A Kinder, Gentler Leadership in Afghanistan

Shortly before the turn of
the year, Justice Minister Karimi declared
Afghanistan’s new government will still impose
Sharia Islamic law on its people, but with less
harshness. "For example, the Taliban
used to hang the victim’s body in public for four
days. We will only hang the body for a short time,
say 15 minutes."

01.08.02


First the tumult of war, now the fruits of peace.
From Afghanistan comes bracing news about
the new era of tolerance, now that the Taliban
have, at least for the time being, slunk off the
stage of history.


Shortly before the turn of
the year, Justice Minister Karimi declared
Afghanistan’s new government will still impose
Sharia Islamic law on its people, but with less
harshness.


The details were fleshed out by
Judge Ahamat Ullha Zarif, who has told the French
news agency Agence France Presse that public
executions and amputations will continue, but
there will be changes:

“For example, the Taliban
used to hang the victim’s body in public for four
days. We will only hang the body for a short time,
say 15 minutes.”


Kabul’s sports stadium,
financed by the International Monetary Fund, was
where the Taliban used to carry out public
executions and amputations every Friday. No
longer.

“The stadium is for sports. We will find a
new place for public executions,” he said.


Judge Zarif makes it clear that the ultimate
penalty will remain in force for adulterers, both
male and female.

They would still be stoned to
death, Zarif told the French news agency, “but we
will use only small stones.”


This adjustment in the size of the
executive munitions will, the judge explains,
allow the condemned person a chance to escape.

“If they are able to run away, they are free.”


It turns out that this avenue of escape is only
available to those adulterers who confess to their
sexual misdeeds.

“Those who refuse to confess
their wrongdoing and are condemned by a judge will
have their hands and feet bound so that they
cannot run away. They will certainly be stoned to
death,” Zarif said.


The winds of change can be felt on another front.

Afghanistan’s farmers faced bankruptcy after Mullah
Omar ordered a halt to the planting of opium poppies
last year.


Whatever the motive, the prohibition led to a 96
percent fall in Afghanistan’s production of raw opium
— from more than 453,500 kilograms in 1999 to 18,500
kilograms this year, according to the United Nations
Drug Control Program.


Now, news reports, such as this from Craig Nelson,
describe renewed poppy cultivation in lyrical terms:

“Everyone is planting,” says Ashoqullah, a
25-year-old landowner. “In a few months, these
fields will be covered in a blanket of spectacular
red and white flowers.”


From the bazaars the raw opium will makes its way
north or south to processing labs in Pakistan or
Uzbekistan, two sturdy members of the great
anti-terror coalition, and then westward to the
veins of addicts in Europe and the United States.


But Afghanistan’s swift return to preeminent
status as this country’s No. 1 heroin supplier is
surely a small price to pay for the extinction of
the Taliban and routing of Al Qaeda.


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Author: Alexander Cockburn

News Service: WorkingForChange

URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemId=12602