IN OTHER WORDS : Afghan polls

The NATO summit President Bush attends Monday in Istanbul will be asked to do more to provide security for parliamentary elections scheduled for September in Afghanistan. On this topic there should be no unbridgeable differences, since NATO members have already committed themselves to helping Afghanistan achieve stability. If the allies ignore a request for help from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and warnings from Human Rights Watch and other independent human rights organisations, their shirking of responsibility will cast a dark shadow not only over Afghanistan but also over the Atlantic alliance. Karzai’s government and the UN have said that at least another 5,000 peacekeepers are needed. NATO troops will have to venture out to those southern and eastern sectors of Afghanistan where the Taliban zealots conduct most of their operations.

This reflects a dangerous situation on the ground in Afghanistan as well as the anxiety of Afghans subjected to the power of the warlords and the violent raids of the Taliban. Ideally, Karzai and his team would like to postpone the September polls until there is sufficient security. But since Bush wants an Afghan election he can cite as a success in his own electoral campaign, he and the other NATO leaders owe it to the Afghan people to provide security for the vote all across Afghanistan. — The Boston Globe