Sunday, Oct 2, 2011
The first day of the Afghan work week. It’s busy. The Afghan president is hard at work making peace, or peaceful war, depending on who you believe. What are the choices that lie before the karakul-cap-wearing president and his tired country? Peace with the Taliban. Peace with Pakistan. What’s the difference? The man-in-the-mirror syndrome haunts Afghanistan. Just 120 hours to the 10th anniversary of the invasion and this country is dust and rubble and the odd crumpled dream. The odd dream because not many dream here anymore. The gap between the truth and the great lie is too wide. The chasm between the Americans’ dreamcatcher symphony and the Afghans’ daily dirge is as big as the ocean.
What’s changed from seven years ago, when Christina Lamb was reporting in the New York Times, as follows? “The gap between the claims of (Donald) Rumsfeld et al and the reality on the ground was vividly illustrated by a British patrol last month that stopped to talk to the chief of a mud-walled settlement on the edge of Kabul. The chief assured the patrol that ‘life is much better than it was under the Taliban.’ When asked how, he had to think hard. ‘We can watch videos,’ he said finally. Then he added: ‘at least we could if we had television. Or electricity.’ Keen to please his visitors, he thought again.’Our girls can go to school,’ he said, then once more frowned. ‘Only there is no school’.”