The recently concluded, though still yet to be decided Afghan elections have been described as clean by one Afghan election official, who nonetheless offered the caveat that the elections, while cleaner and more fair than expected, were still marked by some fraud. The same official said that allegations of fraud should not be employed in order to derail a peaceful transition period or misconstrued to invalidate the election results. Ultimately, it is highly unlikely that the winner of the elections will make off with more than a 50% majority, in which case an additional runoff will be organized and carried out.
In a report that corroborates what Afghan election officials have freely offered, the Independent Complaints Commission noted that nearly 1,300 fewer election-day complains were registered than in the 2009 Afghan elections, coming in at a paltry 1,573 in a year in which more than 7.5 million people voted. Each of the eight presidential candidates has stated that they will not dispute the results of the election, though whether or not that will come to pass remains to be seen. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghan, the two frontrunners, have not issued assurances that they will accept the results of the election, which are set to be announced on April 24.
- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with the Mongolian Minister of Defense Bat-Erdene Dashembrerei in order to commemorate efforts to strengthen ties with officials in Ulan Bator. Both ministers signed an agreement that will see the United States allot more than $3m in military training and equipment to the Mongolian military. The officials are said to have discussed the possibility of a US military base in Mongolia, though Mongolian officials categorically denied that such installations would be constructed on Mongolian soil.
- Fears of a growing Central Asian presence in Syria were exacerbated on Thursday as a video emerged from within Syria that showed five Tajik youths burning their own passports. The incident marks the second such video to be uploaded in the past few weeks, suggesting that more and more Central Asians are making the pilgrimage to fight the government of Bashar Assad. Officials in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan have announced plans of action to curb the outflow of fighters from their respective countries.
- Talks between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan were held in Ashgabat, as the three nations continue to ponder joint rail-related infrastructure projects. The goal of the effort is to construct a rail system that would connect the three nations, has been discussed since June of 2013, and is said to come into operation in early 2015.
- Uzbekistan Airways announced the debut of three new international routes. Two of the routes, while new, will establish further connections to disparate parts of Russia, while the third route will be a nonstop flight to Singapore, the first of its kind to go direct from Tashkent to Singapore.