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December 13, 2011 |  22 comments |  Print  Your Opinion  

12 Ways NATO Helped Build a Better Afghanistan

Shafiq Hamdam: As an Afghan citizen I am grateful to NATO for the huge improvements in security, economic development, governance, democracy and human rights in the last ten years. Do you think the investment was worth the human and financial costs? Is the world safer compared to 2001? Here are twelve reasons why my answer is “Yes!” What is your answer?

I was born and raised during a critical period of Afghan history. I have witnessed many things throughout the last three decades in Afghanistan. I witnessed horrible bloodshed and genocide in the capital city Kabul. As a student, I witnessed the discrimination and torture of people in public and looked on hopelessly as people were beheaded.

The Taliban regime was the worst era of Afghan history. Millions of people were displaced or emigrated. Thousands of people were killed. And Afghans were losing hope.

Then 9/11 happened. The attacks were a tragedy for the United States and the West. But for Afghans, who suffered the most at the hands of the Taliban and al Qaida, it represented an unlikely opportunity.

In October 2001, when the US and its allies engaged in a military campaign in Afghanistan, the hopes of Afghans blossomed. I was living in Jalalabad, a city in eastern Afghanistan, a few miles away from the al Qaida stronghold of Tora Bora. I was one of the many young Afghans who supported the campaign.

The US-led and Afghan-backed mission succeeded in removing the Taliban, al Qaida and their foreign allies within six weeks.

After the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan started from scratch. After three decades of war, the infrastructure and government system had completely collapsed. This was not reconstruction, it was construction of everything from the foundations. In the last ten years, Afghanistan has grown to where it is today, a country with social, cultural, political, economic and security achievements.

Freedom on the March – 12 Changes for a Better Afghanistan

  1. During the Taliban regime, free media, freedom of speech and other communication tools were forbidden. As a student, I was interested in kids magazines and had to smuggle them in. But today we have thousands of print publications, over 75 active TV channels and more than 175 radio stations; an unbelievable achievement.

  2. The Taliban regime was recognized by only three countries. Today most countries officially recognize Afghanistan. It has 56 diplomatic missions around the world and bilateral and strategic ties with several countries.

  3. While there are complaints today about Afghan governance and democracy, we must remember that the Taliban established a dictatorial Emirate. Now, Afghanistan has a constitution, a democratically elected president and cabinet, an elected parliament and provincial councils, of which 25% are women.

  4. A lot remains to be done to empower civil society. But let’s not forget that the Taliban era closed political parties, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and civil society organizations. Now, we have hundreds of them.

  5. While we previously did not have standard roads and highways, today thousands of kilometers of roads and highways have been reconstructed and paved.

  6. Thousands of schools - which were closed by the Taliban - have been reopened. Today, according to the Afghan Ministry of Education, over 8 million Afghan boys and girls go to school. Ten years ago, this number was roughly half a million – and almost exclusively boys. This means that more than a quarter of Afghans are receiving an education.

  7. Bridges and dams destroyed by the Taliban have been rebuilt. Hundreds of clinics and hospitals have been constructed.

  8. Five major telecommunications companies have connected millions of Afghans with the rest of the world through mobile phones and the internet. We now have a functioning banking system and massive investment in the mining sector.

  9. Millions of children across the country are getting vaccinated against epidemic diseases and some 80% of the population has access to basic health services.

  10. The National Development Strategy finalized in 2008 has laid the foundation for the development of Afghanistan. In 2001, we had an income per capita of $150. Today that figure is $600. Our GDP has increased from $3 billion to $18 billion. Afghanistan has joined all regional economic forums. Trade between Afghanistan and neighboring countries has increased to $2.5 billion per year.

  11. After the Taliban regime, mujihadeen militias were the biggest threat. But as part of the successful UN-led disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program, I have witnessed mujihadeen militias - and many Taliban - disarmed and reintegrated into the community.

  12. Over the last ten years, I have witnessed impressive achievements in the security sector. The Taliban era ousted the military and police system and implemented a militia system. When the Northern Alliance came to Kabul, they did not have an organized army or police. So the Afghan government, with the support of NATO and the European Union, started from scratch. Today we have a 305,000-strong army and police force which represent all ethnicities and tribal groups of Afghanistan.

Building a New Country

Transition is not just a process, it is about pride. It is about ownership, responsibility and authority. Every nation values ownership and sovereignty. Transition will bring that to Afghans, who have always rightfully dreamt of being the masters of their land.

