afghanistan elections

If there’s any meaning to be found in such heartbreaking violence, last night’s awful events in London proved that £250bn nuclear arsenals and ranks of armed police cannot stop terror attacks.

Suspending or postponing the General Election is the worst possible course of action in the wake of this tragedy - politics is not a distraction from terrorism, it’s the only possible solution: a peaceful world based on co-operation and global solidarity.

7 Million Afghans Just Dealt a Blow to the Taliban

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.

Read more. [Image: Tim Wimborne/Reuters]

We Want Peace

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)

  • 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. 

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.

For more from this photo essay click here.

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Rapping for Democracy in Afghanistan

Seventy percent of the country’s population is under 25. Can music make them interested in politics?

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