International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

November 20, 2003

November 20, 2003





**  The draft constitution does not match the "feudal" reality on the ground.


**  Independent warlords and a resurgent Taliban pose serious security problems.


**  Poppy cultivation, a major source of funding for warlords, has increased dramatically since the fall of the Taliban.


**  International support is urgently needed to prevent Afghanistan from backsliding into a "failed state."




The Afghan draft constitution is out of touch with reality--  Columnists termed the document "ill-suited" to the fractured nation and found the chances of its success "not reassuring."  Casting doubt on the draft, Russia's business-oriented Kommersant declared, "It has been written for a non-existent country."  Independent Dawn from Pakistan opined that "the most glaring departure from the highly centralized structure of power."  In the centrist Hindu, a lone columnist dissented that the draft constitution does indeed, "take cognizance of the fact" that Afghans will not bow to a "domineering central government."


Security remains tenuous at best, with Afghanistan becoming a 'time bomb'--  All analysts pointed to "the growing bloodshed...and non-establishment of peace."  China's official People's Daily quoted a Pentagon study that Afghanistan would not enjoy "'democracy and vitality' for 10 or 15 years."  Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post stated that, "[the] Taliban, warlords, guns, and drugs...continue to haunt [Afghanistan's] present."  Germany's right-of-center Die Welt opined that the violence is an expression of "the debacle of a tribal society that knows nothing but the rule of local, hostile warlords."


The fall of the Taliban has led to the resurgence of the drug trade--  Opium poppy--virtually eradicated under the Taliban--is now "a rich source of income" for warlords and terrorists, fear liberal and left-of-center papers.  Brazil's Folha de S. Paulo opined, "The only things that grow quickly in Afghanistan these days are poppy plantations."  London's Guardian observed, "This year's opium crop is the second biggest ever."  Frankfurter Rundschau pointed out that opium "offers merchants hundreds of times as much" as agricultural products.


The expansion of the ISAF mandate outside Kabul is a good start, but more is necessary to avert disaster--  Editorials predicted "disaster" if other nations fail to give Mr. Karzai "the means to create a state."  Germany's left-of-center Sueddeutsche Zeitung argued that, "Only 3000 well equipped soldiers would be necessary for an expansion of the ISAF mandate."  In contrast, right-of-center Braunschweiger Zeitung judged that, "The expansion of the ISAF mandate looks like an attempt to come to a quick solution."

EDITOR:  James Deacon


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis was based on 35 reports from 13 countries from 30 October - 18 November. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed by date.




BRITAIN:  "Fields Of Broken Dreams"


The left-of-center Guardian editorialized (11/4):  "According to the UN's office on drugs and crime, this year's opium crop is the second biggest ever....  Paradoxically, the demonised Taliban, believing drugs to be immoral and hoping to raise their international standing, declined to use heroin as a weapon against the west.  They successfully (and ruthlessly) clamped down on poppy farming.  It is only since the Taliban's forcible overthrow that Afghan opium has again become such big business....  The opium business has become a rich source of income for regional warlords and militias who pose a serious obstacle to the consolidation of the central government and a successful, UN-led democratic transition....  It is clear that drugs, security and political reformation are intimately linked....  Like Iraq, Afghanistan continues to suffer from the lack of an agreed, adequately funded overall postwar strategy."


"Saving Afghanistan: Hamid Karzai Urgently Needs International Support"


The independent Financial Times opined (11/4):  "Nearly two years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is once again in danger of becoming a failed state....  Militia commanders and warlords--upon whom the U.S. and its allies over-depended in the 2001 war--not only control big swaths of the country but also barely cooperate with Kabul and are once again warring against each other.  In this security vacuum, the neo-medievalist Taliban and its al-Qaida allies are beginning to regroup....  'There is a palpable risk that Afghanistan will again turn into a failed state, this time in the hands of drug cartels and narco-terrorists,' Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC's chief, warned last week....  In sum, the U.S. and its allies are not really engaging with what easily could again become a formidable pole of instability--a shell state at the most volatile crossroads in the world.  To avoid this, they must strengthen Mr. Karzai and give him the means to gain control of his country and create a state."