Transition is something that has taken away the false propaganda of insurgents, who called Afghanistan an occupied country. By announcing the transition process, the Afghan government has proven that Afghanistan is not an occupied country; it is a free and independent country, which can decide what is in its own interests.

Afghanistan has begun to re-emerge as a country for all Afghans. After more than three decades of conflict, they have started to believe in a better future.

I think we have adequate time for the completion of transition and I believe that by the end of it, we will have the necessary security forces to protect Afghanistan.

Transition is what Afghans have asked for; this is the process that the people need. We cannot depend on the international troops forever; like every other country we have to be self-sustaining and take responsibility as the owners of our future.

With reconciliation and reintegration, the pledges of alliance countries, the partnerships with NATO, the US and other regional countries, I believe that after 2014, we will have a safer and better Afghanistan.

However, these gains are not guaranteed; the government is not strong enough yet. Weak governance, narcotics, unresolved issues with neighboring countries, poverty and, above all, corruption will remain huge challenges. These are the issues that need to be addressed.

To achieve a successful transition, the international community should also think of civil society and political parties. Because the needs of Afghans are not those of a militarized country - but of a democratic country with a strong civil society and broad political representation.

So if the strategies and policies are carried out properly and are based on the needs of Afghans, coupled together with strong Afghan leadership, I am sure that a future Afghanistan will be able to repay the international community by contributing to international peace and security.

What Do You Think?

In the beginning, I asked if you thought the human and financial cost that NATO has invested in Afghanistan has been worth it. Please share your thoughts.

Do you think there was a sufficient change in Afghanistan, do you think there have been significant improvements in development, human rights, governance and democracy to justify the investments, and overall, do you think you have a safer world compared to 2001?

Shafiq Hamdam, an Afghan citizen, is the Media and Country Advisor to the NATO Senior Civilian Representative's Office in Kabul. He writes here in a personal capacity. This article was first published in a slightly altered form in NATO Review.

 

 

Atlantic-community.org's web module "NATO's Agenda" is sponsored by the Public Diplomacy Division of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. We encourage you to comment and submit op-ed articles with your analyses and policy recommendations for "NATO's Agenda."

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Tags: | history | taliban | governance | ISAF | NATO | Afghanistan |
 
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Carmine  Finelli

December 1, 2011

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The Afghan campaing is worth it. Afghans needed change to come at a complete human development, and, after 2001, we started appreciate Afghan culture. Many writers and poets were published in Western societies. This is the sign of a resurgence not just for people, but also of the cultural background which naturally stand behind a state reconstruction.
I hope your country will be able to secure its democratic institution and that the 2014 will be a new starting point for Afghans.
Finally, I would like to make a question to the author: Do you think Afghan government is really engaged to fight corruption? And what about the negotiations with talibans?
 
Unregistered User

December 1, 2011

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This is good analytical report for post-taliban Afghanistan, Therefore, this piece of information appreciate the role of NATO in Afghanistan which is important.

Let’s talk, about four decades of conflict in Afghanistan, it is believe that Afghanistan is a funded project, possibly from Soviet invasion through the US invasion.

In late 70s, Afghan government turned to be a dependent govenment and received incridable supports from the Soviet Union, although we had good army until 1992.
The US foreign policy changed to support Islam in Afghanistan, as a result the Mujahiddin received a lot fund too.

These level of fund was too much and beyond our capacity and we destroyed Afghanistan and taken the life of nearly two million people, I was also the witnessed the level fund decreased possibly to ZERO dollar. After the fall of communist regime, then the Jahidist could not form a goverment in Afghanistan, so both Jahidist and Taliban destroyed the remaining parts of country.

Most importantly, the country fully depends on the international aids and still the future of remain uncertain, it is argued this future depend on the foreign policy of the US and NATO, if they leave Afghanistan again, perhaps this means: destruction and mass-killing.

Over the past two centuries Afghanistan ruled by a single ethnic grooup and democracy is a strange approach for governing Afghanistan and you can look to the recent elections crisis.

To sum up there is no strong institutions to rely on, and despite of billions of dollar of international aid, Afghanistan still significantly suffer from poverty, insecurity, drup economy ,terriorism and curruption, and why this happens?
 
Michael  Schuster

December 2, 2011

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Shafiq, you make good arguments in that list, but I still believe that the answer to your question is negative.

The world is not safer compared to 2001. Al Qaeda moved south a few weeks after 9/11. International terrorist groups have safe havens in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.

