‘Elections mark new chapter in Afghan history’ says Deutsche Welle, but NYT is more realistic

Lining up to vote in today’s election in Afghanistan

Long queues formed outside polling stations in cities across the country, as Afghans cast their ballots at some 6,200 centers under tight security.

Turnout was reportedly so high that not only was voting extended by an hour, but some polling centers also ran out of ballots, reflecting the determination of the Afghan people to elect a new president, despite a recent spike in attacks by the Taliban…

But a story in the NYT was more gloomy:

The district headquarters at Charkh are fortified with sandbags

CHARKH, Afghanistan — One of the few polling centers in this part of Logar Province is the government’s district headquarters, a building so devastated by rocket attacks and Taliban gunfire that it looks more like a bomb shelter than an administrative office.

As the body count for security forces has risen over the past few days in this embattled district, a stretch of dusty farmland surrounded by mountains, it has become clear that no one here is going to vote on Saturday, either for president or for provincial council delegates.

The charming town of Charkh

So far, that has not stopped security officials from proclaiming the district open for voting: It is not among the roughly 10% of 7,500 total national sites shut down as too dangerous to protect. The Charkh district center has been pumped full of security forces to keep the vote a nominal possibility, but residents know that within a day or two after the elections, the guards will be gone and the Taliban will remain.

“The government has no meaning here,” said Khalilullah Kamal, the district governor, who was shot two times in the stomach a few months back while speaking in a mosque. “If there is no expectation that we will arrest people who break the law, then how do we expect the people to come and vote?”

If you have run out of free reads at NYT you can read the whole story here.