Chris Sands, one of the better journalists working in Afghanistan, is the foreign correspondent for The National (United Arab Emirates). He writes from northern Afghanistan:
North slipping into different kind of hell
October 20, 2008
JOWZJAN, Afghanistan ...
While the Taliban insurgency across southern, eastern and parts of western Afghanistan grabs the world’s attention, the north of the country is slipping into a different kind of hell.
Here militia commanders with links to the government and its international allies are reasserting their control over a terrified population. Abductions, rapes, beheadings and assassinations are just some of their weapons of choice...
The picture [locals] paint of life in Sar-e-Pul province could hardly be worse. There is “lots of killing”, they said, and those involved are either in the government or connected to it.
According to them and countless others across the north, all the 2001 invasion did was effectively legitimise the power of warlords – giving them official positions and occasionally new uniforms.
“During the Taliban there was nothing like this,” Amruddin said. “We would leave our doors open and no one was raped.
“The British, the Americans, the Russians, they also wouldn’t do such a thing. But these people have raped a small girl.” ...
Five of the men responsible have been jailed, but they may not be behind bars long. Corruption is common throughout Afghanistan and freedom can easily be bought.
One judge in the province of Jowzjan admitted as much. Mohammad Harrun said foreign troops were making no effort to disarm or keep watch over local warlords...
Portraits of Abdul Rashid Dostum dominate Sheberghan, the capital of Jowzjan. Mr Dostum was a key ally of the United States in 2001, despite a long record of human rights abuses. His followers are now believed to be responsible for much of the violence in this region.
It is here that a commander in the Afghan National Army abducted Sweeta Khairi this year. Only 11 years old, she was taken to a military base and raped... (link)