Daily brief: Afghan vote results delayed as fraud allegations mount
Election protection The results of Afghanistan’s Aug. 20 presidential vote are likely to be delayed for even longer due to slow vote counting and thousands of allegations of fraud that need to be investigated (Washington Post). For the second day in a row, incumbent president Hamid Karzai’s primary challenger Abdullah Abdullah met with religious and ...
The results of Afghanistan’s Aug. 20 presidential vote are likely to be delayed for even longer due to slow vote counting and thousands of allegations of fraud that need to be investigated (Washington Post). For the second day in a row, incumbent president Hamid Karzai’s primary challenger Abdullah Abdullah met with religious and tribal leaders in Kabul, saying again that he would not accept a flawed Karzai victory but calling for his followers to be patient. However, one leader proclaimed, “If we cannot win with our heads, we will win with our feet.”
With 60 percent of the vote counted, Karzai is leading Abdullah 47.3 percent to 32.6 percent, still shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff (IEC). Of the some 130,000 of the 3.7 million votes counted so far that have been thrown out, nearly half of them have been for candidates who dropped out of the race (Pajhwok).
As the world turns
At a meeting of 27 international envoys to Afghanistan in Paris, diplomats prepared a neutral public stance toward the widespread claims of fraud in last month’s election, though reportedly there was a sense of inevitability around Karzai’s presumed victory (Times Online).
U.S. President Barack Obama faces an increasingly challenging political climate about the war in Afghanistan, putting him in the awkward situation of potentially relying more on supportive Republican congressmen than on his own base (New York Times). Comparisons to Vietnam are growing more pervasive, but some experts say critics need to better understand the strategy and conditions on the ground (AFP).
The show of violence
Yesterday morning, Pakistan’s religious affairs minister was shot and his driver killed in a shooting in a busy residential and commercial neighborhood in Islamabad (New York Times and Reuters). No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but Hamid Saaed Kazmi has been an outspoken critic of the Taliban and six suspects are being held for questioning (AP, BBC, and AFP). A preliminary investigation reportedly shows that the assailants were locals, meaning they live in Islamabad (Dawn and Daily Times).
Violence in the scenic Swat Valley, site of a Pakistani military offensive this spring, continues as members of a local militia claim to have killed three militants near the region’s main town of Mingora (BBC). Elsewhere in Pakistan, at least 16 militants were killed by Pakistani security forces in Khyber (Geo TV).
The mad scientist
Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who confessed to running the world’s largest nuclear proliferation network and is hailed as a hero in Pakistan, has been put back under travel restrictions requiring him to inform the government of any travel plans and forbidding him to travel abroad (New York Times). Khan, who is alleged to have spread nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea but has never been interviewed by the CIA about his activities, was declared by a court in Lahore to be a “free man” last week, but the Pakistani government appealed and a new hearing is scheduled for September 15 (AP and The Nation).
We will rock you
There is a thriving underground rock scene in Pakistan, nourished by the internet and amateur bands, according to The Guardian (The Guardian). One Islamabad-based band, Bumbu Sauce, just released a single that mixes references to kung fu, talking dogs and the Taliban, but the lead guitarist isn’t worried about militant retaliation. “Rock music is low on their list of priorities,” he says.
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