Afghanistan after five years

Zabie Mansoory

This week marked the five-year anniversary of the day the U.S. attacked Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. I must admit I am not very impressed with the progress five years later.

Lately, the insurgency attacks by the Taliban are increasing daily and roadside bombing and suicide attacks are up as well. It is a real shame for me personally. We as Afghans always took pride in fighting many wars without committing suicide, as it is banned in Islam, but lately with the help of the extremist Taliban and al Qaida it happens daily.

Until recently we could go around with pride and tell people that we are making great accomplishments in the war on terror, but with the increasing presences of Taliban and the U.S.’ failure to find Osama bin Laden, I am not sure what happened to the commitment that we made to find bin Laden five years ago. But these days the only war on terror you hear about is in Iraq, while the facts show that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The message I am getting from this administration is that we are cutting and running like we did after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Now I am not in favor of puting more of our troops’ lives in danger, because our men and women in the armed forces need a break. They are already serving double- and triple-extended tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think we need to put our money where our mouth is. According to the Los Angeles Times, in the fiscal year 2005, we spent $4.3 billion in Afghanistan, which is not even a fraction of what we spent in Iraq, but now we are even cutting that to fourths. For the fiscal year 2007, the defense department plans to spend $1.1 billion in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and find bin Laden. Let’s get serious!

The lack of financial support makes it impossible to appropriately address the problems that we are facing in Afghanistan. After all, our reputation is on the line once again. You cannot build a country and fight a war without money.

As the Taliban is growing once again, the poppy farming is reaching records high and the money is being used to fund the Taliban’s attacks against international forces and the Afghan government, which is struggling to create a national army to defend its people. Poppy money has always been used to fund warlords and insurgents in the country, not the national government. Let’s start with subsidizing farmers to grow alternative crops while making a living out of it.

We need to help train the Afghan National Army so they can do most of the job, but earlier this year, the Pentagon downsized its goal to train 50,000 troops from our earlier goal of 70,000. We are talking about 50,000 troops protecting 31 million people with warlords controlling most of the country once again.

Finally, if we really want to be serious about Afghanistan, let’s not forget where the Taliban gets most of its support: Pakistan. We need to make sure that Pakistan gets the message that we are serious about stopping its support for the Taliban.

We need to remember where bin Laden is still hiding and the last I remember he was the one who attacked our country, not Iraq. Iraq is already a failure; let’s not make the same mistake in Afghanistan while we still have a chance.