"Our friends, the warlords"


Assistant Editor Jonathan Steele commented in the left-of-center Guardian (10/30):  "How is it possible that the Bush administration could launch its war on international terror while being so unwilling to clip the wings of warlords who inflict terror mainly on other Afghans?  The cynics may say the question answers itself.  But even a less negative view has to accept that, just as in Iraq, no planning was done for providing immediate security in Afghanistan once the Taliban lost power....  Foreign forces in northern Afghanistan, unlike in the south, are popular for the moment, but the mood could change.  To try to forestall the danger, the professional non-governmental organizations are warning that aid must not be allowed to be seen as an arm of a British or American 'hearts and minds' campaign.  In any case, they believe they have greater expertise....  The bigger NGOs do not want to be seen as part of the political plans of governments which may lose interest in a year's time or two.  Nor do they welcome the risk of being seen by Afghans, however, mistakenly, as agents of the military....  Security belongs to the armed people in uniform.  Aid is the task of civilians--who will still be in Afghanistan when the 'war on terror' caravan moves on."


FRANCE:  "A Vital Impetus"


Jean-Christophe Ploquin editorialized in Catholic La Croix (11/14):  “The stabilization process in Afghanistan is certainly fragile....  But the Afghans can see the progress and they are returning....  Afghanistan’s reconstruction looks like a counter-model in the face of Iraq’s disintegration....  Karzai has little power, his country has no Constitution and no elected democratic Assembly.  But an astounding majority of the population accepts this slow transition where national symbols have been preserved, while on the ground an equilibrium is slowly taking shape....  But in Baghdad, Paul Bremer remains the boss....  While electricity is back and schools are open, the Iraqis are obsessed with American troops which are now perceived like the occupier.  The GIs are on the defensive....  In Washington some are now talking in favor of an ‘Afghan-style’ scenario for Iraq.  This is indeed an interesting turn about of history."


GERMANY:  "Afghan Instability"


Right-of-center Braunschweiger Zeitung stated (11/12):  "The opponents are closing their ranks.  In Afghanistan, too, there is growing resistance to the 'occupation forces.'  The anti-western mood is fueled by zealots like Gulbuddin Hekmatjar, who hardly differs in his radicalism from ideological heads of the Taliban.  Hekmatjar's threats against the expansion of the ISAF mandate are by no means political agitation, with which he wants to drive a wedge between the United States and the Europeans.  Such Islamic preachers think in time categories that go far beyond everyday life.  In comparison, the expansion of the ISAF mission looks like an attempt to come to a quick solution, i.e. pacification, of the country."


"In The Opium War"


Karl Grobe argued in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (11/12):  "Gulbuddin Hekmatjar's warning is not a waste of breath.  The notorious warlord is able to let his words follow deeds.  The German ISAF contingency in Kunduz is well-advised to be careful.  It is caught between many fires.  The region is the top growing area for cannabis and will continue to produce the raw material for drugs as long as the farmers get ridiculously low prices for the production of food and industrial precursors.  It is not enough for them to survive.  Opium yields money, and offers merchants hundreds of times as much as the farmers.  But ISAF should not quarrel with the drug gangs.  The gang leaders are closely linked with local and regional warlords, i.e. with those who exercise power on site.  The protection for villages in which useful things are to be produced is colliding with money interests.  Hekmatjar's warning, the expansion of the ISAF mandate is profitable for Washington indicates the direction where he could carry the gang war.  It is the threat to open another front."


"Afghanistan's Path To Peace"


Dietrich Alexander judged in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/5):  "The latest fighting in Afghanistan is an expression of the debacle of a tribal population that knows nothing but the rule of local, hostile war lords.  Is Afghanistan able to live in peace?  The answer is yes, but it is unable to achieve it on its own.  The Afghan people want to live in peace like any other people on earth, but the fulfillment of this dream fails because of the egotism of the warlords who consider the country their property and have divided it among themselves....  Nevertheless, Afghanistan can turn into a success story of international crisis management if the international community doesn't let up with its engagement, its feeling of responsibility and if essential matters are taken into consideration when setting up a constitutional order....  The constitutional draft provides a democracy according to the U.S. model with a strong president and a parliament made up of two chambers....  But more appropriate would be a federal structure in which the governors can maintain their independence by showing a kind of minimum loyalty to the president.  A central power in Kabul and an omnipowerful president do not have a tradition in the country that has been defined by clan structures.  But the cut of power of the provincial leaders should at least be compensated with infrastructure and financial measures.  Nevertheless, the constitutional draft is encouraging, since it links Islamic principles with democratic principles of free democracies.  But if the warlords resist the fight against organized crime, Kabul must intervene, if necessary with a national army that still needs to be set up.  The credibility of a new government depends on this, since it bases its activities on a new constitution and is about to set up a new civil society after 24 bloody years."


