October 8, 2004
AFGHANISTAN: SECURITY AND LEGITIMACY QUESTIONS
media display "profound concern over possible security problems."
Critics doubt the election's "credibility," optimists call it
an "historic step."
slated for victory due to West's support, many observers predict.
Pro-government Afghan media portray a "keenly participating"
extensive assistance by international forces' necessary-- Papers characterized security arrangements as
"woefully inadequate," with Euro writers judging Afghanistan as
"ill-prepared" and predicting its elections will "fall far short
of internationally acceptable standards."
Italy's liberal Il Foglio, among others, described the security
situation as "a logistical nightmare." Afghanistan's pro-government Anis
praised the presence of the ISAF as a "ray of hope" but called for
"further security measures."
Media debate over 'legitimacy of the
elections'-- Euro papers warned that
the Afghan election "runs the risk of becoming a farce." France's Catholic La Croix stated that
"conditions have not yet been met for a peaceful democratic
transition." Afghan papers
expressed concern over "attacks and poisonous propaganda" launched by
warlords, the Taliban, and al-Qaida, which have "undermined people's
confidence." The lack of security
could have potential "harmful effects on the Afghan citizens' turnout in
the elections," Iranian media noted.
Japan's liberal Mainichi agreed that "low voter turnout
would raise questions about the legitimacy of the election." Global dailies raised additional concerns
that the situation for Afghan women will "become worse" and that the
vote was "stirring up" ethnic issues.
Though optimists acknowledged that the election would be
"far-from-perfect," they called it a "historic step," far
better than no election at all.
Outlets consider Karzai's victory 'inevitable'--
Many observers expected Afghans to choose
president Karzai, the "friend of Americans." According to Germany's center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine, Afghan voters view Karzai as "a guarantee for more
international aid and putting warlords in their place." Pro-government Afghan papers predicted that
"Karzai's victory is practically certain." Iranian media criticized Karzai for imposing
"an unfair contest...enjoying the support of the U.S.A. and other Western
countries." A few writers
dissented, concluding that "Karzai cannot win the elections as easily as
Afghan media portray a people 'committed to
pursuing democracy'-- Pro-government papers
observed that the Afghan people "enthusiastically" participated in
the campaign and "are well acquainted with their politicians." Independent Kabul Weekly claimed that
the Afghan people "believe that their peace, security and prosperity
depend on the success of the elections."
Conversely, Saharr, owned by an Afghan NGO, criticized the
"extremely upbeat" coverage of the election process by the
state-owned media. Iranian media
characterized the elections as "unfair" due to the "relatively
low level of political knowledge" among Afghan voters.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202)
EDITOR: Gloria Kim
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys
the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.
Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local
editorial opinion. Some commentary is
taken directly from the Internet. This
report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not
necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 83 reports from 18
countries over 14 September - 9 October 2004.
Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
"Three Days Before The Presidential Election"
Pro-government national evening daily Anis
editorialized (10/6): "Our people
are impatiently and optimistically waiting for 9 October, a day when millions
of people will go to the polls to vote for and elect their president for the
next five years.... The people are
hoping for a bright and prosperous future illuminated by democracy. Therefore, they have enthusiastically
attended presidential candidates' campaign meetings in the capital and provinces. They believe that the feeling of patriotism
will help the future leadership achieve political progress and establish a
national government based on popular participation, the principles of democracy
and guided by the national interest. Our
people are well acquainted with their politicians and the presidential
candidates who want to come to power through this election. They well understand that some of the
candidates would run their campaigns using force and the gun were the
international community not present in Afghanistan.... It is crystal clear that the outcome of the
election will be decided in the very final moments of the election. If the
election leads to a second round, the situation will become even more
complicated. It depends on the Afghan
nation as to whom they will consider the most entitled to the presidency and
capable of serving the nation. The vote
of the people will determine who will finally win the election with a majority
of votes after so much speculation and so many doubts about the election
"Our People's Desire Is To Establish A
Government Based On Social Justice"
Ziarmal Alkuzai wrote in pro-government national
evening daily Anis (10/6):
"As our people have got the opportunity to determine their fate
through the presidential elections, we believe they will vote for a person who
can serve the country and is honest and loyal to the public treasury. We witnessed that our country went through
chaotic times and troubles because of the crimes committed by unelected and
factional leaders during the past 10 years.
They undermined our national unity and threatened to divide the
country. The government was so weak that
it could not ensure security in areas close to the capital and no-one obeyed
its orders. As a result, the country
turned into the hub of terrorism.
Moreover, the Taliban's puppet government attempted to destroy our
cultural and traditional values and shatter our national unity to isolate the
brotherly ethnic groups from each other. But, with the assistance of the
international community and the United Nations, we have been given a golden
opportunity to salvage the country from isolation and reclaim our position in
the international community.... A number
of foreign puppets and self-centred people oppose the establishment of an
independent, prosperous and competent government that can administer the entire
country from the capital in accordance with the constitution to fulfil people's
desires and restore the economy. We want to establish a government that can
ensure stability and demonstrate its legitimacy at national and international
level to repair the damage caused by the past two decades of wars and lead the
country towards development.... Our
people are committed to pursuing democracy. They will choose a patriotic person
who can enforce law, democracy, and serve the people."
"The Elections Will Be In A Peaceful
Climate Despite The Government's Concern"
Self-proclaimed independent Kabul Weekly
wrote (10/4): "The Afghan people
are impatiently waiting for...the day on which millions of people will go to
the polls.... They believe that their
peace, security and prosperity depend on the success of the elections. They are also looking forward to other major
achievements after the elections.
However, they are concerned and anxious.... The presence of the international community
is the only ray of hope encouraging people to be optimistic about the success
of the elections and their future....
They understand that the candidates would have taken the path of
confrontation and resorted to using force and guns had the international
community not been present in Afghanistan.
The people are also concerned because high-ranking government officials
are continuously warning of possible attacks by the Taliban and Al-Qa'idah in
the run-up to the election.... The
incidents over the last three years prove that the Taliban, Al-Qa'ida and
Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Eslami party are not in a position to disrupt the election
process countrywide.... Generally, we
ought not to be afraid of armed people. They cannot affect the election
results.... Spreading rumors, as though
armed men were threatening the election campaigns, is sheer false
propaganda.... Government officials
ought not to frighten people about security threats facing the elections. They should let people vote for their
preferred candidates with equanimity and confidence."
"Elections Need Further Security
Pro-government national evening daily Anis
editorialized (10/4): "The
expansion of NATO forces in the run-up to the [Afghan] election demonstrates
the long-standing commitment of the international community towards
Afghanistan. Not only do the Afghan
people welcome the deployment of further NATO troops in Afghanistan, but also
countries that support a democratic and fair election in Afghanistan, free from
security fears, regard this move as an encouraging step.... The way events are developing shows that the
country requires further security measures in order to hold the presidential
election in a peaceful climate and to pave the way for people to participate in
the election without fear or intimidation.
If the security and safety of voters are not ensured and the tensions of
voter intimidation by warlords and gunmen are not removed, the voters cannot
freely participate in the election in a way that could reflect the real votes
of the people. Therefore, the expansion
of NATO forces is tantamount to supporting and protecting the election that paves
the way for the development of democracy in Afghanistan. NATO's decision to increase its troops could
also play an active role in preventing the activities of terrorists, who are
deemed to be a serious threat to the election process and democracy in Afghanistan. As a result, the expansion of NATO forces
demonstrates that it realistically deals with the situation in
Afghanistan. It also shows NATO's
historic commitment to development in Afghanistan and to leading our country
towards peace, democracy and stability."
"Armed Moves In Favour Of Candidates"
Independent daily Erada editorialized
(10/4): "Our wish was to take
effective steps to create a democratic and free atmosphere in which to hold
presidential elections in accordance with the constitution. Despite these hopes, attacks, and poisonous
propaganda launched by the enemy, warlords and their supporters have undermined
people's confidence in the current democratic atmosphere. Our compatriots can see that obstacles are
created to the election campaigns in the run-up to the elections. Armed men obstruct the presidential
candidates' election campaigns.... Some
tribes have announced that they will set fire to the houses of those who do not
vote for their chosen candidate. This
has undermined the confidence of the international community and the Afghan
people in a democratic atmosphere....
This could deter many voters from taking part in the elections. As a result of the mild treatment of armed
men and enemies, problems have been created for holding fair and democratic
elections. They have created obstacles
in the way of implementing democracy.
Moreover, supporters of every candidate are exploiting government
facilities. Such acts will not only
hamper the country's reconstruction, but will also undermine national unity,
country-wide security and democracy."
State-run Eslah opined (10/3): "We doubt whether Afghanistan's own
security forces can safeguard the elections....
Some have been involved in defacing posters of candidates standing
against Mr Karzai. Security officials
are supposed to provide conditions for people to cast their votes freely and
fearlessly.... Reports indicate that
security forces in Kabul have been observed tearing down posters.... If the police carry out such activities in
the capital, warlords and gunmen will undoubtedly mock the values of democracy
in more remote areas."
Independent weekly Watandar held
(10/3): "Karzai's victory is
practically certain.... The people
believe that Karzai will win the elections and that the other presidential
candidates are not hopeful about their chances of success.... He is the only one of the 18 candidates who
will be acceptable to the outside world.
The international community and donor countries do not trust the other
presidential candidates.... They
understand that these candidates are protected by local warlords."
