My gut instinct is that the run-off will prove a costly mistake, in terms of money, men and politics. The sole purpose of these elections is to emphasise that Kabul is the centre of government. That the government’s writ hardly extends beyond the bazaar and its authors are discredited is neither here nor there. It is plain that elements of the Taliban are fighting to protect judicial rights from Kabul’s interference; and presumably, these warlords can be bought through a combination of cash and administrative privileges.
As Paddy Ashdown argues, localism and compromise not centralism will secure a stable political settlement in Afghanistan.