THE PLANK AUGUST 28, 2009
Yesterday the BBC reported that Obama's Af-Pak point man Richard Holbrooke had an "explosive" and "dramatic" confrontation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai over reports of widespread voter fraud in Afghanistan's August 20 election. Today I spoke with Afghanistan's ambassador in Washington, Said Tayeb Jawad, who called the report "exaggerated excessively." Jawad, who said he had spoken with both Holbrooke and Karzai's office about the matter, said that the two men had had "a frank but cordial" dinner meeting on August 21, but that there was "no shouting" and that "afterwards, Karzai walked with Holbrooke to the door when he left." (Not that Jawad would want to confirm such a story even if it were true.) Either way it seems clear that the Washington-Karzai relationship has seen far better days.
Jawad also asked for American patience with what he conceded was an imperfect election hindered by illiteracy, Taliban intimidation, and outright violence. "Under the current situation, it's hard to imagine that we could have had elections that were better," he said.