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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 12:46 GMT
What next for Afghanistan?
Diplomatic sources at the United Nations say the UN envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, is planning to convene a meeting of Afghanistan's ethnic groups in Berlin on Monday.

It is the first time a date and venue has been specified for the meeting, which is intended to be the first step towards the establishment of a broad-based transitional government for Afghanistan following the removal of the Taleban from power in Kabul.

The sources say Mr Brahimi is expected to make a formal announcement to the UN Security Council later on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, officials from about a dozen countries are to hold discussions in Washington on Afghanistan's post-war reconstruction.

The United States and Japan will host the talks, which will begin the process of assessing Afghanistan's most pressing post-war needs, such as agriculture, water, education and mine clearance.

What does the future now hold in store for the people and political institutions of Afghanistan? How should the country be governed? And do women have a role to play? Do you think the refugees should now be allowed to return?

We took your calls on this subject in Talking Point ON AIR, the BBC World Service and News Online phone-in programme which was presented by Diana Madill. Our guests were Hamid Mir, the Editor of the Ausaf newspaper in Islamanad, Pakistan and the BBC's William Reeve in Afghanistan.

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme

    Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air:

      56k modems

    This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


    Your reaction


    As for the future... tribal and community leaders may have surprisingly sophisticated answers.

    Alexis, USA
    US special forces are currently blowing up the caves which have protected the Afghan people throughout all their battles with foreign invaders, furthermore they are mapping them. That may help America but it devastates longterm security for the Afghan families of the future, let alone the present. With all this talk of the primitive society of Afghanistan, it might be worthwhile for readers to look up the country's history, poets, and ethnicities. Its quite diverse and rich with culture, just one reason why the present state is so devastating for people like me, who love Afghanistan and its people. As for the future, it might help, democratically speaking, to ask its citizens. Tribal and community leaders may have surprisingly sophisticated answers. The Afghan people may be thinking of more crucial things right now, like creating an infrastructure that stops dependence on NGO food rations, basic water treatment facilities.
    Alexis, USA

    What's next for Afganistan. Every Western industralized countries wants to play a role in the reconstruction of Afganistan. Let them be on their own. They do not need outside help. Helping Northern Alliance over Taliban would bring another wave of destruction for this poor country.
    Munis ur Rahman Warsi, Hayward, USA

    A quick glance at Muslim countries in general, and Afghanistan's neighbours in particular, and the whole of Afghan history, suggests that the best one can realistically hope for is that whatever regime emerges has learnt that supporting terrorism is a very bad idea, and that it roots out and eliminates the remaining Arab, Chechen and Pakistani proto-terrorists who have survived so far.
    Anthony Donegan, Fortaleza Brazil


    This is going to look like some patronising conference where the west tries to teach the Third World the benefits of following western practices

    Joe Ryan, Paris, France
    One thing Afghanistan certainly does not need is a conference in Berlin. Why not go to Africa, Japan, New Zealand. This is going to look like some patronising "now listen here you nasty little people" type of conference where the west tries to teach the Third World the benefits of following western practices.
    Joe Ryan, Paris, France

    Surely Geneva, Switzerland would be a better place to hold talks aimed at reconciliation among the numerous factions in Afghanistan.
    Peter Bolton, UK/US

    Some people are saying the Afghan people sense freedom. I am an Afghan refugee and I have to say I can't be happy with this victory. I am worried about the future. Alliance forces have a lot of disagreeable points of view. Uzbeks and Hazaras don't have any confidence in Tajiks. Also the Northern Alliance represents just part of the Afghan nation. The only way Afghans can live together is to accept the UN plans for governance in Afghanistan. I ask Mr Rabbani to think about the future of Afghanistan and not repeat the mistakes of the past. I ask all forces in Afghanistan to endure all races and minorities and accept the UN plans.
    Mahdi Nezami, Houston, USA


    Let's sort out the humanitarian issues first and the politics later!

    Philip S Hall, England, UK
    The UN must assert itself over the ram-shackle Northern Alliance now claiming victory and assuming power. Afghanistan is one country that is quite unable to govern itself in the true interests of the people at the present time. They need or aid and they also need a firm hand to keep the peace and ensure justice for the innocent women and children. Lets sort out the humanitarian issues first and the politics later!
    Philip S Hall, England, UK

    Afghanistan needs to form its own government with UN assistance. The so-called peace protesters should go home...their slogans speak not of peace, but anti-US, anti-Blair and anti-Bush. This is not the 1960's and this is not a Vietnam.
    Tricia, St. Louis, MO USA

    What's next for Afghanistan? Well, after we kill the terrorists, the American public will have, yet again, the privilege of pouring billions of dollars down a bottomless pit to people who, in all likelihood, will continue to blame and hate America. The rest of the world will then point to Afghanistan as evidence of American imperialism.
    Adam Parker, Portland, OR

    The future is bleak - It is a medieval world out there with uncivilized hordes who have lived by the gun (sword?) for the last 30 years. They don't know the meaning of peace and will never and there is no point in preaching unless they themselves request to be preached. Puppet/Coalition governments have never been successful and there is no reason to be optimistic that the model would be successful in the case of Afghanistan.

