A weary Afghanistan sighs at Obama’s second term

KABUL — Najibullah, 32, a shopkeeper and law-school dropout who sells knock-off Chinese military garb in a crowded urban bazaar, followed the American presidential election closely on his small counter-top TV set.

Like many in the Afghan capital, he was happy when President Obama was elected in 2008, largely because he hoped it would bring about a change in U.S. military policy toward his country. But when he saw the news flash Wednesday afternoon about Obama’s re-election, his reaction was much more mixed.

“In one way I was happy he won, because he has a softer approach to the world than Romney, but I am also disappointed because he said so little about Afghanistan in his campaign,” said Najibullah, who uses only one name. “We don’t know what his plans are. All we know is that the American troops are going to leave, and everyone is very scared what will happen to us then.”

Across the capital Wednesday, people interviewed about the 2012 election immediately flashed forward to 2014, a year in which the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan will begin their final departure after a decade of war against Taliban insurgents, and in which Afghan presidential elections are scheduled to be held under tense and turbulent conditions.

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