Let me convey to you all warmest greetings from my sisters in Afghanistan. I, on behalf of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), the oldest political-social organisation of Afghan women advocating for peace, freedom, democracy and women's rights in Afghanistan, would like to express heartfelt thanks to SAWA and The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre for giving me the opportunity to talk about the situation in my country - especially that of the women.
Respectable friends, I belong to Afghanistan, a country that has been at intense war for over two decades and has now fallen back into the hands of the criminals who made the major contribution to its original looting and destruction. I am speaking of the Islamic fundamentalists, whose reign of terror from 1992 to 1996 left behind a legacy of tens of thousands of deaths and homelessness. These Islamic militants and warlords rule over the whole country once again with their guns and money as their real power, while unfortunately the Western world and United States of America, just stare at them.
You might expect me to talk about Afghanistan as a free, peaceful and liberated country. Yet, painfully and unfortunately, the reality is not what you might be aware of through reports in the media. After September 11, 2001 and the subsequent US military intervention in Afghanistan, in the name of the "War on Terror" and "liberating Afghan women", Afghanistan is still alight between two fires. On one hand, there are the brutal and horrific fundamentalists of the Northern Alliance supported by the US, and on the other hand, there are the Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists who receive the support of all the fundamentalist and terrorist regimes, parties and organisations in different parts of the world.
RAWA has stated several times that an administration, legislature and judiciary under the domination of these criminals and traitors, will never do any good for our bereaved people. Against the accusations that RAWA's criticisms and attacks on government are always from a negative point of view, treachery and corruption has meshed around the roots of government so deep. And there are several examples to prove this:
As in previous years, the UN is warning that Afghanistan is going to become a narco-state under the Northern Alliance drug mafia. The New York Times has already exposed a number of these drug dealers and the former interior minister has another list of them. The Financial Times (UK) stated, on January 31, 2006, that Afghanistan's situation is not easy. It is a country where the government has stopped poor and hungry farmers from growing poppies yet it allows the governor of the same province to keep dealing in drugs. It is a land that is facing health disasters worse than those produced by the Asian tsunami of 2004. Seven hundred children and 50-70 women die in Afghanistan every day due to the lack of health services.
Ironically, this is happening in a country that has received US$12 billion in aid with another US$10 billion pledged at a recent London conference. Not even a fraction of this aid has been used for the benefit and welfare of our people: instead it has filled the pockets of the warlords and high ranking officials. According to Dr Ramazan Bashar Dost, a popular MP and former Minister of Planning, if US$1 billion of the aid reaching Afghanistan had been spent honestly to benefit its people, Afghanistan's situation would have changed.
An inquiry by the US newspaper, The Washington Post (November 20, 2005), also discovered serious flaws in US efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, finding that corruption and inefficiency allowed millions of dollars to be wasted on useless projects.
While the country is in chaos and our people are fed up with corruption, drugs, poverty and thousands of other political, social and economic problems, the compromising government of President Karzai is unable even to solve smallest of these issues. A recent war of words between Afghanistan and Pakistan is nothing but a useful tool for the governments of both countries to deceive people by raising a false issue of nationalism, thereby driving attention away from the internal problems which are really threatening people.
The US and its allies have always been hypocrites in the war on terror. They have never been concerned with the main cause of terrorism. The US Government keeps promising not to repeat its past mistakes but the agonising truth is that the US is committing the same mistakes by replacing the Taliban with the infamous Northern Alliance fundamentalists. And by bringing them back to power, the US proved that it is not concerned with the establishment of peace and democracy in the region.
Today I speak of a land where 14-year-old Fatima and her mother were raped by warlord’s gunmen; a land where 30-year old Amina was stoned to death; where 9-year old Saima was tortured and scarred for her father's violence; where Gulbahar was burnt by her husband when she refused to go to back to his house; a land where young UN worker Muska, after being kidnapped by gunmen on election day, had to immolate herself to save her honour; where despite the presence of more than 6,000 UN peace-keeping troops in the capital city of Kabul, aid workers are kidnapped in broad day light; and so on …
But those who are responsible for the above-mentioned brutality are sure that they have the support of local warlords and fundamentalist misogynists and know that there is no law or at least any implementation of law which might bring them to justice.