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 Monday, 14 October, 2002, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Dr Abdullah Abdullah: Afghan foreign minister
  Click here to watch the Talking Point discussion on Afghanistan.

The American bombing campaign began in Afghanistan last October but one year on, the country is still unstable.

Hamid Karzai's fledgling government is now in power, but political assassinations and tribal infighting continue.

Societies emerging from conflict have special needs, which go beyond aid and humanitarian assistance.

Poor farmers in the north of the country have begun to grow opium again as a way of feeding their families.

As Afghanistan struggles to rebuild its shattered infrastructure and social institutions, what will determine how successful these efforts are?

Were the Afghan air strikes a success? Have the Taleban been defeated? Has the world kept its promise to rebuild Afghanistan? Are the people of Afghanistan involved enough in such efforts?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I don't think the job is done in Afghanistan. We shouldn't start a war until we finish one. The world promised to pay for Afghanistan, but have not. As far as the war in Iraq, everyone says it is for oil. Well, if its going to cost us $13b a month to be there, why don't we put that money into research for alternate energy sources?
Mike, Detroit, USA

It's all a farce to cover US moves of oil and power

Vincent Feedbach, Prague, Czech Republic
I have just got back from Kosovo where three years after the bombings, the infrastructure is collapsing and corruption increasing under a tense UN protectorate barely containing conflict and chaos. In Afghanistan women are still wearing burqas and the same thing is happening as in Kosovo. Let's admit it, it's all a farce to cover US moves of oil and power.
Vincent Feedbach, Prague, Czech Republic

The US strategy in Afghanistan has been fulfilled to a certain degree. Although, al Qaeda and the Taleban have been defeated, there are fears of their regrouping under Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The majority of Southern Afghanistan still supports the Taleban, therefore there is still danger. The US has not fulfilled its promises in the economical aid front though, and it's vital to help the Afghan people.
Zaman Hakim, Sydney, Australia

Yes, if the West keeps its promises and doesn't forget Afghanistan again.
Temorr Shah, Kandahar, Afghanistan

The world community must keep an eye on all rogue states governed by undemocratic tyrants

Naeem Hassan, Lahore, Pakistan
The removal of the Taleban was the first step in the right direction. Now the world community must keep an eye on all rogue states governed by undemocratic tyrants so that it doesn't have to go through terror and mayhem like 9/11 again.
Naeem Hassan, Lahore, Pakistan

The key to solving the problems in Afghanistan lies in the fixing of its national identity. If we can get Afghanistan to embrace the international community and the values that they embrace, then many of the great problems discussed here should be alleviated.
Kyle, USA

Bush keeps talking about working together to defeat evil. How about the US working with the rest of the world to defeat pollution, poverty and injustice which are common enemies to us all. Instead they just invent bogie men for their military industrial complex and use and abuse the rest of us to get whatever they want. It appears that this is what Bush has done with Afghanistan.
Mark Scott, Nagasaki, Japan

The USA was never keen on rebuilding Afghanistan after it demolished its infrastructure - and this is demonstrated by the horrible human rights violations by the Northern Alliance allies under US watch, the horrid conditions and torture practices at the Taleban prison camp, and the refusal of American forces to help secure areas outside of the single city of Kabul.
Tahir Janmohamed, Sunnyvale, USA

Afghanistan has a real chance of finally having peace

Anushay Hossain, Dhaka, Bangladesh
It seems as though the Afghanistan has gone backwards. In 1964, the country's constitution had equal rights and equal pay for women. But 23 years of war, the brutal treatment of the Taleban, and the worst drought in 30 years have left the people in a desperate state. Afghanistan has a real chance of finally having peace. We must make sure other countries do not hinder this opportunity for their own political gains, underneath a humanitarian mask.
Anushay Hossain, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Not much has changed. A tiny minority of people who can afford it, send their children to school, men can shave and women no longer have to wear the burqa by law. So what? The majority of children have to work from dawn to dusk just to stay alive and will never see the inside of a school. Most women continue to wear the burqa for fear of the Northern Alliance bandits who now run Kabul. And what's the point of being clean shaven when you are too poor to even have a roof over your head.
Charles Moore, Edinburgh, Scotland

