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Five Takeaways From Afghanistan’s Presidential Election

Frud Bezhan

RFE/RL

Afghans have voted in an election that was twice-delayed and widely expected to be scrapped until just weeks before the vote.

Voters braved security threats and concerns over widespread fraud to cast their ballots in the fourth presidential vote since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

But the September 28 vote was tainted by new and old issues, although the process appeared smoother than in previous polls.

Here are five key takeaways.

Likely Poor Turnout

Many observers reported low turnouts across Afghanistan, which could call into question the inclusiveness and legitimacy of the election.

Ahead of the vote, many predicted a record-low turnout due to fear of Taliban attacks and voter disillusionment at the widespread fraud and corruption that marred previous polls.

Even in the capital Kabul, turnout was sporadic and crowded polling stations were rare.

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) was yet to provide turnout figures.

Ahmad Majidyar, an independent analyst, said on Twitter that the main reasons for the low turnout were the Taliban’s threats to attack the process, the violence on election day, and voters losing confidence in the process.

Another key reason, he said, was that many candidates did not “campaign with vigor this time to mobilize voters” because of doubts the election would even be held due to U.S.-Taliban peace talks that ended abruptly on September 7.

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), a Kabul-based civic-action body that monitors elections, said turnout was “very poor,” attributing it to the lack of female voters in 12 of the country’s 34 provinces.

TEFA said the requirement for voters to be photographed, which some women in the religiously conservative country are often reluctant to do, affected female participation.

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), which had dozens of observers at polling stations, also reported low turnout, especially among female voters.

The commission did report high female turnout in the central provinces of Bamiyan and Daikundi, the western province of Herat, and the southern province of Helmand, a Taliban stronghold.

Problems With The Biometric System

Voters reported that the voting process was better organized than October’s chaotic parliamentary elections.

But many still reported technical and organizational issues, including the absence of their names on voter lists and problems with the biometric voter-identification system used to prevent fraud.

In some provinces, this led people to visit several polling stations in the hope of casting their ballots.

The AIHRC said one of the major issues with the election was “the failure of the biometric system.”

It said election staff were unfamiliar with the system and had difficulties using it. In some provinces, it said, the devices arrived late, causing delays.

“At some polling stations the voting process has started late, and the biometric system still has problems, but if we compare it with the previous elections, there are less problems, and every polling station doesn’t have these problems,” said Yusef Rashid, the head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), an independent Afghan election observer group.

Addressing those concerns, the IEC eased restrictions, allowing anyone with election stickers on their national identity cards to vote.

It was the second time Afghans voted using the biometric voter verification, a system that caused chaos during the 2018 parliamentary elections when devices malfunctioned, went missing, or were not used by untrained electoral staff.

Improved Security

The election was marred by numerous small-scale Taliban attacks, but three people were confirmed dead, a significantly lower death toll than previous elections.

In response to a spate of Taliban attacks in recent weeks, the government bolstered security by deploying around 72,000 security personnel to secure polling centers across the country.

More than 2,000 out of 7,000 polling stations were closed due to the threat of militant attacks.

In the past, the Taliban has bombed polling centers and targeted voters, and in recent weeks has warned of more bloodshed if the election takes place.

An explosion at a polling station in a mosque in the southern city of Kandahar wounded 16 people.

In the northern province of Faryab, Afghan security forces clashed with Taliban fighters in six districts, preventing people from voting.

The Taliban said their fighters attacked polling stations in the eastern province of Laghman. Afghan officials said there were four explosions in the eastern city of Jalalabad, in which one person was killed, disrupting voting at some stations.

Small blasts also hit Kabul, Ghazni, and Kunduz, officials said.

Taliban Disrupting Telecommunications

The Taliban has targeted telecommunication towers in parts of Afghanistan, blowing them up and disrupting mobile-phone services in districts and even some cities.

The disruptions not only affected voters but also the IEC on election day.

The IEC said it had no contact with 901 of the 4,942 polling stations across the country. Many of those polling stations were in the northern provinces of Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz, and Baghlan.

It was not clear whether voting had taken place in these 901 centers, or if they were forced to shut down by the Taliban.

The IEC said it did not know the operational status of the polling centers.

Private telecommunication companies have been under intense pressure, sometimes facing attacks, to shut down their towers. The Taliban has accused several companies of serving as intelligence hubs for the government and foreign forces.

Acts Of Defiance

In the past, the Taliban has bombed polling stations and cut off the index fingers of voters, who must dip their finger in blue ink once they vote.

