Hopes for Afghan Election Reform

A poster urging Afghans to vote in upcoming elections is stuck to a wall in Kandahar province's Arghandab Valley on August 11, 2010. (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

As Afghanistan's parliamentary elections draw closer, Asia Society Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl says "recent reports concerning Afghan President Hamid Karzai's strong negative reaction to anti-corruption efforts targeting members of his inner circle only highlight the terrible and deepening mess in which American and its allies find themselves in Afghanistan." Afghanistan's elections come at a decisive point for US policy and are being watched closely for signs of how serious the Afghan government is about reform. 

"While cleaning up the rampant and voracious corruption of the Afghan government is central to lasting progress in Afghanistan, the Karzai government seems almost to believe that maintaining the system of corruption is its primary tool for maintaining power. Unless this changes and unless Pakistan steps back from its strong support for the Afghan Taliban, the chances of meaningful success in Afghanistan will be miniscule. And if there is no major progress in Afghanistan, political pressure in the United States and allied countries to begin scaling back resources devoted to that country will continue to grow. With each passing month, Afghanistan is looking more and more like a lost cause. If things are going to turn around, they'd better start turning quickly."