On air: Round two in Afghanistan

afghan candidates

UPDATE: The second round has been confirmed and will take palce on November 7. Pres Karzai has called it a ‘step forward’ and Pres Obama has welcomed the news. Are you so positive?

Mark’s original post:
Hamid Karzai didn’t get enough valid votes to win the Afghan election.

His share of the vote drops below the 50 per cent mark and this means he could now face a run-off against his opponent Abdullah Abdullah. Dr. Abdullah’s party have expressed cautious optimism at the results and we could be looking at a power sharing arrangement between the two – but would this work? And what should happen now?

Well for starters, there won’t be any more US  troops  sent to the country until electoral reform.

That’s the right thing according to many bloggers. Tumeke  asks what are we fighting for if we can’t even pull off fraud free elections after eight years? But American Lion  points out that maybe we just don’t get “Afghan democracy”. Can Afghanistan ever be democratic in the Western sense? Here’s Malalai Joyawho’s take on what Afghan democracy looks like:
“Rather than democracy, what we have in Afghanistan are backroom deals among discredited warlords who are sworn enemies of democracy and justice.” 

Many experts believe the only way out of this is an entire overhaul of the electoral process. “‘It’s in America’s interest to have the most legitimate Afghan government possible: Otherwise, for what are we fighting?”

Lots of comparisons being made to the US in Vietnam on the blogs too.
“The last thing the United States needs now is to be seen as an occupying force supporting an illegal government, as occurred in Vietnam. Afghan history shows that all foreign armies have left humiliated and, given the outlook, it is not unreasonable to fear that our troops could get bogged down in an unpopular war, as occurred in Southeast Asia.”

Maybe the presence of foreign troops is the problem?

If no serious crisis should go to waste, how do we get the best out of this one?

57 Responses to “On air: Round two in Afghanistan”

  1. 1 VictorK
    October 19, 2009 at 17:21

    I think the puppet Karzai should and will do whatever his foreign masters order.

    • October 20, 2009 at 16:52

      President Karzai bears an appropriate name. In Urdu, the word “Karzai” means “Debtor”. Indebted as he is to America and its allies, he will do whatever his pay-masters bid him to do. That, by the way, is democracy western style.

  2. October 19, 2009 at 17:43

    A run-off should be held. The outcome of that should settle the question once and for all. Mr Karzai should allow the democratic process to take root. Otherwise Afghanistan would suffer in the long run. If he won by such a big margin why should he be afraid of a straight contest with Mr Abdullah-Abdullah? Something seems to be wrong. Let the run-off be free and fair. If Abdullah-Abdullah loses a second time, he should graciously accept defeat. The two leaders should think of the bigger picture. Afghanistan needs to be stable to defeat the terrorists. Personality clashes should not detract the real mission of ridding the country of the terrorist menace.

    • October 21, 2009 at 10:45

      Democracy is a western concept that has evolved over centuries. In democracy, elected representatives make laws and apply them on the people of a state. Muslims believe that Allah has ordained all laws necessary for governing mankind, therefore, elected bodies that try to make laws for Muslims undermine the Koran and usurp Allah’s power as the sole law-maker. For this reason, democracy as known in the West will NEVER take root in a Muslim country in a million years. Puppet rulers will always make noises that please the West. The truth is, it is sacred will of every true Muslim to establish a Islamic state with Sharia laws, interpreted and enforced by Islamic scholars or the clergy.

  3. 5 T
    October 19, 2009 at 17:44

    What should happen is get all of the troops and contractors out of Afghanistan. The Afghans don’t want us there.

    What will happen? If we leave, the U.S. Karzai (a U.S. puppet) will be overthrown. The U.S. will lose face to some. And then the necons in the States will do everything they can to make sure Obama’s a one-term President.

  4. 6 T
    October 19, 2009 at 17:46

    Another part of the problem is Obama continuing to say that the Taliban were responsible for 9/11. Does he have lousy advisors? Or, does he think that the public will believe anything you say if you keep repeating it?

