Friday, March 05, 2004

BAD DEAL:If Sy Hersh is right about the deal we just struck with Musharraf, we got duped. The Los Angeles explains...

Across the southern third of Afghanistan, the Taliban is regrouping and waiting for the spring to launch attacks against the central government and its U.S.-led allies. About 70% of Zabol province is completely lawless or is controlled by the Taliban or its supporters.

On the main road linking the province to Kabul, the Taliban sets up roadblocks and scrutinizes vehicles for potential targets to kill or kidnap. Four engineers working on the main road have been kidnapped, and 15 Afghans working for the central government have been killed in the last three months. Foreigners no longer venture to the province; aid workers fled long ago.

Officials said about 700 armed Taliban fighters are members of Afghanistan's ethnic Pushtuns, have crossed from the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and Quetta, where they are trained and funded. The Taliban is offering a motorbike, AK-47 and satellite telephone to anyone willing to steal, rob or bomb a government target. A successful hit is worth $200, and killing an enemy has an added incentive of a $900 bonus.
Apparently, the 4x4 Toyotas are out. Thuraya satellite telephones and Honda motorbikes are in. Back in October, Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid reported that "thousands of Taliban fighters reside in mosques and madrassas with the full support of a provincial ruling party and militant Pakistani groups. Taliban leaders wanted by the U.S. and Kabul governments are living openly in nearby villages."

Clearly, things aren't going well in the south and we can largely lay the blaim at Musharraf's doorstep. We should act fast--or accept the results of our inaction, for both the American and Afghan people.

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