The huge investments in Afghanistan was not worth the human and financial costs. Nearly 2,000 NATO soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan, thousands of miles away from home.

 
Michael  Schuster

December 2, 2011

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Shafiq you write:

"I am sure that a future Afghanistan will be able to repay the international community by contributing to international peace and security."

Thank you, that's very kind, but I think Afghans will be able to send troops to NATO missions in the Balkans or North Africa. I don't think Afghans will help us with missile defense or cyber security or prevent Iran from going nuclear.
 
Jack  Bicker

December 4, 2011

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Thanks for you article Shafiq. What with all of the official stats and arms-length news reports that usually inform how we view these recent events, it's genuinely great to hear a first hand account that testifies to a transformed Afghanistan, and a brighter vision for its future. I have two related points...

I'm relieved to read you referring to 'transition' as being 'about pride'. Despite the improvements, it must be conceded that recent transitions in Afghanistan have been NATO led, or at the very least have been NATO facilitated. In an burgeoning democracy, initial issues with regard to the absolute veracity of elections can be forgiven. However, when a new society has been facilitated by foreign powers, then it must be ensured that any transition takes the Afghan people themselves as its starting point. That, of course, first involves allowing the Afghans a real say in the formulation of their new state. However, when it comes to the role of international facilitators, this also places a burden on NATO to establish a governmental infrastructure that, rather than simply copying those systems that underpin political life in the West, is instead a system that allows the true Afghan cultural and sociological identity to thrive in it. This is as opposed to a process of mere "westernisation", for example.

The reason that I say this, is that for there to be any chance of long lasting stability in the region, it is important that the Afghan state is configured in such a way that feels natural to the Afghan people, that gives them a sense of ownership of their system of governance, a system that will feel Afghan, rather than Western. This is all the more important when one considers why the war in Afghanistan was initiated in the first place; namely, it was an act of regime change in response to an attack on the US. However, where Afghanistan differs from Iraq, is that whereas in Iraq the objective was to remove a dictator and his lieutenants, in Afghanistan, a larger cultural shift is necessary. Namely removing the whole Taliban and its bodies of influence - a political movement whose influence extended far deeper into the cultural psyche.

Of course, in response to your questions, yes, Afghanistan is much better off by many measures. But considering that the US wanted to remove the Taliban in order to create the security and cultural conditions that would prevent al-Qa'ida from having a presence in the region - and that the transitions you describe are a by-product of such operations - my hope is that as time progresses Afghans don't feel alienated by a system of government that is more western than Afghan. The result of this might be a rejection of the current system, which could potentially lead the Afghan people to chose a more extreme political alignment that may not be in the interests of US security in the way it has hoped.

So as these transitions continue to take place, and as the cost of the conflicts is counted, we must remember that a lasting, sustainable peace is one that truly belongs to, and comes from, the Afghan people.
 
Unregistered User

December 6, 2011

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A very unique but rather clear way to pay homage: a paper of thankfulness for all that have been done so far. Many certainly value this expression of gratefulness. It has not been as perfect as would have been wanted, and yet there is enough evidence of progress: one that is also continuously punctuated, but as a consequence of our imperfect societies and peoples.

For Afghanistan, the question does not need to be: where do we go from here? On rationality behind this reinterpretation situates the two chapters of this "write-up" quoted below:

(1) "With reconciliation and reintegration, the pledges of alliance countries, the partnerships with NATO, the US and other regional countries, I believe that after 2014, we will have a safer and better Afghanistan."

(2) "However, these gains are not guaranteed; the government is not strong enough yet. Weak governance, narcotics, unresolved issues with neighboring countries, poverty and, above all, corruption will remain huge challenges. These are the issues that need to be addressed."

Two things are possible to read out of above: (a) the "mantle of hope" everyone, in and out believes is there, but must be worked hard for - especially from within; and (b) the hope need not be marred by glaring contradictions - which means all must wholeheartedly try harder! It is the time for everyone to learn well and fast, because our world has changed. What to do is: work for the light, with love, understanding and humility amidst the progress and with the type of wisdom over-bridging with the supports of "changed world" and its workers!
 
Jason  Naselli

December 6, 2011

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I like how Shafiq illustrates the progress made and the good that has come out of the intervention without feeling the need to justify the motivations behind it or the (sometimes quite glaring) missteps along the way. I think this will be even easier to see and appreciate as troops pull out and the state of Afghanistan is seen more and more as a situation in its own right, rather than a judgment on the War on Terror, which is how many still perceive it.

