By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - Afghan security and election officials have praised Saturday's landmark presidential polls as unprecedented in showing peace and order in the post-2001 period.
“Today's elections were more regular than all previous elections. The election process was successfully concluded across the country today,” Alam Nuristani, the woman leader of the election commissioner, told reporters hours after the polls closed.
“There were problems in some areas which the commissioners will discuss, investigate and resolve,'' she added.
Abdullah Khalid, the defense minister, said the voting process had been carried out without any serious security threats.
The landmark presidential polls, only the fourth since the fall of the Taliban in December 2001, ended on Saturday with some incidents of violence reported from across the war-torn country.
During the day, at least five people were killed and over 40 wounded in election-related violence, security officials told Anadolu Agency.
Vowing to press ahead with its armed insurgency in the wake of failed peace talks with the U.S., the Taliban had warned potential voters to stay indoors and "not put themselves in danger" by coming out to vote.
The top election body will announce the preliminary poll results on Oct. 19, while final results -- in which a total of 15 candidates vied for the top seat -- will be announced on Nov. 7.
Among the front-runners are incumbent President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his power-sharing Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and former Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
-Praise from Pakistan
Neighboring Pakistan on Saturday congratulated the people and government of Afghanistan on their successful presidential elections.
The people of Afghanistan deserve praise for their resolve to stay on a democratic path despite hurdles and challenges, said a statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
"We sincerely hope that the new government elected through a free, fair, and transparent voting process will enjoy the full mandate to take the stalled peace process forward," said Mohammad Faisal, Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Calling the polls important for ending the 18-year conflict through an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned negotiated political settlement, he added that Pakistan also assured the Afghan government that it will continue to extend help towards that end.