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Afghanistan 10 Years Later

Afghan boys play with a ball on top of the remains of a Russian armored vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 6, 2011.
Afghan boys play with a ball on top of the remains of a Russian armored vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 6, 2011.

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Kurt Achin

Afghans are expressing a mixture of disappointment and uncertainty about their future, as they mark the anniversary of the start of the Afghan war.

The United States launched its military campaign in Afghanistan, shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  The mission, hunt down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and topple the Taliban-led government.

While the Taliban were ousted from power, 10 years later, many Afghans still feel let down by the international effort to rid their country of the Taliban and normalize its institutions.

Sitfatullah Safi is the deputy chief of Afghan government media relations.

"There is a lot of achievement in Afghanistan in the last ten years, but not as much as people expect," said Safi.

Safi says the biggest disappointment is the failure to ensure Afghanistan's security.

"The Afghan people were hoping that international forces in the last ten years should secure their lives, and secure the Afghan borders - especially the east[ern] and south[ern] borders," added Safi.  "But unfortunately today, the security situation is a big concern of the Afghan government and Afghan people."

Images from a decade of war

Wahidullah Ghazikhail, an independent Afghan researcher, is blunt about the U.S.-led stabilization mission.

"They are not successful in this 10-year war in Afghanistan," said Ghazikhail.

Ghazikhail says many Afghans were looking to the United States and its international partners for something similar to what followed World War II.  "They helped Europe, especially Germany.  And they went there with the Marshall Plan.  And people were expecting the rehabilitation, rebuilding the nation, democracy, and reconstruction.  But unfortunately we were expecting more," added Ghazikhail.

Among ordinary Afghans, opinions about the decade-long, multi-billion dollar effort are mixed.

Ahmad Yossuf, a construction worker, has a bleak view of the state of his country.  Neither the Taliban nor this government ever gave us anything, he says.  It's the poor people, he says, who are the losers.

His fellow laborer, Nesar Ahmad, sees a brighter side.  He says that in the past ten years, development programs have been implemented, a national army has been formed, bridges and schools have been built - and some degree of democracy has been established.  So it is a fact, he says, that some positive changes have taken place.

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