Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Carry On Up The Khyber

My Sunday perusal of Google News brought me to this story

"I want the Taliban to start dancing to my tune. And as the reconstruction development kicks in on the back of these well-conceived and necessary military operations, I think that's going to really frighten them." - British commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan Lieutenant -General David Richards

And then to this one

"Mountain Fury will continue until the conditions of bringing security, construction and growth are met," Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, the top U.S. operational commander, said in the statement. "The Afghan people are tired of war. They want what their government is capable of providing: security, employment, education and a better way of life"

Very upbeat , indeed , about bringing aid and welfare to the Afghans .

Yet from the international think-tank Senlis Council report on Afghanistan , i came across these quotes :-

“When you first came here we were so glad to see you. Now we have lived with you in our country for five years and we see you tell a lot of lies and make a lot of false promises,” says a former Mujaheedin commander from Kandahar "... The foreigners came here and said they would help the poor people and improve the economic situation, and they only spend money on their military operations. The poor people are poorer now than when the Taliban were the government. We don’t trust them anymore. We would be fools to continue to believe their lies.”

" The US-led nation-building efforts have failed because of ineffective and inflammatory military and counter narcotics policies. At the same time there has been a dramatic under-funding of aid and development programs...Afghanistan is still one of the poorest countries in the world and there is a hunger crisis in the fragile Southern part of the country,” said Reinert. “Remarkably this vital fact seems to have been overlooked in funding and prioritisation of the foreign policy, military, counter narcotics and reconstruction plans. "

From The Hindu

The U.S. and its allies have spent ten times as much on their military efforts in Afghanistan as on aid and development - 82.5 billion USD has been spent on military operations in Afghanistan since 2002 compared to just 7.3 billion USD on development.

"... Afghanistan remains one of the poorest societies on earth. More than seven million people are chronically hungry, according to the U.N., and 53 per cent live on less than a dollar a day. One in four children do not survive beyond the age of five. The life expectancy of 45 is 20 years lower than in neighbouring countries. In some provinces, the maternal mortality rates are the worst ever recorded, anywhere.
Seventy per cent of the population suffers severe malnutrition. Less than a quarter has access to safe drinking water, only 12 per cent to adequate sanitation and 10 per cent to electricity. According to Christian Aid, millions face starvation in the coming months — the result of drought, war, corruption and profoundly mistaken Western priorities. "

One doctor for every 7,066 Afghans
One foreign soldier per 742 Afghans

“We have a saying about you now: Your blood is blood, our blood is just water to you” the Report notes a former Mujaheedin commander from Kandahar as saying.

A more insightful article than the usual found in our national papers about the Afghan War is by Eric Margolis in his article at Gulf Times

"...Dominating the main oil export route from Central Asia was a primary objective of the US invasion of Afghanistan. Ironically, instead of an anticipated oil bonanza, the US now finds itself mired deep in the Afghan drug trade..."

Now , what was that Rabbie Burns once said about the best laid schemes o' mice an' men.... ???

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