The presidential elections in Afghanistan come at a very fragile time for the country, with the insurgency at its peak and threats from the Afghan Taliban likely leading to what many experts believe will be the lowest voter turnout in the history of the country. The Afghan Taliban has already threatened voters with dire consequences if they show up to vote, and with the added issue of a compulsory picture being taken of the voter after casting their vote, it is likely that this will lead to the mass disenfranchisement of women in more conservative areas.

With tens of thousands Afghan forces currently deployed at polling stations across the country, the government looks to be doing all it can in protecting citizens should they show up to vote, but the state could have improved its turnout numbers if it did not make policies that will inevitably lead to many potential voters not showing up on polling day. Pakistan first closed its borders with Afghanistan due to the precarious situation in Afghanistan, but then reversed this decision due to a request from the Afghan side. The movement of Afghans residing in Pakistan is important to improve this electoral exercise in the western neighbour, however, the security forces have rightly upped their vigilance, fearing some spill over security issues from Afghanistan. Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan at this time is important, and it is positive that we were willing to assist in any way possible.

Given that the Afghan Taliban currently holds more territory than any time in the past 18 years, since their government was overthrown by US forces, whoever wins the election will have the complicated job of holding the country together and fend off the Taliban simultaneously. The US-Afghan negotiations could not have been derailed at a worse time for Afghanistan given the situation, and whatever the result of this election, the Afghan Taliban will refuse to deal with the new government as well.

It remains to be seen what the Trump Administration will do next now that talks have failed, but the Afghan Taliban knows that it holds all the cards. With the Afghan forces and US troops unable to control large swathes of territory in the country, the winner of the Afghan election might be out of their depth in steering the country out of the present crisis. However, what happens after is a question for later, right now it is just important that the democratic process is allowed to continue.