Independent weekly Cheragh noted
(10/3): "Karzai, a Pashtun, made a
strategic choice of running mates--the ethnic Tajik Ahmad Zia Masud and the
Hazara Mohammad Karim Khalili--precisely to assure victory by broadening his
appeal.... Hamid Karzai did not appoint
his running mates based on their political affiliations, but chose them
considering their tribal influence, so as to win a majority of votes from the
two tribes to which his running mates belong."
"General Elections, Warlords And
Pro-government national evening daily Anis
editorialized (10/3): "In order to
win the hearts of the war-torn Afghan nation and attain the presidential post,
Afghan leader Hamed Karzai's team will never form a coalition and share power
with those responsible for destroying the country and for the mass killing and
recognized as warlords on a national and an international level. There are a number of candidates who...have a
desire for ethnic, regional, language and religious hegemony, and aim to undermine
democracy and lead Afghanistan towards a political crisis and
instability.... Taking into
consideration the above-mentioned points, our compatriots will not choose a
person who aims to humiliate the country rather than developing and respecting
it. We wholeheartedly back and thank
Hamed Karzai for not forming a coalition with the warlords. We vehemently criticize the terrorists...and
call them the enemies of our country's territorial integrity and Islam. We also hate warlords.... They can create obstacles to our future
economic, social, cultural and political programs and disappoint our
people. God willing, they will face
disappointment in the general elections....
We hope a coalition government will not be established."
"Extension Of German Armed Forces' Mandate
In Afghanistan - An Encouraging Event"
Independent daily Erada (10/3): "The peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan
is very important and is constantly developing.... On the one hand, our country is in a volatile
security situation and opposition forces are persistently trying to undermine
security, while on the other, it is entirely devastated and is in dire need of
construction and reconstruction. It is
hoped that our lost prosperity will return and quell the mounting tension and
address all aspects of our difficulties....
Since the Bonn Conference and the establishment of the interim
government in Afghanistan, Germany has done good work to maintain security and
carry out reconstruction programs. It has outdone other countries in helping
Afghanistan so far.... The German parliament,
which is made up of many left-wing and right-wing political parties, approved
the extension of the German forces' mandate in Afghanistan.... This move by German officials is extremely
encouraging. Germans are vigorously
carrying out extensive programs to aid reconstruction and maintain security in
Kabul, Konduz and Badakhshan Provinces.
It is worth mentioning that the Afghan people are highly indebted to the
generous assistance of the Germans."
"The Election Is Facing A Wave Of Threats
Dari-language Panjara opined (10/2): "The Taliban have openly said that they
would kill anyone participating in the forthcoming Afghan election.... This is a serious challenge facing the election
and security in Afghanistan.... The lack
of security and stability could adversely affect the election.... Therefore, it is the duty of the
international security forces and the Afghan government to take practical
measures to provide security for the elections and avert the threats and
attacks being carried out in many parts of the country. Otherwise, the legitimacy of the elections as
the first test of democracy will be brought into question."
"Karzai Undermines Security"
Weekly Payam-e Mojahed opined
(9/30): "Karzai's government and
the Western media that support him are always warning of voter intimidation and
threats posed by local commanders in the election campaign.... Nevertheless, Karzai has dealt with the
perpetrators that intimidated the voters as amiably and affectionately as
though they had scored some achievements for the nation.... All his efforts are aimed at extending his
rule over Afghanistan.... Karzai may
remain in power, but his actions have called into question the legitimacy of
the elections. Therefore, the future
government will not enjoy the support of a majority of the people. Unfortunately, the golden chance to establish
a democratic government in Afghanistan is being destroyed by the transitional
government and its foreign supporters.
Action speaks louder than words.
Democracy cannot be implemented in the country only by chanting
slogans. If the government authorities
wanted to extend Karzai's tenure for security reasons, they could have done so
through talks and negotiations with national groups. However, predetermining the election results
is the gravest mistake committed by Karzai and his international allies."
"Complicated Questions About Strategy"
Independent daily newspaper Erada opined
(9/30): "Security and military
officials, as well as the national and international media, have displayed
profound concern over possible security problems during the polling days. These statements have raised questions among
the people. No-one knows why trivial
problems are made so complicated.... The
USA has a close relationship with Pakistan and has recently donated billions of
dollars to Pakistan. However, the
question arises as to why the USA has not yet been able to make Pakistan arrest
these terrorists.... The Taliban are
allegedly the greatest obstacles to the Afghan election campaign and the
closest supporters of Al-Qa'idah... The
Pakistani president is undoubtedly aware of areas where these terrorists
reside, but it is trying to deceive the USA.
The USA has sustained heavy human and material losses in the fight
against terror, and the people of America want this monster i.e. Al-Qa'idah to
be legally tried. Then, why are US
efforts proving futile, although the US troops are stationed in close proximity
to these elements residing on the other side of the border? The last question is whether arresting Bin
Laden and his allies and rescuing the world, particularly the United States,
are intertwined with the forthcoming US presidential elections or any other
strategy. This is a complicated issue
that has puzzled political analysts."
"Karzai And People"
Awa-e Waqt wrote (9/29): "Many political analysts of Afghan
affairs believe that [Afghan leader Hamed] Karzai is more popular than any
other presidential candidate and that there is a strong likelihood he will win
the forthcoming election with a majority of votes.... Karzai has achieved popularity amongst the
people by rescuing Afghanistan from perpetual wars, bloodshed, and chaos. He has also relatively strengthened national
unity in Afghanistan. He understands
people's problems.... Although he has
failed to tackle administrative corruption and eradicate narcotic drugs, he is
praised for his honesty and admission of his failures.... For that reason, he is trusted by the people
and is preferred by the people to other candidates. The analysts say that presidential candidates
complain about and criticize Karzai because they psychologically suffer from
frustration. They say that presidential
candidates anticipate they cannot defeat Karzai at the election campaign. Thus they resort to levelling criticisms and
objections at him.... The outcome of the
election will show whether or not these analyses are true and authentic.
Therefore, it is better to wait for the elections to see who will be fortunate
enough to become the future president of Afghanistan."
"You Can Eat Jam If You Have A
Independent weekly Cheragh (9/28): "It is clear why Mr Karzai and his team
are not willing to campaign through the media in the current situation, the
moments of which are crucial and decisive.
The world mass media...have...overwhelmed public opinion throughout the
world and across the country, which makes Mr Karzai's success inevitable. Moreover...the state-run press...is willing
to advocate certain candidates whose victory will result in promoting them
[press bosses] now and in the future.
Since everything is to the advantage of a particular candidate, is it
not advisable for Mr Karzai's campaign team not to take the trouble to campaign
in such an insecure situation just to get a few thousand votes. According to Mr Khalili, they are lazy on the
one hand, but on the other hand they are so lucky because for them this
[laziness] is not a problem. Our people,
who are observing and covering the election process, have noticed that even the
UN cannot maintain its indifference and impartiality, that the country's
leaders are striking a deal and the...people's expectations and dreams are
being slaughtered at the feet of a lucky candidate [Hamed Karzai]. So they remember a saying: You can eat jam if
you have a jam-maker."
"How Should The Election Be Like?"
Independent daily Arman-e Melli
(9/28): "Neither the postponement
of the parliamentary election nor the extension of the tenure of the head of
state, at the end of a certain period, is acceptable. They are considered a violation of the law,
unjust and against the national interest....
So, the election planned for the nation cannot duly create confidence
and fails to resolve the problems. The
outcome of the election is pre-determined.
There are a lot of national and international efforts to keep the head
of the transitional state in power by any means possible. It goes without saying that all the
facilities of the transitional state and the foreign material and military
assistance have been put at the disposal of a certain person since long
ago. This indicates how far the distance
between the words and actions is."
"Why Are Not People Allowed To Vote
Independent daily Erada opined
(9/27): "The slogans of peace,
democracy and freedom have been chanted since the establishment of interim
administration in Afghanistan. The
government has made several achievements to improve our living standards. Following these achievements, productive
steps were taken to make our people's lives prosperous and rebuild the
country.... Now elections will be held
in accordance with the constitution....
It seems that in addition to the threats posed by armed men and
terrorists, a number of other elements want to disrupt the forthcoming
presidential elections and undermine freedom and democracy and to prevent
compatriots from attending polling stations or make them vote for a particular
person.... People in other regions may
also punish and burn down houses of those who do not vote for some
candidates. As a result, democracy and
freedom will be undermined. The Joint
Electoral Management Body, departments and officials should tackle this issue
in the provinces and districts. This
will not only create a free and democratic atmosphere, but will also prevent
human rights violation. People should be
free to vote for their ideal candidate in a free atmosphere."
"The Demand For Postponing The
Pro-government English-language Kabul Times
opined (9/26): "Some of the
presidential candidates have been asking President [Hamed] Karzai to have the
election put off for another month, which is now scheduled on 9 October.... If presidential elections are postponed for
another month, such activities on the part of warlords in almost all provinces
will be doubled or trebled.... In
addition to that, arrangements have been made on an elaborate scale for holding
the election on 9 October and putting off the date for one whole month will
upset everything.... Meanwhile, the
postponement will indicate, especially to our friends and well-wishers abroad,
that Afghans do not have the merit to hold an election and therefore, they do
not deserve a democratic dispensation.
This will have a negative impact on the quantity of their
contributions. Every country, developed
or underdeveloped, needs to maintain a favourable image in the world.... The second postponement of the elections will
harm our national image which is luckily enough [sufficiently satisfactory]
this time, thanks to the skill and proficiency of the authorities. The international community, now on our side,
may get the impression that the Afghans who were thought to be adept in
democratic government through the Jerga system are wishy washy."
