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AFGHANISTAN – A FAILING STATE

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* Hillary Clinton, the new USA Secretary of State, described Afghanistan as a “narco state” to describe Afghanistan in a recent Senate testimony. She came on a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday 01/17/2009.  On Sunday NATO’s secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer alleged that Afghanistan’s “corrupt and inefficient government” was as much to blame as the Taliban for the country’s chronic instability. Mr. de Hoop Scheffer said in the Washington Post newspaper that the international community had paid enough, in blood and money, to demand government action.

In what seems a response, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called on his international allies, on Tuesday 01/20/2009, to change the way the “war on terror” is being fought in his country. Addressing parliament Hamid Karzai called for a rethink in the way billions of dollars in aid are spent and accused his allies of not doing enough to curb the illegal drugs trade (Afghanistan produces more than 90% of the world’s opium, the main ingredient in heroin). “Where the government of Afghanistan has no authority, poppy cultivation is high…Regarding fighting drugs cultivation and smuggling, we ask our international allies to put their commitments into genuine action” he said.

Hamid Karzai also said the way billions of dollars of international aid are being spent in Afghanistan caused more corruption than that within his own government. “We admit that there is corruption in our administration – but there is even more corruption regarding international aid. If we can stop this kind of corruption, God willing, our administration will soon become free from corruption.”

Hamid Karzai, who is due to face a presidential election this year (2009), told the opening session of parliament that the fight against militants could not be won without popular support from Afghans. The president has often complained to Western powers over civilian casualties in recent years. Hamid Karzai, once again, urged USA-led and NATO-ISAF troops to do more to reduce civilian casualties.

“We don’t accept civilian casualties in our land in the war on terrorism,” President Karzai told about 300 parliamentarians and guests, including UN representatives, foreign embassy officials and foreign military forces.

The NATO-ISAF has said that just over 200 civilians were killed by foreign troops last year – but the UN says the real figure amounts to roughly 2,000 civilians killed throughout 2008. It says that more than half of those died in insurgent attacks – which correspondents say implies that the remainder died during foreign and Afghan troop operations.

NATO-ISAF and USA-led forces say that one reason why the problem is so acute is because militants use civilians as human shields. There are also regular disputes over whether those killed in operations were civilians or militants.

To sum it up: on one hand Hamid Karzai is asking for more foreign aid, more foreign troops and more foreign commitment. On the other hand, in the very same speech, Hamid Karzai put the blame on main Afghanistan’s problems on foreign troops, aid and commitments, otherwise Afghanistan could be quite a pleasant place.  

 

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