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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 09:54 GMT
What future for Afghanistan after the Taleban?
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56k modems A senior Pentagon official says the Taleban departure from the Afghan capital of Kabul is "great news".
Taleban forces have abandoned Kabul, fleeing south overnight as contingents of Northern Alliance troops entered the city.
But UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the UN must "move quickly" to help set up a representative government in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Government has made it clear it did not want the Northern Alliance to take Kabul and they wanted it to be a demilitarised zone.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said: "Until the setting up of a multi-ethnic dispensation, no single group should occupy Kabul."
Who should govern Afghanistan when, and if, the Taleban falls? Should the Taleban and the Northern Alliance play a part in any new administration? Who should decide?
This debate has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Your comments since the programme
The US are now funding the Northern Alliance. Didn't they fund Bin Laden a few years ago ? There was a lesson to learn there, has Bush Jnr missed it ?
Mohammad Zaher, Indiana, USA
The people of Afghanistan should be their own government. All the different tribes of the country have to sit down and try to establish a working government voted in by the people to help rebuild their country, for the interest of the people.
The outside communities should not be directly involved, for this would be another invasion of their country. Help rebuild and, when the Afghanistan government is put in place peacefully, let free press, TVand radio re-enter the country so the people have the choice to live their lives without any oppression.
Educated Afghanistan people are living outside of their country and, if they can be assured re-entry to help their families and friends, then they might have a chance to. Good education for all men and WOMEN is the only way.
I think that if a broad-based government is established, the disputes will become intensified. Different people come from different groups. Some are radical and some are moderate. This will lead to more quarrels. Just like Japan after the Second World War - it became very weak. It was transferred into a democratic country. Although it is still a highly industrialized and rich country, it is very weak because there are too many different ideas from different groups. Therefore Afghanistan will remain a weak country. And many rebellions are coming soon.
Can Mr Rumsfeld kindly define the "post-Taliban" era? Taliban were a result of dynamic Afghan changes. They will always remain in Afghanistan armed to their teeth even if the alliance takes over Kabul.
Although I agree with the bombing campaign, I do feel it will achieve very little for Afghanistan. Even if we do set up a full democratic society, it will be toppled in a few years and fall backwards into civil war and decay. It takes an intelligent government to rule a democratic country. The rulers must be fair and not corrupt.
Also religion and politics do not mix. If you look at any successful country, religion plays very little part in the lifestyle of people or government. The country has to be run by intelligent and educated people and not simply by old outdated religious values.
Personally, I think there is very little the west can do for nations like Afghanistan. They have to evolve themselves and not be thrust into a democracy they have never had. Let's get Bin Laden, overthrow the Taliban and just leave them to squabble it out themselves.
Naveed Kamal, Karachi, Pakistan
I think George W Bush should be the new President of Afghanistan since he is clearly more interested in meddling with the affairs of foreign countries than sorting out his own domestic problems, then perhaps he would do more for the US than he does at present.
Afghanistan is one of those places that no matter who's in power, there will be trouble.
Maybe a coalition of tribes will be a better type of government but it will have to include the Taliban. No one group can run a country like Afghanistan.
I don't think the people of any country except the Afghans themselves have got a right to decide or discuss who should rule Afghanistan
Give me a break!!! There won't be anything left to govern!! We bomb the country to bits and pieces and then we expect there will be something there to govern???
Chad, Seattle, USA
I think an American and British military government would work fine. Notice that Germany and Japan are democratic today. The occupation in those countries lasted only a few years but worked wonders.
The only Afghan future the USA is concerned with is to install a US-friendly government that will give it full rights to laying oil pipeline in the country. Who cares about the people? Not the USA for a start.
Robert Morpheal, Canada
I believe a broad-based government should be formed under the supervision of the United Nations. The Afghans should be allowed to elect their leaders democratically. Such a government, when in place, needs to be given the required foreign aids to be able to meet the aspirations of the populace.
The irony of it all - President Bush and his partner Tony Blair have nothing against the people of Afghanistan. Except, of course to kill them. And kill them they do without mercy and in droves. They do not do that to Israel or to the IRA. The Labour Party has always been thought to be people-centrist, but now Blair is directly responsible for killing innocent Afghans. Would America and its puppet please leave Afghanistan alone.
