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40 HISTORY •• The Road to Reconstruction

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Afghanistan – The Mirage

of Peace by Chris Johnson and Jolyon Leslie is the best book on the shelves to give a detailed analysis of the successes and failures of post-Taliban Afghanistan.

a new adventure in Iraq. The country received less than a third of the aid per head ploughed into reconstruction efforts in Bosnia, East Timor or Rwanda, and of that less than half went on long-term development programmes. A huge and expensive aid bureaucracy sprang up in parallel to the new Afghan government. Hamid Karzai’s limited writ led him to be dubbed ‘the Mayor of Kabul’. Unable to tackle the resurgent warlords, many of them were simply co-opted into government. It wasn’t all bad news. UN-led disarmament programmes had some impact on reducing the number of small and heavy weapons in the country. School enrolment numbers surged. Attempts to increase the international military footprint resulted in the formation of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), with small military units combining se- curity and reconstruction projects, albeit with extremely mixed success. In 2004 a new constitution was agreed upon, and presidential elections returned Karzai as leader. A year later, parliamentary elections took place, with reserved seats for women, although many were not only dismayed that known human rights abusers were not disbarred from standing, but that several even found their way into Karzai’s cabinet – where they lob- bied for immunity from prosecution for war crimes. A fitful peace returned to most of the country, but international neglect

of the south has been the worm in the bud. Pakistan has continued to play its own double-game, publicly signing up to the War on Terror while al- lowing safe haven to the Taliban leadership and fighters launching cross- border raids. In 2006 the growing insurgency resulted in widespread battles in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces and the bloodiest year since 2001. Suicide bombs, previously unknown in Afghanistan, have been im- ported from Iraq. Stuck in the death-grip of drugs and insurgency, south Afghanistan looks increasingly like a separate country. With the rest of the nation continuing along its unsteady path, Afghanistan’s immediate future is hard to predict.

2005

Parliamentary elections held

2006

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