The street celebrations in Kabul were an expression of genuine feeling

Matt, Liverpool, UK
It seems very strange that so many non-Afghans seem to know what is best. Every Afghan I know accepts that it would never have had any hope of peace had the Taleban not been removed by bombing. The street celebrations in Kabul were an expression of genuine feeling. Look at the objective evidence, UNHCR have managed the return of 1.7 million refugees, most of whom fled the Taleban. Also the amount of food aid alone has trebled. This would not have happened if the US did not bomb because the conditions would not have been brought about in which it was possible.
Matt, Liverpool, UK

What lessons have been learned? That you don't send ten thousand marines and some special forces teams to augment the Northern Alliance when you should be sending a quarter million troops and taking care of business yourself. The whole idea was to nab Bin Laden, and we've failed to this point. While rehabilitating Afghanistan is a noble cause, it is not the primary goal. This could have been avoided had the Taleban handed over our target, which they didn't.
Anon, USA

Just because it isn't in the headlines every day doesn't mean that the international community is abandoning the country

Tom, Chicago
I think that the comments I'm reading just show how little "educated" people really know about the situation. To think that Afghan warlordism is just going to disappear overnight and that peace is going to magically come after decades of conflict is plain loony. Despite the truth, it doesn't mean that it was wrong to oust a bunch of terrorist, oppressive thugs like the Taleban.
Just because it isn't in the headlines every day doesn't mean that the international community and the U.S. are abandoning the country again. It hasn't even been a year since the Taleban were removed.
Tom, Chicago, USA

The biggest problem the Taleban faced was international hostility for being allied to al-Qaeda and bin Laden. However, I think the Taleban movement when it started was a genuine attempt to bring order and justice into the country ravaged by tribal infighting, rape, and banditry. We must never forget that the movement quickly gained support at unprecedented levels. Opium was banned and the incidences of rape and looting were eliminated. The country felt secure. They may have been ruthless but perhaps Afghan society at that time needed a ruthless regime to turn chaos into order. I think an analysis should be carried out on the rise and fall of the Taleban. From this we may learn how to bring unity and security to this unfortunate war-torn country.

I can't believe what I am reading! The Taliban was peaceful? There was order and security in Afghanistan under the Taliban? How can there be both peace and civil war at the same time? And yes, it was America that financed the Mujahideen. Why? To prevent the spread of Communism . I can't help but notice there were no complaints about this during the 80s. People would be wise not to let hindsight blind them from common sense.
Dave S., Boston, MA

When will Afghans learn to make peace with themselves? Can they strive to reconcile as a nation? Until they change their thinking, no amount of economic aid is going to help in reconstruction.
Khalid Rahim, Toronto, Canada

It is not perfect in Afghanistan, but progress has been made.

Mark Morris, Dallas
Women can go to school again, and do not have to wear a burka. Men can shave, and listen to the radio. It is not perfect in Afghanistan, but progress has been made. What is also important to remember, is that terrorism will be dealt with, even if it hides half the world away from the shores it attacked.
Mark Morris, Dallas, USA

Mark Morris, USA: What you say is all true of course, but this was true under the Afghan Socialists and the Soviets (who built schools, colleges, hospitals and even cinemas in Afghanistan, facts conveniently ignored by the West), and it was the good ol' USA who put a stop to that by financing and training the Islamic Mujahideen terrorists. Americans should not think that they 'liberated' this country. They financed its destruction in the first place.
NM, Scotland

NM. Scotland: Like I said, terrorism will be dealt with. You may not understand that, but then again WWIII did not start in Scotland... Not liking America is no reason to fly planes into two buildings.
Mark Morris, Dallas, USA

