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Cricket: Pakistan's Hafeez quits T20 captaincy

Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez stepped down as Twenty20 captain on Thursday after the team's failure to qualify for the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. Pakistan went out from the Super-10 stage after a disappointing 84-run defeat against the West Indies on Tuesday, failing to reach the last four for the first time in five editions of the tournament since its inception in 2007. Hafeez said he accepted responsibility for the early exit.

Cricket: Pakistan's Hafeez quits T20 captaincy

Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez stepped down as Twenty20 captain on Thursday after the team's failure to qualify for the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. Pakistan went out from the Super-10 stage after a disappointing 84-run defeat against the West Indies on Tuesday, failing to reach the last four for the first time in five editions of the tournament since its inception in 2007. Hafeez said he accepted responsibility for the early exit.

Risks of violence and fraud haunt landmark Afghan election

By Maria Golovnina and John Chalmers KABUL (Reuters) - Even if the Taliban fail to hobble the Afghan presidential election on Saturday, it could take months for a winner to be declared at a time when the country desperately needs a leader to stem rising violence as foreign troops prepare to leave. Most people expect the election will be better run than the chaotic 2009 vote that handed President Hamid Karzai a second term amid massive fraud and ballot stuffing.

Pakistan to tighten border for Afghan elections

Pakistan will increase security along its border with Afghanistan, the foreign ministry announced Thursday, as its neighbour heads into presidential elections this weekend that Taliban militants have vowed to disrupt. Deadly violence has surged in Afghanistan in the run-up to the election, the first round of which begins Saturday. Afghan officials have hinted at Pakistani involvement in recent attacks, a suggestion vehemently denied by Islamabad.

Timeline: Afghanistan's road to 2014 election

Afghans will vote Saturday in the country's third presidential election to choose a successor to Hamid Karzai, who has led the country since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Here is a timeline of key events since 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded, beginning more than three decades of war in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan poised for uncertain election as US forces exit

Afghanistan heads to the polls Saturday to choose a new president after Hamid Karzai's 13-year reign and a US-led military campaign which have radically changed the country but failed to defeat the Taliban. The first round of the election comes as the final 53,000 NATO combat troops head home this year, leaving Afghan forces to fight the fierce insurgency that erupted after the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.

Scenarios in Afghanistan's high-stakes election

Afghanistan's election on Saturday will mark a new era for the country after 13 years of rule by President Hamid Karzai and as NATO troops end their protracted war against Taliban insurgents. US-led foreign donors hope the vote will help vindicate the massive military and civilian intervention since 2001, while many Afghans see it as an indicator of what lies ahead. AFP explores some scenarios that may play out amid much anxiety and doubt. - A 'successful' election -

Three big names go down to the wire in Afghan election

Afghanistan goes to the polls on Saturday with three contenders dominating the eight-man race to succeed President Hamid Karzai and lead the country without the aid of NATO combat troops to fight the Taliban. Political manoeuvring and speculation have been fevered but with ethnic loyalties likely to play a decisive role, few experts are willing to predict the eventual winner. - Abdullah Abdullah -

U.S., eyeing exit and mindful of past, keeps distance from Afghan election

By Missy Ryan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ahead of Afghanistan's last presidential election in 2009, the United States used its diplomatic and military muscle to try to pull off a successful vote in a nation expected to define the foreign policy of President Barack Obama.

Kerry hails 'historic' Afghanistan elections

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday he hoped weekend presidential elections in Afghanistan would mark a "historic" democratic transition in the war-torn country. With the US still trying to firm its post-2014 military presence in Afghanistan after a drawdown later this year, Kerry said Saturday's vote marked a "pivotal moment after more than a decade of sacrifice and struggle."
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