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.
Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Zalmai Rassoul prepare to leave after an election rally in Mazari Sharif in northern Afghanistan. The Afghan presidential election will be held on April 5. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters)
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”.
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.
By the way, the voter turnout of yesterday’s elections in Afghanistan is estimated to have been about 60%. They ran out of ballots in many districts because no one expected such a huge turn-out. In comparison, the turnout for the 2012 presidential election in the US was 57.5%.
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.
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
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.”
Niedringhaus was covering the Afghan election when an Afghan police officer reportedly walked up to her car, yelled “Allah Akbar” — God is Great — and opened fire. She spent 20 years covering conflict zones from Kuwait to the West Bank.
An Afghan beggar sits in front of a spray painted slogan in Herat on March 29, 2014. Presidential candidates have been holding election rallies across the country for the the April 5 presidential elections, to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who was barred constitutionally from seeking a third term. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
Taliban threatens to disrupt Afghan presidential election | Michael Edwards
The Taliban has called on its fighters to carry out attacks on electoral workers and officials during the Afghan presidential election next month. It has targeted every election since being driven from power in 2001 but this is its first explicit threat against this year’s vote. And whoever is elected will oversee Afghan security forces fighting the Taliban without western military assistance.
LISTEN HERE (Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Radio)