In numbers, the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission has registered nearly 3,500 complaints, including 2000 having documents in support. 343 of 892 complaints classed a “Priority-A” had so far been investigated and the rest being probed. Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Complaints Commission report ballot boxes that had been quarantined due to fraud have to be investigated in the presence of national and international observers. It is improbable that it could change the result of the election, but it could postpone the next step of the electoral process, scheduled for the 28th of May, that will formalize the name of the next President of Afghanistan.
Regional debate on the future of the Afghan situation after 2014 is focusing on prospects for increased cooperation with Afghanistan and regional actors, in particular Iran.
The main part of the international forces are due to leave Afghanistan, ending a 13 years’ war against an apparently undefeated insurgency. The new mission, which will be formalized through the signature of Bilateral Security Agreement by the next President of Afghanistan, should start on January 2015 (Nato “Resolute Support Mission”).
NATO’s combat troops are scheduled to leave the country by the end of 2014. This is likely to have deep implications for Afghanistan and, in general, for South Asia also because tensions between Pakistan and India may intensify, if the Afghan political reconciliation process with the armed opposition groups fails.
It is assessed that there are four main factors that will contribute to the war-torn South Asian nation:
1. the number of international troops in the country after 2014,
2. the success of negotiations with the Taliban,
3. the results of the presidential elections,
4. the role of the regional countries in facilitating the reconciliation process.
NATO’s and Us forces remaining in Afghanistan from 2015 could be about 8,000-15,000 advisors/trainers and counterterrorism and special forces, the main part from the US. In general, from the security point of view, the situation in Afghanistan seems to be deteriorating and NATO troops will remain in a multifaceted war shaped by two pre-existing and overlapping conflicts:
The Karzai government has held informal talks with Taliban since 2001, and has renewed peace efforts in recent years and in particular in recent months, perhaps to ensure Karzai leaves a legacy as he readies to hand over the leadership before the end of the year. Furthermore, it is not excluded that Karzai is negotiating with Taliban in order to protect his “family’s interests” and power in Kandahar area (this could confirm the decision to avoid his direct involvement in the signing of the Bilateral Security agreement with the Us).
Regarding the electoral process and the election of the next President of Afghanistan, the results will take time to be officially publicized, and Afghans are waiting to participate to the second part of the elections which will formalize the successor of the President Karzai: the former foreign minister Abdullah or the ex-finance minister Ashraf Ghani.
About the role of the regional countries, it is important to underline that if Afghanistan’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could decline into a bloody proxy war in the country. The risk is real but what is unclear, because of the overlapping interests of the main regional players (Pakistan, Iran, India and China) as well as the United States, is if a coherent regional common agreement will emerge. In general, regional dynamics are changing and the political and security future will depend on the strategic decisions taken by the new political leaderships in Iran, Pakistan, China, India and Afghanistan. The decade-long conflict between Pakistan and India for strategic influence and foothold in Afghanistan could further intensify. It is assessed that, in order to realize an “acceptable stability” in the country, on one hand India and Pakistan should start a realistic and pragmatic dialogue on their strategic objectives and, on the other hand, a regional consensus on an agreement has to be reached on how to include the Taliban in the existing political system.
Finally, preparing to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by this year’s end, the US is now focused on connecting the economies of South and Central Asia.