Unfortunately, I don't know if we have the causality to prove that the Afghanistan intervention has truly caused a safer world. Certainly, removing the Taliban (still an ongoing project) is good for Afghanistan, but did this overall reduce the risk of terrorism globally? Or would have al Qaeda and its ilk begun to peter out anyway? Can it truly be a safer world when Pakistan still seems dangerously unstable? I'm not saying it's a no, but the jury is still out.
 
Niamatullah Sayer Sharifi

December 6, 2011

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Thank you very much Mr. Hamdam; I really appreciate your efforts. It is true that we had a very bad and critical time since last three decades. I am agree with you that there was a lot of descrimination against humanity. It has started from the invasion of Soviet Union and continued duing Mujahiden and worsened during Taliban. It is still continuing, but we are optomist for our future and together we can build a better and brighter Afghanistan.
 
Unregistered User

December 7, 2011

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Dear Mr. Hamdam,

Thank you so much for initiating such a rousing discussion regarding the relative success and worth of the Afghanistan campaign. I also particularly admire your optimism.

I believe strongly that one of your points should have focused on the relative advancement of women’s rights as a result of the campaign. Perhaps it is insufficient advancement that did not grant women’s rights a spot on this list. Advocating for and significantly augmenting the rights of Afghanistan’s women was one of the promises of NATO’s campaign.

Granted, women’s rights have been expanded, especially when compared to the Taliban regime. Yet still, women face severe suppression, which has increased since the recent insurgence of violence. Statistical evidence of women’s liberty was promising in 2007, but those numbers have since evaporated. In the areas of personal violence, personal security, access to education, access to health care, and agency via political participation, women currently suffer considerably. Allow me to present some recent figures from the United Nations:

Literacy: 18% women, 36% men
Primary School enrollment: 29% women, 43% men
Secondary School enrollment: 5% women, 25% men
Tertiary School enrollment: .1% women, 2% men
Maternal death rate: 1,600 per 100,000 women
Infant death rate: 140 per 1000 infants
Police/military presence: .1% women
Political representation: ~30% (which you mention, but I would note that this is quota system that NATO instituted and enforces)

Furthermore, nearly 80% of women have experienced violence in their lifetime. Another 80% have succumbed to forced or early marriages.

I find these numbers abysmal and disheartening. Worse, women have reported fear of the consequences concurrent with the removal of NATO troops in 2014. Yes, there have been very positive effects associated with the NATO campaign, but with respect to women’s rights, these advances have been insufficient. It is important that the international community stay committed to women’s rights after the campaign is over. NATO must not forget its promise to Afghanistan’s women.

Very best regards,

Lexi Hensley
MS Global Affairs, Candidate, NYU
 
Shafiq  Hamdam

December 14, 2011

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Dear Carmine Finelli,

Thanks for your interesting comment. Afghan is a country with thousands year of history, with a very extensive and rich culture and civilization. But unfortunately during three decades of war the country has lost its good reputation. As you may know that during the world history, particularly in the first and second world wars Afghanistan has chosen peace and decided to remain neutral. This can easily explain the interest of Afghanistan.

And once again thanks for your nice wishes. I am confident that Afghans are wiling to receive their responsibility after 2014, they are tired of war and fighting and as you mentioned of 2014 I can assure you that Afghanistan can begin a new starting even before 2014, but the condition is, if those countries which see Afghanistan as threat, look at the real situation of Afghanistan and look at this country as part of security, stability and development in the region.

That was a short background and coming back to your question of corruption and negotiation. As an anti-corruption activist I have some knowledge about the corruption issues in Afghanistan and I am leading a network of civil society against corruption called (Afghan Anti-Corruption Network). I am not sure what politician think of corruption, but I think that corruption is the biggest challenge in Afghanistan. However by latest survey of The Asia Foundation corruption in Afghanistan is the second biggest issue in Afghanistan, but I believe it’s even more than that. Corruption is the core of issues; it is a cancer, which quickly affects large number of areas.

Afghan Anti-Corruption Network stated in its statement on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day in 09 Dec 2011, that the Insecurity, instability, weak rule of law, drug trafficking, drug cultivation and many other issues are the consequences of corruption in Afghanistan and the Afghan people are seriously suffering from corruption, then anything else.

So you have touched upon a very important point, which most of the writers and journalists have forgotten to talk about it. The Afghan government has been promising to fight corruption, but I don’t think if the government alone can succeed. So there is a strong need of civil society to engage in fighting corruption and observe transparency in the society, but it won’t happen unless we have a strong civil society in Afghanistan backed by Afghan government and international community.