  5. 7 jens
    October 19, 2009 at 18:08

    @ T,

    he continues to say that Al-Quada is responsible for 9/11 and that the Taliban is in part responsible for hosting Al-Quada giving it a base from where they could savly train and plan.

    as for democracy ever getting a strong hold in Afghanistan, i will hold my breath for a little bit longer but not much longer.

  6. 8 Tom K in Mpls
    October 19, 2009 at 18:15

    The more small steps towards legitimacy we get, the better things will be. I don’t mean to imply I think this is what the people of Afghanistan want, but it sets the precedence that when irregularities are found they are dealt with. This is the core of establishing an accountable government of any style. With out this, it is impossible to stabilize the country.

    October 19, 2009 at 18:34

    Karzai has got it all wrong like the puppet he is. He can’t surely be blaming the western powers this time round else he would be in league with the Taliban. Like I said during an earlier debate, any democracy that relies on a single mortal individual is doomed. He is unfortunately in such absurd mental cast forgetting that he needs to focus on the future of Afghanistan at this watershed moment. Any blunders at this junctures will continue to be the national culuture of this unfortunate country. This can rightly be avoided through fairplay in choosing public savants and he is one important individual needed to play the role of a senior founding father of the future Afghanistan. He needs to be fair.

  8. October 19, 2009 at 18:36

    Have a run off vote,complain about how corrupt it was,then get on with your fledgling democracy and work at it from the inside.

  9. 11 Tan Boon Tee
    October 20, 2009 at 02:59

    Run-off or not, the main problem in Kabul is its prime minister.

    Perhaps Afghans will have a better life under a new leader and new administration.

  10. 12 scmehta
    October 20, 2009 at 08:12

    Rob him of victory? But then, why the very countries, who want to ensure peace, democracy and prosperity in Afghanistan, would do it? Victory, in the defrauding election/voting scenario, will certainly not be a vindication of the Afghans’ faith and their earnest desire to have a free and just democracy. What matters more is the true choice of the people and not that of the need/circumstances. The rule of law and justice must prevail, during and after the elections; the citizens/electorates should not feel cheated or deceived by its own nation or the others.

  11. 13 Ibrahim in UK
    October 20, 2009 at 10:38

    If Karzai’s rule is to last (and extend beyond his US bodyguards in Kabul), he has to satisfy the Afghan people, the US occupiers and the various warlords. A tricky, if not impossible, juggling act.
    Pretending that the election recount is a Western plot wins him the trust of the people as being independent of the US. After he wins the re-run, he will have even more legitimacy in their eyes, while allowing the US to save face and continue the Afghanistan campaign.
    Or maybe I’m being overly cynical this a.m.

  12. 14 Nigel
    October 20, 2009 at 12:06

    Were the elections a Western plot to keep Karzai in power that went bad. Did they under estimate how many votes Dr. Abdullah would get. Sad day if so.

  13. October 20, 2009 at 13:35

    A run off for legitimacy and an actual step toward a democratic-like state in essential.
    Karzai has never been the “best” choice, merely the least harmful at the time of his appointment by the Empire, oops, I mean the USA. Don’t get me wrong, I am a proud American citizen, but the Afghans deserve the people that they elect, and Karzai didn’t win, at least not yet. Let them have the run off, and I also hope that someday my country will learn to stay the heck out of other country’s business. All “great” empires have fallen in the most spectacular ways throughout history, yet Afghanistan has survived nearly unchanged for a millenia, so over all, which is most likely to be around 500 years from now.

  14. 16 gary
    October 20, 2009 at 13:51

    The Afghanis are doing as well as they can. Even though the election was clearly flawed, I believe many Western observers are guilty of an unintentional bias in the intensity of their criticism. We comment from inside democracy, a vantage point from which it is very easy to miss the complicated sets of social and political rules and accommodations that allow its continuance. Yes, they need to try again for a perfection they may not reach. How else can they teach themselves the rules?

