Early today, Afghanistan hosted a historic election: the first democratic transfer of power in the nation’s history. Additionally, this was the first election Afghanistan conducted without the assistance of the United Nations. Afghans flocked to cast their votes for current-President Hamid Karzai’s successor, with hopes that the new president would bring increased security, better education, and better living conditions.
Many flocked to polling centers knowing their lives were potentially at risk, as the Taliban had threatened to disrupt the vote. On Friday a German journalist, Anja Niedringhaus, was killed when her car came under fire while traveling in a convoy of election workers; another journalist in the vehicle was seriously injured. Despite this and other violence, voter turnout was expected to be around 75 percent. (By comparison, US voter turnout in 2012 was below 60 percent.)
Heavy security was established to ensure the safety of voters. While there were some reports of violence, overall the vote appears to have been a success. In Kabul, cars were barred from the roads on election day.
Why is the Taliban so opposed to the vote? The stated reason is that the Taliban believes the election to be illegitimate, because of the continued presence of US forces in the country. But this is an excuse. I’m sure there are numerous reasons why the Taliban opposes the vote, but here’s two: First, President Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States which could result in the withdrawal of US troops by year’s end. The leading candidates, however, have all stated an intention to sign the agreement. This is a direct threat to the Taliban, who would have a much easier path to regaining control without the presence of US forces. Second, and more fundamental, is the Taliban’s intrinsic knowledge that its brand of hatred cannot sustain itself in a democracy. Democracy is a threat to the oppression it wishes to perpetuate.
Why do you think the Taliban is opposed to the elections? What do you think the high voter turnout despite the security concerns says for the direction the average Afghan wants to see his or her nation headed?
Sources: The United Nations, The Associated Press
Photo Source: Sofia News Agency
Amongst the many different reasons that the Taliban could have in opposition of the elections,I feel that the second given reason is the most pressing. The Taliban is determined to keep the population of Afghanistan in constant fear of attack in order to maintain power. The election of a new president imposes the threat of extinguishing that already implemented fear. The increase in turnout at the elections shows that the Afghanistan population has had enough. Although they are putting their lives at risk, there is a hope for a new start for the country and an aspiration that violence will come to an end. With a newly established democracy, the country can be freed from the terroristic activity created by the Taliban and work to better the country by establishing higher security, living conditions and education for the population. By attending elections, the people are showing the Taliban that these goals for a better community are something worth fighting for.
It’s amazing to see the people of Afghanistan taking an active initiative to bring about positive change. It is great to hear that there was an increased turnout for the election. The Taliban are obviously opposed to this because it wishes to maintain control over the people of Afghanistan. Control that it has only gotten through oppression and maintenance of fear. The Taliban does not want to give the people of Afghanistan even a glimpse of freedom. By attending these elections and by the increased turnout for these elections, the people of Afghanistan are showing that they want change. The people do not wish to be oppressed any longer or be under the control of the Taliban. This is an extremely positive step for the people of Afghanistan and the country as a whole.
I find it interesting how in America in this day and age, people take voting for granted. I feel that democratic elections are so natural to United States citizens that people sometimes forget the struggles and pain that our ancestors went through in order to have this right to vote. When we go to vote for President or any elected official, there is no credible threat to our safety by going to the polls. It is very sad that the people of Afghanistan need to fear for their lives when they go to vote. This makes me think back to history and look at how women struggled to vote and how African Americans faced intense discrimination at the polls. People in America need to remember what our ancestors have been through in order to get us this privilege. The US voter turnout in 2012 of less than 60% is sad. It is a major disrespect to what they fought so hard to achieve. This makes me realize the importance of voting and how it does really make a difference to be able to elect my representative.