Tomorrow is the day of the much anticipated Afghan Presidential election. From my experience, spending much of the past 12 years in Afghanistan, I feel that the result will have a much larger impact than the previous two, in 2005 and 2009. Why? Because this time the Afghans are really in charge.
Apart from managing a volatile security situation, a new leader will be challenged with putting a very poor country back on its feet. This is no small thing. It includes settling border disputes with Pakistan, negotiating trade routes to the North, putting strong economic programmes in place, establishing the rule of law on a corruption-free basis and, not least, continuing to build the human capital. In my view Afghanistan's people are its secret weapon. The Afghans are driven and everyone who has spent longer periods of time there has seen just how quickly lives are changed for the better when people are given the opportunity.
Of course April 5 is only the first of two ballots. The top three contenders so far are all credible former ministers under Karzai with strong followings in the country and solid professional credentials. But lots can happen in a month - stay tuned in May for our next update on the result of the second ballot and its historic results.
Above: A woman proudly shows her voter registration card as she votes for the first time in the last election. Photo courtesy of Aly Mawji
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