|Kabul: 17:42 PM      |
Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
Pessimism about security clouds reception of CLJ (CNN, Reuters, AWSJ, Eqtedare Melli, Chicago Trib)
CNN INTERNATIONAL--SHOW: Q&A December 22, 2003 11:30 AM EST Afghanistan on the Brink DALJIT DHALIWAL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): The warning from the United Nation secretary-general that Afghanistan is on the verge of being lost just as delegates to the loya jirga plan the country's future. KOFI ANNAN, SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: We need to deal with the security issue, and if we do not deal with that, we may lose Afghanistan SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We had more law enforcement personal on duty in Salt Lake City for the 2002 Olympics than we have soldiers in all of Afghanistan today. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation has dramatically improved (ph). DHALIWAL: But despite that, there have been more attacks and promises of more to come. On this edition of Q&A, is Afghanistan on the verge of being lost? (END VIDEOTAPE) DHALIWAL: Welcome to Q&A. In Afghanistan, a landmark debate as some 500 delegates are reported to be reaching agreement on a constitution. But the event has been overshadowed by warnings. Just days ago, the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Afghanistan is on the verge of being lost unless more troops move in. Then on Friday, an audiotape that the CIA says is mostly likely of Al Qaeda's second in command declared that forces are on the run in Afghanistan. And four rockets exploded in the capital overnight. So to what extent is Afghanistan still at risk? And is Kofi Annan right? Well, joining us from Washington is Hosain Hoqqani, he is the visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment. And joining us from Las Vegas is Jeff Beatty, President of Total Security, U.S. He is the only person in U.S. history to serve in the CIA, the FBI and in Delta Force. Gentlemen, many thanks for joining us. Hosain, let me start with you, first of all. Well, the alarm bells just keep -- seem to be getting louder. But let me hear your thoughts on what you think the risks are. HOSAIN HAQQANI, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: Well, most importantly, you must understand that Afghanistan is far from fully secure, the Taliban just melted away when the Northern Alliance took Kabul and, of course, they are still very much a force around Afghanistan. They may not have power or control of any part of the territory, but they are capable of hit-and-run attacks, and they are managing those, and are increasing in philosophy (ph) in terms of those attacks. DHALIWAL: Do you agree with Kofi Annan's assessment? HOQQANI: I think that Kofi Annan is really ringing the alarm bell because he realizes that we have fewer peacekeepers, international peacekeepers in Afghanistan than we did in Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedonia. And that we are allocating much less resources to Afghanistan that were -- than were allocated to other similar places. DHALIWAL: All right, Jeff, your thoughts, how much trouble, do you think, that U.S. forces are in in Afghanistan? JEFF BEATTY, TOTAL SECURITY U.S.: Well, I don't think that U.S. forces are in trouble. U.S. forces have not had much difficulty in successfully defending themselves. We are almost in every engagement coming out on the winning end. So let's not really worry about the U.S. forces being in danger. I think, certainly, the secretary-general's comments are within the realm of being accurate. And -- but he is in charge of a large international organization, and I think we have to look to that large international organization to muster the forces necessary to augment those few forces already on the ground, largely American. If in fact, everyone recognizes that this is a threat, that the Taliban recognizes -- or -- in fact, a threat to the world. DHALIWAL: Well, from what you've seen in the past few months, talk of the resurgent Taliban and increase in attacks on aid workers, on civilians and so forth. What do you make of the security situation? BEATTY: I think, it's in flux. I think it's very much in play. I don't think that there is any danger in the Taliban taking over the capital. So, what you have, is you have a base, the base has to be expanded. It's a big country geographically. The Taliban enjoys from time to time support of local villages and other people who will conceal their movements. So what we have to do is we have to get a more serious, international effort. I don't know how the United States can be any more serious, but I believe we need more effort from our international allies who agree that the Taliban and al Qaeda pose a threat. DHALIWAL: We have something like 11,000 troops that are already -- Hosain, do you think it's just going to come down to the question of peacekeepers securing and making the country at large safer, and from that everything else will just fall into place? HOQQANI: Well, I think that and more reconstruction aid. We must realize that narcotics production is up in Afghanistan. It went up to 340,000 tons of opium, and many more provinces that the traditional opium growing areas are now growing opium, because people do not have any other employment. The consequence of that is that narcotics money can fund terrorism, and terrorists can naturally use narcotics of a way of wielding influence in remote areas. So it's not just a matter of having peacekeepers, but also of putting in more reconstruction systems and actually pushing back narcotics trading, and the increase of security risks that exist in Afghanistan, and also to build