Shukria Barakzai, Politician in conversation with Revati Laul at THiNK 2011
AFGHANISTAN IS not for sale. The country has been ruined by the essentially male dominatedpolitics of cold war, and then the post-cold warpolitics of self-interest. The country needs a leader who’s completely Afghan. Not Washington made nor Moscow made. If I were in Karzai’s place I would engage the Taliban in conversation and give them a six-month deadline. To choose to participate in the democratic set up and be part of the government. To give them a chance to carry forward their ideas without violence. If they still react negatively, I would prepare Afghanistan to fight them once and for all. People who co-operate to clear the Taliban from their villages would get more aid and assistance.
I would also tell the media not to publish any newscasts from the Taliban. This is not to go against the freedom of speech but a matter ofnational security. I will also rally the police, the Afghan national army and intelligence agencies to fight the Taliban as one. On the question of whether NATO forces should leave or stay, is not something for which I can provide an absolute answer. It depends on when the question is asked and the situation at that time. It’s clear they didn’t come to Afghanistan to save us, but to save their own countries. Even foreign aid that comes into Afghanistan is often driven by self-interest.
Towards the goal of making a better, more secure future for our country; if I were in the place of Karzai, I would have three immediate priorities. To work on building a relationship of trust between the government and the nation (or the people of Afghanistan). Second, I would push for economic reform and third, administrative reform. I don’t see these as impossible goals. What we need are empathetic politicians.”
I want people outside to know that the Afghanistan of 2011 is radically different from a few decades ago. There is a new generation of Afghans, an untapped political force in our women who are all fighting hard for their rights. I am not alone. There are thousands of Shukrias.