Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Where does Taliban reconciliation leave victims of war?

May 21, 2010
An Afghan boy in Afghanistan's southeaster Paktika province, November 2009. REUTERS/Bruno Domingos

An Afghan boy in Afghanistan's southeastern Paktika province, November 2009. REUTERS/Bruno Domingos

The United States has signalled that it will gradually start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, after almost a decade fighting in the country, from July 2011. And so, perhaps driven by a sense of fear over what the absence of tens of thousands of foreign troops will mean for an already fragile security situation, the Afghan government is pursuing a policy of engaging the Taliban and other insurgent factions such as Hezb-i-Islami. It is a policy widely backed by officials and many members of parliament. It is a political means of seeking an end to the conflict, perhaps because the idea that Afghan security forces will be capable of doing the job of 100,000 foreign troops, is still unfathomable to many. But to many other Afghans it also represents a compromise which could see the country paring back the political developments it has achieved since 2001.

Tens of thousands of Afghans were killed in the bloody civil war which was triggered by the collapse of Kabul’s Soviet-backed government — most of them at the hands of warlords and powerful militia leaders who were competing for power. Some of these men are now officials. Some of them are Members of Parliament. Some of them are still fighting.

The Taliban’s reign, which followed the civil war, also victimised thousands of people.

For years these Afghans have lived with memories of being beaten, brutalised, raped or having witnessed the murder of family members, but they have received next to nothing in reparations, not even a simple apology. To them, the thought of their government — after nine years of clumsy nation building and billions of dollars spent on their country by the U.S. — welcoming the Taliban and other insurgent leaders to a Peace Jirga in Kabul next week leaves them feeling angry and hopeless.

I met with a group of victims in Kabul recently. They were gathered in a sparkly hotel ballroom. I hadn’t heard so many shocking stories of brutality in one place before. An audience of war-scarred Afghans heard from women who saw their children being shot dead and fathers whose sons had been kidnapped, imprisoned and executed. A man whose brother was lashed to death with an electrical cable. Teenagers who as toddlers had lost entire families to rockets and mortars and now walked Kabul’s streets, homeless and desperate.

While they were unified in their hatred for the Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami (a delegation of which was invited for closed-door talks with Afghan officials last month) they were also fed up and tired of the fighting and poverty. Some of them said if it meant that peace would at last come to Afghanistan — and it would once and for all start a process of rehabilitation which does not involve thousands of foreign fighters fighting Afghans — perhaps talking with these men was worth a shot. But their greatest concern, and what both President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President Barack Obama have been silent over, is whether the people responsible for their pain will be brought to justice. Will there be a war crimes tribunal for Afghanistan? Or will the Afghan government’s fear that the country will regress back to a civil war, once they lose the sagging safety net of NATO forces, force it to compromise and bring the perpetrators of war crimes not only back into the fold of society but into the government?

Comments

This article is absolutely false and sheer American propaganda. It is a world wide known American strategy to criticise their enemy while they, the Americans, know fullright that they have lost the Afghanistan war, they have brought upon their own shoulders another VIETNAM for themselves. Will they ever learn to keep their fingers out of other people’s pies. It is not an Islam article for but one of the laws Islam people live by is NEVER CRITIQUE another is NEVER ENVY. Those people who really know ALLAH lives by His laws, and they have peace in their hearts.

Posted by elanda | Report as abusive
 

Let us start by bringing George w,Ddick cheney and D rumsfeld on war crimes trial, and then follow it up by bringing the current USA administration role to the Hague. What business is of the USA to be in Afghanistan in the first place. You have no grounds to criticise the Afghan Govt., the current one and the former ones. Affluency does not automatically bring morals to the society. Look at the USA, how many crimes are commited daily in the land of plenty and incidentaly how much credit the country owes to the chinese and the saudis? Right now they are just printing green paper and financing the military adventure simply to master once again the Iranian oil!! Be fair and look at things as they are and not as you would like to see. Perhaps you should be writing about Iceland and not Afghanistan, the grave yard of foreign invaders.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive
 

I say let go and let God. The faces of the innocent children will always tell the honest truth. We work together or fail. When one thinks that they need more than others it causes disparagement for others.

 

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