On air: Your questions about Afghanistan

afgh4 This remains the most reported and discussed issue in the world. It’s been the case all week. And we’re aware that as well as a great deal of comment, many of you have questions you want answered about the country and the conflict. So we’re going to invite a panel of experts onto the show who we’re confident will be able to provide the information that you want. So please post questions, and we’ll update details of the panel as they’re booked.


DAVID LOYN, the BBC’s Developing World correspondent

DOUG BEATTIE ,  a retired British Army Officer with 27 yeas of experience,  and was in Afghanistan in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

DAWOOD AZAMI, Senior Producer at the Pashto Service

84 Responses to “On air: Your questions about Afghanistan”

  1. November 5, 2009 at 13:56

    Salaam Ros and the whole gang ! 😉
    1stly let me say the following to my brothers and sisters down there in Afghanistan : Hang in there guys, nobody understands what you guys are going through better than us Iraqis, our thoughts and prayers are with you guys…
    My questions to your panel are : Are there areas in Afghanistan which the Taliban currently have total control of ?! If yes then are those areas small or large ?! And how are civilians who live in these areas coping under the rule of the Taliban ?! And are there any attempts inorder to take those areas back from the Taliban ?! If yes then what’s the rate of success of these attempts ?! With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  2. November 5, 2009 at 14:00

    Salaam again guys,
    Another set of questions to your panel : Does Afghanistan have natural resources ?! If yes then what are they ?! And what’s the main current provider of the national income in Afghanistan ?! With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  3. 3 Nigel
    November 5, 2009 at 14:02

    Hi Ros…hope you have some balance in your panel and the facilitation of the discussion. My question – Is the reason why we feel that we have to leave the country in a peaceful democratic state, “get the job done,” because we are the ones that threw it in to discord and dissaray by invading and now occupying Afghanistan?

  4. 4 Eva, Berlin
    November 5, 2009 at 14:11

    1. There seems to be a new quality of the so called insurgency, that the shooter, who killed four British soldiers and left several others injured before he managed to escape, obviously aided by another policeman – this is not like the suicide bombing that is performed regardless of who will be the victims. This new attack on British troops has clear targets and a clear strategy. What do the experts make of this?

    2. The lack of legitimacy of Karzai is destroying completely the allegation of the foreign troops’ fight for democracy. Why couldn’t there be at least a yes/no-vote for or against the only candidate.
    I would like to quote a few lines by Nushin Arbabzadah (Guardian):
    “News that the people of Afghanistan would be treated to another five years of Hamid Karzai’s eccentric rule was covered in all Afghan media outlets apart from Karzai’s own mouthpiece, the state-run RTA television. Instead of reporting Karzai’s re-election, the TV station ran a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

    Given the ridiculous nature of the August 2009 elections, Tom and Jerry was a fitting response to Karzai’s ‘victory’. After all, what is Afghan politics these days but an international comedy show, making fun of its people and future?'”

  5. 5 Dan
    November 5, 2009 at 14:18

    Afghanistan is at best, an 8th Century civilization. Bush trying to bring Democracy to them is like making a pig fly.
    Sadly women 2,000 years ago had more rights and were treated better than the Taliban do.
    However with an endless supply of Taliban streaming across a porous Pakistani border what hope is there of ever acheiving stability in Afghanistan?
    There are only two courses of action in my opinion:
    1. Use overwhelming Western Military might to seal the border with Pakistan and clean the Taliban out of Afghnaistan. At the same time the Pakistani’s must clean out the tribal areas of Pakistan bringing them under Federal control while destroying the Taliban & al-Queda.
    The danger is that innocent civilians who cannot understand that Afghanistan was made into a war zone by the Taliban & al-Queda will die causing a “popular” uprising.

    2. Cut a deal with the Taliban in exchange for Mullah Omar, bin-Laden & al-Zawahiri.
    Muslims kill each other now so turning on one another is no great leap of faith.

    If we cannot accomplish either then we either are stuck in Afghanistan for all of the 21st century or will suffer the same defeat as the Soviets and British have earlier.

      November 5, 2009 at 19:13

      That is very clever analysis of the situation and I could not have put it any better.

      Dan please put where you are from. 🙂

  6. November 5, 2009 at 14:19

    Why is the International Community apparently incapable of inventing or adopting a fraud-proof voting system?

