Afghan Prince says U.S. and Coalition Forces making big mistake
So they are very unhappy about that. But as far as the people are concerned, their feeling is quite positive. But the mistake that has been made in Afghanistan, not only on the part of the Americans troops, but also on the part of NATO, is that we are disregarding the people of Afghanistan. We talk about the people of Afghanistan in the third person. We talk about the al-Qaeda; we about the Talib; we talk about suicide bombers; we talk about IEDs and all that; but nobody talks about the mother who comes to my door to sell one child so that she can feed three other children. Nobody talks about the children of Kabul rummaging through the garbage every night to find food for their family. And that's the mistake being made, Kathleen, is that we are disregarding the thirty million people of Afghanistan, the majority of whom are living in sub-level poverty.
Kathleen Wells: How can this be rectified? How can this be addressed?
Prince Seraj: Well, we have to change our philosophy. We have to make the question I’ve asked of my friends at NATO -- the Americans, the Canadians, and the Europeans -- "What is your plan for Afghanistan?" I still have not -- I don't have -- I haven't had somebody sit down and tell me that this is the plan for Afghanistan, and this is what we want to do.
When Mr. Bush decided to send the U. S. troops to Afghanistan and within three weeks we got rid of the Taliban and the al-Qaeda and Afghanistan became "free,” we were promised the Marshall Plan. It never materialized. We were promised all kinds of development. People were waiting for their lives to get better. People are waiting to get jobs. People are waiting for the economy to get better. But none of that happened. Afghanistan is an agricultural country; nobody is paying attention to the agriculture. Thirty years ago, we not only fed our own people, but we produced enough food to export out of Afghanistan. Today, we are importers of food.
Kathleen Wells: Why is that happening? Why are promises or no plan being instigated or effectuated? What is the motivation for that?
Prince Seraj: Because they started getting on the wrong foot. When the Taliban were driven out of Afghanistan, unfortunately, Iraq happened. When Iraq happened -- before Iraq -- Mr. Bush said, "We will not forget Afghanistan like we did the last time. We are going to complete the job, and we're going to make sure that everything is fine." But that was good so long as Iraq was not there. The minute Iraq happened, Afghanistan was put on the back burner. Afghanistan was left to fend for itself, and nothing much was done in the form of development. Sure, we built some highways; sure, we built schools and clinics; but schools and clinics and highways do not feed people. We started building our house from roof -- tried to build the roof first before we go to the foundation. We forgot that the house without the foundation does not stand.
And so the policies now -- finally they are coming to the point that "Oh, we must." You see, Afghanistan's problem is four-fold. We have got tribal; we have got economical; we have got social and political, in that order. In Germany, when at the Bonn conference the powers [that] be at the time (at that time the United Nations and the Americans and the British that were involved) -- they turned the whole thing around because, to them, tribes did not mean anything. They didn't know anything about tribes. They didn't know anything about Afghan society. But they knew about politics, and they knew that politics needed money.
So they turned the whole thing around upside down. They went for politics, and they figured that, if we could throw money at politics, Afghanistan is going to have a stable political system; therefore, it will correct itself. That was a mistake. The foundation was a mistake.
We should have gone in trying to unify the tribes of Afghanistan. Through the unification, we should have started economic development immediately next to that. This would have created jobs, which should have bound the society, and then politics would have taken care of itself.
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Prince Ali amongst the people. Courtesy of http://www.ncdta.org