Re: Mark Morris. The Taleban were popular because they imposed peace and disarmed the warlords - we've done precisely the opposite. Some Afghans might say that chaos and bombing are high prices to pay for being allowed to shave
Simon O'Brien

I went to Afghanistan three times during the war against the Soviets. I cannot see any reason to look differently on the US invasion. The propaganda and the arguments are laughingly similar (liberate women, keep fundamentalists in check). The methods - random bombings, blind manhunt in the dark, artillery fire against hostile mountainsides - are tragically identical. The US must leave. If then a legitimate afghan government asks for international support - it is a quite different thing. Any broad regime in Afghanistan must be either based on Islam or on the tribal hierarchy (monarchy). Both options have been destroyed by the US.
Stefan Lindgren, Stockholm, Sweden

History has no examples of countries whose culture survived intact after civil wars carried on so long that other countries intervened. The experience of having foreign troops keeping the peace always leads to a sharp drop in self-confidence and cultural integrity. Even Germany, the largest economy in Europe, was significantly Americanised following the Second World War and the allied occupation. It would be extremely foolish to expect Afghanistan to import western democracy, freedom of speech and equality, but also to preserve an ancient culture which is based on other entirely contradictory ancient values.
Jon Livesey, Sunnyvale, CA, USA

Have your say The West paid for the Mujahideen to fight the Soviet Union and they bombed Afghanistan recently with the promise that they would help rebuild the country. Where are these promises now? Were they just empty rhetoric? Where are the new roads, hospitals, schools, homes, power stations, police stations, and investment in jobs (agriculture and industry) that Afghanistan so badly needs? The West owes Afghanistan a new future.
James Wild, London, UK

The people need to feel their input is needed

Rita, Canada
Peace in Afghanistan will and can be bought by the involvement of all classes of society of Afghanistan. The people need to feel their input is needed to bring about peace and development. Instead of looking for personal power if the warlords could be made to understand with development of Afghanistan the people of Afghanistan will also develop. In short, make the people of Afghanistan feel needed by their country.
Rita, Canada

The best way for the Afghan government to succeed is through democracy. People should have the same right, equality, freedom. One current event raises some questions among the different ethnic groups and that is the balance of all ethnic groups in Afghan National Army. We wish democracy be part of our government.
Khalid Hamza, Kabul, Afghanistan

The Afghani people have a lot to thank for in the past year. Bush successfully removed the Taleban from power and ended the oppression that these people have suffered for so many decades.
B. Forey, Gold Coast, Australia

As long as tribal mentality prevails nothing can be accomplished.

Mirek Kondracki, Alexandria.
I am afraid that Afghanistan will not become a success story. The reason is contained in one word: tribalism. As long as tribal mentality prevails nothing can be accomplished.
Mirek Kondracki, Alexandria. USA

It is tragic how history is repeating itself. Afghanistan descended into the chaos of civil war as soon as the Russian invading forces were expelled. Once again, with the overthrow of the Taliban, old rivalries have reappeared with the resulting death, poverty, hunger and sickness of the long-suffering population. The West's arms left over from the Russian invasion permanently changed Afghanistan into an armed society where death was commonplace. Sadly, the West has again abandoned the poor Afghans to further bloodshed and strife. The US and Britain in particular got what they needed from the region and have nothing to gain from pumping millions of dollars into Afghanistan.
Mehbs, London, England

In his Blackpool speech, former President Bill Clinton pointed out that the number of troops left by the US in Afghanistan is around half that of the number that were basically guarding the peace in Kosovo at the aftermath of the crisis. What does this imply about how we intend to help Afghanistan recover?
Saadia Zaheer, Singapore

I think that Afghanistan may be the one place where we can prove that we have learned from past mistakes.