"Responsible Election Bodies Take Practical
Independent weekly Cheragh (9/26): "The UN and the Joint Electoral
Management Body (JEMB) have recently given permission to 32 political parties
to monitor the election process to regain their lost credibility. They also pointed to the lack of balance and
equality in utilizing government resources for election campaigns and stressed
the need to ensure equal opportunity for the candidates to utilize government
resources.... These bodies should not
deal with the realities of Afghan society with haste and recklessness.... Making do with the cooperation of certain
fabricated and unpopular political
parties which had a lot of problems registering themselves at the
Ministry of Justice is no good. It is
tantamount to fooling the nation and the
international community. We
welcome the precautionary and urgent measures taken by the UN and the JEMB
aimed at reviving their tarnished reputation and acting independently so that
the obstacles faced by the election campaign could be tackled. We hope, however, that these measures will
prove useful in bolstering public confidence and pave the way for a democratic
election free from fraud, forgery, pressure and force."
"The Government Deals With The State Of
Weekly newspaper Payam-e Mojahed
editorialized (9/23): "Had the
constitution been approved by the people's representatives without any foreign
interference, it would have been a really considerable achievement.... Now that only a few days are remained to hold
the second test of democracy, the presidential election, certain foreign
circles are hoping for the victory of Karzai.
However, Karzai cannot win the elections as easily as is predicted by his
foreign allies.... Even if he wins the
elections, he would not win with a majority of votes.... Considering Karzai's policies and actions, it
is believed that even if he succeeds in the upcoming election, his success will
not prove useful for national unity. On
the contrary, it will widen the gulf between different sections of community
and the people will not respect the government as their representative.... The government, political parties, the UN and
collation forces had better not implement short-term strategies that will
create problems and difficulties in the future for our country. The series of
events over the last week demonstrate that Karzai's government and his
international friends have committed grave mistakes."
"People Will Not Vote For Anti-Democratic
Herat News Center wrote (9/23): "In the present circumstances, we really
need the help of the world community and friendly, neighbouring and Muslim
countries. While we suffer destitution,
those who announce in their election platform that they will expel foreigners
from the country if they come to power, and give lots of other pledges, are
only trying to make their slogans sound louder.
Furthermore, those who thwarted our development, looted the nation's
assets and who were the servants of outsiders wish to repeat the things they
have done in the past. However, they
should understand that our country is not yesterday's Afghanistan. It is a free country which wishes to move
towards civilization alongside other countries.
Our people want to live peacefully and maintain good relations with the
countries of the world. This is because
we do not want the world community to abandon us or for powerful people,
tyrants and drug smugglers to misuse this opportunity."
"Election Difficulties And Big
Amin Saher wrote in pro-government national
evening daily Anis (9/22):
"On the one hand...the election process is wrapped in an atmosphere
of distrust and feverish political challenges.... Although all these clamors, serious political
polemics, and criticism are part and parcel of democracy and democratic
openness...they seem to be unexpected, and therefore causes worries and
anxieties among the people.... But
despite all that, the holding of the presidential election is a big change,
positive move, and a turning point in bringing the new political system and
democracy into the country.... It is
obvious that a good election is a guarantee for a good and prosperous future
for our people. Therefore it is the duty
of every politically conscious Afghan to fulfill his duty, making utmost effort
to enlighten the people and give them proper consciousness with regard to the
value of election and voting. The people
should be told in plain language when they go to the ballot box, they should
refer to their conscience and Almighty God, and cast their vote for a candidate
who can guarantee a prosperous future for the country and the people, who can
direct the country to the path of progress and development in a reasonably
short period of time, and thus promote the international prestige of
Afghanistan in the world and among the nations of the world."
"It Is Better To Hold The Election
Successfully Than To Postpone It"
Pro-government national evening daily Anis
editorialized (9/20): "Some
presidential candidates are calling for the postponement of the elections. They are raising this issue at a time when
our people are hoping for a bright future and are impatiently looking
forward to participating in the presidential election for the first
time.... Now that positive developments
are being created...we must try and make Afghanistan a civilized and developed
country matching international standards.
It is rather astonishing that some candidates call for the postponement
of the elections despite the current critical situation. They reason that security and logistics
problems prevent them from running their election campaign smoothly.... The candidates' demand for the postponement
of the elections is indeed adding fuel to the fire lit by the enemies, who are
persistently trying to disrupt the election campaign and disappoint the
nation. Therefore, postponing the
elections is considered to be the success of the enemy and the success of the 9
October poll is tantamount to a slap in the face of Afghanistan's
Independent daily Erada editorialized
(9/20): "Although the people of our
country have been oppressed...over the past few decades, they are counting the
days to electing a leader of their own choice and regard the upcoming elections
as a good omen for overall prosperity, peace and security throughout the
country. But two major concerns still
exist in their minds in connection with casting their votes. One is the covert and open attacks by
terrorist and Al-Qa'ida elements during...and...after the elections.... Secondly, the people face the threats of
armed commanders.... But the major
concern of our people is that the government has not taken any steps to prevent
the use of force by gunlords, or their threats, contrary to their demand for
arms to be collected.... Although these
presidential elections will be held and a president will be elected even if the
people refrain from participating, their withdrawal from the elections due to
fear and the threats of gunlords and terrorist elements would be seen as the
government's weakness in the field of ensuring the security of people's lives
in all regions. The government's
weakness and the fact of people's security being upset are weakening public
support for the government and increasing the distance between the two.... And it is clear that in such a situation,
peace is jeopardized and creation of a rule-of-law state faces deadlock."
"Expansion Of Security Assistance Forces In
The Run-Up To The Elections"
Pro-government national evening daily Anis
commented (9/19): "The expansion of
security assistance forces in the run-up to the 18 Mizan [9 October] poll is
welcomed by the Afghan peace-loving people.
The deployment of 1,100 troops in Afghanistan to provide security for
the upcoming elections shows the commitment of the international community and
the USA to the Afghan election campaign.... The state of affairs and the
current situation in Afghanistan demonstrate that the country needs further
security assistance to ensure security for the upcoming presidential poll. The security should be ensured so that the
people can hold the presidential and parliamentary elections in a secure and peaceful
climate. The international coalition
forces, NATO-led peacekeeping forces and the Afghan national army forces had
better act in unison to achieve this goal....
The priority need at the moment is to provide security for the elections
as the security situation is deteriorating and the Taliban will probably
intensify their attacks to disrupt the 9 October poll. The people cannot go to polls and participate
in the election campaigns as expected unless their safety is ensured and
tension emanating from possible voter intimidation by warlords are
"Postponing The Elections Is Not In The
Independent daily Erada stated
(9/19): "Since the Bonn Conference,
the election campaign has faced several obstacles. The failure in the disarmament process is
deemed to have been the main obstacle.
The elections were postponed because security was not maintained, a
credible atmosphere was not yet established and the arrangements lagged behind
schedule. Now that the elections,
mandated by the national and international institutions, are planned to be
held, a number of presidential candidates have put forward certain reasons and
proposals, asking for the postponement of the election for yet another
month.... The postponement of the
elections for yet another month will create many other problems and will not
prove useful for the election, which is our people's prime hope and
aspiration. It will also result in the
elections be held in the month of Ramadan.
Besides, the weather will get extremely cold in some regions and this
will create problems for the voters. In
addition, if the elections are postponed, the presence of too many presidential
candidates and their conflicting opinions and platforms will psychologically
affect our countrymen.... By postponing
the elections, our countrymen who live in remote areas, lack access to radio
and television, has no information about the ongoing extensive election
campaigns and are not sufficiently familiar with the voting process, will have
to wait for yet another month. The
respectable candidates must understand that none of them would be able to
travel to all provinces in the current situation and run an election campaign
in remote regions. Lack of security
will prevent them from running their campaign all over Afghanistan, and last
week's incidents prove this fact.
Finally, it should be noted that our enemies are lying in ambush and
postponing the election will give them an opportunity to carry out their
acts. Therefore, it is wise to seek
other solutions as this variant is not in our national interest."
"Afghan Radio Commentary Upbeat About
Campaign, Future After Elections"
Pashto-language Kabul Radio Afghanistan, a
state-run radio, commented (9/19):
"The current political atmosphere will lead Afghanistan towards a
bright and optimistic future. Providing
facilities for the presidential candidates to announce their policies and
political, social, economic and cultural programs proves the fact that the
people of Afghanistan and the current society have undergone the 23 years [of war]
and experienced the formation of a democratic, prosperous and developed
society.... There are equal
opportunities for the candidates to conduct their elections campaign and
explain their policies. No doubt, the presidential candidates' understanding of
the current situation will help remove the chaos and improve the situation in
the country.... The explanation and
disclosure of facts by the candidates will encourage the people of Afghanistan
to take a decision to choose their leader.
The people of Afghanistan are entitled to elect their future leader in
the light of the law."
