[Marxism] Afghanistan: Karzai Hints at Election Delay

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 18 21:34:29 MST 2004

(This is how Washington's quislings in
Afghanistan are bring "democracy" to
their country. Just like they are going
to bring "democracy" to Cuba, too...)

March 17, 2004 9:07 p.m. EST


Karzai Hints at Election Delay 
Amid Slow Voter Registration

By DAVID S. CLOUD Staff Reporter 
March 17, 2004 9:07 p.m.; Page A15

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The central government here appears
likely to postpone national elections at least until
August, because of difficulties registering voters and
growing security problems.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly hinted Wednesday
that it will be necessary to put off the elections planned
for June unless the United Nations can reach its ambitious
goal of registering nearly eight million Afghans by the end
of May. So far, only 1.4 million people have registered,
and Mr. Karzai acknowledged that efforts to sign up voters
haven't reached beyond Afghanistan's major cities.

"If that is done on time by the United Nations, the Afghan
government is keen to have elections in June, July or in
August," Mr. Karzai said at a news conference. It was the
first time Mr. Karzai raised the possibility that the
balloting might not occur until August.

Mr. Karzai also acknowledged that it might not be possible
to stick to plans for holding presidential and
parliamentary elections simultaneously. Afghanistan's
constitution, adopted in January, says "every effort" will
be made to elect the president and Parliament at the same
time, but officials say the timetable for parliamentary
balloting may be unrealistic, due to uncertainty over
district boundaries, the need to register hundreds of extra
candidates and tougher security requirements.

Delayed elections would represent another setback for U.N.
efforts to establish a democratically elected national
government in Afghanistan more than two years after the
Taliban regime was ousted. It also would be an unwelcome
election-year reminder for the Bush administration -- which
is encountering similar problems in Iraq -- that its claims
to be fostering democracy in countries the U.S. has invaded
face major impediments.

Mr. Karzai met Wednesday with Secretary of State Colin
Powell for talks on the election preparations and on the
deepening military effort to hunt down remnants of the
Taliban and al Qaeda fighters along Afghanistan's border
with Pakistan. Attacks have intensified in recent months
against aid workers and local Afghan officials. U.S.
military officials believe the violence is part of a
Taliban strategy to disrupt reconstruction efforts and
preparations for the elections.

"There are still remnants of the Taliban who would try to
destabilize your efforts. They will not succeed," Mr.
Powell told Mr. Karzai at Wednesday's joint news

Mr. Powell said earlier after watching Afghan women
register to vote at a girls' school in the capital that he
was "impressed" by the preparations for the election "for
both the president and the legislature."

Across Afghanistan's border, at least 16 Pakistani soldiers
have died in two days of clashes with local Pashtun
tribesman and suspected Islamic militants, as Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf heightens his government's hunt
for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters believed to be hiding in
tribal areas straddling the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The onset of the offensive coincided with Mr. Powell's trip
to the region. He praised Gen. Musharraf Wednesday for his
efforts to aid Washington in its hunt for Osama bin Laden
and other senior al Qaeda leaders.

The escalating clashes along Pakistan's border with
Afghanistan are raising concern among some Pakistani
military personnel that the violence could spiral out of
control. Aside from killing Pakistani troops, militants
destroyed several military vehicles and may have captured
as many as 18 government soldiers. It is the most serious
setback for Pakistan's military since it began conducting
raids into the tribal areas after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks in the U.S.

The crackdown has stirred anger among some tribesmen and
the hard-line Islamic groups that have vowed to resist the
government's action.

-- Zahid Hussain contributed to this article.

Write to David S. Cloud at david.cloud at wsj.com1.

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