Too many other countries' governments just use Afghanistan as a stomping ground for their armies to slog it out and the poor locals get the full blast of all the cross-fire. It is far too obvious that Afghanistan, so severely devastated that its people just simply do not have the strength or ability to stand on their own feet and maintain a stable fair system of management for their ruined country.
Mr V Patel, London
I believe that there is already a legitimate government in Afghanistan but if the people there feel that they do need a change, a popular uprising would be okay. But I do not support the idea of Americans going around the world telling the Afghans who should or should not be their government.
Maybe I'm missing something here but what has the Taleban done apart from harbour various terrorists wanted by the US? I don't like their human rights record anymore than anyone else but I don't agree with this bombing.
When Afghans are leaving the country in millions and those left behind are dying of starvation what is the point of having a government there? Run a country inhabited by few hundred people? It would be better if Afghanistan became part of Pakistan for an indefinite period. At least the aid agencies would be able get to the starving masses.
I think we are missing the point here. It matters not one iota who governs Afghanistan so long as they are prepared for the Yanks to lay an oil pipeline to carry Uzbeck oil through their country.
I, for one, am not entirely convinced that the Taleban are the enemy. I think there is conclusive evidence to support the theory of Iraqi involvement. Firstly, Saddam bears, at least two, grudges particularly against the US and Britain. Secondly, I heard on CNN that the head hijacker met twice with a known Iraqi intelligence officer. In short, there is a plethora of evidence to support the theory that Iraq was involved. Make your own judgement.
Pisut Ruttanaporn, Chicago Ridge USA
Let the people decide for themselves and respect their sovereignty.
There was no racial and ethnic dispute between the Afghan peopleż until the Taliban were brought into Afghanistan by the Pakistani government to act as their puppets, and one of the ways that the Taliban have been successful is through their division of the Afghan peopleżby separating the Pashtoons from Tajiks and Hazaras.
The major problem for any new government would be how to bring everyone under one flag.
Any solution for a post-war Afghanistan, would have to
be based on a strong central government, capable of
applying, by force if necessary, the dictat of that
government. Only a strong central
government could run the country.
Geraldyn Yap, Singapore
It is sad but true, today in Afghanistan there are no suitable factions or groups that are capable of ruling a country. We have seen Taliban and Northen Alliance, and they are just warlords and thugs. And Pakistan would never want a government which will solely in work for benefit of Afghans.
I think America and the west have to play a big role in future of Afghanistan. King could be a wise choice.
It's very easy to sit in front of the computer with a hot cup of tea and express our intellectual thoughts. I am surprised to see that people from different parts of the world are suggesting that Afghanistan should be broken and different parts should be distributed among the neighbouring countries as if its a piece of cake! But do they ever think about the feelings of an Afghan person before expressing such comments?
As an Afghan I agree with the people who said "let afghans make the post-taliban government themselves", but in reality we cannot do it alone in this desperate situation. We need super power countries like US and UK to stay behind us in this mission.
Latif and Ziam, Norway
Even if the Taleban are toppled, that won't mean that Afghanistan will have a eutopian society. All the Afghan tribesmen (including the NA) have said that any proxy government that the West tries to install, i.e. the Shah, will be will be opposed by force. More war and bloodshed. An election will almost certainly produce a relatively religiously hardline government anyway, because that's what most Afghanis are!
Here you are deciding what should be the future of Afghanistan. That's ok. Lets make a deal. You people decide the future of Afghanistan and let the people of Afghanistan decide the future of Your countries? How about that?
Since there appears to be no kind of ethnic cohesion in Afghanistan there is no reason to maintain its status as a sovereign state. Why not hand the Pashtun areas to Pakistan and unite the Uzbek and Tajik areas with their respective states. As long as we can maintain sound governments in those countries then we should have no more trouble from the Afghans.
A bit late to be thinking about this. The Monarchy should be restored until the whole nation is given the opportunity to decide how to proceed. In reality, it is nobodys business except the Afghans.
The hope that Afghanistan can survive as a stable entity is a myth. A decade of relentless civil war has proven that the different ethnic factions in Afghanistan are incapable of a peaceful co-existence under one flag. In such a case, the best scenario would be to dissolve the Durand line, amalgamate the Pashtun areas with Pakistan, and cede the rest to those Central Asian Republics bordering Afghanistan, and having large ethnic minorities there.
