When international donors got together in Tokyo last weekend to talk about who would pledge -- and maybe even remit -- $16 billion in aid through 2015, only two of the thirty-seven delegates from Afghanistan were women: Humaira Ludin Etmadi, and Nahid Surabi. Neither are prominent leaders, but the former works closely with Hamid Karzai, and the latter is closely linked with Afghanistan's Finance Ministry. So a whopping 5.4% of delegates were women representing...the Afghan national government.
Who represented the common people of Afghanistan, women and their families suffering under attacks from three sides? Victimized by 1) NATO bombing, drones and night raids; 2) insurgent attacks, IEDs and suicide bombings; and 3) corrupt national and provincial government officials, like police who raped teenager Lal Bibi -- and then claimed a mullah married them right beforehand, so it was perfectly legal.
And let's not forget the most recent outrage: video of an execution by shooting of a woman about an hour from Kabul, reportedly by Taliban leaders though spokesmen denied they were responsible. Witnesses in the area say the woman was the sexual prey of two different Taliban leaders, and that she was brutalized and ultimately killed in a contest between them last month. A crowd of men cheer as she dies, but we never see her, crouching beneath the blue burqa.
So this is where matters stand after ten years of violent occupation, which followed ten years of U.S. armed civil war (many of those who participated are now seated in Parliament), which followed ten years of proxy war funded by the U.S. in opposition to the Soviets.
But, hey, NATO, keep the progress going!
|Source: The Guardian's excellent coverage of the Tokyo summit.|
Where will the aid money pledged to Afghanistan go? President Karzai swore, and EU delegates insisted, that corruption would be reined in or else funds would not be forthcoming. What about the respectable corruption of paying out millions to contractors from the U.S. and other Western powers who take a hefty profit margin? That will be swept under the carpet by corporate owned media, but it's a huge factor. It's much more useful to focus on the endemic corruption at high levels in the Afghan government, and to pretend that buying ordinary Afghan men weapons and uniforms builds up the ranks of properly trained police or soldiers who would actually provide security and enforce the rule of law for everyone.
Instead of what it actual does: provide impoverished fathers with an opportunity to sell the gun, fade back into their village, feed their children, and then reappear elsewhere to go through the whole cycle again. Afghanistan is supposed to have now armed and trained around 300,000 either security forces, with little to show for it.
But not to worry. Clinton also zoomed into town a day early to meet Karzai and designate Afghanistan a "major non-NATO ally." According to the Guardian: "Declaration on eve of donor conference allows for streamlined military co-operation including access to weapons and training."
So Afghan women and girls get screwed again. Your tax dollars at work!