    Mr Alex Weir, Baghdad and Harare

  7. November 5, 2009 at 14:27

    Nobody seems to focus on the issue of Heroin, which is the real fuel in this fire triangle, President K. is obviously complicit in as much as turning a blind eye to the plantations and routes that it’s peddled through to Russia, the biggest end user of Afghan heroin. This heroin is being traded for laundered money and small arms weapons, originating from Russia. These same weapons that are killing our soldiers in the field. So the conclusion is that President K. is arming the Taliban, and it’s therefore small wonder that the Taliban want him in power and is even smaller wonder that he’s remained in power contrary to the democratic traditions of normal election processes. I say that President K is not a partner that can be trusted. I say pull out the troops and regroup and refresh and if need be go back to help with quasi democracy they will inevitably try to establish any way. Give them a budget, advice on how to spend it and request real time invoices with a transparent transaction history.

    Marc Babbitt

  8. 9 Tim Dean
    November 5, 2009 at 14:46

    Can anyone on your panel tell us how aid monies have been spent over the past eight years; how much has gone to feather Karzai’s personal nest as well as his cronies.

  9. November 5, 2009 at 14:48

    Each person who has an opinion about “what should be done (or not done) in Afghanistan” views the issue through his/her own prism of experience AND agenda for the future. Given the myriad facets of history and the present-day reality, how can any one person’s insights and their recommendations about the “way forward” be trusted as the right path to follow? It feels like the more we know, the less clear the choice that should be taken.

    [Anyone who has not read Hoh’s letter of resignation (in WHYS post yesterday) should read it. So far, he seems to be the bridge between reality on the ground and the interests of all concerned.]

  10. 11 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    November 5, 2009 at 14:55

    Every time a civilian is killed in an American or NATO operation against militants (“collateral damage”, if you will) there is outrage and demonstrations by locals. But when El Quada or the Taliban (many of whose fighters are NOT Afghans) diliberately target and kill large numbers of civilians, the locals appear to accept it without protest.

    If there is any logic behind this bizarre double-standard, could your panel of experts please explain what that logic might be?

  11. 12 Peter-singapore
    November 5, 2009 at 15:13

    Where are the Taliban ‘s source of weapons and finance . Is there a 3rd country

  12. 13 Elina, Finland
    November 5, 2009 at 15:29

    I’d like to know more about the plans concerning the time after the war. For example, how, and by whom, will the rebuilding of Afghanistan be carried out? Are there any lessons learned from experiences e.g. in Iraq; what would they be? What’s the plan, what’s the vision?

  13. 14 JanB
    November 5, 2009 at 15:48

    “Every time a civilian is killed in an American or NATO operation against militants (“collateral damage”, if you will) there is outrage and demonstrations by locals. But when El Quada or the Taliban (many of whose fighters are NOT Afghans) diliberately target and kill large numbers of civilians, the locals appear to accept it without protest.

    If there is any logic behind this bizarre double-standard, could your panel of experts please explain what that logic might be?”

    I second that question, I’m really curious about the answer to this one…

  14. 15 Livia Varju
    November 5, 2009 at 15:51

    Is there any monitoring of financial aid to Afghanistan? Has anybody seen the over 600 reported schools built by US aid? In short, how have the billions of aid money been spent? These are vital questions. If the corruption continues, it will encourage more and more people to join the Taliban.

  15. November 5, 2009 at 16:00

    Military question. There must now have been enough roadside bombs defused,for the military to know their make up inside out.Why are they not now destroyed in situ?

  16. 17 Dan
    November 5, 2009 at 16:03

    @Donnamarie in Switzerland
    Your is perhaps the very BEST question and I applaud you!!!

  17. 18 rob z.
    November 5, 2009 at 16:07

    Why aren’t the regional middle-eastern powers putting troops on the ground,side by side with the western forces?

    Why is there no solution from the surrounding Muslim states?

    Do Suadi Arabia,Jordan,Syria and other states lack the will to work together to do anything other than manipulate oil prices?

  18. 19 Anatoly
    November 5, 2009 at 16:19

    Is Afganistan better now than it was before US/NATO?
    Is Afganistan better than it was before Soviet invasion?
    Does anybody know what is “better” for Afganistan?
    (definitely not me).

  19. November 5, 2009 at 16:27

    I agree totally with the above post by “Dan”. Why ARE we trying to change the basic nature of this country? Well, its natural resources, of course. Both heroin and oil will fuel this area for the next century, at least. An oil boycott won’t cut it, as China and the U.S. are hopelessly intertwined now and are apparently “hooked” on both. GET THE TROOPS OUT. The hard truth is that foreign soldiers dying does not slow the insurgency down, and, as many people predicted at the beginning eight years ago, we have grabbed a tiger by the tail and the only solution is to now, finally, just let go and run.

