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Afghanistan: Ex-Minister Sees Growing Gap Between Public, State

Abdullah Abdullah (file photo) (epa) April 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah spoke with RFE/RL's Tajik Service during a trip to Almaty for an annual meeting of the Eurasian Media Forum on April 22. Abdullah, who was the country's top diplomat until a March 2006 cabinet reshuffle, talks about the state of affairs in Afghanistan, the Taliban threat, and Kabul's relations with the world. What follows are excerpts from correspondent Nasibjon Amoni's interview with Dr. Abdullah.

RFE/RL: What is your evaluation of Afghanistan's current situation?

Abdullah Abdullah: On one hand, Afghanistan is facing many problems and, on the other hand, fortunately, there are still opportunities for Afghanistan -- meaning that in recent years when Afghan people had the opportunity to get together and the international community also helped Afghanistan, there was much progress in various respects.

But there are still major questions: Is the security situation improving? Has the process of creating a healthy government been successful?

And there are also...issues like people's economic situations, reconstruction, and others. So the picture cannot be very bright, unfortunately, but we are hoping that good use will be made of opportunities that still lie ahead of Afghanistan.

New Political Bloc

RFE/RL: You said that there are problems. Is this one of the reasons for the creation of the United National Front of Afghanistan [political bloc]?

Abdullah: There should be political movements in Afghanistan. They should grow and become part of [Afghan society]; they should have a role in creating political stability. [The creation of the United National Front] was a necessity; the existence of political movements is necessary in a democracy.

RFE/RL: What forces are involved in the United National Front?

Abdullah: The composition of the [United] National Front has been announced, and prominent figures from all over Afghanistan are part of it. The agenda has also been announced. Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani is the head of this front. They are trying to get public support regarding their agendas and programs, and also to strengthen ties with people and the international community. This is considered a positive step and a major political move that has taken place recently.

Taliban Threat

RFE/RL: Let's return to the situation in Afghanistan. What are the factors that have contributed to the Taliban's increased activities?

Abdullah: The fact that the Taliban have had the opportunity to be strengthened, trained, and armed outside Afghanistan and then sent to the country has been a major factor. At the same time, I believe that more attention should be paid to places that are being attacked by the Taliban, and areas where residents are facing the Taliban threat. There should be more [action] regarding the economic situation, as well as development.

RFE/RL: If you compare Afghanistan's current situation with two or three years ago, do you see progress or failure?

Abdullah: When you look at the security situation, two or three years ago there were no districts under the control of the Taliban. But today, unfortunately, in some parts of Afghanistan, there is such a thing.

I also think that the gap between the people and the government is growing. And this should be prevented, because the Afghan people can ensure the success of Afghanistan. People should support the political process. Maybe people have high expectations, but attention is needed.

Regarding Afghanistan's international relations, there has been progress in ties with Pakistan in all areas except in the security area because of the presence of Taliban leaders there and Taliban activities from inside Pakistan with the aim of creating unrest in Afghanistan. All of these are major issues that need to be dealt with.

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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