Condoleezza Rice’s March 18 visit to Afghanistan ironically coincided with evident setbacks for the country’s nascent democracy. President Hamid Karzai announced that parliamentary elections scheduled for May have been pushed back until September due to ongoing logistical chaos. The day before Rice’s arrival a bomb blast in Kandahar (blamed on Taliban insurgents) killed five and injured over 30, all civilians. Children in a passing taxi were among the casualties. Another bomb in Kandahar that day shattered the windshield of a passing UN vehicle. Ten days earlier, a British consultant to the Afghan government was assassinated in Kabul, casting doubt on assertions by Karzai and the US military that the country is becoming secure. (AP, March 19)
Ongoing violence in Afghanistan has largely disappeared from the headlines.