Things can only get better

Afghan election update: Karzai rumoured to have won with an improbable majority

August 24, 2009

It is rumoured in Kabul that the Independent Election Commission is under pressure to rush out election results in an effort to accustom public opinion to the legitimacy of a Karzai victory which some are already claiming could be greater than 70 percent. Unofficial reports (Press TV) claim that Karzai has won with 3,244,196 votes (70 percent), Abdullah 1,029,467 9 (23 percent), the populist Bashardost 189,659 and Thus man Ghani trailing in fourth with only 47,954, proving that nice guys finish last in Death Race 2009. Given that hardly anyone voted in Helmand for obvious reasons and the Pashtuns were – sort of – obliged to vote for Karzai, only those who clung to the belief that this was a democratic process should be surprised.

The same report claimed that only 7.5 million of Afghanistan’s 17.5 million eligible voters had registered. Free and fair?

If Karzai’s warlord cronies have over-egged the firnee and their boy romps home with an incredible margin, Iran-style riots are almost inevitable. On the other hand, if he narrowly wins, it will be more difficult for the opposition forces to cry foul. Given that he achieved only 54 per cent in 2004, the ‘ideal’ result for Karzai would be a tight margin of victory but no runoff, so we’ll see how these figures change if and when the penny drops. Since Abdullah has already declared the election to be rigged, Karzai has retaliated by declaring that he has evidence that Abdullah engaged in fraud and Ghani has submitted evidence to show that both engaged in fraud (previous post) it would perhaps be pruduent to publicly examine these claims before declaring results and certainly before starting the next Karzai puppet show.

Meanwhile, an Aljazeera film report, broadcast on YouTube shows that rumours of Taliban inactivity during the deeply troubled Afghan election may have been wishful thinking on the part of the UN observers. Indeed, the relative calm from the fundamentally religious fanatics may have more to do with the month of Ramadan, when killing and amputating, especially during daylight hours, especially of other Muslims and women, is strictly prohibited, as any Talib scholar knows. The news clip shows Taliban fighters accusing hapless voters of ’standing in line with the Jews.’ This pointless and immature anti-semitism should not surprise us but adds another horrid ingredient to the devil’s brew in this terrible conflict. If a central plank of the Taliban’s twisted ideology is to equate the US and occupying forces with ‘Jews’ and the Palestine question, this explains why the US cannot leave (and why AIPAC were so keen to get them in there in the first place). However, it has clearly escaped the attention of the men in black that ‘Jews’ aside, Hamas themselves have been fighting Taliban/Al Quaeda in Gaza and Fatah is likewise fiercely secularist. Ideologically, the Taliban have more in common with fundamentalist Jewish settlers than they do with secular Palestinians, who have more in common with everyday Israelis than politicians on either side would have us believe.

Elections need a bedrock of governance, and Afghanistan is naturally federalist, to say the least. Given the overwhelming evidence of fraud, intimidation and corruption, it would make most sense to form an interim government of national unity charged with establishing norms of representative governance, auditable finances, prioritising aid and (preferably) development to the benighted swathes of the population who cannot eat votes. Easy to say – and actually, relatively easy to do, in principle. A constructive task of nation-building would give everyone hope and put some of the whackjobs on the back foot, whilst buying time for the occupying forces to think up a face-saving exit strategy. Legitimising a joke election will sustain a toxic status quo and will almost certainly lead to more instability and bloodshed, which would suit the Taliban just fine. What price democracy? About $250 million if we’re talking about the UNAMA budget to mismanage this farce.