The recent row over poll fraud in Afghanistan was hardly unexpected. The front running candidate Abdullah Abdullah has accused President Karzai of intervening in the June 14 runoff and stuffing ballot boxes in favour of opponent Ashraf Ghani. The turnout was announced by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan. An election official, Zia-Ul-Haq Amarkhail, has been accused of shifting unused ballot material out of the election headquarters and while there are cries for his suspension, Karzai has been holding meetings behind closed doors.

In the first round of voting in April, Abdullah Abdullah secured a million-vote lead over Ashraf Ghani, but not enough votes to win an outright majority. Abdullah has been a regular critic of the Karzai government and previously in 2009, he accused the government of election fraud. However politics is a complicated game in Afghanistan and the election was likely to be close.

Looking at the history of Afghan elections since 9/11, this has been a usual post-polling battle cry by the losing party. Security forces are bracing themselves for street protests. The situation is tenuous. An early-morning suicide attack in the city targeted Masoom Stanekzai, a senior official at the government body responsible for exploring peace talks with the Taliban. With the NATO military operations winding down fast, this dispute wrecks claims that a functioning state has been set up in place of the Taliban regime. What will the future hold for a democratic Afghanistan? Perhaps we in Pakistan can best understand the trials of a corrupted democratic process, and can sympathise with the need for urgent redress.

The turnout has been massive, reported by officials at seven million, and there are fears that this inflated figure could have constituted fake votes. Additionally, there has been a marked increase in voter turnout from some areas where there is low density of population, or high levels of insecurity. There is a lot of room to be suspicious. Dr Ashraf Ghani’s camp on the other hand says that they have achieved mass mobilisation, especially amongst women who were missing in the first round. Though it is quite likely that the election process was not crystal clear, and that some fraud did occur, it was always going to get a little messy- and Abdullah, it seems, won’t get to press the undo button.