"The Abortive Attempt On Karzai's
Pro-government Kabul Times opined
(9/19): "The abortive attempt on
Karzai's life in Gardez [Province] the other day was indicative of the Taliban
resolve and vigilance to do away with democracy and re-establish their reign of
terror. And the Taliban are not alone in
this. The Al-Qa'idah network along with
fundamentalist Muslim scholars...are behind the conspiracy to topple the
democratic dispensation in Afghanistan by undermining the elections.... There are two men so vitally needed in Afghanistan
and Pakistan, President Karzai and [Pakistani] President [Pervez]
Musharraf.... The two abortive life
attempts made on President Musharraf clearly show that he shares the same fate
with his Afghan counterpart. Therefore, they have to join hands in uprooting
the conspirators who are gaining more momentum as time goes by.... Meanwhile, the last announcement made by
President Karzai that each presidential candidate is entitled to draw from the
public treasury some money to expend on his election campaign is
commendable. This should take care, to
some extent, of the allegations levelled by the presidential candidates that
the incumbent enjoys all facilities and therefore ask him to resign. Another factor in the election is the
proliferation of the number of candidates because this achieves nothing except
dividing the votes. Some of the
candidates are not well-known and hence they should withdraw from the race not
to waste their energy and funds."
"People Are Concerned About Warfare And
Independent daily Kabul Arman-e Melli commented
(9/18): "Terrorist activities were
overwhelmingly intensified in the lead-up to the voter registration
process.... These attacks were solely
aimed at disrupting the election process.
These terrorist activities are carried at a time when the international
community and the Afghan people are preparing for a democratic and fair
election in a peaceful atmosphere.
Therefore, every compatriot is worried and concerned about the attacks. The continuation of such conflicts and
terrorist activities in different parts of Afghanistan are deemed to be a
serious threat to holding the elections in a democratic and peaceful
climate.... Political circles in the
country ascribed the occurrence of such bloody incidents to the sluggish pace
of the disarmament process.... The
presence of the Taliban on the one hand and the extensive existence of weapons
and arms in the country on the other are serious threats to the elections and
security. To tackle this situation necessitates more extensive assistance by
the international forces. As an alternative, the process of training the
national army should be accelerated so that the national army fills the vacuum
and paves the way for a democratic election and complete peace and security all
over the country."
"Racialism, A Shadow On The Elections"
Mazar-e Sharif Gawhar wrote (9/18): "On the threshold of forming a
democratic and central government...we should go to the ballot boxes without
religious, regional and linguistic biases and should elect a person to take the
huge responsibility of leadership who is capable, talented and
deserving.... However, one issue that
will affect the election atmosphere is racialism. Our people are not keeping in mind the
personality and knowledge of the candidates...they will mostly consider the
tribal and ethnic allegiance.... In
Afghanistan tribal and racial issues have created many problems and the
adversity and hardship will not come to an end unless the tribal and racial
issues are rooted out. So our people
should wake up and learn the lesson from the history of our country that the
poison of tribalism has created all the problems. Afghans are going to decide their destiny
today. They should be very careful not
to repeat past history, which will be neither to their benefit nor to that of
"Afghan Agency Mulls Candidates' Demand
That Election Be Delayed"
Herat News Center commented (9/18): "A number of presidential candidates
have demanded that the elections should be postponed for at least another
month.... The postponement of the
elections is not to our nation's benefit.
Considering the financial and technical preparations and, since the
world community has pledged to help us hold the presidential election, it is
better for us to hold the election as scheduled. By doing this, our people will at least get
rid of lawlessness, tyranny and the crimes by armed men and therefore, the
ground will be prepared for law and social justice to be ensured."
"Attempt On Karzai's Life"
Dari-language Panjara stated (9/18): "The head of the Transitional State of
Afghanistan, Hamed Karzai, travelled to Paktia Province early this week as part
of his election campaign. While landing
at Paktia airport, his helicopter came under a rocket attack. He fortunately survived... The attempt on Hamed Karzai's life in the
current critical political situation demonstrates that security is volatile
more in the south that in the north. The
southern regions are deemed to be havens for terrorists as the south shares
long borders with Pakistan. The governor
of Paktia Province told the BBC that the Taliban claimed responsibility for the
attack and that three suspects were arrested.
This demonstrates that the security is not ensured in most parts of the
country and the elections are facing serious challenges."
"Security Problems Increase As Elections
Thabat opined (9/18):
"The security problems are...on the rise as the elections near in
the country, particularly in the country's capital where bombs are sometimes
exploded and rockets are fired.... The
security problems are also on the rise in the provinces, particularly in the
southern provinces where the enemy attacks government officials every day. Some areas are even under their
control.... On one hand, the enemy
creates security problems and threatens to disrupt the forthcoming general
elections. On the other hand, the
government officials are also involved in creating security problems. They create problems wherever there is
peace. For instance, the government made
high-level changes at this sensitive stage in the western province of Herat
where peace was pervasive. As a result
dozens of people were killed, foreign organizations were burnt down and
security was undermined in the province.
Security is considered to be the backbone of a country. If the situation continued like this, the
elections would be postponed again. It
is believed that out of the 10 million people, who have obtained voting cards,
only five million or even less than this will take part in the elections."
"Warlords Influence The General Elections
In Northern Provinces"
Independent daily Erada editorialized
(9/18): "A large number of people
have complained about the presence of the warlords in northern provinces. People say if the warlords are not dealt
with, they can influence the process of the elections. The people of Pol-e Khomri [capital of
northern Baghlan Province] and a number of other areas have decided not vote if
the local commanders remained in power....
People fear if they do not vote for the local commanders, they could be
killed, tortured and their property looted.
Most people in the northern provinces fear that the presence of a large
number of irresponsible armed men can hamper the elections."
"The Success Of The Elections Is The
Failure Of Enemies"
Pro-government national evening daily Anis
editorialized (9/18): "With each
passing day, the Afghan people are optimistically drawing closer to the
presidential election. The election is
threatened by the terrorist activities of the remnants of the Taliban and the
rule of warlords in many parts of Afghanistan, particularly in remote
regions.... Our people do not want an
atmosphere of war and aggression to yet again dominate our country.... That is why terrorists are attempting to
establish a climate of terror and fear in society. Nevertheless, they are misguided as their
subversive and violent activities increase people's hatred of them. It also makes people do more to maintain
security and national unity and to rescue the country from the grip of
murderers. The registration of 10m
eligible voters for the forthcoming presidential vote is our nation's first
experience of establishing a national government through democratic elections. It is also tantamount to a slap in the face
of these enemies and shows that our people are committed to establishing a new
political system in Afghanistan.... Our
people have fought to achieve this goal for the last two-and-a-half decades and
have made sacrifices. They have reached
this stage after defeating their sworn enemies. As a result, we can say that the Afghan
people's success in the elections is tantamount to their enemies' defeat."
"The 'Difference' In Our Current Situation
And The Candidates' Stance"
Ensaf editorialized (9/16): "Today, Afghanistan is experiencing two
rare phenomena which are unprecedented in the several thousand year history of
our country. The election, during which a political leader is chosen by the
will of the nation, and the presence of the US-led foreign troops, which have
been welcomed by the nation. The point
is that the foreign forces are increasing the number of their military HQ in
Afghanistan. This process, frankly
speaking, is not in the interests of our independence in the long term. On the other hand, the nation intends to
select a person as the head of state that can take an oath promising to uphold
the country's independence.... Many
experts think that the main issue of Afghanistan at present is to deal with the
extent of foreign political and military officials' intervention in the Afghan
affairs, about which the majority of the presidential candidates have not yet
put forward any clear plans and have not even brought up the issue.... Foreign troops' fighting against terrorism
and establishing security is a significant topic.... The foreign forces are to ensure security and
hunt down terrorist groups which are preventing every kind of political and
economic development in Afghanistan.
However... it must be transparent that these troops should support the
political independence and will of the people of Afghanistan."
"Will the Ballot Replace Bullet in
Sahaar, owned by an Afghan non-governmental
organization, wrote (9/15):
"Officials are extremely upbeat about the election process in
Afghanistan... Apparently, the pace of
election process is really fast as the state-controlled media is projecting it
with pomp and show.... If the content of
the state-owned media and radio channels are objectively analyzed, it seems
that polling is a drama aimed to divert attention from hunger and starvation
faced by the Afghan nation.... Claims
made by officials and vested elements active in the process that all Afghan
people are actively participating in the process is really a mockery of the
misery of the Afghan masses. The Afghan
people hope the election process will conclude peacefully and will result in
the formation of a government, which can realize their miseries and take practical
measures to resolve the social problems.
They also hope that the international community will not be manipulated
by media propaganda, and it will stress on the elected government to redress
genuine grievances of the masses."
"Strong Water Current Can Flow Upstream,
But How Far?"
Engineer Gholam Yahya Fawade commented in
independent weekly newspaper Cheragh (9/15): "There are lots of talks and discussions
regarding the upcoming election in our country these days, but what is clearly
obvious are behind the scene agreements conducted by Mr. Karzai to attract and
pull his allies to his support.... The
individuals and personalities circling the orbit of power...have made secret
political deals to support Karzai against receipt of benefits and privileges.... The offers of privileges can clearly be seen
from these behind the scene political collaborations and deal-makings. Mr. Karzai, to defeat his opponents and
rivals in election, is thirsty for the support of a number of Jihadic
personalities and leaders. It has been
revealed that Karzai has offered government posts and ministry posts against
these political supports, and even for the sons and daughters of his
supporters, such posts and positions have been promised.... We thus see that the market for political
give and take is very hot these days....
In this election adventure, the strong water currents are flowing
upstream so far, and Mr. Karzai, in order to defeat his opponents, spends money
like sand (an unlimited amount) and also has tied the hands and feet of a
number of individuals to the promised posts and positions. But these painful
election adventures will damage the reputation of the Afghanistan election, and
will also smear and damage the reputation of Mr. Karzai, who is still trusted
by great number of people."
