Today, November 13th 2006, is the fifth-year anniversary of Taliban’s fall from power in Afghanistan -or more exactly, their flight from Kabul.
No matter who says what, it was a liberation at the time. That much is true. A majority of Afghanistan’s people felt so at the time, and barring a few countries who had cozied up to the Taliban, much of the world community felt the same.
Looking over the cynical brinksmanship that surrounded Osama’s handover to the US (that fortunately collapsed) here was actually a textbook example of a just war, and an instance of the US taking serious its responsibilities as a, shall we say, global benevolent hegemon. It was the dawn of a new morning in Afghanistan.
What has happened since is not so upbeat. Looking at some of the major reports and studies that have come out of Afghanistan just over the past few days does not paint a terribly heartwarming picture of the situation five years on:
- Today the Joint Coordination and Monitory Board (JCMB) reported that the number of insurgent attacks has increased four-fold since last year, now numbering 600 a month. (read more)
- Also today head of UN Security Council’s fact-finding mission to Afghanistan expressed his concern over the increased violence and insurgent attacks and the rising opium cultivation/drug trade. (read more)
- On Friday Human Rights Watch warned about the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. (read more)
- Earlier in the month a report by the International Crisis Group described how the insurgency is a deep-rooted one and would need more time and committment to uproot. (read more)
- A short while before that, Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa authored a report for CorpWatch, entitled “Afghanistan Inc.”, a muckraking account of the corruption, wastefulness, and ineffectiveness of the reconstruction process. (read more)
Today we heard in the news that the US president has conferred with members of the Iraq Study Group to discuss a change of course in Iraq and to consider the recommendations of the “Baker Mission” to Iraq.
What all of the above reports and studies amount to is far more convincing in their range, reliability, research, and independence than any Baker Mission to Afghanistan. It is an Afghanistan Study Group, and its calls should be heeded now -before any embarassments, political pressures, and the deaths of many thousands more drive it home.
There is an old saying in central Afghanistan where I grew up: “Fortify the dam before it breaks.” The time to act in Afghanistan is now -before things spiral out of control like in Iraq, and before there is a need to announce a change of course, deploy bipartisan fact-finding missions, and acknowledge -much too late- that the country is in a civil war. With the memory of sectarian violence and civil war alive in the minds of even my generation in Afghanistan, and with things going as they are now, there is no reason why that should not happen in Afghanistan again.