  20. November 5, 2009 at 16:36

    There is a lack of coherence in the way we, the western democratic countries are dealing with the Taliban and Al Quieda. Also, our political leaders are unsophisticated and indeed crude — in the way they send their messages out to the world and of course to the terrorists. Compare this to how information was handled in World War II…!!
    Also, why is the worldwide Islamic community not engaged in this battle? Let the terrorists win and Islamic countries will be their next targets. Do they not underastand this elementary fact?

  21. November 5, 2009 at 16:40

    @Donnamarie in Switzerland does indeed make a very good point, and although I know this is supposed to be a questions forum today, I’d like to say that I have heard repeatedly from the Afghans themselves that while they don’t like the Taliban any more than the Western occupying forces, they fear them far more. The fear of reprisal, of the kidnapping, rape, torture and murder of one’s family by the Taliban once the Western forces leave is a powerful motivator, and these extremists have both patience and extremely good recollection about those that they deem to have gone against them. The Western forces will never come after an individual or their family for expressing outrage, but not so with Taliban.

    I would like to know what the Afghans need in order to protect themselves from such reprisals?

  22. 23 Bob in Queensland
    November 5, 2009 at 16:41

    What are the west’s goals in Afghanistan? What SHOULD BE the west’s goals in Afghanistan? Does the west have a realistic hope of achieving any goals in Afghanistan or does history show that we’ve entered a mire from which we will never escape?

  23. 24 Tom K in Mpls
    November 5, 2009 at 16:44

    Going on the belief that stability will never exist without a working economy, what have the various forms of aid done to existing businesses, especially food related ones? Are new local businesses starting? When projects are done by foreign nationals, will locals be able to maintain and expand them?

    • 25 No Thanks
      November 6, 2009 at 06:43

      But how do you get a working economy without stability? Which is the cart and which is the horse?

      • 26 Tom K in Mpls
        November 6, 2009 at 16:33

        That is my point. Read my other posts and my three point plan stated regarding Africa. Also we don’t want Afghanistan in the same food charity trap as Africa.

  24. 27 Bob in Queensland
    November 5, 2009 at 16:44

    @Donnamarie in Switzerland @Dan

    While in no way condoning the killing of foreign soldiers, it’s worth remembering that the outside forces in Afghanistan are uninvited invaders. The “collateral damage” are innocent locals who, through no choice of their own, now live in a war zone.

    That, for me, is enough to explain the double standard.

    • 28 Dan
      November 5, 2009 at 19:11

      Bob I hate to remind you of History but the United States invaded Afghanistan after they decalred war on the United States on 9/11.
      “Uninvited invaders…C’mon Bob, you are more intellegent than that.

      The Taliban dragged the Afghani’s into war and now the whole country is a war zone.

      • 29 Derek in California
        November 5, 2009 at 19:24


        Afhanistan never declared war on the U.S. If you are encouraging people to be more “intellegent (sic) than that,” you should get your facts straight. The architects and enactors of the 9/11 attacks were predominately Saudi, including the leader, but international as a whole, who happened to be geographically situated in various places, including Afghanistan. They were not the leaders of the sovereign state of Afghanistan.

        I don’t know what history book you’re reading, but it’s wrong, and you are severely misinformed, and if you’re American, which I suspect you are, you are part of the problem by not informing yourself about the facts, and are swayed by the misinformation and lies that got us into these illegal invasions.

      • November 6, 2009 at 10:43

        Dan, did Afghanistan really declare war on America? Al Qaeda used bases in Afghanistan to train Terrorists who carried out the 9-11. But they were also partly trained in Europe and America itself. The bases in Afghanistan were quite rightly bombed and destroyed. That was proportionate. But to go after Taleban, which has NEVER attacked any foreign country and expanding its “mission” in Afghanistan, America has certainly aggravated the situation and destabilised the whole region. This would only cause volatile reaction in the Muslim world.

      • 31 Tom K in Mpls
        November 6, 2009 at 16:40

        The Taliban trained Al Qaeda at their bases. This is the reason for doing more than just bombing the camps. It is also the reason for ongoing interest in Pakistani affairs. Was it the right thing? It was reasonable, but hindsight is rarely 20/20.

  25. 32 Colin Sundaram
    November 5, 2009 at 16:57

    05. 11. 09

    The war by the Taleban against the Nato coalition is a war against the infidels – has the West or Nato understood it? The Taleban fighters are made to believe that if they die fighting the infidels they will go directly to the Paradise – has the Nato understood it? Why I’m not joining the Taleban to fight you to go to heaven is only because heaven will be a boring place for me since everything is free there and there are no challenges to take or no competition. After a few months or years I will be fed up with the monotonous life over there. The Taleban guys are living in a kind of hell here on earth hence they want to go there to enjoy free sex, drugs and all those things which are taboo here.

