Afghan soothsayers blinded by political fog

Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:12pm EDT
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By Golnar Motevalli

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Poor Afghans seeking to change an otherwise bleak future are turning to soothsayers, but the fortune tellers have not had much luck gazing into the murky world of politics.

Afghanistan's "jughi," or fortune tellers, make their living on society's fringe and are popular among the poor, especially in the country's remote, mountainous north.

On the eve of Afghanistan's presidential elections, few were prepared to call the result between President Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun from the south, or his main rival Abdullah Abdullah, whose support base is among Tajiks in the north.

To many of the poor in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, it mattered little who will win.

"Whether it's Karzai or Abdullah, so what? Neither will help us," said a woman, who gave her name as Goljan, as she breastfed her 1-year-old son held on her hip.

Some of the jughi were at least diplomatic about the result.

"I can tell you: your future will be very good, will be big," said soothsayer Goltash.

"But I don't know about this election, I have no idea who to vote for -- it's really up to God."   Continued...

<p>An Afghan fortune teller (R) talks to a customer in Kabul January 3, 2008. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani</p>