    The solution is a safe enclave administered by UN, Protected by NATO, financed by the Cold War Players. Citizenship should be restricted to Women, Children and those incapable of taking up the gun or sword. The rest of the country can be left to the fighters to show off their fighting skills. If they want peace, then let them ask for it. As for the Taleban, only about 10 % of them have been killed in the Air Raids. The rest of them have dispersed only to regroup and fight later. They and their sponsors should be mercilessly hunted down.
    Rajesh Rao Chillara, Oregon, USA

    Your comments since the programme


    Something modelled on Germany's federal system would be ideal

    Patrick, Acton, England
    The west should gently pressure the Northern Alliance and other parties to draw up a constitution that is (a) democratic and (b) adheres to the UN declaration of human rights. It is totally wrong to say that there are some countries where tribal dictatorships are preferable to democracy. Personally I think something modelled on Germany's federal system would be ideal.
    Patrick, Acton, England

    Afghanistan should be placed under international community rule to ensure that terrorists don't spring up again. The Afghans are still living in a primitive society that is easily overtaken with poor teachings, because often the negative aspects of such teachings surface when it's too late.
    Sokiri Lokijore, Khartoum, Sudan

    The very next step for Afghanistan is for everybody to have peace and a normal life.
    Aruna, Finland

    I would imagine that the future for Afghanistan is never going to be bright, no matter who's in charge. Tony Blair has said that we will not walk away from the people of Afghanistan. I hope the coalition lives up to this promise. That poor country will need both our aid and guidance to rebuild.
    Andy, UK

    Absolutely, women should be a part of any government in Afghanistan. The women and children have been the ones to suffer the worst under the Taleban. Their voice needs to heard. With women participating in the government there is much less of a chance for them to face the fates that they have been living with for too long. As far as the refugees returning, who are we or anyone else for matter to tell a people they cannot return to their homeland. We need to provide them with accurate information about the existing situation and allow them the freedom of choice.
    Roger Long, Mt Home, North Carolina, USA


    Judging from the bitter history of Afghanistan, foreign intervention will make things worse than before

    Danny Mok, Hong Kong, China
    I suggest foreign superpowers like the UK, the US and Russia keep their dirty hands off Afghanistan's affairs for the good of the country. Judging from the bitter history of Afghanistan, foreign intervention will make things worse than before. I think it would be best for the Afghan people to decide the future of their own country with the help of Muslim countries for peacekeeping. It would also be wise for China to play a role in talks for the formation of a wide-based Afghan government.
    Danny Mok, Hong Kong, China

    I think the comment made by Danny Mok of Hong Kong is outrageous. I have to remind Danny that if the UK had kept its "dirty hands" off, for example, Hong Kong, Danny might not have access to the technology to communicate with this Talking Point, the money to afford it, or the command of the English language to do it.
    Chris B, Bedford, England

    The only system in which you can replace the collapsed Taleban is to initiate a government where the people of Afghanistan, regardless of tribe and ethnic majority, can fully participate, and of course build their own Islamic government.
    Ibrahim Tarasibi, Boston, USA

    The next move for Afghanistan is for Mr Bin Laden to shoot himself in his bunker, following the good example of his predecessor in Berlin.
    Jack Stephens, San Francisco, USA

    Do not underestimate the Northern Alliance. They have used the US and the UK in this conflict just as much as we have used them, if not more. After years of fighting the Taleban and getting nowhere, they have managed in a few short months to capture the entire country at very little cost to them. Interestingly, the only winner out of the September 11 attacks has been the Northern Alliance, and I suspect that their victory will not be complete until they remove all western forces from Afghanistan. How we will respond is the key to Afghanistan's future.
    Sam, Australia

    The purpose of the war is elimination of terrorists and preventing exportation of violence. After these conditions are met Afghanistan should be allowed to find its own solutions and decide how to use foreign aid. Pakistan in particular will have to be watched in case it tries to establish proxy control again.
    Scott Myatt, New Braunfels, Texas, USA

    I suggest that even if the UN manages to make the Afghan people form a wide-based government now, as set forth in A.21(3) of UDHR, the period should be shorter than usual, say 2 years instead of 4. Moreover, the international community should not let the Afghans down. A continued presence is required and the next couple of elections should be thoroughly supervised by the UN.
    Peter Volford, Odenburg, Hungary

    Your comments during the programme

    William Reeve is absolutely right, there can be no peace in Afghanistan until the country is disarmed and the UN's blue helmets undertake a police action to restore law and order
    Sara, Karachi, Pakistan


    In five years' time America will have forgotten all about Afghanistan

    Guy Chapman, Reading, UK
    I confidently predict that a government will be installed by the US, substantial amounts of aid will be provided, much of which will find its way into the hands of bandits and warlords. In five years' time America will have forgotten all about Afghanistan and a new dictatorship will arise which will be at least as bad as the Taleban.
    Guy Chapman, Reading, UK

    The problem is not over, rather it has just started. The Northern Alliance is more brutal than the Taleban. They will be now be struggling to secure important positions in the coming government, which will be not be acceptable to Pashtoon tribes. It is now the responsibility of the UN and America to make a government which is based on justice rather than affiliations. Pakistan and Iran should also be given key roles in the formation of any new set-up.
    Dr. Zahoor, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    I would like to congratulate the Afghan people for regaining their freedom and I wish for a peaceful time after all these years.
    Amirhossein Ghajar, Tehran/ Iran

    As nice as it may be to see a democratically-elected drug-free equal-rights state, the urgent, practical need is to prevent the Northern Alliance from repeating shameful history, while allowing refugees and aid workers alike to sort themselves out before a disastrous winter.
    Mark Aitchison, Christchurch, New Zealand


    The situation is potentially volatile

    M. Samuel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    The situation is potentially volatile. In the near future the priority is for a framework for a government of national reconciliation. The alternative is the fragmentation of Afghanistan into a number of warring fiefdoms.
    M. Samuel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    The future of Afghanistan holds more pain for its people. As always in politics, there are no friends present, only interests. It would be naive to think that the participants in the present Afghan anarchy, including the Western ones, are acting out of sheer altruism.
    Juri Estam, Tallinn, Estonia

