White House casts doubt on Afghan reliability

October 18, 2009 9:16:08 PM PDT
New developments are complicating President Obama's deliberations over whether to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.The issue is whether the current government is corrupt and whether the U.S. should risk more military lives to support it.

The issue of developing an effective Afghan central government has gained new urgency after an August presidential election marred by charges of corruption. The UN commission investigating fraud has concluded so many ballots cast in the election were fake, President Hamid Karzai has to face a second round run-off.

But karzai's campaign is accusing the West of trying to rig the election.

"Some foreigners, some political personalities from outside Afghanistan, they have interference. They are trying [to say] the election should go for the second round," said Maeen Mirstyal, Karzai campaign chief advisor.

U.S. officials deny that and say they have only been trying to convince Karzai to respect the commission's findings.

Karzai's chief competitor warns that if there's no second round, Karzai will not be seen as a legitimate leader.

"Illegitimate government cannot be saved by more troops," said opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah.

More U.S. troops is exactly what the military says it needs to bring peace to Afghanistan. But those troops could be in greater danger if the election does not produce a widely accepted result.

"The most important there, get a government that is seen as legitimate to the people and has the credibility to be a partner in the effort to secure Afghanistan," White House Chief of Staff said Rahm Emanuel told CBS's Face the Nation.

But right now, the political vacuum has helped fuel the insurgency. Violence is at its highest level since the war began, in part, because of militant safe havens across the border in Pakistan. Their hub is Waziristan, where this weekend, the Pakistani army launched a long-awaited operation. But it will not be easy, Waziristan has some of the toughest terrain on the planet.

"They're moving at a slow pace becaues it's a mountainous terrain. We have to be very sure-footed. There are a number of mines and IEDs in the area which require clearance," said Gen. Athar Abbas, Pakistan military spokesman.

Sen. John Kerry visited Kabul this weekend and said the president shouldn't make a decision without an adequate government in place.


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