    As long funding from the Middle East reaches the hands of Taleban they will continue this fight and unfortunately for the West Saudi Arabia is one of the best democracies in the world hence they do not put any kind of pressure on them and othersn in the M/E. The only non-democratic country in the world is North Korea as per the West.

    Has the West understood this?

    Double standards in international affairs will make it very difficult for the just war the West is fighting in Afghanistan a difficult one to win.

    Put pressure on the Islamic states not to fund the terrorists and you will notice acts of terror disappearing. Why the M/E states fund the terrorists? It is to maintain their dictatorships! Does the West understand this?

  26. 33 Ibrahim in UK
    November 5, 2009 at 17:04

    Is there anyone from the panel who is an Afghan? Any chance we can hear their views on the occupation, the Taleban, Karzai etc first hand (as opposed to an interpretation of opinion by Western journalists/politicians/military men)

    We hear more and more about the Taleban attacking and being attacked and very little or nothing about Al-Qaeda. Are the 2 being treated as one and the same?

    Are there any forms of resistance against the foreign troops in Afghanistan that the West considers legitimate and non-terrorism?

    Poppy production was all but eradicated under the Taleban. Today, under NATO control, there are record levels of poppy production in these areas. How long will NATO continue to facilitate opium production by the Western-allied warlords?

    Why should countries invest resources into the Afghanistan conflict when there are many conflicts that have been going on for much longer?

  27. 34 Tara Ballance, Montreal Canada
    November 5, 2009 at 17:07

    What are the most effective methods by which well-meaning Westerners (meaning me) can provide direct aid and assistance to help the Afghan people help themselves?

    Donate through international humanitarian organizations?

    Package and ship supplies to local organizations?

    Adopt individual projects and send money and/or supplies to their organizers?

    Provide microloans to individuals through organizations such as Kiva?

    How can I best turn my desire to help into productive action?

  28. 36 Shannon in Ohio
    November 5, 2009 at 17:32

    I have heard many conflicting stories about conditions for women living outside of Kabul and other major cities within Afghanistan.

    The U.S. and U.N. proudly claim that girls are now attending school in large numbers, but I have also heard the first-hand accounts of aid workers/journalists who assert that women and girls who live in the provinces are still largely confined to their homes. What is life actually like for these Afghan citizens? Is it true that women’s votes in particular were “doctored” in the recent questionable elections? What percentage of Afghan women actually cast ballots?

  29. 37 gary
    November 5, 2009 at 17:34

    Some opinions expressed here seem to imply democracy is much simpler to achieve than it actually is. In fact, democracy cannot exist unless total strangers can be trusted to act in everyone’s best interest. The Afghanis needn’t trust the West; but they must trust themselves. What efforts are underway build this sort of trust?

  30. 38 Sheel,15,Kuwait
    November 5, 2009 at 17:42

    Aghanishan was a problem and will remain a problem if civillians dont realise where are heading right now, The end of Afgahnistan conflict entirely depends on the hands of the Afgahn civialians and not on NATO or foreign forces,

    Having this said, a question arises in my mind that
    “Why the citizens of Afghanistan not realising their responsibilty towards their country, Are they under pressure by the Taleban, or they are unaware about the conditions of thier contry, or they are just pessimist about the future of their country?”

    Do Answer this Question as its simply just confusing me.

    • 39 Tom K in Mpls
      November 6, 2009 at 19:22

      A couple of answers from my point of view. It is not a question in many areas, at this point, about their country. It is about their daily lives. Many that receive foreign aid are punished by the Taliban when there are no foreign troops around. Since most do not want the Taliban and foreign support so far has come and gone for reasons they don’t understand, yes they are pessimistic. All they see is in one way or another, outsiders bring pain and death. Also in many outer areas ‘country’ means little, it is about their tribe. This is because the country has so little to do with their lives, either good or bad.

  31. 40 Chedondo, Johannesburg
    November 5, 2009 at 17:44

    One difference between Islam and other religions is that it is more than an act of faith, it is a way of life. How then do the Afghans reconcile the rampant corruption we hear about with their Islamic faith? If they find it so easy to disregard their faith what reason does NATO (or the UN or anyone else) have to expect them to be a believable partner in the struggle for democracy?