    What's next? More of the same of course. The neo-imperialists will never learn from their past mistakes because it's always somebody else who suffers because of them.
    Stuart, London, UK

    We need to get to the solution which offers a compromise to each of the factions, (if one does exist). If we could only get them to sit down and act like adults. It seems, in the current chaos, that each warlord is trying to stake his claim to the territories under them. And, interestingly, on the other hand, the western press seems to be overtly worried about what role women should play there. My question is, should we not bring peace to Afghanistan before we worry about the role women would play?
    Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE

    Your comments before we went ON AIR


    Let the tribes be reunited with their families

    Janice Van Cleve, Seattle WA, USA
    Afghanistan is a fictional area. Its boundaries are residue from colonial times. Divide the country up and reunite the tribes to their homelands in neighbouring countries. This is an Islamic solution, it ends ethnic strife, the neighbouring countries have the infrastructure to manage relief efforts with massive western aid and it gives the neighbouring countries a stake in maintaining peace. End UN colonialism. Let the tribes be reunited with their families.
    Janice Van Cleve, Seattle, WA, USA

    To ensure real stability in Afghanistan, the West must not just insist on there being democracy, but also that religious freedom, man's most basic human right, is recognised in the new Afghanistan.
    Tom Hawksley, Farncombe, UK

    I sincerely hope that the US and Britain act with the same gusto with regards to the political settlement in Afghanistan as they did with the bombing. Let's all be honest and not fool ourselves. Afghanistan finds herself in very fortunate circumstances due to her geographical position. The time has come for the people of that country to reap the benefit of our desire to tap other sources of crude oil.
    Ahmad Mahmood, UK


    Coalition nations should help prop up the new government

    Paul, Michigan, USA
    You all have to realise that the US government does not set up democracies in foreign countries unless they are very friendly to US corporations. The point of this war was to secure the country for an oil pipeline from Central Asia to the sea. The overriding theme of whatever government the US installs there will be amicability to that project. The international community, particularly the UK, will cooperate fully with this.
    Paul, California, USA

    The next challenge for the nation of Afghanistan is the construction of a incorrupt, just, and representative government. This will be a very delicate process, only more complicated with local/regional warlords marauding throughout the country, with personal vendettas. Or to take advantage of the power vacuum the Taleban regime has left. Mix that with a pressing humanitarian catastrophe brewing with the onset of winter fast approaching. Coalition nations should help prop up the new government and see that safety is secure for all ethnicities.
    Paul, Michigan, USA

    The top priority is to ensure there is enough food, medicine and shelter for the population, because winter is already here.
    G. Fazal, Montreal, Canada


    This time Afghanistan must not be left in disarray

    J Sarhandi, Bristol, UK
    This time Afghanistan must not be left in disarray. Only European and Muslim troops should be stationed in Afghanistan. These troops must include UK and Pakistanis to guarantee the installation of a representative democratic government in the country.
    J Sarhandi, Bristol, UK

    I believe the US and the UK, in consultation with the leaders and the citizens of Afghanistan of all ethnic groups and the United Nations, should set up a central government at first staffed by top expert international administrators for a period of two years. At the end of the two years they could hand over the administration of the country to understudies for the next two years while the international administrators either remain in Afghanistan to serve as consultants and overseers or go back to their own countries and function as consultants in absentia. At the end of the four years let the Afghan people look after their own affairs like any other democratic nation, assuming that everything goes as planned.
    Susiri C Wanigaratne, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


    Save the ivory tower democracy dreams for us in the well-fed west

    Patrick, USA
    I think it's funny to read posts about the role women will play in Afghan politics and pluralistic forms of government. A major accomplishment might be preventing starvation this winter or heading off the coming Afghani civil war. Save the ivory tower democracy dreams for us in the well-fed west who have the time and security to entertain these issues.
    Patrick, USA

    The United Nations have done the correct thing by including India to discuss the future of Afghan governance. Like Pakistan, India has no interest in Afghan real estate or its terrorist camps. Being the largest multi-ethnic democracy in the world and being very close to Afghanistan, India's experience and knowledge is very helpful for a stable future government in Afghanistan.
    Anil, India

    I fear that the UN-proposed multilateral government may be impractical, even after the war becomes history. There are too many bickering factions in Afghanistan. I propose a countrywide referendum, that would fulfil the US's foreign policy objective of spreading democratic ideals and ensure that we get it right the first time thereby precluding the possibility of a second war in Afghanistan. However, I must stress that the referendum must be supervised by UN observers.
    Peter Bolton, UK/US

    It is better to live separate rather than living together and fighting forever. Make up states depending on ethnic communities and let them rule separately.
    Vinay Kumar, Osaka, Japan


    It is not acceptable to assume that Afghans are not capable of deciding their own future

    Shireen, Vancouver, Canada
    It is not acceptable to assume that Afghans are not capable of deciding their own future. Foreign countries must take their wish lists out and be kept out. If Afghanistan is a troubled country, we should thank the UK, Russia, Pakistan, India, Iran and from 1996, mostly USA for supporting the Taleban regime up until September 11. As recently as September 9, the CIA made a statement of support for the Taleban against Iran. Afghanistan has a rich history and culture, just leave it to Afghan people because they know best. I hope for an Afghanistan, free of foreign influence.
    Shireen, Vancouver, Canada

    Shireen: Afghans could never be one nation. How can an ordinary Afghan expect that from their leaders? This could be the last chance for them to have a peaceful Afghanistan and this can never be possible without intervention from foreign countries.
    Waqar A Cheema, Montreal, Canada

