Transcript: Wardack & Mohammadi on possible Afghan elections before 2014
Transcript of Q&A with Afghanistan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismella Mohammadi at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on April 12, 2012:
“Salaam aleikum. My name is Omar Samad. I’m USIP, former Afghan diplomat. My question has to do with a news item that came out of Kabul today where President Karzai indicated that he is thinking and he’s consulting about probably holding elections prior to 2014, the set date for the next Afghan presidential elections. From a security point of view, can both of you tell us whether the army and the police will be ready to handle elections ahead of scheduled time on one hand? And secondly, what is your overall view of what you consider as being a peaceful and successful political transition in Afghanistan in the couple of years ahead?”
Afghanistan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak:
“We heard the news also as you heard it today in the morning. (Laughter.) And then we made some telephone calls – (laughter) – and the result was that even before the news came, in the past, I think we did discuss that there is so much to be done in that 2014, which will be the (completion ?) of transition, and then this political transition, which is the election. So there was a different – it was just an opinion and also something for discussion that, will it be more feasible to bring it forward, from security point of view, since the transition is not going to be completed if it’s come a year ahead? So we will have the – some support from the ISAF countries. So it will be much more easier, as far as the security is concerned – our security of the election is concerned.
“But as far as how the army and the police is going to secure the election, it will depend on the level of violence and threat in that span of time. We do hope that we will be able that – this year and the part of the next year, to be able to further degrade the capabilities of our opponent, which then, I think, it will make it much more easier to secure the election.
“We do hope that based on our constitution and based on the – this principle of democracy, which has been wholeheartedly accepted by the Afghan nation, that there will be a very peaceful transition of political power when the time comes for the election.
“But the whole thing will be dependent on the level of violence. If it is degraded and it’s less and manageable, then I think everything will go positively and with our expectations.”
Robert D. Lamb, Director of Crisis, Conflict, and Cooperation Program at CSIS:
“Minister Mohammadi, if elections are held in 2013 instead of 2014, will the police be ready?”
Afghanistan Interior Minister Bismella Mohammadi:
“I thank you, sir, for your question. And as His Excellency the minister of defense touched upon, we heard this very much in the same fashion as you did. But when we inquired with our ambassador, Ambassador Hakimi, he clarified that it wasn’t an end- all and be-all statement – be-all, end-all statement that the president issued from Kabul. It was only a point of discussion that was brought up in order to gather opinions and get feedback.
“In any way, it is our responsibility, the responsibility of the Afghan National Police, to provide security at all times, not just during elections, whether that – those elections take place in 2013 or 2014.
“We are proud that during the past great events in Afghanistan, whether they were parliamentary elections, presidential elections, we brought a lot of the security – we contributed a great deal to the security of those elections and to the successful voting process in Afghanistan.
“Up to today, thank God, all of these historic occasions have taken place very successfully, even though in the past, let’s keep in mind, we were much weaker as – from a security standpoint, but we have gained much more experience in the meantime. We have become much better equipped.
“But to the point that I can say, based on what I know, what I’ve come to understand and know and distinguish of our security forces, I am very – (starts to say “pessimistic”) – optimistic – excuse me – that security will go on and provide – we will provide proper security for any elections. During the previous elections, you don’t see – you don’t see us having had to go to the NATO forces for any backup because there was a lack of self-sufficiency in providing internal security.
“We are in the process, as you know, of going towards the third phase of the transition process. We will take the place of the NATO forces, of the ISAF forces, but we must move on that path quite carefully, because, again, it must be an irreversible process. We plan very carefully, so that as the gradual withdrawal starts, we will not take too long to fill in those vacuums professionally – so altogether, hopefully, so as to avoid the creation of any security vacuums.”
Afghanistan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak:
“Ambassador Samad, I would like also to add that the actual fielding of the 352,000 army and police force will be completed sometime in mid-2013, according to the plan.”
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