Vote rigging, ballot box stuffing, duplicate ballots, validity and final outcome of elections in doubt, no we are not talking about Iranian elections but Afghan elections supervised by U.S. and NATO. In one District alone, not a single vote was caste and yet all 38,000 votes showed up in one candidate's column. Where is the outrage? Why are the U.S. leaders not raving and ranting about it and why is Mr. Fareed Zakaria not blowing hot and cold on CNN's GPS Program?
Before the elections, NATO's representative in charge of overseeing the elections foolishly claimed an expected 80% voter turnout. The actual number seems well below 30%. Even in India, a country with perpetual 62 year democracy and frequent election history, voter turnout has not yet reached 80%, it is usually around 60%.
Obviously NATO does not understand Afghanistan where half the population i.e. women are not allowed by their husbands/fathers to go out of their houses let alone participate in elections. This shows a complete lack of understanding of Afghan culture and realities on the ground. It begs the question, if after eight years of presence on the ground, U.S. and NATO still do not understand Afghanistan, then what are they doing there?
The West is trying to succeed in Afghanistan by pinning its hopes on two men with tainted background. Mr. Hamid Karzai's is alleged to have enriched himself through corruption and by giving free reign to his brother, reported to be the biggest drug czar in Afghanistan. Mr. Abdullah Abdullah represents the Northern Alliance, a group with criminal history. When Kabul fell during the civil war under Alliance's control for a couple of months, they looted every house, murdered many able bodied men and raped as many women as they could. Also, a component of the Alliance headed by Rashid Dostum of Mazar-e-Sharif, who after the U.S. invasion is alleged to have killed over 1,000 people by locking them in cargo containers for months on end without food or water. Mr. Abdullah Abdullah may not himself be involved in any killings, but he is supported by these criminal elements. Hoping that people like Karzai and Abdullah can bring renaissance to Afghanistan is like handing over power to the I.R.A. in Northern Ireland and the Mafia in the U.S.
Afghanistan needs reconciliation and new leadership. It needs new faces and until new leadership is developed, civility and peace is not likely return to that country. The West's efforts of nation building are doomed to failure as long as it continues to provide oxygen to leaders with criminal background in Afghanistan.