July 24, 2009 — Dr. Amin Tarzi, Director of Middle East Studies at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia, joined us for a dialogue focusing on the upcoming round of elections in Afghanistan.
In addition to the highly publicized presidential race, the August elections will determine the makeup of Afghanistan’s provincial councils. The councils represent vitally important arms of government for a nation at war, as they will be largely responsible for establishing and administering policies and services at the local level. The fostering of growth in Afghan civil society remains one of the most fundamental tasks of the development process.
For a nation lacking a history of peaceful regime change, the elections represent more than a simple procedural matter: they embody a new vision of peace and democracy. In the past decades, Afghanistan has seen kings, communists, and Islamists take the helm in Kabul. The upcoming round of elections therefore comes at a critical juncture in the road forward, as Afghans wrestle with the direction of their country in the face of a multifaceted armed opposition.
The elections come on the heels of one of the bloodiest months in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war in 2001. This highlights the centrality of the government’s need to present itself to the Afghan public as the provider of security and justice for the future generations of the nation.
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