In an attempt to understand the situation in Afghanistan better, I interviewed Afghan journalist Daud Khan. The online interview session took place on 27th September, 2006.

Q)The United States and other nations have given millions in aid to Afghanistan. But reports say the people have not benefited from aid because a large sum of money is being wasted by corrupt officials. Do you, as a person living in the country; have felt the benefit of reconstruction?

A) No doubt, huge sums have been poured in into Afghanistan in terms of foreign aid since the ouster of Taliban and formation of the Karzai-led government in 2001. However, a major chunk of the money either goes into the pockets of corrupt officials (both NGOs and the Afghan government) or being given in salaries and other expenditures like office keeping, expensive cars, employment of consultants etc.

Furthermore, the Afghan government complains that they were not given full right over the amount to be spent on reconstruction projects.

Till February 2006 (London Donors Conference), the Afghan government could spend only 22 percent of the pledged amounts while the rest were being spent through NGOs. After the London Conference, the Afghan government was allowed to spend 40 percent of the amount while the NGOs will spend 60 percent.

Corruption in almost all governmental departments and NGOs (both local and foreign) is rampant. The Afghan government has no proper mechanism to keep a check and audit the funds.

Senior officials like ministers, provincial governors, police chiefs etc are appointed on basis of their ethnic background and the power they enjoy on the basis of their private armies.

The reconstruction projects are not equally carried out in the whole country. In the north and western parts, tremendous amounts are being spent on reconstruction projects, while the south was ignored. The southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan are inhabited by Pashtuns, who forms more than 50 per cent of the total population.

Furthermore, life in Kabul is altogether different from life in the provinces. Even in Kabul, roads are still in dilapidated condition, electricity is a rare commodities, little health facilities, no schools and teachers etc. Non-availability of those facilities plus the ever-increasing sense of insecurity due to the rising insurgency have spread frustration among the people.

Q) Women of Afghanistan suffered a lot during the Taliban regime. They were not allowed to work, have an education or come out in public. Has it changed? If not do you think the problem of discrimination against women is something deep rooted in the society which cannot be resolved by a mere change of government?

A) Women are at least free as for as the government policy is concerned. However, they are being threatened by the remnants of Taliban and other hardliner forces in the provinces.

Girls schools are being burnt in the night in provinces and teachers are warned through night letter, not to attend schools. Only four days back, letters were distributed in Kapisa province, situated some 40 kilometers north of the central capital Kabul, warning women to stay at homes instead of attending offices. They were issued death threats. Provincial officials told this scribe, majority of women employees of NGOs and government did not attend their offices after the threats.

Furthermore, Afghan society is basically a tribal and male-dominated society, where male members of family dominate. They consider women as a symbol of their honor and coming out in public is against traditions in majority parts of the country. Being an Islamic society as well, women are required to wear veils.

Q) How do the people view American invasion? What is the public image of America? Liberator or a conqueror?
A) Honestly speaking, there are different views about the US invasion and their presence among people of Afghanistan. But majority of Afghans don’t like their presence.


In the beginning, (2001, the year when Taliban were ousted), majority of people welcomed the US and foreign forces as liberators. But with the passage of time, frustration among Afghans, especially due to widespread unemployment, non-availability of basic facilities of life like health, education, schooling, pure drinking water, roads etc and widespread lawlessness, increased. Now the situation is that even those people, who celebrated the ouster of Taliban, want them back because they have at least ensured security in the country.

Widespread corruption in government departments and non-redress of people’s complaints is the other reason. The thirds reason is that former commanders and warlords are still at the helm of affairs in the country despite the passage of five years of US forces in Afghanistan. In some parts, the commanders and warlords are still enjoying clout and forcing people to pay them taxes.

Q) What do you have to say about the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan?

A) Despite being the closest neighbors and Islamic countries, relations between the two countries were never stayed without doubts and suspicions. The root cause is Afghanistan’s claim over a part of territory which is now part of Pakistan. That is the Pashtun region of NWFP in Pakistan.

The people of Pakistan have no doubt rendered great sacrifices for their Afghan brethren after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The government of Pakistan extended all possible support to the mujaheddin to liberate Afghanistan. Besides, Pakistan housed more than three million Afghan refugees and they are still living there.

However, the era of Taliban and Pakistan’s support to the hardliner regime left deep scars on relations of the two countries. Afghanistan believes Pakistan and its secret agencies are behind the recent surge in insurgency in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies and allegations and says the Afghan government was responsible for creating instability in Pakistan’s border areas in connivance with India, Pakistan’s arch rival. Pakistan denies support to Taliban and says it was itself victim of Taliban’s and al-Qaeda terrorism.

Q) In your personal view, what do you see in the future for Afghanistan?

A) The future of Afghanistan is bleak unless the Afghan government and the international community recognize some facts:

That Pashtuns, the largest ethnic community, must be given their due share in all the governmental slots and the reconstruction projects.

The former mujaheddin era prime minister and chief of the largest part of Afghanistan (Hezb-i-Islami) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar must be allowed to return to the country and join the government.

The Taliban must be called for negotiations.

All warlords and commanders must be disarmed.

A sincere war on poppies must be carried out.

Those are the major steps which are mostly related to security. And when peace is achieved, other problems like corruption, provision of basic facilities etc would be automatically achieved.

This interview also appears on American Chronicle, Associated Content and Gather.

Bhumika Ghimire is a freelance writer. She is a content producer for Associated Content and writes for Her works have appeared in Journal and Courier, American Chronicle, ACM Ubiquity, and

A graduate of Schiller International University, Florida, Bhumika’s interests include blogging trends, freelance writing, Middle East and Islamic relations.

She has MBA on Information Technology Management and lives with her husband in West Lafayette,Indiana.

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