There’s a pretty strong consensus in the West that what’s needed in Afghanistan is not just a reasonably fair runoff election, but a post-election national unity government in which Hamid Karzai shares power with as wide a swathe of non-Taliban opposition as possible. After all, a big part of the counterinsurgency concept is that the theory that elements of the Taliban itself can be persuaded to switch sides and engage in some kind of power-sharing. But here’s Hamid Karzai ruling out a power-sharing deal with Abdullah Abdullah. And here’s Abdullah Abdullah saying he doesn’t want to join a Karzai government:
To some extent I think the problems with the election itself have been overstated as an obstacle to US strategy in Afghanistan. Inability to forge a broader coalition, however, would in my view be a very serious obstacle. One of the main reasons the Taliban was able to rise to power in the mid-nineties was that the non-Taliban forces weren’t able to unite into an effective anti-Taliban coalition.