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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

KK on the Elections

Sunday, August 16, 2009

With less a week to go to till the 2nd Afghan presidential elections, the expected attacks on campaigning presidential candidates has increased. The Taliban’s tactics is to create as much disruption and intimidation before and through the voting period that the citizens will be too scared to make the sometimes 2 days walk to polling stations. President Karzai said at a rally yesterday. “We should not be scared of the enemies of Afghanistan and their bombs. Even if there is 100 bombs on voting day, all Afghans should vote.”

Being the colourful country that Afghanistan is, their elections are not short of characters. Candidate Mullah Rocketi (name changed by Afghan Dipole) is infamous for his rocket-propelled grenades firing skills, mainly at the Russian invaders of the 1980’s. The former Taliban commander claims to be (now) a man of peace: “
Then there is also the bicycle-borne candidate Sangin Mohammed Rahmani. "This is going to be my vehicle to success," he says, patting his bicycle, as he pushes it down a rutted, garbage-strewn street. "With my bicycle and my mobile phone, I can solve all the problems of the people."

A recent statement released by the Taliban caught everyone by surprise: "People with camera cell-phones must not have pictures of unrelated women and handsome boys in their phones, which is against Islamic Sharia." (Sharia is Islamic religious law.) "People should think of their Afghan dignity rather than buying shiny phones,"

Kabul city where I live has been relatively safe in recent months. Ever since the ‘Ring of Steel’ program (an increase of police and checkpoint through out the city) was set up there has been a lot less violence. We do get the occasion rocket attack, but most of the noisy projectiles miss their target and just annoy everyone at the ungodly hour of 4 am.

TV is the second most used drug in Afghanistan. The most popular TV channel is Tolo (owned by Afghan/Australian media tycoons: the Mosheni Family) Last week they hosted the first-ever Afghan presidential debate. Main rivals Abdullah Abdullah and Ashaf Ghani were forced to go head to head after the Karzai pulled a ‘nana’ and refuse to show. Abdullah won the debate hands down and he now looks like the only real challenger to Karzai.

The Taliban captured its first American soldier since the start of the conflict. Bowe Bergdahl was captured while apparently ‘lagging behind his patrol’. Conflicting reports from two U.S. officials conceded a soldier had "just walked off" his base with three Afghans after his shift. (Who walks off their base with a few Afghan? Smells fishy to me.) The 23-year-old appears in the hostage video with head shaved, no uniform and sounding distressed: "I am scared, scared I won't be able to go home,"

And to end on a brighter note: The Taliban has stated “We will cut the finger off anyone who participates in the election,” Voters will be asked to dip their index finger in a bottle of indelible ink in order to obtain a ballot paper. The ink is supposed to remain for several days, providing the opposition with an easy way of identifying those who defy their orders......
posted by Travis, 8:56 am


you call that a bright note to end on??
commented by Anonymous james norman, 6:08 am  

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