Where do we stand in Afghanistan today?

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We have entered an age in which work of Muslim writers is kept under microscope and they are hounded for stating the obvious facts. Writing about the ground realities in Afghanistan falls under the categories, where negating official reports from Washington and London is considered as pro-Taliban, pro-terrorism and pro-Al-Qaeda.

It has, therefore, become necessary to rely on the isolated reports from non-Muslim writers and analysts, who dare report the situation as it is. These reports confirm what was mis-reported earlier.

Reporting on the deteriorating security environment in Afghanistan, Chris Sands of The Independent quoted ordinary Afghans, saying, "The difference between when the Taliban were in government and now is the same as the difference between land and sky. Now we are sick of life and if we are sick of life, how can we enjoy it? What is the meaning of life for us? At that time it had meaning, now it is nothing.'” (May 10, 2007).

Another Afghan compared the present state of affairs in Afghanistan with the Taliban era in these words: “‘Yes, we want the Taliban back,’ said Haji Abdul Rahman, a tribal elder. ‘OK, they had some negative points, but they had a lot more positive points than the Karzai government. If Mullah Omar once said, ‘Stop cultivating poppies,’ no one would do it all over Afghanistan. Forget about Karzai — even if his grandfather and father came back from the grave and came together with all the coalition forces, they could not stop poppies being grown.'” (Chris Sands, April 1, 2007).

Yet another Afghan says: "I can only talk about Kandahar city. I think life under the Taliban was very good. If we did not have a full stomach, we could at least get some food and go to sleep. If we went out somewhere, there were no problems. How about now? If we go out, we don’t know if we will arrive home or not. If there is an explosion and the Americans are passing, they will just open fire on everyone."

These reports simply vindicate those Muslim writers who reported in late 1990s that the law and order situation in Afghanistan was at its best in the past 25 years.

Interestingly Afghans are more fearful of the US and NATO forces today than they were of the Taliban five years ago. Note the opening lines of Chris Sands April 8, 2007 report: “Faiz Mohammed Karigar, a father of two, fled Kandahar when the Taliban held power in Afghanistan because he was against their restrictions on education. Now he wants the fundamentalists back.

‘When the Taliban were here, I escaped to the border with Iran, but I was never worried about my family,’ he said. ‘Every single minute of the last three years I have been very worried. Maybe tonight the Americans will come to my house, molest my wife and children and arrest me.’"

Although Gen. David Richards, a British officer who commands NATO’s 32,000 troops in Afghanistan puts a different face on the reality by saying, "They [Afghans] will say, ‘We do not want the Taliban but then we would rather have that austere and unpleasant life that that might involve than another five years of fighting,’" but the fact remains is that the present regime in Kabul is nothing more than the gathering of former warlords and drug barons who were supposed to be facing trials for their crimes against humanity.

Sonali Kolhatkar, co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, wrote in Rediff, India: “The warlords should never have been allowed to run for parliament – they were technically supposed to be disqualified because of their private militias. But now that they are back in power, the government is headed for disaster. In 2005 a survey done by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission found that the majority of Afghans consider themselves victims of war crimes. They support a war crimes tribunal to prosecute these men. The international community should help an Afghan-led effort to try these men for war crimes and purge them from the Parliament. The US is responsible for allowing them to come back into power.”

Besides the trigger happy foreign troops, the major cause for instability in Afghanistan is the presence f the former warlords in the position of power. U.S. scholar Barnett Rubin, who has been to Afghanistan 29 times over more than two decades, told the foreign affairs committee on March 29, 2007 that many Afghans are growing frustrated with the pace of Western efforts to stabilize the country: "They’re not at all happy. Support for both the international presence and the government has plummeted in the past year or so."

In short, what is labelled as Taliban insurgency is a popular resistance to the foreign occupation of Afghanistan. On February 16, 2007, Reuters reported Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai, governor of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, of saying, "It is developing into some sort of a nationalist movement, a resistance movement, a sort of liberation war against coalition forces."

The US and its allies cannot kill all people resisting occupation in the name of killing the Taliban. Rory Stewart, a writer and former British foreign office official who now heads a charity called Turquoise Mountain in around Kabul was reported in Toronto Star (April 14, 2007) of saying that it is “inaccurate and misleading” to say that “all Afghans want to live in a liberal democratic state is inaccurate and misleading.” Ultimately it may be necessary to accept the Taliban as a fact of life. Headline of the same report speaks volumes of the reality: “Time to Talk peace with Taliban: Beleaguared Karzai sees little alternative to truce.”

The ground realities as reported by non-Muslims reporters confirm that Taliban were the least evil then and they are the least evil today. As Sonali Kolhatkar puts it:

“The Taliban were initially welcomed into Afghanistan in 1996 by war-weary Afghans who were promised an end to the chaos and violence of the US-backed jihadis. Afghans were so desperate for peace, they accepted the word of anyone who promised it to them. Once they realized how oppressive the Taliban was, they changed their mind. Today, it’s a similar situation. The US/NATO and the Northern Alliance warlords are so violent that Afghans will accept any alternative. It’s a matter of choosing the least of all evils. The tragedy is that Afghans have never been given too many options. As I said earlier, polls show that about 70% of Afghans are undecided about who to back – the Taliban or US/NATO and are awaiting the outcome of the battle before they decide which side to pick. But more and more ordinary Afghans are turning to the Taliban to escape the brutality of the US/NATO.”

The European think tank, the Senlis Council, recently put out a detailed report on Afghanistan based on months of on-the-ground research. According to them the Taliban control the southern half of the country. They have published maps as well. Other estimates say that the Taliban controls perhaps half a dozen provinces in the south. They cannot do so without popular support today, as they could not do without popular support yesterday. It also proves the point that without support of the opportunist Karzai and the former warlords, there is no popular support for the US occupation and war in Afghanistan. Otherwise, it would not be standing where it stands today.

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Note: See full reports mentioned in the article above at:
http://www.icssa.org/urduarticles/where_are_
we_at_in_afghanistan.php

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