    Yes, the people of Afghanistan now can play music, shave beards and adopt their desired life styles. But who would guarantee the safety of their lives and honours under brutal Northern Alliance commanders?
    Irfan Shahzad, Islamabad, Pakistan

    To Narendra Nathmahal, India: The last thing the Afghan Muslims need is advice from India. Please take a look at how Indian Muslims are treated in India, and you will know why.
    Arif Mahmood, Bombay, India

    To Arif Mahmood, Bombay, India: While I agree with you that the way Muslims in India are treated is not the best, I hope you are glad that you live in a country like India. Anywhere else wouldn't be any easier. In fact, it would be harder. Peace.
    SBC, USA

    To Arif Mohamed, Bombay, India: I cannot believe a true India Muslim would have anything to complain about in India. Out of a population of one billion people, 45 percent are earning less than a dollar a day, and India itself has appalling problems to deal with. But everybody has equitable shares in this. Not Muslims alone. If one doesn't want to practice family planning do not expect the government to carry your load. Also if one wants to force women to be in veil or move towards that, then Afghanistan or Pakistan is a better place than India.
    Suresh Iyer, Canton, USA

    To Arif Mahmood, Bombay, India: India is a tolerant country unlike other Muslim states. Muslims are allowed to practice and preach their religion. The Indian government declares Muslim festivals as national holidays. Muslims hold important positions in government. Tell me one Muslim country which allows Hindus or for that matter, Christians to practice and preach their religion freely. If you still have a problem with India, I think you should move to Pakistan. India must play a major role in the formation of the new government in Afghanistan. They have supported the Northern Alliance. Also, it is high time for the western governments to realise Pakistan's role in supporting terrorism.
    MN, San Jose, USA

    I applaud the many brave people, British, American, and all other countries involved, who are sincerely dedicated to helping clean up Afghanistan and bring peace. I hope they can stay united and focused on creating a peace loving unified society, tolerant and proud of its diversity. Intolerance itself is the destructive disease which the Afghan people must fight and defeat. Their hearts must be warm to their commonality. They need to learn the ways of love and caring toward all of their countrymen.
    George Werner, Richmond, Va, USA


    With more good deeds and some faith that things will get better, anyone can help

    Lauren, USA
    Time and work will be required to recover Afghanistan, but it can be done. The Taliban has been basically holding the citizens of Afghanistan hostage for many years. When the Taliban took over, no one could do anything about it. Now that they are gone, there is much room for improvement in this deprived country. American children have already helped by sending $1 each to the White House for the starving children in Afghanistan. With more good deeds and some faith that things will get better, anyone can help. People who have lived in America all their life have no idea what it feels like to live is such a deprived environment. With some work, motivation, and hope, Afghanistan will get through this and can live happily ever after.
    Lauren, USA

    Pakistan and India should not be allowed to influence/interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. The US and the UK have played the most important and major role in liberting Afghanistan from the brutal Taleban regime. The Northern Alliance has only capitalized on the initiatives of the US and the UK bombing. Just as the US and the UK have so far paved the way for a future Afghanistan with law and order and peace and prosperity I believe now the international community should extend to the US and the UK all the financial, (they alone should not be expected to bear all the costs), political,diplomatic,etc. assistance they now require to help rebuild Afghanistan in the image of all the ethnic groups in Afghanistan and not in the image of the Northern Alliance alone or in the image of Pakistan, India or any of the many other countries surrounding Afghanistan, because Afghanistan belongs to all Afghan citizens no matter what their ethnic origins are. This will of course depend on whether the US and the UK would stay long enough in Afghanistan to see that becomes a reality.
    Susiri C Wanigaratne, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


    The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan must be included in governance.

    Linda WS, Canada
    No News reports, or statements by any governments involved have included the voices of women in the dialogue to help Afghanistan. Has the whole world forgotten that females are at least 50% of the population? This horrific mess illustrates the danger of power hungry males exercising control over people with little regard for the human rights of women. Why are western media conveniently denying discussion of this rather basic condition for balanced society? The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) must be included in governance.
    Linda WS, Canada

    As a 20 year old muslim girl i am torn apart by both the antics of the Northern Alliance and the Taliban. I would beg them to put down their weapons, and give the Afghani civilians a future. After a bloodied past, that is the least that is owed to this ruined society.
    Somi, Manchester,UK


    It is up to Afghan men and women to sieze the moment.

    Jill Yorke
    As the old saying goes,"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink". It is up to Afghan men and women to sieze the moment. No matter how much money and help the West gives to Afghanistan it will make no long term difference unless the Afghan people care more for their country. America did not destroy Afghanistan, they helped in the destruction of their own country. I hope they do succeed. Democracy was not handed to the West. Ordinary people gave their lives.
    Jill Yorke

    Some say that the Northern Alliance will take over all Afghanistan - they dont know this war torn country. The NA, with the best of luck, has no more then 20 thousand troops. They have no roots whatsoever in around 12% of the country, and the rest will never let them stay there.
    Samad Wardag, Europe

    The future of Afghanistan is partition at best, never-ending civil war at worst. And if UN troops do go there to keep the peace, it will become self-evident that they're nothing more than mercenaries for the oil companies and their oil pipeline.
    John McVey, Scotland

    The problem with Afghanistan was never the Taleban. They were the symptoms of a defective culture, not the cause. Perhaps the Afghans will educate themselves and refrain from oppressing each other, but their is no historical precendent. Even before the Taleban, Afghan men were seen carrying round rockets and machine guns as fashion accessories.
    Dominic Connor, London, UK


    Decades of troubles do not finish overnight when the notional capital of an immensely diverse nation falls

