Gul Agha Sherzai—a vicious man inexplicably fawned on by U.S. officials for years—has decided to drop out of the Presidential race. This is unquestionably good news: the one thing Afghanistan did not need was someone who makes Hamid Karzai look law-abiding and non-corrupt in comparison. But where the hell did Carlotta Gall and Abdul Waheed get off selling it like this?
Removing one of the toughest potential obstacles to President Hamid Karzai’s re-election campaign, the popular governor of Nangarhar Province, Gul Agha Shirzai, announced Saturday that he would pull out of the race.
Mr. Shirzai was widely perceived to be a strong contender. Just a day earlier, a spokesman for the governor’s campaign, Khaled Pashtun, said that the current vice president, Ahmed Zia Masood, who had already said he would not run again with Mr. Karzai, would join Mr. Shirzai’s ticket…
A former mujahedeen commander who fought alongside American forces against the Taliban, Mr. Shirzai is a populist — nicknamed the bulldozer for his ability to get things done — and was probably the only person who could have challenged Mr. Karzai in national popularity.
Their evidence is Sherzai’s own assertion that people want him in charge and the U.S. military likes him. That is just lazy. Also, noting that people complain he has “harshness against his enemies” is underselling the allegations of torture, rape, and murder just a bit. The U.S. military thinks Sherzai is a good governor because all TF Duke cares about is reducing violence—something that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the terrible problems in Nangarhar. (Has anyone else noticed that the ISI would need a quiet Jalabad to keep smuggling opium into India? I’m just saying…)
Anyway, while the news itself is certainly good, I don’t get why it’s being spun like that.