Recently there was an international conference on Afghanistan on 5th Dec 2011 in Bonn, Germany, where once again Afghan government and its international partners confirmed huge scale of corruption in Afghanistan and pledged to fight corruption. During the conference president Karzai delivered his speech and said “We will work to fight corruptions more effectively and further reform government institutions to render them more efficient, transparent, and accountable.” but to fight corruption it requires action, not words.

Talking about negotiation with Taliban, I personally believe that there is not any solution in Afghanistan except reconciliation. The real negotiation and reconciliation, for the sake of the Afghans and their allies who lose their lives everyday, for peace and security in Afghanistan, region and world. Honesty is the key for any successful negotiation, which is not the case in Afghanistan. Every Afghan wants peace and negotiation, but so far the government has not succeeded to hold the right peace talk and the mechanism for reconciliation, but it does not mean that we should lose hope and everything has failed. I am optimist that there is a way to reconciliation and negotiation, which is hard at the beginning, but pleasant and prosper at the end.

Recently there a Traditional Loya Jirga was held in Kabul where thousands of representatives from around the country decided about the process of peace talks, which again shows the willingness of Afghan for peace. However the decision of the Jirga was not very clear, but still it will feed the debate about peace.

In conclusion I will say that Afghan government is pledged to fight corruption and talk with Taliban, but the action and implementation is not visible.



 
Shafiq  Hamdam

December 14, 2011

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Dear Reza Kateb,

Very interesting analytical comment, I do agree with the most part of your analysis and I can see some answers for your question in your comment as well.

Let me talk a little about what you have said that Afghanistan is dependent on international aid. I agree that we are still not self-sustained, we still depend on international aids and we still depend on our partners and allies. But I think it once again relates to the three decades of war, because before the war Afghanistan was one of the few self-sustaining country.

During the Afghan occupation by Great Britain and even prior to that, Afghanistan has not been dependent on any country and a very good and bad example for that is the luck of infrastructures in Afghanistan. If you look at the region and neighboring countries you can easily see the infrastructures, such as water dames, highways and railways, which have been built by British for them, but you, can not see such infrastructure in Afghanistan.

This can be an example that either Afghanistan was not dependent to foreign aids or the foreign countries have not wanted to invest in Afghanistan. Of course the people may have had many issues, but they had security and sovereignty.

As you mentioned it was changed after the former USSR occupation of Afghanistan, but I believe if there is peace in Afghanistan and considering the natural resources, geopolitical location, mines and educated talented human resource like you, so once again we will be a self-sustaining and self funded country. But good governance, rule of law and transparency, which must come together as a package will lead us toward being self-sustain.

The question of why still Afghanistan has remained in poverty and insecurity, I think it is mainly because of the weak leadership in Afghanistan. As I have mentioned as a condition in my article it’s because that we don’t have a strong leadership. There is another external factor of this as well; it is the strategy of the coalition countries, which have not had long-term and strategic projects for Afghanistan in the beginning of mission in 2001. This is why they are noticing this issue now and working on their long-term strategies with Afghanistan.
 
Shafiq  Hamdam

December 14, 2011

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Dear Michael Schuster

I can realize that why your answer is negative? And why still millions of people are not happy about the achievements in Afghanistan? It is because that most of them have not been aware of the Al-Qaida’s preparation, power, reach, planning and aims. Hundreds of the Al-Qaida was in Afghanistan and thousands of them were around the world, including Europe and US. The 9/11 was only act of few members and you can imagine if it was not stopped and pressured they could have done worse than 9/11. During last ten years most of the leadership of Al-Qaida has been arrested and killed around the worlds, many of their attempts have been countered and the Al-Qaida network has been dispersed. Of course they are still in Pakistan, Yemen and many other countries, but it does not mean that they have been gained power and added to their attacks, it means they have been pressured and I consider this as an achievement.

I do respect the lost of NATO and Afghan soldiers, besides the solders thousands of innocent Afghans have died and injured, which we can never forget. Every thing has price and price to fight terrorists and insurgents are not only financially, but it is with live.

The solders are thousands miles away to protect their countries and citizens across the borders and eve across the regions, the distance from where they have been suffered and threatened.

And my question will be, if you are owner of a jungle, will you leave the fire to burn all your jungle or you will try to stop it before it burns you all jungle? It is the same in the war against terror.
 