    Tom G, London
    We are talking as if this entire conflict is over! Decades of troubles do not finish overnight when the notional capital of an immensely diverse nation falls to one or other faction. Kabul is the capital on maps and in the UN, but each faction has its tribal homeland. Troops are needed in peacekeeping roles, but they can only be deployed if peace is possible. At the moment, we need to see the conflict run its course to a stage at which humanitarian support through military preence is possible. Taliban has brought trouble upon itself and its politics and beliefs are questionable, but we have to include them. We have to embarace all factions to avoid discrimination and marginalisation. They may not be ready to become involved. So we must continue the military efforts in conjunction with diplomatic and humanitarian contact until such time as a lasting democratic process can be approached. This will take years.
    Tom G, London, UK

    Their lives could not be worse than they were. Now, at least they have a chance, before, they had none. They now have hope, and as that hope is shared by every decent person in the world, their lives will almost certainly be better.
    Jonathan Tenniel, England

    The sense of freedom the Afghans are presently feeling should be matched by the swearing in of a good and stable government which is not just favorable but competent and has the foresight to bring the country out of poverty towards prosperity, peace and freedom of choice. The right choice of representations of different factions, parties, gender and ethnics are very critical for equality and the good representation for the people. All the best to the UN, as it takes on this complicated and tedious task of creating the right and appropriate body to govern the country.
    Javier, Singapore


    Common Afghanis will remain without water, medical facilities, education and shelter

    Naveed Kamal, Pakistan
    What next for the gullible, impoverished, uneducated and starved Afghans? Well I am afraid more of the same. The coalation will arrange a few hundred million dollars of aid to the country and clear it's conscience. Most of this money will find its way to the coffers of the ruling elite. Common Afghanis will remain without water, medical facilities, education and shelter. Tens of thousands will die of mines or at the hands of their own. They will all be forgotten and we will move on to the next global crisis. This has happened before and will happen again unless we all change the way we think.
    Naveed Kamal, Karachi, Pakistan

    In order for peace to reign in Afganistan, the people there have to want it. If they can refrain from fighting each other after the Taleban are gone, then there will be hope. All that can be done is for the UN to provide some sort of economic rekindleing and try to encourage education. However, it is up to them to cooperate with the UN and each other. I hope that they can have some sort of future free of violence and death through their own autonomy. I think the the whole world should help them to rebuild a stable country so that they will not have to resort to another terroristic regime that would be their only means of stability.
    Jim, USA

    If UN makes a government, then certainly I feel that the situation will change, but if again NA comes then the same situation returns. If the situation is well settled then refugees may return. Most of the refugees have their own work (small businesses), so if UN helps create a good business situation then refugees certainly will have better life. Women must take part in all activities including the political and military. Then alone will Afghanistan lose the relgious chauvanism.
    Chandra, India


    Every time they think peace is around the corner, but it is like a mirage

    Lt Col(R) Khalid Munir, Islamabad, Pakistan
    Kabul residents were as happy at the coming of the Taleban as they were seen to be this week. Every time they think peace is around the corner, but it is like a mirage. Russia, America, Europe and the Islamic countries, it is all your doing. For a change give peace a chance. There can't be a favourable government for all the six neighbours. Please opt for a stable rather than a favourable government. A stable government will bring stability to the whole region. Rebuild it, create jobs settle the refugees; women will themselves get the jobs.
    Lt Col(R) Khalid Munir, Islamabad, Pakistan

    Before the bombing, the quality of Afghan life was the Taleban's responsibility. Now, it has become the responsibility of those who bombed.
    Sophia Drossopoulou, London, England

    Life cannot be worse than being an unwilling slave or prisoner to a totalitarian and brutal regime that governs every expression and action absolutely - not only that but one that requires consent and the expression "we like it this way". It is hard to imagine and difficult to understand for those who have not endured that kind of day-to-day terror. Hopefully the Northern Alliance will liberate all of Afghanistan, drive out and destroy Al Qaeda, the Taleban henchmen of a foreign conspiracy, and any other similar groups. We might hope that trend will spread into other nations where similar difficulties plague the people, and that other nations will once again support the war against terror wherever it is found in the world.
    Robert Morpheal, Canada


    Perhaps an all-women government should take the place of testosterone-driven men

    Gary Seery, Watertown, N.Y., U.S.A.
    Afghanistan will be free when the women and daughters of the country have the same freedoms as the women in Britain and the U.S. For the next decade, Britain, Germany, Russia, and the U.S. should divide it and occupy it as they did Berlin after the war. This will give the powers time to disarm all of these idiots. Perhaps an all-women government should take the place of testosterone-driven men.
    Gary Seery, Watertown, N.Y., U.S.A.


    The refugees should not, for the time being, be allowed back as there is enough chaos in Kabul and other cities.

    Arif Sayed, UAE
    The refugees should not, for the time being, be allowed back as there is enough chaos in Kabul and other cities. The UN should send in a Peace Corps made up of primarily Arab, Muslim and non-aligned countries to ensure factional fighting does not erupt again. It is of paramount importance that Kabul should be demilitarised before a representative government is formed under the auspices of UN. As for women, they never did play that big a role in Afghanistan politics.
    Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE

    In response to Arif Sayed, UAE: I think Afghans have made it clear that they do not want Arabs in their country by the killings that have occurred there in recent days, nor do they want the like of the Pakistanis there. You are absolutely correct in saying the refugees should not be allowed back in. It will create more chaos in the case that they have to make another run for the border.
    Ryckesha Wells, Bay Area, US