"Constitution For Kabul"


Wolfgang Guenter Lerch declared in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/4):  "Afghanistan is a country that has been devastated by revolution, war, and civil war.  It urgently requires a legal framework that is accepted by everybody.  Whether this experiment on which all sides agreed during the talks near Bonn will succeed, essentially depends on the value the Afghans attribute to such a constitution....  The news reports from the region do not sound good...and we are anxious to learn how and under which circumstances the Loya Jirga will take place in December."


"Draft For The Future"


Rolf Paasch penned the following editorial for left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (11/4):  "By presenting the draft for the future Afghan constitution, Afghan experts and lawyers have now done their job.  It is now up to the international supervisors and the ISAF stabilization force to guarantee the security framework that can be used for an open discussion in Kabul in December and for elections in all provinces in June of next year."


"Mission Without Cover"


Christian Wernicke editorialized in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/3):  "In the Hindu Kush much more is involved than the fateful question whether the West succeeds in giving a downtrodden country, devastated by civil war and Islamic fundamentalists, a new future.  No, the successful survival of NATO also depends on the success of ISAF.  The task in the dust of the Middle East is difficult enough...and the soldiers also know that, since the Bush administration has opened a second, sometime dubious, front along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the 'war against terror', the Afghanistan mission lacks the necessary support.  And this has consequences.  For months, NATO generals have been begging in the 19 NATO capitals for ten additional helicopters but in vain....  But this is not all; for months, the United Nations and also the Karzai government have called upon NATO to expand its mission to the country itself...and according to NATO planners, only 3,000 well equipped soldiers would be necessary for an expansion of the ISAF mandate.  Then even Washington, which is sending its soldiers under Operation 'Enduring Freedom' to the region, would have to subject its soldiers to the multilateral NATO command....  But the answer from the NATO headquarters in Brussels is embarrassed silence.  As if the partners in the Alliance forgot what they are risking with this view--the Afghan but also their own future."


RUSSIA:  "What Happens If The Americans Leave"


Aleksandr Umnov, the chief expert of the Institute for Israeli and Middle Eastern Studies, contended in reformist Vremya Novostey (11/19):  "If the Americans should leave now, international terrorists would take over in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  True, unlike the Taliban, who gave refuge to Bin

Laden, Saddam had no direct ties with the terrorists.  But those who are challenging the Americans in Iraq now are in direct contact with that terrible force."


"Bush's Fortes And Foibles"


Sergey Strokan commented in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (11/5):  "The antiterrorist campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan inspire no optimism.  The war in Iraq is ever more redolent of the one in Vietnam.  Afghanistan seems more peaceful and stable, but the reality may be different, since the powerful field commanders are still in control of their provinces, and there is no one to challenge their authority.   This being so, Afghanistan is a time bomb.   As things are going, George Bush's forte may become his foible.  Speaking of Bush's economic policy, you can no longer call it a botch.   His foreign policy fits that definition better."


"A Constitution For A Non-Existent Country"


Anton Chernykh wrote in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (11/5):  "The architects of a draft new constitution of Afghanistan hope that it will establish the foundations of democracy in that country.  In fact, it is more like a declaration of intentions.  The basic law seems too liberal for an Islamic nation, according to observers.  It has been written for a non-existent country."


DENMARK:  "Security Environment Is Hindering Democratic Development In Afghanistan"


Ole Damkjaer wrote in center-right Berlingske Tidende (11/5):  "Even though America’s campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan has lasted for two years, it does not look likely that the U.S. will be victorious in the near future.   The current security environment is making it difficult to rebuild the country and introduce democracy.”




CHINA:  "Afghanistan Severe Security Situation"


Chen Yiming commented in the official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) (11/13):  "Although the U.S. started the anti-terror fight in Afghanistan two years ago, Afghanistan still faces three hidden security troubles....  First, the Taliban and al-Qaida have not at all been defeated.  They have just been broken up and dispersed and now are in hiding seeking the opportunity to retaliate....  Second, a large number of local paramilitary forces have become another main challenge to the Afghanistan peace process and the country's unification....  Third, the Afghan transitional government is too reliant on foreign assistance whether in economics, politics or military affairs, and so it can hardly gain the real trust of the Afghan people....  If these hidden troubles can't be resolved, even if elections are held on time, they can't guarantee security....  So it is not surprising that the Pentagon's recent analysis assessed that Afghanistan won't turn into a country of 'democracy and vitality' for another 10 or 15 years.  While the end of the Iraq war is unforeseeable, and peace and stability for Afghanistan is also far away, it seems that the U.S.' anti-terror fight has been severely frustrated."


