Afghanistan: Taliban Fail to Stop the Voting

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September 19, 2005: This month, the U.S. released a senior Taliban official, Mullah Zaeef, from the Guantanamo prison. Zaeef has since shown up in Afghanistan, supporting the government, and urging other Taliban leaders to do the same. Many of these Taliban big shots have already made their peace with the non-Taliban majority now running government. The battle with the Taliban is actually with the Pushtun tribes that the Taliban came from. Many Pushtuns are unhappy about no longer running the country. The Pushtun tribes comprise about 40 percent of Afghanistan's population, and have long dominated politics in the country. But during the Taliban period, the Pushtun made themselves very unpopular with most Afghans because of the Taliban attempt to force extremist (even to most Pushtuns) Islamic lifestyle standards on everyone. The Taliban are a minority even within the Pushtun community, and most Pushtuns who had supported the Taliban, have now agreed to support the new democratic government. But the diehard Taliban has become even more extreme, fanatical and violent. Then again, this sort of violence is pretty common in Afghan history.

September 18, 2005:  With 12 million people registered to vote, most of them did so, with very little interference from the Taliban. The Islamic terrorists were more successful in making proclamations about what they would do to stop the voting, at 6,300 polling places, than in actually doing anything. At stake are 249 seats in the lower house of the national assembly (the Wolesi Jirga), and 420 seats on the 34 provincial councils.  The Taliban were unable to interfere with over 99 percent of the polling places. As with most Taliban operations, it was more bluster than action. There were fifteen voting related deaths today, some of them from local disputes, and not Taliban interference.

September 17, 2005: Taliban efforts to interfere with the election has left seven candidates, and four election workers, dead. But the Taliban anti-election campaign has largely been a failure. 

September 16, 2005: Pakistan has sent an additional 10,000 troops to the Afghan border, or prevent Taliban gunmen from crossing and attempting to interfere with the Afghan elections. In southern Afghanistan, troops caught a force of twenty Taliban trying to destroy a large dam with explosives.

 

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