Monday, August 17, 2009

The True Price of the Afghan Election

(Image taken from: HERE)

With the Afghan election around the corner a bunch of articles have been popping up just about everywhere online as well as in printed papers about the fear that people have in regards to the vote, the violence leading up to the vote, the potential violence on voting day and most of all the corruption that will most likely plague this election.

The Globe and Mail had one on this very subject, trying to weigh the amount of corruption or what was already being faced as far as vote buying and whatnot. There was an interesting sentence in the article: "The discussion among analysts, both Afghan and Western, revolves around “acceptable levels” of voting irregularities..." The article goes on to talk about bribes and vote buying by Karzai who is running for reelection and the same things being done by the opposition leaders.

Some Afghan citizens were even quoted in the article saying that they might fear the police even more than they fear the Taliban. A shop keeper said that he had turned down bribes and offers of lavish meals by the Karzai family and in the face of bribes and intimidation says he still plans to vote for the opposition.

One important thing that the international community, who is footing the bill for this election to the tune of 250,000,000$, must remember is that Karzai is the one who played behind our backs and passed the infamous "rape law" and promised to revise it but has left us holding our collective breath, the same Karzai whose brother is playing middle man with the Taliban. Not only are we paying for this election with our money, but we've paid for it in blood with the lives of our young men and women, dozens of whom have not returned home to their families and friends.

So what is acceptable corruption? The Globe asked the question but didn't get an answer... I don't think I will find one either. I mean let's just face the facts: in a country where most of the people can't reach polling stations, where registered voters have the names of American pop stars, where husbands are legally allowed to rape their wives and people are afraid of the police; the country seems corrupt enough without us asking the question: how much corruption is acceptable?

I hope the people of Afghanistan have a better shot at democracy and freedom of choice that I think they will. Because a lot of Canadians don't even bother voting but for some reason those same Canadians are willing to give up their sons and daughters for the right to vote of the Afghan people. That my friends, is the price true price of an election.

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