West faces losing battle over Afghan poll fraud

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, casts his vote: the West fears that huge fraud has seriously tarnished the election
James Hider in Kabul and Tim Reid in Washington

Widespread and systematic fraud during the Afghan presidential elections has tarnished the legitimacy of any future government and undermined the Nato campaign there, Western and Afghan officials have admitted.

Two more British soldiers were killed yesterday and the commander of the Nato forces in Afghanistan warned President Obama that the eight-year war was in a “serious” state and that big changes were needed if victory was to be achieved.

General Stanley McChrystal is understood to have recommended in a strategic review that counter-insurgency efforts be focused on protecting civilians rather than fighting militants.

August was one of Nato’s bloodiest months in Afghanistan, with 74 soldiers killed. More than 300 have died so far this year, making 2009 the worst year for Western forces since the Taleban were overthrown.


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