Afghan election authorities released full preliminary results of last month's parliamentary election, throwing out 23 percent of the 5.6 million ballots (AP) cast because of fraud. Election officials still called the vote a success because they were able to catch the fraud, but the number of fraudulent ballots indicates that cheating was pervasive (al-Jazeera) and reflects poorly on the nascent government's commitment to reform. Many of the candidates in September's election have ties to Afghanistan's old elite, and the parliament is stacked with former warlords and power brokers. There will probably be little condemnation of the election by the international community despite the corrupted votes, since the greater concern is how the poll affects the country's stability. Afghan President Hamid Karzai's position is not threatened by the results, which NATO and the international community find acceptable (BBC). NATO troops are more focused on ongoing efforts to facilitate discussions (NYT) between Karzai's inner circle and senior Taliban commanders.
Crucial to the success of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is dealing with the country's "predatory misgovernance," says CFR's Stephen Biddle.
In the Diplomat, Robert Dreyfuss says Obama's July 2011 deadline for the start of a U.S. drawdown of forces in Afghanistan might be an incentive to bring the Taliban to the table, since the withdrawal of foreign forces has long been the Taliban's principal demand.
In the National, Erin Cunningham says Afghan women fear they are not adequately represented in the negotiations with the Taliban, and they see few guarantees that their rights will be protected.
This CFR Backgrounder examines the Taliban in Afghanistan.