The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: Holbrooke and Karzai in “dramatic bust-up”

A “dramatic bust-up“ U.S. special envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke reportedly had an “explosive” meeting with incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai over alleged fraud and corruption in last week’s presidential election (BBC and AFP). Holbrooke apparently twice brought up the idea of a run-off and complained about ballot-stuffing, which angered Karzai, and the August ...

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A “dramatic bust-up

U.S. special envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke reportedly had an “explosive” meeting with incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai over alleged fraud and corruption in last week’s presidential election (BBC and AFP). Holbrooke apparently twice brought up the idea of a run-off and complained about ballot-stuffing, which angered Karzai, and the August 21 meeting ended shortly thereafter (Reuters).

And reports of fraud and voter intimidation are still flowing in, write Joshua Partlow and Pam Constable from Kabul (Washington Post and Economist). The top five candidates for president have all filed complaints of “ballot-box stuffing or destruction, intimidation and pressure on voters at polling stations, and ballots cast by phantom voters,” including in Afghanistan’s comparatively calm northern provinces, where the vote has been portrayed as relatively smooth. Followers of both Karzai and his main competitor, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, have been implicated in these claims.

Election results from the Afghan Independent Election Commission can be viewed here by province and other metrics as they come in, though with only 17 percent of the vote counted it is too early to make projections (IEC).

The good news out of Afghanistan this morning is that far fewer Afghan civilians have been killed since Gen. Stanley McChrystal took over as the top U.S. commander in the country (Los Angeles Times). From July 1 until Thursday, coalition forces were responsible for 19 Afghan civilian deaths, compared with 151 during roughly the same time last year.

Seeking to rebuild

European countries are currently dealing with an influx of young Afghans who have traveled from their troubled home country to the continent in search of jobs, education, and generally better living conditions (New York Times). The trend has accelerated in the last two years, as it has become more difficult for the thousands of young migrants to live in countries like Iran and Pakistan.

Talking about communicating

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has reportedly authored a searing critique of the U.S.’s strategic communications plan with the Muslim world, saying that American efforts to counter extremist messaging “lack credibility” (New York Times). Mullen didn’t spotlight any particular government program, but noted in an essay to be published later today in the Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal, that “there has been a certain arrogance to our ‘strat comm’ efforts” (JFQ).

Supply line attacks

Yesterday evening, a 15 to 20 year old suicide bomber attacked the Pakistani border town of Torkham, a key checkpoint for NATO supply routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan (Wall Street Journal and CNN). The attack, which killed at least 19 Pakistani policemen, was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban as their first response since the death of their leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in a U.S. drone strike on August 5 (AFP and Dawn).

Al Qaeda’s number two leader Ayman al Zawahiri encouraged such Taliban attacks in a new video posted on jihadist forums yesterday, calling on Pakistanis to support “the” battle against American “crusaders” (AFP).

Pay to not play

This morning, Pakistan said it wants $18 million in compensation from the International Cricket Council for being denied its share of World Cup 2011 matches over security concerns (The News). Earlier this year, gunmen attacked Sri Lanka’s cricket team when it was visiting Lahore for cricket matches.

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MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images

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