In an interview for VOR, Shakh Mahmud Neck just back from Afghanistan says that the country urgently needs international assistance to embark on peaceful nation building. Kabul, microcosm of the entire country, best illustrates the crying need for help, said Shakh.

The situation in Afghanistan has not improved since the entry of coalition forces in 2001; rather, things have gone from bad to worse. Last year, a record 8.200 tons of opium puppies was gathered in the country and the UN forecast future increase Internal squabbling is out of control and bearing the brunt of it are Afghan civilians and foreign experts working in Afghanistan. Against this distressing backdrop, none of the fundamental problems have been solved, said Mahmud Neck. .

The situation is bad; Kabul is in ruins, said Neck, saying that the major problem in the country now is high unemployment. The youth can/t find work and cost of living keeps soaring. Kabul is a squalid city; refuse remains piled up, dirt everywhere, including presidential palace. Disabled children and women solicit for alms in the streets; Kabul is not fit for human habitation. On seeing such depressing picture, any sober minded person experiences shock. There is no evidence of the huge financial help by the world community that the world press has trumpeted about for a long time.

There is no security in Kabul, laments Neck who in three weeks saw the burning of convoys of 30 to 60 vehicles on the Kabul-Kandahar road; they included petrol tankers. The blast in front of the Indian Embassy which killed about 60 people was particularly horrendous and gory. Explosions happen in Kabul and other towns with frightening regularity. So-called peacekeepers live behind well protected compounds, shielded against bomb blasts.

In three weeks, Mahmud Neck saw five times armoured troop carriers speeding across Kabul . Soldiers shoot indiscriminately at civilians, mortally afraid of ubiquitous Taliban. Homes of civilians and police stations have recently been bombed by soldiers and ordinary Afghans believe that coalition forces came to their country to destroy Afghan customs, culture and religion. When children, women and the aged are mowed down in cold blood, the question arises as to why the coalition troops came to Afghanistan, said Mahmud Neck.

A Pentagon source has said that President George W. Bush is considering sending extra troops to Afghanistan to beef up the current 36 thousand strong contingents, half of who is under NATO command. Afghanistan really needs international help, but not men and women in uniform but civilians to help rebuild the country’s economy and collapsing infrastructure.

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