Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Washington Post: Many Afghans prefer the Taliban

For many people whom I speak to about the war in Afghanistan, the point which proves the criminality of our occupation of that country is that many Afghans prefer the harsh but predictable rule of the Taliban to the monsters and thugs we have put in power. We have seen in previous blog posts some of the extent of this reluctant support for the Taliban. Now the Washington Post offers us similar sentiments from Laghman province, next to Kabul (and the location of the recent airstrike which is said to have killed up to fifteen civilians).

Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Many Afghans prefer decisive rule to disarray of Karzai government
By Griff Witte - Washington Post

LAGHMAN, Dec 8 - Like nearly all provinces in Afghanistan, this one has two governors.

The first was appointed by President Hamid Karzai...

The second governor was chosen by Taliban leader Mohammad Omar and, hunted by American soldiers, sneaks in only at night. He issues edicts on "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" stationery, plots attacks against government forces and fires any lower-ranking Taliban official tainted by even the whiff of corruption...

"These people in the shadow government are running the country now," said Khalid Pashtoon, a legislator from the southern province of Kandahar who has close ties to Karzai. "They're an important part of the chaos."

U.S. military officials say that dislodging the Taliban's shadow government and establishing the authority of the Karzai administration over the next 18 months will be critical to the success of President Obama's surge strategy. But the task has been complicated by the fact that in many areas, Afghans have decided they prefer the severe but decisive authority of the Taliban to the corruption and inefficiency of Karzai's appointees.

When the Taliban government was ousted in 2001 following five disastrous years in power, a majority of Afghans cheered the departure of a regime marked by the harsh repression of women and minorities, anemic government services and international isolation. Petty thieves had their hands chopped off, and girls were barred from school.

Today, there is little evidence the Taliban has fundamentally changed. But from Kunduz province in the north to Kandahar in the south, even government officials concede that their allies have lost the people's confidence and that, increasingly, residents are turning to shadow Taliban officials to solve their problems.

Pashtoon said that on a recent visit to Kandahar, he heard from constituents who were pleased with the Taliban's judges...

Afghans who live under Taliban control say the group's weaknesses remain the same as during the movement's five-year tenure ruling the country. The Taliban provides virtually no social services, leaving Afghans on their own when it comes to health care, education and development... (link)

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