Isaac Hall, US
I think the main lesson we must take from this is that we cannot expect to see worldwide goodwill toward the US (as our current leaders seem to think we deserve) when we are acting as if the rest of the world is merely an obstacle in our path. It has appeared to me that we have acted now for some time with the mindset that we can act without restraint whenever we like, and then stop that action whenever we like. It is no wonder that the rest of the world does not think too highly of us. I think that Afghanistan may be the one place where we can prove that we have learned from past mistakes. If we stick around, and make an honest effort to help the Afghans BUILD a country they will be proud to live in, perhaps the US can show the world that is has grown up a bit and is ready to become a real participant in the international community, rather than just a bully.
Isaac Hall, Norman, Oklahoma, US

I'm surprised there are no postings that call attention to the fact that Bush and Blair have refocused their attention onto Iraq; and that this diversion of manpower and money is the worst possible thing that could happen to Afghanistan. American and international weapon technology companies make a fortune with every "regime change"... but they get no profits at all from attempting to stabilize and nourish poor Afghanistan. Where are all the passionate Americans I saw in Talking Point discussions a year ago? Only chaos in Pakistan will bring significant Western investment back into Afghanistan, and of course for all the wrong reasons.
Bruce Killingsworth, US

Afghans are yearning for peace, prosperity and internal reconciliation. As an Afghan who recently returned from Kabul and some of the surrounding areas, I was reminded by many, irrespective of their ethnicity, of how they cherish and welcome the return of the former king, Zaher Shah and Hamid Karzai┐s leadership. Meanwhile, the majority are vehemently opposed to the notion of making a hero out of the former rebel leader, Ahmed Shah Massoud or any other warlord-past or present - given that it was these same warlords that pulverized Kabul into rubble and drowning the nation in civil war. A major shuffle in the existing administration is eminent in order to weed out warlords and for peace to truly permeate across the country and withstand the test of time.
Mohammed, Washington, D.C.

Democracy is not some exportable commodity

Allen, Washington
I think what we have learned from Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc. is that "democracy", whether the US version or the European version, is not some exportable commodity that the West can just proclaim and expect to work. It grew from our own intellectual, economic, political, and cultural contexts through centuries of trial and error, violence and bloodshed. We should stop pretending we can "make it happen" in places that have no milieux in which to drop it. Insisting that conflict can be eradicated is a myth.
Allen, Washington, DC, USA

How about this for a lesson? The Taliban actually DID prevent huge amounts of heroin reaching UK streets. As soon as the Taliban are evicted, bang, the heroin exports go through the roof again. Why won't the US or President Karzai talk about this? Or are they happy to have such 'foreign investment?'

There is blame enough to go around for everyone involved. Where is all the aid money promised? On the other hand why should the world pour more money into a country without a government in control? All the armed camps must be disarmed and the government must take control of the whole country. Where is the UN security force? The UN seems powerless and useless in every world crisis, great at wringing of hands in despair, poor at doing what needs to be done. Perhaps, as we learned in Somalia, a people who can't see beyond their tribal cultures, armed with modern weapons, can't be stopped from extinguishing themselves.
Bill, Bellingham, WA USA

Re: Bill, Bellingham, USA: The UN lacks effectiveness partly because it is constantly undermined by the US. Also, where is the aid to Afghanistan *promised* by the US? Bombing a country into the stone age then walking away is most certainly not going to win any war on terrorism. Instead, it strengthens the anti-US case that Bin Laden puts to his supporters and financiers.
GB, Durham, UK

The US attacked Afghanistan to send a message

Shane, Lincoln
The United States overthrew the government of Afghanistan because the Taliban was protecting al-Qaeda. Almost as importantly, the US attacked Afghanistan to send a message to other terrorist supporting countries. Rebuilding Afghanistan as a liberal democracy was certainly not a legitimate motivation. Nation building should be left to the people of the nation. Whatever they end up with is what they deserve.
Shane, Lincoln, U.S.

