April 27th, 2010
07:43 AM ET

In Kandahar, some still see Taliban as lesser of evils

In Kandahar, where large-scale NATO military operations are expected this summer, some residents say the Taliban is their only option – the Afghan government and justice system are so corrupt they have nowhere else to turn to resolve complaints and get services. Even as they realize living under the thumb of the Taliban is miserable, some Kandahar residents say they would rather live under that than the misery of another military operation. And after previous experiences, they don't expect U.S. forces to stay the course.

Read some of the voices in Kandahar:

Hajji Abdul Ghaffar
Hajji Abdul Ghaffar is a 55-year-old businessman from Kandahar.

"When the Taliban are in our area, it is not easy to live under their conditions. People must know they are not helping us, instead they are disturbing us, it is not something good that we like," says Ghaffar. "They call on us to go to the mosque, and they tell us, don't travel on a certain road, because they have put IEDs there, and then claim 'We declared it to you; if you go you will be responsible for your own death.'"

"We are suffering under the Taliban more than we suffer under the government and the U.S. coalition," Ghaffar adds.

"Local people just want to live their lives in peace," he said referring to an old Pashtun saying when talking about the upcoming NATO operations in Kandahar, "When two bulls fight, they just destroy the small stones and grass."

"The Americans will be coming and looking for Taliban in our homes, They may kill us and later they will say, sorry for what they have done," Ghaffar said.

Ghulam Hazrat
Ghulam Hazrat is in his 30s and is a motorbike driver from Panjwai.

"We would like to have good roads and we love that our kids will get education," he says. "The Taliban are not giving us a chance to have that, and we are weak against Taliban."

Hazrat says he lives in an area where Taliban plant IEDs and burn schools. It's something that local people don't want but it's out of their control and they feel powerless, he says.

"But it is better to live under one government than two," Hazrat says about the struggle between the Afghan government and Taliban shadow governments.

Today, the serious problem in Kandahar is the gap between local people and the Afghan government, he says. "The people have no trust in the government nor the U.S. and coalition forces. It is very difficult for the local people to contact government officials, and they are hesitant to. When they see Taliban activities in the area, they don't know if they should report it to the government or not. And usually they don't feel comfortable enough to report it.

Jamal Shah, Afghan analyst
"In this kind of condition, if you don't have the support from the public it will be difficult to have a successful military operation in Kandahar," says Jamal Shah.

"First of all, it will be better to bring in a transparent and non-corrupt administration who will achieve the trust of the local people, and then you can start talking about an operation," Shah says.

People also remember past operations, in which they saw no positive result.

"Now people are not optimistic for a future operation," Shah said.

In the past they had military operations in Panjwai and Zari districts, but that did not change the lives of ordinary people – in fact it brought Taliban back to the area, when the coalition forces moved out – and they were more extreme and angry, he says.

The big thing that most people are talking about is the incapable administration that is the cause of distrust toward the government, Shah says. They do believe there is need of clearing up the area from the Taliban, but for some people it is dilemma because of what may happen after.

"The coalition will leave the area again, and they will install a weak Afghan police force there, leaving the people to suffer again," Shah says.

Shah says residents talk about how easy it was for the Americans to remove the Taliban regime in 2001, and why can't they fix the insurgency problem now? How did it start back up?

"People are starting to look at the American policy with doubt. They don't believe the Americans are here to bring peace to people. The doubt will increase more if they have an operation without a good positive result."

Abdul Halim, ex-Mujahideen commander
"Some people think that there is a lack of understanding from the Americans and the local government in Kandahar," says Abdul Halim, who once fought against the Soviets.

"The Taliban of today are not the Taliban from Pakistan or Chechnya. They are the Taliban from our areas, from our villages. It is very hard for a police chief to distinguish who is a Talib, who are the sympathizers and who are not part of the Taliban," Halim says.

"We seriously need an operation but it must involve the people who know this area best and who know most of the Taliban," he adds.

Zarghoona Kakar, member of the Provincial Council
Zarghoona Kakar, a female member of Kandahar's Provincial Council, fled from Kandahar to Kabul because she believed Kandahar was not secure and stable.

