Despite threats from the Taliban, Afghans lined up for hours in front of polling stations on April 5 to elect a new president. Estimates put voter turnout at 58 percent, with many women said to have cast their ballots.Haji Gul Agha had waited for hours to cast his vote. "Even if cartridges had rained and the ground had been filled with mines, we would still have come out to vote," the 60-year-old said cheerfully. This view was shared by Ghulam Sakhi, who was proud of being able to vote. "Today was a historic day for Afghanistan, everyone was expected to take part in the elections," said Sakhi, who, in order to exercise his right to vote, had taken a long walk to the polling station in the central Afghan province of Ghazni.The radical Islamist Taliban had repeatedly threatened to sabotage the poll. But even highly volatile regions such as Helmand Province remained peaceful on election day. One voter, Meena Gul, proudly showed off her finger stained with indelible ink, which is used to prevent people from voting more than once.
"I'm so happy," she said. "The security situation was good today; we weren't scared. I am very excited and pleased that women are allowed to take part in the poll."Even for the most cynical, this is quite some progress. I mean the fact that women are allowed to vote makes Afghanistan better off than quite a lot of islamic countries, despite being one of the poorest countries. Afghanistan hasn't seen peace for almost half a century."I don't care about the candidate's origin, ethnicity or language. I voted for the candidate with the best electoral campaign," said Ghulam Sakhi, who walked five kilometers to cast his vote.
About a third of Afghanistan's population is under 25 years of age. Many young Afghans, who hope for a fair electoral process, would be very disappointed to find any signs of massive electoral fraud like during the 2009 poll.
So yeah. The people who went to vote were pretty brave because the talibans aren't joking around. There is voting in sharia and they won't be happy until they rot Afghanistan back to the bronze age. So everyone who went to vote painted a big target on their back in hopes that tomorrow will be a better day.
Realistically speaking, I'm sure there will be quite a lot of fraud and not much change... but as long as the people are still free to vote there is hope. Hope there wouldn't exist under the taliban enforced sharia. And hope is worth painting a big target on your back.