The belief systems, values, and the culture of a particular people is very important in enmeshing them together. UN and US should not interfere in these areas in the name of civilization if they want the people to live orderly and peacefully.
Ebi AB, Abuja, Nigeria

Lessons are to be learned. Foreign troops can't stay there for a long time: the population is proud and with high self-esteem. It is very important to help Afghani people to create jobs and improve living standards to stop them rising poppies and producing opium and heroin.
Andrei Sedin, Moscow, Russia

Who persuaded us that nation building is possible? A functioning liberal democracy can't be knocked up like self-assembly furniture. Nations are abstract and emotional things. Glossing over a traumatised country's rifts with a bag of cash and some good intentions is madness.
Col, UK ex-pat

Actually sending many people to help with the re-building is the only way.

RC Robjohn, UK
The Afghan people consist of many tribes which makes it very difficult to govern the country. If the infrastructure is put in place then better communication will speed up the democratic process. This will take many years and much money and I don't believe that the rich nations on the planet can be bothered to wait. Wealth brings with it a certain disinterest in anything outside and actually sending many people to help with the re-building is the only way. A cheque is just a piece of paper but a man with a shovel can be cashed.
R.C. Robjohn, UK

Though destructive and costly, the conflict in Afghanistan has taught its people the real worth of freedom and social justice, which couldn't have been realized to such an extent at normal conditions.
Mirwais Nahzat Farahi, Canada

Rebuilding Afghanistan should be seen as part of the 'War against Terror'. Unless Afghanistan develops a minimal level of prosperity and peace and real democracy we will see the return of The Taleban.
james wild, London UK

I defy anyone to call the removal of the Taleban a bad thing.

Joel, London
I watched the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan with immense apprehension to say the least. Still, I defy anyone to call the removal of the Taleban a bad thing. The means were questionable as they always are in armed conflict. I don't believe the a truly humanitarian instinct was behind the campaign, but I refuse to accept the opinion of those who would typically place the blame for the countries savage recent history squarely at the feet of the Americans. The U.S. can only mitigate these charges of brutality inflicted on innocent citizens by keeping true to the pledge made, and giving serious money to the Afghanis to rebuild, something that has sadly become increasingly doubtful as international attention has shifted elsewhere.
Joel, London (U.S.)

The world promised that they will help Afghan people, but still we can't see a specific sign of that. We hope the world community could do something urgently, otherwise I am afraid the country will go again to chaos, and this will be a great shame for the world community, and specially for those who pledged to help Afghan people.
Din M. Nazim, Mazar, Afghanistan

There are lots of un-answered questions. To begin with, the legality of the aggression against the government of the Taliban and the use of force as a last resort under any UN mandated resolution was flawed. The brutal air campaign and the use of depleted uranium and vicious cluster bombs and AC-130 gunships that has killed civilians by the thousands and made more orphans and widows then the entire civil war that lasted between (1992-96). The inhumane treatment of the Taliban prisoners as non-combatants by the US at Guantanamo, makes no sense that peace will ever return to Afghanistan. Every Taliban soldier that has fallen has their Tribal and religious following and the cry for revenge is something that we all have ignored. Karzai's puppet regime is in fact a recipe for further subversion, rather than reconstruction of Afghanistan. While Kabul has become another tourist resort, the country side is plunged into the darkest era of poverty, hunger and desperation.
Umar Khan Dawar, Ottawa, Canada

There were lots of pretty speeches about freedom and hope

Graham, Warsaw, Poland
The West promised that after attacking Afghanistan, they would invest billions to rebuild it. There were lots of pretty speeches about freedom and hope for Afghan children. The promised aid package was $1.8bn for this year. Only 5% of what was promised was delivered. Despite urgent pleas and warnings from the Afghan government and major charities, there is no sign of the other 95%. All the indications are that no-one is going to stop Afghanistan's slide into chaos. Our politicians lied.
Graham, Warsaw, Poland

America has resorted to buying the services of power hungry warlords in an attempt to seek a stable government. This is a mistake. A greater international presence is the only way to lasting peace. And where is the money promised at the Japan conference?
Philip Coristine, Chigasaki, Japan