  32. November 5, 2009 at 18:09

    Salaam Bob in Queensland… Allow me here to add further to the point that you made in your comment… It’s a known fact that the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan are originally Western-made products inorder to tackle the Russian influence in Afghanistan during the last century, so if we keep that very important fact in our minds we would find out that the West (and especially the US) are to blame for every innocent civilian getting killed, injured or kidnapped in Afghanistan, whether caused by the Taliban or by the Nato forces, b/c if I create a monster in my lab and that monster starts messing around then I am the one who should be blamed for all the damage that may result, it is a moral responsibility no more and no less, but hey wait, what on earth am I talking about ?! Moral responsibility and the US government ??? Am I out of my mind ?! 😉 … With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  33. 42 Mark Sandell
    November 5, 2009 at 18:10

    Ibrahim, on the panel tonight is Dawood Azami , who is Afghan. Last night we co-hosted with an Afghan student, the night before with Spin, a presenter with the Pashto service. We have had many callers from Afghanistan too.

  34. 43 Steve G 0 Cleveland
    November 5, 2009 at 18:12

    “Every time a civilian is killed in an American or NATO operation against militants (“collateral damage”, if you will) there is outrage and demonstrations by locals. But when El Quada or the Taliban (many of whose fighters are NOT Afghans) diliberately target and kill large numbers of civilians, the locals appear to accept it without protest.

    If there is any logic behind this bizarre double-standard, could your panel of experts please explain what that logic might be?”

    and a third…

    Where are the Muslim religious LEADERS in all this. If random killing of innocents is not acceptable do not they have an obligation to speak up? Their silence is supporting killing, death and destruction in the name of religion.

  35. 44 John in Salem
    November 5, 2009 at 18:24

    Just a couple…
    If the primary mission of the coalition forces is to provide security and training for the Afghan military and police, at what point would this be considered successful and what time frame would be realistic?
    And, if the mission becomes one of counterinsurgency, is success even possible without the full cooperation and participation of Pakistan?

  36. November 5, 2009 at 18:28

    Why is Afghanistan an Eyesore?
    Smart suits, sleek ties, it all appears so perfect. Afghan officials refuse to face up to reality. If there was the semblance of a state in Afghanistan there wouldn’t be three million Afghan refugees in Iran and as many again in Pakistan.
    “We must build the infra-structure, create jobs and bolster trade,” say the Americans, but how?

  37. November 5, 2009 at 18:41

    Can some one tell us about the proposed pipeline going from Turkmenistan through Helmand Province to Pakistan? Its purpose is to avoid going through Iran. I hear that’s what the war is all about.

    • 47 JanB
      November 5, 2009 at 18:55

      Do the math, use your common sense and find out how ridiculous that theory is.

      Wait, let me give you a hint: America’s oil-industry can easily earn more money than it would ever get from that pipeline by getting congress to lower their taxes by less than 1% or by convincing said congress to do business with Birma or even Iran.

  38. 48 JanB
    November 5, 2009 at 19:12

    “One difference between Islam and other religions is that it is more than an act of faith, it is a way of life. How then do the Afghans reconcile the rampant corruption we hear about with their Islamic faith? If they find it so easy to disregard their faith what reason does NATO (or the UN or anyone else) have to expect them to be a believable partner in the struggle for democracy?

    Chedondo, Johannesburg”

    Yeah, that one puzzles me too, when we want to give their women human rights it’s “against their religion”, but when there’s money to be made through drug-trade and corruption (both explicitly forbidden in the Qur’an) the damned hypocrites tend to forget about their religion real fast.

    • 49 Leslie
      November 5, 2009 at 19:36

      I thnk you all are confusing the actual religion of Islam and the way that is has been twisted and used in negative ways. There are plenty of examples of this is Christianity too. But you have to ask yourself if these are true Islam followers if they are doing and supporting things that the Koran has condemned.

  39. November 5, 2009 at 19:15

    Salaam again guys,
    To our dear friends who are asking about the “double standards” stuff let me say the following : “Who created the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1st place ?!” and you’ll get the logic behind the “double standards” you keep complaining about… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

    • 51 Tom K in Mpls
      November 5, 2009 at 20:02

      I know the US funded the Taliban twenty years ago to fight the Soviet Union. Is that what you are referring to? But they already existed. I have no idea who ‘created’ either group. Who was it?

  40. 52 Dan
    November 5, 2009 at 19:20

    It is so wonderful that your panel has 20/20 vison and can talk about all the mistakes America has made.
    Perhaps they might enlighten us all by looking forward and prescribing some solutions so that later on we can use OUR 20/20 vision to talk about all they screwed up.

  41. 53 Phyllis , Naples Florida
    November 5, 2009 at 19:21

    Re. The observation of your guest re. the proxy war in Afghanistan involving Pakistan and India .
    Please elaborate. What form does that war take?

