more transparency.

However, the opposition did not accept the IEC’s reasoning and threatened to reject the results of an election which used the manual voter registration and in the absence of any change to the electoral system (see this Khabarnama report) quoting Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi, head of the New National Front of Afghanistan, who satirically likened the manual registration system to “Mullah Nasruddin’s grave which had doors, but lacked three walls”. They reached  out to more political groupings and on 8 August 2018 leaders and officials of the Grand National Coalition (5), the Council for Protection and Stability of Afghanistan (see the council’s background here) and independent figures issued a joint statement (see here and here) giving the government and the IEC a two-week ultimatum to (a) announce biometric voter registration for both the parliamentary and presidential elections; (b) change the electoral system to a multidimensional representation (MDR) system (background here); and (c) pave the way for  political parties and civil society organisations to effectively monitor all electoral processes. After the two weeks passed without any result, the parties announced the launch of a “civil disobedience campaign” (media report here).

In mid-August 2018, President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree tasking the Central Statistics Office (CSO) with buying “modern technology” to verify the exact number of voters (media report here). It was unclear at the time what the decree referred to and whether this would include a biometric identification system. On 29 August, during a demonstration in Kabul, the political parties said they would continue their protests until their demands were met (media report here and here).

On 1 September 2018, the Grand National Coalition increased the pressure as it displayed to the media what it said were “thousands” of fake tazkeras with voter registration confirmation stickers. The tazkeras had photos of well-known government officials, MPs and deceased people, and included multiple documents with the same pictures on them. The coalition said it had collected the fake documents with the help of IEC employees (although it was not clear how the IEC employees themselves had obtained them).The Afghanistan Central Civil Registration Authority (ACCRA) responded by saying that the tazkeras the Grand National Coalition had displayed had no legal validity and called on the security and judicial agencies to investigate how the coalition had got hold of them and identify the perpetrators of the forgery. A day later, on 2 September 2018, the IEC tried to reassure the public that it had “created a database in which all voter registration books that had been sent to polling centres in the provinces, districts and villages are recorded and can be tracked.” (6) The IEC further accused the Grand National Coalition of trying to sabotage the national election process and of disturbing public opinion.

This did not end the commotion. On 3 September, BBC Persian claimed it had been able to verify that several of the fake tazkeras and stickers displayed by the Grand National Coalition had been entered into the IEC’s database. According to the BBC report, it had taken 50 fake tazkera and 35 election stickers to the IEC where they were checked against the database in the presence of IEC commissioner Mazallah Dawlati and head of the IEC’s technology department Ibrahim Sadat. All five tazkeras that were checked were found in the system. In one case, the report said, three fake tazkeras had been made for one individual, with all details recorded in the system. The IEC’s Sadat was quoted as saying that there might be tens of thousands of such tazkeras and they may have been entered into the IEC database. On 4 September, President Ghani appointed a “competent commission” led by the Attorney General’s Office to investigate fraud in the distribution of tazkeras.

On 15 September 2018, supporters of the Grand National Coalition forcibly closed the IEC offices in three ‘heavyweight’ provinces: Herat, Balkh and Kandahar (media reports here and here). The Herat office was re-opened by force on the same day, on the order of Herat’s provincial police chief General Aminullah Amarkhel. The police dispersed the protestors by firing shots in the air, and rolled up their protest tent, injuring and arresting some people in the process (see AAN’s previous reporting from Herat here). Senior deputy interior minister for security Akhtar Muhammad Ibrahimi told the media on 15 September that he had ordered security forces in the provinces to not allow any person or group to close provincial offices, telling them they could “use force if necessary.”  On 17 September 2018, however, the coalition’s supporters proceeded to shut down the IEC office in Nangrahar (media report here). All this happened at a very crucial time, when the IEC offices had to be in full swing in order to prepare for the looming elections.

On 19 September 2018, the IEC made its first move towards public acceptance of the political parties’ demands when IEC chairman Abdul Badi Sayyad told a press conference: “We are currently in contact with different companies for the biometric registration of voters on the parliamentary election day.” Sayyad added that their only concern was that the election process should continue to be controlled by the IEC (media report here) – seemingly a reference to concerns that they might be forced to outsource a key component of the vote to other government institutions or private companies. On 22 September, less than a month before the poll, IEC spokesman Hafizullah Hashemi told the media that the IEC’s assessment of one biometric system on 20 October had been completed “by up to 70 per cent, but there are still questions. We hope we can find answers for them.” He also hinted that Dermalog would be the company providing the technology as he said that a German company had presented its proposals for a biometric system and that discussion on this was ongoing.

On 24 September 2018, the Grand National Coalition announced that two of their major demands had been accepted and that they had allowed the reopening of the IEC provincial offices they had closed down. Muhammad Nateqi of the of the Grand Coalition told AAN that although biometric voter verification on election day had not been their first option, the parties had “accepted it out of necessity.”

What did the IEC do after it decided to go biometric?

On 27 September 2018, the IEC announced that 4,000 sets of biometric devices had arrived in Kabul and 18,000 other sets would be delivered shortly – this happened on 5 or 6 October 2018 (see here. All of this happened while, as reported by the president’s office,  the contract was only approved four days later, on 1 October. On 10 October 2018, IEC spokesman Hafizullah Hashemi announced that 10,000 – almost half – of the biometric devices had been charged, updated with local languages and packaged. (7)

IEC chair Gula Jan Abdul Badi Sayyad told a number of political parties on 14 October 2018, less than one week before the poll, that all the biometric devices had been sent to 33 provinces (Ghazni is not holding parliamentary elections) after having been “received and activated.” He also said the company had provided two servers to the IEC, which would be “installed and activated by technical personnel of the company in the next few days.” This was echoed by IEC spokesman Hafizullah Hashemi who told a press conference on the same day that the devices had been delivered to the 33 provinces and their transportation to the districts would be completed by the end of the week.

In the meantime, on 3 October 2018, the IEC signed its official decision to use biometric voter verification. Itapproved an annex to the polling and vote-counting procedures, on how to use the devices, on 7 October 2018 – less than two weeks before election day.

What will the biometric machines do?

The biometric machines do not replace the old, manual voter registration or the manual voting system. Instead, they represent an attempt to introduce an additional anti-fraud measure, following questions about the integrity of manual voter registration, and the pressure from political parties. At the polling station, a voter’s biometric data is registered before he or she casts their vote. The data is then entered both into a central database and printed and attached – in encrypted form – to the ballot paper. According to the IEC, this will enable them to identify those who vote more than once, and to invalidate duplicate votes and ballots that are without biometric verification sticker or that have fraudulent voter details.

According to the IEC’s new procedures (the main parts of which have been reproduced in the annex to this dispatch, below), the biometric voter verification machines are configured to capture the following data:

  • Fingerprints of both the right and left index fingers (90 per cent of the finger should be placed on the machine to minimise error; if a voter does not have an index finger, the fingerprint of the thumb of the same hand will be captured; if the voter does not have a thumb either, the fingerprint of any other finger of the same hand will be captured; if a voter does not have any fingers, a photo is mandatory, regardless of whether the voter is male or female);
  • Photo of the voter’s face with a voting screen in the background to show that it was taken at a polling station – optional for women (8);
  • Photo of the voter’s tazkera and the voter registration confirmation sticker that was fixed on the voter’s tazkera during the latest round of voter registration;
  • A printed QR code sticker that includes the polling centre code, the date of voting, the time of voting, a unique code and an encrypted QR image (see the IEC’s 3 October decision for more details.

The data capture will be carried out by the biometric registration officer (previously the queue controller) of the polling station, who will then guide the voter to the ballot paper issuer. The ballot paper issuer will be responsible for:

  • Preparing a ballot paper for the voter
  • Inking the index finger of the voter
  • Collecting the biometric certificate (QR sticker) from the printer
  • Attaching the biometric certificate (QR sticker) on the top left side of the stamp on the back of the ballot paper.
  • Giving the ballot paper to the voter and guiding him/her to the voting booth.

According to the IEC, ballot papers that do not have a QR sticker will be invalidated, as will multiple votes (that have been cast under the same identity). Both the IEC procedures and the publicity campaign say that only the first of any multiple votes will be valid. The other duplicate votes will be invalidated and the violators “will be prosecuted.” But there are doubts as to whether the IEC will be able or willing to implement this stringently, particularly if irregularities are widespread, as was the case in previous elections.

What if the biometric machines are not used or not used properly?

First, there is the concern over what happens if machines are not delivered to the polling stations or if IEC employees fail to operate them properly, or at all. On 13 October, a week before the election, IEC deputy spokesman Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi told Hasht-e Sobh that the IEC would train 125,000 employees on how to use the system by Wednesday 17 October. Experts, however, doubt the quality of the training and whether all employees will have indeed learned how to operate the machines in such a short period of time. Added to this is the concern that the machines have not gone through proper field testing, a common necessary practice when preparing to use new technology in elections.

The rules also appear to have been made on the fly, with still some room for ‘discretion’. On 7 October 2018, IEC spokesman Hashemi said that the IEC had decided to accept only the votes of the people registered on biometric devices, but that the IEC had not yet decided what to do if biometric devices were not delivered to all polling stations on time, or if the devices became dysfunctional. “If any problem happens with the transportation [of the devices] or any other problem arises,” said Hashemi, “the commission will make a decision on the day.”

The IEC’s annex on the voting and counting procedures says that:

The use of biometric machine is mandatory at each polling station. If the biometric machine in a polling station stops functioning for any reason or has not been delivered to a polling station due to problems, the contingency biometric machines or biometric machines of another polling station shall be used.

However, it does not state what should be done if no functioning machine can be found, or what the IEC will do with the voting data if IEC staff do not (properly) use the machines.

Although the IEC has stated that it will invalidate all ballots that do not carry a proper QR sticker, it may find this difficult to uphold if this affects large numbers of polling stations or certain areas more than others. In past elections, safeguards and fraud triggers were often abandoned when it turned out that large portions of the polling station staff – intentionally or unintentionally – had not followed procedures. As one international expert highlighted in a conversation with AAN, all these questions mean that the IEC has “stored up many difficult decisions.”

Moreover, it turns out that the machines can be deliberately misused. On 4 October 2018, Tolo TV reported that the head of the CSO had called the devices that were just coming into the country “flawed,” as it turned out they could record duplicate voters without alerting anyone. CSO head Ahmad Jawid Rasuli said that if a voter registered on one device twice, it would show that he or she had already voted, but if that voter went to another polling station, they would be able to vote there. He also said that it would only be possible to detect the duplicate or multiple votes only after the votes had been counted and that it would be up to the IEC officials whether they discarded the duplicate votes or added them to the total.

Muhammad Nateqi, a member of the Grand National Coalition, told AAN on 16 October that when they tested the device at the IEC, they found that voters could vote more than 45 times by playing around with their fingerprints, registering more than once by using different fingers each time. He said thatthe machine still printed the QR stickers, as if the identification had been valid. (9)

In response to these issues, the political parties raised their concerns on 6 October 2018, They demanded that (a) the biometric technology should be used online wherever there is internet, as offline use could lead to a huge wave of duplicate and invalid votes which would cause a lot of problems when they have to be cleared after the data is loaded onto the central server; (b) biometric verification should be used countrywide and that from polling stations where the biometric fingerprint was not carried out, the votes should be invalidated; (c) political parties and civil society organisations should be allowed to fully observe the central database to ensure that the separation of valid votes from duplicate ones was not manipulated and that there should be a separate audit of the ballot boxes in which there were duplicate votes and the audit of the boxes in which the number of ballots differed from the biometric statistics; (d) the fingerprint of two index fingers and the photo of the voter and their tazkera should be mandatory; (e) because the manual voter registration with its stickers was plagued by fraud and a large number of people had not been able to register, every eligible Afghan should have the right to vote at any polling stations by providing an identification document on polling day.

Some of their demands appear to be IEC policy, although it is not clear to what extent they will be upheld, while others – in particular the wish that all Afghans regardless of their registration status should be allowed to vote – do not seem to have been accepted. There is however still a considerable lack of clarity, as the rules were hastily made while the IEC scrambled to make this happen in time.

Who is in charge of the biometric system?

There has also been a lack of clarity, and some concerns, over who would be in charge of the implementation of the system and the management of the data. Yusuf Rashid of FEFA wondered whether the IEC would undertake the management of the biometric or if it was some special company. If a special company had the responsibility for the biometric voter verification on the election day, he said, the political and legal credibility of the company should be carefully reviewed. Muhammad Nateqi of the Grand National Coalition raised the question of whether the IEC would guarantee that the gathered data would not be handed over to any group or agency and said it had to specify where the final data would be collected and kept.

On 27 September, Ahmad Jawid Rasuli, the head of the CSO, reiterated that the biometric technology belonged to the IEC and that no other agencies, including the CSO, could access its data. He told the media that “No agency has access to the [biometric] system. We alone had the responsibility to provide it.” On the same day, IEC officials stressed that the IEC itself had “collected all equipment directly from the airport, so no other organization could meddle in the process” and that it would be the IEC that would employ the biometric operators on election day.

However, the management of the system is obviously more than just the physical custody of the devices. AAN’s conversations with both national and international sources have, for instance, shown that the CSO has been the main agency in charge of the procurement and has been most closely aware of the details. This was illustrated when, during a joint meeting of the IEC, CSO, civil society organisations and donors on 26 September 2018, the IEC commissioners asked the head of the CSOto provide information on how the system would be used on election day.

IEC officials have insisted that the biometric devices are secure and that no one will be able to access the data even if they are stolen. This was said in response to concerns that strongmen or local commanders could take them and meddle with the data. (Media report here). However, since the details of the contract are not known and it was not the IEC that determined the specifications of the biometric solutions or carried out the procurement, there is a question as to who controls the coding and programming of the machines and the servers. AAN’s conversations show that Dermalog’s engineers and technicians have been at the IEC in Kabul to assist in setting up the server. However, they will apparently not be in the country on election day, in a bid to dispel concerns about the ownership of the system. This could be problematic, if problems arise.

There have also been questions about the quality of the devices and the process of procurement. On 11 October 2018, Tolonews reported that the devices that had been delivered differed from the samples that had been shown to the IEC by the government before it signed the contract with Dermalog. For instance, these biometric devices, Tolo said, do not bear Dermalog’s logo and the power bank and chargers are “made in China.” This has led to doubts as to the quality and specification of the delivered devices.

The contract that was signed with Dermalog has, moreover, not been made public and there is no clarity about the way the procurement was done. However, it appears to have been single-source and without a regular tender procedure. This is allowed only under certain conditions. (10) A National Procurement Authority press release on 16 October 2018 called it a “government to government (G2G) contract” with both the German company and the German government assuring the standardisation of the devices and systems. German embassy officials in Kabul have, however, told AAN that Berlin was not in the deal and that the biometric machines were not part of their government’s official assistance to the Afghan government.(11) Other donor sources also told AAN that the money for the devices had not been taken from the funds they contributed for the elections through UNDP. It seems that the procurement was financed from the government’s own budget. (12)

A whole host of new concerns

In an attempt to address rising concerns over a faulty registration process, the IEC has introduced a new anti-fraud system that has a host of concerns of its own. So far, nobody has had the time – or the information – to fully assess or prepare for the possible problems this might cause.

First, there is the concern over what will happen if the machines are not delivered to the polling centres, if they are delivered but not used, and if they are not used properly. The IEC says they will invalidate all ballots without the required QR sticker, but they may be forced to rethink this if the number of invalidations becomes very high.

Second, there is a continuing concern over multiple voting, as several tests have shown that devices will accept registrations that have already been made on other machines and duplicate registrations by those playing around with fingerprints and photographs to get multiple QR stickers. It is not clear how strong the capacity of the servers is to recognise such duplications. Moreover, there seems to be a fair amount of discretion where the IEC can decide how stringently they want to track and address the irregularities that the system could find.

Third, there is concern about the lack of clarity regarding what will happen to the data after the elections. It is also not clear whether the data can or will be used to clean up the voter list ahead of the presidential election, slated to be held on 20 April 2019.

Fourth, there are concerns around who has control over and access to the system and its data. Since the details of the contract are not known and it was not the IEC that carried out the procurement, there is a question about who controls the coding and programming of the machines, as well as the servers. The last-minute decision to change the procedures, against the IEC’s wishes, appears to have further undermined the IEC’s independence and its control over the electoral processes and materials used for the elections. There is moreover a complete lack of clarity on how immune – or not – the system is to hacking, especially given that this has become a growing reality and concern, globally.

Fifth,the constitution (as well as the electoral law) stresses that elections, voting and ballot should be “free, general, secret and direct.” Given the fact that a sticker with – albeit encrypted – voter data will be fixed to each ballot paper, the secrecy of the vote appears to be under question. This is especially the case as the QR image can be read with the right software. AAN’s conversations with different interlocutors within the international community show that this concern has still not been resolved.

Finally, the last-minute decision to use biometric verification has led to a fair amount of ambiguity which could easily be – and, on past record usually is – exploited. It is also debatable whether the last-minute changes were legal given the fact that article 19 of the electoral law stipulates that the IEC cannot amend the laws and procedures during the electoral process.

The biometric machines are intended to mitigate fraud, but they have changed the rules of the game at the last-minute, complicated the voting procedure and added major concerns.



(1) These are the 21 parties that first coalesced around these demands in February 2018. Since then, they claim that the number has increased up to 35 (see here).

  • [Hezb-e] Eqtedar-e Melli
  • Afghan Mellat
  • [Hezb-e] Paiwand-e Melli
  • Jabha-ye Nawin-e Melli Afghanistan
  • Jabha-ye Nejat-e Melli Afghanistan
  • Jamiat-e Islami Afghanistan
  • Jombesh-e Melli Islami Afghanistan
  • Herasat-e Islami Afghanistan [previously known as Hezb-e Wahdat-e Melli Islami-ye Afghanistan]
  • Harakat-e Islami Afghanistan
  • Harakat-e Islami-ye Mutahed Afghanistan
  • Harakat-e Enqelab-e Islami Mardom-e Afghanistan
  • Hezb-e Islami Afghanistan [both Hekmatyar and Arghanidwal factions]
  • Hezb-e Islami-ye Mutahed Afghanistan
  • Hezb-e Etedal-e Afghanistan
  • [Hezb-e] Haq wa Adalat
  • Rawand-e Hefazat az Arzeshha-ye Jihad wa Muqawamat
  • Hezb-e Qeyam-e Melli Afghanistan
  • Mahaz-e Melli Islami Afghanistan
  • Nahzat-e Hambastagi-ye Melli Afghanistan
  • [Hezb-e] Wahdat-e Islami Afghanistan
  • [Hezb-e] Wahdat-e Islami Mardom-e Afghanistan

(2) Those attending the meeting were: Hezb-e Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; Jamiat-e Islami leader and foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani; Hezb-e Islami Wahdat-e Mardom leader and deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqeq; son of Jombesh-e Melli leader and first Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum, Bator Dostum; representative of former President Hamed Karzai, Zerar Ahmad Moqbel; member of Council for Protection and Stability Yunus Qani; leader of Hezb-e Mahaz-e Melli Sayyed Hamed Gilani, and head of New National Front of Afghanistan Anwar-ul Haq Ahadi. (see here.)

(3) Sayyed Mosavi, the chief executive officer of MyICT, a local partner of Dermalog, told AAN on 17 October that Dermalog and MyICT had been approached by “friends in the government, political parties and the IEC” in July 2018 to offer a biometric solution, since they had also submitted a proposal for hybrid technology when the government had earlier explored the use of full biometric technology (for details on the earlier decision to implement “plan B” – manual instead of biometric voter registration – see AAN’s previous reporting here). Mosavi said that they had, in the end, not participated in the earlier – biometric registration and polling – bid “since the IEC had wanted to purchase only the hardware, not the solutions. It simply wanted to buy 8,000 devices, whereas the trump card in these devices is the solution that provides the possibility of de-duplication.” A similar concern was communicated by Smartmatic, a company that had also been an early contender to provide an “integrated technology-based solution proposal” to address electoral fraud. In a 5 September 2018 letter to the IEC, which AAN has seen, Smartmatic wrote that it would not participate in the tender as “the way it was structured exposed the automation project to a high risk of implementation failure” since it did not include essential implementation services, but simply involved the purchase of “off the shelf hardware.” A similar case – hardware without proper fraud prevention and de-duplication solutions – could be made for the current approach that has been chosen.

(4) With respect to the parties’ demand to change the voting system from SNTV to MDR, the vice-president’s media office reported that the committee had concluded that this proposal “in addition to the time constraints, has its own complexity and thus, requires a broad national debate. Even if this proposal could be passed through a presidential legislative decree, it might still be rejected by the parliament. Therefore, the best way is that the [next] Afghan parliament [should] decide about changing the electoral system.”

(5) The Grand National Coalition was launched on 26 July (media report here). It is an expansion of the proto ‘Ankara coalition’ that was formed in June 2017 (AAN background here) to include the New National Front (AAN background here), Mehwar-e Mardom (AAN background here) and influential figures from the Greater Kandahar Unity and Coordination Movement and the Eastern Provinces Coordination Council (AAN background here).

(6) The statement saidthe IEC was able to establish which registration books belonged to which polling centre, who had been responsible for transporting, distributing and using them and who had done the registration in each polling centre. The IEC also said that, based on reports it had received and using its tracking system, it had found that 60 registration books had gone missing or had been burned. The books had been tracked and invalidated and would not be included in the voter list.

(7) Deputy IEC spokesperson Kobra Rezayi told AAN on 17 October that the updates they made to the settings includedchanging the operating language into Dari and Pashto, and entering the province, district, polling centre and polling station (male or female). According to the IEC procedure, however, these are entries that need to be made at the polling stations on election day:

The IEC procedure tasks the queue controller with making the following entries after switching on the machine at the polling stations on elections day:

  • Province
  • District
  • Polling centre code
  • Polling station code
  • After switching on the biometric machine, the biometric registration officer should go to the statistics option and show the agents and observers that no data has been recorded.

At the end of the vote, the biometric registration officer will show the agents and observers how many voters have been recorded.

(8) On 3 October 2018, the IEC, in decision number 74-1397, determined that the taking of facial photographs of women would be optional. Three IEC members – deputy for operations Wasima Badghisi and commissioners Maliha Hassan and Mazallah Dawlati – disagreed with this decision.

(9) Mosavi of the MyICT told AAN that they had been told to offer a solution that was “cheap, simple and understandable to the public. It is a portable device. If the procedures are implemented and two index fingers are fingerprinted, it can prevent duplicate votes. The de-duplication can happen in two phases. The preliminary de-duplication can be performed by the devices at the polling stations, as it will show when the same fingers are entered [at that station]. After that, when the devices are retrieved and all data loaded into the server, the server can de-duplicate two similar fingers. The full de-duplication can be done by the server, but not on the elections day.” He also said that “a solution able to capture all ten fingers, iris and face would have been better, but we were told that due to limited budget and time, we should come up with a solution that could prevent ‘buji buji-level’ fraud [ie fraud on the level of gunnysack’, mass fraud, not just the odd individual].” He concurred with Nateqi, however, that “one person could deliver 35 to 45 patterns of fingerprints.” There is also the concern that the IEC’s decision not to photograph women will pave the way for fraudulent voting.

(10) According to rule 22 of the general procurement rules, such single-source procurement may only be used when: 1) a particular potential bidder has exclusive rights in respect to the provision of goods, works and services or the procurement can only be conducted from single source; 2) there is an emergency need for the goods, works or services, involving an imminent threat to public health, welfare or safety, or an imminent threat of damage to property, and engaging in open tendering proceedings or other procurement methods would be impracticable or; 3) where the estimated value of the procurement does not exceed 5,000 Afghanis (around 70 USD). (See the Dari version of the rules of procedure here);  see also previous AAN reporting about a similar procurement by the IEC of tablets used for polling centre assessment here.

The political parties in their 6 October statement called on the government to share the contract with the people of Afghanistan so they could know the details.

(11) The NPA statement said that the contract “with the largest German company by the name of Dermalog Identification System” had been entered into “in collaboration with [CSO] … through a government to government (G2G) contract.” It further said that the total cost of “22,000 central biometric devices and systems including: printers, batteries, software, electoral stickers etc. is more than 18 million EUR paid by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. … Moreover; the contract will control and support [sic] by the Ministry of Finance (BUNDESDRUCKERE) of Germany.”

The German government is an indirect minority stakeholder in Dermalog, as a state-run printing company called Bundesrucherei has a 20 per cent share. German embassy officials told AAN that the company has knowledge and experience, designed the devices and the software itself and delivered the machines with “speed on a very short notice,” but that it might have partners in other countries. This was in response to the media reports that the delivered devices had been made in China.


Annex English translation of new procedures on using biometric machines

This is an English translation of an annex to the polling and vote counting procedure about using biometric machines. AAN obtained the original Dari version on 14 October from the head of the IEC legal department, Jafar Nuri. In this version, the queue controller of a polling station is tasked with capturing the biometric data, while in an earlier version that AAN had obtained, the biometric data capturing was assigned to the identification officer. In this version, the duties of queue controller have been given to the polling station chairperson. An international who was privy to the IEC internal discussion told AAN that that the IEC had been struggling to decide who should do the biometric data capturing. AAN is not sure if this is the final version to be applied tomorrow, 18 October. (In this translation, AAN excludes the introduction).

Poll opening

  • A voter shall carry his/her citizenship tazkerabearing the voter registration confirmation sticker on the election day.
  • No one has the right to take a photo or video of their own ballot or that of any other person. In order to adhere to the principle of the secrecy of the ballot and prevent its violation, carrying any photographic or video equipment behind the voting booth is prohibited.

(3)   The body searcher is duty-bound to prevent voters from bringing in the above-mentioned equipment.

(4)   The use of biometric machine is mandatory at each polling station. If the biometric machine at a polling station fails to function properly for any reason or has not been delivered due to problems, the contingency biometric machines or the biometric machines of another polling station shall be used.

The Biometric machine

The biometric machine to be used in the upcoming elections is an electronic device in which multiple types of data applications can be installed.


How to use the biometric machines:

Biometric registration will be conducted at exactly the third phase of the polling process by the biometric registration staff (who had been queue controller before):

  1. The biometric registration officer shall ensure that the biometric machine has been set in a way that the exact date and time of recording voter information into the biometric machine is set and [then] select the following options after switching on the biometric machine:
  • Province
  • District
  • Polling center code
  • Polling station code
  • After switching on the biometric machine, the biometric registration officer should go to the statistics option and assure the agents and observers that there is no [pre-]recorded data on it.
  • At the end of the process, [the biometric registration officer] shall show the agents and observers how many voters have been recorded.

