Written by Mohammad Reza Gulkohi
Saturday, 10 September 2011 11:46
Ten years ago hijackers flew two planes into the World Trade Centre in New York. That single event changed the history of Afghanistan.
The country became a battleground for then US president, George W. Bush’s “war on terror”.
Mir Ahmad Seerat, lecturer in Kabul University, believes “9/11 actually made world leaders sit up and take notice of Afghanistan which had been forgotten for many years.”
The US sent troops to fight the Taleban regime in Kabul. By the end of the year Taleban leaders had fled to hideouts along the porous border with Pakistan. However, the war was to never end.
The US and its NATO allies are still battling the Taleban.
There is a palpable lack of trust between foreign forces and the Afghan government.
Take the issue of development.
Afghan observers think western governments have not kept the promises they made on peace and development in Afghanistan.
Difference of opinions
Ahmad Zia Seeamak Herravi, deputy to the president’s spokesman, acknowledges that there are many problems with state organisations and their achievements. But he blames the international community. “If the global community had spent its aid correctly in Afghanistan, our country would have no such problems now,” he says. He argues that only 20 percent of aid that was promised to Afghanistan was delivered and spent in the country. “The Afghan government,” he says, “is willing to ensure accountability and transparency in every aid dollar spent. But there is no transparency in how the global community has spent billions of dollars here.”
In his opinion the Afghan government should be given the money to spend since it knows what its people want. The international community has pointed to rampant corruption in the government – a charge that was once again validated in a report of the Crisis International Group a month ago.
The 10th anniversary of 9/11 has become an occasion for people to air their frustration.
Abdul Qadir, a resident of Ghazni, says, “The security situation has only worsened during the 10 years of war. Earlier we could travel everywhere, now we are afraid of being ambushed or attacked and killed by armed insurgents.”
Indeed things have become worse. A UNAMA report shows a 30 percent increase in civilian casualties – 1,271 Afghan civilians were killed and 1,997 Afghan civilians injured in first half of 2011.
There have been efforts to talk peace with the Taleban. The Peace High Commission has not made any significant progress in persuading the armed insurgents to sit down to talks.
Burhanudin Rabani, chairman of the Peace High Commission believes Afghanistan is at a cross-road. To ensure peace and security has become a national and religious necessity and mission. Speaking at an Afghan youth summit, Sep. 6, he said: “Those who kill innocent people and lure children to commit suicide attacks on the basis of religion, their way is absolutely wrong. This is a plot to defame religious scholars.”
On the positive side
The nearly decade long presence of foreign troops has meant the Afghan police and army have had a chance to become professional forces.
General Zaher Azimi, spokesman in the Ministry of Defence, counts this as one of the most positive outcomes of the post-Taleban years. The military has become of international standards, he says.
A professional, well armed Afghan military definitely serves the long-term interests of the US and NATO forces who are looking at withdrawing from Afghanistan by end-2014. The war with the Taleban will become an Afghan war. Recent statements make it seem that it has always been so. In an interview with Killid in August, ISAF spokesman, Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, said: “The people of Afghanistan will win the war against insurgents and we will support them in winning it.”
He was very clear. “… as ISAF we are optimistic that (by end-2014) we would have built up the capability of the Afghan national security forces to deal with problems …”
According to him, the international community has committed to support Afghanistan “(create) a better future”.
That is a far from a settled debate in Afghanistan.
Wahid Mojdah, a political expert, points to the slow pace of development after 9/11. “US military operation, along with its allies in Afghanistan, has brought more conflicts and deadlocks since 2001. (This was) contrary to our expectations over the past 10 years. (It is) making Afghans frustrated.”
Has the killing of Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind 9/11, made the world a safer place?
Political analyst, Hessamuddin Waezada, believes it is too early to say anything even though it is what US President Barack Obama said in a short speech confirming the death of bin Laden. What cannot be denied is that his death is a set-back to al Qaeda and its supporters.
Would Afghanistan at least be safer? There is little reason for optimism as we look back at all that has happened in the last 10 years.