Afghan Women Speak Out: Dr. Roshnak Wardak

Posted by Paris -

Wed, Oct 7, 2009


  • Sharebar

From Jodie Evans:

I am just returning from my 10-day trip to Afghanistan. As we left, a farm was bombed and eight members of a family were killed. Eight U.S. soldiers also lost their lives in an insurgent raid on their outpost. And today marks the 8th anniversary of the US Invasion of that war torn country.

We have spent a quarter of a trillion dollars in those 8 years and what have we got for all that time, money, and suffering? Most of the country is in worse condition, the Taliban have been growing in strength and number, the bordering countries are more unstable and death fills the air.

We went to hear what the women of Afghanistan thought about the push for more troops. We spoke with journalists, doctors, activists, NGOs, members of government, and average Afghan women. Most of the women do not want more troops. Instead, they need support to sustain their lives. They want that money spent on what we really need to bring peace: investment in the people of Afghanistan.

Everything we have done in eight years has no plan – just short-term solutions with long-term catastrophic effects. Afghans want education, jobs, healthcare, infrastructure. They want us to send troops of doctors, teachers, engineers and business leaders – not more soldiers. Yet we have continued to support a situation that fuels insurgency instead of a sustainable culture. Ninety percent of the funding to Afghanistan is used for military spending and only 10 percent has been used for development. Obama already authorized an additional 21,000 troops this year and Gen. McChrystal is expected to ask for an additional 40,000 troops.

Member of Parliament and gynecologist Dr. Roshnak Wardak speaks about the situation in her province. We have to do all we can to stop another surge. As Americans, we need to stand with the women of Afghanistan and fight for development, not troops.

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  • Barbra

    Quick question – what jobs do yo suggest we create in Afghanistan…and with what funding…do you think a bunch of Western money can just walk into a Central Asian economy like Afghanistan and say…”Capitalism for all!” Do you think that would be A. helpful? B.Welcome?

    I sympathize with your cause and I’m a peace activist myself – but, simplifying the issues doesn’t help anything.

    And, did you forget about Iraq…we’re still here! Whether the Americans like it or not there is a big mess here and Obama cannot just say “not my problem” and leave. The peace community certainly has…onto the next, more profitable cause. If Iraq isn’t in the media you don’t care. You certainly squeezed all the donations you could while it was on the front page. Soon, those people in Afghanistan will realize how precarious your dedication to their cause is as well. When the donations stop flowing you stop caring.

  • Paris

    Thank you for the comment, Barbra. I agree, that a bunch of Westerners cannot just come into Afghanistan and dump money in their lap. As we have seen, that leads to corruption, war profiteers, theft, fraud, and waste.

    But Afghans do really need development – they need infrastructure, they need economic alternatives to joining the Taliban or the opium trade, and they need to rebuild a country torn apart by three decades of war. Afghanistan needs infrastructure – schools, roads, and hospitals. I believe these could be good places to start with creating jobs. Ralph Lopez over at Jobs for Afghans has a White Paper on how the United States might go about such a program: http://jobsforafghans.org/ Other alternatives that I have seen include planting high-value crops such as pomegranate to replace the opium fields. These are just a few suggestions.

    In regards to Iraq, I agree. Iraq has been forgotten by many (especially the media) as the attention has turned to Afghanistan. CODEPINK is still calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, including the withdrawal of private contractors and the removal of any permanent bases. The timeline set by the White House is to have the troops out by 2011. We are keeping an eye on them to make sure they keep that promise.

  • Brett Folkman

    Keep up the fantastic work! Jodie – your dedication and sacrifices to women’s causes around the globe are very inspiring. I’m listening to the radio interview right now.

  • http://www.reset-italia.net/2009/10/08/errori-ed-orrori-di-guerra-le-donne-afghane-dicono-fuori/ Errori ed Orrori di guerra. Le Donne afghane dicono Fuori! | Reset Italia

    [...] parla è una donna afghana, medico, membro del parlamento afghano: Roshnak Wardak. Così iniziavo l’articolo che stavo per pubblicare ma c’è un altro ERRORE di cui [...]

  • DavidByron

    I’ve just read the antiwar.com interview of Medea Benjamin where they try to clear up her recent change of views on Afghanistan as reported in the CS Monitor.


    Title, “Is Medea Benjamin Naive or Just Confused?”