"One Cannot Become A National Leader By
Relying On A Single Ethnic Group"
Independent daily Erada opined
(9/14): "These campaigns can be
legitimate and legal since they are taking place within the limits of freedom
and democracy. However, a number of
candidates are overstepping the limits and are looking for various methods and
ways to attract and collect the necessary ethnic support and elements, and to
apply a double standard, and create a state of uncertainty, hatred and
antipathy.... If a candidate encourages
a particular ethnic group to support him, this action is not only not
legitimate, but it will also damage the candidate's reputation as a national
leader. For this action will arouse the
mistrust of the country's other ethnic groups towards the candidate. Any candidate who is willing to become a
president by stirring up linguistic, ethnic, racial and regional issues in the
current situation and in this vulnerable country will shatter peace, unity,
solidarity and mutual understanding in their embryo before coming to
power. It seems that there are a number
of people among the candidates who want to ignore national unity and break its
bent body during the election campaigns in order to gain power. A number of
candidates think that they can guarantee their success [in the election] if
they forge relations with particular groups and people. It must be said that one should not expect
victory by attracting certain groups of people, or even if they succeed in
doing so, it will not be an absolute or long-lasting victory."
"People's Presence On The Stage Is
Independent weekly Cheragh editorialized
(9/14): "We have heard the sound of
an election for the future leadership echoing, and people's dimmed hopes for a
calm future have been reviving in their hearts.... Now, the country is moving towards security
and justice and confirming people's presence on the social and political stage,
returning them their lost national unity, brotherhood, and peace. The Taliban...tried to destroy our national
Islamic identity using displaced foreigners, and to support the failed policy
of Pakistani thieves with the price of our independence. However, fortunately, they fell victim to
their own plot. Now, with the
cooperation and support of the international community, Afghan people will
celebrate their legal presidency, and experiencing this first election they
will demonstrate the level of their political development and maturity.... Now...presidential candidates and the future
leadership...not only respect people's opinions and feelings; they think that
they need people's support and their success depends on people's independent
decisions and choices.... It is
interesting that the heroes of yesterday's jihad and resistance are the pioneers
of election today, and instead of proving themselves through the power of the
gun they bow to people's power and mandate and welcome their votes. We hope that no faction or side will be able
to stain the sound nature of the election with short-sighted measures, and
destroy the hope of our people for their first experience of our political
culture, and discredit us before the international community."
INDIA: "The Dawn Of
Independent Urdu-language Milap editorialized (10/8): "Afghanistan is entering a new era of
democracy with the elections being held to elect a national leader for the
country. The victory of the interim President Hamid Karzai is almost certain
and the U.S., too, would like him to win. However, regardless of the result it
is more important that the Afghanistan is experiencing the first phase of
people's participation in the political administration of the country. Violence
is not ruled out during the elections, especially by those opposed to the dawn
of democracy. However, the determination
of the Afghan people to turn over a new leaf will ultimately foil all divisive
efforts. If democracy succeeds in Afghanistan, it will not only benefit the country itself enormously, but will also
herald a new era of meaningful and constructive cooperation in the area. The
growth and development, so badly needed for the war ravaged Afghanistan, is
possible only when there is peace and real participation of people in managing
the political, social and economic affairs of their country."
"U.S. Just Wants Karzai To Win"
Ashish Kumar Sen wrote in centrist The Tribune (10/7): "Since the US-led invasion in 2001 and
the resultant fall of the Taliban government in Kabul, the American presence
has been ubiquitous in Afghanistan.
Three years later, the administration of President Hamid Karzai is
grudgingly struggling to disengage itself from its American patrons amid
accusations of foreign interference. A
recent Times of London report noted that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Ambassador to
Afghanistan, has been nicknamed "The Viceroy" because of the
influence that he wields over Karzai's government.... There is an undercurrent of concern in
Washington that overt American interference in the presidential election could
undermine Karzai's position should he win.
The Pashtun incumbent is expected to retain his office.... The US goals for a stable and independent
Afghanistan could be undermined if there are signs that the United States has
played a heavy hand in Afghan's domestic political decision-making process,
cautioned.... Human rights groups
predict major political problems are likely to manifest themselves soon after
the presidential elections."
Nasim Zehra wrote in the centrist national English-language News
(10/8): "Karzai has yet to emerge
as a nation-wide popular leader in a nation which still is busy trying to deal
with the ‘basics’ of existence, including physical security, clean water and
two meals a day. Yet, he has become a
symbol of Afghanistan’s transition from crisis and chaos towards gradual peace
and progress. Indeed very gradual. It is a requirement of this gradual process
that Karzai goes through the presidential elections to legitimize himself as an
elected Afghan leader and not one propped up entirely by the Americans. His key task remains reining in the warlords
and building bridges with the Taliban remnants.
Hence increased legitimacy as an Afghan leader is crucial for Karzai, if
he must lead the construction of the Afghan State and the reconstruction of
Afghan politics. He will earn a degree
of legitimacy from the participatory nature of the election process, however
flawed it maybe. Karzai needs both
outsides support and internal go-ahead to be a successful transition man for
Afghanistan. Also to continue as president
being elected is not sufficient. Karzai
also needs to be lucky against the constant security threats he faces."
"Afghan Elections And Pakistan"
The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times
stated (10/7): "Al-Qaeda, the
Taliban, Afghan warlords and drug barons are poised to use violence to prevent
people from voting. Some of this has
already been in evidence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is because of the internal situation that
many international observers had recommended another postponement of the
presidential polls, already put off earlier once.... The Afghan presidential election, designed on
the French model, will take place in two rounds. If no candidate wins the first round with
more than 50 percent of the votes, a second round will be held two weeks
later. This means that all communities
would be able to assert their respective strength in the primary round of the
election, and then seek concessions from the two candidates that remain in the
run-off. This indicates that no
candidate could win without attracting some votes from other ethnic
groups. Since the Pushtun community is
divided and remains under threat from the Taliban, it is President Karzai who
would face difficulties and would need most to make concessions to other more
united communities to retain his post.
Pakistan has three million Afghan refugees, mostly Pushtun; Iran has 1.5
million, mostly Hazaras. The polls will
be just as dicey outside Afghanistan as inside."
"Somewhere Over The Rainbow"
Miranda Husain asserted in the Lahore-based
liberal Daily Times (10/6):
"The central goal of the Taliban was to intimidate and render
submissive a whole people. And the oppression of women was one way for them to
do this.... With the Taliban gone and
the people of Afghanistan preparing for their country’s first ever presidential
elections, it seems that the women of that country are finally set to take hold
of the bright future that is rightfully theirs.... The victory of the 2001 U.S.-led invasion
against Afghanistan...had claimed to liberate the women of that country and
bring them into mainstream life. During
the U.S.-led war against the Taliban, the oppression of Afghan women became
synonymous with the nature of that rule. It was well documented.... Such an approach is extremely misguided,
especially with regard to Afghanistan.
For the Taliban regime sought to oppress not just women, but the entire
population.... Therefore, when the
leaders of the free world talked about their sincerity in ‘lifting the veil of
oppression’ from the shoulders of Afghan women, they should have endeavoured to
protect the human rights of all members of this war-torn society. They should
have not just gone after Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives. They should have also
tried to reign in the warlords from the very beginning instead of allowing them
the freedom to run their own fiefdoms and make up their own rules.... The warlords...have fragmented an entire
state and oppressed its society.... Yet
the U.S. did not consider the warlords as important a threat to the Afghan
people as the Taliban.... And the Bush
administration never once showed itself interested in liberating the entire
society from oppressive rule. They were solely interested in the liberation of
Afghan women! This was a fundamental mistake since the warlords are currently
in control of much of the country....
The lesson the U.S. must learn from the Afghan experience is that if and
when it next chooses to go nation-building, it must first try to undertake the
task of state-building. It must endeavour to protect the human rights and
dignity of an entire people, not just a sector of society. If it does not, it
will fail in its mission.... The
liberation of one group firmly depends on the liberation of all."
"Govt. Will Be Stronger After Polls: Karzai"
Center-left, national English-language Dawn editorialized
(10/4): "Afghan President Hamid
Karzai expressed confidence on Sunday that his administration would emerge from
a historic presidential election next weekend with increased legitimacy. Mr. Karzai is widely tipped to win the vote
on Saturday. Parliamentary elections are
due to follow, although no date has yet been set."
"Obstacles To Afghan Poll"
Center-left, independent, English-language Dawn
editorialized (9/20): "Reports
coming from Afghanistan say that the security arrangements made by Kabul and
the international community for the poll are woefully inadequate. Some 18,000 U.S. troops based in Afghanistan
are busy in their hunt for the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida, and their
patrols are restricted largely to the areas bordering the Durand Line. The 8,200-strong NATO-led International
Security Assistance Force has barely managed to keep the peace in Kabul and
Kunduz, while the warlords and Taliban insurgents have a free run of the
field. Over 1,000 people, including 12
election workers, have so far been target-killed by opponents of the electoral
process. Thus, fear among Afghanistan's
11.5 million voters that more violence is in the offing as the election day
nears cannot be dismissed. This is a
tragic situation. The October 9
presidential election is an important phase in Afghanistan's transition to
democracy, which is the cherished goal of Afghans after years of unstable
monarchical or authoritarian rule and the horrendous Taliban interlude."