  15. 17 Ros Atkins
    October 20, 2009 at 14:24

    Have just been writing the daily email – all the questions are coming in discussion i’ve been following online.

    – Do you support a second round taking place?

    – Do you believe it can be freer and fairer than the first round? If you do, why?

    – Should more troops be sent to help stabilise the country ahead of the second round?

    – Does power sharing offer the best route to stability?

    – Is Afghanistan’s current situation an adequate return on the lives and money that the West has given since 2001?

    – Would democracy have more chance in Afghanistan if it wasn’t perceived as being enforced by the West?

    – Is the world a safer place because of military action in Afghanistan?

    And to be honest there are many more. We’ll explore as many of these issues as we can in the hour.

  16. 18 Crispo, Uganda
    October 20, 2009 at 14:35

    Let me ask; what is free and fair and where in world have we ever witnessed that type of election? America, UK, south Africa, Iran or Israel? So, is Afghanistan different from these world shifters and shakers?

    Give me a break, puppet Karzai, is not about to recede ‘his’ power. Not, after the Americans are still policy makers there.

    Now to the question, is a re-run necessary? That, isn’t required. How do you expect Karzai to lose his newly acquired power? Its expensive, time wasting and a void course. Unity government? Its the new form of puppet governments. May be that’s what we will have there after all.

  17. October 20, 2009 at 14:44

    How pathetic – the USA and Britain – 2 of the most powerful nations on this globe – in 2009 cannot organise a fraud-proof election using a voting system which works well in conflict zones! In 2006 I invented such a system.

    It seems that for all the talk about Democracy, when handed it on a plate the so-called International Community prefers to refuse.

    • October 20, 2009 at 17:55

      So did I! I based mine on how products are counted in factories.

      But the problem over there is the logistics & South Asian like corruption…. They literally stash the votes. Think Iran. They do not care.

  18. October 20, 2009 at 15:09

    Mr. Karzai was set up as the puppet of Bush. The Afghan people know all about puppet leaders from Soviet days. Now Obama and Nato are pressing for a real representative of the majority… but ironically, outside pressure can be interpreted as yet more string pulling by foreigners with their own agenda. How one can retrieve a success from historic bad feelings seems impossible in the long view of things.

  19. 22 Keith M. Jordan
    October 20, 2009 at 15:33

    I think everyone is missing the point. Afghanistan is made up of many different ethnic groups and within those groups are many sub-groups based on clan affilitation. For hundreds of years the loyalities of these groups has not been to a central government, it has been to their clan and ethnic group. So the whole idea that any central government will have legitimacy with most of the Afghan people is wishful thinking. This is especially true with the Pashtun group. It is just pure hubris to believe that any foreign country can come into Afghanistan and impose their idea of ‘democracy’ on this country. The United States seems to not have done their homework when it comes to the internal workings of Afghanistan, and no amount of troops or military action will make any difference. The best thing the United States can do is pull out and provide economic support to the people of Afghanistan and let them decide how they will be governed

  20. October 20, 2009 at 15:55

    Clever Karzai!
    If he hadn’t accepted a second round, his career would have been finished. Maybe he didn’t have much choice with Senator John Kerry and the UN breathing down his neck but Washington paid $300 million. It is entitled to a second round but Abdullah Abdullah is no match for Karzai.

  21. 24 Tony from Singapura
    October 20, 2009 at 15:57

    The delays seem to me to be time wasting tactics. Conveniently it is starting to snow in parts of Afganistan, so by the time the rerun could be organized it might just be logictically impossible.

    Zimbabwe experience has shown us that power sharing doesnt work – dont do it.

    I think we should just declare those elections void, leave Karzai in power for 9 months more, then run the elections properly after the snow melts.

    With the yes-man in power, there is less political risk in determining and implemnting the changes apparently required to the NATO mission (troop deployemnst etc).

    Problem solved – that will be 2 cents please.

