I feel like Afghanistan is even more forgotten than ever before these days. There are the stories about the first women’s rights protest since the 70s (‘Zara, an 18-year-old student, told The Times as men in the crowd lunged forward and screamed abuse. “This law is against the dignity of women and all the international community opposes it. The US President calls it abhorrent. Don’t you see that actually we are the majority?”’ /sniff), but that was a political story, more than anything. Mostly I guess Pakistan’s taken over. But this morning! Here we go again:
The Times – Retreat from Afghanistan<br/> The temporary dispatch of only 700 troops to bolster British forces in Afghanistan is the worst of all worlds: sending too few reinforcements to achieve the end promised
Once again the Government is sliding out of its commitments while attempting to present a new initiative. As Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, told the House, the decision was the worst of all worlds: sending reinforcements without committing enough resources to do the job properly. It repeats the wavering on Iraq, where Britain abandoned any pretence to be an effective peacekeeping force in the south, handing over control to the militias in Basra and withdrawing to the airport. Little wonder that there was little gratitude, not much sense of accomplishment and only small acknowledgment by the Americans, who have had to redeploy to the south to fulfil the role Britain abandoned.
The situation in Afghanistan is critical. Sensing indecision in Kabul and confusion among the allies, the Taleban have stepped up a campaign of local intimidation, tightened the stranglehold on allied convoys and targeted Nato forces with roadside bombs and suicide attacks. The Obama Administration is clear what must be done. The allies must confront the Taleban with sufficient strength and determination to make it clear that the insurgency will not succeed, that southern Afghanistan will not be abandoned to extremists and that the Afghan Army will have the training, manpower and will to deal with the insurgency.
Hey, funfacts! At the bottom of the story about the Women’s Protest:
57% of Afghan brides are under 16
87% of women are illiterate
5% of girls attend secondary school
1 in 9 dies in childbirth
1 in 3 subjected to violence