Afghan women line up to vote under Afghan National Police protection*
Workers take ballot boxes to a remote polling station in Panjshir Province **
Within hours, the polls will open for the 2010 Afghan Parliamentary elections
I supported the Afghan National Army and Police forces during the 2009 Afghan Presidential election and was relieved when the parliamentary elections (originally scheduled for May) were postponed.
So with apologies to Clint Eastwood, here’s my take on the upcoming elections…
The good: People will vote. It’s obvious, but we tend to forget that an election in a country like Afghanistan is a Big Deal. Are Afghans racked by war? Duh. Illiterate? Almost entirely. Discriminatory? Mostly…especially against women. But despite all that, Afghans will turn out to vote tomorrow, choosing their representatives on a ballot (like this) with candidate icons and pictures. And 405 of the 2,577 candidates will be women.
The bad: There will be fraud. With fake voter registration cards going for only 23 cents apiece, it might be more accurate to say there will be LOTS of fraud. But there is some silver lining: It shouldn’t be as bad as the 2009 Presidential elections, and both Afghans and the International Community are watching closely, so it should get better over time.
The ugly: As Joshua Faust points out, there will be blood. According to the Afghan Ministry of the Interior, Afghanistan has deployed 52,000 Afghan National Police and 63,000 Afghan National Army personnel across the country to provide election security. Additionally, NATO forces stand ready to provide emergency security, medical and logistical support. But voters are a VERY lucrative target for the insurgents, and the Taliban is both ruthless and effective…
Bottom line: For good, bad, or ugly, Afghans will choose their representatives tomorrow. Like Rat, in Stephan Pastis’ comic Pearls Before Swine, I expect the best…
* Photo by Tyler Hicks, of the New York Times
** Photo by Shah Marai, of Agence France-Presse – Getty Images
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