A couple of years ago I attended a talk on Afghanistan at Chatham House. Until then, I had been fairly certain that all war is bad war, and removal of British or Canadian forces from the region would be a desirable thing. That talk changed my mind completely.
I won’t pretend that I know very much about the place. Most of what I know comes from Ahmed Rashid’s Taliban, a book which I found fascinating and seemed to be a balanced and well researched view of the place. From this two things stand out: the situation there is far more complicated than most understand. But more importantly, how women were treated in Afghanistan in the 1990s was abhorrent, and must never be allowed to occur again.
Sweeta Noori, from Women for Women International was the face of this argument, and when she spoke to the crowd I felt it a chilling reminder of what responsibility those countries who invaded Afghanistan have to ensure that life under the Taleban does not ever return. She told us, with compelling gravity, how important it was that the NATO forces prevented the Taleban from taking over.
Many people have strong feelings about how the war is being conducted there or the usefulness of committing forces. I agree, it is far from a good situation. However, remember Sweeta Noori, and when you talk about Afghanistan remember the women.