    In response to Arif Sayed of Dubai, yes, women have not played that big a role in politics in the past but that was due to the Taleban's warped version of Islam. Now that the Taleban rule is quickly deteriorating, perhaps it's time for that to change. No, let me rephrase that...it is definitely time for that to change. Women must be included regardless of the fact they were not in the past. That was a mistake. Mistakes can be corrected. A new government should include representatives from ALL the peoples of Afghanistan...except of course, the Taleban.
    Khalida Bektas, UK/Turkey

    In response to Ryckesha and K.Bektas, I would wish to clarify as follows

    • Afghans do not like any foreigner to take sides with one faction against the other. The Arabs who were killed recently were seen as doing just that. Only yesterday did my family members return from Kabul where they had gone to distribute medicines, blankets etc.They were wecomed by all factions. Are you saying that Americans/British are welcome in Afghanistan and Arabs and other Muslims arenot?
    • As far as women are concerned one has to see this with the Afghan mentality rather than a European one. I am absolutely in favour of women taking part in the rebulding of Afghanistan BUT let us not give it a European perspective. There are more important issues at stake here than the role of women.
    Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE

    I wonder why Pakistan gets the blame for Afghans. Pakistan did it's best under the circumstances in which US and its western allies left them after Soviet Union vanished. And Pakistan was left to pick up the pieces. Taleban were created in part by US and Pakistan. After Soviets left, there was chaos and Pakistan ended up helping Taleban so they can give peace a chance, not knowing the oppressive behavior of them. Pakistanies should be proud of at least they tried to do their best for Afghans, now its US turn to create a stable government there so people can have peace at last.
    Amjed Masood , Pakistan/USA


    No-one except a bigot and fool suggests that women should not play a full role in post-gender-Apartheid Afghanistan

    Natassia Khan, UK
    I am most concerned that the UN and the West make sure Afghan women are given equal rights. They are half the population, human beings just as much as men are. No-one except a bigot and a fool would suggest that black people should not play a full role in post-Apartheid South Africa; No-one except a bigot and fool suggests that women should not play a full role in post-gender-Apartheid Afghanistan.
    Natassia Khan, UK

    With the defeat of Taleban, the people would win their freedom. But there are many more battles that need to be won. The extent of human devastation during the two decades of conflict are clearly visible. Having come so far, the world community cannot be satisfied with the success of its objective of fighting terrorism. Attempts have to be made by the world community to rebuild Afghanistan and to ensure that the freedom achieved by the people improves their quality of life in economic terms as well.
    Umesh Bali, Mumbai (INDIA)

    We can hardly tell the Afghan people what they have to do.
    Volker, England (ex Germany)

    Don't forget - the Northern Alliance has hardly been champions of human rights, either! Only if the Northern Alliance is carefully watched and a broad-based government can be set up will the Afghan people have some peace.
    Lisa, USA

    I think Afghans should choose their friends carefully from now on. After 30 years of war and destruction the only country in the neighbourhood who has some semblance to what common Afghans hope for is India. Though India has been ignored so far I hope India's voice is heard and welcomed. India has rich cultural ties to Afghanistan. It is time to revive those ties and revert Afghanistan to its rich historical past.
    Narendra Nathmal, USA/India

    I think Christopher Laird is wrong. You can bet the horse-trading for the distribution of power in post-Taleban Afghanistan is underway right now. If the UN waits even a week it's likely to find itself facing a fait accomplie.
    Malcolm McMahon, UK


    Multi-ethnic government is what is needed

    NJA, UK
    Anyone who says the NA are the same as the Taleban must be living in a different world. It's clear to see the joy on the peoples faces now the thugs have gone. Only a complete maniac would want the Taleban back. Multi-ethnic government is what is needed - just like they have been operating successfully in the USA for years.
    JA, UK

    The most difficult task for the Afghan people is to : Stop using guns and start using their brains in a more productive way. We can go ahead and give all the aid we want, and deploy any number of forces (UN,US,UK or anyone) we want. But these people have been used to fighting for all these years. Most of the men dont know anything else but using weapons. They have to make a living. They may try, the moment they fail they are going back to guns. So it is absolutely necessary for the other countries to help get their economy going so that people have jobs and a decent life. Or else 10 years down the line we may see Taleban-II.
    Vijay Rajanala, USA

    Witness events of the past few hours. A group of Hazara tribesmen is reported to have begun to march on Kabul for their share of the spoils. If this is any indication of Afghanistan's future, it certainly doesn't bode well. Let us all hope they can overcome their bitter internal rivalries for a time to allow something resembling a representative government to be installed. Otherwise I don't see much prospect for a brighter future.
    Marten King, Portland, OR USA

    Pessimists may look at the glass as half empty - I do hope most people look at it as half full. Shaving, music, education, sports - things which we take for granted were denied to the Afghans for 5 years. That is half a decade. If all those bombs resulted in even one woman being able to lift the veil and look at the outside world, I think it was worth it.
    Jvalant S, Princeton, New Jersey, USA


    The smiling faces of men, women and children is the best piece of TV out of Afghanistan in a long time.