IRAN: "Question Mark
Lingers Over Credibility of Afghan Elections"
State-run radio Voice of the Islamic Republic of
Iran stated (10/5): "During their
election campaigns, the majority of presidential candidates of Afghanistan
criticized the performances of the transitional government over the past two
and half years and Hamed Karzai's abuse of government facilities during his
election campaign. According to the
candidates, equal campaigning opportunities have not been provided to all
candidates in Afghanistan. And Hamed
Karzai has imposed an unfair contest on other candidates by taking advantage of
government resources and enjoying the support of the USA and other Western
countries.... Underscoring the
achievements and performance of the transitional government during his election
campaign, Hamed Karzai also stressed that his future government will not be a
coalition government. Anyway, the most
important thing about the presidential elections in Afghanistan is the people's
absolute support for the future elected government of the country. However, these doubts about the election
campaign in Afghanistan will certainly put a big question mark over the credibility
of the elections and the legitimacy of the future president."
"Insecurity To Affect Credibility, Turnout
In Afghan Elections"
State-run radio Voice of the Islamic Republic of
Iran commented (10/4): "The UN
representative office in Afghanistan and the Afghan Independent Human Rights
Commission have accused Hamed Karzai, the head of the transitional government
of Afghanistan, of abusing government facilities during his election
campaigns.... Moreover, because of the
US and other Western countries' apparent and clear support for Karzai in the
presidential election of Afghanistan, Karzai's rivals and the country's
political observers have described the election contests as unfair. The Afghan people, who are experiencing
elections for the first time to choose their president, are very excited and
are expecting the elections to be healthy and democratic. However, there are some issues which may
impede the Afghan citizens from voting freely.
A number of commanders and governors have intimidated people in their
regions into voting for a particular candidate.... Despite an increase in the number of NATO and
US forces in Afghanistan, there are still serious concerns about the security
situation in that country. Ever-growing
suicide attacks in some areas of Afghanistan, particularly the Taliban attacks
in eastern and southern areas of the country over the past few days, have given
rise to these concerns. The continuation
of these problems could have harmful effects on the Afghan citizens' turnout in
the elections and it may also damage the credibility of the elections."
"Elections And The Absence Of Security And
Democracy In Afghanistan"
State-run radio Voice of the Islamic Republic of
Iran commented (9/26): "Although
there are less than two weeks until the presidential elections in Afghanistan,
the security situation and use of anti-democratic methods in the election
campaign have caused the soundness of the election to be questioned. So the main problem of the elections in
Afghanistan has been the lack of security.
Increased tension and incidents in Afghanistan have concerned the people
and the election employees in Afghanistan....
The situation in Afghanistan shows that there have been no conditions
for voters to make their choice freely.
In addition to that, direct and indirect support by some countries,
especially the United States, for a certain candidate and the abuse of
government and public facilities in the election campaign, which has been
criticized by all candidates, further puts into question the fairness of the
"Afghan Elections Unfair"
State-run television Vision of the Islamic
Republic of Iran commented (9/24):
"Some countries, including America, have been trying to influence
the course of Afghan internal developments.
This has made the Afghan people less enthusiastic.... Nevertheless, there is keen competition among
the 17 candidates in the first Afghan elections.... On the other hand, there is a shortage of
resources and necessary facilities for holding fair elections, especially in
remote areas.... Afghan presidential
elections face a number of challenges....
The most important issue is security and the threat posed by the
Taleban, Al-Qa'idah and Hekmatyar's Hizbi Islami.... People are not confident that fair elections can
be held.... In my view, another issue is
the cultural aspect of the situation.
The fact of the matter is that Afghanistan has a high rate of
illiteracy. The people have a relatively
low level of political knowledge.
Therefore, they do not understand the meaning of elections in the way
that peoples of other countries do....
There are local powers which can influence the elections. In some areas, the people have been threatened
and told to vote for a certain candidate."
"Unrest, Insecurity Increasing Ahead Of
Elections In Afghanistan"
State-run radio Mashhad Voice of the Islamic
Republic of Iran opined (9/23): "At
least 25 people have been killed or injured in numerous clashes between the
Afghan government, US forces and unidentified armed people in
Afghanistan.... It is worth mentioning
that unrest and clashes are increasing while we are just 17 days away from the
presidential poll and insecurity is still an issue despite the presence of
"Afghanistan In Flux"
Tehran Times, a conservative daily published by the
Islamic Propagation Organization, wrote (Internet Version, 9/19): "Expressing concern over the disorder in
Afghanistan, Annan...called on Afghan groups and peacekeeping forces to work
together to help establish security and stability in the country for the
upcoming presidential elections....
However, in a coordinated propaganda move, Western media outlets
recently announced that many Afghans believe that Karzai is the only presidential
candidate who can effect fundamental change in Afghanistan. While making no mention of the other
candidates, the media outlets claimed that the interim president is one of the
most popular politicians in Afghanistan, calling him the favorite to win the
upcoming presidential election. In light
of all these moves, some observers believe that Western countries are trying to
influence the Afghan election."
"Afghan Pundit Criticizes US Envoy For
'Unexpected' Comments On Presidential Polls"
State-run radio Voice of the Islamic Republic of
Iran reported (9/19): "The
presidential elections, which are the first ever [direct] election in
Afghanistan, are of great importance.
The Afghan authorities and experts have been insisting on the need for
stability and peace to hold fair elections in the country. In recent days...Afghan presidential
candidates have expressed their concerns about external interference and said
this interference would cause serious harm to the people of Afghanistan. The US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay
Khalilzad, criticized all 17 presidential candidates apart from Hamed Karzai,
the Afghan president.... One expert on
Afghan affairs and politics...said that Khalilzad has no authority to comment
on the Afghan presidential election because he is not an Afghan citizen and
cannot comment on the Afghan election.
And if he wanted to comment on the [Afghan] election on the behalf of
the United States it would constitute interference in the Afghan
Chance In Afghanistan"
An editorial in the independent weekly Economist read
(10/9): "The final lesson for Iraq
is that legitimacy matters. In
Afghanistan, care has been taken to create a government that Afghans may, with
luck, consider their own. A UN-sponsored
conference drew up the basic plan within weeks of the end of
hostilities.... In Iraq, America's
blueprint for a democratic transition has been chopped and changed with
bewildering frequency. And now that a
clear plan has at last been drawn up, leading to an election in January,
security has deteriorated so much that holding it may prove impossible. Much more should have been--and still needs
to be--learned, from Afghanistan's failures as well as its successes."
"An Election At Gunpoint In Afghanistan"
International affairs editor Quentin Peel commented in the
independent Financial Times (10/7):
"The election will be neither free nor fair. The country is in far too chaotic a
state. Nobody really knows how many
people will dare turn up at the polling stations. They may fear intimidation by gunmen backing
the many and various candidates (there are 18 on the ballot paper) or being
attacked by supporters of the former Taliban regime, who oppose the whole
exercise.... It is too late now to go
back. So the real question is whether,
in such circumstances, the presidential poll will enjoy enough popular
legitimacy to help stabilise the country and undermine the rule of the
Warlords, Opium And Ethnic Rivalry Make For A Flawed Poll"
An editorial in the independent Financial Times read
(10/6): "Afghanistan today is
ill-prepared for the presidential election on Saturday, partly because of the
fitful nature of foreign support since the US-backed overthrow of the extremist
Taliban regime in 2001....
Afghanistan--its capital guarded by NATO troops, its southern mountains
a battlefield between US forces and suspected al-Qaeda militants and its
economy sustained by opium exports--has not quite sunk back into the status of
a 'failed state', but it is dangerously close.
Saturday's election may succeed after a fashion, but the process will be
too flawed and the rule of law too remote for this event to be a source of
Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (10/8): “Behind Iraq, there is Afghanistan. Before
Iraq, there was Afghanistan.... The
response after 9/11 against Afghanistan’s regime was in the eyes of the
international community a gesture of legitimate defense.... Since then, international forces are trying
to secure the country.... The fact that
elections have been able to be organized in Afghanistan, a country that has
never seen an election since the beginning of time, is in itself a major
achievement. We must nevertheless keep from the conclusion that Afghanistan’s
mountainous regions have been secured.
Afghanistan remains a land where warlords reign.... Many signs still indicate that all conditions
have not yet been met for a peaceful democratic transition. In spite of this, Saturday’s election marks a
historic step, not so much for Afghanistan’s ‘protectors’ but for the people of
Afghanistan. If they manage to
democratically elect a president, the whole world will be relieved.”
"Afghanistan's Elections Seen As A Fertile Ground For
Rachel Morarjee wrote for Hong Kong AFP
(10/4): "Afghanistan's historic
presidential elections on Saturday will fall far short of internationally
accepted standards, analysts say.
Violence and intimidation by warlords and supporters of the ousted
Taliban regime combine with a lack of education among voters and a shortage of
independent monitors to create fertile ground for fraud. That in turn increases the risk that the
winner will not be able to claim an undisputed victory, possibly sparking
further violence in this turbulent country riven by 25 years of conflict. Western countries, which led the 2001
invasion that set the country up for the election, have been criticised for
inadequate security provisions and for providing pitiful numbers of election
monitors.... In Washington and other
western capitals the fact that more than 10.5 million Afghans have registered
to vote has been hailed as evidence of the country's overwhelming enthusiasm
for democracy. But it is also likely to
reflect massive cheating."
