Eighteen years ago on this day, the US and allies launched attacks on the Taliban which resulted in the regime’s overthrow; however, the war still continues in the country and many thousands of Afghans have been killed and wounded.
Current and ex-Afghan government officials acknowledge that Afghanistan did not get the fully intended benefit from the US presence in Afghanistan. They also say that the continuation of war in the country indicates the US’s failure in tackling the Taliban insurgency.
According to US officials, the war in Afghanistan has cost the United States over $700 billion and the lives of over 2,500 US troops. The number of Afghan security force members killed during this period, from an estimate given by Afghanistan’s national security advisor Hamdullah Mohib, is more than 150,000 soldiers.
The fall of the Taliban regime and the inflow of billions of dollars of foreign aid sparked hopes among Afghans that their country would move towards socioeconomic prosperity and peace. But failure to manage the aid competently or without corruption has resulted in a lack of focus in building Afghanistan’s economic infrastructure, and is criticized by ordinary Afghans and Afghan political elites alike.
"The peace negotiation talks are providing opportunities for us, and now we must be wise enough to take advantage of the opportunity,” said Abdul Karim Khuram, a former close aide to former Afghan president Hamid Karzai.
Statistics show that since 2001, $115 billion was allocated to Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, but still over 54 percent of the Afghans live below the poverty line.
Rahmat is an Afghan shoemaker who earns a 100 Afs per day. He is one of the thousands of Afghans whose life has not changed despite the US presence in the country.
“I work here from the early morning till night, but I get nothing. I earn that much to buy a couple pieces of bread, so that we do not die from hunger,” said Rahmat.
Afghan children also constitute one of the major victims of the war in Afghanistan. Nearly 4 million Afghan children are deprived of education today as a result of ongong war and violence.
“Our infants are being burned in their cradles, this has continued over the past eighteen years,” said Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen, a political analyst in Kabul.