afghan elections

  • 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. 

Photo: Miguel Schincariol—AFP/Getty Images

Pictures of the Week: June 13 - June 20

From Iraq’s eternal war and Spain’s early Word Cup exit, to a deadly double twister in Nebraska and Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s submarine ride, TIME presents the best photos of the week.

See the full gallery at

Why Afghans May Vote for a Pencil or Bulldozer

A bulldozer. A radio. A pencil. A Koran. These are just a few of the candidates vying to win Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential election. 

For each of the 10 candidates expected to be on the ballot for the April 5 vote, there is a symbol. And those symbols will be printed on ballot papers alongside the name and photograph of each candidate to help voters choose their preferred candidate.

The idea is to make voting easier for the many eligible voters in the country who cannot read. Only 39 percent of Afghanistan’s adult population is literate.

In keeping with elections dating back to 2004, the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) initially assigned a symbol to each potential candidate assuming that there would be a high number of contenders to choose from.

Read more. [Image: Omar Sobhani/Reuters]

Why a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan may be necessary | Adnan R. Khan

In a nation like Afghanistan, undergoing radical change, every decision seems to yield an array of what-if scenarios. Most recently, it was the Afghan presidential elections: What if the April 5 vote had produced a clear winner? Afghanistan might be celebrating the first popularly mandated transition of power in its history. Its new president would have signed the Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S., prompting NATO to do the same and ensuring some level of stability for the near term.

Instead, two rivals emerged with no clear winner. One, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, is a Pashtun, Afghanistan’s main ethnic group, concentrated in the east and south of the country. The other, Abdullah Abdullah, is considered a Tajik (though technically, he is half-Pashtun as well), who represents Afghanistan’s Persian-speaking north and west. They duelled in a runoff vote on June 14, the result of which should have been clear and binding. It wasn’t. Instead of preparing for a historic presidential inauguration, Afghans are now facing yet more uncertainty and security struggles. This week, a man dressed as an Afghan soldier opened fire at a military base outside Kabul, killing a U.S. Army major-general and wounding 14.

What’s little known is just how close Afghanistan came to total disaster. In the lead-up to the runoff vote, campaigning took an ugly turn: appeals to ethnicity became more frequent, dangerously raising tensions. The runoff vote was marred with allegations of fraud. Abdullah in particular cried foul, and threatened to set up his own parallel government after preliminary results showed Ahmadzai in the lead by a significant margin.

FULL ARTICLE (Maclean’s)

Photo: UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein/flickr

Suffrage in Afghanistan

by Christina Dietmeier, WAND Intern, Arlington MA

Image: Women of Afghanistan stand outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Source: White House, via Wikipedia Commons.

At 20 years old, my election experience is very limited. Of the three ballots I’ve cast, two of them were sent absentee. My one in-person voting experience was in 2011, where the only question on the ballot had to do with a levy in my school district. I remember being perplexed with the lack of security at the polling place. I walked in, told them my name and address, and got my ballot. That was it. I was in and out in less than five minutes. When voting absentee in the 2012 Presidential election, the only difficulty I encountered was finding a fellow Minnesota resident on my Boston college campus to sign my ballot as a witness. Of the many people I knew who were voting in person, either in Boston or back home in Minnesota, the only concern I heard of was the long wait in line to cast your ballot.

In Afghanistan on April 5th, voters were concerned with much more than the queue they had to wait in. Leading up to the election, the Taliban released several statements in an attempt to deter voters. In their most strongly-worded statement they vowed to “use all force at its disposal to disrupt these upcoming sham elections; target all its workers, activists, callers, security apparatus and offices and the nation.” (x)  The Taliban’s statements were followed up by actions – in the two months prior to Election Day, 39 suicide bombers were unleashed across the country. These threats lead the Afghan government to instill heavy security measures at polling places to avoid further attacks.

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The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

- Wisława Szymborska
translated by Joanna Trzeciak

(photo credit: my friend Ateeq)

Taliban Intensifies Attacks Ahead of Afghan Election

With Afghanistan’s presidential election less than two weeks away, the Taliban is stepping up its campaign to intimidate citizens from voting with violence and bloodshed. On Tuesday, in what appeared to be coordinated attacks, insurgents and suicide bombers targeted the Independent Election Commission in Kabul, a New Kabul Bank branch in the eastern province of Kunar, and a sporting event in Kunduz.

The IEC office in Kabul is located beside the residence of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former finance minister and current frontrunner in the election scheduled for April 5. Initial reports of Tuesday’s attack suggested that Ghani’s house was the target, though the gunmen had actually stormed the IEC, where more than 70 people were preparing for the upcoming election.

Two suicide bombers detonated themselves at the entrance, killing two police officers who were standing guard. Three militants rushed inside. A standoff with police ensued for the next four hours, leaving an election worker and a provincial council candidate dead.

Read the rest on VICE News.