Acts of Injustice Push Afghans to Join Insurgency, Think Tank Says

"... In one example, the report quoted a Taliban supporter in the central province of Wardak as saying that forces belonging to a district police chief had looted local houses. ..."

Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C News | December 16, 2010

Kabul - Injustices perpetrated by the Afghan government and international community have been fuelling the Taliban-led insurgency, presenting 'a serious strategic risk,' a think tank said Thursday.

The report released by Chatham House, a London-based think tank, documented how land grabs by powerful men, political marginalization of tribal and factional rivals, and arbitrary detention have pushed Afghans to join the militants.

The report, published ahead of US President Barack Obama's statement expected Thursday on the review of Washington's war strategy, insisted that 'any strategy to create long-term stability in Afghanistan must place justice at its core.'

Obama sent 30,000 extra forces to Afghanistan this year, raising the total number of foreign troops to 150,000.

The report found that acts of injustice played a major role in the growth of the insurgency in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, where the Taliban are most active. Lack of justice and misuse of power by local government officials have also helped the Taliban to spread their insurgency beyond their traditional power bases.

In one example, the report quoted a Taliban supporter in the central province of Wardak as saying that forces belonging to a district police chief had looted local houses.

'People became angry and, to take revenge, they stood against him and his group,' the report quoted the anonymous interviewee. 'The Taliban used this opportunity. Our district is all Taliban now. The people support them.'

Senior government officials were also accused of violating laws by passing an 'amnesty law for war criminals, issuing presidential pardons for well-connected drug smugglers, criminals and Taliban commanders.'

President Hamid Karzai has ordered the release of a number of dangerous criminals and drug traffickers detained by government forces and foreign soldiers, according to leaked US diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

The report, titled No Shortcut to Stability: Justice, Politics and Insurgency in Afghanistan, also said the international response has been 'almost invariably weak.'

'The insurgency's rise over the last nine years, fuelled in large part by injustice and abuse of power, requires the Afghan government and its international partners to address these issues as essential to long-term stability,' said Stephen Carter, one of the report's two authors.

'Justice and rule of law cannot be dismissed as just matters of morality and human rights,' he said. 'They are critical issues of strategic self-interest.'

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