How about a UN appointed government, selecting educated Afghanis either living in Afghanistan or ex-patriots who fled the country during the oppression to stand for election?
Who are we to decide upon the rulers of Afghanistan? In the case of Taleban, I think without large-scale grassroot support they couldn't have managed to control 95% of Afghanistan. It seems rather farcical to me that the West should flatten the country with bombs, and then expect everything to be hunky dory.
Mushtaq, London, UK
Let the Afghan people decide.
Does Pakistan have broad-based government? They really have double standards. When it suits them they implant dictators and when circumstances change, they say the rules of game have changed. They are really bad players and bad umpires to be shunned and banned.
The UN has to play a vital role in the creation of a broad-based care-taker government for Afghanistan. Any attempt to impose a self-styled government based only on the majority of one section of the society will definitely lead to another dictatorial style government without any respect for the human rights. The UN can start to think in considering the former king Zahir Shah who commands respect and leadership of a large majority of Afghans, irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds.
I think the Northern Alliance could be an alternative. At least they are backed by countries like India and newly democratic power Russia and Iran rather than a bunch of "moderates"propped up by Pakistanis. Experience has shown there are no moderate Taliban.
Ben Taylor, Eston, England
After reading some of the comments posted here, I am saddened to see that there are so many people who believe that the West and or the UN has a right to determine the fate of the Afghan people. Hasn't the West already done enough? The rise of fundamentalism in Afghanistan was supported by the US to combat the Soviet presence there. The billions of dollars that the US spent to fuel the war there, left millions of innocent Afghans dead and a country torn to shreds. If the Super Powers did not exploit the Afghans for their own selfish reasons, the war in Afghanistan probably would have ended a lot sooner and with less destruction. South Asia has always fought Imperialism. It is time that Imperialism ends. Let the people of Afghanistan and people of other developing countries start determining their own fate. Even if the Government is Despotic or tyrannical, it should be up to the people of those countries to fight for their own self-determination.
The question you pose is really the crux of the problem in Afghanistan.
It seems that every one except the Afghanis are involved in forming a government
for Afghanistan. History should have taught us that Afghanistan's problems
lie in the very fact that external forces have meddled in its affairs ostensibly for the good
of the Afghani people (or they justified it like that) and all they ended up doing was piling
on more misery on the Afghani people. It seems we have not taken our lesson from history.
Abdul Kareem, Karachi, Pakistan
It is possible for a society to move from feudalism to socialism and still make tremendous progress.
A Cuban model with a doze of Islam is my recommendation. Since frugality is a virtue to the Taleban one need not worry too much about corruption.
It would be much more desirable than a capitalist system which may enrich a few but will leave the majority in abject poverty.
With collapse of the Soviet Union the Americans may not be too paranoid about such a state.
Interesting that not one of the above commentators here who support the Taleban as the lesser of many evils is an Afghani woman.
Bill, Mertztown, USA
Just look at history and you'll know what will happen with the future govt. of Afghanistan. Once again the U.S. and Britain will hand-pick a puppet to head the country. Likely he will become king rather than be voted in democratically by the people. This so the West can continue to control who replaces each successive king decade after decade, and as is done now in many other countries. However, don't rule out that the U.S. will have a strong military presence in this new kingdom....again just like in other mid-east countries. This will set the West up nicely to monitor Pakistan and other neighboring Muslim countries...and don't forget China too! And at who's expense? Just the poor Afghan people who the U.S. government could care less about...just like in Iraq.
As someone who remembers how exotic and mystical Afghanistan used to be, today's Afghanistan shows what happens to people when civil wars rage and the rest of the world abandons them. Afghanistan is the world's "dirty little secret" that has just come out of the closet. The Taleban must be obliterated since they are not representatives of the Afghan people. They are the creation of a foreign power seeking to annex sovereign lands through a proxy government. Certainly, the U.N. should play a role in the future of Afghanistan, but the Afghanis themselves must be allowed to choose their government. Whether it is a democracy, theocracy, or regency.....leave that up to the ordinary Afghanis. The regional and world super-powers have a duty to pay for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and to ensure ALL Afghanis are allowed basic human rights and freedoms.
