Friday, 29 August 2008

The Grip Of Terror

It is worth noting that the Taliban did not take power until seven years after the Russian withdrawal. By 1996, half of Kabul had already been destroyed by the mujahideen, who had been armed and supported by the USA. Tens of thousands were killed in fighting over the city.
Today Afghanistan is in the grip of terror. Human Rights Watch has described atrocities “committed by gunmen and warlords who were propelled into power by the United States and its coalition partners after the Taliban fell in 2001″ and who have “essentially hijacked the country”. The report describes army and police troops controlled by the warlords kidnapping villagers with impunity and holding them for ransom in unofficial prisons; the widespread rape of women, girls and boys; routine extortion, robbery and arbitrary murder.
The Human Rights Watch spells out a desperate situation for education in Afghanistan. “Schools are being shut down by bombs and threats, denying another generation of Afghan girls an education and the chance for a better life. Human Rights Watch found entire districts in Afghanistan where attacks had closed all schools and driven out the teachers and non-governmental organizations providing education. Insecurity, societal resistance in some quarters to equal access to education for girls, and a lack of resources mean that, despite advances in recent years, the majority of girls in the country remain out of school. Nearly one-third of districts have no girls’ schools. ”
Afghanistan is now the world’s largest producer of heroin, in 2004 it produced 90% of the world’s crop. No alternatives exist for farmers and the promised new roads and irrigation projects that would allow diversification have never materialised. The UN World Food Programme reports that: “over 50 percent of children are malnourished in Afghanistan, while one in three of people living in rural areas are unable to meet daily basic nutritional requirements.”

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