Leading Article: Victims at the heart of the struggle

Related Topics

Fears that Afghanistan was beginning to slip from the world's attention have been dispelled by a combination of savage reports on conditions in the country and a growing rift between the allies on how to pursue the war.

The reports, from Oxfam and the Presidency Group and Atlantic Council in the US, all paint a picture which has become depressingly familiar to reporters and workers on the ground. Opium production is on the increase; the Taliban is resurgent; the hold of the central government of President Karzai is tenuous over much of the country and humanitarian conditions are worsening. The military effort is hampered by a shortage of troops.

It is partly in response to this picture, and egged on by the imperatives of an election year and a US President determined to leave office on a high note, that the US administration has put the heat on its Nato allies to step up their operations in Afghanistan. No doubt for similar reasons, it has decided to ratchet up its own military efforts by crossing the Pakistan border with attacks on the al-Qa'ida leadership.

The trouble with this aggressiveness is that it could easily backfire. Crossing into Pakistani airspace has brought US forces the scalp of a top al-Qa'ida leader, Abu Laith al-Libi, but such aggressiveness could destabilise Pakistan at a critical election time. Equally, writing to Germany accusing it of backsliding in the "war on terror", as Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, has done, threatens to break Nato apart at a time when another member, Canada, is considering a withdrawal of forces. Public opinion in Italy is exhibiting increasing doubts about their own commitments in Afghanistan.

At the heart of this is a divide between America and its allies over how this war should be pursued and the relative weight that should be given to civilian, as opposed to military, efforts. But the victim, it should never be forgotten, in all this is not high politics but the ordinary Afghan citizen. Which is why The Independent considers it so vital to defend Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student condemned to death for downloading material on women's rights.

The return of the Taliban would be a disaster for Afghanistan and its people. The trick is to ensure that the President is not so weakened in the struggle for hearts and minds that he gives in to Islamist demands for such intolerable punishments.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Weekend Factory Operatives

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...

Recruitment Genius: FP&A Analyst

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Daily catch-up: the Labour leadership election hasn’t yet got to grips with why the party lost

John Rentoul
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific