Monday, September 01, 2008

Progress In Afghanistan?

We keep hearing from proponents of our country's involvement in Afghanistan. The meme is that all that the media reports are the bombings, and they overlook the small successes.

Well, let's talk about small successes then. Is Karzai pardoning gang rape progress?

Let's consider this for a moment. A young woman was gang raped, the offenders were caught, tried and found guilty - and then the government grants them a pardon?

If Karzai in fact signed the pardon, as the story alleges, then I think a few people need to go back and revisit the justification that they put forward for supporting the mission in Afghanistan - namely that we are 'bringing stability and women's rights' forward. Clearly we aren't.

A copy of the pardon was numbered, dated in May and appeared to bear the personal signature of Hamid Karzai. It recommended the men’s release because, it said, “they had been forced to confess to their crimes.”

When showed copies of the presidential pardon and court papers, President Karzai’s spokesman, Hamayun Hamidzada, was visibly shocked and said that if the documents proved genuine, Mr Karzai would be “upset and appalled.”

If this 'plausible deniability' dance is true, then we need to consider just how stable or honest this government is. That suggests that it wasn't too difficult for someone to manufacture this pardon, and that's a huge problem with the viability of the Karzai government.

The MP, Mir Ahmad Joyenda, said cases similar to Sara’s were actually becoming more common. The police and the courts, he said, were usually under the sway of local commanders. “The commanders, the war criminals, still have armed groups,” he said. “They’re in the government. Karzai, the Americans, the British sit down with them. They have impunity. They’ve become very courageous and can do whatever crimes they like.”

... and all of the individual happy moments are for naught if we are simply enabling the same patterns of dishonesty, corruption and inequality that Afghanistan suffered under the Taliban.

H/T: Broadsides

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