The war, which began in 2001, is not yet over. Though the Taliban were badly weakened at first, and numerous cities were taken by the allied troops, the conflict continues without any prospect of victory in sight. Public opinion is turning against the effort at a dizzying rate, not only among American citizens and the Western world in general, but in the upper echelons of political and military spheres. As for the Afghan population, it is barely holding on and increasingly in favour of negotiations with the Taliban in order to put an end to the suffering.
While the transition from the Bush to the Obama administrations did ‘humanise’ the conflict, with the bodies of fallen soldiers being shown for the first time, there was no hiding the fact that the government faces the difficult task of defending a war still held to be ‘just’ while attempting to fin a dignified way out.
In the meantime, Afghanistan has become an Islamic presidential republic (2005) that acknowledges equal rights for men and women under the law; at least two women must be elected to the lower house of Parliament; linguistic minorities are recognised, but the founding of parties based exclusively on ethnic, linguistic or religious groups is prohibited. Formally, that is. In actual fact, outside the capital city power continues to be held by religious leaders and assemblies of elders, hobbling the attempts at democracy by the official government led by Karzai. For most Afghans, rights exist only on paper, and the majority of women are victims of violence, often in the home, and deprived of any right to education or health.
The Taliban militias have reorganised in the border zones with Pakistan (where it is believed that many al-Qaeda chiefs and militants are hiding under the protection of the Pakistani secret service), while, since 2003, the ISAF troops, soldiers from a total of 46 nations, operate under the command of NATO forces.
Between 2007 to 2009 the number of civilian victims rises regrettably from year to year, reaching a total of more than five thousand dead, as compared to roughly a thousand military losses. The latest revelations – regarding American war diaries that were conveniently kept secret but revealed on the internet site Wikileaks in July of 2010 – unveil an even harsher reality. Massacres of innocents, unfaithful allies and inefficient strategies have added hundreds of more, previously unknown civilian victims to the list cite earlier, placing before the eyes of the entire world the true face of a dirty war in which the enemy is constantly gaining strength.