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What Went Wrong

By Geoffrey Cook

Abdullah Abdullah was the Foreign Minister of the new Afghanistan until recently and the last minister of Hamid Karzai‘s Cabinet from the Northern Alliance.

Ethnically, he is part Pashtun and part Tajik. By profession, he is a medical doctor. The confrontation between Afghanistan and Pakistan — supposed allies — across the Durand Line, said the minister in L.A. during a speech in March.

Mr. Abdullah stated that one of the largest issues for the Foreign Ministry is how to fairly and honorably resolve the border problems with Pakistan. It is an ongoing challenge, and this dilemma is far from fully solved. Yet Mr. Abdullah was quite upbeat in his assessment of the situation of his home nation, although things have certainly changed during the intervening time in Post-Taliban Kabul since his public comments in Southern California.

Dr. Abdullah stated he was grateful to Washington for freeing his country from, what he called, a dark period (the Taliban).

Quite succinctly, he reported that the Taliban has risen again. Al-Qaeda, the guests of the Taliban, had declared War on the United States in 1998. The Taliban government was furious, for they knew that the Afghani people would bear the brunt of the counterattack — which is exactly what eventually happened.

Morally and under the rule of International Law, a country has the right to defend itself–which Washington did (although there is some questions dangling over the facts that led to the attack in New York and Washington), but the enemy was Al-Qaeda, not Iraq or even the Afghan people. Now, the struggle in the Mountains has become a nationalistic endeavor.

No matter what you may think of the Taliban (and I certainly do not approve of their values or methodology), the resentment of the Afghan nation is growing against the foreign nation now perceived as an occupier.

Afghanistan has been invaded many times. Dr. Abdullah considered Al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan an invasion.

The United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been allied several times over the past century, but too often the alliances have ended with a sour taste. After all, “The whole country stood up [and defeated] the U.S.S.R,” but the U.S. deserted the Afghanistis to a five-way civil war instead of helping them to redevelop the terrain of our friends and allies. We owed a great deal of gratitude to those warriors of the 80s in the Hindu Kush. Also, we, then, turned our backs upon Islamabad. The current recent border clashes between Rawlpindi and Afghanistan show how shaky the coalition in the Hindu Kush is, and the recent reemergence of our Taliban enemies further emphasizes this.

“The Taliban began as a movement of students who stressed the rule of law,” a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law, though, but, unfortunately, Al-Qaeda were firmly embedded within Talibani Afghanistan. The American disengagement from the dry Mountains in fact led to 9/11.

Would be terrorists had come from all over the world to be indoctrinated in Afghanistan. Today Dr. Abdullah’s nation realizes it is rich in natural resources, and centrally located. This has complicated the politics of the Post-Taliban State.

The regime is demobilizing its armed forces into a reasonable army necessary for good governance. The emergence of their old opponents will probably reverse these plans.

In agriculture, poppy cultivation was being curtailed, but what will the farmers do to support themselves and their families? Here, the old Warlords have stepped into the fray to distribute the opium that is available.

Also, he declared that the new Constitution has finally equalized men and women, but said that although there has been “a lot of progress, a lot more has to be accomplished.” Unfortunately, where the Taliban now dominates, schools for girls have been closed again, and laws protecting the rights of women have been reversed. As far as this War on Terror, “I would prefer that the world take more notice at [the events unfolding in] Afghanistan” than in Iraq.”

“Democracy can only be successful when people demand it — not when it is forced down their throats. There has to be stability, and, in his part of the world, we cannot establish an administration that conflicts with traditional Islamic values. We would merely fail if we imitated the United States’ desires for us too closely. Again, unfortunately, there has been too much of an effort to please the United States [rather] than hold on to the traditional values” held by the tribes of Afghanistan although reform is required, too.

Dr. Abdullah ended his discourse with the statement, “ I hope Afghanistan will become a positive force on our globe!” With the new rise of reactionary forces in the peaks, this worthy goal may be hard to realize.


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