Sarah Chayes, best-selling author, journalist, Afghanistan expert, and special advisor to U.S Gen. Stanley McChrystal last week slammed Afghan President Hamid Karzai for his connection to illegal activities in the current Afghan election campaign. Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Chayes described the following:
*She bought ten “official” registration cards in Kabul. These could be taken to the polls—especially in more remote areas and used to back-up false ballots. She claimed she could have “bought a thousand.”
*She has spoken to potential candidates for provincial offices who have received visits from police and other officials who threatened them with violence, if they continued their campaigns.
*She has heard of campaign rallies by opponents to the Karzai administration that have been broken up by gangs of thugs.
These actions, though ignored by most of the world’s major media, are not missed by the Afghan people.
"There are forty-two countries in Afghanistan, supposedly trying to ensure free and fair elections, and when Afghans see that such things are going on, they assume that this is deliberate policy,” said Chayes. The election will occur in August
Chayes has lived and worked in Afghanistan since 2001, when she arrived as NPR’s international correspondent, following her distinguished coverage of the war in Bosnia and Kosovo. After several months in Afghanistan, she became disillusioned with pressure she received from NPR executives not to cover stories of corruption that might sound un-patriotic.
Chayes left the U.S. radio network to work with the Karzai’s foundation in Kandahar, hoping that would be a better route to develop a just society in Afghanistan. However as she witnessed the Karzai family and government bring former alleged warlords and other unpopular autocrats into the national cabinet and local government, she broke with the foundation and work on independent economic development projects and advise U.S. military units and NGOs from Kandahar, where she made her home.
Chayes’ book, “The Punishment of Virtue,” details this period in Afghanistan, which she describes as the root of its problems today.
Many are surprised that she is now working with the U.S. military, but she has come to see that ,"the U.S. military is incredibly public spirited, more so than many NGOs and Afghan officials. I felt it was the right thing to do."
Watch the interview with Chayse at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWFMGv7-wyE.
Kabul Press Interviews Sarah Chayse
Noted American author and NPR journalist turned Afghan political and economic development specialist speaks from her home in Kandahar
Thursday 2 October 2008, by Robert Maier