"The situation in Kandahar is worse and the lives of the people are in danger," she says, "Businesses are suffering and it is worse than it was last year."

She says that everyone knows the hateful actions of the Taliban but change needs to be made.

"The government must keep their promises they made to the people," Kakar says.

"Why isn't the government winning the hearts and minds of people? We need the support of local people, we don't need an operation," she says.

Photo at top: Kandahar residents inspect the site of a suicide car bombing earlier this month.

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Filed under: Kandahar • Life and Culture • NATO • Taliban • Voices
soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. lawan

    i believe its high time for the world to realise that you cant force freedom or democracy down the throats of people.its a known fact that taliban were literally"made" by America through their sponsoring and equiping of the mujahideen in thier war with soviet..its the story of a son who has overgrown his dad.if the people of afgan actually want freedom they should wake up,take their destinies in their hands because they know who is a taliban, a sympathizer, a hypocrite and those who want peace.my advice:america and her allies should not overstay their welcome,they should pack and go so that the afgans can solve their problems their own way

    April 29, 2010 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Daniel-2

    Well put,Communist.This nation is run by a bunch of right-wing fanatics who keep on getting elected year after year who put nothing of value on the very sanctity of human life,except their own and will stop at nothing to get reelected and the pentagon who seem to run our foreign policies.

    April 29, 2010 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Communist

    Lets get this clear. The problem is the american government. There is no continuity of plans, no long term ideas. How can their be? Every 4 years america elects another moron. The nation changes its path, changes from warlike to peacefull, then the next 4 years another moron is elected, and we go off bombing some other nation. How is this a workable system? I think the world is frightened by our bipolar nation. We are destined to fail compared to other nations that are run by real leaders, not beauty pagent winners.

    Think of all the joke rulers of this world, Bush, Chavez, all democratically elected.

    April 29, 2010 at 5:17 am | Report abuse |
  4. Amy Lowen

    The Patriot, reading from evangelical/hate sites doesn't count. WHta they write is for attention and fame. I know the Quran and I myself preach to others.
    I find is strange how people on here have to tie everything to Islam. Robert Spencer and Pam Geller followers I believe?
    The Patriot here's my email- WomenForTruth101@gmail.com
    If you or anyone else like to attack Islam, send me a message. It's better to understand than ignore and follow myths.

    April 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Larry

    If the folks in Afgan country want to live under Taliban, then I say let's get out. Let them have their oppression and savage way of life. If they are not willing to fight for their own freedom, then they don't deserve our great men and women trying to fight for them.

    April 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • martin gugino

      You make it seem so simple.

      May 23, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Smith in Oregon

    This article pulls up the realism of the lack of any lasting progress in the Afghanistan region despite hundreds of brave soldiers lives and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in building immense military bases, landing strips and extremely expensive State Dept. embassy construction projects.

    Sadly, the Muslim women trapped in Afghanistan who were formerly the horrific target by the Taliban and extremely cruel Mullahs are simply going to end up in that same situation shortly after America and the NATO troops leave Afghanistan.

    America and NATO troops should be training the Muslim women in self-defense techniques and giving them side-arms for self protection. At least give the Muslim women a fighting chance to fight off their Muslim attackers.

    The entire Karzai Clan appears to be very corrupt and have long been in the middle of allegations of being the major Opium-Heroin producers and exporters in Afghanistan for many years. Hand picked by the CIA and welcomed by Bush-Cheney, it shouldn't be a major surprise that the Afghanistan residents are uncomfortable with the amount of graft and corruption they see in the current Afghanistan government, its police and security forces.

    And while American and NATO soldiers will undoubtedly take over Kandahar for a short time, the entire war and actual mission is being lost by the distinct perception by the Afghanistan people that Karzai's Government is far more corrupt than that suffered under the Taliban.

    April 28, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Es G

    Quick answer(s):
    1)Our troops completely take over Kandahar and make it a US state. Give the people there the stability that they deserve. but, is that a financially sound thing to do?