essential government that controls all of Afghanistan, not just the capital, Kabul. DHALIWAL: Do you agree, though, Hosain, that with these statements that Afghanistan could be on the verge of collapse, is that taking it way too far or is that not far off? HOQQANI: I think when somebody rings the alarm bells, they sometimes have to sound a little loud, and that is what is happening in this case. I don't think Afghanistan is on the verge of collapse. I don't think that the Taliban are about to take over Afghanistan again. They are only capable of hit-and-run missions. But if Afghanistan continues to be neglected, the security situation could worsen, and of course so far it has affected only civilian aid workers and isolated foreigners in the country, but it could then come to a point where the Taliban become more emboldened and start attacking troops in and around Kabul. DHALIWAL: Right. Jeff, do you have an idea of how many attacks a month that U.S. troops are facing in Afghanistan? BEATTY: I don't have the current numbers of the attacks, but I think that the U.S. troops -- the attacks on U.S. troops are not significant. I think that Hosain has taken us on the right track here when he's talking about things other than the pure military head-to- head conflicts that are, as he says, hit-and-run missions. You know, the secret to success in Afghanistan is not just winning each small military encounter. The secret to success in Afghanistan is that the people of Afghanistan have to want to move in the direction of a new government and away from the Taliban, and you do that in a variety of ways. You have to take away the money, the sources of money that the Taliban has, and as Hosain mentioned, certainly narcotics are a large source. You also have to do more hearts and minds things that involve infrastructure, education. I know that's difficult, but these have to proceed in concert. We can't be a one-trick pony, and you know, just do things militarily. They have to proceed in concert, people have to understand that the way to the future is the way being shown to them. They have to reject the past. They have to be willing to provide intelligence to the international community, who is there to assist them. And so we need a broad-based program, and I think we also need a lot more participation from other countries in Afghanistan. DHALIWAL: OK, well, Hosain, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) have the upper hand right now. We were seeing all the developments in the loya jirga. How do you think that is going, that side of the story? HOQQANI: I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) come up in the constitution, that essentially be presidential in nature. That would reflect on Afghanistan inter-tribal relations. The Pashtuns, who come from the east and the southeast of Afghanistan, they will be very happy. The northerners will be less happy, because they would have preferred a parliamentary form of government. President Karzai is a Pashtun, and the Pashtuns have rallied behind him. The Taliban are also Pashtun, so in that sense it will be good to contain them, but I think that President Karzai will have to reach out to the northern tribes and make sure that they don't feel that they are losers, so that the cycle of violence in Afghanistan is not started all over again. DHALIWAL: OK, and the warlords, what's the situation with them? I mean, doesn't seem that anybody's really clipped their wings at all? HOQQANI: Well, their wings would have to be clipped by the increase in authority of the central government, and that can only come about with more law enforcement personnel on ground, and an extension of the international peacekeeping effort beyond Kabul. And I agree with Jeff, there have to be more people brought in, probably more troops from NATO countries and countries outside of the United States. The U.S. already has 10,000, 11,000 troops. How much more can it commit when it already has 150,000 troops in Iraq? But there would have to be a greater international peacekeeping effort in Afghanistan, and the restoration of normalcy to that country. DHALIWAL: Jeff, your (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in terms of the risks that the warlords pose, for want of a better description. BEATTY: I think they pose a risk, not again, because of what they can do militarily, but because of what they can do in helping to make money available to the Taliban. Again, through their helping with the drug trafficking. I think that's the real risk. And I think that you can only put so many things on your plate at one time. It would be nice to be able to put more effort into that, and I know that more effort has began to go into that. However, you have this base in Kabul, now you have to expand outside the base. The new constitution will help do that. I'm glad that Hosain mentioned building a strong law enforcement capability, a domestic security capability, an internal security capability. That is a priority, and I -- I think that as you see that move forward, you are going to see less and less effective acts possible by Taliban, and in -- the warlords maybe among the harder nuts to crack, but they will be taken care of in time. DHALIWAL: All right, Jeff Beatty, and Hosain Hoqqani, many thanks for joining us on Q&A. HOQQANI: Thank you. DHALIWAL: And that's it for this edition of Q&A. Just before we go, here is what one of our viewers wrote to us. Ayesha from Britain says: "The problem in Afghanistan is that the country is in the grasp of a power struggle between the interim government, the military, the Taliban and the regional warlords. Why are we still none the wiser regarding the cause and the effect of war?"
Khalilzad: Pakistan a "Sanctuary" for Rebels Reuters 12/24/2003 KABUL - Guerrillas from Afghanistan's ousted Taliban militia and the al Qaeda network it once sheltered are using Pakistan as a sanctuary, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan said Wednesday. Speaking at a police graduation ceremony, Zalmay Khalilzad also said senior al Qaeda members including Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar must be brought to justice. "The remnants of extremist Taliban, al Qaeda and Hekmatyar want to take Afghanistan to the bad old days," Khalilzad said. "They use Pakistan as sanctuary." The Taliban and Hekmatyar have declared a "jihad," or holy war, against U.S. forces in Afghanistan and U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai. The fate of bin Laden and al-Zawahri remains unknown, but they are widely believed to be hiding along the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border. Afghan officials, including Karzai, have long complained Pakistan is not doing enough to clamp down on militants using its territory to launch deadly raids into Afghanistan. U.S. officials are usually less forthright, recognizing the importance of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's support for the U.S.-led war on terror. Pakistan has arrested hundreds of suspected guerrillas, including senior figures, and handed many over to U.S. custody, but senior officials say some militants could be hiding out along its remote Afghan frontier. "ENEMIES LOSING" Despite a 12,000-strong U.S.-led force in Afghanistan and 5,700 international peacekeepers in Kabul, more than 400 people have been killed since early August in a wave of violence linked to Islamic militants. Khalilzad said Afghanistan's national army would increase at 10,000 recruits a year, and the United States had committed to help train 20,000 Afghan policemen "by the end of next summer." Along with Germany, the United States has developed a plan to expand the fledgling police force, which, like the national army, is being built virtually from scratch after the ouster of the hard-line Islamic Taliban regime more than two years ago. Training centers for police officers were being set up in cities around the country, Khalilzad said. But he warned that the central government did not control many heavy weapons still held by factions across the country, where Karzai's control is often weak. Khalilzad reiterated U.S. military policy to put more effort into reconstruction in the unruly south and east of the country, where Taliban and allied militants have been most active. He said the "enemies of Afghanistan" were losing, pointing to the recent deployment of a new civilian-military team to the southern city of Kandahar, the opening of a highway linking Kandahar to the capital and the opening of a constitutional Loya Jirga, or Grand Assembly in Kabul. "Osama bin Laden, Zawahri, Mullah Omar and Hekmatyar and the other criminals who plot to kill Afghans and Americans here and around the world, including the United States, must be brought to justice, and inshallah (God willing) they will."
23 Dec 2003 THE ASIAN WALL STREET JOURNAL Afghanistan's Warlords Call The Shots By John Sifton (Editor's Note: Mr. Sifton is the researcher on Afghanistan at Human Rights Watch.) KABUL -- This past week, delegates to Afghanistan's constitutional loya jirga, or "grand council," have been meeting to approve a new constitution for their country, still wracked by violence and disunity two years after the fall of the Taliban. The international community is hopeful that a new charter for the country will pave the way for further democratization and stability. Yet pessimism may still be in order. The elections for delegates to the meeting earlier this fall were marred by vote buying, death threats and general intimidation. Many candidates told me in early December that the environment of fear kept them from even standing for election. Warlord proxies ran in large numbers. In some provinces, local warlords themselves were elected, despite rules preventing them from running. While some independent-minded people were elected, for the most part the process was dominated by the warlords and their allies. Even in Kabul there were problems, despite the presence of international peacekeepers, United Nations officials, and hundreds of journalists to help protect and monitor the elections. The Kabul regional elections resulted in the election of a feared mujahidin leader, Abdul Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, whose Ittihad-e Islami faction was involved in some of the worst fighting in Kabul 10 years ago when much of the city was destroyed. Municipal elections, held under a tent at the Gazi soccer stadium -- where the Taliban used to execute people -- were also flawed. Though the election site was guarded by Canadian and British peacekeeping troops and monitored by the U.N., many candidates complained about voter intimidation right at the site and a massive campaign to buy votes at $200 to $500 per person. U.N. officials even witnessed two workers from Kabul's dominant military-political faction, Shura-e Nazar, sitting at a table near the ballot box checking votes. As some voters approached the ballot box, they opened their voting card to show the two men, who then checked the voter's name on their list. The U.N. confiscated the list and banished the two men, but the votes were counted. There was also a scary collection of tufangdaran -- "gunmen" in Dari - - walking about at the Kabul election site. I saw Arif Noori, the head of the fear-inspiring Afghan intelligence agency, the Amniat-e Melli, the Kabul city intelligence deputy chief, and a deputy minister of defense. Then there was Zalmay Tofan, a senior commander under Sayyaf who has been implicated in war crimes committed in the early 1990s. The mere presence of men like this creates an atmosphere of fear, since many Afghans know these men have been involved in abuses in the past. Although some courageous people stood up to the gunmen, blocks of votes for delegates to the loya jirga went to regional kingpins like Sayyaf, the western stongman Ismail Khan and the northern warlord General Rashid Dostum. The former president of Afghanistan and factional leader Burhanuddin Rabbani was also elected in the northeast, following a race in which one of his opponents received death threats. His faction picked up dozens of seats nationally. Most of these men now control blocks of votes at the loya jirga, and are using them both to advance their private agendas and to increase their political power. Worse still, the meeting now underway has been dominated by the warlords. Those with the guts to stand up to the gunmen have faced severe pressures. One woman delegate, Malalai Joya stood up and complained about the warlord dominance last week, but was almost thrown out of the convention and now requires full-time security guards. Needless to add, women's rights issues haven't been robustly debated at the meeting. Yet it probably wouldn't matter much if the meeting were going better. The sad truth is that the entire process has already been scripted to the end. President Hamid Karzai has been meeting with the warlords and trying to get their support for his draft of the constitution, which contains strong presidential powers and some human rights protections. And he will probably succeed. But while the constitution may create a strong presidency on paper and contain tepid human rights protections, it seems likely that Sayyaf and other warlords will ultimately emerge stronger at the end of the convention and continue their stranglehold on Afghan politics. Here, ultimately, is the real problem. The entire loya jirga process is oriented toward the status quo. Nothing in the draft constitution addresses Afghanistan's warlord-dominated power dynamic. All of the real decisions are still being made behind closed doors by men with guns. The United States, which has supplied weapons and cash to many warlords since 2001, doesn't seem to get it. Along with Mr. Karzai, U.S. officials are still emphasizing the constitution over a coherent strategy that marginalizes the warlords. The United States and other countries with influence, as well as the United Nations, must now redouble their efforts to sideline Afghanistan's dominant military factions and strengthen legitimate civic and political organizations, independent media, and human rights groups, so that future political processes, including next year's parliamentary and presidential elections, are more representative. Power brokering with repressive political kingpins is not the way forward. Instead, it is time to address Afghanistan's "protection vacuum," which has allowed local warlords to dominate this process. Sunday's announcement that the United States will deploy more small security units to the countryside was a welcome step, but additional expansion will be needed. Troops from other countries and many more U.N. human rights monitors should be deployed across the country, so that Afghans in trouble have someone to turn to other than a local gunman. The alternative is to allow warlordism and factionalism to run rampant. After 25 years of war, Afghans deserve better.
UN envoy warns on Afghan election date Wednesday December 17, 2003 (1334 PST) Eqtedare Melli Weekly Afghanistan will not be stable enough to stage elections as scheduled in June next year, the United Nations' top envoy to the country said the other day. "June is already out of the question. We are already looking at August (or) September," Lakhdar Brahimi, UN special envoy to Afghanistan, said in an interview, reports western media. The Afghan government and the US are keen to stick to the timetable agreed at peace talks in Bonn two years ago, which stipulate "free and fair" elections by June 2004. But a violent insurgency in the south and continued abuses by provincial warlords has prompted Afghan and international officials to question whether it is safe enough to register voters or carry out a poll. "If you know an election is going to blow the whole place up, you don't do it just for the sake of respecting the deadline," Mr Brahimi said. Missing the June date would "not be the end of the world", he said, though it was important to maintain pressure so that elections happened as soon as possible. Amid persistent violence, some Afghan and international officials in Kabul questioned the wisdom of pushing ahead with a Loya Jirga, or grand council, to debate on the constitution. The Jirga, which began on Saturday, had yet to begin debating the document on Tuesday afternoon, as delegates were caught up in administrative questions. A series of rockets fired at a residential area of north-western Kabul on Monday night caused no casualties and did not disrupt proceedings. Mr Brahimi said there was "no question" of the UN leaving Afghanistan "immediately in the present circumstances", despite deteriorating security conditions that prompted the organisation to evacuate some staff from the south last month. But he said he was frustrated by the international community's reluctance to commit troops to a dangerous country like Afghanistan, despite being prepared to send civilian missions. "I told the Security Council several times: 'What the hell? You told me to go to Afghanistan. Now when I tell you I have some security concerns you tell me: 'You stay there, but it's too dangerous for our soldiers,'" he said. "What kind of lousy logic is that?" UN member states must face up to their responsibility to provide troops, if needed, when charting reconstruction plans for countries such as Afghanistan, he said. The UN in October expanded the mandate of the Nato-led ISAF peacekeeping force beyond Kabul, but Nato has had trouble drumming up additional troops. "When you go somewhere you have to have all the tools to the do the job you say you are going to do," Brahimi said. "The Secretary General must tell the council what they need to know, not what they would like to hear."
December 26, 2003
Afghans want constitution enforced, not just written
By Liz Sly
KABUL, Afghanistan-- Reclining on the floor cushions lining the
delegate lounge at Afghanistan's constitutional convention in Kabul,
a tribal elder from the distant province of Helmand explained why he
really is not interested in the debates over what kind of government
the country should have.
"Writing a constitution on a piece of paper isn't important," said
Abdul Ahad Madimah, sipping the green tea served by smartly jacketed
attendants to the turbaned delegates seated on the floor. "What is
really important is that the constitution should be implemented. It
must bring changes to people's lives.
My province is full of Taliban, and they are growing stronger every
day," he said. "If we can't show results to the people, they
will . . . all turn against the government."
As the 502 delegates to the loya jirga, or grand council, prepare
their country's new constitution, many Afghans are hoping the
document will spell an end to the decades of human-rights abuses
suffered under a succession of communist dictators, greedy warlords
and Taliban mullahs.
But how the constitution's vague provisions for rights and freedoms
will be enforced in a country that has no functioning judicial system
is not clear.
"It's my biggest concern," said Fatima Gailani, a member of the
commission that drew up the draft constitution. "This constitution
will achieve a lot if it's implemented. If even 70 percent of it is
implemented, it will make a huge difference.
"But how? If there are people in power who don't want to follow it,
there's nothing we can do," he said.
The new draft constitution enshrines human rights, equalities and
freedoms that Afghans have never enjoyed in the past, but so loosely
as to make the provisions almost meaningless, legal experts say.
Dire picture described
A recent report by the International Crisis Group painted a dire
picture of the state of the judiciary, concluding that "Afghanistan's
legal system has collapsed."
"There are few trained lawyers, little physical infrastructure and no
complete record of the country's laws," the Brussels-based group said.
The report also noted that although there are courts in the cities,
they barely function. In rural areas, the local mullah usually
dispenses justice in accordance with the Koran.
There simply are not enough trained legal professionals to recruit
judges for all the country, the review said.
The state of the police force is hardly any better. In many parts of
the country, including Kabul, many of those serving in the police are
former mujahedeen whose experience battling Soviets troops in the
1990s, then each other and then the Taliban left them with little
sense of the rule of law or human-rights norms.
They are often answerable to the local warlords whose abusive
behavior explained why ordinary Afghans originally welcomed the
Taliban's Islamic fundamentalism when the group swept to power in
Afghans say they are hoping the new constitution--the subject of the
meeting that began Dec. 14--will help bring the warlords into line.
Najibullah Satak Khumar, 18, a mobile phone salesman in Kabul,
recalled an encounter last week with two men on a motorbike--one of
whom was a police officer--after they nearly ran him down on the
sidewalk. When he remonstrated with them to be careful, they followed
him inside his shop, pulled their guns, hit him on the head and
threatened him with jail.
Getting `thugs' in line
"All the time I was thinking, when we have our new constitution,
these thugs won't be able to behave that way because it will be
against the law," he said.
But Khumar acknowledges he is not sure who will force the police to
behave in accordance with the law once the constitution is adopted.
"It will have to be the Cabinet ministers," he said. "Or the United
The UN has a commission exploring ways to reform the judiciary, but
it has made little progress so far. The United States plans to spend
$200 million next year accelerating the training of a police force,
which along with a new army is increasingly recognized as key to
securing the peace in Afghanistan.
If the hopes of ordinary people for the rights and freedoms promised
by their new constitution are dashed once again on the realities of
their broken country, the entire exercise could backfire on the
government of President Hamid Karzai and his U.S. sponsors, and
perhaps also on those who attended the loya jirga, Madimah, the
tribal elder, fears.
"We were afraid to come here and we are afraid to go back," he
said. "And now we are afraid that unless this constitution brings
positive changes, it will be us who are put on trial and sent to
Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation
and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of
the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.
www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.