Has A Future"
Sabine Muscat observed in business-oriented Financial Times
Deutschland of Hamburg (10/8):
"The new Afghan government will need more international help for a
long time. But the Afghan government
itself can do more, presenting itself to the people as a real alternative to
local rulers.... The construction of a
modern infrastructure, aiming at integrating the country into the old trade
routes, is one option to show that it can change essential things--which
provinces cannot--and for which paying taxes is worthwhile. Instead of waiting for private international
investments on a large scale, the government should encourage Afghan business
initiatives. However, the countries
contributing to the reconstruction of Afghanistan will have to keep pouring
billions into this country. The current
commitment is not sufficient."
"Winner Will Probably Be Karzai"
Ahmad Taheri opined in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(10/3): "Many people believed that
Afghans would not register in fear of Taliban and al Qaida. There had been many attacks on election
offices and helpers in recent weeks and months, but terrorist did not achieve
their goal.... Despite the many
candidates, the winner will probably be Hamid Karzai. Many Afghans, those living in towns in
particular, see the 'friend of Americans' as a guarantee for more international
aid and putting warlords in their place.
Many people thank Karzai's government simply for the fact that the
situation did not get worse after the fall of the Taliban. Also many women might vote for him, as he is
seen as a liberator after the painful time under the Taliban."
"No More Delays In Helping Afghanistan"
Rolf Clement commented on national radio station Deutschlandfunk
of Cologne (10/1): "Whether the
Afghan President who will be elected next week will accomplish the desired
stability of the country remains to be seen.
But it is clear that this must be flanked by concrete measures. The concept of the German government is a
mixture of military and civilian means to demilitarize militias and give
farmers opportunities beyond poppy growing.
But the concept still lacks sufficient substance. Although the German army in Afghanistan is
adequately armed, economic and development aid is falling short - the
responsible Ministry is investing too little."
ITALY: "Islam, A
Chance For Democracy"
Angelo Panebianco observed in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (10/8): “Afghanistan will
hold elections tomorrow.... According to
experts, there is a slim chance that democracy will be strengthened.... But it’s a beginning. If this first phase
turns out to be a parody of democracy, we will have to see whether
representative institutions will last long enough to instill in the minds of
Afghans that political power should be legitimized through elections rather
than through weapons and armed militia. If this idea spreads, then there will
be a strengthening of representative institutions. While elections will take
place in Afghanistan, we still don’t know whether Iraq will hold its scheduled
elections for 2005. If these elections are postponed, then it will be a victory
for the be-headers, for the ‘resistance'....
It’s ironic that so many westerners who want to ward off the idea of
‘the clash between civilizations’ are disinterested in consolidating
representative institutions in the Muslim world. They don’t realize that it is
only by democratizing that world that we will be able to avoid a clash between
civilizations.... This also goes for the
EU’s go-ahead to negotiations for Turkey’s membership.... Turkey is the promise, the best we have
available to us, of a co-existence that will ward off the specter of a clash of
civilizations. The difficulties are many, but the opportunity must not be
"Afghanistan To Elections Amidst Bombs"
Daniele Mastrogiacomo commented in left-leaning,
influential La Repubblica (10/7):
“Galvanized by an historical appointment, Afghanistan prepares for
presidential elections. And it’s doing
so in a climate of growing tension, as it is decimated by continuous
attacks.... The elections constitute a
test for George W. Bush’s doctrine on preventive war to free the world from
terrorism and export western democracy.”
"Cut-off And Counted Heads"
Pierluigi Battista reports in centrist, influential daily La
Stampa (10/7): “While the obscene
acts of the be-headers continue, it is comforting to know that in two days
Afghanistan will be counting heads. No
one has unrealistic hopes for lasting peace....
Electoral procedures still look patchy and precarious. But there is something very moving about this
Afghan adventure for democracy, in the ten million men and women lined up to
register.... And while it is perfectly
legitimate to underscore the unrealistic and doctrinaire aspect of ‘exporting’
democracy at gunpoint, and to question the compatibility between Islam and
democracy...the West should not disdain Masuda Jalal’s candidacy for the
"Afghanistan, The Future Resides In The Elections"
Cesare De Carlo maintained in conservative, top-circulation
syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno (10/6): “On October 9, Afghanistan will hold its
first democratic elections.... Let’s
think about the Afghanistan that the Americans invaded three years ago.... The Taliban led the country back to Medieval
Islam, by oppressing and purging every aspect of social, political and economic
life. Women were subjected to physical and psychological abuse.... Today’s Afghanistan is different.... The population has resumed living, and
talking without the fear of being beaten, imprisoned or killed. Women have
regained dignity.... These are the
positive aspects. There are also negative aspects.... Many provinces are still in the hands of
warlords. Opium cultivation has increased and Afghanistan is on the list of
drug-trafficking countries. Threats, blackmail, and corruption have accompanied
the pre-electoral phase. Okay. But Afghans should not see Saturday’s vote as a
fraud to benefit the president who was chosen by the victors [U.S.] This is a
first. It’s an attempt to transplant democratic values.... At the end of WWII, America did this in
Italy, Germany and Japan successfully. Now it will attempt to do so in
Afghanistan and next year in Iraq. Will it work? It will be difficult, but not
"From The Burqa To Elections"
Elite, classical liberal Il Foglio stated
(10/6): “The Afghan elections are five
days away and Kabul is in a logistical nightmare. Afghanistan has the
tremendous responsibility of making these presidential elections a success
given the event’s uniqueness, which is a gift of globalization and of the war
on terrorism, and an exercise in nation-building for the entire planet. Getting
here was not easy and innumerable compromises were needed to put the situation
back on track every time things looked like they were going to fail.... Democracy in Afghanistan is the result of
fatigue rather than the fruit of an inexorable historic process, but for now
the Afghans are content.”
"Export Democracy Is Tested In Afghanistan"
Elite, center-left daily Il Riformista (10/5) noted:
“Afghanistan in a small country with 24 million people. But these days it’s the center of the
world. In a certain way it is even more
so than Iraq because the elections that will take place there in a few days
could signal the start of its re-birth or the admission that the war may have
defeated the Taliban, but didn’t mark the turning point that everyone was
expecting.... In the meantime, the
electoral machine runs the risk of becoming a farce: if the country’s eleven
warlords continue to dictate the law and to order executions; if the
foundations of a penal system fail to exist in the judicial process...if the
penal institution doesn’t assure that crimes are punished; if all these
conditions are not met, it will not be possible for elections to give a
semblance of democracy to the country.”
"Alpine Troops Defend Afghan Elections"
Fausto Biloslavo reported in pro-government, leading center-right
daily Il Giornale (10/5): “500 Italian soldiers from the Cobra task
force have been sent in to Afghanistan to assure that the country’s first
election after a quarter of a century doesn’t fail amidst chaos and violence.…
The mission is also humanitarian and includes the distribution of winter
clothing donated by the Alpine National Association. … The children are
jubilant at the sight of Italian vehicles. … The adults, however, don’t even so
much as look at them. They appear
completely indifferent, although not hostile.”
"In Afghanistan West Risks More Than In
Livio Caputo commented in right-of-center daily Il
Giornale (9/18): "Not many
people are talking about them yet, but on 9 October elections will be held in
Afghanistan that are no less important than those in Iraq in January next
year.... Unfortunately, only three weeks
short of the vote, the law and order situation is not all that dissimilar to
that in Iraq.... In view of the fact
that Afghanistan has never known a real democracy, the preparations have been
very laborious, and have gone relatively well.... But, as the crucial moment gradually
approaches, it has become more dangerous to take part: it appears that
guerrilla fighters linked to the old regime, and people belonging to the
universe of Al-Qa'ida, have killed almost 100 people in the last month just
because they had collected their electoral certificates.... The failure of the electoral process would
turn the clock back once again, placing a new question mark also over the
success of the first major anti-terrorism operation launched after 11
September. Unfortunately, at this
juncture, there is little more which the West can do for the success of the
mission, except for keeping its fingers crossed and hoping for some good
"Younger Masoud Survives"
Arkady Dubnov maintained in reformist Vremya Novostei
(10/7): "Acts of terror cannot
disrupt the presidential election in Afghanistan.... Ahmad Shah Masoud, Afghanistan's ambassador
to Moscow and a younger brother of the legendary field commander Ahmad Shah
Masoud, survived a bomb attack in Faizabad, the capital of Badahshan Province,
yesterday. Despite the act of terror, it
is obvious that the Taliban's threats to thwart the presidential election in
Afghanistan no longer look realistic."
"Afghan Opposition Decides On
Sergei Strokan contended in reformist business-oriented Kommersant
(10/6): "Under the international
peace plan, the first direct presidential elections after the overthrow of the
Taliban should demonstrate 'the triumph of the young Afghan democracy' and
prove that the period of chaos, wars and feuds has been left behind to give way
to the period of consolidation. But as elections draw nearer, fresh evidence
appears to show that things are in reality far removed from that goal. On the
eve of the elections, the Taliban declared that they have already regained
control over some regions in the country and this is only the beginning. From
2001, President Karzai survived two assassination attempts and an ever larger
international contingent (now 27,000-strong) is required to maintain law and
order in Afghanistan."
"Elections Under Life-threatening Circumstances"
Foreign editor Livia Klingil contended in mass-circulation Der
Standard (10/8): “The free will of
the voter does not exist in a country whose only relevant economic sector is
the cultivation of opium poppy (Afghanistan is number one in drug exports),
where warlords with their heavily armed military dominate the political scene
and the clans are worth far more than the individual. Since these are the first
presidential elections ever, the majority of Afghans also lack a basic
understanding of the meaning and purpose behind the voting process. And
elections that would entail a representation of the people are not being held
because the security situation is too bad for that. How then is it possible
that the security situation is good enough for presidential elections? Much
more important than to hurry elections would have been a real pacification of
the country. The Afghans would have profited from it as would European kids who
are exposed to the drug threat, and it would have helped the fight against
terrorism. Apart from the objectively very difficult circumstances in
Afghanistan, pacification also failed because the capacities of the U.S were
concentrated in Iraq, which is also why Usama bin Laden is still at large.”
