Five days before the vote

Seven people died for no reason today in Kabul.

In the scope of Afghanistan’s bloody history, seven lives are inconsequential. But the effect of today’s suicide bombing is significant. It will, to some extent, have the effect that Taliban desires: keep people away from the polls on August 20, the day of Afghanistan’s presidential elections.

One could argue that the elections mean little in a nation with so much insecurity. I always thought the vote was rather amusing in Iraq when bombs were still falling from the sky. In Afghanistan, there is the added problem of pervasive corruption and deep distrust of the government. But if there is an election, it should be a fair one. Without scare tactics.

What is important now, many Afghanistan observers believe, is to educate the next generation of Afghans; to give them what their mothers and fathers did not have. The weapon of knowledge. To read, write, be gainfully employed.

It was heartening to hear from recently returned visitors to Afghanistan that schools are bulging with students. We can simplify democracy by reducing it to the ballot. But it means little without the welfare and education of the people.

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