September 16, 2010 – Afghanistan`s Parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, will hold elections throughout the country on September 18, 2010. In an attempt to address some of the questions of credibility which may surround this election and have already pushed back the election date until the 18th of September; the Independent Election Commission (IEC) released what it considers to be an important memorandum last Tuesday.
The IEC issued a press release which gives a chemical analysis of the indelible ink that will be used by voters to mark their choice on the ballots. So we needn`t have any fear about the quality or state of democracy in Afghanistan because “The ink contains 25.05% active ingredient (silver nitrate), which is significantly above the normal range (10%-18%)”
As if that wasn`t enough re-assurance for Western taxpayers who are footing the bill for this fiasco, at the rate of $7 million dollars a day in Canada, the press release continues:
The ink was tested by the supplier and again re-tested at Kabul University and a certificate specifying the amount of silver nitrate is packed with each bottle. The ink comes in a bottle with a sponge insert and each ink bottle is able to adequately mark more than 600 persons. Two bottles are provided per polling station (in case one bottle spills or there are other problems).
I wonder if the quality of ink or the level of silver nitrate will have any effect on the fact that the elections might not be held at all. Thursday marked the continuation of Afghani civilian protests against foreign attitudes and the effects of the latest foreign occupation of Afghanistan. In Logar Province, a crowd of demonstrating Afghani civilians in the thousands was fired upon by government security resulting in two deaths and four injuries.
-Last Saturday, four demonstrators were seriously wounded when Afghan security forces opened fire as protesters hurled stones and tried to storm government buildings in Pul-e-Alam. On Friday, a protester was shot dead when an angry crowd attacked a German-run ISAF base in Faizabad in northeastern Badakhshan province. Protesters also gathered in Kabul and four other provinces.
What is most ominous is the threat from the protesting Afghani civilians that they are prepared, armed with nothing more than truth, morality, chants and placards, to overwhelm all the foreign military bases within Afghanistan.
“The governor must give us an assurance that the church is not going to burn the Koran, otherwise we will attack foreign troop bases in our thousands,” protester Mohammad Yahya said.
-The immediate cause of the anger within the Afghani civilian population, if you continue to ignore the eight years of foreign occupation and civilian deaths that are only increasing in frequency, was actually the story of the American pastor who was going to burn the Koran. Now, I myself don’t follow the details of the extremist soap operas, but I do keep aware of the plot lines – And this story was pumped hard in the Afghani press. It was sold to the Afghani civilian population as an attempt by the Western Church to show its contempt for Islam by burning its holy book. The Afghani press failed to explain how one “pastor of an obscure US church”, according to the Irish Times, could represent or speak for western religion as a whole, but the occasion was used, once again, to enrage, infuriate and traumatize a people who just want to live in peace without foreign occupation.
The United Nations has said that because of the violence the elections might be postponed again.
The United Nations showed that their concern was more than just words by evacuating one-third of its staff from Afghanistan. This after the United Nations had decreed at the beginning of the summer that it was withdrawing from Afghanistan altogether because it wanted absolutely nothing to do with the US troop surge and the NATO/ISAF policy of embedding aid workers and volunteers with armed soldiers. NATO/ISAF uses the strategy to try to give themselves credibility with Afghani civilians who are meant to see the soldiers together with aid workers, but the strategy is not fooling the civilian population. So, the UN and other aid organizations lose their credibility and become targets of violence because they are linked with the armed forces and militias. That is why the UN wants out of the country; not because the challenge of creating an Afghanistan democracy is too difficult, but because the challenge of being used as pawns for NATO/ISAF PR spin is not in the UN`s mandate and puts all of its workers at risk.
-It seems quite clear at this point to all Afghani civilians, as well as impartial foreign observers, that the 150 000 soldiers and 100 000 mercenaries in Afghanistan need a reason to be there and a violent civilian population will justify the foreign army presence, especially since the Taliban has been offering peace negotiations since at least 2004. That is the reason for NATO and others’ total disregard for human civilian life – almost regarding the saying “for everyone you kill 15 more will come after you” as their operational mantra and not as the warning it is meant to be.
-As the tax money from back in the West is drying up at the same rate as the citizens in the West`s willingness to pay for this ineffectual and unhelpful mission, the numbers on the ground do not lie when it comes to what is actually getting through to the Afghani civilian population. Now, keep in mind that there was a recent surge of military personelle in the country, so the war-mongers are still taking and even increasing their cut of our tax dollars, but when it comes to the actual aid workers involved in developing a growing democracy`s infustructure, the facts are plainly disgraceful:
The UN has reduced its aid workers by 300 head; the US-based International Republican Institute has cut its contingent to only five observers; the Singapore-based Asian Network for Free Elections has reduced both the size of its contingent from 74 to 30, and the number of provinces they will be active in from 21 to 11; the EU had over 120 observers and facilitators during the last Afghani election – this time round there will only be 7 members of the EU assessments team involved. Even the official Afghan volunteer observatory force, known as FEFA and numbering some 7 000 Afghani citizens, will only be monitoring 65% of the polling stations.
I wonder if Obama had put the money that it is costing us to pay for increasing military personelle into an increase of the funding for aid workers, programs and infrastructure instead, would have all the organizations like the ones mentioned above that are helping to build the infrastructure for Afghani civilians, as opposed to killing them with guns and weapons, been able to improve their work and connections with the Afghani people?
Canada’s Role in Afghanistan
–In its never-ending attempt to find new and improved scapegoats to act as cover for their own inefficiencies and malfeasance, the latest stooge of the Canadian armed forces` PR blow horns is an Afghani-Canadian citizen named Tooryalai Wesa.
The Afghani-born and Coquitlam-raised Wesa is in his second year as Kandahar provincial governor, and the Canadian brass in and around the region have chosen him as this week`s reason why Canada has failed to connect with Afghani civilians, let alone win their hearts and minds or simply gain their trust.
It is a fact that Wesa, even in his role as governor, has been empowered with zero command authority and has only one assistant, his cousin. Yet despite this reality, articles from the National Post and throughout Canada`s meanstream media – this week – place the blame for eight years of Canada`s peace-keeping failures not on the Canadian army, but on this poor sucker. This appears to be the entire point of the “embedded” journalistic program within the Canadian compounds – to jointly tarnish scapegoats who will take the fall for Canada`s inherent organizational, tactical, and moral failures. No wonder the Afghani people won`t trust the Canadian armed forces – they can clearly see the Canadian army lying to and exploiting their own citizens.
Does the name Omar Khadr mean anything to Canadians anymore? For Canada to display that it is capable of being fair and just by showing Afghani civilians a reasonable, law-abiding approach (the Supreme Court of Canada has twice instructed the Canadian government to take care of Omar Khadr) in its treatment of Omar Khadr, would create more of a connection between the Afghani civilian population and Canadian soldiers then any amount of guns, bullets or PR spin/lies ever will. In fact, it might just be the foundation for some semblance of trust.
This country`s actions within and without Afghanistan have rendered Canada a global joke to people who don`t care about this country and a disgrace to people who do. I find this country`s actions to be a disgrace – how about you?
The Weekly Update into the Afghanistan Situation and Canada’s Role in Afghanistan are published every Thursday at www.jeeroburkhan.wordpress.com