Things can only get better

Carry on up the Khyber – Karzai’s lead narrows (like we said it would)

August 25, 2009

“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.” (Thus passim)

There are more twists in the tale of the Afghan elections than Hamid Karzai’s S shaped bed – not that I’d know, I hasten to add. What I do know is that donkeys laden with ballot boxes are finding their way back to Kabul to deliver the verdict that the international community needs – ‘don’t panic, democracy is flowering in Afghanistan.’ Well I reserve the right to panic. Another four soldiers died today, along with at least 30 civilians and 56 others wounded in Kandahar.

Here’s a suggestion for the Afghan election theme:

We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again.

(The Who: Won’t get fooled again)

The only thing flowering is Poppy, and the chief gardener, who ‘borrowed’ $2 million interest free from the Ghazanfar Bank, (how and in what form will he make repayments?) has now seen his ‘massive lead’ whittled down to a ‘narrow lead’ over the man who spent the second biggest amount campaigning. To this extent, the Afghan campaign followed the ‘democratic’ model of the US – money talks. As I said several posts back, in lieu of a fair result, we might as well accept Karzai in preference to a prolonged period of even more violence and bloodcurdling carryings-on that might be generated in a runoff – but on the other hand, Abdullah has hinted that his supporters might get frisky if the ‘election is seen to be rigged’. Todays preliminary results (based on 10% of the votes cast, give Karzai 41% and Abdullah 39%, but do not include any votes from the south, where Karzai will win whatever votes the Taliban allowed to be cast. I’ve seen more convincing all-in wrestling bouts – in fact, a novel runoff might take the form of Karzai vs Abdullah, mano a mano, in the ring, wearing tights and masks, of course.

But let’s be serious for once. Thus has a brilliant idea (though I say so myself). Why not bring in Jeb Bush, Former Governor of Florida, to supervise and fine tune the election count? No-one could argue with that – after all, they didn’t in the 2000 US elections.

John J Kelly