HONG KONG SAR:  "Guns, Drugs And Warlords Still Haunt Afghan Dream"


Peter Kammerer, foreign editor of the independent English-language South China Morning Post noted (11/09):  "The worst vestiges of Afghanistan's immediate past--the Taliban, warlords, guns and drugs--continue to haunt its present.  The new beginning promised two years ago by the American-led war on terrorism remains for many a dream....  On Thursday, a visiting United Nations Security Council delegation made the same conclusion.  The team's leader, Germany's UN ambassador Gunter Pleuger, said in Kabul that the 'question appeared to us to be security, and the security aspect was dominating all our discussions....'   Pakistan-based expert on the Taliban, journalist and author Ahmed Rashid, last week described the resurgence of the Taliban as a serious threat to Afghanistan's future.  He was especially fearful that they could disrupt elections planned to usher in a democratically elected government in June....  The experts agree Afghanistan's future remains uncertain, but they, like Afghans, are hopeful.  With continued international involvement through providing peacekeepers and aid and sustained efforts to fight back the Taliban and al-Qaida, they say Afghanistan has a chance."






M.K. Bhadrakumar stated in the centrist Hindu (11/18):  "The Prime Minister, Vajpayee, during his recent summit meeting with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, put in perspective the gravity of the developments in Afghanistan. He was quoted as saying, "Events in Afghanistan cause anxiety, there exists the threat of the Taliban's return" in one form or the other....  Details have emerged that months ago, with American acquiescence and Pakistani mediation, a dialogue between Hamid Karzai, Chairman of Afghan Transitional Authority, and 'moderate' Taliban leaders had begun.  Clearer contours of Karzai's (and American) willingness to engage the Taliban are appearing....  The Taliban's rise, like a phoenix out of the ashes of the Afghan war, poses policy challenges for South Block.  Our original sin lies in our ambivalence towards geopolitical factors which had inspired the Taliban's conception; our consequent inability to comprehend the Taliban's true alchemy; our inexcusable neglect of our historical partners, the Pashtuns, in Afghanistan; our regrettable predilection to view Afghanistan exclusively from the picturesque Panjshir valley; and, of course, the excessive zeal shown by the BJP-led Government, in the first half of its incumbency at least, to harmonize policies on any given front with Washington's thinking....  Resetting the Afghan policy parameters is not going to be easy for India.  There has been a paradigm shift.  The American unilateralist intervention in the Afghan question that would have been unthinkable till September 11, 2001, is today a veritable reality.  The United Nations has mandated it.  Thus, if U.S. and Pakistan have jointly finessed 'moderate' Taliban elements and are about to reintroduce them into mainstream Afghan politics, and if that is also what suits Karzai, what can anybody do about it?  For Washington, a success story out of Afghanistan is a priority.  Forces on the ground may yet frustrate such an easy outcome, but it is unrealistic to imagine that any regional power would actively encourage these forces and risk annoying the Americans....  India needs an overhaul of policy.  Touch-ups are inadequate. International opinion is differentiating Taliban from 'neo-Taliban'.  India cannot remain rooted to a dogmatic definition of the Taliban as Islam's uncompromising face....  Admittedly, for fresh thinking to be possible, we need to come to terms with our handling of the hijack incident of 2000 in Kandahar.  Thirdly, we must 'reengage' the Pashtuns equally with other ethnic groups....  If the Afghan problem were to be reduced to a timeserving war of attrition with Pakistani intelligence, we would be wastefully emulating Pakistan's grotesque discredited policies."


