Shining shoes in the streets, but at the same time doing homework. Kabul May 2017
This excerpt from SIGAR - The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction - report of the first quarter 2017 to the US Congress, gives an accurate picture of Afghanistan now:
”The fighting continues, as does a reconstruction effort that has so far absorbed more than $117 billion in congressional appropriations. Both the security and civil aspects of reconstruction—ranging from developing Afghan security forces and advising ministry staff, to building clinics and electrifying towns—have yielded mixed results.
The United States and other international donors have helped Afghanistan make some progress. Afghan military and police forces have grown, taken lead responsibility for the country’s security, and show increased effectiveness. Public health has improved, as reflected in lower infant mortality and increased life spans. School construction and stu- dent enrollments have expanded. Women’s status is slowly improving. President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah both have personal involvement in attacking corruption, and better cooperation with U.S. investigators such as SIGAR in seeking indictments. These are no small achievements.
Yet serious problems persist. A dangerous and stubborn insurgency controls or exerts influence over areas holding about a third of the Afghan population. Heavy casualties and capability gaps limit the effectiveness of Afghan soldiers and police. Opium production stands near record levels. Illiteracy and poverty remain widespread. Corruption reaches into every aspect of national life. The rule of law has limited reach. Multiple obstacles deter investors and complicate business operations. The ranks of the jobless grow as the economy stagnates.
Efforts to combat these problems will also persist. At international conferences last year, the United States and other international donors committed to four more years of continued assistance to Afghanistan, and to delivering an increasing share of that aid on-budget—that is, under control of Afghan ministries and consequently with less visibility and influence for donors. ”
Some positive details are noteworthy.
Public opinion polls show less and less sympathy for Armed Opposition Groups - AOG. Only one tenth of the population think they fight not only for themselves but for a worthy cause.
Sympathy for armed opposition neglectable. Still a strong majority holds positive views of the Afghan Security forces.
Kabul sunset and nightlife. Plenty of new cars.
Spokespersons: LtGen Waziri at the Afghan Ministry of Defence, Navy Captain Bill Salvin, NATO Resolute Support Mission
ANA, not exactly "the elite commando" soldiers, but capability is increasing, slowly.
Shopping. Walking home after work along the blastwalls of "Wazir Akhbar Khan, Kabul.
Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Dr Ahmad Sarmast, founder.
Jalalabad - Kabul road. On their way "back home" after decades in Pakistan.
Surrounding countries interfere. Pakistan is supporting the armed opposition to create ”strategic depth” in their conflict with India, and also for economic reasons - an underdeveloped Afghanistan, paralyzed by the mayhem from attacs and with billions of dollars of foreign aid flowing in, need to buy products and services, like electricity, from Pakistan. Iran and Russia seem to use the Taliban and their support to armed groups as a bargaing card in a geopolitical play. Countries like Sweden are more than happy to sell military equipment to those countries, thereby stoking the fire they proclaim to be trying to solve. It is complicated, yes, but not without solutions. Inshallah. Hopefully.
Street in Mehtarlam, Nangarhar Province. Foreigners better be back home before 2pm.
© Lennart Berggren / Axiom Film May 2017
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