There is about a 10% increase in poppy this year. Some that eradicated poppy last year and received no compensation are growing again. The Afghan National Army (ANA) are eradicating it with the support of the British ISAF (NATO) troops. The British do not wish to be seen as destroying the poppy for fear of backlash but they will and there will be a back lash. Also supporting the ANA is Dyn Coup which is a private security company with a bad reputation. They are basically mercenaries doing state department work. From what I have heard they are doing more than just supporting. There is no viable alternative to poppy growing. It is one of the few things that can survive in the salty desert soil. Of course the farmers will fight rather than starve. Compensation needs to be given for a few years to all the small farmers and the army needs to go after the big drug men. Unfortunately they have too much power and money so this is unlikely. A more complicated but better long term solution would be to try and decrease the demand. Legalizing drugs might be the only way of reducing crime and for governments to gain control. There is a shortage of codeine and morphine in developing countries so a domestic industry for production of codeine and morphine makes sense. This is unlikely to happen and I think a big drug war is going to begin soon.
There are rumors that aerial spraying of poppies is or will take place. Apparently there have been advertisements for crop duster pilots. There will be consequences to health and also other crops will be destroyed.
IED (improvised explosive devises) have become more sophisticated and deadly. Now electronically detonated often linked to a tank shell and well disguised as for example as a fruit cart.
An example of how the justice system works is of a 16 year old girl who was going to be married to a 70 year old man. She ran away to Pakistan and later married an Afghan man there. On returning to Afghanistan she was arrested and accused of adultery. Court found her guilty and sentenced her to jail. She appealed but the appeal court withheld the sentence. By law a girl can not be forced into marriage at 16 and how can she commit adultery when she is not married? "Dozens of women are imprisoned around the country for running away from abusive or forced marriages, or for transgressing social norms by eloping," according to a 2006 report on Afghanistan by Human Rights Watch.
America is not exactly leading by example as far as justice is concerned. Bagram prison, near Kabul, is said to be worse than Guantánamo Bay. Only the Red Cross can go in and of course prisoners are held without charge or any rights.
Riots at Pul-i-chaki prison which was international news is due to poor conditions and the bright idea to change the prison uniform to orange.
The UN disarmament programme is being hampered by action of American army groups. The American heavy handed methods make it difficult and dangerous for the UN when they come and ask commanders to hand over their weapons.
I asked a contractor how he managed with security working in the south of the country. He said he had just bought a car for a general.
Bird flu may be in Afghanistan but there is no method of testing here yet. Someone from the Ministry of Public Health came to my house the other day to say we had to kill my ducks.
Any journalist who is perceived to criticize Islam risks jail. In fact I am not able to mention much of the work I am doing. Not because it is anti Islamic but because it may be perceived as culturally sensitive. Marrying 12 year olds and sex with young boys is relatively common in some parts of the country and violence against women is epidemic. Not all traditions are acceptable.
The burning of schools especially girl’s schools is still popular. In at least on province there is no girl’s school. There is a push for the return of madressas for boys and informal education for girls in some provinces.
There is a debate in parliament about women needing chaperones. Some male MPs think it should be compulsory.
Paul Greening via Turnip