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Afghanistan's Shadowlands
Voting 101: Two Afghans pose in front of a sign that explains
the voting process to citizens of a fledging democracy.

"Afghans love pictures. This photograph was taken outside a photo developer. Afghans love photos and dress up with the funniest props. The big deal at this studio was thick plastic glasses and a ridiculous tiny fedora to make them look more modern and educated. The poster out front, made by the UN agency in charge of the election process, is attempting to communicate that Afghans should vote freely and should not be intimidated by bullets, payoffs, or anything else. Because most Afghans cannot read, pictures rather than words convey the message.

"Unfortunately, the voting process in the south where I traveled is a bit of a sham. The UN considers 60% of this area to be too dangerous to work in and therefore there is no attempt to integrate some areas into the election process. Plus, most people consider Karzai a well-intentioned leader but one that works directly for the Americans."

—Writer-Photographer Robert Young Pelton

Photo by Robert Young Pelton

April 2004

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