Photo Information

Deputy Provincial Governor Massoud Bakhtawar expresses his thanks and farewell to British Army Brigadier James Woodham, commanding general of Task Force Helmand, following a provincial security shura held on Camp Leatherneck, March 26, 2014. The leaders of Regional Command (Southwest) and key leaders of Helmand province met for a provincial security shura to discuss how the security forces will approach safety concerns and provide security for the population of Helmand during the upcoming elections. (USMC Photo By: Sgt. Frances Johnson/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Frances Johnson

Afghan officials with Nimroz, Helmand provinces meet to discuss upcoming elections

1 Apr 2014 | Sgt. Frances Johnson and Sgt. Jessica Ostroska

Nimroz and Helmand provincial leaders met with Brigadier Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, commanding general, Regional Command (Southwest), and key members of his staff aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 26 and 29.

The leaders met for the security shuras to discuss the upcoming presidential elections and security measures being emplaced to ensure the local people are kept safe. 

As the elections draw near, the Afghan National Army and the provincial security officials are working hard to ensure polling stations are a safe place for Afghans to visit and cast their ballots.

“We do have some security challenges,” said Helmand Deputy Provincial Governor Masoud Khan Baktawar. “That does not mean we cannot provide security for our people to go out and vote. I can strongly announce to the people of Helmand that this election will take place in a good, secure and clear time.”

According to Maj. Gen. Abdul Qayum Baqazai, Helmand provincial chief of police, security details have been conducting clearing operations, and the vast majority of the polling stations are open and secure. They know that the enemy is planning to disrupt the elections, and they are prepared and confident with their plans to keep the polling sites safe for the Afghans and counter any attacks from the enemy. 

“This election is a dream for all Afghans to go out and vote for their next candidate,” said Maj. Gen. Baqazai. “The enemy will always try to interfere and damage our security, but I can tell the people of Helmand that whether it's Afghan National Police or the ANA, we are ready to protect this nation and provide them tight security. I also want Helmand people to cooperate with police and the army and share if any suspicious activity is going on. It will help a lot.”

Many topics were discussed during the shuras such as how election materials will be transported to polling stations and retrieved following the elections; the locations of polling sites and their threat level; as well as the forces that will be on-site during the elections to support and react to any attacks or threats. 

The Afghans continue to take the lead in ensuring the upcoming Afghan presidential elections are successful and safe. They stay aware of the heightened threat from the Taliban and continue to plan for any possible attacks. Their goal and desire is to keep the people of Afghanistan safe and have a successful election. 

Amir Mohammad Akhundzada, Nimroz provincial governor, discussed the importance of earning the trust of Afghans during election season. 

“To build a nation we need to earn the people’s trust,” said Akhundzada. “It means everything earning their trust. We need to build their confidence in our government, the country and Afghan National Security Forces in order to be successful.”

With the elections on the horizon, meeting with key leaders to discuss polling security is crucial to setting conditions for success.

“I think the shuras are one of the many processes they have put in order to make sure they provide security and also facilitate governance,” said Brig. Gen. Yoo. “I think based on all the planning and coordination they've done, they're in a very, very good position for the elections coming up.”