I have a pair of articles up today about this weekend’s elections in Afghanistan. The first, for Foreign Policy‘s The AfPak Channel:
Afghanistan voted for its representatives in Parliament on Saturday. And what’s remarkable is, it’s not nearly as bad as everyone assumed. True, upwards of twenty people were abducted beforehand, and a few election workers got killed, and 63 polling stations were attacked with rockets, causing voters to run away from polling stations, and there was at least one suicide bomber. And there was, of course, widespread fraud. But it could have been a lot worse.
In fact, violence this year was down nearly 37 percent over last year’s Presidential election.
I developed this a bit further in my column this week for PBS Need to Know:
That doesn’t mean that we can declare victory just yet. Al Jazeera reported that just before the election began, 19 people involved in it were abducted. One of the kidnapped people is Safiullah Mujaddedi, a candidate for Parliament who was abducted on the outskirts of Herat on Friday. The Taliban are holding him ransom for one million Afghanis. Additionally, much of the pre-election violence wasn’t caused by the Taliban, but by other candidates for Parliament. While ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) commander General David Petraeus speaks of the bravery of the Afghan people (he’s right), we can’t declare a democratic victory under these conditions.