How to use the biometric QR of the biometric machines:

Use of printer:

  • The printer shall be used for printing the biometric confirmation [QR code] for each voter. Once the biometric registration phases are completed, a biometric confirmation with an adhesive QR code will be printed for every voter.
  • The biometric QR code certifying the presence of the voter will be printed and fixed onto the rear of the ballot paper to be used by the voter.
  • The biometric confirmation will have a unique serial number for each voter which will show that the voter’s information has been recorded on the biometric machines. [The information] comprises the following information:
    • Polling centre code
    • Date of voting
    • Time of voting
    • Encrypted QR code
  • After the completion of the biometric process, the biometric officer shall press the “print” option to print the biometric confirmation [sticker] using the printer.
  • One biometric confirmation shall be printed for each voter. Re-printing of the biometric confirmation is not allowed.
  • Attaching the biometric confirmation on the back of the ballot paper is mandatory.
  • The first vote cast by those who have voted multiple times shall be valid and their remaining duplicate votes shall be invalidated.
  • Anyone who has voted more than once shallbe identified and introduced to the Complaints Commission to be prosecuted in accordance with the electoral law.


Polling phases

1. The chairperson of the polling station, in addition to the duties specified in the Polling and Counting Procedure, shall also undertake to control the queue at the polling station.

2. The identification officer shall see the voter’s tazkera in accordance with the polling and counting procedure

  • that it bears a voter registration confirmation sticker
  • [he/she should] check the back of the tazkera with a special torch provided to [ensure] there is no sign of a pen whose ink is invisible [has been used].
  • check the name of the voter is on the voters list and if it is on the list, mark it with (√)sign
  • mark the left-hand side of the voter registration confirmation with a (√)sign with a pen whose ink is invisible.
  • guide the voter to biometric registration officer

3. The biometric registration officer (who had previously been the queue controller[in earlier versions of the procedure]) shall ask the eligible voter to:

  • Place the entire index fingers of both hands on the machine, first the index finger of the left hand and then the index finger of the right hand, in such a way that 90 per cent of the finger is placed on the machine to minimise the error.

  • If the index finger of the voter is not available, the thumb of the same hand shall be used.

  • If the thumb is not available, other fingers of the same hand shall be used.
  • If fingers of neither hand are not available, no fingerprint shall be captured, and he/she shall be referred to the next option.
  • After reading the fingerprints on the machine screen, the machine will record them and the biometric registration officer shall click on “next” to prepare the machine for taking facial photo of the voter.
  • The voter’s photo shall be captured in a way that shows the voting booth in the background (the photo shall show that it has been captured at a polling station).
  • After taking the facial photo, [the biometric registration officer] shall again click “next” to complete taking the photos of the tazkera and the voter registration confirmation number.
  • S/he will take photo of the voter’s tazkera vertically.
  • S/he will take a photo of the voter registration confirmation sticker on the back of the tazkera vertically.

Note: If both hands are not available, taking photos of both female and male voters is mandatory.

  • The [biometric registration officer] shall go to the print option and guide the voter to the ballot paper issuer

4. The ballot paper issuer:

  • The ballot paper issuer, in accordance with the polling and counting procedure, shall separate the ballot and show the voter how to fold the ballot
  • Unfold the ballot again and remove the biometric confirmation sticker from the biometric machine printer
  • Attach the sticker on top left side of the stamp on the back of the ballot .


  • check the fingers of both hands of the voter to ensure that his/her fingers have not been inked with indelible ink before
  • Clean the voter’s index finger with a handkerchief
  • shake the ink bottle and then open it
  • then put the index finger of right hands into the indelible ink bottle. The entire finger of the voter should be covered with ink and should touch inside the bottle
  • ask the voter not to clean his/her index finger until the ink dries
  • give the ballot paper to the voter and guide the voter to the polling booth Note: the voter shall use his/her vote behind the voting booth.

5. The Ballot box controller shall

  • guide the voter in casting the ballot in the box
  • tell the voter to take his/her tazkera and not put it inside the box

The photo will be used for facial recognition and the system will be able to identify duplicates based on fingerprint and facial photographs, photos of tazkeras, and photos of the voter registration confirmation sticker

  • Taking photos of females shall be optional (unless they lack fingers).
  • One minute has been considered [sufficient] for each voter [to vote].

Note: biometric machines are configured to work offline

Training of Biometric Staff

  • The polling center managers will have the technical skills.
  • The training process for biometric staff will be conducted using cascade training methodology as follows:
    • The HQ trainers will train the IT staff.
    • The provincial IT staff will train district electoral officers and their deputies.
    • The district electoral officers and their deputies will train the polling centre managers, polling station chairpersons and the identification officers.
    • The polling station chairpersons will train the ballot paper issuers, the ballot box officers and the queue controllers.

Spoiled Ballot Papers

If a ballot paper is spoiled for various reasons as mentioned in the polling and counting procedure, the ballot paper issuer will act as follows:

  • Detach the biometric confirmation sticker from the spoiled ballot paper and re-attach it to the ballot paper to be issued to same voter. On the spoiled ballot paper, on the bottom of the area identified for attaching the biometric confirmation sticker, write “The biometric certificate is attached on a new ballot paper” and the issue shall also be recorded on the journal.

Vote Counting

  • Prior to the commencement of the counting process, the biometric registration officer shall open the statistics option in the biometric machine and show and read the information recorded on it to the agents and observers.
  • Vote-counting shall be conducted in accordance with the relevant polling and counting procedure
  • Pack the machine and place it in the relevant box, put the temper-evident barcode (TEB) of the polling station results on the biometric machine box
  • The ballot papers lacking biometric confirmation stickers will be considered as invalid and counted as invalid votes.

Movement of Biometric Machines

Up to five biometric machines are put into an empty ballot box (without ballot papers) and sent to the provincial offices to be sent on to the districts and to polling centres and stations.

(The number of biometric machines equals the number of polling stations). At the end of the process, the biometric machines shall be put into empty ballot boxes (without ballot papers) again and sealed and along with other sensitive materials handed by the polling station chairperson to the polling centre manager, then to the district electoral officer and then transferred to the provincial office. The seal numbers like other sensitive materials shall be recorded in accordance with polling and counting procedures.






Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Research & technology SMEs win 1st EDA Defence Innovation Prize

EDA News - Fri, 19/10/2018 - 15:40

The European Defence Agency (EDA) today announced the two winners of the first EDA Defence Innovation Prize: AITEX, a Spanish textile research institute, and Clover Technologies, a Spanish company providing advanced technology services for information systems and communications.  The award ceremony will take place in the margins of EDA’s 2018 Annual Conference on 29 November in Brussels. 

The Prize, the first edition of which was launched early this year, rewards companies and research entities which come up with the most innovative ideas for new technologies, products, processes or services applicable in the defence domain. 

A call for applications was issued in February (see related EDA news here) inviting all types of industries and research institutions in Europe (defence and civil/commercial producers, large companies and SMEs, defence-related and civil research communities) to come forward with ground-breaking ideas which, if implemented between now and 2035, would help improve and enhance Europe’s defence capabilities in two specific domains:

  • Autonomous detection, identification and monitoring/sampling/analysis through sensor and platform networking in the area of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) protection technologies and techniques
  • Integration of multi-robot swarming concepts in support of future defence capabilities in the area of Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC).

A total of 24 companies and research institutes from across Europe participated in the contest. A jury thoroughly assessed each of the proposals and reached agreement on the two winners who are awarded €10,000 each. 

The winning ideas

AITEX won in the category ‘Autonomous detection, identification and monitoring through sensor and platform networking in the area of CBRN protection technologies and techniques’ with a smart textile idea: a ‘wearable computing’ system composed of many electronic devices (including sensors able to monitor environmental and personal parameters) fully integrated into textile solutions. For this purpose, it is proposed to develop Electronic Noses (ENs) integrated into textiles based on an array of sensors composed of Graphene Oxide (GO) capable of identifying and quantifying a wide range of chemical warfare agents. The complete system would be printed on a textile substrate obtaining a fully wearable system which has significant advantages compared to traditional rigid and semiportable ENs.

Clover Technologies won the prize in the category ‘Integration of multi-robot swarming concepts in support of future defence capabilities in the area of GNC’ with an idea based on a blockchain-based solution to provide a common platform for swarm nodes with an extra security layer. Swarm robotics is an emerging technology facing many challenges such as computational and storage limitations, heterogeneous communication protocols, information security, etc. The idea put forward by the winner aims at a solution which would facilitates the communication of the swarm robotic nodes within a secure environment that offers integrity, confidentiality and authentication. The projected solution is composed of: - a blockchain platform which allows a secure coordination of a swarm robotic; - a Group Key Distribution Algorithm which allows to manage, in a secure way, the joining/leaving operations within a swarm robotic; - and Java Card technology, which offers a tamper resistant solution to storage and manage the sensitive information in a robot.


AITEX, based in Alcoy (Spain), is a leading Spanish centre of research, innovation and advanced technical services for the textile sector. AITEX is a private non-profit association set up in 1985 as an initiative of the Valencian Regional Government, through the Valencian Institute for Small and Medium Industry (IMPIVA), to make the textile sector more competitive. AITEX’ key activity domains include smart textiles, nanotechnology, materials and sustainability and biotechnology. 

Clover Technologies, based in Leganès/Madrid, is an industrial company providing advanced technology services for information systems and communications. It is also active in other domains such as IT solutions and information security management, ITSEC and Common Criteria consulting and evaluation and Blockchain consulting and development, security assessment and conformance analysis of security standards and protocols, design and development of UAV security solutions, as well as professional promotion, certifications training and awareness activities.


Categories: Defence`s Feeds

S-64 Skycrane heavy-lift helicopter Sling Loads Last Italian Br-1150 Atlantic MPA Fuselage To The Italian Air Force Museum

The Aviationist Blog - Fri, 19/10/2018 - 15:38
An impressive airlift operation to move the fuselage of the Maritime Patrol Aircraft to its final destination. On Oct. 18, the fuselage of the last BR-1150 Atlantic Anti-Submarine and Maritime Patrol Aircraft, MM40118/41-03, eventually reached the Italian Air Force Museum in Vigna di Valle, near Rome. The aircraft, retired on Nov. 22, 2017 with a […]
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Afghanistan Elections Conundrum (20): Women candidates going against the grain

The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) - Fri, 19/10/2018 - 14:54

On 20 October, more than 400 female candidates will compete for the 68 parliamentary seats reserved for women. Many more women – there are over three million registered female voters – will cast their votes on Saturday, in an attempt to have their say on who represents them in the lower house of the parliament. AAN’s Jelena Bjelica and Rohullah Sorush have been looking back at women’s political participation in earlier decades and hearing from female candidates in Afghanistan about running for office despite threats, campaigning (in some places) despite having to wear a burqa, and being told by men that it is a sin to vote for a woman.

Afghan women, according to a 2014 UNDP report, have a higher political participation at the national and subnational level of governance than women do in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The reason for this is Afghanistan’s constitutional quota system, which reserves 68 out of 250 seats in parliament (27 per cent) for women (see this AAN’s guide to the Afghan parliament). (See Annex 1) Yet despite this high ’gender score’, any Afghan woman actually wanting to get into parliament needs courage – or money or, according to one report, ‘warlord backing’.

The quota system means there will always be at least 68 women in parliament. In 2018, as in 2010, the number of women candidates is roughly the same – about 400 women out of a total of about 2,500 candidates. (See Annex 1 for detail about the women running and AAN’s basic facts about the 2018 elections here.) In 2010, official women turnout was significant, comprising about 39 per cent of the total (1,668,617 out of a total of 4,265,354 votes cast according to the Independent Election Commission [IEC]). There needs to be some caution about this figure, though, as particularly in southern provinces there was ‘bulk voting’, ie men casting votes ‘for their women’ without them being present at the polling centres (AAN reporting here).

In Nimruz province, there was a particularly high female turnout – 60 per cent of the votes were cast in female polling stations. The two main female candidates there were locked in such a fierce competition that they won both parliamentary seats allotted to Nimruz (see this AAN analysis here), both the reserved women’s seat and the ‘open competition’ seat. This is turn meant that women secured 69 seats in the 2010-elected Wolesi Jirga.

This year has seen a slightly lower proportion of women registering to vote­. In 2004 and 2010, the proportion of registered voters, male to female, was roughly 40:60. This year, it is 36:64 (3,067,918 women in total). (See this AAN analysis).

Although the numbers look good on paper, they belie the difficulties many Afghan women face, both those pursuing a political career and those exercising their right to vote, given Afghanistan’s traditional patriarchal society.

Favouring men

The most evident challenge that women candidates face is that they are women in a male-dominated and largely sex-segregated society, one that, in many areas, castigates women for taking public roles. The fact that a lot of politicking is done in all-male gatherings just adds a further obstacle. As the renowned historian, the late Nancy Dupree, wrote in her 1981 paper “Revolutionary Rhetoric and Afghan Women”, being an MP also hardly fits the dominant model of idealised Afghan womanhood:

Afghan history and folklore is replete with idealized accounts and legends of heroic mothers and wives who provided inspiration to their menfolk in times of crisis. If the ideal personality type for Afghan men is the warrior-poet, a lauded personality type for Afghan women is the poet-heroine.

In other words, the model Afghan woman inspires and supports her menfolk, rather than acting in her own right. Dupree, in the same paper, looks at how the first handful of women went against the grain by standing for the 1965 parliament (women were given the vote in the 1964 constitution). This was in the pre-quota era when all candidates, men and women, ran in open competition with each other (as was the case globally). It is only in more recent years that some parliaments and some political parties have established quotas for women. Four women, said Dupree “stood for, and won election to the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) of the 12th Parliament.”

During the 1969 parliamentary elections, women failed to secure any seats (see Hafizullah Emadi’s paper, “Establishment of Afghanistan’s Parliament and the Role of Women Parliamentarians: Retrospect and Prospects”, 2015). Emadi points out that between the 1973 coup that brought down the monarchy and constitutional changes in 1987, noparliamentary elections were held. Nevertheless, four women participated in Prime Minister Daud’s Melli Jirga (National Jirga), a hand-picked parliament that was convened in 1977. During much of the pro-Soviet PDPA rule, the Revolutionary Council ruled the country had a number of female members.