    Samuel Apedel, Uganda / UK
    The smiling faces of men, women and children following the apparent unravelling of the Taleban regime is the best piece of TV out of Afghanistan in a long time. The world should not forget that Afghanistan has been a battle field for about 20 years. Civil society as the West understands it does not exist and the differences that have led to extremism, warlordism and factional in-fighting still exist. A broadbased government presents the only window of opportunity. Replacing the Taleban with another single group will simply not do. Yes, women, men, children and every single Afghan should be brought to bear. If the smiling faces are anything to go by and with a lot of help from the international community, Afghanistan will see peace. It will not be easy and it will not be immediate but there will eventually be peace. No single group of humanity should be doomed to permanent horror. The community of civilized nations should not let that happen. Will it?
    Samuel Apedel, Ugandan in Leeds, UK


    Afghans much prefer fighting to stability

    JS, UK
    The Soviets offered the Afghan people sexual equality, full employment, modern infrastructure and education for all. However, those in control decided to go with the USA's sole offer of weapons of war. Afghans much prefer fighting to stability. No matter who is controlling Afghanistan there will be others, equally well armed, who will want them removed. Those in power fight to stay there, those not in power fight to get there. Afghanistan has always been that way and token UN gestures of support will never deflect those who would rather kill than talk.
    JS, UK

    The Northern Alliance is no more a representative of the 'Afghan people' than the Taleban were. The issue now must surely be whether America can apply the same dedication and patience to re-building a nation it just helped destroy. Will it allow Afghans to choose their own system and style of government, or insist on installing their own?
    David Brown, Helsinki, Finland

    Again and again it is being said that the Taliban have gone, peace and joy is seen in Kabul - but the Western diplomacy is still not right. I saw the BBC news on Sunday after Kabul was taken and there you could clearly see Taliban soldiers being executed and beaten up. So are these not "war crimes"? I'm sure Milosevic was done in for the same. Under the alliance there may be peace and joy but there will also be unjust atrocities, which will be the making of someone other than the Taliban regime. The coalition is making decisions but all it is doing is creating more hatred for themselves - at least from a percentage of the population.
    Banaris, UK


    The real test of our commitment starts now.

    Ivo van Riet, Utrecht
    We cannot take leave of our reponsibility for the welfare and safety of the Afghan people. We took up that responsibility when we, rightly so, intervened in their country's political situation. The real test of our commitment starts now. Bombing is easy, healing is hard. It is vital that all of Afghanistan's ethnic groups be included in a future democratic government. Although the Taleban have proved themselves a brutal and dangerous regime, their ethnic power base, the Pashtun, must not be excluded. Doing so would merely start another cycle of violence and, also, increase tensions inside an already highly volatile Pakistan. UN peacekeeping forces must be decisive and play a strong role in preserving the peace and guiding Afghanistan on the road to safety and democracy. Blair's idea of including UN forces from Muslim countries is an excellent one, as this will unnerve fundamentalist claims of a 'war against Islam', and possibly help in keeping the coalition together. Most importantly, we must not forget the Afghans and give them all the humanitarian aid possible.
    Ivo van Riet, Utrecht, The Netherlands

    The country needs a pluralistic secular system of government, backed up by a liberal economy and equal treatment of women. Mass education programs to combat widespread ignorance of the wider world need to be put in place. The militias need to be disarmed and banned. The narcotics trade needs to be wiped out. And, frankly, the world needs to accept that militant religion is the principal cause of the current problems, and this needs to be kept in control everywhere - Afghanistan should be an object lesson in what happens when the world allows militant religion to spread. How many more Afghanistans do the liberal PC brigade want? Some things are just plain wrong, and the fundamentalist world view is one of them.
    Euan Gray, Edinburgh, UK

    This war will not be truly over until all of Afghanistan's "children" are adequately fed, clothed and educated and have a sense of everyday security that we in the west take for granted. Our own leaders have shown great statesmanship in recent times, now let's see what they can really do to prove their critics wrong. This is the time to put this country back on it's feet. Anyone who harbours any compassion for humanity has a responsibility to these people.
    Paul Roberts, Warwickshire, England


    My impression is that people are still in danger.

    Annemieke Pronker-Coron, Florida
    I am very concerned about the immediate future of the Afghan people. My impression is that, even though women seem to get some rights back, people are still in danger. The value of life seems of little importance to either the Taliban as well as the Northern Alliance fighters and supporters. The shaving of beards and other expressions of newly regained freedoms, may just be part of a honeymoon. One can only speak of liberation if people really feel free in a country where law and order is restored and where oppression of any kind is a word of the past. Where people get equal opportunities and where international aid can be received by all. I hope the UN can find the way to establish that goal.
    Annemieke Pronker-Coron, Gainesville, Florida, U.S.

    Despite the dramatic developments in Afghanistan during last few days, a sense of insecurity and fear still persists in the minds of the ordinary Afghans. It will be a Herculean task to rebuild the shattered lives of these innocent civilians, notwithstanding the fact that they will continue to remain sceptic about the political future of their country. While the war continues to rage in the southern Afghanistan and some isolated pockets in the north, it is all the more important that a sense of confidence builds up in the ordinary Afghans, at least in the territories liberated recently from the Taleban rule. They must start comprehending the basic objectives of the 'Operation Enduring Freedom'. The presence of an UN-led peacekeeping force in the region will definitely ensure security and order. The US has to play a major role in exercising some kind of power-sharing executive between different constituents of the northern alliance and other ethnic groups to maintain law and order. In every probability, the Afghans are now looking forward to the rich nations to help in rebuilding their destroyed homes and infrastructure, not to speak of the vital aid of food and medicines. I am sure the US will take the lead in spending a fraction of their planned expenditure on this war to reconstruct Afghanistan and win the hearts of the masses.
    Mahesh Chandra Somani, Oulu, Finland


    Education for all citizens and economical development will bring Afghanistan to the 21st century.