The Taliban cut off Safiullah Safi’s right index finger for voting in the 2014 presidential election. That did not stop the businessman from casting his ballot again.


A photo of the 38-year-old was posted and widely shared on social media, showing his missing right index finger and the left one stained with indelible ink, indicating he had voted.

“When it comes to the future of my children and country I will not sit back even if they cut off my whole hand,” he said.

Safi’s act of defiance resonated with many Afghans who risked life and limb to vote in the election.f

Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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India News Brief

4 July, 2020

As COVOD-19 Case Rise, Kolkata Bans Flights from Mumbai,Delhi, Chennai,Pune,Nagpur and Ahmeda bad
22,771 COVID-19 Cases and 442 Deaths in the Last 24 Hours
Delhi's Jama Masjid Reopens for Public Amid Tight Social Distancing Norms

Total COVID Cases: 648,318 Death Toll: 18,655

India's Most Affected States:

Maharashtra: Total Positive Cases: 186,626 Total Deaths: 8,178

Gujarat: Total Positive Cases: 33,999  Total Deaths: 1,888

Madhya Pradesh: Total  Positive Cases: 14,106 Total Deaths: 589

West Bengal: Total Positive Cases: 19,819 Total Deaths: 699

Delhi: Total Positive Cases: 92,175 Total Deaths: 2,864

Rajasthan: Total Positive Cases: 18,662 Total Deaths: 430

Uttar Pradesh: Total Positive  Cases: 24,825 Total Deaths: 735

Tamil Nadu : Total Positive Cases: 98,392 Total Deaths: 1,321

Andhra Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 16,097 Total Deaths: 198

Telengana: Total Positive Cases:17,357 Total Deaths: 267

Karnataka: Total Positive Cases: 18,016 Total Deaths: 272

Punjab: Total Positive Cases: 5,784 .Total Deaths: 149

Jammu and Kashmir: 7,849 Total Deaths: 115

The West Bengal Government Allows 50 People at Marriage Functions and Funerals during the current phase of COVID-19 Lockdown from 1 July to 31 July.
According to Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, morning walks will be allowed from 5.30 a.m to 8.30 a.m provided social distancing and other norms.
The new guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 30 June: Schools, colleges, educational institutions, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places, and even metro services will continue to remain shut until July 31

India Reports 18,522 New Cases and 418 Deaths in 24 Hours 

COVID-19: Highlights 

Schools May Reopen in August According to Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokriyal.

Religious Places Visit: No Touching of Deity, No no Sparkling of Holy Water No Prasada in Temples Wearing Mask Thermal Screening is a must 

Shopping Malls Visit: Elderly People With 65 Years of Age and Children Below 10 Years Are Advised to Stay at Home.

Restaurant and food courts in malls to operate at 50 per cent seating capacity with a mandatory distance of six feet between tables. No common prayer mats, physical offerings like prasad, or sprinkling of holy water, in places of worship. Age and health-based restrictions on stepping out of home. Masks to be mandatory, and the Aarogya Setu app 'recommended' for all.

Use of masks, thermal screening, social distancing and sanitisation, the guidelines  require people above 65 years of age, specially  people with comorbidities, pregnant woman, and children below the age of 10 years, to stay at home. Masks are mandatory at all times, including inside restaurants

15 Day Amarnath Yarra Starts from 22 July

Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Indian Health Ministry 

Lockdown extends till June 30

  • International air travel, Metro rail services not allowed 

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations will not allowed..

According to MHA guidelines, in Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission or approval or e-permit will be required for such movement

But  states have the freedom to decide on public movement.

COVID-19: Delhi Death Toll Rises to 82 in Last 24 Hours

Probable Guidelines for Lockdown 5.0.

More travel routes are likely to open in Lockdown 5.0.

From June 1, the Railways will operate 100 pairs of mail or express trains, bookings have already begun. Then AC class services will resume.

Some states have already begun intra-state buses. Other states may  begin intra-tate bus services after June 1.Metro  services may begin in a limited manner, with lesser passenger capacity, social distancing norms and longer stops at each station.

Shops selling non-essential items were allowed to open during Lockdown 4.0.. More shops may open in Lockdown 5.0 even in markets.But no confirmed news regarding opening of shopping malls.Now many shops that have re-opened in market areas are operating on an odd-even basis.

Some cities have already allowed salons and beauty parlours to open with strict social distancing guidelines and wearing protective gear is a must.In containment areas the same rule may prevail in Lockdown 5.0.

The Human Resource Development Ministry of India will soon announce the guidelines of   schools reopening.

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:
https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/china-covid19

 

 

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