Kabul Diary - 20 August 2009

Amanullah Ghilzai


*Amanullah Ghilzai is Managing Editor of the VOA Pashto Afghan service

Day 6 in Afghanistan - Election Day

20 August - Today was an historic day in Kabul and I was one of those who witnessed this day in Kabul. Following the recent upsurge of violence in Kabul and threats by the Taliban that they would disrupt the election, most inhabitants of the city were expecting more violence in the city.  But apart of a minor incident of a gun battle in one part of the city the polling was fully peaceful throughout the capital. I spent several hours in the city visiting polling stations. During the earlier part of the day, most polling stations were quite but when no incident of serious violence was reported, brisk turnout was witnessed at some polling stations in the afternoon. There were reports of low turnout in many southern and eastern parts of the country, but, to a surprise of many a very high turnout was witnessed in the capital of the Helmand province, Lashkargah which is considered as one of the strongholds of the Taliban.

In the afternoon, I, with two colleagues went to the Presidential Palace to attend a press conference by President Hamid Karzai. At one point in the city we stopped and got off the car. After we left the car, I saw a number of other journalists waiting at a gate which I took as the as the door of the Palace. Several security officials present there asked for our press cards and photo IDs to check our names in the list. A colleague of mine told me that we are just at the beginning of a very long security procedure before we would finally arrive at the Presidential Palace. After passing through several security points, finally we entered into the Presidential palace. Inside the Palace there was an atmosphere of jubilation over the successful election.

President Karzai appeared in calm and in a jolly mood, thanked the staff of the Election Commission, Afghan security forces and the Police for ensuring successful elections despite threats by the Taliban that they would punish any one taking part in the polling.

After the press conference was over, some Afghan journalists started commenting on the good mood of the president. Most of them agreed that he was glad that the elections were held successfully despite unprecedented threats and now hoping to become the president of Afghanistan for another five years.

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