The sky IS falling, but it is landing mostly on the heads of the naysayers who claim we have ABANDONED Afghanistan:
The simplistic way to look at what’s been happening here since the Taliban regime was vanquished a little more than 19 months ago is to focus on the broken promises, the lack of progress and regular warnings that at any moment Afghanistan could again be torn apart.
Which explains why that is all you hear coming from certain political quarters.
For a better view, drive to this mountainside village 90 minutes north of Kabul.
Come on a warm, sunny Friday, the Muslim holy day. Stop at a picnic area in a wooded plateau with a commanding view of the Shomali Plain. Chances are, men such as Haji Zahir Kargar, 50, will be there with friends and family who also have driven up from Kabul.
“Often on Fridays now, we are coming here for picnics,” Kargar, a clerk, says through an interpreter. “During the Taliban years? No!” Such entertainment was banned by the fundamentalist militia.
A foreigner visiting Afghanistan may only see problems and wonder why more hasn’t been done since the ruling Taliban fled its last stronghold, in Kandahar, in December 2001.
It takes an Afghan, someone who knows that this country was one of the world’s poorest and least-developed even before it was devastated by two decades of fighting, to see a picnic as a sign of something larger. It also takes an Afghan to note that it’s a stretch to try to compare the situation and lessons learned here with what the United States and its coalition partners now face in Iraq, where some object to the presence of foreign troops and the temporary control of their country by U.S. bureaucrats.
Several decades of war, no economy to speak of, terrible education, and the memory of the despotic Taliban rule, and still, the average Afghani is more worldly and sophisticated than the average Ny Times reporter. They recognize things are getting better- but do not gloss over the existing problems:
To be sure, Afghans don’t think there has been enough progress. And they don’t dismiss the daunting problems their country still faces: