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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 15:04 GMT
Afghanistan's unfulfilled dreams
Afghan refugees
Better life remains a distant prospect for many Afghans

For over two decades, the Afghans have been dreaming of a united, prosperous and peaceful country.

They have been through a painful period of foreign interference, social change, civil war and brutal rules.


Afghans see all their problems as foreign-made.

The fall of Kabul, for many Afghans, was a cause for celebration as the beginning of the fulfilment of this dream.

But as it turned out it became the beginning of a new era of uncertainty.

They were dreaming that from the ashes of the Taleban, a benevolent government would emerge - perhaps under the former monarch Zahir Shah who would be the embodiment of their nostalgia.

They were dreaming of a liberal age under a relaxed regime that would inject some dignity in their fragile lives and brutalised society.

Disappointed

What replaced the retreating Taleban was not quite that.

It was a combination of the Taleban's opponents who had ruled the country before them and whose factional fighting led to the emergence of the Taleban in the first place.

Afghanistan President, Hamid Karzai
Mr Karzai is accused of lacking strategy
The co-operation of these forces with the US-led coalition to topple the Taleban and remove al-Qaeda earned the new rulers US support.

This set the tone for the future and thus Hamid Karzai emerged as the new Afghan leader.

Hamid Karzai had the luck to be accepted by all groups - the monarchists, the Islamists, the tribal chiefs and, above all, the West.

The dream for many Afghans never came true as the former monarch was forced to take a back seat.

It is now the turn of Mr Karzai to tame the very people who are his allies and with whose help he has been trying desperately to bring about some normality.

Mr Karzai has disappointed many Afghans, who see this affable tribal chief as lacking any clear strategy that could secure the emergence of a prosperous Afghanistan.

Stability

But he is not the only one to take the blame.

The international forces led by the United States are also seen to be at a loss on what to do about Afghanistan.

Afghans see all their problems as foreign-made.

They expect miracles from the international community.

Some are yearning for the certainty offered by the Taleban despite the cruelty that came with it.

A year after the Taleban, there is more freedom in Afghanistan.

But the majority of Afghans are still dreaming of a better life, a secure society and a durable government.


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12 Nov 02 | South Asia
12 Nov 02 | South Asia
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
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