"Come Mister Taliban"


Yashwant Raj wrote in the nationalist Hindustan Times (11/17):  "Former Taliban minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil is only 32.  He has a right to ease up a bit and chill out.  So he wants to go off to Spain, find himself a small beach and watch the sunrise and set, with a lissome girl leaning against him, both in beachwear:  But no, the Americans won't let him.  They want him to go back to his old cronies and bring over some of his old boss's less bigoted flunkies....  So a most unwilling Mutawakil has gone back to Kandahar, under U.S. protection.  But if America wants him to split the Taliban, it will take more than just a wish to accomplish that.  The Taliban have already denounced him saying he is not one of theirs-so he can't get back in....  America is doing most of the masonry, with a little help from a discredited one-time ally of Afghanistan, Pakistan.  Pakistan's advocacy of this option is easy to explain.  It wants to get back into a game from which it was red-carded for foul play.  With its creation, the Taliban, in control of Kabul, Pakistan ran Afghanistan--its foreign and domestic affairs.  Seeking strategic depth, Pakistan turned Afghanistan into a colony.  It was a brilliant foreign policy initiative wrecked by inept execution.  It brought Pakistan dangerously close to being branded a terrorist State.  Though it escaped in the end, suspicions linger....  But Pakistan can't give up on Afghanistan, with which it shares a 2,500 km-long border.  That's why it is said to be trying to persuade America to talk to the Taliban, or at least some of them who are a little less rabid than the one-eyed Mullah Omar....  Though not very keen, the Americans are not dismissive of Pakistan's attempts to bring in Haqqani.  The U.S. apparently has just one precondition for talks with him: he should denounce Taliban leader Mullah Omar.  They have still to hear from him.  If the Americans are keen at all to talk to him it could be only because he is not a true-blue Taliban....  America is anxious for results in Afghanistan.  And the last thing it wants is the resurgent Taliban back in Kabul.  But is talking to them the best way out?  Expect, Al Jazeera to show any day now a video-clip of Osama bin Laden grinning ear to ear."




The centrist Hindu argued (11/11):  "A new constitution for Afghanistan might appear incongruous given the conditions in that country....  Afghanistan is less a united country than a patchwork of warlord-dominated enclaves that are hostile to one another....  Efforts to reintegrate the country have not made significant headway....  The whole edifice is under threat from a resurgent Taliban and could swiftly collapse if hit by a determined onslaught.  However, the people of Afghanistan have suffered so horrendously for over two decades that all efforts to restore peace....  A constitutional scheme can work if it reflects the reality that the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan will never submit to a domineering central government.  The draft constitution publicized last week does take cognizance of this reality....  The Afghans will ensure a better future for themselves if they retain the essentially progressive spirit of the draft constitution as and when they meet to formally adopt it.  While the draft enshrines Islam as the state religion, it does not prescribe the Shariah as the sole or predominant source of law....  A particularly noteworthy feature of the draft is its promise that Afghan women will not suffer oppression as they did under the Taliban....  The Afghans...cannot govern themselves so long as a multi-national coalition led by the U.S. has a significant military presence in the country and the capacity to influence the decisions of the central government.  Traces of the pernicious influence exercised by the coalition are discernible in those provisions in the draft that extend protection to foreign investments.  However, the Afghans have displayed a sturdy independence throughout their history.  It is likely that they will shrug off foreign intervention in their affairs as and when they begin to run a democratic government."


"Draft And Reality"


The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer declared (11/5):  “The unveiling of a new draft constitution for Afghanistan on Monday should have been a cause for satisfaction had conditions in the country not been so conducive to pessimism.  The list of what is wrong is long. The writ of the Government, of which Hamid Karzai is President, does not run outside Kabul.  The law and order situation has collapsed in most of the provinces where warlords rule the roast.  Opium cultivation and drug trafficking have resumed and constitute an important source of funds for the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida which are increasingly active with support from Pakistan.  Given the Karzai Government's weakness, it is difficult to visualize how the draft constitution can be pushed through the Loya Jirga....  Meanwhile, some basic apprehensions remain.  The draft constitution describes Afghanistan as an Islamic republic and, according to a statement issued by the Constitution Commission, ‘recognizes that no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam’.  The question is: What kind of Islam will prevail in Afghanistan....  The indications are not reassuring.  The kind of restrictions that the Taliban imposed on women have, in practice, been reimposed on them in most of Afghanistan outside Kabul.  Even if the provisions of the constitution adopted are relatively liberal, to what extent can they be enforced in the conditions prevailing in Afghanistan?”


