Afghanistan Election: Peaceful Start
Afghan Voting Proceeds Despite Taliban Threats
Thursday, August 20, 2009; 12:00 PM
Afghanistan's historic proceeded with unexpected smoothness and order Thursday despite threats by the radical Islamist Taliban movement to disrupt it. There were reports of scattered violence, and turnout appeared to be relatively low in the capital and in southern provinces with a strong Taliban presence, but Afghan and foreign officials said a feared disaster had been averted.
Washington Post foreign correspondents Pamela Constable and Joshua Partlow will be online from Kabul on Thursday, Aug. 20, at Noon ET to discuss the election, which observers say is critical to assuage growing doubts among American and European voters about whether Afghanistan is worth a continuing heavy investment in money spent and troops' lives lost.
Submit your questions and comments before or during today's discussion.
Washington, D.C.: There is a lot of talk about Karzai courting warlords in his reelection bid. Out of curiosity, is it accurate to call these tribal leaders warlords? This seems to be quite a condescending and primitive term, and I assume that the "warlords" do not refer to themselves in this way. I don't hear this term used to describe tribal leaders in other countries, except perhaps Sudan? What is the explanation for the use of this term?
Joshua Partlow: I think less important than the term warlords is the past behavior of many of the men that President Karzai has gathered around him during the campaign, and many of them have histories of serious human rights violations. One of the most notorious, Abdul Rashid Dostum, the commander of an Uzbek militia, is accused, of killing hundreds of Taliban prisoners in 2001 by allowing them to suffocate in shipping containers. He recently came back to Afghanistan from exile in Turkey and that caused a lot of concern that he would be given a senior government post in return for helping Karzai. You do hear the term warlords here in Afghanistan to describe people like Dostum who commanded large armed groups and used violence to solidify their power.
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