|Kabul: 10:19 AM      |
Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
Unlikely allies fundamental to reconstruction effort (Chatelaine)
Rebuild the way forward Reconstructing Afghanistan may take unlikely allies -- including warlords, Islamic scholars and us, says human-rights activist SALLY ARMSTRONG By SALLY ARMSTRONG UPDATED AT 10:37 PM EDT Thursday, Oct. 16, 2003 Rebuilding Afghanistan depends on three things -- soldiers, road builders and Islamic scholars. Soldiers, because security -- the No. 1 issue raised at the Bonn Summit in 2001 -- continues to be the Gordian Knot that stops the country from moving forward. Road builders because the people of Afghanistan desperately need evidence that the international community is going to fulfill its promise to reconstruct that troubled country. And scholars of Islam, because it's high time that menacing fundamentalists were taken to task for their opportunistic interpretations of Islam. And one more thing -- money -- to make it all happen. The so-called rescue of countries like Afghanistan has been flawed -- not because the international community doesn't know how to shock and awe the belligerents, but rather because having done that, there's little plan for what to do next. The situation in Afghanistan today is becoming increasingly perilous. President Hamid Karzai faces a revolt in his fragile coalition government. Warlords are running most of the country as a collection of fiefdoms. The fundamentalists have regained power and the Taliban are regrouping with al-Qaeda. So what is the way forward? After the Bonn Conference, when countries (including Canada) were asked to provide peacekeepers, they refused, claiming it was too costly a proposition. NATO sent the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, but only to Kabul. This left the rest of the country in the hands of warlords. Yet everyone knew that without national security the government could not go forward. If you can be shot for choosing to support a central government rather than a local warlord, if schools for girls are being fire-bombed, if your children are in harm's way because you want them educated, if you are afraid to leave your home, then clearly, the thugs will continue to win. On Oct. 6, two full years after the bombing began in Afghanistan, NATO announced a limited expansion of its peacekeeping forces: about 400 German troops, sent to the northern region of Kunduz. This is no commitment to security. To rebuild Afghanistan, send in the peacekeepers. And make use, where possible, of the warlords themselves. Is this possible? Maybe. A coalition of regional bosses could work in Afghanistan. It's a matter of convincing warlords (those who aren't accused of war crimes) that they won't lose face by negotiating with the central government, and by making it clear that should they refuse, their fiefdoms will be pariah states. By linking their people's well-being to their own status as leaders, they may even gain prestige. The second need: reconstruction workers. Where are they? Reconstruction money has been promised, and countries are begging for contracts -- so why is the 250-kilometre road between Kabul and Kandahar still a bone-crushing two-day drive? The failure to rebuild is linked to security. Workers cannot rebuild as long as they may be killed by hooligans in turf wars. The third need: Islamic scholars. The Taliban are back: a gang of thugs who've hijacked their own religion for political opportunism. There isn't a word in the Koran to support what they did to Afghanistan's women and girls, preventing them from getting an education or a job. Nor does the Koran ban owning song birds or flying kites. The Taliban made it up as they went along. Before 9/11, the international community was silent, and silence is a kind of consent. Yet what was happening to the women and girls of Afghanistan was not a matter of cultural relativism but contravention of international law. It is time for Islam's respected scholars to take on the Taliban, to call them on their self-serving interpretations of the Koran. Rebuilding a society in crisis also means finding a way to change the old formulas that have governed the UN (with such farcical results as the spectacle of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi as the chair of the UN Human Rights Commission). The UN documents (the Charter itself, the covenants and conventions) were written with the best of intentions, but without a view to implementation. Gathering countries from all over the world in 1945 and having them agree to sign such documents was an extraordinary accomplishment. Getting the leaders of those countries to agree to actually enforce these documents' contents was an impossible task. Accordingly, the Charter and covenants have no iron fist of accountability; they rely instead on the politics of embarrassment. This has never been enough. There's a giant global chess game going on in Afghanistan today. What happens there will have an effect on the entire region, maybe even the world. Playing on one side are fundamentalists who want a weak and unstable central government and warlords controlling pockets of turf. They are funded by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan. On the other side is the international community, which made a de facto promise to the Afghan people: Let us invade your country to get rid of the Taliban and your lives will be better. So far, it's a promise unfulfilled. Sally Armstrong, a human-rights activist, documentary filmmaker and award-winning author, is editor-at-large of Chatelaine magazine. This article is based on a speech Ms. Armstrong gives tonight at Alumni Hall, King's College, Halifax, the third in a series sponsored by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs on the theme "Rebuilding Societies in Crisis."
Posted By: mariam   October 28th 2003, 2003 1:29 PM
Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation
and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of
the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.
www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.