"UK Prod On Kabul" 


Pranay Sharma noted in the centrist Kolkata-based Telegraph (11/5):  "Britain wants both India and Pakistan to play an active role in stabilizing Afghanistan, perhaps reflecting the popular view in the West, especially the U.S.  The rivalry between the South Asian neighbors has expanded to Afghanistan where the Taliban fighters--with help from Pakistan--are trying to regroup.  Apart from reopening its embassy in Kabul, India has in the past year opened a number of consulates across Afghanistan, including at Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar.  Predictably, the rapid growth of Indian influence in Afghanistan--a country Pakistan has been using over the past several years to give it much-needed strategic depth--has not gone down well with Islamabad.  The Pervez Musharraf regime has been complaining to key international players, particularly the U.S. and Britain, about New Delhi's increasing clout....  Attempts by the Taliban and al-Qaida members to regroup along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have been reported both by the Pakistani and the Western media....  Although many of these fighters have started engaging American and British special forces in combat, the foreign office here is not alarmed yet."


PAKISTAN:  "Afghanistan: Renewed Stability?"


The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times opined (11/14):  "Mr. Karzai could not elicit any cooperation from General Musharraf because Pakistan feels unhappy with what his allies are doing, not only in wooing India but also in relation to the border issue.  Pakistan also knows that other regional players still have their fingers in the Afghan pie.  Yet Islamabad has made plain to Mr. Karzai that Pakistan wants him to remain secure in his office.  The proviso seems to be that Mr. Karzai should take care of the Pashtuns who have been delivered a poor hand in the wake of the Taliban's ouster."


"Afghanistan's Political Route To Security"


Nasim Zehra commented in an op-ed in the centrist national English-language News (11/13):  "Within the international community including the United States there appears to be a troop contribution fatigue.  Especially in the case of Afghanistan.  For Washington the pressures from its Iraq fiasco render it almost incapable of sending additional troops to Afghanistan.  In addition, the impossibility of 'delivering security' in a highly politically polarized and militarily armed Afghanistan may finally be dawning on the international community."


"Afghan Situation"


The centrist national English-language News opined (11/12):  "Although the Karzai administration is doing its best to bring stability and order within the country, its efforts are hampered by a lack of funds, uncertainty of American policies and schisms within the Afghan government.  Consequently Kabul can hardly do much beyond somehow keeping the administration a going concern.  The situation, therefore, is rapidly slipping out of hand if the report of the loss of seven districts is true.  All this suggests that the American policies to guide Afghanistan out of its difficulties are not successful and the problem calls for a renewed effort to make the Karzai administration effective."


"The Afghan Constitution"


Najmuddin A. Shaikh stated in the Karachi's center-left independent national English-language Dawn (11/12):  "The most important provision and the most glaring departure from the reality on the ground is the highly centralized structure of power that the Constitution visualizes and the efforts it makes to prevent ethnicity or religion from being used as a political tool.  It maintains that no political party based solely on religion, ethnicity or language will be permitted.  Separately a law has already been promulgated that forbids military commanders from participating in elections."


"Constitution and Beyond,"


Karachi's center-left independent national English-language Dawn argued (11/07):  "Now that the Afghans are about to have a constitutional framework of their own, it is important for the international community to come forward and fulfill the pledges of help it gave at the Bonn conference. Afghanistan needs moral, political and financial support and sustained involvement in helping it rebuild itself and lay the foundations of a democratic system and gradually acquire the characteristics of civil society."


"Afghan Constitution"


The centrist national English-language News editorialized (11/06):  "An important milestone has been reached in Afghanistan with the framing of a draft constitution for the war-torn country....  The constitution needs to be approved by the Loya Jirga which is in the process of being constituted for its scheduled meeting on December 10....  If the warlords gain a larger than warranted presence in the Jirga, their priority would obviously be to dilute the powers of the presidency and the central government.  This should pose a crucial test for President Hamid Karzai because, on the one hand, a lopsided compromise on presidential powers would make the task of bringing order to Afghanistan more difficult and, on the other, alienating the warlords could have much the same effect.  Whatever the outcome of this tussle, Pakistani experience shows that making a constitution is far easier than ensuring that its letter and spirit are respected.  Afghanistan, thus, still has a long way to go in its search for constitutional and democratic governance."


"Afghanistan: An Islamic Republic"


Islamabad's rightist English-language Pakistan Observer commented (11/5):  "A draft constitution was presented to President Hamid Karzai and ex-King Zahir Shah in Kabul on Monday envisaging Afghanistan as an Islamic Republic, with a presidential form of government and a bicameral legislature.  The President will have the power to nominate 50 per cent of the Members in the Upper House (House of Elders).  The constitution will be approved by the Loya Jirga, which will be held on December 10....  A viable constitution acceptable to all segments of society is urgently needed to restore normalcy in the country so that the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation may be taken in hand."


