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Afghanistan": Freedom restored? Hah.

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Robert Harris, Dec 19, 2002.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Passed Away Aug. 19, 2006

    When we liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban there was much rejoicing in the media about all sorts of wonderful things that were to happen, Women's rights would be restored -- to study, to work, to dress as they pleased, etc. Freedom of expression and arts activities were to be restored -- people were to be allowed to perform and listen to music, watch television, etc. In short, iindividual freedoms were to be restored. And a democratic government was to be developed.

    It seems that things haven't quite worked out that way. We all know that the central government does not control most of the country, that most regions are controlled by local warlords -- a polite name for brutal thugs with their own armies, etc. They not only resist the authority of the central government but they have started fighting with each other.

    But what about the other things, women's rights and individual fredoms? Things do not seem to too rosy there, either, and these things are just beginning to get media notice. A couple of items reported in the last couple of days.

    On womeen's rights--

    WOMEN IN WESTERN AFGHANISTAN SUFFERING. Human Rights Watch (HRW) on 17 December released a report entitled "'We Want to Live as Humans': Repression of Women and Girls in Western Afghanistan" (http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/afghnwmn1202). The HRW report is especially critical of Herat Province Governor Ismail Khan and Reuters quoted report co-author Zama Coursen-Neff as saying: "Ismail Khan has created an atmosphere in which government officials and private individuals believe they have the right to police every aspect of women's and girls' lives: how they dress, how they get around town, what they say." The report describes forced gynecological examinations as chastity checks, as well as bans on walking or riding in automobiles alone with a man or men to whom a woman is not closely related. Women are not allowed to drive cars; nor may they ride bicycles. The report describes other restrictions that curtail women's ability to attend school or to work. HRW also criticized Ismail Khan in a November 2002 report entitled "All Our Hopes Are Crushed: Violence and Repression in Western Afghanistan" (http://hrw.org/reports/2002/afghan3). BS

    From: RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 6, No. 236, Part III, 18 December 2002

    Then we have this on cultural freedom --

    Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 11:52 GMT

    Afghans ban 'obscene' TV

    Afghanistan's Supreme Court has banned cable television stations in the eastern city of Jalalabad because they have been showing films it considers un-Islamic.

    The court ruled that cable operators were showing "obscene" Western and Indian films and said they were totally against Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of jihad (holy war).

    More at:

  2. jfcjrus

    jfcjrus Veteran Member

    You seem to be very knowledgeable and familiar with the culture in these lands.
    Perhaps my request simply illustrates my ignorance.

    But, could you shed any light on why this is a 'country', at all?
    If 'local WARLORDS' are in control, and evidently have been for generations, exactly WHO is trying to establish a central government?
    And why? How?

    I mean, if you can't stop the 'local WARLORDS' from doing whatever the hell they want, for generations, what's the point?
    Do the 'people' want a central government?
    We (USA) got rid of the Taliban, with the local fighters, to protect our interests. Now, we're trying to help them stabilize the 'central' government.

    But, we have the same old 'local WARLORD' pissing contests?

    Are the people, in this 'country' serious?
    Do they want our help?
    If not, what's the point?

    Again, please pardon my ignorance.
    I've tried to understand the situation.
    But, I don't see how we can help them unless the peoples tell these 'warlords' to take a hike.

  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Passed Away Aug. 19, 2006

    I'll give what I know of history, much of which mah be wrong. :)

    I do not know when it was created as a country, or how, but it did function as a country for quite a while. Had a king and a central government, but various tribes pretty much ruled their areas on a day-to-day basis. King was ousted at some point, another form of governmeent operated for a while. Then the Russians effectively backed a coup by the military and still another government was formed, with a marxist slant. Ultimately Russia got impatient and was unhappy with the government and invaded, to put its own puppet in power. Tribes revolted and Russia was bogged down in a guerilla war for ten years -- and had an experience much like our experience in Vietnam. The US government backed the tribes and armed them and the Russians could not defeat them. Russia eventually pulled out and the tribes then started fighting among themselves for dominence. Finally Taliban took control of central government and imposed its rule. The tribes now, largely thanks to the US support in their battle with Russia, are better armed than ever before and are not prepared to let a new central government diminish their powers. It's a mess.

    BBC had put together a brief history that is probably more accurate in details than mine, it can be found at:.


    More detail of older history can be found at:

  4. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    Thanks for the terrific links, Robert.
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Passed Away Aug. 19, 2006

    Here's one warlord who is not planning to fade away. :)

    AFGHAN COMMANDER REFUSES TO HAND OVER HIS WEAPONS. Pacha Khan Zadran, an Afghan warlord who opposes President Hamid Karzai's government, has said he is not prepared under the current circumstances to hand his weapons over to the central government, Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported on 18 December. "Disarmament was a pretext, [but] in actual fact everything was directed against Pashtuns," Zadran said. "I do not recognize the present government [so why would] I turn my weapons over to them?" The central government announced on 12 December that it is expanding its arms-collection program with the aid of international coalition forces to provinces in southeastern Afghanistan, where Zadran is one of the most powerful warlords (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 December 2002). Zadran was an ally of Karzai and the United States, as well as a signatory to the 2001 Bonn agreement, but later took up armed opposition against the central government. His forces are based in Paktiya Province. AT

    From: RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 6, No. 237, Part III, 19 December 2002
  6. jfcjrus

    jfcjrus Veteran Member

    Thank you, sir.
    That was the most straight forward, concise, no bullshit, summary of the history that I've read. Even I could follow it.

    Sounds to me like the peoples of this region have a choice to make. Support a new, hopefully just, 'central' government, or continue with the local warlord way of life.

    I just don't know how this country will ever progress without their participation. No matter what WE do. We can piss around until we're blue in the face.

    Do you know; are the peoples ready to step up to the plate?
    Or, do they consider this the same old shit that they've lived thru for the last several decades?

    Thanks again.
  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Passed Away Aug. 19, 2006

    I don't know how the people can act to do anything. They are not armed and the tribal warlords are, and in the past these thugs have shown that they are quite willing to kill anyone who gets in their way. I suspect that the only way to rein them in would be to develop a strong central government army -- which does not exist yet -- and disarm all of the locals. I think we (the US and allies) were planning to train a central army, but I do not know how that is going.

    As I recall, Taliban came to power with lots of support from the people because it was taking on the warlords and promised to bring peace and order, which it did for a while. Then it became an oppressive regime.

    I don't know what will work, I'm afraid..
  8. jfcjrus

    jfcjrus Veteran Member

    Thank you for your insight into this history.

    Sounds like we have to help convince the peoples that the NEW 'central government' will be better than the last.
    And be convincing enough that they'd bet their lives on it.
    Quite a quest.
    I would hope we might support them better than we did the Kurds.

    Thanks again.
  9. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    The warlords also tend to be the heads (or senior members) of different tribal groups... so tribal relations/loyalty also comes into play, important both culturally and economically.

    Let's face it folks... it <b>is</b> a whole other world over there. Its unlikely the common Afghani "peasant" really understands the concept of democracy. I know during the Afghan elections, it had to be repeatedly explained to voters in outlying areas that they didn't have to vote for the candiate who was a member of their tribe... but in the vast majority of cases, they did anyways.

    As for how the Afgahns look at the US... I saw a BBC video some time back; An old man was talking about the US and what they were doing in Afghanistan... (this is paraphrased from memory)

    "The Russians came to help us... now they're gone. The Americans came to help us fight the Russians... then they left. The Taliban came to save us from the warlords... now they're gone. The Americans come again to get rid of the Taliban... soon they'll leave again."

    Sounds like they don't really expect anyone to stay around and actually help them... and up to this point, history bears them out.

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