Images: A man whose finger was severed by the Taliban after a previous election has a different one marked after he votes, via @ToloNews; a group of voters salute “the enemies of #Afghanistan,” via @JavedAzizKhan; women wait to vote outside of Kabul, via @HabibKhanT; and a woman explains to the AFP why she votes, via @dawn_com.
Afghan turmoil threatens NATO’s ‘mission accomplished’ plans | ADRIAN CROFT AND MIRWAIS HAROONI
(Reuters) - NATO will declare “mission accomplished” this week as it winds down more than a decade of operations in Afghanistan but departing combat troops look likely to leave behind political turmoil and an emboldened insurgency.
The embattled country is also suffering a sharp economic slowdown.
NATO had hoped its summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday would herald a smooth handover of security at the end of this year from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghan forces. It then plans to cut back its role to a smaller mission to train and advise Afghan troops.
The 28-nation alliance had also hoped to celebrate Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power by inviting a new president to share the spotlight with U.S. President Barack Obama and the other 27 allied leaders.
Instead, NATO diplomats privately admit that the backdrop to the summit is the “worst case scenario”.
People have stood in line in the rain for hours and don’t care. This is their chance to vote and they’re taking it.
Checkpoints in Kabul city every 500 meters.
Kandahar’s streets so empty that kids are playing cricket all over the city. What will they grow up to remember this day as?
Kabul shopkeepers decided to keep their shops closed today.
Taliban losing their shit and literally no one is taking them seriously; no one is even reporting on their nonsense.
Elderly voting is moving me to tears.
Prisoners allowed to vote.
People showing up even without voter registration cards, with just their IDs and are asking to vote, and are denied.
They’re running out of ballots in so many places with at least 3 hours left.
Many have shared that this day feels like Eid. Music in the streets, people wearing their best clothes.
Don’t know where people are getting this hope from but observers have said that they’ve never, in their entire life in Afghanistan, seen this many Afghans in line. Against the odds, against the threats, against it all, Afghans are coming out to vote and that courage is something else.
In a nation more associated with calamity than consensus, the initial results of Saturday’s Afghan presidential election are startling.
Despite Taliban threats to attack polling stations nationwide, the same percentage of Afghans turned out to vote—roughly 58 percent, or 7 million out of 12 million eligible voters—as did Americans in the 2012 U.S. presidential race. Instead of collapsing, Afghan security forces effectively secured the vote. And a leading candidate to replace Hamid Karzai is Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank technocrat who has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Columbia University, a Lebanese Christian wife, and an acclaimed book and TED talk entitled “Fixing Failed States.”
"Relative to what we were expecting, it’s very hard to not conclude that this was a real defeat for the Taliban," Andrew Wilder, an American expert on Afghanistan, said in a telephone interview from Kabul on Monday. "And a very good day for the Afghan people."
Two forces that have long destabilized the country—its political elite and its neighbors—could easily squander the initial success. Evidence of large-scale fraud could undermine the legitimacy of the election and exacerbate long-running ethnic divides. And outside powers could continue to fund and arm the Taliban and disgruntled Afghan warlords, as they have for decades.
Atiqullah, 47, is a mobile phone card seller from Kabul.
"Real changes will only come when the new president makes peace with the Taliban and brings them in to join the government. The big problem we have is Pakistan. Pakistan and the CIA don’t want peace in Afghanistan. I ask the president of Pakistan not to send rockets, not to send suicide bombers here." On Saturday, millions of Afghans will head to the polls, attempting the first democratic transfer of power the nation has ever seen. Voters will choose the successor to President Hamid Karzai, who has run the country since 2001 but is constitutionally banned from seeking a third term.
“Everyone on my Facebook is saying ‘make sure you vote… people are dying around the world for your right to vote!’ I wanna be like, ‘no… they’re dying because the people you vote for are BOMBING THEM.’”
AFGHANISTAN, Herat : Afghan women queue outside a school to vote in presidential elections in the northwestern city of Herat on April 5, 2014. Afghan voters went to the polls to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai, braving Taliban threats in a landmark election held as US-led forces wind down their long intervention in the country. AFP PHOTO/AREF KARIMI
"I am here to vote today. It’s a day to decide about the future of Afghanistan and I would like to ask all women to break their silence and take one step towards progress. If they don’t want to do it for themselves they should do it for future generations," said a female voter.
Check out these 9 inspiring photos of women across Afghanistan participating in the elections.
A member of Asia Society’s Afghanistan Young Leaders Initiative reminds readers that Afghanistan’s April 5 election is “only a means to an end — a stable, peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous Afghanistan.”
Fears of unrest cloud Afghanistan as election dispute drags on | ALI M. LATIFI, SHASHANK BENGALI
As Afghanistan’s disputed presidential vote nears an uncertain conclusion, fears are mounting that post-election unrest could threaten the fragile political order that the United States has struggled for 13 years to help build.
Recent developments have raised questions about the ability of Abdullah Abdullah — the one-time front-runner who has alleged a conspiracy to rig the results against him — to pacify supporters if he, as expected, is declared the runner-up.
The concerns have increased as he has clashed with rival Ashraf Ghani over the details of a power-sharing proposal, brokered by the Obama administration, in which the new president would cede some decision-making authority to a chief executive from the opposing camp.