“The Islamic Emirate wants peace but the first step is to remove obstacles to peace and end the occupation of Afghanistan,” Mullah Baradar Akhund said, appearing openly on television in what appeared to be a calculated move to establish his legitimacy as one of the main public faces of the Taliban.
“It’s obvious that the situation in Afghanistan is not improving, that the threat is growing and that the ground is ripe for radical Islamists or followers and participants of the Islamic State project,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, a foreign policy expert close to the Kremlin who edits the Russia in Global Affairs journal.
Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections entered a second day after delays caused by violence and technical issues, as a roadside bomb killed nearly a dozen civilians on Sunday, including several children.
On Sunday, a roadside bomb in the eastern Nangarhar province struck a vehicle filled with civilians, killing 11 people, including six children, according to Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.
Afghanistan’s deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq expressed outrage at the chaotic start to polling and assailed election preparation by the country’s Independent Election Commission.
“The people rushed like a flood to the polling stations, but the election commission employees were not present, and in some cases they were there but there were no electoral materials and in most cases the biometric systems was not working,” he said.
“The attack carried out by a bodyguard of the governor happened moments after the meeting finished, as they were leaving the compound,” Afghanistan Army chief of staff General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali told reporters.
After a meeting chaired by President Ashraf Ghani, “a high-ranking delegation headed by the NDS chief has been deployed to Kandahar to control the situation”, Yaftali added.
Samiullah Mahdi, a prominent television journalist running for parliament, admits the process is “not much trusted”. But he sees the race as a chance to replace a discredited political class of power brokers and local bosses, many who have grown rich on contracts linked to the war.
“If we have fair elections, people will be able to vote for a new generation that thinks of the future.”