I am not sure what the future of Afghanistan will be or who should govern it. Quite frankly this discussion is purely academic. For every solution we or the UN come up with there will be a dozen countries to undermine it and point their fingers elsewhere. I am certain however, that as long as the Taleban are in power, al-Qaeda will exist. As long as al-Qaeda exists the future is very bleak for all of us. It is inconceivable that the Taleban apologists should expect us to live with a gun to our head. In my view it is an "us or them" situation. If the Pakistanis and Afghans cannot understand this, then let's get down to settling it for good.
The Afghani Congress of 1000 heads of cities/villages is meeting in Pakistan presently and they represent all Afghanis. They have stated that the USA/Britain planes must stop the bombing of their "$10 tents by $1,000,000 bombs". These are the leaders who should be respected. The citizens of USA/Britain cannot afford this type of war. Will someone please use some intelligent thought and not an absurd, "White man's burden", logic.
Scott Myatt, New Braunfels, Texas
If this conflict ever ends successfully for the West and a government is imposed on Afghanistan by the west then we will either see a replay of what is happening at the moment. Previous imposed leaders have been murdered, mutilated and displayed in public areas whilst a government of Afghan people then take power. Or, we will see the same problem as that between Israel and Palestine right now. If we wish to see an end to this problem then we should stop meddling in other countries affairs. It will only breed more contempt and in another 50 years the whole sorry saga will start all over again. We are currently reaping the errors of our previous politicians - the covert underhanded and undemocratic choices they have made in the past are now coming to forefront. We certainly didn't ask for this, but the way our nations have acted in the past certainly did.
Only the citizens (including women) of Afghanistan
can decide who they want. They can vote
and choose the leaders from each tribe (Pashtuns, Tajiks, Ujbeks,Hazaras and other small groups).
The Afghani people did not choose the Taliban Government.
They took over.
But US, Russia, and UK should definitely help rebuild
the country they destroyed and continue to destroy.
They owe it to the Afghani people.
I am unsure as to whether the British public realise that Afghanistan was in a far worse state of affairs before the Taliban took power. However, that is comparing the worst with the second worse senario. I would not like the Northern Alliance having any powers of government in the country because they are entirely unstable. I wish the Russians had taken it instead!
Sukanta, Tampa, USA
A new Marshall - or rather Powell-Plan should help rebuild the country. Aid should be subject to strict conditions that human rights will be observed, especially those of women. Sharia Law is inhuman and not acceptable (something Mary Robinson ought to have an opinion about).
It's wrong to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations - in this case, to impose a government. However, the alternative in this case - of not doing so - is worse. If the choice is between imposing what suits us and being terrorized by the festering, murderous alternative, then frankly I pick the former and I don't care about principles. A UN-based body of external origin should be installed.
"Not untill the population are suffering are you sure that they are entirely submissive" - George Orwell, '1984'. This has never been more true than with the People of Afganistan. It angers me to read the comments of people supporting the 'political and social triumphs' of the Taleban. Make no mistake, this is Despotism - the only thing that will save the Afghani people is freedom; freedom to choose, freedom to learn, freedom to vote, freedom to think - this will never be allowed within the confines of a Taleban regime and is indeed what we are (in essence) fighting for. Removal of the Taliban is not only desirable, it is neccessary to ensure the stability of the region. The UN has the funds and expertise to reform Afghanistans social and economic structure, and this should be done for the good of the Afghanistan people and no other reason
Paul T Horgan, Bracknell, England
The United Nations, without a doubt. There is no one group within Afghanistan even remotely qualifed to run the country. A UN administration would obviously include Afghans, but the leadership should be people not of the region ... deomcracy should be in place for the local / regional positions, but not the central administration until such time as suitable candidates have been matured. We don't want ot replace the current regime with another that is equally corrupt, unsecular or inept.
It is the same on
the battlefield! Do the "Advisors"
to our leaders have new fresh ideas...
such as trying a more human approach by putting people
before economics for once!?
THINK HUMAN! You will amazed to see
that "They" are also human!
Stop demonizing as you become like
Thank you for your
Love,Peace and Understanding be our
Lot in the "new world".
It is vital that the post-Taleban regime bring stability to a country wrecked by 20 years of war, and establish the conditions for prosperity.
