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After Afghanistan election, governors seek distance from 'illegal' Karzai

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The strong natural defenses of Panjshir allowed the late commander Ahmad Shah Massoud and his dwindling Northern Alliance fighters to resist the Taliban right up until he was killed days before Sept. 11, 2001. Nowadays, the same barriers – and the historic grudge – have kept the Taliban-led insurgency out.

Indeed, when an explosion echoed throughout the capital of Parakh on Thursday, a group of uniformed police didn't even look up from their game of volleyball. Dynamite here is for construction and mining, not destruction and death.

And that's the way people want to keep it, despite their short fuses over the election.

"I'm sure if one person starts something against the government, everyone will follow him," says Abdul Kabir, a local teacher. But "if we start to protest, we are destroying our own country."

His school has been shuttered since Sunday. The Karzai government ordered all schools and mosques to be closed for three weeks, ostensibly because of the arrival of swine flu to the country. The order came one day after Dr. Abdullah quit.

"I don't think the government gave three weeks off because of the swine flu. It was about the election," says Mr. Kabir. "If [students] were here at school or university, they might be demonstrating against the government."

Governor Bahij implied the closures were suspect, but nevertheless worries about demonstrations that could be "a very good opportunity for the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden to recruit people."

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