By Jeanne Bryer
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Osama bin Laden's death has spurred talk of U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan this summer. But if troops go away before a true re-integration process for the Taliban, commentator Jeanne Bryer wonders what chance women will have.
When asking for Afghan women's opinion on whether there should be negotiations with the Taliban and foreign troop withdrawal, Wazhma Frogh, a leading women's activist and an executive board member of the Afghan Women's Network, told me that among Afghan women there is no clear consensus. But there is a common call for ending all forms of violence.
Wazhma says it doesn't matter to a mother whether an international air operation or a suicide bomber killed her child. The pain of loss is the same and she must endure her suffering under cover and in silence.
General James Bucknell, second in command of the International Security Assistance Force--the NATO-led security mission that has been in Afghanistan since 2001--says "now is not the time to blink."
Major General Phil Jones, director of International Security Assistance Force's Force Reintegration Cell, believes that the sight of bin Laden's picture--as a hunched, forlorn figure instead of a charismatic leader--will weaken his following and that now is the time to capitalize on this. Many foot-soldiers may turn away from al-Qaida and the Taliban, which could have a positive impact for reintegration.
Unless the perpetrators of cruelty and inhumane actions–whether they are Taliban or criminal warlords--are stopped, the misery for women will undoubtedly continue. If the military chiefs' advice is taken--to keep troops in there to press the advantage--then there is a chance they will achieve true security for all Afghans.
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Britain's Jeanne Bryer has freelanced, specializing in Afghanistan, for over a decade. She traveled to Kabul when the Taliban were in power, interviewing women and getting their stories. She worked for the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group for four years producing security and humanitarian reports, working with the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief in Kabul. She produced the AfghanLinks e-newsletter for four years (now discontinued) and has been a member of the Front Line Club for independent journalists since its opening in 2003. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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