Accordingly, Afghanistan should be invited to become the 51st state of the USA.
The UN and the West should assist in the formation of an interim government for at least two years. The UN model of East Timor is a good example. During this time, the infrastructure of the country should be rebuilt at least to a basic level. This should then pave the way for a free and fair election.
Those who put the United Front (Northern Alliance) on par with the terrorists and the Taleban are lacking in detailed knowlege of Afghan history.
The United Front is a legitimate representative of the majority of the Afghan population.
This will be proven once free and fair elctions are held.
The Western World should be careful, in not being seen, to be imposing upon the Afghan people, a government which has no popular support.
While it is true that the taleban have imposed some draconian measures, it is still by far the most popular of the factions in Afghanistan.
One must not forget that prior to the taleban, the other factions were not able to govern Afghanistan and there was a complete breakdown in the Law and Order. Therefore, If the taleban falls, an interim government should be formed involving all the disparate ethnic groups including the moderate taleban, under the auspices of the United Nations. Muslim countries should, under the UN, provide members for a security/peace force for maintaining law and order.
To succeed any future plans would have to be based on, the sharia and the local jirga concept .
Syed Salman Jalal Kakakhel, Peshawar, Pakistan
Afghanistan's future is unlikely to be any different from either its past or its present.
Regardless of what happens in this present war, it will remain a veritable pawn used cynically by one opportunistic group or another to serve its partisan purposes.
In response to Lori's comments. Why does the West always think of imposing its social mores on others? It is for Afghans to decide what type of government they will have. Before imposing its government on Afghanistan, the West should ask itself how it would feel if Afghanistan was a powerful country and bombed America to remove what it thought was an oppressive regime.
What Afghanistan needs is a legitimate government. Unfortunately, even the perceived legitimacy of the democratic (but extremely corrupt) governments of Russia and India has been called into question. The Taleban have shown, whether we like it or not, that the only government that can maintain legitimacy in Afghanistan, and thus reduce drug cultivation and enforce disarmament, is an Islamic state, in name and practice.
Neither the Taleban nor the Northern Alliance are capable of handling their own country. It's time for the Americans and the British to take full control of Afghan affairs.
Bailo B Jallow, London, UK
American bombers seem to be bombing dust. Or at best, rubble into dust. What is this campaign achieving anyway? Of the billions that America spent in Afghanistan during the Cold War, not a shard of that was spent on anything constructive. All of it was for weapons for American ideals. America seems to be adding to the total number of world casualties in the wake of the WTC attacks. The Taleban and the Northern Alliance are both guilty of pathetic and barbarous human rights offences. Now they want Zahir Shah to take over. How sad for the Afghan people that someone like him is their only hope, albeit better than the Taleban. This is indeed a sad war.
Who will rule Afghanistan? Whoever allows America to build an oil pipeline across the country, I would have thought.
Looking at the present situation, the whole social infrastructure of the country has been destroyed by the fighting that has been going on for years. The only chance of Afghans reconstructing their homeland is if American interference stops for good.
Ian, Auckland, New Zealand
Once a totalitarian oppressive regime is toppled, self-governance amongst its people depends largely on their level of education and on how liberal that education has been. In a country such as Afghanistan, there is a problem. It is a country where ignorance is the instilled condition and where many have been taught to believe that one religious scripture, that originates 1400 and more years ago, is the sole and sufficient basis for all scientific, political, economic and social knowledge sufficient and necessary to all social needs. That only worsens the problem of self-governance. It is nearly impossible. Britain did a good job in bringing education to its colonies, and in fact that example might well be appropriate to Afghanistan.
The United Nations might be granted governance until education is more liberal and universal in Afghanistan so that a true and effective democratic and constitutional system can be effected. Afghanistan as a UN protectorate is not unthinkable, but with an international military presence to enforce the peace until it is ready to rule and protect itself. Afghanistan is merely a child to the western world and it must be understood as such. What the western world does with the upbringing of that child will be on its conscience and is its responsibility.
I believe that the US has been wronged and that it deserves revenge against the people that have committed this horrifying act. But I also think that Afghan civilians shouldn't be punished for the evil acts of others.