Shafiq  Hamdam

December 14, 2011

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Dear Michael Schuster

That is a very interesting comment, which unfortunately I can not fully answer you in this public blog. But let me put it in this way, what about prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction? What about Al-Qaida's biological weapon program? And what about the most dangers weapon, which is extremism and brain washes? I think Afghanistan has threats, which were very big threats to the region and even beyond the region. And that is also contribution to the world security.

If we analyze the latest threats, terrorists' threats were lager then any cyber or missile threat. I wish I could write you more about your question and further to that about the security energy. But as an Afghan citizen I feel very responsible and cautious answering such questions in public blog.
 
Unregistered User

December 14, 2011

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It is ironic that the policies of the repressive Taliban extremists against Afghan population were supported by the United States in the 80's during the war against communists and but somehow only today the United States discovers the Taliban abuses. The United States should be indicted at the international Criminal Tribunal for installing the repressive Taliban like groups in power in the 80's and 90's.

By supporting the Taliban like groups in power in the 80's and 90's, The United States stole 30 years of the basic Human Rights from the people of Afghanistan. As this article indicates millions of Afghans had no rights in their own country; however, this article does not want share with the public that the responsibility for Afghan oppression does not fall only on Taliban like groups but also on the United States for supporting those groups in the years prior to 2001.

This article very much reminds us of the Soviet media stories about helping people of Afghanistan to justify the war in the 80's.
 
Shafiq  Hamdam

December 15, 2011

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Dear Jason Naselli,

I think I have partially answered some part of your questions answering comment of Michael Schuster. Your concerns are right, as you may already know that the Afghanistan project was not removing Taliban, but it was removing Al-Qaida from Afghanistan. Taliban denied any coöperation and assistance to any country for removal of Al-Qaida, thus after 09/11 US and NATO involved in Afghanistan. The war was initially war on terror, but then it has changed to countering insurgency, which is totally different thing.

So the involvement of NATO and US in war against insurgents shows the level of threat from Taliban side.
I am sure if there was not a great risk of Taliban being in power, NATO and US would never engage in this war.

Removing the Taliban is good for both, Afghanistan and world and I am sure that this is a mutual interest, because they were the mutual threat.

Al-Qaida network has been pressured, weakened and has been interrupted, but you are right its not eliminated, the risk is still there, but I am sure that it is not as big as it was ten years ago.

By recruiting and empowering Taliban, Pakistan wanted to destabilize the region and world. Pakistan has been a fragile state without any identity, and unfortunately to earn its identity Pakistan has chosen a wrong path.

You may better know that still Pakistan does not have internationally recognized borders, particularly with India and Afghanistan, which has seriously harmed their identity as a state. So to have their identity Pakistan authorities has chosen ways of extremism and supporting terrorism and insurgency, the purpose of creating insurgency and feeding terrorism was to hide their destabilized regime and nuclear programs.

As a neighboring country we are pretty sad to see that Pakistan is destabilized, it is not in interest of Afghanistan and region. But I think that Pakistan was not a stable country at all. They have sold nuclear technology to North Korea and even Iran, how we can say that Pakistan was stable. Now, when some countries in the region like Afghanistan, central Asian countries and Kashmir is going towards stabilization people can see the real core of destabilization in the region.

I am sure that we all together can help Pakistan and Pakistanis for a stable country, a country without save heavens of al-Qaeda and terrorists, a country which won’t help nuclear expansion, a country with stability and pace. But Pakistan must admit the issues, as Afghans have done and as Afghans have asked the international troops intervention in Afghanistan for a secure Afghanistan and a secure world.

 
Shafiq  Hamdam

December 15, 2011

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Dear Rick,

Thanks for your comment, it is the assessment that I have heard from other people in the past as well. Let me first explain the difference between Taliban and Mujahidin. During the 80’s there were only Mujahidin, who fought against former USSR and defeated them. There is a difference between Taliban and Mujahidin, of course the US has supported Mujahidin in 80’s in war against soviet, but Taliban has risen against Mujahidin in 90’s.

I personally analyze this issue the other way; let me ask you few questions first. Who was providing shelters to the Afghan Mujahidin against soviet? Who was training and equipping Mujahidin? Who has created Taliban? Who has foundered, trained and equipped Taliban? Who has supported war against Taliban? Who has given asylum and sanctuaries to Taliban and Al-Qaida? Who is training, equipping and supporting Taliban and Al-Qaida against Afghans and NATO? I think the answer is very clear it’s the same country which was doing the same business during Afghan soviet war and now the country is doing the same thing against US and NATO in Afghanistan.

