- Global Voices - http://globalvoicesonline.org -
Afghanistan Shows the Taliban the Middle Finger
Written by Samea Shanori On 7 April 2014 @ 5:13 am | 1 Comment
In Afghanistan, Central Asia & Caucasus, Citizen Media, Elections, Feature, Politics
More than seven million Afghans voted  for presidential and provincial council elections this Saturday in spite of threats of violence from the Taliban. Officials in the country confirmed an unprecedented turnout, with at least 58% of eligible voters casting  their ballots, significantly higher  than the 38.8% turnout in the 2009 presidential ballot. Ashraf Ghani, one of the race's three favourites , claims he is leading the vote.
Long lines at polling stations showed collective determination for a peaceful and democratic futurein the country. Afghan politicians called  the strong turnout “a slap in the face of enemies of Afghanistan.” Some men and women chose their middle fingers for inking  in what was intended as a clear message for the recalcitrant Taliban. International experts, journalists and politicians all congratulated Afghans for such a great turnout and offered wishes for a democratic transfer of power.
Support from all over the world:
US president Barrack Obama issued  a statement congratulating Afghans for a successful election and called it an “historic” moment. Members of the UN Security Council also welcomed  the elections while highlighting the importance of Afghan electoral institutions. Jan Kubis, the special UN representative to Afghanistan, stated :
Today was a good day for the future of a stable and unified Afghanistan. Ordinary Afghans turned out to vote in remarkable numbers, defying Taliban attacks and threats. Often in long queues and bad weather, voters patiently waited to exercise their basic human right to vote. They chose to determine the future direction of the country by political means and resolutely rejected the enemies of peace and democracy.
While Britain's Prime Minister urged Afghans to take part in this historic moment. His tweet read [Pashto]:
په افغانستان کې سبا دانتخاباتو ورځ ده. زه ټول افغانان نر او شځې هځوم چې دخپل هیواد په دغه تاریخي ورځ چې دچارو واکی انتقالېږي ګډون وکړي
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) April 4, 2014 
Tomorrow is elections day in Afghanistan. I encourage all Afghans, men and women, to participate in this historic transition.
Polling stations opened  at 7 a.m. Due to widespread participation and bad weather conditions, IEC extended  the polling by an hour to allow all voters to cast their votes with many voting even after this period. Only 211 out of the 6,423 polling centers remained closed. In 2009, more than 440 polling stations stayed closed  due to security threats and electoral fraud fears.
Several reasons have been cited  for the higher turnout, including greater public political awareness than at previous elections and more options in terms of candidates. Additionally people voted to protect the past decade's gains (especially women's rights and opportunities for youth) and continue modernizing the country. A Kabul resident, interviewed by the Guardian, explained  the high turnout as follows [Fa]:
We want the election result to be finalized in the first round. Our people, government and economy are very weak. If the election goes to a second round, it will be a challenge for our security forces.
Unfortunately, as Global Voices reported April 5, that wish is unlikely to be fulfilled .
Nevertheless, a tweet from Bashardost reflects the message that Afghans sent to Taliban by casting their ballots:
— Bashardost بشردوست (@Quettagee) April 5, 2014 
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister, Ershad Ahmadi, tweeted optimistically that the vote makes Taliban ideology redundant:
Our vote today signifies the end of Taliban and their empty narrative. Today we immunized our democratic polity for ever. Bravo ANSF & IEC!
— Ershad Ahmadi (@ErshadAhmadi) April 5, 2014 
Security on Election Day
Security across the country was  tight to ensure smooth and safe elections. No attacks occurred in the capital, but incidents were reported in other provinces, wherein 20 people were killed and 43 wounded. By comparison, the 2009 election was recalled  as “one of the most violent days witnessed in Afghanistan” since 2001 by Human Rights Watch. According to NATO, more than 400 attacks took place  during that vote.
This year police checkpoints were set up and every man, woman and child was searched as they entered voting stations. Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs, tweeted:
— Sediq Sediqqi (@moispokesman) April 5, 2014 
Commending the national security forces for a safe Election Day, Saad Mohseni, chairman of the largest group of media companies in Afghanistan, tweeted:
the real winners yesterday was the ANSF..thank you the Afghan National Army @Umerdaudzai2  @MASalangi , @NDSAfghanistan  and @RahmatullahN  — Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) April 6, 2014 
While Ajmal Stanikzai added:
Contrary to popular believe #ANSF  managed to successfully provide security for the 2014 #Afghan  elections. #AfghanElections  #Afghanistan  — Ajmal Stanikzai (@stanikzai) April 6, 2014 
Abdul Hai's tweet noted the marked difference between the 2014 Afghan elections and the 2013 elections in neighbouring Pakistan:
Difference b/w Pak/Afghan elections. In 2013 Pak elections bullets defeated ballots/in today Afghan elections ballots [ha]ve defeated bullets.
— Abdul Hai Kakar (@haikakar) April 5, 2014 
Complaints on Election Day:
Despite relatively low internet penetration in the country, Afghans from all over Afghanistan tweeted electoral issues and incidents of fraud as they encountered them, a new element in Afghan voting. One much-discussed issue was the shortage of ballots. There were reports by electoral staff and voters that large numbers of people were turned away from polling stations after waiting for hours.
According to Daud Qarizadah:
Polling stations in some areas run out of ballot papers due to high turn out in #Afghan  elections: voters
— Daud Qarizadah (@DaudQarizadah) April 5, 2014 
Yet some believed it was a scheme:
Vote-counting has started and the preliminary result of the presidential elections will be announced  later this month. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the votes, there will be second round in May between the two front runners. The results of the provincial council elections will be also be announced  in May, according to the Independen Electoral Commission timeline.
Afghans are anxiously waiting to hear anything regarding the results of the elections. Nafees Takar tweeted:
No official ( even unofficial) results of Afghan elections so far. What u hear r guesses or partial results of a few polling stations.
— Nafees Takar (@takar22) April 6, 2014 
Eager to know the results of the elections, Saad Mohseni, the media mogul, asked the IEC, but received no certain answer:
Having consulted with the IEC it is virtually impossible for anyone to gauge the results of this poll (just yet) – it is only speculation
— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) April 5, 2014 
Yet presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani  issued a very qualified statement claiming his ticket was out in front. According to his data, he is followed by Abdullah Abdullah  with incumbent Hamid Karzai's ally Zalmay Rassoul  in third. Neither of the other two have made a statement.
Initial partial results show we are leading . http://t.co/XuKRdBUjtq 
— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) April 6, 2014 
In some other areas Abdullah Abdullah seems to be in the lead. According to Ahmad Shjua, author of the blog Afghanistan Analysis , Abdullah has been able to gather votes in regions populated by ethnic Hazaras with the help of his vice president, Haji Mohammad Mohaqeq .
Except a few places like Daikundi, where Danish is from, Mohaqeq seems to have swept the Hazara vote for Abdullah. Sarabi [presidential candidate] a distant 2nd. 2/n
— Ahmad Shuja احمدشجاع (@AhmadShuja) April 6, 2014 
Margherita Stancati, a Wall Street Journal reporter in Kabul, tweeted the result from western Kabul, also heavily populated by Hazaras.
Results posted outside several polling centers in west Kabul show Abdullah significantly in the lead, followed by Rassoul and Ghani third.
— Margherita Stancati (@margheritamvs) April 6, 2014 
Afghan voters fulfilled their responsibility as citizens whilesecurity forces maintained  a relatively peaceful voting environment despite fears  they would lack the capacity to do so. Afghans are now half-way towards their first democratic transition, and it is the duty of IEC to ensure a transparent and objective vote-count ahead of a likely second round.
Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org
URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/04/07/afghanistan-shows-taliban-the-middle-finger/
URLs in this post:
 voted: http://rt.com/news/afghanistan-election-high-turnout-597/
 casting: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/05/barack-obama-congratulates-afghanistan-elections
 significantly higher: http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/cidaweb/cpo.nsf/vWebCSAZEn/8EA58C2DC927C0BB8525758300372B21
 one of the race's three favourites: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/04/05/the-possible-post-electoral-shocks-in-afghanistan/
 called: http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/apr/06/afghanistan-election-enemies-video
 chose their middle fingers for inking: https://twitter.com/usharifi/status/452331165592985600/photo/1
 issued: http://www.voanews.com/content/karzai--election-makes-afghanistan-proud-and-successful/1887264.html
 welcomed: http://australia-unsc.gov.au/2014/04/security-council-press-statement-on-afghanistan-elections/
 stated: http://unama.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=12254&ctl=Details&mid=15756&ItemID=37858&language=en-US
 April 4, 2014: https://twitter.com/Number10gov/statuses/452081800987570176
 opened: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/04/afghan-elections-morning-after-20144665912382341.html
 extended: http://www.khaama.com/afghan-election-commission-extends-poll-timing-by-an-hour-2959
 stayed closed: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/6050245/Afghan-polling-stations-shut-amid-fears-of-voting-fraud.html
 #Afghans: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Afghans&src=hash
 #AfghanElections: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23AfghanElections&src=hash
 #Taliban: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Taliban&src=hash
 pic.twitter.com/Xne5yfsbdC: http://t.co/Xne5yfsbdC
 April 5, 2014: https://twitter.com/Quettagee/statuses/452407645295489024
 April 5, 2014: https://twitter.com/ErshadAhmadi/statuses/452376607756652545
 was recalled: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/22/world/asia/22afghan.html
 took place: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8221709.stm
 #ANSF: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ANSF&src=hash
 #ANP: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ANP&src=hash
 April 5, 2014: https://twitter.com/moispokesman/statuses/452375325222379520
 @Umerdaudzai2: https://twitter.com/Umerdaudzai2
 @MASalangi: https://twitter.com/MASalangi
 @NDSAfghanistan: https://twitter.com/NDSAfghanistan
 @RahmatullahN: https://twitter.com/RahmatullahN
 April 6, 2014: https://twitter.com/saadmohseni/statuses/452680955258339328
 #Afghan: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Afghan&src=hash
 #Afghanistan: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Afghanistan&src=hash
 April 6, 2014: https://twitter.com/stanikzai/statuses/452799747192266752
 April 5, 2014: https://twitter.com/haikakar/statuses/452510854039482368
 April 5, 2014: https://twitter.com/DaudQarizadah/statuses/452330834331447296
 April 5, 2014: https://twitter.com/Quettagee/statuses/452429479005016064
 announced: http://www.iec.org.af/timeline-2014
 April 6, 2014: https://twitter.com/takar22/statuses/452789027553689600
 April 5, 2014: https://twitter.com/saadmohseni/statuses/452530730451496960
 Ashraf Ghani: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashraf_Ghani_Ahmadzai
 Abdullah Abdullah: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Abdullah
 Zalmay Rassoul: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zalmai_Rassoul
 http://t.co/XuKRdBUjtq: http://t.co/XuKRdBUjtq
 April 6, 2014: https://twitter.com/ashrafghani/statuses/452903470396633088
 Afghanistan Analysis: http://afghanistananalysis.wordpress.com/about/
 Haji Mohammad Mohaqeq: http://iwpr.net/report-news/haji-mohammad-mohaqeq-hazara-leader-dogged-brutality-claims
 April 6, 2014: https://twitter.com/AhmadShuja/statuses/452710602805637120
 April 6, 2014: https://twitter.com/margheritamvs/statuses/452787579629604864
 maintained: http://www.tolonews.com/elections2014/security-forces-praised-peaceful-election-day
 fears: http://registan.net/2014/04/03/the-challenges-of-electoral-security-in-afghanistan/
Licensed Creative Commons Attribution, 2008 Global Voices Online. See attribution policy for details: http://globalvoicesonline.org/about/global-voices-attribution-policy