After Najibullah introduced a new constitution in July 1987 that revived the parliamentary system, there were a number of women MPs from Kabul and the provinces. “Parliamentary elections under the Soviet occupation were supervised by the pro-Soviet ruling party and individuals with close ties to the party secured seats in both houses of parliament,” Emadi concludes. The 1988 election was mainly based on seats allocated in advance, with some given to non-party members, newly registered (leftist only) opposition parties and some seats kept for the mujahedin, and with only symbolic voting. All in all it was designed to safeguard a majority for Najibullah’s Watan party (the renamed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan).

On the ‘other side’ of the war, in the exiled communities of Pakistan where millions of Afghan refugees lived, as Dupree noted in a 1989 paper “Seclusion or service: Will women have a role in the future of Afghanistan?” which also deals with women’s political participation, women’s lives there were deliberately limited. Dupree noted that the ‘interim government’ formed by the seven major Sunni mujahedin factions severely restricted the lives of Afghan women in refugee camps in Peshawar, on ideological grounds, to family duties and roles of mother and wife. The Supreme Council of the seven parties, she wrote, directed the interim government, to “Develop moral virtues and combat corruption and denigration by observing the principles of purdah…”(1) Dupree also noted that the political charters issued by the seven factions, in addressing women-related issues, ranged from “explicit insistence on strict seclusion to generalized statements supporting women’s participation in the task of development.” (see page 3 to 5 of the paper). She added:

At the two-week Shura (Consultative Council) meetings held in Islamabad in Feb.-Mar. 1989 to elect yet another interim government, a proposal to include women was flatly rejected (personal communication).

Since 2001, Afghan women have not only had the right to vote and stand, but the quota system reserves them seats. Even so, the social stereotypes referred to by Dupree in 1981 have survived, as have the obstacles women encounter if they attempt to go ‘against the grain’ and run for parliament, as AAN found out when hearing from some of the female candidates.

Going against the grain

Mariam Durrani,one of 13 female candidates from Kandahar province for the 2018 Wolesi Jirga elections told AAN that the people in her province are actively advocating againstwomen candidates:

I heard from a friend that a taxi driver was telling passengers not to vote for women. He said it was illegal [to vote for women]. We openly see that men have more [public] support than women. 

Mina Jalal, one of the three female candidates from Kunar province, shared a similar story:

The day before yesterday I went to campaign in an area. A woman told me that she and other women were told not to take part in election, but if they did, they should not cast their votes for female candidates because it was a sin.

Jalal praised the woman for her wittiness. “If voting is a sin,” she had told those trying to lay down the law, “it’s a sin for both men and women.”

IWPR also reported that Shahba Shahrokhi, one of the six female candidates running for one seat reserved in Samangan province was facing difficulties within her own family:

When I decided to nominate myself, my family immediately disapproved of my decision, with my close relatives then following suit by expressing negative ideas that, as a girl, I would be unable to succeed… [They told me] that there were too many problems, that this society and its traditions have always been against women who somehow make trouble for men. All these words and excuses were intended to change my mind, but I refused to accept this.

In Helmand province, where out of 92 candidates nine women are running for two reserved seats, one of the female candidates, Jamila Niazi, complained to Pajhwok that she was unable to conduct her election campaign, “We face public criticism – culturally motivated – if we display our photographs as part of the campaign.”

Some other candidates, like Shekiba Hashemi, sitting MP and candidate from Kandahar province have not been allowed to campaign in public places. Hashemi told AAN she was not allowed to campaign in the central Shia mosque in Kandahar, the Imam Bara mosque, because she is a woman. “They only allowed one candidate, Sayed Moqtada Miran, to campaign in the mosque, but not the others, specifically not me, a woman,” she said.

Yet ‘sisterly’ support is also not forthcoming, said some of the women candidates we spoke to, with fierce rivalry among women running for office. Shirin Mohseni, a female candidate from Daikundi said that, although she is in her view a leading candidate in Daikundi, “there is a strong and negative rivalry” among women contenders in her province. She told AAN:

There is a rumour that my name has been removed from the list of Daikundi candidates. I know it is the women who are saying this.

Samira Khairkhwa, a female candidate from Balkh also said her problem come from the competition. “Some rival candidates whose names I can’t say have torn down my photos in some areas,” she told AAN.

Security issues

Insecurity during the election campaign is, however, probably an even bigger problem facing women candidates. Humaira Ayubi, a former MP from Farah province and one of the three female candidates running there this year, described the problems:

I have not been able to get out of home and go for campaigning. I am running my campaign from home and people come and visit me here, but I was hoping to go to the villages and see the people. Now, when someone does not have a good appearance and comes to my home, I am really scared he might be an attacker. Insecurity is very high in Farah.

She said that in many villages in Farah province, elections will probably not take place, like in the village of Genahkan, where the fighting is so intensive that all its residents have left the area. This according to Aybi means 900-950 fewer voters. She said that in Kahdanak village, the Taleban have threatened people not to participate in the election.

In Kahdanak, there is propaganda against another female candidate, Belqis Roshan. People have been told [by the Taleban] not to vote for her because she is an infidel.

(Belqis Roshan is close to leftist-feminist former MP Malalai Joya, also from Farah, who has been expelled from the Wolesi Jirga in 2007 after she raised some vehement criticism of the warlords in its ranks.)

Mariam Zurmati, one of eight female candidates in Paktika province has similar concerns. She is reliant on meeting the people, she says, because she cannot afford to pay voters – but meeting the voters is difficult because she is a woman.

There are threats from the Taleban. It is against all Afghans and the candidates, but it impacts women more because it prevents women from having big gatherings and campaigns. Also, because the society is very traditional here and the level of awareness is very low, it is difficult for women candidates to appear in big gatherings. Some former MPs and also current candidates are spending a great deal of money to buy the people and their votes, but I can’t do this.

Mina Jalal, one of three female candidates from Kunar province also pointed to the restrictions female candidates face. She said many have to wear burqas when they go to campaign in the villages, which for a candidate campaigning in Afghanistan where his or her face is their identity, is a serious impediment. She told AAN:

I went to campaign in my own district, Narai. There were security threats from the Taleban… I went only with a driver and another person and I also wore a burqa so that nobody could know me on the way. Women candidates can’t hold big campaigns due to threats. They also must wear a burqa when they go to villages.

Many other women candidates AAN spoke to faced the same or similar security concerns, with threats coming not only from the Taleban, but also local armed groups. Gulalai Nur Safi, a former MP from Balkh province who is running again, told AAN that security concerns in her province revolve around ‘irregular armed groups’. One of her campaigners was beaten up in Salarzayi village by “powerful irregular armed men,” she told AAN. For security reasons, she did not want to name them.

In Takhar, in Rustaq district, a campaign rally for female candidate Nazefa Yusofi Beg was targeted with a bomb (see here). 22 people were killed and many others injured in the attack, although Yusofi Beg escaped unscathed. Given the marginal presence of the Taleban in the district and the history of irregular armed groups there, suspicion has largely fallen on the latter (see this AAN report about insurgent groups in Takhar). (There is more information about female candidates in this AAN overview).

Women – once they get into parliament

Justbecause Afghan women can stand and vote and have a secured presence in parliament does not mean, however, that women MPs will necessarily work for women’s rights. A study by Oxfam in 2011 on safeguarding women’s rights found that Afghan female MPs lack of unity holds them back. Women MPs have not capitalized on their chunk of seats and their potential influence in parliament to try to improve women’s lives. The Oxfam study pointed not only to disunity, but also who was backing at least some of them and who they might actually be answering to.

Female parliamentarians are disunited; many are elected with the support of warlords and are answerable to them. One result of this is that female politicians do not necessarily work to support women’s rights. For example, the 2009 Shia Personal Status Law was passed by a parliament with over 25 per cent female representation despite the fact that it drastically restricts the rights of Shia women and violates the constitution.

Another case in point is the 2013 parliamentary discussion on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law, when MP Fawzia Kufi insisted the law be debated, a move which almost cast it into oblivion (for more detail on this, see AAN reporting here and here).

If running for parliament in Afghanistan as a woman is a job for a heroine – facing down security threats and fighting stereotypes – the record of women MPs once in power has been something less than heroic. Afghanistan’s high ‘gender score’ based on the parliamentary quota system belies a less attractive reality.

Edited by Kate Clark



(1) The Islamic Unity of Afghan Mujahideen (IUAM) interim government included: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami; Hezb-e Islami-ye Afghanistan headed by Mawlawi Muhammed Yunos Khales; Mahaz-e Melli-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan led by Sayyed Ahmad Gailani; Rabbani’s Jamiat-e Islami; Harakat-e Enqelab-e Islami-ye Afghanistan led by Mawlawi Muhammadi; Mujadidi’s Jabha-ye Nejat-e Melli-ye Afghanistan; and Sayyaf’s Ittehad-e Islami-ye Afghanistan.

Dupree writes in a 1989 paper “Seclusion or service: Will women have a role in the future of Afghanistan?” on page 6:

An official published pronouncement which disturbed many men as well as women was issued in March 1988 when the Supreme Council of the 7-party Islamic Unity of Afghan Mujahiden (IUAM) sponsored the formation of an interim government. On 4/24/88, they published a set of guidelines (Itehad-e-Islami; Afghan Jehad 1(4):2). This document consists of four chapters with 87 articles. Only one specifically mentions women. Article LVII, in Chapter III, outlining the Powers and Duties of Government, directs the government to:

Develop moral virtues and combat corruption and denigration by observing the principles of purdah (seclusion) provided for in the Sharia, ensure the unalienable rights of all individuals, men and women alike, and provide dignified conditions in the light of Islamic teachings.

Although the effectiveness of the interim government is widely questioned, this document seems to reflect a disturbing collective thinking among the Peshawar leadership and projects a dim future for women. One article cannot adequately address the problems facing women and certainly the insinuation that corruption and denigration must necessarily rise from women’s public presence is deplorable.


Annex 1: Number of reserved seats for women in Wolesi Jirga and number of women candidates for the 2018 Wolesi Jirga election (by province)

1. Kabul has 13 reserved seats, out of a total of 33 seats allocated for the province. Of the 119 female candidates for Kabul province, nine are incumbent MPs. Shahgul Rezayi who represented Ghazni province in the 2010-elected Wolesi Jirga, withdrawn her candidacy for this year’s election. Two female candidates, Sayyeda Masuda Yari and Mariam Sediqa Sadat, are former members of Kabul provincial Council. Two other female candidates for Kabul are members of political parties.  Nabila Sayedjan Zada Hamid affiliated to Hezb-e Ensaf-e Islami-ye Melli and Anisa Maqsudi is affiliated to Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami.

2. Bamyan has one reserved seat out of a total of four seats allocated for the province. Of 11 female candidates competing for Bamiyan procince, one is an incumbent MP, Safor Elkhani. One female candidate, Sharifa Arman Wasiq is affiliated to Hezb-e Ensejam-e Melli-ye Afghanistan.

3. Nuristan has one reserved seat for women, of a total two seats allocated for the province. Of seven female candidates competing in Nuristan, none are incumbent MPs and none are affiliated to any political parties.

4. Kunar has one reserved seat, out of a total of four seats allocated for the province. Of three female candidates competing in the province, one is an incumbent MP – Wajma Safi. None are politically affiliated.

5. Khost has one reserved seat, out of a total of five seats allocated for the province. One of the two female candidates competing for a seat is Sahera Sharif an incumbent MP. Neither one is politically affiliated.

6. Uruzgan has one reserved seat, out of a total of three seats allocated for the province. None of the eight female contenders is an incumbent MP. One candidate, Duranil Nurzai is affiliated to National United Movement Party of Afghanistan (De Afghanistan de Melli Wahdat Wolesi Tahrik Gund)

7. Nimroz has one reserved seat, out of a total of two seats allocated for the province. One of the three contenders, Farida Hamidi is an incumbent MP.

8. Balkh has three reserved seats for women, out of a total of 11 seats allocated for the province. Of 22 female candidates competing, three are incumbent MPs (Gulalai Nur Safi, Breshna Rabi and Saifora Niazi); and the other three are politically affiliated (Sonia Rajabi to Hezb-e Melli-ye Taraqi-ye Mardom Afghanistan (Afghan People’s National Progressive Party), Merman Robaba Nayebi, to Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom-e Afghanistan and Shekiba Shekib is affiliated to Jamiat-e Islami Afghanistan).

9. Daikundi has one reserved seat, out of a total of four seats allocated for the province. Of eight female candidates competing two are incumbent MPs (Shirin Mohseni and Raihana Azad). Raihana Azad represented Uruzgan province in the 2010-elected Wolesi Jirga. Shirin Mohseni is affiliated to Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom-e Afghanistan.

10. Herat has five reserved seats, out of a total of 17 seats allocated for the province. Of 28 female candidates competing, three candidates are incumbent MPs (Simin Barakzai, Massuda Karokhi and Nahid Ahmadi Farid). None of 28 contenders are politically affiliated.

11. Kapisa has one reserved seat, out of a total of four seats allocated for the province. Of eight female candidates competing none are incumbent MPs, nor are politically affiliated.

12. Paktika has one reserved seat, out of a total of four seats allocated for the province. Of eight female candidate,competing, Najia Babakarkhel Urgunyar is an incumbent MP. None of them have political affiliation.

13. Panjshir has one reserved seat, out of a total of two seats allocated for the province. Of two female candidates competing Rahila Salim is an incumbent MP. Neither one is politically affiliated.

