Most of the results of the disputed parliamentary election in Afghanistan were announced on Wednesday. Altogether 24 candidates were disqualified from parliament because the Independent Electoral Commission found them guilty of fraud. Some 1.3 million of the 5.6 million votes were tossed out as invalid.
The southern Pashtun ethnic group appears to have lost its majority in parliament, a development that could presage further dissatisfaction with the government in the Pashtun south and east of the country, which is already the site of a lively set of insurgencies.
Pashtun voters apparently had lower turnouts because they were more subject to insurgent threats within their own community. Although the Ghazni results are delayed, the BBC reports that “According to preliminary results released last month, Hazaras won all 11 parliamentary seats in Ghazni, even though they are the third largest ethnic group in the southern province and Pastuns are in the majority. ” Hazaras are Shiites and Pashtuns often view them as having a low status, so to have them representing Ghazni in the national legislature to the exclusion of the Pashtun majority there would be a profound humiliation.
Among the candidates disqualified was a cousin of president Hamid Karzai. And, Karzai is a Pashtun and so won’t be happy with the loss of the majority by that ethnic group.
The NYT reports that, in petty retaliation for the disqualifications, Karzai’s attorney general, Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, is threatening two officials on the country’s two electoral commissions with prosecution for defaming the nation. Initially he said that they had been charged, then backed off and said they were being investigated. Karzai already, last February, removed the international members of the Electoral Complaints Commission and appointed his own men to it. But he appears to have failed completely to pack the commissions with yes-men and so is being petulant.
Meanwhile, a new Pentagon study submitted to Congress reports that “combat incidents [are] up 300 percent since since 2007 and 70 percent since last year…” The Pentagon propagandistically called this massive increase in violence “slow progress” and the MSM dutifully put the stupid phrase in their headlines. The report also admits that even in the face of a huge American build-up of troops, the Taliban have retrained their command and control and remain effective fighters.
Under the principle that if you are not actively winning a guerrilla war as a foreign occupier, you are effectively losing it, the report points to a significant loss.
Tom Engelhardt explores the supposed timetable setting 2014 as the year NATO and US troops would be withdrawn, and finds that, well, maybe not so much.