|Speaking of investigative journalism — last night I watched the PBS special Afghanistan Unveiled, part of the series The Independent Lens. The program was produced by the first generation of Afghani women journalists, most of them young women from wealthy families in Kabul. As others have reported, post-war Afghanistan is two worlds: Kabul, which is liberated, open and, if not flourishing, at least safe, and everywhere else, where the squalour, poverty and misery is unimaginable. The devastation and brutality wreaked by the Taliban was total — whole villages destroyed, whole tribes savagely exterminated. The people of Kabul hate the Taliban, but elsewhere their fearsome hold remains — women have no more rights now than they did before the war, and now they are starving, poverty-stricken and dying of diseases. Warlords, imposing strict sharia law on their subjects, routinely kidnap local women who they consider their personal property. A large proportion of the men outside Kabul are addicted to heroin, and treat the women and children abominably. The despicable chador is still required for virtually all women outside Kabul, and jobs and education for women remain forbidden. Men stand around idly all day — nothing to do except take drugs and fight. The young photographers risked life and limb to interview and surreptitiously film other women, admitting that this may have subjected their women interviewees to later beatings from the village men. There is no arable land, no industry or commerce, no functioning infrastructure in 90% of the country. The whole country outside the capital is literally dying of neglect. Drugs, guns, and crime are rampant. The international forces control only the capital, and out of fear for their own safety avoid the rest of the country.
Until the West takes the responsibility to disarm and replace the warlords, and rebuild infrastructure that was destroyed by the Western-financed Taliban, the mujahideen, and the Western bombs, the situation will remain hopeless. What a pathetic legacy we have imposed on these tragic peoples — no wonder Westerners are so despised in the Middle East.