14. Parwan has two reserved seats, out of a total of six seats allocated for the province. Of 11 female candidates competing, two emale candidates are incumbent MPs (Zakia Sangin and Samea Azizi Sadat). None of 11 female contenders from Parwan are politically affiliated.

15. Wardak has two reserved seats, out of a total of five seats allocated for the province.  Of nine female candidates competing, two are incumbent MPs (Seddiqa Mubarez and Engineer Hamida Akbari). Two other candidates are politically affiliated. Rohina Walizada is affiliated to Hezb-e Islami and Dr Zia Gul Rezayi is affiliated to Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom.

16. Laghman has one reserved seat, out of a total of four seats allocated for the province. Of four female candidates competing, Zaifnun Safi is an incumbent MP. None of them have political affiliation.

17. Sar-e Pul has one reserved seat, out of a total of five seats allocated for the province. Of four female candidates competing, Aziza Jales is an incumbent MP and Marzia Ramazani is affiliated to Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom.

18. Badakhshan has two reserved seats, out of a total of nine seats allocated for the province. Of 9 female candidates competing, Nilofar Ibrahimi is an incumbent MP and Sadiqa Adib is affiliated to Jombesh-e Melli Islami.

19. Jawzjan has one reserved seat, out of a total of five seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of four female candidates competing none are incumbent MPs nor politically affiliated.

20. Faryab has three reserved seats, out of a total of nine seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of 19 female candidates competing, two are the incumbent MPs (Asifa Shadab and Rangina Kargar); and two others are affiliated to Jombesh-e Melli Islami (Gita Said and Shafiqa Sakha Yolchi).

21. Zabul has one reserved seat, out of a total of three seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of six female candidates competing, none are incumbent MPs nor politically affiliated.

22. Samangan has one reserved seat, out of a total of four seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of six female candidates competing, none are incumbent MPs, nor politically affiliated.

23. Kandahar has three reserved seats, out of a total of 11 seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of 13 female candidates competing, three are incumbent MPs (Fariba Ahmadi Kakar, Shekiba Hashimi and Bibi Hamida Yosufi). Shamsia Fazli is affiliated to Hezb-e Motahid-e Melli Afghanistan.

24. Helmand has two reserved seats, out of a total of eight seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of nine female candidates competing, Nasima Niazi and Habiba Sadat are incumbent MPs; and two other candidates, Razia Baloch and Nargis Rokhshan are former Provincial Council members of Helmand.

25. Kunduz has two reserved seats, out of a total of nine seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of 16 female candidates competing for two are incumbent MPs (Shukria Paikan and Dr Fatema Aziz). Two other female candidates are politically affiliated. Shukria Sarbeland is affiliated to Hezb-e Islami and Frozan Golchi is affiliated to Jombesh-e Melli Islami.

26. Nangarhar has four reserved seats, out of a total of 14 seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of 18 female candidates competing two are incumbent MPs (Sayeam Khogyani and Arian Yun). Another candidate, Shafiqa Sherzai Seyar is affiliated to Hezb-e Islami.

27. Badghis has one reserved seat, out of a total of four seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of nine female candidates competing, only Safia Aimaq is an incumbent MP.

28. Logar has one reserved seat, out of a total of four seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of five female candidates competing, Dr Shakila Hashimi is an incumbent MP.

29. Baghlan has two seats, out of a total of eight seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of 12 female candidates competing, two are incumbent MPs (Najia Aimaq and Shukria Isakhel).

30. Paktia has one reserved seat, out of a total of  five seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of five female candidates competing, Razia Saadat Mangal is an incumbent MP.

31. Takhar has two reserved seats, out of a total of nine seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of 12 female candidates competing, Habiba Danesh is an incumbent MP and Shahnaz Mariam Mahtab is affiliated to Jombesh-e Melli Islami.

32. Ghor has two reserved seats, out of a total of six seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of 5 female candidates, Ruqia Nayel is an incumbent MP.

33. Farah has one reserved seat, out of a total of five seats in the Wolesi Jirga. Of three female candidates competing, Humaira Ayubi is an incumbent MP.

34. Kuchis have three reserved seats for women, out of a total of ten seats allocated for them. Of eight female candidates competing, Hamida Ahmadzai is an incumbent MP.

35. Ghazni has three reserved seats for women, out of a total of 11 seats in the Wolesi Jirga. However, Wolesi Jirga elections in Ghazni will not be taking place as planned on 20 October. (see AAN analysis here)

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Yet Another Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 Insane Low Pass Video Emerges

The Aviationist Blog - Fri, 19/10/2018 - 09:24
Pair of Su-25M1s flying ultra-low altitude in a new video. It’s pretty obvious: Ukrainian Air Force pilots fly low quite often and new videos showing a Ukrainian jet buzzing someone at airbases around the country appear regularly. On Sept. 30 we have posted a clip of a Su-24M Fencer buzzing the flight line at an […]
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The Killing of Razeq: Removing the Taleban’s strongest foe in Kandahar, an indirect hit at elections

The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) - Fri, 19/10/2018 - 00:49

An attack in Kandahar city has left the province’s governor, NDS chief and police commander, the unrivalled strongman of southern Afghanistan, General Abdul Razeq, dead. The commander of United States and NATO forces, General Scott Austin Miller who had just been meeting the three, was unharmed. The attack mimics earlier assassinations of officials and strongmen. With a slew of well-documented war crimes to his name, Razeq was also credited with keeping the south of Afghanistan relatively stable. Yet the repercussions of this assassination are difficult to underestimate and not just because the deaths of the province’s main officials came two days before an already shaky election, concludes AAN’s co-director Thomas Ruttig. (With input by Kate Clark and a short biography of Razeq by Jelena Bjelica.)

How the attack happened

The full details of the attack on 18 October 2018 are yet to emerge, but Afghan media reports, based on sources in Kandahar, and official statements by Afghan authorities, Resolute Support and the US military in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) have begun to make the contours of the incident visible.

The attack took place in the afternoon of 18 October at the governor’s compound, after a high-ranking meeting about election security had ended, and the participants were on their way out. “Provincial officials including the governor, the police chief and other officials were accompanying the foreign guests to the [helicopter] when the gunshots happened,” said Sayed Jan Khakrezwal, head of the Kandahar provincial council according to the BBC.

Spokesmen for the ministries of defence and interior said at a press conference later in the day reported by Kabul daily Etilaat-e Ruz that a member of Kandahar governor Toryalai Wisa’s bodyguard opened fire. They identified him as “Gulbuddin.” The Taleban, who immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on their website, said he was an “infiltrator” called “Abu Dujana.” According to officials quoted by the BBC, there were also at least two hand grenade explosions. Photos of the alleged assassin appeared on the social media but their source remained unclear.

According to the ministries of defence and interior statement, Razeq was killed along with the provincial NDS chief, Abdul Momen Hussainkhel, while Governor Wisa and the police chief of the southern zone, General Nabi Elham, were injured and hospitalised.

Resolute Support tweeted confirmation of the attack and reported that Gen Miller was “uninjured,” the attacker was “reportedly dead” and “3 Americans [were] wounded.” Later tweets by USFOR-A specified that those wounded had been “1 US servicemember [sic], 1 US Civilian and 1 [non-US] Coalition contractor” and that they had been “medically evacuated and are stable.”

The Associated Press quoted “Army Col. David Butler, who attended the Kandahar meeting with Miller, [saying …] Raziq […]  was clearly the target, not the U.S. general. “It was pretty clear he was shooting at Raziq,” Butler told The Associated Press, adding that Miller was nearby but not in the line of fire.” And further

The delegates had just gathered for a group photo when gunfire broke out inside the provincial governor’s compound in Kandahar City, according to an AP television cameraman who was present when the shooting began. Everyone scattered, and the U.S. participants scrambled toward their nearby helicopter. But a firefight broke out between the U.S. service members and Afghan police when they tried to stop the U.S. delegation from reaching their helicopter, said the cameraman.

There were also reports about further casualties. The Afghanistan Journalists Centre tweeted the photo of Muhammad Salim Angar, cameraman for the Kandahar branch of Radio Television Afghanistan who was reportedly killed in the incident. Akmal Dawi, a journalist with the Voice of America, said, also on Twitter, that “several were killed in cross fire by various armed parties” (as in the original).

The Taleban statement posted quickly after the killings as ‘breaking news’ signed by “Qari Muhammad Yusof Ahmadi, spokesman of the Islamic Emirate” evolved over the hours to follow. First, it was a two-paragraph simply reporting that an infiltrator had killed “the brutal commander (wahshi kumandan) Abdul Razeq”, without mentioning Miller. Later, it grew to four paragraphs, claiming that “the actual targets were the American commander Miller and Kandahar’s brutal commander Abdul Razeq.”

By contrast, the RS and USFOR-A statements soon after the attack insisted, also in tweets, this was an “Afghan-on-Afghan” incident, in what sounded like an attempt to rescue the recent started US-Taleban talks led by Washington’s special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Although in the past “fighting and talking” went on simultaneously, it is difficult to imagine how the US government will be able to defend holding talks with an organisation that claims it attempted to kill the US supreme commander in Afghanistan.

Hours after Razeq’s assassination, what the Voice of America’s Pashto service called “his tribesmen” called on President Ashraf Ghani to appoint his younger brother, Tadin Khan, as new police chief in Kandahar. According to information AAN received from Kandahar, also member of the Karzai family, former Kandahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai (who do not belong to Razeq’s Achakzai tribe) and many members of Kandahar’s provincial council attended the meeting.

A constellation of the southern strongmen

Although all three Afghan deaths will reverberate, the death of General Razeq will have the greatest consequences. Like many powerful Afghans, he was greater than his official position, the police chief of Kandahar province, implied. He was, in fact, the strongman of greater Kandahar, the whole Afghan south (Afghans sometimes call the region the south-west). He had began as the border police chief in Spin Boldak, initially as a client of Ahmad Wali Karzai, the younger brother of then president Hamed Karzai. Because he was devoid of a strong, armed power base in his home region, the president had made Ahmad Wali into a kind of regional warlord. Officially, Ahmad Wali Karzai was the head of the elected Provincial Council of Kandahar, a position that in most places rarely rises above the ceremonial. Unofficially, though, he presided over a network of provincial strongmen who, like him, tended to be appreciated, admired and courted by parts of the US military and CIA, as well as some Afghans for their ruthlessness and anti-Taleban prowess. (Allegations against Ahmad Wali, that he was on the CIA payroll and played a major part in the southern drugs trade can be read here.)

Razeq was one of the constellation of strongmen, allies of the Karzais, who emerged in the south in the early years after 2001. Others included former Uruzgan governor Jan Muhammad (assassinated in July 2011 – AAN background here), his nephew, Uruzgan police chief Matiullah (assassinated in 2015 – AAN background here and here); former governor of Helmand, Sher Muhammad Akhundzada; and Assadullah Khaled, former governor of Ghazni and Kandahar (2005-08) and chief of the NDS (2012-15), who was maimed but not killed by a Taleban assassin in January 2012. (Khaled, has recently returned into Afghan politics and set up his own political group, Omid-e Sabah (Hope for Tomorrow; media report here). He appears to harbour ambitions for the 2019 presidential elections. (1))

After Wali Karzai was assassinated by a member of his personal entourage in July 2011, five days before Jan Muhammad, Razeq replaced and surpassed him as a much more powerful strongman, with clout across southern Afghanistan.

As of January 2018, Razeq started to support then Balkh provincial governor Atta Muhammad Nur who was fighting not to be replaced by President Ashraf Ghani. He then came under threat to be removed himself, by the Interior Ministry (media report here). He states these attempts were conspiracies to destabilise southern Kandahar and countered the removal threats by saying the Ghani-Abdullah government had not appointed him (he came into his latest position in May 2011, under President Karzai, following the assassination of his predecessor as Kandahar’s police chief, Khan Muhammad Mujahed; media report here), so it also could not fire him:

“This government has neither appointed me, nor it can remove me. I have been appointed based on the demands of Kandahar people and I will leave based on Kandahar residents’ demands,” Raziq said in the interview.

Razeq was also critical of the peace agreement between the Afghan government and Hezb-e Islami. He alleged that Hezb fighters who had released as a result of the deal has joined the Taleban insurgency in his domain southern Afghanistan.

As a result, Razeq received Atta‘s support and was courted by newly emerging anti-Ghani opposition groups, particularly the so-called ‘Ankara Coalition’ (see AAN background here) of which Atta is one of the leaders. After today’s incident in Kandahar, Atta issued a statement online (quoted here), that Razeq’s assassination in a safe place and under strict security measures proved that he had been killed “due to conspiracies of his rivals and ‘inner circles’ having links with the top government officials.” Observers in Kandahar told AAN Razeq’s involvement in a countrywide political issue like that of Atta’s replacement was more a policy of self-insurance than real appetite for a political role on the national level – in contrast to Atta’s political ambitions.

The Taleban had tried to kill Razeq several times before. The most spectacular attempt was a sofa bomb that, in January 2017, killed 11 people, including the UAE ambassador and four more UAE diplomats (which led to a crisis between the Arabic country and the Taleban), but left Razeq, who had left the room just before the bomb detonated alive. (A similar bomb killed Helmand candidate Abdul Jabar Qahraman in nearby Lashkargah only one day before the attack on Razeq.)

US dilemmas

The killing of Razeq shines a new light at one of the dilemmas of US policies in Afghanistan. All too often, the international military, diplomats and donors look for individuals, single strong men, that they can ‘work with’. (The same was the case on the national level, with president Karzai – until, in US government’s eyes, he no longer complied.) Yet, men like Razeq are also extremely brutal, committing atrocities that have stirred up resistance. An account of this is provided by Canadian journalist Matthieu Aikins as he described how Nurzais in Panjwayi responded to violence by Razeq’s Achakzai-dominated border police, including the extrajudicial killings of 16 tribesmen in 2006 by joining the Taleban. (See also this Chatham House report.)

