Afghanistan (MNN) — Scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 5, Afghanistan’s presidential elections are surrounded by turmoil. Today marks the start of MNN’s week of prayer for Afghanistan; look for daily updates on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
The Taliban has threatened to attack anyone who shows up to the polls. “It is the religious obligation of every Afghan to fulfill their duty by foiling the latest plot of the invaders that is guised in the garb of elections,” the group said in a March 10 statement.
“We once again call on all of our countrymen to keep away from electoral offices, voting booths…so that may Allah forbid, their lives are not put into danger. If anyone still insists on participating, then they are solely responsible [for] any loss in the future.”
Tom Doyle with E3 Partners says keeping voters at bay fulfills the terrorists’ ultimate goal. “If they can intimidate people from voting, they’re going to have a much stronger presence in the country,” Doyle explains. “The Taliban would like to go back to how it was before 2001, and they’d like to reverse the progress of [Afghanistan].
During the late ’90s, the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan, including the capital city of Kabul. Saudi Arabia and neighboring Pakistan recognized the terrorists as legitimate rulers of the country. When the U.S. began bombing Taliban strongholds in 2001 following the September 11 attacks, the terrorists’ grip on the country loosened.
Saturday’s elections will mark Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power. It’s a critical step for the tumultuous nation.
“Afghanistan is such a critical country. It’s so critical for the Gospel, with so many unreached people groups,” says Doyle.
“The Taliban: their wish would be to keep any kind of freedom away, and certainly that would include religious freedom.”
Casualties of democracy
Thus far, the Taliban is making good on its promise to stop the democratic process. Bombings are a daily occurrence, often claiming the lives of innocent bystanders. However, one of last week’s attacks almost claimed the life of presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani. He happened to be away from his home when the Taliban bombed an election commission office, which sits next door.
On Friday, the Taliban attacked a U.S. aid group’s guesthouse in Kabul; terrorists accused the group of using the home as a church.
“They were using the building to convert Afghans to Christianity, and that is why we launched the attack there,” a Taliban spokesman stated.
If the democratic process is able to move forward, and a moderate candidate is chosen as Afghanistan’s next president, there could be a glimpse of hope for Christians.
“In Afghanistan, they’re never going to have religious freedom to the point where a Muslim is free to leave his religion and become a Jesus follower, a believer,” Doyle clarifies.
“What we’re hoping for is just a measure of protection for the Church, for the Christians there in Afghanistan. They’re very rough and hardy people but they’re weary, and they’re praying for some change.”
Pray for Afghanistan
Will you join these believers as they pray for a positive change in their nation? By sharing this story on social media, you can get your friends and church family to join in. A multitude of prayers is needed at this critical time.
“As Afghanistan goes, so goes this whole Central Asia area,” Doyle explains. “We pray that there’s a good, free election and someone moderate that cares about the country and the people will get elected.”
Pray for some measure of protection for Christians if a moderate candidate is chosen. Pray that the Gospel reaches every corner of the nation.