Amid reports of earthquakes and rocket fire in Kabul, Afghans headed to the polls Saturday in a presidential runoff between two candidates who both promise to improve ties with the West and combat corruption. The runoff is between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank official and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, after neither secured the 50 percent margin needed to win in the first round on April 5. Whoever wins will have to confront a powerful Taliban insurgency and preside over the withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of the year
Afghanistan is taking another step forward in a transition toward security, progress and stability.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
The two candidates, whose differences lie more in personality than in policy, each say they would sign a long-delayed security pact with the United States. That would allow nearly 10,000 American troops to remain in the country for two more years to conduct counterterrorism operations and continue training and advising the ill-prepared Afghan army and police. Despite early reports of violence and a few casualties, the Taliban did not appear to have launched the major disrupting attacks they had promised.