Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

from Tales from the Trail:

Karzai appeals to U.S. taxpayers

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karzai1Afghan President Hamid Karzai is taking a page from the playbook of American politicians campaigning for public office: talk to the taxpayers.

Karzai is on a campaign to give the boot to tens of thousands of foreign private security guards working in Afghanistan. He's already put the U.S. government on notice that the private security firms operating in his country will be disbanded within four months.

On Sunday, the Afghan leader took his case directly to the American people.

"I am appealing to the U.S. taxpayer not to allow their hard-earned money to be wasted on groups that are not only providing lots of inconveniences to the Afghan people but actually are, God knows, in contact with Mafia-like groups and perhaps also funding militants and insurgents and terrorists through those funds," Karzai said on in an ABC "This Week" interview.

Karzai said the relatively high pay that foreign security firms offer is keeping Afghans from joining the police and security forces.

The price of greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is heading to India, and one of the things Washington is looking at is how can regional players such as India do more in Afghanistan. “As we are doing more, of course we are looking at others to do more,” a U.S. official said, ahead of the trip referring to the troop surge.

But this is easier said than done, and in the case of India, a bit of a minefield. While America may expect more from India, Pakistan has had enough of its bitter rival’s already expanded role in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Indeed, Afghanistan is the new battleground on par with Kashmir, with many in Pakistan saying Indian involvement in Afghanistan was more than altruistic and aimed at destabilising Pakistan from the rear.  Many in India, on the other hand, point the finger at Pakistan for two deadly bomb attacks on its embassy in Kabul.

An effective Afghan police force: still wishful thinking

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U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated on Monday his belief that the Afghan police and army had to grow in order to pave the way for a United States and NATO military drawdown in Afghanistan.

Strengthening Afghanistan’s indigenous security forces has always been one of the main planks of the NATO-led ISAF military strategy. But the Afghan police have a lot of problems. The are often accused of endemic corruption, colluding with Taliban insurgents, being poorly trained and badly organised. In some areas, we have reported before, their criminal behaviour has actually turned the communities they are meant to serve toward the Taliban, unwittingly empowering the insurgency.

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