Before a pivotal election in Afghanistan on Saturday, there were signs that the effect of this one might be different.
Women candidates weren’t backing down, even in the face of threats from the Taliban and the killings of at least 10 people running for office. And young politicians, both men and women, were taking up the mantle of helping the country make progress and battle corruption.
When election day finally arrived after a three-year delay, so did a telling outcome: About 4 million Afghans voted for new members of parliament.
Citizens faced obstacles including long waits, technology glitches, and attacks by the Taliban. Dozens of civilians and security forces are estimated to have died at polling places.
But that didn’t stop people from exercising their precious right to vote. The turnout, close to half of all those registered, suggests that many people weighed the risks and were guided by the imperative to make their voices heard.
As Jalalabad resident Zamir Ahmad Khaksar, told The New York Times: “I would come to vote even if bullets were raining in the city just to have a proper parliament.”
Analysts are unsure how far Afghanistan can get without reconciling with the Taliban. But as the weeks-long process of tallying the results got under way, one candidate, Zakia Wardak, tweeted, “Our counting has begun. Although many challenges, Im hopeful.”
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