  22. 25 gary
    October 20, 2009 at 16:05

    Afghanis have defeated powerful nations. Their collective bravery is beyond questioning. However, its most severe test will be inclusion of as wide a gamut of political philosophies as is necessary for democracy to survive. So, here is a question: Assuming all the foreigners could be expelled, how are those supporting the Taliban to be included?

  23. October 20, 2009 at 16:17

    Hi it’s Alicia here on today’s programme we have a range of guests.

    Colonel Bob Stewart, says we must carry on in Afghanistan, the job is not finished. People didn’t vote because they were afraid, taking the troops away would frighten them further.

    Merwais Miakhail from the BBC Pashtun Service, telling us what people have been commenting their website.

    Khalid, Secretary of the Afghan Students Association, feels there shhould be a second round of voting, and feels that Karzi should stay in power.

    Peter Galbraith deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.

    So if you have any questions for them do let contact us.

  24. 27 David Collins
    October 20, 2009 at 16:18

    Does foot-dragging for eight years add up to measureable progress?

  25. 28 Tom K in Mpls
    October 20, 2009 at 16:37

    To answer Ros’ questions, Yes, round two will do more to show the will of those that vote and increase the opportunity of catching election fraud. Not that anything will be done…

    Anything can happen. Detected first round fraud may limit second. Taliban had little effect on turnout in most areas.

    A mass of troops will never stabilize the area.

    Powersharing will only reinforce a divide. Dividing Afghanistan into two nations may help stabilize the region.

    There is no such thing as a return on lives, just hope for the future.

    Anything enforced by the west will be perceived as a problem.


    All we can do is to help the Afghans do what they want, which is not the Taliban way. Anything more will add to our bad reputation.

  26. 29 Peter_scliu
    October 20, 2009 at 16:41

    Dream on. Democrasy in a country where violence rules. With a fragmented tribes , the only solution is a Saddam Hussien rules. Then there will be peace.

  27. 30 David Collins
    October 20, 2009 at 16:45

    Round Two or the sequel of, “King for a day”, part deux.

    Well, still too early to tell what the results might be, but speculation ‘has it’ that the presentational stage has already begun.

  28. October 20, 2009 at 16:54

    This isn’t a spectacular advertisement for democracy is it… I know I’d be quite apathetic even if I didn’t have to risk my life to vote.

    They say justice delayed is justice denied.. surely something similar applies with elections.


  29. 32 Mavis
    October 20, 2009 at 16:57

    I am so fed up of western dictated democracy upon other countries. It seems that election run-off’s and forming unity or power sharing governments after elections has become fashionable these days.America will always use people, elections or whatever to suit its interests elsewhere at the expense of the lives, democracy of other people. If the Afghanis are fed up or dissatisfied with Karzai, he should go.

  30. 33 Nigel
    October 20, 2009 at 17:01

    @ Colonel – What is your definition of “when the job is done?”

    @ Khalid – Why propose a run-off if you feel that Karzai “should stay in power” ….it doesn’t add up.

  31. 34 subra
    October 20, 2009 at 17:18

    One should at least appreciate that Hamid Karzai has accepted a run off against Dr Abdulla while in Iran the fraud has been perpetuated and opposition supporters ruthlessly killed.
    The run off is a sign of a burgeoning democracy; it should be encouraged. Moreover it will a very long time for a real functioning democracy to take strong roots amidst illiteracy and religious fanaticism coupled with a destabilising faction of warlords.
    Even the basic elements of democracy can help to improve the quality of life.
    The Nato Army must oversee and defend democracy for world peace.

  32. 35 Tom D Ford
    October 20, 2009 at 17:19

    Every show has on some western “Afghanistan Expert” who refers vaguely to “Western Geo-Strategic Interests in Afghanistan” without ever explaining specifically what those “Western Geo-Strategic Interests” are.

    It seems like folly to try and think out a solution for Afghanistan when some part of it is kept ambiguously vague and opaque.

    So how about stating explicitly what those interests are?

