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Election Security a Success

Training and cooperation are credited with keeping the peace during the presidential vote.
By Jawad Sharifzada

The security operation on presidential election day is seen as a major triumph for Afghanistan's burgeoning national police force.


Deputy interior minister Helaluddin Helal – whose ministry was the lead agency on security – credits effective training, the deployment of extra security forces to unsecured areas, and air patrols by Coalition forces for the peaceful election.


He paid tribute to the cooperation achieved through a joint commission, specially constituted for the election, comprising representatives of the Joint Election Management Body, JEMB, the United Nations, Coalition forces and the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, plus the national army and national police.


These groups had worked together for some time, and developed a close relationship that yielded results on October 9, he said. Coordination between the Afghan National Army, ANA, and the interior ministry meant that the military was able to provide support in areas not covered by the police force.


Tight security on roads into urban centres helped stop insurgents mounting attacks, and modern communications equipment and vehicles provided by the international community also helped, said Helal.


Effective policing and intelligence led to several foiled attacks, according to the interior ministry and other official sources. These included 25 separate attempted attacks using explosives; the arrest of two people in the Zurmat district of Paktia province accused of firing a rocket at a UN mine clearance group; and the ANA’s arrest of two individuals in Jalalabad with explosives strapped to their backs.


Despite the heightened security, there were still a number of violent incidents related to the election. These included an attack by a gunman on a voting centre in the Adraskhan district of Herat province, injuring one voter; a rocket attack on local government offices in Kunar that caused no injuries; an attempted suicide attack on General Saifullah, a corps commander in Kandahar province, that left one person dead and another injured; and a clash between Taleban and police forces in Mes Ainak in Logar province that left one police officer dead and three insurgents injured.


John McComber, the JEMB’s director of security, said a series of attacks the government carried out on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan beforehand had a significant impact on the security situation on election day.


"I think it [the success] was a combination of many things,” he said. “There were increased efforts by the police and military. There was good intelligence work done.


"We found out about the enemy’s plans in advance and were able to attack him before he could move. And the operation in Pakistan had some effect. "


He added, "I think there was also a significant factor - and that is that many people wanted this election to happen, and that is a powerful force."


Hilal paid tribute to the Pakistan government’s cooperation. "Pakistan's Islamic government kept to its promise to secure the border areas. And they worked very hard on that day," he said.


He also said that, in his view, the threat posed by the Taleban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, also opposed to the Western-backed government, had been overstated.


"The media exaggerates about the Taleban and Hekmatyar,” he said. “They are very weak and don't have the morale to fight when faced with the government's security measures.


"The Taleban don’t find shelter among the people. This means that they don’t have support from people for terrorist attacks. And even if the Taleban do appear in some place, the local people cooperate with the government."


Jawad Sharifzade is a staff reporter at IWPR in Kabul.


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