    2) Pull our troops out and, anyone who wants to leave.... can leave. Our troops can facilitate that process. Consequence is that each person departing would need to be AGGRESSIVLY screened. Some bad guys would slip through the cracks.

    ?)And BTW if it’s the government that is corrupt than, why not focus our efforts there?
    We're spending billions anyway. Why not kick out the corrupt, pick a few hundred professional, pay them a ridiculous salary (so they wont want to be corrupt) and let them govern transparently.

    April 28, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Billy

    I lot of US Citizen and other soldiers died in World War 2 and 1 to free European Citizens from the Tyranny of German Rule. Now look at how the Europeans have treated US from just 20 years later till now. Are we sure we want to keep giving US Citizen lives for people who will start to hate us just as soon as we arrive there.

    April 28, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chuckster

    No Johnathan D, We are fighting the Taliban and Al-Quada. Why do you people think we even went into Afganistan in the first place???? It was because of the Taliban. Yea, the students of IGNORANCE!!!!!!!

    April 28, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sanjose Mike


    Warlords were our very first human leaders. Typically those enterprising people were more intelligent and less risk-averse than the general population. Most Americans would be shocked to learn how much the typical Afghanistan warlord knows about America. They think worlords are stupid.

    Far from it. Or they wouldn't survive. In a country with very few national resources and a violent religion, warlords are to be expected.

    The only thing you can do with warlords is pay them off or fight them. Then, you convince those who you paid off to fight against the warlords who refuse to accept your payments.

    Warlords will continue to exist forever...after we leave. The only question is which ones? sanjosemike

    April 28, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chuckster

    Taliban means students?? Students of what, TERRORISM???? The Taliban are recognized as a terror organization, they have been responsible for kidnapping, be-headings, and stonings of other people. Who even in HELL would want a retard organization like this to rule anything??? Only a very weak and uneducated people would allow a pathetic organization like the Taliban to run their lives and if they do, then they get what they deserve!!!! Freedom and the right to live the way you want is bought by COURAGE, DETERMINATION, and BLOOD!!!! America did this against the English and are now the pinnacle of the free world.

    April 28, 2010 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. Christopher Ruggiero

    Well spoken Iraq Paramedic, Greg you are either an ashiest, a Freemason, a Devil worshiper or a victim of some type of abuse.to be that angry concerning the bible however there are many guys like you or should I say were like you who are born again and serving the Lord. i pray for your soul to be saved. Amen.

    April 28, 2010 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. Iraq Paramedic

    Greg, I pray you find GOD's peace & the salvation of his son JESUS CHRIST. May GOD have mercy on your soul. You really need to learn how to use spell check. Anyway the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven by several archeological digs. And if you would do some research you would find a lot of the old testament in the Q'uran. Have you ever been out of the USA? And by the way I am a civilian paramedic working in Iraq, I don't carry a weapon & I save lives not kill people. I would guess that you are tatooed, have multiple piercings, listen to some kind of head banger music, do drugs & drink & are either homosexual or bisexual, very cursive & very abusive to people in your life. Try reading instead of watching TV & listening to all the gossip. Travel & meet some people from different countries.
    May GOD Bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 28, 2010 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Greg

    To Iraq Paramedic: if there was a "God" you would not have a job. You do know that all of those stories of the Old Testament are fiction, right? You do have to know the difference between what is real, and what is not real before your country gives you a gun, right? Your comment looks exactly like a comment that might be written by a Muslim terrorist. All of you ignorant people are always trying to proselytize everyone else. I wish that I were stupid like you, and believed everything I read in the Bible. Many of the characters, like Jesus are people that really did live at one time, but 99% of the events that take place in the Bible are fictitious. Your beliefs are no better than that of the innocent Iraqi civilians that you are probably killing over there. In other words, the pages of your Bible are good for nothing other than tolet paper. Do you already have enough of that over there in Iraq, or are you just using your hand?

    April 28, 2010 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
    • martin gugino

      you say [I wish that I were stupid like you]
      Nice use of the subjunctive, but it may not be appropriate in this case.

      May 23, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
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