Afghan refugees excluded from presidential polls

Afghan refugees living in Pakistan will not be able to vote in presidential elections.

Afghan refugees excluded from presidential polls

World Bulletin / News Desk

For Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, when people in their home country choose President Hamid Karzai's successor on April 5 it will be a historical event they cannot take part in.

The elections will mark the country’s first democratic transfer of power but, as was the case in the 2009 election, no arrangements have been made for the 1.6 million registered refugees living in Pakistan to play a role.

"This is not our decision. This is the decision of Afghan embassy (not to allow the refugees to cast their votes)," said Waqar Maroof, the head of Pakistan's Afghan Commissionerate. "We would have made arrangements for polling if the Afghan embassy had requested us for that."

Abdul Khaliq Ali, a Karachi-based political analyst, told The Anadolu Agency that Afghan refugees may have been deliberately excluded from the election process because of the effect their participation could have on the balance of power.

There are 11 candidates running for the position with former government ministers Abdullah Abdullah, Zalmai Rasool and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai seen as front runners; the constitution bars Karzai from seeking a third term.

"The current regime does not want the participation of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan as around 83 per cent of them are Pashtuns whose vote can convert the present majority into a minority," said Ali. "Participation of Afghan refugees in the elections will understandably increase the Pashtun presence and influence in functioning of the state."

The elections have been threatened by instability after the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Omar, warned Afghans against participating and ordered his followers to derail the process, which they claim strengthens the foreign occupation of Afghanistan.

The attacks carried out by the Taliban have damaged claims made by the U.S. and Afghan authorities that an expensive 13-year long "war against terror" has established a functioning Afghan state.

Besides the 1.6 million registered refugees, Maroof said there are one million unregistered Afghan refugees residing in different parts of Pakistan that had long been blamed by the Afghan leadership for "patronizing" violent attacks in Afghanistan.

Last Mod: 31 Mart 2014, 17:30
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