The West invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the Taliban regime with promises of democracy, freedom and women’s rights. It was a disaster. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed. Corruption and abuses are endemic. Now the foreign troops are withdrawing. And Taliban, far from defeated, are poised to return to power. What went wrong with “the good war”?
As a young and idealistic war correspondent, Graeme Smith followed the troops into battle in Afghanistan. Now he returns to a place that gave him nightmares to see if there is hope for peace. Smith revisits old friends and acquaintance and sees the deep divisions in the country.
Shaharzad Akbar, the country’s top human rights investigator calls out abuses by both the Taliban and the government. She is a strong advocate of seeking peace with the insurgents. But Hamdullah Mohib, the president’s National Security Advisor, denounces what he fears could be a surrender at the peace talks and warns of more bloodshed to come. Outspoken women at Kabul University are determined to hold onto their hard-won new rights and liberties in the face of any return of the Taliban. But in Kandahar, burka-clad women who explain why they do not fear the Taliban.
With peace talks underway, Smith makes a remarkable journey to visit with the Taliban at their unofficial headquarters outside of Afghanistan, in Doha, Qatar. The movement that once banned television and cameras now has a young generation of modern leaders who post videos on the Taliban’s official website and use social media to spread their message.
The turmoil and uncertainty Smith finds in Afghanistan today leaves him with surprising hope. After years of covering the war, he discovers people who for the first time are debating how to win the peace instead of fighting the forever war. Maybe this time the killing will end. But for now, the streets remain dangerous… and the girls at school in Kandahar put their burqas back on to venture outside.
Fifteen years ago, when war broke out Merwais left his home in the Kunar Province for a new life in Europe. He returns to the notorious Valley of Death, the dangerous tribal area bordering Pakistan, to find out what happened after the American invasion.More info