“Earlier They Beat, Now They Rape”
Upon the release of the film ‘Osama’ in Hungary, an associate of the Revolutionary Alliance of Women for
Afghanistan (RAWA), Marian Rawi wrote in liberal daily Nepszabadsag
(9/24): “The situation in Afghanistan
today is no different from that of the former Taliban regime. The rule of the U.S.-supported Northern
Alliance is likewise not very different from the rule of the previous
regime. The situation in larger towns is
a bit better, mainly due to the presence of international troops, but a women
who decides to work or study still takes a risk.... The warlords introduce new rules and
regulations as they please and these new rules are often very similar to those
of the Taliban. With the coming
elections, the situation of the Afghan
women is expected to become worse. Most
of the warlords and the Northern Alliance, as well as the Taliban -- who fight against the warlords and the
Northern Alliance, want to discourage the Afghani women from voting.”
SPAIN: "Eve In
Left-of-center daily El País wrote (9/18): "...On
October 9, the US, NATO and the community of countries contributing troops to
the multinational force in Afghanistan...are putting their prestige on the line
in supervising the presidential elections....
Judging by the course of events, it's not imprudent to have doubts about
the lack of security and the government's inability to control the situation.... Those governments that think their mission
ends after supervising the elections are wrong.
Afghanistan will need an international military presence for a long
"Countdown In Afghanistan"
Foreign editor Per Ahlin editorialized in
independent, liberal morning daily Dagens Nyheter (10/4): “The (Afghan) elections will to all
appearances take place. However, they
will be a daring undertaking in which the legitimacy of the government might be
questioned, and local warlords may exert influence on the election
results.... The foremost threat against
the country is the poor security situation...and great responsibility rests on
the international community, which has promised not to leave the country once
again in the lurch.... NATO forces quite
simply must increase. Resources are
sufficient in the member countries, but the political will is lacking. It is once again clear that it is easier to
make states intervene in the military phase (of a conflict) than to make them
engage in the important work to win the peace.... The obvious point in this regard is that one
cannot complain over American unilateralist policy and American arrogance
without being a credible actor oneself.”
"A Chance For Afghans To Test The Magic Key"
Amir Taheri opined in the English-language
pro-government Arab News (10/8):
"During the past year or so a new word has entered the popular
vocabulary in Afghanistan. It is 'intikhabat' (elections) and one of the select
groups of words shared by Afghanistan’s two major languages, Persian and
Pashto. Many Afghans admit that they do not know quite what it means, but
almost all believe that 'intikhabat' is a magic key to a better future.... The remnants of the Taleban and Al-Qaeda are
not the only ones who see elections as the death of their dreams for a return
to power in Afghanistan. Tomorrow’s election could close a chapter of Afghan
history in which different brands of despotism competed for power.... Since its liberation from the Taleban,
Afghanistan has embarked upon a slow but steady recovery from almost three
decades of foreign occupation, civil war and fanatical rule.... There is no doubt that terrorists of all
denominations will do all they can to disrupt tomorrow’s election, especially
in the southeast of the country where central government forces have only a
tentative presence.... According to most
polls, the current interim President Hamid Karzai is posed to win
tomorrow. Karzai has proved himself to
be a talented politician.... To be sure,
a single election will not solve all of Afghanistan’s problems. The country
still faces a serious terrorist threat....
Promises of foreign aid remain largely unfulfilled.... Having said all that it is important to
remember where Afghanistan was two years ago and where it is today.
Afghanistan’s first ever election should be a source of inspiration for all
those who believe that a judicious mix of military force, economic aid, and
political will can produce miracles in nation-building."
The English-language expatriate-oriented Khaleej
Times declared (10/8):
"Tomorrow--October 9--will be remembered as a turning point in the
history of Afghanistan. The country goes to its first-ever poll tomorrow.
Notwithstanding the security concerns and the apprehensions over the fairness
and independence of the election, the very fact that it is being held augurs
well for the country. Afghanistan's
first democratic exercise may not be perfect and flawless.... But a far-from-perfect election is decidedly
better than not having it at all. It is not a small beginning for a country
that has never seen a ballot before and whose claim to fame until now has been
its bloody upheavals, illiteracy and terrible poverty. But things are changing in Afghanistan. Now,
its future is in the hands of its people who can choose the kind of
representatives and leaders they want.
The leadership thrown up by tomorrow's polls will have no time to lose.
The new government will have to take immediate and bold steps on several
fronts. Education should top the agenda of new Afghanistan because this is one
area where the Afghans desperately and immediately need help.... Other areas crying for attention include
health, employment, economic development and building of basic infrastructure
in the country. This landmark election will be a challenge to others in the
region, too. The half-baked democracies and authoritarian regimes around
Afghanistan cannot remain unaffected by the change in their
"Afghans, Too, Have Date With Destiny"
Liberal Sydney Morning Herald
editorialized (10/1): "Afghanistan,
like Australia, goes to the polls on October 9.... It seems curious the Afghans' uncertain
adventure in democracy has rated only perfunctory mention during the Australian
election campaign.... There are lessons
from Afghanistan that Australians should ponder. One is that the holding of
elections, while a necessary condition of democracy, is not a sufficient
one. Persuading people to mark a slip of
paper is one thing; it is quite another to change a political culture marked by
ingrained tribal, ethnic and regional rivalries. True, after dreadful decades
of foreign military occupation, repressive rule and civil war, it is remarkable
that Afghanistan is holding an election at all.... But setting an election date is the easy
part.... The first real test will be how
many voters can turn out on the day and how badly the process is marred by
intimidation, corruption and Taliban-driven violence. But even if the election goes relatively
well...there are bigger questions. Will the result be clear-cut enough to
confer real legitimacy on the President, Hamid Karzai...or will it merely
reinforce this desperately poor, war-torn country's traditional divisions? And
crucially, will the US and the West now be prepared to...devote adequate
military and economic resources to giving Afghanistan a real chance to
succeed? At present, the Karzai
Government's writ barely runs outside Kabul. The Taliban and its sympathisers
still enjoy safe havens in Pakistan from which to harass understrength NATO and
US contingents. The warlords continue to rule their fiefdoms and prosper,
enriched by illicit but burgeoning opium poppy production.... To date all the Americans have proved in
Afghanistan, and in Iraq, is that they are much better at overthrowing regimes
than at cleaning up the mess afterwards."
Election Is Key To Demonstrating Successful Reconstruction"
Liberal Mainichi reported from Islamabad (9/28): "The U.S. has decided to send more than
1,000 Marines to Afghanistan to maintain security in the run-up to the Oct. 9
presidential election. This is because
smooth implementation of the election and the establishment of a full-fledged
government will signal the success of Afghan reconstruction and hence boost
President Bush's reelection bid... As
low voter turnout would raise questions about the legitimacy of the election
and the new president, the U.S., the Karzai government and the U.N. are all
anxious to raise voter turnout. But,
with the U.S. military unlikely to sweep out Taliban remnants bent on hampering
the election, it is uncertain whether the election will bring stability to
Afghanistan or become a new source of confusion."
"Safety's In Their Scope"
Editor emeritus Peter Worthington observed in the conservative
tabloid Ottawa Sun (10/7):
"There are close to 400 journalists in Kabul for the election,
which increasingly is seen as a test of U.S. President George W. Bush's policy
to democratize the Middle East. If the
election goes smoothly here, it will be interpreted as success for Bush, which
may be why rumours of al-Qaida and Chechen terrorists planning something are
rampant among journalists at the Intercontinental and Mustapha hotels. Of course, one never knows, but there's no
mood of emergency in Kabul and the high alert of the International Security
Assistance Force has a sobering effect.
Afghanistan is not Iraq and a successful Afghan election has little
relevance to democracy in Iraq, though it would bode well for President Bush's
"Aid Afghan Democrats"
Liberal Toronto Star opined (10/7): "Once a new president is installed,
Canada should step up pressure at the United Nations for a stronger
international peacekeeping force. For
disarming the warlords' 60,000 fighters and rebuilding the national army. And for suppressing the opium and heroin trade. We also must push the world to underwrite a
needed $28 billion aid program. Just $8
billion has been pledged, and only partly delivered, because of the security
vacuum. Afghanistan's democrats are
defying feudalism, anarchy and terror.
They deserve our help."
"The World Beyond Kabul"
The conservative National Post wrote (Internet
Version, 9/27): "It is not yet
clear just how or when Canada's military role in Afghanistan will expand. Still, Paul Martin, the Prime Minister, is to
be commended for promising on Tuesday to finally permit our troops to again
operate outside the relative safety of the capital, Kabul.... It is an effort worthy of our Armed Forces,
but it is also potentially dangerous.
Not every regional leader or warlord shares Mr. Karzai's dream of a
peaceful, pluralistic Afghanistan. It is
this threat that has discouraged Ottawa's Liberals from authorizing a more
dangerous role for our troops before now.
For having overcome this fear, the federal Cabinet deserves credit. There may yet be a devil in the details, when
they are released. But for now, we
welcome the government's commitment to become more actively involved in ending