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10 Oct 2001


  1. Afghans comprise the largest refugee population in the world. Afghanistan has been at war for more than twenty years. During that time it has lost a third of its population. Some 1.5 million people are estimated to have died as a direct result of the conflict. Another 5 million fled as refugees to Iran and Pakistan; others became exiles elsewhere abroad. A large part of its population is internally displaced. Afghanistan has virtually the world's lowest life expectancy and literacy rates and the highest rates of infant, child, and maternal mortality. It is suffering from a devastating drought and, with Somalia, is one of the world's two hungriest countries.”

    --Human Rights Watch, Report on Afghanistan, December 15, 2000
  2. Thousands of Afghans are now fleeing to Pakistan and Iran, into makeshift camps with no food, shelter, or sanitation as winter approaches. It is estimated that half of Kabul's population has already evacuated the city since September 12th, 2001, in fear of US reprisal. The UNHCR predicts that as many as 1.5 million people may flee their homes if there is military attack on their country. The possibility that the United States will take military action against Afghanistan is triggering fear and alarm among Afghan civilians. The recent withdrawal from Afghanistan of UN personnel and international relief groups that were distributing food aid to 3.8 million of Afghan civilians affected by internal conflict and drought threatens to place countless civilians at even greater danger. The United States asked Pakistan to seal its border with Afghanistan for security reasons, an action that is trapping thousands of Afghan civilians - ordinary men, women, and children who cannot be held responsible for the actions of those who rule them - in a place of danger.”

    --The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR), Washington, D.C. September 18, 2001 UNHCR report: September 18, 2001
  3. Further military action in Afghanistan will only cause further death and misery to the people, who have suffered at the hands of the Taliban government, and as a result of U.S. intervention in the region. Killing Osama bin Laden will not eliminate terrorism. Senior American counter-terrorism experts believe that killing or capturing Osama bin Laden and destroying his power base will not achieve very much, because there are plenty of other people and groups willing to take his place. That was the depressing conclusion of an influential commission set up to report to Congress last year on the dangers posed to America by international terrorism. The finding flies in the face of the belief that removing Mr bin Laden will eradicate the dangers to the US and its allies….The 10-strong National Commission on Terrorism was chaired by Paul Bremer, former State Department ambassador-at-large for counter terrorism. Mr Bremer worked for Ronald Reagan, and is no dove on combating terrorism.”

    --Chris Blackhurst, "Terror in America: National Commission," THE INDEPENDENT, 20 September 2001. See also the National Commission on Terrorism Report, "Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism" available in the U.S. State Department's internet archive of published material.
  4. 4. UN pressure must be used. The international focus on Afghanistan in recent months has been almost exclusively on the Taliban's reported support for terrorism abroad. The same energy should be directed to stopping the killings of civilians inside Afghanistan.” --Sidney Jones, Executive Director of the Asia Division, Human Rights Watch, February 19, 2001 The U.N. must press the Taliban to protect civilians and civilian property, and to hold its commanders accountable for abuses. No one has been held accountable for past abuses in Afghanistan -and that has contributed to massive civilian displacement and allowed further attacks on civilians to take place.” --Sidney Jones, Human Rights Watch, June 14, 2001
  5. The U.S. should also be held accountable for what has happened in Afghanistan. The civil war in Afghanistan was funded and supported by the US, and was the result of US cold war policy to eliminate Soviet troops in the country. The CIA helped train both the Taliban mujahideen and Osama bin Laden to fight the Soviets. In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166,...[which] authorize[d] stepped-up covert military aid to the mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new goal: to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet withdrawal. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies – a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987, ... as well as a ceaseless stream” of CIA and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan's ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels.” --Steve Coll, Washington Post, July 19, 1992. In 1980, the US spent $8 billion in Afghanistan to defeat the Soviets. Pakistan introduced the idea of creating an International Brigade to fight the war, encouraging thousands of Muslims to join, and even put pressure on the Saudis to send a prince to join the war. In 1986, CIA chief William Casey persuaded Congress to send military supplies to these people. Laden, a rich Saudi, arrived in Peshawar and was welcomed by Pakistan and the United States as he was to lead the Saudi contingent. In 1989, after the Soviets left, the relationship between Afghanistan and the US ended and the US has largely ignored the region for the last 11 years. … In 1996, Laden returned to Afghanistan after forming the al-Queda (the base) network. Initially, the US encouraged the Taliban regime through proxies such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

    --Summarized from "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia." by Ahmed Rashid, Yale University Press, March 2000

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia was formed in 1993 to combat rising religious intolerance in South Asia and to campaign for peace and justice in the region. We are committed to working towards a just, non-violent resolution of the crisis we are currently living through. If you are interested in joining us in this work, please call 617-983-3934 or e-mail

5 Feb 2007

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