What is wrong with Afghanistan?

Posted in Broader Middle East | 19-Oct-04 | Author: Dieter Farwick

An Afghan woman gets her finger marked with special ink at a polling station in Kabul on October 9, 2004.

Prior to the presidential elections in Afghanistan on October 9, Afghanistan was in the headlines of the media. Each and every terrorist attack by the Taliban and al Qaida was breaking news as well as any aggressive declaration that came from one of the warlords.

Prognoses concerning the first democratic elections in the history of Afghanistan were skeptical or pessimistic. Attacks by the Taliban and al Qaida against voters and polling stations seemed to be certain.

Surprise, surprise. Almost nothing of the sort has happened. The only deficit was the inability of the UN, the EU and NGOs to deliver waterproof ink. That is a shame, because any disco is able to handle this issue. Official observers have declared the elections to be fair and correct. That’s it.

Afghanistan has disappeared from the headlines. Are only bad news good news ? The Taliban and Al Qaida were unmasked as being too weak to really blur the elections. However, this does not mean that the “war” in Afghanistan is won. It’s only the victory in one battle with more to come. Now is the time to support the Afghan government in all walks of life – i.e. the economy, infrastructure, education, military and police. The momentum should be used to enhance stability and security – regardless who will be elected president (hopefully it will be President Karzai).

Members of NATO should deliver what they promised. They should build more provincial reconstruction teams to export stability beyond Kabul. Donor countries should bring money to continue the urgently needed projects that are necessary for nation and state building.

Afghan people deserve to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Democracy will not get a second chance if we fail now. The parliamentarian elections will follow in early 2005. Let’s make Afghanistan a success story and a blueprint for the “broader Middle East”.