May be in some opinion this article justify the war, but I am not sure if by any mean we can compare a UN mandated mission of NATO with an unconventional Soviet war. There is a big difference in Afghan soviet war and NATO and Al-Qaida war, soviet were killing and fighting against civilian, but NATO is fighting against terror for protecting civilians.

 
Unregistered User

December 16, 2011

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Dear Shafiq,

You asked following questions:
"Who was providing shelters to the Afghan Mujahidin against soviet? Who was training and equipping Mujahidin? Who has created Taliban? Who has foundered, trained and equipped Taliban? Who has supported war against Taliban? Who has given asylum and sanctuaries to Taliban and Al-Qaida? Who is training, equipping and supporting Taliban and Al-Qaida against Afghans and NATO? I think the answer is very clear it’s the same country which was doing the same business during Afghan soviet war and now the country is doing the same thing against US and NATO in Afghanistan. "

The Answer to all of your questions is "Pakistan". It is true that Pakistan supported in the 80's and still supports extremist groups in Afghanistan. However, the United States allied itself with Pakistan and supported the same extremists in Afghanistan against Soviets. It is hypocrisy that United States in the 80's called extremists the freedom fighters but today the US calls them terrorists. It was criminal of the United States to align itself with the extremists in the 80's and letting future Afghani generations suffer just because the Soviet Union was a foe of the West.

You also say "...soviet were killing and fighting against civilian, but NATO is fighting against terror for protecting civilians." You just proved my point of how war media propaganda works to win over domestic support for war. The Soviets used your exact words "...terrorists were killing and fighting against civilian, but Soviet Union is fighting against terror for protecting civilians."

You are right about the need for tolerant government in Afghanistan and better future for its people. You are right about the Pakistani involvement in Afghanistan. However, you cannot solely blame Pakistan for creating extremists and bringing them to power in the 80's and 90's. The United States clearly showed in the 80's and 90's that they are not interested in the type of government in Afghanistan but rather whether that government is aligned with the United States.
Tags: | Afghanistan |
 
Patrick  Edwin Moran

December 17, 2011

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Your article makes me happy. I visited Kabul for a few days in early November of 1966 on the way home after studying for four years in Taiwan. I had no knowledge of Afghanistan at that time, including how cold it would be there in autumn. :-)
I wandered around in the streets, ate good food at the Khyber Restaurant, bought the heaviest coat I have ever owned, and let impressions soak in. It was the starkest city environment I have ever been in, but I liked the people. I saw both a toughness and an honesty in the ordinary people that I respect. The Soviet takeover and the forces unleashed to drive them out must have badly disrupted the cohesive forces that had held the community together. I was unable to square the Afghan people I remembered with the attack of 9/11, and I was hopeful after initial U.S. efforts were successful. But all too soon I saw the leaders of my country drop their responsibility to manage the power vacuum they had created. Flash forward several years and Afghanistan is returning to control of its own affairs.

When conditions are extremely turbulent, they demand extraordinary leadership for us to survive. Worldwide, inspired and competent leadership is greatly needed. Learning to be a leader is, I suspect, much like learning to ride horses well. A human instructor can tell you a few basic things and shout at you when you forget them, but most of the learning occurs between rider and horse. One must take charge of one's own learning and make the best use of feedback coming from the environment. Not all teaching, even well-intentioned, is accurate. How can communities and members of communities manage to produce good leadership for the future? Leadership is a valuable commodity, and, unfortunately, potential leaders become led off target by the lure of wealth and power.

Forgive me for saying this, but I think your question has things a bit backwards. The question should be whether the world has done enough, and well enough, to fulfill its responsibilities to the people of Afghanistan. Even so, the future of Afghanistan will be in the hands of people with genuine passion to keep it whole and safe. Those who wish to make a better future will need to prepare themselves in the most effective way they can to be able to work for the best interests of the people of Afghanistan. To achieve a successful transition, the international community should be doing everything it can to facilitate the development of a leadership that will be capable of guiding a democratic country, building a strong civil society, and that will be in support of broad political representation.
 
Shafiq  Hamdam

December 17, 2011

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Dear Rick,

Thank you for explanation, let me tell you my personal experience, I was born in big family with a historical background and tie to Ghurid Dynasty, my father was a senior military officer of communist regime, my uncle, the oldest brother of my father was a senior Mujahidin commander in eastern Afghanistan and my grand father was well respected elder in the eastern Afghanistan. During the three decades of war most of the family members have died or buried alive.