The question of "what future for Afghanistan after the Taleban" is a typical western query and is itself the root cause of terrorism in the first place. What business of ours is the future of Afghanistan? Apart from self interest and warmongering? What if the Muslim world were debating whether or not to invade the USA in order to restore democracy after the corruption resulting in Bush stealing the presidency for the big money power brokers? What if they decided to bomb London to teach Britain a lesson for oppressing the Irish? People don't embark on suicide missions without good cause so why don't we use this moment in history to find out what is driving people to such desperate behaviour.
By bombing Afghanistan to rubble in a futile bid for revenge, America is worsening the rift between the west and the rest of the world and we're all going to suffer for generations to come. America should get its nose out of other people's affairs for a change and stop trying to rearrange the world under its own image. US citizens might believe all that nonsense about the "land of the free" but I don't think what's left of the Native American tribes are taken in by that. Wake up America - leave the world alone, you're causing nothing but trouble.
Charles Moore, Edinburgh, Scotland
The question of who should govern a post-Taleban Afghanistan is absolutely none of our business. We are attacking the Taleban because they have refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden. If the present regime collapses as a result, it is up to the Afghan people to decide who should replace the Taleban. It is most certainly not the responsibility of the USA or the UK to make that decision for them. To bomb the hell out of an unfortunate country is one thing - to then dictate how it's going to be governed is adding arrogant insult to massive injury. Let's just do what has to be done as quickly and painlessly as possible, and allow these poor people the luxury and novelty of deciding their own future.
The idea of C. Bingham-Hunter that we "do what has to be done as quickly and painlessly as possible, and allow these poor people the luxury and novelty of deciding their own future" makes me wonder if he has any idea of the state of Afghanistan prior to the current action, never mind if the Taleban crumble. Surely the luxury and novelty of having an infrastructure and enough to eat would be a good start? It is horrendous and short sighted to suggest in the name of Afghani autonomy that the West bomb them out of even the repulsive government they have now, and then just say "there you go, over to you - we have no right to assist you in your recovery".
May I please say to Alison Lowe that I agree entirely with most of her expressed sentiments. My original point - now in carefully simplified form - was that it seems outrageous to attack a derelict country like Afghanistan, possibly oust the extant government, and then assume the right to insert an administration which meets our specifications. Having lived for many years in Third World countries, and as a speaker of Arabic, I am possibly more aware than Ms Lowe of the crippling predicament and hardships long endured by those unfortunate people. And, if we are not very careful, our lasting legacy to them will be a situation somewhat worse than it was before we arrived.
Tim, London, UK
The million dollar question is 'will the Taleban fall?' This has to be kept in mind, as three weeks of successive bombing has not affected them on a large scale. There has been no defection of Taleban troops seen so far and the Taleban are still there. Mazar-e-Sharif is still in the Taleban's control despite huge claims of it being captured in a few days time.
Anyway if it does happen, there is no way out except to make a government comprising the Taleban and the Northern Alliance, plus any other reasonable minority in Afghanistan. You have to keep in mind that people within the Northern Alliance have already shared power in the previous government, but failed to control certain areas where they were ruling. I believe there looks to be no certain future for Afghan people in the days ahead. Leave the Afghan people to have their own choice, interrupt where necessary. If they are happy with Taleban, give them a go.
It would certainly be nice to think Afghanistan could move to democracy but the history of trying to move countries to democracy before they are ready for it (e.g. during de-colonisation in Africa) isn't exactly encouraging.
A more realistic route might be through a constitutional monarchy.
Once the US-led NATO alliance has obtained its measure of vengeance for the September 11 terrorist attacks and terminated the rule of the Taleban, along with Osama bin Laden, there will be a vacuum to fill in terms of who will form the next government of Afghanistan.
On one hand there is the Northern Alliance, described by some experts as an opportunistic group of unsavoury characters, and on the other hand, an aging former king living in exile in Italy. There are several possible exit strategies to this "war on terrorism" that one could imagine, but once the story is off the front pages, will the charitable Good Samaritan option prevail?
Given the present status of the global economy, would these same countries, including Britain, willingly help rebuild this ravaged, war-torn country by underwriting its rebirth for the next decade or two? Or will they, after assuaging their own populace, allow the Afghans to sink back into their old impoverished lifestyle?
24 Oct 01 | South Asia
Afghans discuss political future
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