    For example; we know that in 1996, Unocal requested permission to build a pipeline in Afghanistan and was refused by the Taliban. We know that Hamid Karzai was an employee of Unocal. So it looks like the Oil industry Administration of Bush/Cheney/Rice invaded Afghanistan and installed Karzai as a US puppet in order to build that pipeline and just used the attacks of 911 as an excuse instead of just using an international police action to take down the Al Qaeda group.

    What specifically are the “Western Geo-Strategic Interests in Afghanistan” that justify being there militarily?

  33. October 20, 2009 at 17:40

    Ahmed Quraishi is a political commentator and blogger . He’ll be on the programme tonight from Islamabad. Ahmed says: Recount equals instability. President Karzai had no choice but to agree to the recount and although he has a great credibility problem at the moment it would be a disaster to replace him. eh also adds, More troops are not the answer as they’ll push fighters into Pakistan.

  34. 37 Elina
    October 20, 2009 at 17:45

    It could be a ‘step forward’, but Afghanistan still has a huge task ahead. Installing democracy from outside would hardly be a successful effort, as it has to be an outcome of a domestic political process, which still seems to be a long way off there. Building up the democratic infrastructure and a well working civil society with the basic human rights might indeed take decades… But I wish the Afghanistan people well on their efforts.

  35. 38 Frankie 'the nose'
    October 20, 2009 at 17:46

    I guess they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. I would’a . . .

  36. 39 Andrew in Australia
    October 20, 2009 at 17:49

    I was going to say if the first round of voting was subject to considerable fraud/rigging….. how can a second round be trusted? That those who will be in the run off are standing on uncertain results to have gotten there.

    But regardless of this no matter who is elected President in Afghanistan there will have been more fraud perpetated and any government and leader will simply perpetuate the corruption that is the hallmark of Agfhan leadership, so what is the point? It’s just the same outcome regardless of who will take the result!

  37. October 20, 2009 at 18:02

    Karzai=Najibullah the moment the allies leave the fighting will start,doesn’t matter who wins the election Afghanistan is not a viable state as it has clearly demonstrated over the course of its History.It should be broken up between Pakistan,Iran, Uzbekistan,Tajikiastan and India.

  38. October 20, 2009 at 18:02

    Peter Galbraith is the Former deputy UN special envoy to Afghanistan, sacked by the United Nations after alleging fraud in Afghanistan’s election and that the extent of cheating was even greater than reported by a UN-backed watchdog. Mr. Galbraith will be on teh programme tonight. He says: They have only uncovered part of the fraud , obviously Mr.Karzai had no other choice . The recount will only work if it’s different from the the election.

  39. 42 Randy in California
    October 20, 2009 at 18:06

    I think Keith M. Jordan (above) is quite right. The U.S. is completely ignorant in expecting that other countries can have direct presidential elections when our own country doesn’t. Representative elections make more sense.

  40. 43 Chintan in Houston
    October 20, 2009 at 18:13

    The solution is power sharing. If even the next elections are fair but the risk of not having a clear majority by the Karzai government is too great.
    People in Afghanistan might get deterred to cast their vote because of the ongoing violence in Pakistan. If the voter turnout is low a next round or even more rounds would be meaningless.
    Abdullah Abdullah wants 10 ministries as a power sharing agreement. Hence this seems to be better bargain then an expensive re-election that might prove to be inconclusive.

  41. 44 margaret
    October 20, 2009 at 18:19

    They have to do the run-off due to international pressure. I doubt they can insure “less fraud” and less danger to the people trying to vote though. But with only 2 candidates it will be an easier election to run I should think. I’m quite concerned about the issues of fraudulent voting and campaigning issues in the USA so no system is ideal.

    Margaret Tacoma, WA USA

  42. 45 Douglas Anderson
    October 20, 2009 at 18:26

    Does the average Afghani want democracy?

  43. 46 Randy
    October 20, 2009 at 18:32

    There is no formula for Democracy: No powers or other countries should dictate to Afghans what they should do. Every democratic solution is considered on a per country basis.
    What works elsewhere MUST not work for Afghanistan.

