Registration of Afghan voters completed

October 05, 2004


PESHAWAR, Oct 4: An estimated 650,000 Afghans have been registered in Pakistan for the Oct 9 presidential elections in Afghanistan.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which conducted the out-of-country registration programme in Pakistan under the auspices of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), extended the process for an additional day to enrol more voters for the presidential polls, particularly women.

A press release issued by the International Organization for Migration on the concluding day of the four-day programme said that the final figures would only be available when reports were received overnight from all of the field offices.

The press release said that response of the Afghan community in Pakistan had been enthusiastic and approximately 25 per cent of those registered were women. Initially, the organization had estimated that up to 800,000 Afghans would be registered in Pakistan for the polls.

The registration process, however, had not been without hiccups. Not a single refugee turned up to register at the Shamshatoo Refugee Camp - controlled and run by Gulbadin Hikmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami.

The supporters of the former Afghan prime minister, who is on the United States' most wanted list warned that they would not allow the registration and polling staff to conduct the process in the camp.

Similarly, about 70,000 registered refugees in the Mera Kachori Camp, on the outskirts of Peshawar, could not take part in the process, according to the officials. In Turkman Refugee Camp, about 30 kilometres southeast of Peshawar, the registration staff told Dawn that only 800 refugees, including 80 females, had been enrolled during the last four days.

The camp population, according to the officials, was about 20,000. Maurizio Giuliano, the IOM reporting officer, told Dawn that registration could not be taken place due to operational and security reasons in some areas.

North, South Waziristan, Chitral district and urban areas in Punjab had already been excluded from the registration plan because of security problems and lack of access.