  42. 54 Dominic
    November 5, 2009 at 19:24

    We all know that the Pakistani intelligence supports the Taliban. I can’t uderstand why it does it, since Pakistan combats that guerilla!!

  43. November 5, 2009 at 19:25

    How are the Buddists artifacts treated in the “New Afganistan”?

  44. 56 Tom D Ford
    November 5, 2009 at 19:26

    Is or was Halliburton and/or KBR the contractor over there?

    Who benefits from the corruption?

    Which contractors?

    Which Corporations?

    Where did the money go?

    What Military Arms Corporations or Private Mercenary Army Corporations?

    Does the Carlyle Group make any money from it?

  45. 57 Mohammad Hamid
    November 5, 2009 at 19:28

    I know international community has good experience in fighting curruption, How Karzai and its new admin can get rid of this problem.

  46. 58 Niall Padden
    November 5, 2009 at 19:30

    In response to the question from your listener in Florida who queried “Why other regional powers were not more involved in Afganistan”, Iran’s lack of participation was mentioned… can any of your guests confirm or indeed listeners know if indeed Iran, with it’s own concerns for it’s Afgan neighbors and it’s innumerable factions and tribes as well as the Taliban, Iran’s “Special Forces” provided the “Western Allies” with essential and invaluable “Intelligence” prior to and during the initial stages of the war.

  47. November 5, 2009 at 19:30

    Salaam JanB… I am one of “their women” actually (if you were talking about practicing Muslim women), and I am a final yr. medical student at Baghdad Medical School, wow, I do really need to be saved, help me out, please ! :). With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  48. 61 Leslie
    November 5, 2009 at 19:30

    I would be interested in hearing what solutions they would suggest to get Afghanistan stable and free of the Taliban. What about pouring more support into schools to counteract the negative result of the madrassa schools which perpetuate the radical Taliban ideas?

  49. 62 Derek in California
    November 5, 2009 at 19:30

    Jan B.:

    You are too easily conflating all Afghans with a corrupt government system we helped set up. Severely destabilized countries (by UK, USSR, then the US) always get the opportunists, who probably use religion as a political strategy. Like we don’t see that in the U.S.

    I imagine there is a majority of Afghan muslims who denounce violence, drugs, etc., but they are not in power. They still have very conservative views re: women, but they can’t be judged because a powerful minority is hypocritical. I think you’re oversimplifying the situation in your own frustration, but it does no service to the millions of innocent Afhani families that are in the middle of an invasion, with a set up govt. that only carries about power and money.

  50. 63 Will Mernagh
    November 5, 2009 at 19:35

    It seemed that we were doing well in Afghanistan before the Iraq war. Al Quedia was on the run and the Taleban were beginning to turn on them and coming to our side. What happened? Why are they now the enemy.

    Is the Taleban one organization or is it a name we use for war lord led tribes?

    Boston, MA

  51. 64 Dominic
    November 5, 2009 at 19:46

    Is there a really danger that if the western troops withdrew from Pakistan, The Taliban would conquer bordering Pakistan and get hold of the atomic weapon there? They had ruled Afganistan for 5 years before the 9/11 and at the time nobody was mentioning that they could cross the border and get that weapon.

  52. 65 Dominic
    November 5, 2009 at 19:47

    Sorry, I meant “withdrew from Afganistan”;)

  53. 67 Barbara Kugler
    November 5, 2009 at 19:53

    Nobody seems to be addressing the relationship between the Taliban and the tribes of Afganistan. Is there any way the tribes can be united so that they have a stake in a central government?

  54. 68 Tom D Ford
    November 5, 2009 at 19:57

    What a pleasure it is to hear three intelligent people calmly discussing this.

    It is so different from the wild fear-mongering Bush/Cheney/Blair times.

    Good show WHYS guys!

  55. 69 Robert Macala
    November 5, 2009 at 20:00

    Winning the hearts and mind? Empowering? Who are we kidding. Western armies,
    America, Israel and various European forces are all over the Middle East
    and everyday they are creating more and more ill will and hate us by there
    presence. Look at the whole region. It’s a regional issue with Israel at its core
    and America as its enabler……

  56. 70 JanB
    November 5, 2009 at 21:01

    Well, Lubna, I hope this will never happen to you, but it may: one day your husband might want to divorce from you, while you don’t want to divorce him, or he wants a second wife while you don’t.
    In the West such a matter is regulated through the courts, you’ll both have lawyers and equal rights, and it is likely you will get custody of the children. Under the Taliban (or any other Sharia based party, including your own Sadrist movement) your husband can simply claim you cheated on him, then swear to Allah four times (so he counts as the four witnesses required by Sharia law) and you’ll get stoned to death and he’ll buy a younger wife from a poor family… does it seem far-fedged? well think again, it happens all the time in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan and Somalia, to name but a few countries.
    So ask yourself, what kind of society would you rather live in?

