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Kabul Diary - 21 August 2009

Amanullah Ghilzai

*Amanullah Ghilzai is Managing Editor of VOA Pashto Afghan service
Day 7 in Afghanistan

21 August
- Today, there was a real sense of relief in Kabul following yesterday’s polling and now the whole country is waiting for the ballot results. The campaign teams for the two main candidates—Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah have already announced their victory. After driving through the city and talking to people I could sense an atmosphere of excitement. The population of Kabul city is about five million. The city is ethnically mixed with Tajiks and Pasthuns, the two main ethnic groups of the country living side by side here. The western part of the city is dominated by ethnic Hazarahs. The majority of Pashtuns and Hazarahs supported Karzai in the election while most Tajiks in Kabul and other parts of the country were generally considered as supporters of Abdullah Abdullah.         

I spent some time today, talking to Kabulis in several parts of the city. Interestingly, most Pashtuns and Hazarahs residents of the city believe that Hamid Karzai has won the election while Most Tajiks told me that Abdullah Abdullah is for sure the next president of the country. Afghan electoral officials say, ballot counting is now over and the official result will be announced soon, but none of them is saying any anything as to who is the winner.  

There is a general sense in the city that these elections could be the beginning of the end of the Taliban.  Almost all surveys conducted over the recent weeks suggested that most Afghans took keen interest in the election while the Taliban strongly opposed it. They threatened to disrupt the election and punish those who would vote. The threats resulted in the low turnout but on the day of the election the Taliban were not able to launch any spectacular attacks any where in country particularly in the capital Kabul. Millions of voters defied Taliban threats to vote in Thursday's poll and which was a very clear sign that Afghans were fade up by extremist and violent policies of the Taliban and there is hardly any support for them.

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