Pakistan hails ‘amicable solution’ to Afghan election impasse

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan welcomed on Sunday the “amicable solution” to the political impasse in Afghanistan that had gripped the country since the second round of the presidential elections on June 15.
“We welcome the amicable solution that has reportedly been worked out, and appreciate the efforts of everyone who contributed to this outcome,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said.
“Pakistan has emphasised the importance of peaceful resolution of all issues through dialogue,” she said in a text message when Pakistan’s reaction to the important development was sought.
She had earlier stated that Pakistan supports a peaceful democratic transition in Afghanistan and has also consistently emphasised that it would respect the democratic choice of the Afghan people.
Afghanistan plunged into a political crisis after leading presidential candidate Dr Abdullah Abdullah rejected the preliminary results last week. He also threatened to declare a parallel government if the audit of all “fraudulent votes” was not held.
Both candidates, Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Dr Abdullah, agreed to a 100% audit of the votes cast in the run-off presidential election after US Secretary of State John Kerry brokered the deal during his two days of talks in Kabul.
Kerry succeeded to end the impasse that has raised serious concerns at a possible political crisis during a sensitive time in the country — when the foreign troops are finalising their exit strategy.
Kerry announced, at a press conference late Saturday night in Kabul, that the audit would be carried out in Kabul and would begin in 24 hours.
Salient features of the agreement
“First, with respect to the election, both candidates have committed to participate in and abide by the results of the largest, most comprehensive possible audit. Every single ballot that was cast will be audited, 100%, all 8 million,” Kerry said.
“This is the strongest possible signal by both candidates of the desire to restore legitimacy to the process and to Afghan democracy,” the US secretary of state added.
Second, the audit will be carried out in Kabul and it will begin within 24 hours.
It will start with the ballot boxes that are currently located here and ballot boxes from the provinces will be transported to Kabul by International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), audited on a rolling basis, and secured throughout this process by Isaf and Afghan national security forces.
Third, the auditing will be internationally supervised in the manner proposed by the United Nations (UN) Assistance Mission.
The candidates’ campaigns will each provide joint oversight of the audit in accordance with United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) proposals, including access by candidates’ agents to the ballot boxes under Isaf and Afghan security force supervision.
“And let there be no doubt, in keeping with each of the candidates’ requests, this audit will be conducted in accordance with the highest international standards,” Kerry said.
He also said that the process will take a number of weeks and UNAMA has requested that President Karzai and Afghan electoral institutions postpone the inauguration date to accommodate this request. The transfer of power was scheduled on August 2.
Both candidates also appealed to Karzai that the inauguration of the new leader should be delayed, for which the request has been accepted.

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