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“An attempt to wipe out history”: The destruction of the Bamian Buddha colossi in 2001

On 26 February 2001, the leader of the Afghan Taleban movement, Mullah Muhammad Omar, ordered from his headquarters in Kandahar that “all statues and non-Islamic shrines in the different areas of the Islamic Emirate must be broken” because they were worshipped by people of non-Islamic religious beliefs and were therefore ‘idols.’ This kind of worship, […]

Power to the People: How to extend Afghans’ access to electricity

More than four billion dollars have, to date, been spent on Afghanistan’s power infrastructure. And yet there are still considerable deficiencies, even in the country’s capital, which has seen most of the investment – and most of the progress. At the same time, the demand for electricity is rapidly growing and the supply-demand gap has […]

Elections 2014 (30): Some initial reflections on E-Day II

The counting of second round votes from the presidential elections is still under way in much of Afghanistan, although results are now trickling in from some polling stations. Meanwhile, everyone is trying to assess how well the second round went: the impact of security incidents, level of fraud and, especially importantly, how big the turnout […]

Elections 2014 (27): Snapshots from the provinces before the second round vote

How do Afghans feel about the second round of the presidential election ahead tomorrow, Saturday, 14 June? How do they perceive the security situation, the campaigning of the two contenders, the election authorities’ performance – and are they still as ready to go and cast a vote as many of them were in the first round? Like […]

Elections 2014 (11): How the Hazaras voted in Bamyan

Initial observations appear to show that Dr Abdullah has won the majority of the vote in Bamyan – with Ashraf Ghani so far second by a large margin. Bamyan is important – a province which is generally secure and has a highly motivated electorate. It is also the one province with an overwhelmingly ethnic Hazara […]

Elections 2014 (4): The election day in snapshots from the provinces

How did election day go? After a first collection of voices from the provinces on the day before the vote (read here), we continued to hear from our friends and from journalists, civil society activists and government officials across the country. We asked them to describe what they saw in terms of voter turnout, atmosphere, fraud – […]

Election 2014 (3): Snapshots from the provinces before the vote

While the countdown to the vote is nearly finished, the situation ahead of it differs widely in the various parts of the country. Reports from the provinces can convey enthusiasm, insecurity, suspicions of fraud or just resignation. Depending on the person talking to you, they can become extremely detailed mappings of the security situation and […]

Rallies, Debate, Rain and Snow: The 2014 presidential election campaign starts

The Afghan presidential election campaign has kicked off – two months before polling day. Candidates are showing a range of attitudes, from launching big, brash public rallies to a rather desultory ‘we start tomorrow’ attitude. With no evident frontrunner, it seems the campaign will involve a real attempt to win over voters and will be […]