    P.S. remember that an Islamic regime won’t care whether you practice your faith or not, they will apply Sharia law to you anyway, even when you’re a Christian or an atheist.

  57. 71 JanB
    November 5, 2009 at 21:07

    “Look at the whole region. It’s a regional issue with Israel at its core
    and America as its enabler……”

    That region has seen perpetual war for the last 1400 years, if Israel didn’t exist the Arabs would be busy exterminating the Iranians and Kurds and after that they would start fighting among themselves until one faction comes on top to rule with an iron fist, which would be followed by more infighting, etc…

  58. 72 Kevin PE
    November 5, 2009 at 21:13

    Gee! they (big brother, big business – them) almost had me going; here I was scratching my head wondering why whole armies are kicking around in the dust, looking for phantoms, while the folks back home are fed a daily diet of The Taliban Tales. Muslims against Christians, against …, Then Bang, some intelligent person mentions pipelines – what? Oil? Gas? Gems? …should be called “Pipeistan” and Bingo! Should I even go on?

  59. 73 Chris Victor
    November 6, 2009 at 00:39

    A caller today asked where they could find a small aid organization that they could trust because (as the guest today pointed out) big ones are unaccountable. There is actually an org in the States that is specifically designed to connect people to small trustworthy orgs in the third world because the big ones aren’t trustworthy. I don’t think they have one in Afghanistan yet, but they have one in Palestine I know. Anyways, name is WideAwake.org (www.wideawake.org) and I hope it helps!

  60. November 6, 2009 at 05:42

    If you can not beat them, Join them. A proverb I learn from my American teacher of English. There are many problems in Afghanistan e.g. Drugs dealing, Warlordism, Bankruptcy, Bribery, lack of education, lack of political institutions, Inequality between genders, lack of inner and international specialists, untrust among ethnics and nationalities, and not respect for each others. Steal of foreign funds and used it for the private purposes, Exaggeration in their skill and qualification. Used of UN different offices by ISI agents. Command of Defence Ministry and interior Ministry by ISI and many many others difficulties. These all are the causes that the NATO, ISAF, American and Fragile Afghan Forces could not brought the Democracy in Afghanistan. Despite of them the Taliban said “The American war on Taliban was not justice” They said the take of 9/11 took place from Arabic countries and Pakistan. In the terrorist list of President Bush there was not an Afghan-Taleb. All of them were from their America-allied countries. “We continue the holy war”. They said. I think the only way to reach the purpose of peaceful situation and democracy in Afghanistan.
    1. To rebuild the all institutions specifically Justice institution in Afghanistan.
    So that we can punish decidedly the bad guy and phrase the good guy.
    2. To reconcile with all (the majorities of Taleban and other dominant fighters). Because the Taleban are the mass majorities of the people of this country.
    3. To hire the professional and vocational personnel according their merits in sensitive posts in Afghanistan.
    Thank you very much.

  61. 75 M Ariely
    November 6, 2009 at 07:48

    Draer Moderator.
    Pls reject my previous post. It has many cut and paseed issues.
    The following the the proper one.

    The situation in Afghanistan is a combination of several factors.
    Similar factors are in Pakistan and in other parts of the world – example Somalia, Yemen
    1: The international aspect: The Whaby doctrine-
    Defeating this doctrine should be the international goal and not limited to Afghanistan.
    Fight again the basic to the worldwide terror treat: the radical Islam Wahaby doctrine
    For decades the Wahaby radical Islam doctrine is the curriculum of many madrases (schools).
    The majority of the Taliban members and their supporters from the many international terrorist groups attended those schools and seminars.
    The radical Islam Wahaby doctrine is preached worldwide in many Mosks.
    Without an alternative Islamic peaceful doctrine widely spread to the masses similar conflict will continue to spread worldwide.
    The international community should pinpoint peaceful Islamic ideas and help them to emerge widely
    2: Local Afghanistan aspects; Those aspects are for the locals to decide.
    The international community should have a low profile on those issues.
    The culture powerful tribe’s leaders and not a central government is a tradition.
    The west type of democracy, a combination of individual’s rights, personal responsibility, government responsibility and accountability to the citizens is unknown to the masses.
    Parts of the west culture is rejected by the locals

  62. 76 scmehta
    November 6, 2009 at 08:09

    There are questions galore! Only if we had answers to most of them; and even if we had any to many of them, and given the present scenario there, it’s too damn difficult to implement them practically and with impunity. However, we definitely are finding ways & means to reach a stage, when most of the issues, related to security and governance of Afghanistan will be tackled effectively.
    Right now, the only questions that come to my mind are:
    Does Afghanistan have an efficient system to account-for, screen, identify and scrutinize to establish the legitimacy of all its citizens? Do they have any count or details of all those, who are missing or have gone astray? Has each and every citizen been issued with a fool-proof Identity Card or Smart Card (with photo all the personal details).

