“The security forces created a vacuum, nobody was there, and the Taliban threatened them,” says Israr Khan, the president of the Awakened Youth Association, a political awareness group focused on creating peace.
Early analyses of the final results show that the Hazara community may have snagged a share of the lower house that represents as much as double their actual proportion of the population.
In Ghazni, the last remaining constituency to be counted, preliminary results indicated that all 11 seats went to Hazara candidates, even though the province has a slim majority of Pashtuns with significant Hazara and Tajik minorities. Officials estimate it will be another week before they have official results due to the closure of numerous other polling stations, as well as other election-day irregularities, such as one district that only counted three votes.
Wardak province also saw a surge in Hazara representation. Though the region is predominately home to Pashtuns, three of the five seats went to Hazaras.
All this is a serious concern for many of the country’s Pashtuns, who allege that they are now underrepresented, especially in Wardak and Ghazni.
The Hazaras’ victory, however, is unlikely to spark ethnic strife. Instead, it may cast further doubt on the fairness and representativeness of the elections. Ethnically imbalanced results suggest to some Afghans a process that was either not truly democratic or, at worst, rigged.