New Internationalist

Numbers games in Afghanistan’s elections

The number of deaths varies between 26 and 30. But no matter how many people died on the day of elections – not to mention the 40 or so dead in Kandahar the following day – most Afghans didn't flinch or even comment on the fatalities of the elections.

The most over used sentence in this country is: ‘After 30 years of war...’ But I think in this instance we have to use it. After 30 years of war Afghans have become quite complacent and ‘matter of fact’ about death and high death tolls in their country.

They and the media are talking about the results of the election. With 10 per cent of the ballots counted, the election commission said Hamid Karzai had 212,927 votes, compared to 202,889 for Abdullah Abdullah.

We all know that the numbers are manufactured outside Afghanistan and that the final result will not come from the long hours of counting ballot papers by IEC staff.

And we all know the saying: 'When it bleeds it leads.' But the 20 August is now one of the bloodiest days on count for the Afghan people. Yet the only numbers that are being discussed in a smoky tea house are fictitious ballot papers that were sometimes filled out five times by one lady in a burka.

Many women did not have their photo printed on their voting registration card and did not have to lift their burka while in the voting stations. Meaning that they could visit several stations and vote again and again – as long as they brought bleach with them to wash off the indelible ink.

We can't expect the Afghan population to react to the waste of innocent lives like we Westerners based here do. But we can hope that they won't accept these false results and let another five years pass, drenched in the blood of their fallen fellow citizens.

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