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Forum, Sept. 4: Arming, financing Taliban was stupid

Published: 9/3/2021 9:59:55 PM
Modified: 9/3/2021 10:00:05 PM
Arming, financing Taliban was stupid

Thank God I wasn’t a governmental or NGO expert when I founded, with a couple of my in-laws at the time, the Zarghoona Women’s Center in a very conservative frontier city in Pakistan in 2000.

I’d lived in other cities in Pakistan for various lengths of time beginning in 1976, and was there during the massive influx of Afghan refugees in the 1980s, so I had a pretty good understanding of the increasingly fundamentalist and extremist views transforming Pakistan, but sadly I wasn’t psychic.

My child and I joined his father there, where he’d started a business, in August 2001.

We watched the second tower fall live on CNN International.

That October, following the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, our business was attacked by a mob. Our security guards repelled them, so they torched our car instead. From then onward, we lived with cops in our family compound. We had to drop our court case against the mob if we didn’t want to be killed.

NGO funders wanted assurance of the fiction that Zarghoona was fully women-run, but it was essential for the safety of our staff and students that my then-husband was in fact the senior officer. That ensured that the bank handling Zarghoona’s account, and the Department of Social Welfare that controlled our charitable certification, wouldn’t extort our women.

The Taliban wanted to stop all female education in our city and warned they’d shoot any women or girls being transported on bicycles or motor scooters by men. That’s how the poor travel.

My in-laws were Sunni Muslim but we had some Shia friends. The Shia community was under relentless threats by the Taliban and we knew people whose relatives had been murdered.

After returning to New York, we tried to keep Zarghoona running with revenue from our business. But with no male protector, it was just too dangerous for our women and we shut it down in 2004.

The Taliban are brutal, unregenerate thugs. The West helped to create, arm and finance them and now millions of Afghanis and Pakistanis will pay forever for that stupidity.

SARAH CRYSL AKHTAR

Lebanon

A terrible display of incompetence

President Joe Biden is defending his decision to exit Afghanistan. Alas, this is not what most Americans are concerned about, and the president and his advisers should know this.

The issue at the heart of the criticism is the departure’s execution. It seems to have been very poorly planned, possibly the cause of the senseless deaths of our military and many Afghanis, and included our leaving billions of dollars of military equipment that can be used by the Taliban or other terrorist groups to kill innocent people. The entire exit was a terrible display of incompetence.

Now consider that Congress wants to give the administration roughly $5 trillion for infrastructure and social engineering.

Can we be confident that the execution of the various programs will be planned and accomplished more competently than the exit from Afghanistan?

For instance, is there any plan to find and train the thousands of people to staff day care and pre-K programs? Where will all the additional health care providers come from?

This administration has demonstrated incompetence in other areas, perhaps most notably border security. There is little evidence to give us confidence that this money will not be squandered, either through sheer incompetence or corruption. Worse, because of the borrowing and taxation it entails, our children and their children will still be paying the bills.

Great leaders and managers understand that good execution is critical to the success of any strategy. As Thomas Edison is credited with saying: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

DENNIS E. LOGUE

Enfield

Humans inflict cruelty for ‘fun’

Thanks to Forum contributor Margaret D. Hurley for yet another thoughtful and insightful letter (“Fishing is torture,” Aug. 31) calling attention to the cruelty we humans inflict on other living beings “for fun.”

Bravo!

SUSAN MALERICH

Bridgewater




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