In May 2017, the United Nations Committee against Torture released a report describing “numerous and credible allegations” that Razeq is “widely suspected of complicity, if not of personal implication, in severe human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and …secret detention centers.” In response, Human Rights Watch’s Patricia Gossman asked “Will Afghanistan Prosecute Kandahar’s Torturer-in-Chief?“ Razeq “operates far outside the law,” Gossman wrote, “and has powerful support, notably from US intelligence and security officials, who consider him an ally in the fight against the Taliban.”

HRW had earlier accused Razeq (and a number of other strongmen and commanders) in a 2015 report titled “’Today We Shall All Die’: Afghanistan’s Strongmen and the Legacy of Impunity“ of well documented allegations of “serious human rights violations [with] impunity [that] include allegations of mass killings, murder, rape, torture, beatings, enforced disappearances, theft, and arbitrary detention. (…) Brig. Gen. Abdul Raziq ha[s] committed many acts of torture and enforced disappearances, and there is strong evidence that Raziq himself has been responsible for extrajudicial executions.” A graphic account of these disappearances was provided by journalist Anand Gopal reporting on more than 40 unidentified bodies that were found in Kandahar city and other places in the province in October 2013 alone, many of which could not be identified “because of smashed teeth, and missing noses, eyes or heads”. (See also this 2011 piece by Aikins.)

Both US and Afghan governments turned a blind eye to the numerous atrocities which Razeq was accused of, because they felt Kandahar’s security depended on him. (The same pattern of international supporters ‘holding their noses’ and ignoring war crimes can be seen in their dealings with Ahmad Wali Karzai, Matiullah, Assadullah Khaled and a host of others.)

Razeq’s rule drove the insurgency, but also contained it. Kandahar, under his watch, especially in recent years, has been relatively stable. He drove the Taleban out of Kandahar city and adjacent districts, while there is significant but static Taleban control over more outlying areas.

This means that, whatever comes of the 18 October bloodshed at the Kandahar governor’s mansion, it is unlikely to be good. Relying on single charismatic, if brutal individuals to keep order will always leave the Afghan state vulnerable if that individual is killed. Here, what happened in Uruzgan province, after Jan Muhammad and Matiullah were killed is a warning. Both men were brutal. The actions of both had driven the conflict. Yet, after they were assassinated, the Afghan National Security Forces fragmented. Smaller commanders started competing for power and security deteriorated. A number of observers have expressed that Kandahar could experience the same fate with the ‘kingpin’ gone (see for example here and here).

Conclusion: an attack not on the elections that will affect the elections

Everyone has been expecting that the Taleban would take aim at Afghanistan’s soon-approaching parliamentary elections. They had said they would “leave no stone unturned“ (quoted here) to prevent them. Indeed, ten candidates have been killed in the last two months and four others injured in attacks although, with the exception of Qahraman, the Taleban have not taken any responsibility for any of them. However, this attack, on Razeq and the other senior officials was not expected at this time.

Assuming the Taleban were responsible, the elections do not seem to have been the point of this attack. Eliminating a formidable opponent was the goal. The death of Razeq could reduce the southern region to turmoil, if only because there will be wrangling over who will replace him (chief of police in Kandahar is a powerful and, because near the border and major drugs producing areas in Helmand, lucrative position). Also, in the very short-term, his death – and those of the two other senior provincial officials and the hospitalisation of a fourth – will affect the elections. Security forces, primed to safeguard polling stations and other electoral infrastructure, have been left leaderless. An imminent Taleban attack on Kandahar city cannot be ruled out.

Edited by Kate Clark and Martine van Bijlert


(1) A former Canadian deputy ambassador to Afghanistan who worked closely with Assadullah Khaled, testified before the Canadian parliament in 2009 that Khaled was directly involved in torture (media report here). Sher Muhammad Akhundzada was Helmand governor (2001-05) under Karzai, then removed under British pressure as a precondition for the UK sending NATO/ISAF troops to Helmand because of his involvement in the drug trade (900 tonnes of opium were found in his home). Karzai then appointed him senator, and Sher Muhammad is now running for parliament.


Annex: Abdul Razeq, a short biography

Abdul Raziq was born in 1979 and spent early years of his life in Spin Boldak, a border district with a major border crossing to Pakistan in Kandahar province. He is an Achakzai Pashtun.

It is not clear when his family fled to Pakistan, but Razeq probably spent his teens in exile. He joined Gul Agha Sherzai’s and Fayda Muhammad’s unit formed in 2001. He was then about 22 years old and still completely unknown. The Institute for the Study of War in its 2010 report, “Politics and Power in Kandahar” points out that in post-2001 ‘Sherzai came to rely heavily on Razeq and his militias to provide him with military muscle’.

It is not clear when exactly Razeq was given a colonel rank of the Afghan Border Police (ABP). According to an international organisation working closely with the ABP, this probably happened as early as 2004 or 2005 (personal communication with UN law enforcement official). But Razeq played all cards: military, political and economic. “Raziq’s influence in Spin Boldak derives not only from his military strength, but from his ability to use his power to exert considerable influence over Spin Boldak’s transit economy,” said the Institute for the Study of War in its 2010 report, using a euphemism for what is a mix of legit and illicit trade.

A Canadian journalist Matthieu Aikins, who wrote extensively about Razeq described him in 2006:

At thirty years of age, Razik was the most powerful Afghan Border Police officer in the southern part of the country—a former child refugee who scrambled to power during the post-9/11 chaos, his rise abetted by a ring of crooked officials in Kabul and Kandahar as well as by overstretched NATO commanders who found his control over a key border town useful in their war against the Taliban. With his prodigious wealth, loyal soldiers, and connections to top government officials, Razik was seen as a ruthless, charismatic figure, a man who brooked no opposition to his will. 

He also pointed out to a role Razeq and his militia played in 2009 presidential elections (see AAN report here):

In the 2009 presidential elections, Raziq proved that he could deliver vote counts through his commander network that extends through the districts of Maruf, Arghestan, Spin Boldak, Reg, Shorawak, and Daman.

But Razeq’s most important was a military role he played in his home-province Kandahar. According to Aikins’s report in The Atlantic), in the fall of 2010:

Raziq and his militia were given a starring role in the U.S.-led military offensive into Taliban- controlled areas west of Kandahar City, a campaign that boosted his prestige immensely. Mentored by an American Special Forces team, Raziq’s fighters won public praise from U.S. officers for their combat prowess. After the offensive, Raziq was promoted to brigadier general—a rank requiring a direct order from President Karzai—in a January ceremony at the governor’s mansion. As Ben Moeling, who was until July the State Department’s senior official in Kandahar province, explained to me at the time, the promotion was “an explicit recognition of his importance.”

Following the assassination of the police chief of Kandahar province, Khan Muhammad Mujahed, on 15 April 2011, Razeq was appointed the chief of the police of the province in May 2011. He continued to command his border units.

Razeq, Aikins reported, has long been publicly suspected of drug trafficking and corruption; allegations that he and his men have been involved in extrajudicial killings, torture, and illegal imprisonment. Razeq categorically denied all these charges, when Aikins confronted him.

Gen Razeq was quoted in January 2018, after the Ministry of Interior warned that it might take “legal action” against him, as saying that the National Unity Government had neither appointed him, nor could remove him from the post. “I have been appointed based on the demands of Kandahar people and I will leave based on their demands,” Raziq said,




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Afghanistan Election Conundrum (19): A young ‘wave of change’ for the Wolesi Jirga?

The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) - Thu, 18/10/2018 - 03:00

Afghanistan’s parliamentary election campaign ended on Wednesday 17 October 2018 with the killing of Helmand candidate Jabbar Qahraman by a mine explosion in his campaign office – the fifth candidate killed during the campaign period. “Taghir” – change – has been a key word in many of the campaigns and a hope expressed by many voters, even though the slogans were rarely backed by detailed political programmes. Among the 2565 candidates running countrywide – 418 of them women according to IEC figures – there are many new faces, alongside a majority of the sitting MPs. Thomas Ruttig and the AAN team look at the spectrum of candidates and ponder what the turnover in the Wolesi Jirga might be (without claiming to be complete or exhaustive).

AAN has put together a dossier of dispatches related to the coming elections, looking at preparations and political manoeuvring. Each dispatch in the Election Conundrum series will be added to it.

A desire for change

“Taghir” – change – had already been a key word during the presidential election in 2014. Chief Executive Dr Abdullah represented a coalition called “Taghir wa Omid” (change and hope) and although president Ashraf Ghani did not use the word in his slogans, he did run on a promise of change, while preserving what had been achieved: “tahawol wa tadawom” (“transformation and continuity”). This time, “taghir” features again, as illustrated by many candidate posters and in some of the programmes that candidates distributed, some in print, others on memory sticks.

A surprising number of candidates who declare themselves ‘pro-reform’ are wealthy businessmen. One of them is Fahim Hashemi, running in Kabul. He is the owner of one of the biggest private television channels, One TV, and a big contractor for the international troops and oil import business. On his election materiel, the word “taghir” is the only feature, apart from his name, election symbol and ballot number. Similarly, another big business candidate for Kabul, Khan Muhammad Wardak, owner of one of Afghanistan’s biggest companies, Khan Steel, and also in the contracting business, further developed the slogan to say: Khan Muhammad ta raya, musbat badlun ta raya (“Vote for Khan Muhammad, vote for positive change”). So did Muhammad Latif Fayaz, from Ghazni province but running from Kabul under the slogan: Ba tadbir ba su-ye taghir (“With a plan for change“). He has worked for the United Nations and several national and international NGOs and is now teaching at private universities. Muhammad Sangar Amirzada, also competing in Kabul and a former member of ex-president Hamed Karzai’s chief of staff office, heads the youth activists’ network Shabaka-ye Eslah wa Taghir (“Network for Reform and Change“) affiliated with former minister and presidential hopeful for 2019 Omar Daudzai.

Many of the candidate businessman, and also some of the candidates with civil society background, own or run institutions of higher learning. This caters to the widespread demand for higher education, gives them an air of philanthropy, and helps create a voter base. Jan Muhammad Sherzad, a candidate in Helmand, told AAN that he believes that all 300 students of his English courses will vote for him (although, as usual, candidates have a tendency to overestimate the strength of their ties).

The next generation?

Conversations with many Afghans in the run-up to this election, as well as media reports indicate that there is widespread hope, again, that a new, young generation of candidates will make it into the now 250 seats-strong Wolesi Jirga. The hope underneath is that they will behave more honestly than the current set of parliamentarians who, as the New York Times recently wrote, are “notoriously corrupt” (see also AAN research on corruption in the Afghan parliament here and this AFP news item here). A poll by the Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) published this month showed that only 9.6 per cent of respondents answered ‘yes’ when asked whether they were “satisfied” with the work of the current set of members of parliament (15.1 per cent said “somehow”) and only 6.5 per cent said they had “benefited” from their work (10.2 per cent said “somehow”).

This hope that a new generation will be voted in is fortified by the many new and young faces on some candidate lists, particularly in Kabul. In the capital alone, 804 candidates are running – the ballot paper has a newspaper format, with 15 pages – which leaves enough space for new, young faces. The officially published candidates’ lists however (see here; the lists themselves are in Dari only) do not give the dates of birth of the contenders, so their ages must be guessed. On many provincial lists, from Kunar via Uruzgan, Parwan and Panjshir to Herat, the faces of elders and mid-agers dominate.

Sons, daughters and relatives of the post-2001 establishment: politicians, former mujahedin leaders, businessmen

Among the younger candidates, the children and relatives of well-known warlords-turned-politicians and members of other prominent families are most easily identifiable. Some Afghan media have already browsed through the lists and categorised the candidates – foremost the Dari-only news website Khabarnama (see here).

One subcategory extensively described are the sons, daughters and other relatives of the first tier of the mujahedin party leaders, such as:

  • Bator Dostum running from Jawzjan province: son of General Abdulrashid Dostum, first vice president and leader of the Uzbek-dominated Jombesh party,
  • Muhammad Baqer Muhaqeq and Muhammad Ali Muhaqeq, running from Kabul and Balkh respectively: sons of Haji Muhammad Muhaqeq, leader of one of the Hazara-dominated parties, Hezb-e Wahdat and second deputy of the chief executive,
  • Muhammad Alem Khalili running from Kabul: son of Muhammad Karim Khalili, the leader of another Hazara-dominated party, Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom, a former vice president and now chairman of the High Peace Council (HPC);
  • Haji Abdul Reza Khalili running from Kabul with the slogan “Excellence, pragmatism and accountability”: a nephew of HPC chief Khalili, with interests in real estate; he reportedly also owns production companies for mineral water and construction materials,
  • Jamaluddin Hekmatyar running from Kabul: son of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the recently reconciled leader of Hezb-e Islami Afghanistan (AAN background here),
  • Zaher Qadir, a sitting MP already and the son of late eastern mujahedin leader Haji Qadir, in Nangrahar,
  • Sayed Taha Sadeq running from Herat: son of western Afghanistan’s grey eminence, former governor Ismail Khan,
  • Sayed Mujtaba Anwari and Sayed Mahdi Anwari, both running in Kabul: sons of the late Sayed Hussain Anwari, leader of the Shia mujahedin party Harakat-e Islami, former minister of agriculture and of planning and former governor of Kabul and Herat.

None of the major ‘mujahedin party’ leaders are running themselves: not Sayyaf, Qanuni or Muhaqeq who were members of both the 2005 and 2010 Wolesi Jirgas (1); HamedGailani, who was candidate in 2005, or Ismail Khan and Hekmatyar, who had so far never ran.

Other – not so young – close relatives of powerful politicians include Muhammad Rafiq Sherzai, the brother of 2014 presidential candidate and former Kandahar and Nangrahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai, and Humayun Ramazan, the brother of Ahmad Shah Ramazan, a sitting MP; both are running from Balkh. Also, Sayeda Massuda Yari, daughter-in-law of late Haji Sulaiman Yari, who was a selected senator for the Upper House from Maidan Wardak, and Ruqia Alemi Balkhi, sister of minister for Refugees and Returnees Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi. Both are running from Kabul.

Almost as well known, at least among Afghans, are those from the families of the second tier of former mujahedin leaders:

  • Zabihullah Almas, running from Kabul: son of sitting MP Haji Muhammad Almas Zahed from Parwan province, who was recently appointed as presidential advisor and is not running again,
  • Haji Ajmal Rahmani, running from Kabul: nephew of General Baba Jan, a major commander in the area of Bagram airbase, who became rich as a contractor providing for the base’s supplies and is said to be financially supporting a number of other candidates; Haji Ajmal himself recently injected substantial capital into Afghanistan’s professional football league – now named the “Rahmani Foundation Afghan Premier League” in his honour – and bought one of its teams. (A brother of Baba Jan is also running, again: Mir Rahman Rahmani, currently the head of the Wolesi Jirga’s economic commission),
  • Azizullah Amiri, running from Kunduz: son of late commander Amir, one of the famous Ittehad-e Islami leaders in the north, running for the first time,
  • Haidar Khan Naimzai, a current MP who is running for the kuchi constituency again: son of Naim Kuchi, a former Taleb who reconciled with the Karzai government after he was released from Guantanamo,
  • Mir Wais Salam, running for a kuchi seat, while his father, sitting MP Abdul Salam Raketi, runs in Zabul,
  • Shah Aghasi Ibrahimkhel, running from Balkh: son of famous Jihad-time commander Akhtar Muhammad Ibrahimkhel (better known as Akhtar Luchak),
  • Bashir Ahmad Ziayi, running from Takhar: son of Mullah Piram Qul Ziayi, one of the most important Jamiati commanders in the northeast and a 2005 MP, who branched out into the militia ‘business’ (AAN background here),
  • Ahmad Tamim Jurat, running from Kabul: son of General Din Muhammad Jurat, a commander under late commander Ahmad Shah Massud, former deputy National Security Advisor and presidential advisor on security and defense who was sacked on 1 October 2018
  • with Zia-ur-Rahman Kashmir Khan, in Kunar, the son of insurgent Hezb-e Islami commander Kashmir Khan, who reportedly died in a Pakistani capital in 2016, runs.

Many candidates use photos of their prominent family members to make the relationship plain. In some cases even non-relatives do this. Kabul candidate Sayed Baqer Mohseni Kazemi, for example, has put a picture of assassinated Shia party leader Mustafa Kazemi in the background of his posters – even though they are no relation of each other (he belongs to the same party, though).

Campaign poster of Kabul candidate Sayed Baqer Mohseni Kazemi with assassinated party leader Sayed Mustafa Kazemi in the background. Photo: Thomas Ruttig

There are also wealthy businessmen, or their young relatives, running who do not have a commander’s past. They include owner of Afghan United Bank, Ahmad Jawed Jaihun, who has a paid-for banner on the top of the ToloNews website (and, according to Reuters, “started life selling water on the streets of Kabul”); Ajmal Nawab, son of former governor of Paktika, Helmand and Nangrahar Gulab Mangal who have also branched out into the construction business; and Rais Muhammad Ibrahimzada in Balkh province, son of Ghulam Abbas Ibrahimzada, who is one of the richest men in the north and currently the deputy head of the Wolesi Jirga’s economy commission.

But the overlap between the categories of those who had a leadership background in the fight against the Soviets and those who have joined in the post-2001 wealth is obvious. Khabarnama has published two lists with 16 of the country’s richest businessmen – no businesswoman among them – running in the 20 October election. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 here (AAN’s English translation in the annex).

Relatives of (former) government officials

With Mariam Soleimankhail, Jamil Karzai (both in Kabul) and Rohullah Khanzada(in Kandahar), young, distant relatives of both post-2001 presidents are running. Soleimankhail is a niece of president Ghani who worked as head of the international affairs department in the presidential office and later in the government’s rural education programme. Jamil Karzai, a distant nephew of Hamed Karzai, was already an MP in the 2005 parliament. He is a minor businessman and runs his own National Moderation Party (Hezb-e Etedal-e Melli). Khanzada, a  businessman and contractor, is another cousin of Karzai.

In Herat, Basir Ahmad Arwin Taheri, a nephew of Rangin Dadfar Spanta, foreign minister and national security advisor under Karzai, is among the candidates. A cousin and a brother of Sayyed Abdul Wahid Qatali, President Ghani’s chief of staff – Sayyed Azim KabarzanI and Sayyed Khalil Qatali – are also running from Herat. Kabarzani has a background of working for Afghan cultural and international NGOs. There are also the sons of a former Herat mayor (Omar Nasir Mujaddedi), the influential head of the ulama council in western Afghanistan (Juma Gul Rahmani) and the former commander of the regional army corps who lost his life in a helicopter crash (Muhammad Omid Ghori).

A relative of a member of the Independent Election Commission is running from Herat: Naqibullah Arwin, brother of commissioner Wasima Badghisi.

A special case is the candidacy of Baktash Eshchi in Jowzjan. He is the son of former Jombesh politician Ahmad Eshchi, better known as Engineer Ahmad, who fell out with General Dostum. His outspokenness over the abuse he suffered led to a political crisis between president Ghani and his vice president Dostum that has still not been fully resolved. It will be interesting to see how Eshchi’s son will fare on 20 October. In Takhar province, former Jowzjan provincial governor Alem Sa’i, another Jombesh dissident, is running (more AAN background on both Eshchi and Sa’i here).

A Kabul shopkeeper has pinned a poster of former TV presenter and sitting MP Baktash Siawash to the wall of his stall. Photo: Thomas Ruttig.

Civil society, social movement and media candidates

At the other end of the spectrum, in particular when it comes to financial means, are the candidates with a background in civil society, social movements and the media. Probably the most prominent among them is Soraya Rahim Sobhrang, a previous member of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) who did not apply for the renewal of her AIHRC mandate (AAN background here). She is running in Herat. Maria Bashir, a former civil society activistrunning in the same province, was the first woman to hold a prosecutor’s position in the country.

In Nimruz, among only 12 candidates for two seats, Mir Ahmad Baloch is running, the head of the now defunct Baloch Social and Cultural Center in Zaranj that was ransacked and looted by local vested political interests. Somaya Ramesh, a long-standing civil and human rights activist, was a Herat provincial council member and before that director of a civil foundation called Nawandishan (New Thinkers) and founder of local radio station Shahrzad Radio. In Kabul, Baqi Samandari is well-known for his work with street children, as is Zahra Yagana, who organises support for families of victims of terrorist attacks and who heads a group of environmentalist volunteers who frequently clean Kabul’s notoriously dirty parks and streets. Zakia Wardak is the head of a charity organization, which her husband founded, and women’s rights activist. She is also head of the female engineers association. All three are running in Kabul.

Ahmad Behzad, a well-known sitting Herat MP who became one of the leaders of Jombesh-e Roshnayi (the Enlightenment movement, see AAN reporting here), is now running from Kabul.

Asef Ashna, running in Kabul too, also became active in several social movements – the Tabasom Movement (AAN background here), the Enlightenment Movement and Uprising for Change – after he resigned as deputy spokesman for the NUG’s Chief Executive. He had started his political career with the Right and Justice Party (AAN background here) but separated from it during the 2014 presidential election.

Ajmal Balochzada was a member of the Transitional Justice Action Group and the – promising, but now somewhat less active – youth network Afghanistan 1400 (AAN background here). In 2014, he supported the presidential campaign of Zalmai Rassul. After that he worked in the National Directorate for Security under its then chief Rahmatullah Nabil. He is now allied to Nabil’s Mehwar-e Mardom opposition group (AAN analysis here).

A somewhat special category are the former journalists, such as sitting MP and glamorous former Tolo TV host Baktash Siawash running from Kabul again or newly running Belal Sarwari in Kunar. There are several dozens of similar candidates, including a number of women such as Mariam Sama and Saleha Sadat, both formerly of Tolo TV, and Pashtana Arabzai from Shamshad TV.

Particularly the former TV hosts among them benefit from their face and name recognition. These include Muslim Sherzad and Same Mehdi. Mehdi worked for One TV and Tolo TV, where he was anchorman of the popular Siah-o Safid (“black and white”) weekly political show. He now runs the Payk investigative journalism centre. He is a son of Jamiat-e Islami MP Mohiuddin Mehdi who is also running again from Baghlan. An English-speaking journalist told AAN he recognised at least six former Afghan BBC reporters among the candidates. The number of former Tolo journalists is in the same range.

There are also a number of political and military analysts who are regular guests in TV talk shows that are running for parliament. These include Fazl-ul-Minullah Mumtaz from Parwan who is deemed to be close to Hezb-e Islami and General Jawed Kohestani, who used to head a moderate political party, was active in various anti-Soviet resistance groups and unsuccessfully ran in earlier elections.

As various prospective voters (and non-voters) told AAN, these candidates will try to build on their on-screen “fame” and may hope to appeal to a broad audience across ethnic boundaries. With successful journalist-turned-MP Baktash Siawash they have already a role model who, in 2010, was still a pioneer with this shift in his career.

But candidates with a civil society and social movement background are not necessarily independent or without political influence of their own. Various private TV channels are linked with political parties. Also, the presidents – Karzai, in his later years, and increasingly also Ghani – pulled younger personnel into their administrations, including from civil society, the media, NGOs and international organisations. A number of these figures later left the government, joined its critics or are preparing to play a role in the various presidential candidacies that are building up to compete with Ghani’s re-election campaign.

… and many known faces

Of the 230 MPs that are currently still in the Wolesi Jirga (after deaths and resignations) 174 have registered as candidates for the upcoming election– 58 women and 116 men. They include current Wolesi Jirga speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi who served in this position during the whole extended tenure of eight and a half years. His slogan – “entering the parliament again to fight mafia and thieves” – somehow sounds hollow, as he had been involved in a corruption case himself and was ordered to pay back 5.4 million Afghani to the house which he was ruled to have inappropriately received (AAN reporting: here). Ibrahimi has repeatedly been urged to comply with the order by well-known critic, Kabuli MP and former planning minister, Ramazan Bashardost, who is running on an anti-corruption platform. Bashardost’s slogan: Palau az duzdha, ray az ma (“[Take the] palau from the thieves, [give your] vote to me”).

There are also two women from Ibrahimi’s family running, both in his home province of Kunduz: his daughter Kamela Ibrahimi and Basira Rasuli, who is a more distant relative.

Ibrahimi is joined in his candidacy by the entire current administrative board. (2) At least nine of the current heads of the 15 standing parliamentary commissions are also running again (revisit AAN’s guide to parliament here). (3) These are influential candidates, as they have been able to muster majorities in the house to be elected, often including support from both camps in the National Unity Government, who compete against each other for positions.

At the provincial level many influential and long-standing MPs are also running again, and for many it would be surprising if they did not win. Examples include Khaled Pashtun in Kandahar, Mawlawi Shahzada Shahed in Kunar, Jamiati commander Hazrat Gul and Mir Wais Yasini in Nangrahar, Amanullah Guzar in Kabul; Nader Khan Katawazai in Paktika, Sayed Muhammad Jamal Fukkuri-Beheshti and Muhammad Akbari in Bamian, Gul Pacha Majidi and Humayun Humayun in Khost, as well as the Zabuli heavyweight triumvirate of former commander Haji Abdul Salam Raketi, former provincial governor Hamidullah Tokhi and Abdul Qadar Qalatwal. This time, they are joined by Haji Muhammad Hashem Granai, a member of the Zabul provincial council and an influential war-time commander, running for Hezb-e Islami. He will compete with them for the three male seats in this province. Furthermore, there are former mujahedin commanders Mullah Malang (known as Lala Malang) in Badghis who was linked with Harakat-e Inqilab-e Islami, and Ibrahim Malekzada in Ghor, the latter linked to Jamiat-e Islami.

A rest from work under a collection of election posters. Photo: Thomas Ruttig.

Ex-ministers and former government officials

Among the candidates for the new tenure of Wolesi Jirga there are at least six former ministers who are running themselves. Most of them belong to less powerful political forces or are independent, so it is difficult to gauge how big their chance to win are:

  • Masuda Jalal running from Kabul: a former minister for women’s affairs and first female candidate for head of state in Afghanistan – during the 2003 Constitutional Loya Jirga and in the 2004 presidential election,
  • Sayed Makhdum Rahin running from Kabul: former minister of information and culture, member of one of the pre-war elite families of Kabul and head of a new political party named Hezb-e Khedmatgar-e Afghanistan (Servants of Afghanistan Party) (media report here),
  • Abdulhadi Arghandiwal running from Kabul: a former minister of economy and, more importantly, leader of a rival Hezb-e Islami faction that has not joined the party’s mainstream led again by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (AAN dossier here),
  • Assadullah Zamir running in Kabul: a former agriculture minister and member of the Afghanistan 1400 network,
  • Muhammadullah Batash running from Kunduz: former Minister of transport and governor of Faryab. He belongs to Jombesh party,
  • Muhammad Aref Norzai running from Helmand:minister of tribal affairs in the Karzai era and MP in the 2005 Wolesi Jirga.

