05 March, 2021

Like Peace In A Pod

After years of war, Afghans go to elect a president. Will this thirst for democracy conquer the warlords?

Like Peace In A Pod
On a balmy morning in war-ravaged Kabul, a group of blue-veiled women wait quietly outside a mud-brick bakery where they work. A Toyota pick-up pulls up and a woman in an overcoat and scarf steps out gingerly and walks towards the building. The women whisper in hushed tones, flock together and clap quietly as Masooda Jalal makes her way up to a foyer, from where she will speak to them.

Afghanistan's first election campaign is under way and Masooda, the only woman among the 18 presidential candidates in the fray, is first off the mark. What she lacks by way of a power base, the 41-year-old paediatrician makes up with pluck. Using medical metaphors, Masooda promises to "put an ointment to heal the wounds" of Afghanistan if she wins the election. "Our people are tired of strife and war. They want to get rid of the warlords. They want a civil democratic government," she says.

Masooda is quite right. Though democracy is alien to over 10 million war-weary voters who are eligible to cast their ballots in the country's 34 provinces on October 9, there's a yearning for a...

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