News Summary, Oct 3 am

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In this update: IEC forwards names of candidates to ECC for investigation. Standoff over Pakistan’s closure of the Torkham checkpoint continues. Karzai says the international community may leave Pakistan “as they left us in the past.”

Afghanistan – Election

  • Fraud The IEC said Saturday that the names of 38 Afghan parliamentary candidates had been forwarded to the ECC for investigation of allegations of electoral fraud. The candidates are from 18 provinces whose names will soon be announced. (The IEC is holding a press conference today.) [TOLO]
  • Uruzgan Martine van Bijlert looks at results in Uruzgan where she says “a small and secure corner of the province may well have dominated the whole vote, even though it was provided with much less votes than allocated.” “Local estimates, based on the initial polling station counts, indicate that one single polling centre in a far-away corner of Khas Uruzgan may well have outnumbered all other votes in the province, securing the victory of at least one and possibly two Hazara candidates,” she writes. [AAN]
  • IEC statistics Abbas Daiyar, a journalist from Kabul who has worked with newspapers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, studies the results from the IEC and asks, among other things, “why [the] preliminary results of far flung provinces troubled with insurgency were already announced, but three important provinces—Kabul, Balkh and Badakhshan—were delayed? [Kabul Perspective]
  • Turnout, Afghanistan and Canada compared Winnpeg Free Press looks at why Canadians aren’t voting, despite 152 Canadian soldiers dying “to give Afghans the chance to vote.” “More than 20 people were killed as they attempted to vote. Election workers were murdered as they delivered ballots. Security forces were killed trying to keep the attackers at bay.And yet still, millions of Afghans managed to cast a ballot.” Meanwhile in Canada 57 per cent of those who didn’t vote in the 2008 federal election said “it was not really convenient.” It was the first time federal electoral turnout dropped below 60 per cent. [Winnipeg Free Press]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Pakistan As the closure of the Torkham checkpoint enters a third day, analysts tell AP that Pakistan would look like it was backing down if it reopened the border too quickly, but at the same time, it wouldn’t risk its partnership with the United States by keeping the crossing closed for too long. An analysis by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network puts the closure in context, arguing that “[t]he US and its NATO allies face a dilemma. Despite three alternate supply routes now available through the Central Asian Republics, they are still dependent to a considerable extent on the transport movement through Pakistan for keeping their forces fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan sustained. Their dependence on the Pakistan Army reduces their ability to exercise pressure on it to force it to act against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban in its territory.” An editorial in Arab News suggests the opposite: “The US-led alliance would…do well to avoid testing the limits of Pakistan’s patience and resolve to defend its people and borders,” it argues.  [AP] [Eurasia Review] [Arab News]
  • Drones The CIA is using an expanded arsenal of armed drones and other equipment provided by the U.S. military to secretly escalate its operations in Pakistan by striking targets beyond the reach of American forces based in Afghanistan, U.S. officials tell The Washington Post. [WAPO]
  • Karzai speech Preparing for the eventual exit of international forces, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Saturday on his own police and army to get ready to take charge of protecting and defending the nation. "It is possible that one day this international community, which is with us today, will not see a benefit in Afghanistan any more and leave us — like they left us in the past," he said. [AP] [TOLO]
  • Kunduz  Forty percent of Kunduz province is under Taliban control and other anti-government elements, according to the province’s governor. The report from TOLO News’ Wali Arian quotes local officials as saying that al-Qaeda members from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan are fighting alongside Taliban militants in the province. [TOLO]
  • Kabul blast An explosion late Saturday rattled Kabul injuring at least two people. It was not clear whether the blast was caused by a rocket attack or a suicide bomber. [Xinhua]
  • Disarmament of private security firms The Counter-terrorism Directorate of the Afghan Ministry of Interior has begun disarming private security firms, collecting Kalashnikovs and machine guns from Oqab-e-Safid (White Eagle) Security Company in Helmand province and 4 rocket launchers from Abdul Khaliq Asakzai Private Security Company in Herat. [TOLO]
  • UN report A Swiss newspaper says the United Nations buried a report into rights violations in Afghanistan between 1978 and 2001 that accused Soviets, Islamists and US forces of "atrocities".
    Le Temps reports the UN deliberately suppressed the 300 page document for political reasons. One of the authors, however, disputes the article, saying the report has been available on the Internet for some time. [Radio Australia] [AFP]