    Narinder Dogra, Morgan Hill, USA
    It is the mindset of Afghans that needs to change and it definitely has begun to change over the last few days. We expect a secular, democratic and independent Afghanistan free of foreign terrorists and interference. The education for all citizens and economical development will bring Afghanistan to the 21st century. Its unique strategic location in the oil rich neighborhood and its vast mineral wealth will usher a new prosperity for future generations of Afghanistan. Congratulations to Afghans who have a great future ahead!
    Narinder Dogra, Morgan Hill, USA

    The horrors of war and depravation may be ending for the men of Afghanistan, but not for the women. As always, when the war is over the politically correct will claim cultural and religious "requirements" and seek to deny the Afghani women human rights and representation. Once again, Afghani women will become slaves within their own society.
    Linda, NYC, USA


    I congratulate the Afghan people for their freedom

    Anil Rao, India
    I congratulate the Afghan people for their freedom. Here one should not forget the Northern Alliance, with a lot of will power and courage, has freed Afghan people from the evil Taleban and are in turn helping USA to capture Laden without any US causalities. Its better to have a democratic government in Afghanistan with representation of all the ethnic groups, A future stable Afghan government will be better to be formed in consultation with all the democratic, secular surrounding countries with the help of the US, Russia and the UN.
    Anil Rao, Hedrabad/India

    The people of Afghanistan will do well provided the Pakistanis don't interfere and try to impose their way. The military/mullah establishment in Pakistan is the primary evil in this region. They architected the Taliban through their madressas and will do it again. Let that evil be removed completely. Afghanistan and all its various groups will then live together in peace and harmony.
    Hajj, Toledo, USA

    May god help us if they are not better off. All parties have used these people as pawns for decades now. It would be best if all of these parties, including my United States, took part in the rebuilding process. The symbolism and the sincere desire to help this nation may go a long way toward creating a sense of world peace and stability.
    Dan , Boston, MA USA

    I can't see how things couldn't improve for the Afghans. Greater freedom and the eyes of the world on them. The story isn't quite over yet, though. With extremists like Bin Laden and Mullah Omah taking refuge in the country, Afghan people will never be truly safe. These extremists have brought misery to a country that is not even their own, imposing their viewpoints on a desperate race of people, who have lost a lot more than they have gained by having these people stay there. Women should be fundamental in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, along with full representation of all ethnic factions. I do believe the Afghan people would want serious change and it is up to more developed countries not to impose their views, but to help & advise.
    Steve Sullivan, Farnborough, UK


    Afghanistan is the victim of neglect of all the previous allies it had.

    Zameer Ahmed, New York , USA
    Afghan women and children form 70 percent of the population. Any help would be first needed to starving families and widows. But if the priority for the allied attack sweeps this aside, there will be a more dire situation where people will be starved and harrased by the Nothern Alliance - who don't have a good record during the earlier reign in Kabul. Afghanistan is the victim of neglect of all the previous allies it had. US and muslim countries included. History will repeat itself, the US will 'forget' and go away after the capture or death of Bin Laden. Then what? Looting, Greed and some side line news on the western newspapers.
    Zameer Ahmed, New York , USA

    If every country now helps to rebuild all the schools, hospitals, power plants and Universities, the life of the Afghans will certainly be better. US and Russia certainly owes it to them. But about a long term stable Government...... one can only hope. There hasn't been one in the past.
    Ratna Sengupta, MD, USA

    The main concern is how to form a civilized government with parliaments and the like. That would require holding major elections in the country. There should be only few steps to democracy, because further complications tend to slow down any proceedings.
    Peter, Helsinki, Finland


    We should all support them and help them build a peaceful and prosperous future

    Victor D, Amsterdam
    I think the Afghan people are in a unique position in having the attention and compassion of the world focused on them. Provided they refrain from totalitarian or terroristic forms of government, they will get worldwide support and aid to set up a way of government and life that will be wholly of their own choosing and conform their beliefs and cultures. We should all support them and help them build a peaceful and prosperous future in the hope it will make up for some of the suffering they have endured in the past.
    Victor D, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    Women are 50% of the population of Afghanistan. They should not play 'a role' in the country's future but any role they wish to. As modern history demonstrates, societies in which women are fully participant are stronger, more stable, and more economically successful. The horrors of Taliban Afghanistan are what happens when, in Saira Shah's words, "half of society is shut down". Women MUST be fully included in Afghanistan's future if that future is to be better than its recent past, and there are many educated and brave Afghan women pressing for this opportunity to recivilise and rebuild.
    Michael Entill, UK

    To Michael Entill, I dont see women fully represented in either UK or USA governments. Why not put our own house in order before we reorder the rest of the world?
    Eileen, UK

    Why think that this is over? There is no guarantee that the Taleban won't counter attack, the Northern Alliance haven't taken control of the entire country yet. This is still a very delicate war situation and the question asked is not not appropriate. It is fairer to ask that if the Northern Alliance are to take the entire country (with the help of the allied forces) would the UN finally help in assisting to make a long term stable government. It should be governed by Afghans, and supported by the World.
    Christopher Laird, Tokyo, Japan

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Linda, Toronto, Canada
    "The voices of the women of Afghanistan have not been heard"
    Javier, Singapore
    "The Afghan people need a good, stable, government"
    Dominic Connor, Essex, UK
    "Perhaps the Afghans will will refrain from oppressing each other"
    Annemieke Pronker-Coron, Florida, USA
    "People are still in danger"
    Victor Dago, Netherlands
    "Afghanistan is now in a unique position"
    Lt Col Khalid Munir (retired), Pakistan
    "They think peace is around the corner"
    Javed Ludin, London, UK
    "People have suffered for a long time"
    Peter Volford, Odenburg, Hungary
    "I harbour no illusions about the future"
    Krish Shrikanth, Madras, India
    "Bin Laden still has a large following"
    See also:

    15 Nov 01 | South Asia
    Taleban leader remains defiant
    15 Nov 01 | South Asia
    Kabul's new rulers tighten grip
    14 Nov 01 | South Asia
    Rabbani's Afghan comeback
    Internet links:


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