They are joined – all running from Kabul – by Mirza Muhammad Yarmand, former deputy minister of interior; Lutfullah Mashal, former deputy head of NDS and governor of Laghman; Tamim Nuristani, the former governor of Nuristan; Yunos Nawandesh, a former mayor of Kabul; General Sayed Aman Sadat, the former deputy chief of the Afghan Border Police; Hawa Alam Nuristani, a former MP for Nuristan and member of High Peace Council; Muhammad Qasim Jangalbagh, an ex-police chief of Kunduz (according to the Afghanistan Justice Project he was involved in the Afshar massacre in 1993); and former MP Shinkay Karokhel who is also running, after resigning as ambassador in Canada. Muhammad Omar Sherzad, former governor of Uruzgan and Farah, is running from Kandahar. Finally, Jawid Faisal, running in Kandahar, and Dawa Khan Minapal, a candidate for the kuchis, are both former government spokesmen.

Party politicians as independents

Only 205 candidates out of the total of 2565 – eight per cent countrywide – have registered as members of political parties. A fair number of known political party members, including leading ones, have registered as ‘independents’. Many of them seem to assume that they can garner more popular support if they do not publicise their membership. Among many Afghans, political parties are not particularly popular; many of the older ones are despised for their role in the wars of the past, while many new ones are considered vanity or money and influence generating schemes. Nevertheless, there are currently 72 political parties registered with the Ministry of Justice, of which 26 are fielding candidates under their name (more detail in this AAN analysis).

Among the candidates that have not declared their party allegiance are leading members of Jamiat-e Islami such as Nur-ul-Rahman Ekhlaqi, Abdul Hafiz Mansur and Mohiduddin Mehdi, as well as one of Hezb-e Islami’s chief negotiators for the 2017 peace deal (AAN background here), Karim Amin. There are also Ibrahim Malekzada, a well-known Jamiati commander from Ghor, and Hamidullah Tokhi from Zabul, who is known for his Hezb-e Islami affiliation. Even the high-profile leader of the small Hezb-e Kangara-ye Melli (National Congress Party), Latif Pedram, registered as ‘independent’. Ex-minister Rahin did not register under the name of the party he founded, and Zulfeqar Omid, who ran unsuccessfully from Daykundi in the past and now is a Kabuli candidate, did not give the name of the party he leads, Hezb-e Kar wa Tausea (Labour and Development Party). The same goes for Sayed Muhammad Hadi Hadi in Kabul from Harakat-e Islami-ye Mardom.

Nangrahar candidate Muhammad Sediq Patman is a member of the leadership council of the New National Front established by former finance minister and Afghan Mellat chairman Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi. In Kandahar, a young candidate, Nesar Ahmad is supported by leftist Hezb-e Watan activists.Jombesh and Hezb-e Islami members seem to have less problems to identify themselves as such. They are the two parties with most candidates registered, over 40 in each case.

Other candidates, such as sitting MPs Muhammad Naim Lalai Hamidzai and Hamdullah Nazek, the former head of NDS in Zabul and Helmand, and former senator and Helmand governor Sher Muhammad Akhundzada are known as close to ex-president Karzai – who is not represented by a political party.

Rahmatullah Wahidyar, a former Taleban member and later member of the High Peace Council is running again in Paktia.

Conclusion: new faces, old faces

Looking at the 2018 candidate lists, there is continuity in the overall number – as in 2010, some 2500 candidates are running. Also the percentage of the female candidates among them has remained stable, slightly over 15 per cent (for 25 per cents of the reserved seats). The bad image of the parliament has clearly not translated in a decreased interest to run: the number of candidates vying for a Wolesi Jirga seat is similar to that in 2010, with some 2500 contenders. The promise of access to power and resources, the possibility to build up political prestige and, for some, the parliamentary immunity that membership in the lower house provides has clearly not lost its attraction.

There is also continuity in the fact that a large majority of the sitting candidates – some 170, out of 230 by now (there were demises and resignations) – are competing for a seat again. Although their images might drown in the sea of the posters, their established influence – and their chances of winning – should not be underestimated. And on many provincial lists, from Kunar via Uruzgan, Parwan and Panjshir to Herat, it is the faces of elders and mid-agers that dominate over the young ones.

There is also a clear wish for change – reflected by, and attached to, the many new faces that are running. Some might run to because they want to serve their constituencies and do better than their predecessors, but many of them are linked to vested interests. And not all young, new or female candidates are reformers. On the other hand, even though several of the young and rich might run with the intention to protect or expand their families’ influence, they may not be opposed to reform. So far many voters hope for change, but they are not holding their breath.


(1) At the end of the 2010 Wolesi Jirga session none of these three leaders were still MPs. Qanuni replaced Fahim as Karzai’s vice president after his death in March 2014, Sayyaf resigned to run for the presidency in 2014 and Muhaqeq resigned to be on Abdullah’s presidential ticket (again).

(2) The current administrative board of the Wolesi Jirga, which is running again in its entirety, consists of:

  1. Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, the current speaker of the house, running from Kunduz
  2. Humayun Humayun, first deputy speaker, running from Khost again
  3. Amir Muhammad Khan Yar, second deputy speaker, running from Nangarhar
  4. Mirdad Khan Nejrabi, secretary of the Wolesi Jirga, running from Kapisa province
  5. Erfanullah Erfan, deputy secretary of the Wolesi Jirga, running from Kabul

(3) In 2010, there were 18 standing commissions (“committees”) in the Wolesi Jirga, which by 2016 had been reduced to 15. The committee heads that are running again include:

  • Mir Rahman Rahmani, head of the commission for the National Economy, NGOs, Rural Rehabilitation, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, running from Parwan again
  • Qazi Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, head of the legislative commission, running from Herat again
  • Eqbal Safi, head of the internal security commission, running from Kapisa
  • Muhammad Azim Mohseni, head of finance and budget commission, in Baghlan
  • Obaidullah Barekzai, head of the complaint commission, from Uruzgan, this time running from Kabul
  • Sayed Muhammad Hassan Sharifi Balkhabi, head of the judiciary affairs, administrative reform and anti-corruption commission, running from Sar-e Pul
  • Kamal Naser Osuli, head of education/higher education commission, running from Khost
  • Muhammad Naim Lalai Hamidzai, head of counter narcotic commission, running from Kandahar
  • Abdul Hafiz Mansur, head of the central audit commission, running from Kabul

Kabul street with banners for the 30 October 2018 parliamentarian elections in Afghanistan. Photo (c): Reuters/ Omar Sobhani – RC17C584F110


Annex: Businessmen running

Source: Khabarnama (here and here – some of these candidates are already discussed in the text)

Nine Known Rich Candidates for the Wolesi Jirga Election 2018

Haji Ajmal Rahmani: he is one of the richest young businessmen of Afghanistan. He is original from Parwan province. His father, Mir Rahman Rahmani, is currently a member of the Lower House, head of the economy commission. He made most of his wealth from oil trade and transportation services. He is thought to be one of the well-known contractors of foreign troops in Afghanistan. He is a candidate for Kabul in the Wolesi Jirga election.

Muhammad Fahim Hashimi: he is one of the richest businessmen of Afghanistan. He made most of his wealth trough oil and gas trade, transportation and producing military clothes. He is the owner of One TV and Ufuq-e Sharq airline. He is a candidate for Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga election.

Ahmad Jawed Jaihun: he is one of the richest businessmen of Afghanistan. He made most of his wealth through oil and gas trade, transportation, armored vehicles, mines and banking. He is a stakeholder and general director of the Afghan United Bank. He is a candidate for Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga election.

Nurullah Dawoodzai: he is also one of the richest young businessmen of Afghanistan. He has made most of his wealth through contracts from foreign forces in Afghanistan, oil and gas trade, and transportation.He has also invested in real estate. He is from Qarabagh district of Kabul. He is a candidate for Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga election.

Abbas Ibrahimzada: He is thought to be one of the richest businessmen of Afghanistan. He has made most of his wealth through oil and gas trade in the north, building construction and money services. He is currently a member of the Wolesi Jirga from Balkh Province. He is again a candidate from Balkh for the 2018 Wolesi Jirga election.

Haji Shekib Ahmadyar: One of the youngest businessmen of Afghanistan. He has made most of wealth through oil trade in north Afghanistan. He is originally from Panjshir province and his brother, Tawakol Ahmadyar is the head of Afghanistan oil and gas union. He is a candidate for Panjshir in the Wolesi Jirga election.

Haji Hafizullah Jalili: he was born in Qarabagh district of Ghazni province. He is one of the rich national businessmen of Afghanistan. He has made most of his wealth from Arabic countries where he has hotels and restaurants. In Afghanistan, he is active in real estate section and construction. He is a candidate from Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga election.

Nesar Ahmad Faizi Ghoryani: he was born in 1970 in Ghoryan district of Herat province. He is also one of the richest businessmen of Afghanistan. He has made most of his wealth through electric supplies. He is currently a member of the Wolesi Jirga from Herat and a candidate for the same province in the election for the Wolesi Jirga.

Feraidun Nurzad: he is one of the richest national businessmen of Afghanistan. He has made most of his wealth from money services and banking. He is graduated from Kabul Medical University. He has worked as deputy CEO for Kabul Bank and Azizi Bank. Currently he is the owner of Maiwand TV and Maiwand Bank. He is a candidate for Kabul in the Wolesi Jirga election.

Rich Candidates for the Wolesi Jirga (Second part)

  1. Ahmad Hamid Warasta: he is running from Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga Election with the slogan “One Nation, One Goal”. He was born in Kabul in 1983 in a political, cultural and economic family. His father was one of the well-known businessmen of Afghanistan and his grandfather was one of the pioneers of novel literature. He has done his higher education in business and administration outside of Afghanistan. He has several business companies under the name of “Hamid Warasta Group”. He made most of his wealth through business activities and contracts.
  1. Rajab Ali Andishmand: he is one of richest businessmen of Afghanistan. He has made most of his wealth through car imports in Middle East countries. He is politically active as well and has close relations with some of Afghan politicians. He is running from Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga Election. (note: mostly the people in west Kabul know him as Bacha-e Sharbat – ‘Sharbat’s son’. He was the one who give each cabinet minister a land cruiser at the beginning of the Karzai administration)
  1. Abdul Sabor Gardizi: he is son of the famous and biggest businessman of iron products in Afghanistan, Rahim Gardizi (he imports iron products from Russia and Tajikistan). He has made most of his wealth through importing iron products or ironware and construction. He is running from Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga Election with the slogan ‘Commitment, Honesty/Integrity, action and providing justice’.
  1. Haji Abdul Reza Khalili: he is son of Haji Muhammad NabiKhalili and nephew of Muhammad Karim Khalili, current chief of HPC. He has made most of his wealth through real estate. Now he has several product companies such mineral water and stone. He is running from Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga Election with the slogan ‘Excellency, pragmatism and accountability’.
  1. Khan Muhammad Wardak: he is one of the richest men of Afghanistan. He is running from Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga Election with the slogan Khan Muhammad ta raya, musbatbadloon ta raya – ‘Vote for Khan Muhammad, vote for positive changes’. He has made most of his wealth through transportation and oil business for foreign troops. He has one of the biggest companies ‘Khan Steel) producing rebar and other ironware for constructions. He has invested more than 50 million dollars in two phases of his company.
  1. Sayed Javid Andish: he is one of the Afghan businessmen. He is running from Kabul for the Wolesi Jirga Election. He has made most of his wealth from educational services and contracts. He is the chief and owner of Karwan Private University.
  1. Haji Gul Ahmad Nurzad: he is one of richest businessmen. He is running from Nimroz province for the Wolesi Jirga Election. He has made most of riches through oil and gas business. He is also involved in exchanging money services as well. He has several product companies in west of Afghanistan and his business activity is in Nimroz and Herat.







Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Publications - SEDE meeting on 10-11 October 2018 - Subcommittee on Security and Defence

Item 4 - Public Hearing on Artificial intelligence and its future impact on security - The OODA Loop: WHY TIMING IS EVERYTHING - Mrs Wendy R. Anderson, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
Item 4 - Public Hearing on Artificial intelligence and its future impact on security - As AI Begins to Reshape Defense, Here’s How Europe Can Keep Up - Mrs Wendy R. Anderson, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
Item 4 - Public Hearing on Artificial intelligence and its future impact on security - As Budget Polemic Drives Headlines, Do Not Lose Track of NATO’s Approach to AI - Mrs Wendy R. Anderson, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
Item 5 - Exchange of view on Future challenges for The European Union Satellite Centre (EUSATCEN) : Presentation by Mr Pascal Legai, Director EUSATCEN
Item 6 - Exchange of view with Operation Commander Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino on the State of play of Europrean Union Naval Force - Mediterranean EUNAVFOR MED
Item 7 - Exchange of views on Mine action and the European Union's integrated approach with Mr Frank Meeussen Policy Officer, Conventional Arms - Disarmament, Non-proliferation and Arms Export Control, EEAS
Item 7 - Exchange of views on Mine action and the European Union's integrated approach with Mr Juan-Carlos Ruan, Director of the Implementation Support Unit of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining
Source : © European Union, 2018 - EP

Here’s Why Calling The Footage of a RAAF Boeing C-17 Flying Low Over Brisbane a “9/11 Stunt” is Nonsense

The Aviationist Blog - Tue, 16/10/2018 - 22:14
A Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III took part in the traditional Brisbane Riverfire Festival. Clips of the airlifter flying between the buildings inundated the social networks. And someone labelled the display as an unnecessary “9/11 stunt”. Here’s why that’s pure nonsense. Held each year at the end of September, Riverfire is the big […]
Categories: Defence`s Feeds