News Release

Afghanistan Off the Radar?


MARIAM RAWI, [in Pakistan],
Rawi is a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. She said today: “We are not very hopeful of the outcome of the Loya Jirga currently convening in Kabul since it’s mainly composed of fundamentalists and warlords who continue to control most of the country. These men also had substantial influence in choosing the delegates. Women continue to be deprived of basic rights, and secular and democratic values are still gravely lacking in Afghanistan. Publications are banned and journalists imprisoned for criticizing the government. We are afraid to operate openly in our own country even though we are the oldest political/social organization of Afghan women. The Loya Jirga is supposed to decide on a constitution and an election process but how can free and fair elections be held under these conditions?”
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Nanji is a film-maker working on a documentary about Afghan women. She said today: “When I visited in Afghanistan in March, the condition of women had improved little beyond surface changes. Certainly there was an improvement in women’s mobility, at least in Kabul, but mostly these were the exception rather than the rule…. Recently, a law prohibiting married women from attending high school was upheld by the Karzai government. Karzai also reappointed pro-Wahabbi Fazl Hadi Shinwari to the Supreme Court; he brought back the Taliban’s dreaded Department of Vice and Virtue, re-named the Ministry of Religious Affairs.”
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Co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, Kolhatkar said today: “The expansion of the multilateral International Security Assistance Forces outside of Kabul, which could have reduced the power of the warlords, has been stymied by the U.S. despite warnings from the international community, NGOs, ordinary Afghans, and even Karzai…. Recently … the Bush administration pledged $1.2 billion to the reconstruction effort; however, this is in contrast to the $11 billion allocated for the military operations.”
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Ingalls is the author of the article “Buying Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan.” He said today: “Slowly and subtly, the U.S. is attempting to engineer a situation in which the only real choice for the Afghan electorate is Hamid Karzai. This means bolstering his standing with the people through increasing reconstruction projects. It also means eliminating any serious challengers to his candidacy…. Rarely mentioned is the fact that Karzai’s unelected cabinet contains five U.S. citizens…. The Bush administration is also reported to be considering placing up to 100 U.S. experts in key positions in Afghan government ministries.”

Lasar and Bodley first traveled to Afghanistan in January 2002. Lasar lost her brother in the World Trade Center. Bodley lost his daughter, Deora, on Flight 93. Bodley will be returning to Kabul on January 4-13. Referring to the 15 Afghan children killed in U.S. bombing raids last week, Lasar said today: “When we were there two years ago, kids had been killed. When we left, kids were being killed. I mourn the kids killed in these recent attacks, but the media makes it sound like these deaths are something new. The reality is that kids have been killed as a result of military attacks for the past two years.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167