    She seems to have completely reversed her position to become pro-Afghan war (or pro-occupation if you prefer). She describes it as, “I feel we have to have a responsible exit strategy” meaning nation building. Meaning somehow guaranteeing no Taliban after the US “leaves”. Meaning it can never leave.

    And per the CS Monitor this attitude is now somehow the official CodePink view??????

    I am just gobsmacked.
    I am literally unable to believe what I am hearing.


    She just woke up one day and decided to reverse 180 degrees everything she’s bee working for for the last seven years maybe?

    Hey, you know what? There are women in Iraq too. Does she want to stick around there to do some good?

    I just cannot believe this.
    Sorry for the language.

  • http://www.ofigennoe.ru ofigennoe.ru

    I hope this was a very interesting post thanks for writing it!

  • Demitra Williamson

    I am a woman Soldier and would first like say that I applaud the efforts of your organization. It is inspiring as a Soldier to know that there are still people that take an active interest in our country and how our government conducts business. I do however want to share with you some of my experiences as a veteran who has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. I know that from the way that our involvement is presented in the media, it seems that we are just making war with other countries. The media does not present the entire picture.

    I noted that your mission talks of “policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law.” That is absolutely what our presence in the Middle East is supposed to be. Yes, there is fighting, but we are not fighting those countries, we are fighting those who are trying to stop democracy and rule by fear. Our presence is just about fighting; I never had to fire my weapon at anyone during my deployments. We are helping to build communities including schools, roads, hospitals, homes, utilities, etc. Soldiers are trying to fill the role of doctors, teachers, engineers and business leaders because there is no one else to send. I haven’t seen masses of civilian doctors, teachers, engineers, and business leaders trying to go to these countries to help. The few that do go usually leave after a short time because of the dangerous conditions.

    I have seen the changes in the people over time. It is true that some of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq want us out but there are just as many, if not more that are glad we are there. Before our involvement, the people of these countries were afraid to try to influence their government because they would be killed. Now, they are proud to vote and take an active role in serving in government, security forces, and other key careers to help their county. Imagine a young child or elderly woman who walks miles in 120 degrees to get to the nearest water well and return to their hut that has no electricity to cook a meal that can barely feed their family. I have seen that and it is not pretty. Now, that village has its own water well and electricity for about eight hours a day. There is more peace in that village now that they aren’t fighting over limited water and stealing the little gas powered generator from each other.

    What I am saying is that there is so much more to these situations that even I didn’t see the point until I actually saw it with my own eyes. I would encourage you to take a moment to talk to Soldiers. I do not expect that it will change your opinion, but it will give you slightly different perspective on a few things and maybe even some insight on how to approach those barriers that you may be facing in your efforts. Thanks for efforts and for taking the time to consider my opinion.

    (Major Demitra Williamson, student Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The views expressed in this comment are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.)

  • Abby

    While I never liked your politics I always respected you for not sacraficing your integrity, you knew what you believed in and you stood for it. While we may disagree, it doesn’t mean we have to be aginst eachother. I see you as my sisters. And as you well know sisters don’t always see eye to eye, but women need to support eachother,and I support you, as women. I just want to know where it is you all stand on the following issue.
    I am totally confused. One minute you (code pink) call Ms. Rice a war criminal with “blood” dripping from your hands 2007.
    Next some of the first code pinkers stood (the legal distance) away from the funerals of our fallen Marines and Soldiers and heckled during the services, (please do not try to deny this as it was broadcast all over the nation on our tellies).
    Then the first thing you are quoted as saying after talking with the Afghan women (namely a member of Parlament) is that you’ve decided to rethink the “get out now” policy. You now understand just how detramental it would be for Afghanistan if we were to dramatically or systematically withdraw anytime soon. And that you in fact agree with Shinkai Karokhail when she said “In the current situation of terrorism, we cannot say troops should be withdrawn”. But just about everything I’ve read here talks about the timeline and getting out of not just Iraq but Afghanistan as well. So which is it? Once and for all. Take a firm stand.

  • admin

    Abby: I have never heard of or seen codepinkers “heckling” at anyone’s funerals. Send a link to TV coverage, if it exists. On your last point, Medea Benjamin accurately reported what women in Kabul told her about their fears of a Taliban takeover in the case of a rapid withdrawal of US troops, before any negotiated settlements had been arranged. Afghanistan is a complex tragedy and Code Pink’s statements since the delegation there reflect that.

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