America’s policy toward Afghanistan has changed recently because the world is disappointed with the results of the war in our country. A few days ago, President Obama announced that 10,000 troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of the year, and 23,000 additional troops will depart by the summer of 2012. Most remaining American troops will leave later, gradually giving total responsibility to the Afghan army and police. Other countries will no doubt follow U.S. policy and withdraw their troops as well.
President Hamid Karzai happily welcomed this news and is now calling the Taliban—the enemy of Afghanistan—his “brothers.”
I am afraid when international forces leave, President Karzai will make peace with his “brothers” and invite them to join the government. After hearing these announcements, I ask why Americans think this is the right time to leave Afghanistan.
If we look at the recent political history of Afghanistan, we see that it was only eleven years ago that the Taliban governed, and that Afghanistan was a country forgotten by the world. No country wanted to deal with the Taliban. They imprisoned women at home, hung people on the streets, and shut down the schools.
So when American and other international military forces arrived in Afghanistan to end the Taliban’s War of Terror, people welcomed them. For the first time, Afghans had a transitional government with the opportunity for elections. Afghans had a parliament and freedom of speech. They welcomed democracy; they were optimistic because they had the support of the world.
The reconstruction and rebuilding of Afghanistan started and at first things were good. But I am sorry and ashamed to write that our new government became corrupt and the money for rebuilding and construction of our country went into the pockets of the men we voted for. Our votes, our money, and the world’s support were stolen by this mafia and the warlords who worked in the top levels of the government.
These warlords killed people and destroyed our country, installing themselves as VIPs, ministers, parliament members, and government employees. Instead of helping the people of Afghanistan, these men—whom we Afghans call mafia—used the reconstruction money to help themselves. They built new buildings like Kabul Bank; they bought cities and constructed expensive houses in the country.
As a result of this corruption, the Taliban has grown stronger day by day, with terrorist nests everywhere. Every day there are explosions across the country—government ministries, police stations, internet clubs, stores, airports, embassies, and hotels. It is like a new show—one day in Kandahar and the next in Herat. A suicide attack in a Kabul market, another in a Nengarhar bank. Suicide bombers and gunmen attacking the Intercontinental in Kabul. Foreign soldiers and civilians are getting killed. There was an incident in a military hospital in Kabul—even the Ministry of Defense became a target—making it clear how weak the Afghan military really is. If the Afghan military can’t control its own security, how can it take over responsibility for the safety of the entire country when the foreign troops leave?
It is time for the Afghan government’s policies to change. In recent speeches in Kabul, President Karzai has stated how peace talks with the Taliban are already underway. The Taliban are not the type of people who understand peace and Afghans must not forget their true nature. Thinking the Taliban is interested in a peaceful settlement is like thinking an elephant is a fly. If the Taliban are the people to help achieve peace, then who are those fighting against the government? Who are the suicide attackers? Five years of the Taliban’s government proved who they are. Negotiating with them will only make the situation worse. It won’t solve Afghanistan’s problems.
We don’t want international military forces to leave Afghanistan. We don’t want them to abandon us when we are still wounded. The poor, ordinary people of Afghanistan, especially the women of Afghanistan, have been destroyed by war and don’t want the wild regime of the Taliban to regain power. We don’t want to close the doors on education and knowledge, we don’t want to be locked in our houses, and we don’t want to see our country become a house of terror again. We are tired of terror, war and blood. We are tired of corruption in every aspect of our lives. We want to live in peace like other people of the world. We still remember America’s promises and hope Americans will abide by them.
The key to ending war and bringing peace to Afghanistan lies with America and other international forces. We have expectations. We call upon the world to help us close the door on terror in our country. We are still hopeful that other countries will hear us and that one day they will help us end violence, corruption, and war. Otherwise, we walk again toward fear and risk.
AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq