Afghanistan and the weirdness of their elections
We’ve been struggling to keep up with the myriad tales of corruption and violence that’ve been emerging from Afghanistan in the lead up to the August 20th elections. The idea that the men running for power in the country are the same men involved in major human rights violations, serious drug trafficking and widespread intimidation is obviously nuts but it’s nothing new for the people of Afghanistan.
To squeeze a universe of information into a nutshell, there were three key players battling it out for President of Afghanistan 2009 — the incumbent Hamid Karzai of the Independent party, the man with the same last name as his first — Abdullah Abdullah of the United National Front and Ramazan Bashardost, also of the Independents. With something like 49 percent of the votes, it looks like Karzai gets to keep the title for another term.
In order to understand the situation in more detail, we asked our friend Travis Beard, who has been living there on and off for many years now, what his take on the situation was and whether he had any pictures he could send us. Here's what he told us.
Afghanistan’s second ever Presidential elections took place earlier this month with sporadic violence, disruption and intimidation across the country. One of the worst affected areas was Wardak, with the Taliban launching a series of IED and rocket attacks across the province as the insurgents tried to hamper the public’s attempts to vote. One of the most high profile incidents occurred in Maidan Wardak, the provincial capital, and home to Governor Khalim Fidai which was shelled constantly throughout the day. Here are some of the photos my friend David Gill and I have taken over the past few months.
Here a policeman stands guard at a check post on the gates of the capital of Wardak Provence: Maidan Shar.
A policeman checks cars for explosives at a check post.
Governor Halid Fidal looks to the sky as rockets fall on Hi City on the day of the elections.
A policeman ducks for cover as rockets fall on the day of the election.
Lining up to vote.
There was some fear that women voting in burkas might be able to register more than once due to the difficulty in properly identifying them.
The site of a rocket attack in the grounds of a local mosque run by a controversial mullah who sided with the Americans.
The controversial mullah.
This is a campaign poster for Hamid Karzai that has been destroyed by the opposition.
A guard watching the checkpoint at Wardak.
This guard is holding a big gun and carrying 17 kilos of bullets.
Election favourite Abdullah Abdullah campaign poster next to a mosque that was bombed by Taliban rockets.
This is a detonator that was used to set off the rocket that hit the city. It was discovered later that day. The message on the screen says: "1 Missed Call"
Major Gabel from Airborn base Maidan Shar, Wardak, explains his version of events on the day of the election.
PHOTOS BY TRAVIS BEARD AND DAVID GILL