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The governor of Farah

8 May 2009

The governor of Farah

Farshad Bashirby Farshad Bashir.

Last Monday and Tuesday in the Afghan province of Farah 147 civilians died in a series of American air-raids. Two weeks ago I spoke, by coincidence, with two Afghan provincial governors, including the governor of Farah, Roohul Amin. They were visiting the Netherlands and were keen to speak with me and let me know how things were going in their provinces.

Amin was, together with the governor of Bamyan, on a visit with the Americans during a tour through Europe. Governor Amin had previously spoken with President Obama and was convinced by the American president's strategy of stationing thousands of additional soldiers in Afghanistan and extending the war into Pakistan. He said that he found this strategy excellent and saw no way out other than via a military solution. You cannot, he said, talk with the insurgents, even though he had made no attempt to do so himself.

By his account there were no violent incidents in his province, security was much better than in the rest of the country and there was, he said, no longer any corruption (!). He told me how wonderful all of that was and how he wanted to bring it to the rest of Afghanistan. That was why he was arguing for more soldiers to combat in the strongest possible way the insurgents in the south.

I told him I believed very little of this. The last eight years show that this conflict cannot be won by military means. More troops to Afghanistan simply means more violence and more civilian victims.

In his province last Monday 147 civilians fell victim to a series of air-raids. That is 147 too many. And ordinary Afghans are showing what they think, that enough is enough and that they are fed up of the violence. That's why on Thursday so many came into the streets to demonstrate in front of Amin's offices.

And the 'governor'? By his own account nothing was agreed with him when the Americans decided to bomb his province. Apparently he is only allowed to say that he is the governor of Farah during a propaganda tour of Europe.

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