Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Afghanistan: Five years after the intervention

At a public meeting hosted by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on October 25th, Pamela Constable and Alex Thier spoke about the worsening situation in Afghanistan. The meeting was the second in a four-part series hosted by USIP on the state of the nation five years after U.S. intervention.

According to Constable, a deputy foreign editor at The Washington Post who has spent much of the past seven months in the country, the insurgency has escalated dramatically of late. The Taliban and others have exploited the void created by a weak and corrupt central government and the military transition from US to NATO-led forces, and have established a strong presence in the south and east, where they are bolstered by ruthless Pakistan-based forces. The insurgents have also gained a foothold in the burgeoning opium trade, where profits account for roughly half of the Afghan GDP. The growing shadow of the insurgency has also had an adverse affect on the press, with journalists growing increasingly wary of traveling to the southern and eastern provinces in light of the recent kidnapping and murder of foreign reporters. Schools have also been impacted, with some having to shut down as the tumult continues.

Constable and Their linked the ascendance of the insurgency with government corruption, as the ability of warlords to rise to power as elected officials has undermined the state’s prospects for legitimacy. This reemergence of “warlordism” has exacerbated the already pervasive lack of trust amongst Afghans toward the government. This mistrust, forged by decades of national turmoil under a weak central state, is a crucial obstacle to establishing a legitimate and stable government. There are signs of hope in the country, though. The recently appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Attorney General have both emphasized the need to eradicate corruption. Additionally, the new Afghan parliament and army have the potential for fostering a stronger sense of national identity. Constable and Thier are hopeful that these changes can help to build faith in the government and contribute towards creating a culture in the nation that allows institutions to prosper.


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