  63. 77 James Ian
    November 6, 2009 at 09:35

    With this shooting at the military base yesterday I have to ask myself if it is wise to have any Muslim in our military at this juncture. Their loyalties lay with their religion and to think otherwise is naïve and dangerous.

  64. 78 Mr Jones
    November 6, 2009 at 10:02

    1. Do you think that the current operations in Afghanistan will achieve the results they are trying for.

    2. If the Russians couldn’t succeed against the Mujhadeen, what makes you think the western forces will succeed against the Taliban.

    3. What do you think about the fact that you are currently fighting the same people the US armed and trained to fight the Russians when they were in Afghanistan.

    4. Do you not think that offering Afghanistan aid in the form of training and economic aid would benefit the country more than an occupying army.

  65. 79 Moeka From Freetown
    November 6, 2009 at 10:45

    I believe I didn’t point out a particular question but my point is that we need to ask our self can we finish a war with guns and bombs or find intelligent ways to bring life to the people. If we all have a say in world issues as the BBC is trying to do well from my point of view let afghans especially the youths find gainful jobs and start realizing some income ,once they set their dreams higher and higher slowly they will forget about wars. Sierra Leone is a classic example.

  66. November 6, 2009 at 11:33

    no more question for karzai….if he continues being corrupt and thus the same like taliban…then there should be a collective punishment for these uncaring people..this way,it would even be cheaper for NATO and it could also make the afghanees unite against whom they will be hating because of lack of accepting their faults.

    TV(tambua village/jebrock),HAMISI,VIHIGA,KENYA.

  67. November 6, 2009 at 13:04

    JanBon, this is Iraq that we’re talking about here my friend, and obviously you’re talking about another Iraq in another planet, so unless you’ve lived in Iraq for quite some time before then with all due respect you’re so unqualified to make such absurd generalised assumptions about us and how we should live our lives inside our own country… And by the way, our government isn’t Sadrist, our PM Mr Nouri Al Maliki (yes, that’s his name in case you do not know) is from Al Daàwa party, and just so you know, where I live, in most of the cases the wive’s family stands firmly by her side in cases of any marital disputes between her and her husband, and even in cases of divorce, most Iraqi families are generally pretty supportive, those are our traditions, and also during my past glorious 23 years on the soil of my Iraq I’ve never heard at all of any case of a man accusing his wife of cheating on him and then getting her stoned to death by falsely swearing to Allah and getting four fake witnesses, and if you ask other Iraqis about this matter I am so sure that they’ll all give you the same answer… Also in my Iraq wives aren’t bought by their husbands, and it’s women in most of the cases who are actually so eager to get married while men are generally much less eager….

  68. 82 Anatoly from Moscow
    November 6, 2009 at 19:30

    Dear Mr. M Ariely,
    as far as I know the radical Islam Wahaby doctrine is an official state religion in Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia is the closest ally of US. Is US ready to give up oil supply from Saudi Arabia in favor of renouncing religious extremism? I doubt it. While US continue to look for political changes in the Middle East countries without basic ideological change/reconciliation it will be a dead end.

  69. 83 Jim Newman
    November 8, 2009 at 17:27

    Hello again
    I think the only question that occupies most people is when are the aggressors going to leave Afghanistan. When are the Afghans going to be left in peace to sort out their own problems and decide for themselves whether they want an oil pipeline across their territory.
    As I have said before the USA have promoted the Taliban from being cruel oppressors to being brave freedom fighters.
    Your eminently zappable

  70. 84 Kindi Jallow
    November 9, 2009 at 01:34

    Going to a foreign country you dont understand their language culture and ways of life to fight a shadow enemy. How do you distinguish between a friend and a foe?

    Change in political systems ways of doing things etc should come within. Can outside forces influence change within a given country taking account of their culture, language, social and environmental factors?

    War is very expensive, can we match cost of the Afghanistan war with achievements produced, daily, monthly, yearly and accumulated amount?

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