As western troops ready for Afghan exit, security forces in disarray
Afghanistan's first female pilot, Latifa Nabizada, 40, gives an interview as she stands next to a helicopter at the Kabul International Airport, in Kabul on March 7, 2013, on the eve of International Women's Day. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty)
A host of new reality TV shows will hit the airwaves this year: Benn's Fairtale Party; Pretty Wicked Moms; and Real Husbands of Hollywood are among the offerings.
But how about taking a few camera crews to Afghanistan to document the changes in that country after most western troops leave within a year? That would truly be "can't miss" reality television.
Each new day seems to bring sobering news about the decline of Afghan society.
This week, World Affairs Journal has published a report about how senior Afghan security personnel are quietly leaving the country. The journal documents the case of General Sayed Mohammad Roshandel, the head of special forces for the Afghan police.
Roshandel is in Denmark, where he intends to apply for political asylum, the journal reported, citing The Guardian newspaper.
Not long after Roshandel quit his post, a female helicopter pilot named Latifa Nabizada, who was praised and served up to foreign media as a symbol of progress, was shifted to a desk job at the ministry of defence. "A barrage of Taliban threats against her family became too intense," the journal reported, adding that "as the west moves into a support role, the forces are hemorrhaging more than a few good men. And women."
Nabizada was a rare and remarkable story. She was originally trained by Russian pilots and was accompanied on flights by her daughter when there was no one available for childcare, the journal reports.
While Nato and the Afghan government say the police and army are 350,000 strong, a recent report from the U.S. government says that in one recent six-month span, the Afghan national army lost about 3 per cent of its recruits each year.
As the journal described the decay of the security establishment, the Washington Post reports that the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction claims millions of tax dollars spent on health programs are "at risk of waste, fraud and abuse."
The special inspector general recommends no more money be provided to Afghanistan's public health ministry for basic services for the time being, condemning a $236 million USAID program called Partnership Contracts for Health, which provides immunizations, prenatal exams, hospital equipment and salaries in 13 Afghan provinces.
SIGAR says financial management deficiencies have put "millions of taxpayer dollars at risk."
According to the SIGAR report, those problems included some salaries being paid in cash, no double-entry accounting system, a lack of external audits, poorly prepared internal auditors and inadequate transaction procedures, the Post reports.
Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at The Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead