I talk to those who battled the Soviets. I’ve talked to those that battle NATO and the Amerians. And the most common words I’ve heard are, “Nobody in America understands Afghanistan.” Like the Middle East, without a political settlement there may never be peace here….
Nurallah strode into our workshop shaking with rage. His mood shattered ours. “This is no government,” he stormed. “The police are like animals.”
The story gushed out of him: There’d been a fender-bender in the Kandahar bazaar, a taxi and a bicycle among wooden-wheeled vegetable carts. Wrenching around to avoid the knot, another cart touched one of the green open-backed trucks the police drive. In seconds, the officers were dragging the man to the chalky dust, beating him — blow after blow to the head, neck, hips, kidneys. Shopkeepers in the nearby stalls began shouting, “What do you want to do, kill him?” The police slung the man into the back of their truck and roared away.
By Sarah Chayes
The Washington Post
“So he made a mistake,” concluded Nurallah, one of the 13 Afghan men and women who make up my cooperative. “We don’t have a traffic court? They had to beat him?”
File photo shows Canadian soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on patrol in Kandahar province. Three Canadian troops were killed in Afghanistan, bringing to 103 Canada’s death toll since it its military mission began there in 2002, the Defense Ministry said.(AFP/File/Shah Marai)
In the seven years I’ve lived in this stronghold of the Afghan south — the erstwhile capital of the Taliban and the focus of their renewed assault on the country — most of my conversations with locals about what’s going wrong have centered on corruption and abuse of power. “More than roads, more than schools or wells or electricity, we need good governance,” said Nurallah during yet another discussion a couple of weeks ago.
He had put his finger on the heart of the problem. We and our friends in Kandahar are thunderstruck at recent suggestions that the solution to the hair-raising situation in this country must include a political settlement with “relevant parties” — read, the Taliban. Negotiating with them wouldn’t solve Afghanistan’s problems; it would only exacerbate them. Ask any Afghan what’s really needed, what would render the Taliban irrelevant, and they’ll tell you: improving the behavior of the officials whom the United States and its allies ushered into power after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.