The advantage of earlier elections in Afghanistan

The buzz in Kabul about early presidential elections became a roar Thursday, as Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said publicly he might consider moving up the polling date to 2013.

Karzai has been quietly debating the idea the past few weeks, as have his U.S. and NATO partners. The advantage of early elections, as I reported in a column published today, is that it could create a stronger and more dynamic Afghan government that could bargain over peace terms with the Taliban.

An earlier date would also mean the election could take place while there are more NATO troops in the country to provide security — another big advantage. NATO is set to give up the lead role after the middle of 2013.

Karzai seemed to embrace the logic of an earlier change of government in a statement he made Thursday. “With all the changes that are taking place — with the compete returm of international forces to their homes from Afghamistan and the holding of the presidental election at the same time — whether that will be an agenda that we can handle at the same time,” Karzai said.

As I wrote in today’s column: In replacing the corrupt and inefficient Karzai government with a new political group, the sooner the better.

David Ignatius writes a twice-a-week foreign affairs column and contributes to the PostPartisan blog.
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