Land of the ‘purple fingers’ gives sense of joy and hope

Afghan column
Afghan column

After writing about the Afghan presidential election, correspondent Union Jack thought he would turn his pen to something else this week.

“However, such was the anticipation, excitement, nervousness and uncertainty surrounding the build-up to election day, that I felt compelled to update you on what was a truly momentous occasion.

Initial fears of delays or lack of preparedness by Afghan security forces proved unfounded.

It was very much an Afghan-led, Afghan-run operation. Having done everything we could to support our Afghan partners, all we could do was wait and see.

But by 07.30 it was already clear something extraordinary was happening. Social media reports were of thousands of Afghans queuing patiently, often in the rain, waiting to exercise their democratic right to vote.

By the time our commander returned for the close-out brief in the evening, it was clear history had indeed been made.

I intend to hang up the slide I produced for that brief as a memento. Of the points listed, perhaps this Afghan tweet says it all: “I vote with one hand and slap the face of the Taliban with the other”.

It isn’t every day that you can say you were part of history. I sincerely hope it is truly the historic start of a better life for millions of Afghans.

So far this election has gone far better than most dared hope, but if no clear winner emerges from this first round, we may have to repeat the whole election process for the top two candidates next