Friday, August 3, 2007

On the ground in Afghanistan (Part 6)

Mike Skinner's account of his experiences in Afghanistan (intro here).

June 19 (excerpt):

...Qasim [editor of a major Kabul daily newspaper] told us that he initially supported the American-led invasion, but he has since changed his mind. He told us that he resisted the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and paid the price of prison time and then exile. Dramatically in our interview, he stated that he now believes the occupation by the Western forces is worse than the Soviet occupation ever was. He believes that after almost six years of occupation, people are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of development.

While the Soviets at least ensured the people were fed and provided with medical care and education, according to Qasim, and essential infrastructure and even some non-essentials such as theatres were built – the current occupation has failed to meet minimal standards of care for the people. The arrogance and lack of respect for the Afghani people shown by the occupation forces and the impunity
of these forces, compounds the growing feelings of resentment among Afghanis, in Qasim's opinion.

After lunch, we set up our camera in a sidewalk café outside the Kabul University hoping to interview passers-by. The students and workers that stopped to talk to us offered a wide range of opinions. Some students support the occupation, but qualify their support with regret for what they consider unavoidable civilian losses. A larger number of students and workers we interviewed are opposed to the occupation. Some of these people complain that the development aid promised has never materialised. Others analyse the situation as an imperial occupation of Afghanistan aimed at controlling Afghanistan's neighbours China, Pakistan, and Iran, as well as Afghanistan's near neighbour Russia. Some people had very personal reasons for wanting to see the western forces out of Afghanistan, such as one young man who told us his friend was killed without reason by ISAF personnel.

Seeing no benefits for Afghanis from the occupation, most people we interviewed want an end to the Western occupation despite the power of the Taliban in some regions of the country. (Complete entry here.)

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