  44. 47 Nthiga in nairobi kenya
    October 20, 2009 at 19:44

    Round 2 or 3 or even round 4 in afghanistan doesnt make sense. This thing called democracy will not work in afghanistan. Afghans need security 4 now. Otherwise we could have a democratically elected govt for a failed state.

  45. October 20, 2009 at 19:58

    I’m sure Mr. Karsai feels that the election results were stolen…after all he paid for every vote…. it seems that Afghan democracy is being confused with “American Idol” or “Eurovision”

  46. October 20, 2009 at 23:34

    Yes, there should be another, more accurate vote. The caption to that Karzai phot could be “I voted so many times my finger bled.”

  47. October 21, 2009 at 00:44

    Afghanistan and Iraq had war, elections and so-called “democracy” thrust upon them..

  48. 51 scmehta
    October 21, 2009 at 06:32

    The utmost need of the hour is Free & Fare Elections in Afghanistan, for the sake of a genuine democracy to take roots as well as to defeat extremism and terrorism. There’s nothing wrong with power-sharing, if needed; because, under the present grave circumstances, the power so gained ought to be used for gaining the much needed peace and stability in the country and not for any political or personal gains.

  49. 52 Chuksagwu
    October 21, 2009 at 06:47

    Afghanistan is still learning the ropes in democracy,hence her recent electoral experience is not strange.A re-run polls is definately a welcome idea but must be closely monitored by the UN and the global community to ensure that the evil that plauged the preceeding polls is minimised to the barest minimum.The Afghan project is an acid test for our collective resolve to enthrone democracy and put ‘the army of hell’ to shame.This would be a victory not for any of both men in the contest but for Afghanistan and above all for democracy.

  50. 53 Marty
    October 21, 2009 at 08:51

    Afghanistan is still learning how to be democratic, how this should not fool us that the suggestion for second round vote a passport or tool to democracy. nevertheless it is an igredient among other tools like ensuring that proper voting systems are put in place. I welcome the move but am not certain is gonna make any difference. I know president Obama is listening and He also reads these things let him and his time help to put up a system that works in a democratic way. Thanks

  51. 54 paul8222
    October 21, 2009 at 12:29

    Hm! for Diem read Karzai – a-run-off ballot must be done & be seen to be done soonest! It would be foolish to assume a pristine clean election anywhere in the Indian sub-continent.

    Regrettably a short-term increment in the garrisons may be neccessary to police it and sharply step-up training the locals in internal security.

    That said the sooner the locals are trained up and ISAF is pulled out of this endless “dark defile”, the better.

    It has been observed that our only real successes in Afghanistan have been via proxies.

  52. 55 Dennis Junior
    October 21, 2009 at 12:48

    Maybe the presence of foreign troops is the problem?

    Well yes, the Problem is the presence in Afghanistan of foreign troops…What should be the solution? Pull out the troops and see how fast and far the country of Afghanistan can detoriate before another Taliban-led regime is in the midst of the world….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  53. 56 Dennis Junior
    October 21, 2009 at 15:10

    – Should more troops be sent to help stabilise the country ahead of the second round?
    [Yes, in my own opinion; But, the International Community may not do it on many grounds…(e.g) money and the man power (also) time restrictions…]

    – Does power sharing offer the best route to stability? [Yes…This should’ve been thought off several weeks ago]

    =Dennis Junior=

  54. 57 Guruprasad P
    October 26, 2009 at 05:53

    Hamid Karzai has to be encouraged for his assent to the second round elections on November 7.
    It is legitimate to have a democratically elected govt. How far it is fraud free is a big question mark.But with all its short comings elected body is the best dose. This will go in a long way to fight Taliban, who wants to push the state to dark ages.
    Obama will be on the right track if he sends the additional military troupes ,as required ,to fight the medieval Taliban and terrorists Al Queda who are hell bent on destroying the global peace.
    Sceptics may question the winnability of the war on Terrorism and Extremism , it has to be fought to a meaningful end.

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