Afghanistan is a country at war – and in the middle of its second presidential election since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Not long ago, many observers expected current President Hamid Karzai to effortlessly win re-election on August 20th. But in the past weeks, Dr. Abdullah, a former cabinet minister under Karzai’s administration and an advisor to esteemed Mujahedeen leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, has been aggressively campaigning in areas – and with ethnic groups – outside his typical base, drawing in large crowds across the nation and often in unlikely places. Abdullah frequently criticizes Karzai: in the eight years he has had to push Afghanistan forward, there has been little progress. As half Tajik, the candidate faces an uphill battle: A large voter turnout among Pashtuns will help Karzai, a Pashtun, however, if their turnout is minimal – Pashtun-dominated Taliban are threatening violence and a boycott of the elections – Adbdullah stands a better chance.
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