Few lessons have been learned

Peshtaz, Afghan living in Hampshire, UK
As optimistic as I was only a few months ago, I cannot help but experience a sense of doom and gloom. Few lessons have been learned, if any. First and foremost, the Americans should learn a little humility. They bomb and kill innocent civilians at wedding parties and then do not even show the dignity to apologise. When four Canadians die in a bombing mistake, Bush apologises; yet when dozens of Afghans are killed not even a lousy 'sorry' is forthcoming. May be we should learn to live with the fact that our blood is cheap and no one is our friend.
Peshtaz, Afghan living in Hampshire, UK

Many of the problems we face today in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa are a heritage of the old colonial times, when boundaries were defined without having consideration for the people living there.
Manuel, Portugal

I went to my country last July. I saw the same people who destroyed Afghanistan (1992-1996). I think before bombing Afghanistan, the West promised that a complete new administration would be installed which would lead the country out of war, poverty and would rebuild it but they have brought back the old killers, the looters the destroyers the criminals!!
Zabi, Bradford, UK

The lesson we must learn from the world's past and present conflicts is just simple, we must learn to co-exist with other fellow human beings.
Safiullah Tazib, London

The Afghans will need money and real help in infrastructure and development

AR Vorajee, UK
Afghanistan is not a united country. There is little sense of brotherhood after years of killing each other. For now one can only expect an end to hostilities rather than everyone holding hands as some comments suggest. For long-term peace the Afghans will need money and real help in infrastructure and development.
AR Vorajee, UK

The recipe for success is fair representation, global assistance, sovereignty and minimal meddling by other countries. Efforts should be made to ensure that the administration is composed of the various ethnicities fairly and that transgression does not occur. The most important issue, however, is a unified Afghanistan with a unified armed forces and police power. The warlord culture really has to go.
Dr Serhat Khan, Sheboygan, WI, USA

This will take at least a generation to shake off

Naeem, UK
Afghanistan is feeling the legacy of over a century of foreigner interference (such as the British and Russians and more recently the USA). This will take at least a generation to shake off, assuming there is no more outside involvement, unless it is to help rebuild the country. This is what has been promised and time will tell if it will be done.
Naeem, UK

We have already seen the warlords taking over in some places in Afghanistan. I was not a big fan of the Taleban (coming from a Muslim student) but what they did was stabilise the country where there was hardly any crime or fighting for land. I hope democracy is restored by Europe and not American imperialism.
Muhammed Sarwar Ahmed, Chester, UK

I was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. The wars fought in Afghanistan in the last few decades are foreign wars fought with the blood innocent of Afghan people, whether they were fighting for the Soviets or against. A year on since the bombing of my country, it's crystal clear to me that America is making yet another avoidable mistake by having installed a murderous regime full of warlords. The world will never be a safer place with warlords in charge of nations and just for the record, just because some of them wear suits it does not make them civilised in any way.
AA, London, UK

As long as there is poverty and corruption in the world there will always be a war somewhere

Phil T, Muscat Oman
History has shown us that we never learn. Wars have continued since man was created and people have been exploited for the same period. Most of the populations of any country are usually peaceful people who only want to live their lives comfortably, with their families and with a good standard of living. As long as there is poverty and corruption in the world there will always be a war somewhere.
Phil T, Muscat Oman

It is absolutely essential for the international community to remain engaged in Afghanistan. Otherwise, the country's warlords will start fighting again and ruin the country as they did after the exodus of Soviet army. America at that time left the country at the mercy of Afghan warlords. I hope it will not repeat that mistake again.
Joshipura, Ahmedabad, India

America used Islamic militants to drive out Soviet troops from Afghanistan. It could not anticipate that those militants would go against it. So, this time America is well advised to make sure that it does remain engaged in Afghanistan until liberal democratic government is set up there.
Jatin, Bharuch, India

Whether a country succeeds depends largely on the will of its people and the sense of unity, community and shared values its people feel.
Louise, Sydney, Australia

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26 Sep 02 | South Asia
25 Sep 02 | South Asia
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