Ayaz Ahmed Pirzada The media in North America is highly sceptical of fairness of presidential elections in Afghanistan to be held tomorrow. There are many questions on the attempt to send a message by the occupation forces to the Western taxpayers that democracy is taking root in Afghanistan. The conduct of elections in a country under foreign occupation with a puppet government always suffers from credibility gap. Mr Grant Kippen, a Canadian who heads the Electoral Complaints Commission is responsible for fair and impartial conduct of polls. In view of allegations of mass scale fraud, misuse of funds, selling of ballot forms on bicycles and at vendor shops across the cities, Kippen can only do what he has said, "You do your best given the circumstances." Kippen is ceased with not only operational problems but tricky issues like Abdullah Abdullah's armed resistance if Karzai is declared elected in rigged elections. And reports of widespread fraud are already endangering the poll's credibility. Ashraf Ghani a presidential candidate has alleged that the Karzai government "has already committed substantial fraud in voter registration" by padding the voter rolls in areas where Karzai is strong, using state resources to campaign, encouraging governors and ministers to do political work for him, and despatching his security forces to threaten people and prevent them from supporting other candidates." The elections would be held on non-party basis as political parties are banned. So only individuals of foreign occupiers' liking are in the field. Those opposed to foreign forces like Jalauddin Haqqani and Gulbadin Hekmatyar are out side the contest, watching and waiting from the sidelines the outcome of foreign sponsored polls. Out of 13 candidates the contest is said to be mainly between three, Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah, and Ashraf Ghani. Abdullah Abdullah, one time foreign minister of President Karzai, is a technocrat who represents the Tajik Northern Alliance, which is accused by the west of drug dealing. "The northern Tajiks and Uzbeks, traditional foes of the majority Pashtun, are in cahoots with Russia, Iran and India, all of whom have designs on Afghanistan." Apart from the presence of Western forces, the Indian factor in Afghanistan has its own agenda detrimental to the interests of Pakistan. Anti-Pakistan activities are planned and encouraged by the Indian consulates which have sprung up in every important town bordering Pakistan. Indian intelligence agency, RAW is operating from Afghanistan to instigate terrorist activities in Pakistan. The most powerful candidate, President Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun of the Popalzai clan of Durranis , was a member of the Mujahideen and took active part against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He was top contact of CIA having personal contacts with CIA Director, William Casey and the then Vice President George H.W. Bush. He became a prominent political personality after the fall of Taliban in 2001. From December 2001, Karzai had been the Chairman of the Transitional Administration, interim president and till 204 when he was elected President. Karzai, who once was a US favourite, began to fall from favour late in the President Bush's final term and has had tense relations with the Obama administration, though Obama's statement on the Afghan election stressed the US's neutrality in the August 20 election. Being an American installed ruler he has been so much loyal to the USA that he practically did nothing even when innocent women and children were killed by the Coalition Forces in various incidents. The Afghan government is widely criticised by the people of Afghanistan for bombing of innocent people by Afghan and NATO forces creating resentment, especially among the rural Afghans who are the victims. The writ of the Karzai government does not go beyond Kabul and the rest of the country is under the control of warlords and the Taliban. The ineffectiveness of its security forces is such that Karzai's own security is in the hands of foreigners who are spending billions of dollars to quell insurgency in Afghanistan ever since they occupied the country. The security issues, unemployment and rising prices of consumers goods are subjects which are being hammered in speeches and statements of candidates opposing Karzai. Being an American-installed ruler he has been so much loyal to the USA that he practically did nothing even when innocent women and children were killed by the Coalition Forces in various incidents. The voting will be in cities only under the tight security arrangements by the occupation forces while the entire rural part of the country, ruled by the Taliban, would no election activity. Rural Afghanistan ,according to Eric Margolis, are primarily local farmers moonlighting as fighters, is too dangerous for this electoral charade. Over half of Afghanistan is under Taliban influence by day, 75% at night. Afghanistan is a critically important US ally, and President Barack Obama has heavily invested in its future, despatched additional US troops to the violence-wracked nation within a month of taking office. Last week, he issued a statement saying that his administration is "working with Afghan electoral authorities and the United Nations to help Afghans ensure a credible, secure and inclusive election process." Hamid Karzai who has been compliant friend of the USA, criticised the Americans and the British for the conduct of war demanding that his government be given a lead in the decision-making process. He wants American forces to stop arresting suspected Taliban and their sympathisers, and that the continued threat of arrest and past mistreatment were discouraging Taliban from coming forward to lay down their arms. He also criticised the coalition as prosecuting the War on Terror in Afghan villages, saying the real terrorist threat lay in sanctuaries of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. These statements can conveniently be termed a ploy for election campaign to enlist support. It would be impossible for the Kippen Commission to be totally independent and impartial because it relies on the government for many important decisions. For instance, it relies on the findings of a government body headed by Khalili, Karzai's vice-presidential candidate, to determine whether a candidate has ties to any armed group. The decision of Khalili is cannot be challenged. No projection for election results can be made in a country where rampant corruption, misuse of government authority and every conceivable irregularity would be enforced during elections. However some analysts are forecasting a close contest between the three presidential candidates. All of them are in Washington's pocket, therefore, it does not matter who wins. So whoever wins, President Barack Obama will end up to be the real leader of Afghanistan, said Eric Margolis. The writer is a former diplomat