As a kid I still remember the soviet days, the dark days. They have attacked our freedom, our sovereignty and our peace, which we can never ever forget. I believe that they are the main cause of this bloodshed and war in Afghanistan and region. After their intervention the region has became destabilize witch still continues. Of course we can’t ignore the US support to Mujahidin and Pakistan for giving shelter to millions of Afghans, but Afghans were receiving the US aids indirectly through Pakistan and Pakistan was dealing direct with the US on behalf of the Afghan Mujahidin. I think the rule of Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries should not be ignored as well, it was not only US who was supporting the Mujahidin, that was Saudi Arabia, UEA, Egypt and many other Islamic countries. I don’t think if the US have had the influence of leading and creating Mujahidin, the US has not had function of training, educating, it was Pakistan and other Islamic nations which has injected the ideology of extremism to the Afghan Mujahidin.

I think that the US has committed a biggest mistake by ignoring Afghanistan after USSR collapse; there you can blame the US for ignoring Afghans and Afghanistan, which has resulted to the consequence we have been suffering now, not only as Afghans but every human in the globe. But for the rest I will resist that Pakistan and USSR are responsible and if you look at their presence and past and guess their future, it clearly shows, who is responsible for what.

 
Shafiq  Hamdam

December 17, 2011

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Dear Dr Patrick Edwin Moran,

Thank you very much for your nice comment, it is so nice to read comment of those who has been years before my birth in Afghanistan. I really enjoy to hear from the days, where we had peaceful Afghanistan. You have done an excellent analysis and I am fully agree with what you have said.

They way you have put the issue of leadership and responsibility of the international community is outstanding, you have realized the core of the problems and you touched the very important point of facilitating the development of a leadership. Some may think of this as an interfering, but I call this partnership.
 
Patrick  Edwin Moran

December 26, 2011

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Dear Shafiq Hamdam,

As a recently retired teacher I have been been reconsidering the structuring of relationships between students and teachers. I think it is better when somebody who wants to improve competency in some field can find somebody else who is willing to offer guidance and information. It does not work well the other way around, especially when the teacher stands as an authority figure. There must be proper motivation on the part of both people in the relationship for learning to be most effective. The problem for all nations, my own most definitely included, is that the people need leaders who are dedicated to the welfare of all citizens and who have developed the tools to enable them to be effective. The talented and well-intentioned individuals need to seek out the resources that will let them make themselves into effective leaders. The result, as you suggest, should be a partnership. Such a partnership cannot be the result of some person or organization coming from outside with the intention of dominating individuals or developments in society. The best result of a situation in which a well-intentioned but meddlesome individual offered his or her services would be for the potential leader to take control of structuring their relationship rather than letting the outsider interfere.

I have been trying to discover good models, good examples of young people who have found their nations in need and who have forged themselves into powerful instruments for good. So far I cannot offer any really clear world examples. Powerful leaders seem to emerge in times of need, but the processes that have produced them do not get clearly elucidated.

A Chinese-American author, Gus Lee, wrote a sort of autobiographical novel about a young boy who was being bullied and beaten up by other young people. He was clearly motivated to improve the social context in which he lived, and to protect himself, his family members, and his friends. He stumbled onto a YMCA where there were a couple of much older people who had experience in boxing and other defense techniques. He was motivated to learn, and they were motivated to teach. They were, I am sure, not only encouraging to him but also totally candid about his competency at each stage of his development. He persevered, he won through to a situation in which people could no longer take advantage of their strength to hurt others, and the contributions of his teachers were virtually invisible until he wrote out the story in the novel. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gus_Lee)

I think that the teachers can only offer their services. The partnership has to come out of a two-way interaction. Seeds lie dormant in the soil. How do we get them to sprout? Unfortunately it often happens, at least in my country, that the potentials of young people are undermined and they are therefore made to doubt that they can become good enough to make a real difference to big problems.

Pat
 
Vikas  Kumar

October 12, 2012

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Dear Shafiq,


I think the US intervention has only temporarily pushed the Taliban out. They continue to thrive in Pakistan and are waiting for the oportune moment to storm Afghanistan. Pakistan will never abandon them completely, which in turn means the Taliban will continue to have sovereign support. (Insofar as this is true most of the gains you mention are reversible.) And this is the biggest failing of the NATO campaign that has applied itself mostly to the symptoms of Taliban insurgency, without eliminating the ideological and logistic source of the problem.


Best,
Vikas
 

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