"Afghan Constitution, Alas!"


The Lahore's liberal English-language Daily Times observed (11/5):  "It is difficult to imagine how another Taliban-like constitution will be enforced without another civil war....  If the Loya Jirga somehow accepts the present draft there will be no dearth of people in Afghanistan--and in Pakistan too--abominating it as an American imposition."


"Rebellion Of Afghans Against American Occupation"


Karachi's pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu-language Islam thundered (11/3):  "The growing bloodshed in Afghanistan and the non-establishment of peace has led an ordinary Afghan to think about the importance of the Taliban regime and it seems that now everybody in Afghanistan is thinking about becoming a Taliban.  An objective appraisal of the war against terrorism would reveal to the United States that this war has failed after increasing the number of its enemies manifold."


"U.S. Failure In Afghanistan And Iraq"


Leading mass circulation Jang stated (11/03):  "The dream of peace has shattered both in Afghanistan as well as Iraq.  The unilateral U.S. attacks on these countries have created great dangers for the global peace and have encouraged the aggressive forces."


BANGLADESH:  "Afghanistan--Constitution And Reality"


The independent English-language New Age commented (11/5):  "The irony for Afghans is that while the medieval tyranny of the Taliban is gone, there is once more the terror of the warlords to contend with.  Everyone in the country, and that includes the men who try to run a government in Kabul, remains vulnerable.  Given such conditions, it is hard to see how much of a difference a new constitution will make for Afghans.  It provides for a strong presidency.  The existing one, which Karzai holds, has in theory been as powerful as any other in the recent past.  More importantly, a strong presidency based on the consent of the Afghan people is rendered meaningless in a situation where the country remains carved up into little fiefdoms ruled by feudal chieftains.  Historically, the country has never been home to democracy of the kind Washington wants to see established in Kabul.  That makes it hard for anyone to suppose that democracy can at all work unless the underlying issues raised by nearly two decades of bruising civil war, followed by the American military attack and occupation of the country, are tackled....  Afghanistan will always be a hard act to follow.  A constitution means little, given such a fundamental truth."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Campaign Against Terrorism"


New daily This Day commented (11/13):  "Afghanistan, you may remember, was the country the U.S. bombed into prehistory before Iraq....  Apart from Osama bin Laden, American officials were vociferous in denouncing the prevailing oppression of women....  Now two years and numerous interventions later, things must surely be looking up for women in Afghanistan....  Sadly not, according to a report released last month by Amnesty International....  In fact, the report found extreme levels of violence against women, perpetrated by marauding armed gangs....  It is still marry off girls between the ages of 12 and 16, even though the legal marrying age for girls is 16....  'Unlawful sexual activity'--whether consensual sex outside of marriage or rape--leads to the criminal prosecution of women....  It looks like the White House Afghan Women's Liberation Plan is not going swimmingly."




BRAZIL:  "Post-Taliban Law"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo maintained (11/5):  “Two years after U.S. planes dropped many tons of bombs on its territory, Afghanistan has presented its draft of a constitution.  It is a step forward, but one cannot say that Afghanistan has become a much better place since the fall of the Taliban.  In addition to the draft constitution, the removal of the Islamic militia that controlled the nation has been the most positive aspect of the war....  As in Iraq, there is a terrible security problem in Afghanistan....  Little money has been pledged for reconstruction.  The only things that grow quickly in Afghanistan these days are poppy plantations for opium and heroin production, which had practically disappeared under the Taliban’s regime....  The draft constitution puts too much emphasis on the Islamic aspects of Afghan society....  Some see in that the possibility for another theocratic regime.  It is a disappointment for those who, especially in Washington, believed in the possibility of establishing a...democratic regime following the invasion.”


JAMAICA: "The Return Of The Taliban"


Senior Lecturer in Government Dr. John Rapley commented in his regular column in the moderate, influential Daily Gleaner (10/30):  "Recent reports suggest that thousands of fighters are living openly on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border.  From there they cross freely into Afghanistan to attack government forces and their foreign backers.  When pursued, the Taliban retreat into Pakistan, making pursuit difficult....  What this means is that U.S. hopes of a quick victory in Afghanistan, followed by a rapid exit, have been dashed.  And to the extent the U.S., in particular, finds its forces bogged down in long, wearying war--a scenario that is also looking increasingly likely in Iraq--the long term costs to the U.S. of this war will continue rising."


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