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News and Views

Afghanistan: The Short and Long View

KQED Public Radio

Host: Michael Krasny

September 9, 2009

With on going controversy over fraud charges in the recent elections in Afghanistan and the increase intensity of the fighting there, including a recent U.S. German air strike. We’re gonna discuss on going issues affecting that war torn country, whether or not to increase the level of troops, the U.S. now has 68,000 deployed and other nations under NATO have 40,000. are more needed? Or should the U.S. and its allies be looking more toward troop withdrawal?

General Stanley McCrystal's has ordered an investigation into a recent air strike in northern Afghanistan under a German command which it appears to have killed a number of afghan civilians, perhaps more than 70. And there is also on going confusion and concern over the legitimacy of the August 20th Afghan election. The results suggest that President Karzai received the 50% of the votes he needed to avoid a runoff with his principle rival Abdullah Abdullah and assume another 5year term. But the United Nation backed the election complaints commission and has ordered a recount and an audit because of what it is characterized as quote “clear and convincing evidence of fraud”

In this forum we turn our attention once more to Afghanistan.

We want to welcome Ambassador Said Jawad, ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States.

Ambassador Jawad: Thank you very much, good being with you

Krasny: Good to have you back again with us and I guess really I have to ask right of with all of this really clear almost evidence of fraud, what’s gonna be done and what has to be done to either…well keep the legitimacy of the Karzai government if indeed it’s going to move toward president Karzai’s reelection or convince people that there is a democratic elected government in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Jawad: Yes, there are allegations of fraud and we are taking these allegations seriously but however this was one of the most closely watched election in the history. We have had more than 7,000 observers, we have clear procedures established by the Afghan government in corporation with the international partners and that will look into these complaints that will adjudicate these complaints, so while we have a reports of irregulatories  and frauds but their proper mechanism place to look after them, for instance, in any polling station where a single candidate has received more than 600 votes there will be a recount and in areas where they’ve received more than 95% of the votes, there will be a recount. So, there are proper mechanisms to look after these complaints and adjudicate them.

Krasny: you almost make it sound as if perhaps the complaints don’t have legitimacy but from what the UN commission is saying, there are thousands of fictitious polling sites, there was ballot stuffing, there was in Kandahar alone estimates of 25,000 people voting  and 350,000 ballots, I mean all of this seems like what it was said about Iran frankly.

Ambassador Jawad: No, well in Iran there was no international observers. I’m not saying that these allegations are unfounded, there are some allegations and that some are true. For instance, in the case of the fictitious polling station, already more 447 polling stations has been excluded, 200,000 votes has already been excluded and this number may increase. What I’m saying is Yes there are allegations of fraud and misconduct because the election was conducted in the middle of a war, the election was conducted not under the normal condition and even the infrastructure in Afghanistan is not comparable to any neighboring countries. Despite all these challenges, the election was conducted and the issues of fraud will be looked after very seriously and every tented vote will be excluded.

Krasny: And at this point what can you tell us about the need for more troops and the on going war that’s being fought there, there is a certainly the possibility that the Obama administration may be moving towards an increase in troops but there is good deal of controversy not only within this country but particularly in Germany because of the air strike and also in Britain.

Ambassador Jawad: the current strength and composition of the security forces combine afghan and international security forces is not adequate to overcome the security challenges. The long term sustainable solution is to build the capacity of the afghan national army and police force but this takes time. On the short term, we do need to see an increase either in the number of international forces or their capability to fight better. It is not only the number of the troops that is significant, it is also how ready they are to fight and how ready they are to be deployed in difficult areas. In the issues of civilian death, I think that probably it has been made, we are satisfied with the measure that General McCrystal's is taking but still there is room for improvement. If we have more ground troops that are able to combat surgical operations there will be less need for area bombing which leads to civilian death.

Krasny: And what about the training of Afghan soldiers and afghan police forces, this seems to be at least many of what you are advocating very strongly at this point?

Ambassador Jawad: we are very much in favor of it and I think in the area of national army significant process have been made because of the proper investment both by the afghans and international community. Our police force needs a lot more attention in term of equipment and in training.

Krasny: and could you say a word Ambassador about Pakistan’s role in the on going insurrection of the Taliban and in the on going violence in your country?

Ambassador Jawad: The civilian government of Pakistan is now a partner in our common fight against terrorism. We know that the elected president of Pakistan share the same vision that you and I do on the issue of terrorism and extremism but we have not seen significant progress by other institutions in Pakistan, specially the Pakistan military to curve the cross water infiltration into Afghanistan.   

Krasny: we are reading, however, on the whole that afghan people do not want Taliban rule that great majority of afghans are apposed to it and from your perspective that is correct?

Ambassador Jawad: Exactly. Afghans know exactly what kind of tyranny, what kind of terror, what kind of isolation and poverty Taliban bring, they are not ministries they were a government in Afghanistan for a fact. So, there is absolutely no sympathy for the talibans, the reason that they have been tolerated in certain parts of Afghanistan is that we as the government of Afghanistan and you as the international community are not there with full strength to protect the afghan people. The afghan people are terrorized and victimized, that’s why they tolerate their presence. There is no sympathy for the cause of the talibans.

Krasny: Said Jawad is the ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States, joining us this morning from the states capitol. Ambassador thank you very much for being with us.

Ambassador Jawad: Thank you very much.

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