Published on
The Independent/UK

Joya Condemns 'Ridiculous' Military Strategy

Glyn Strong

Joya: believes that corruption is endemic, citing uranium deposits and opium as incentives for Nato and Afghan officials to retain a presence in Helmand. (GETTY)

Afghanistan's "most famous woman" has voiced deep
scepticism about Operation Moshtarak's aims and its impact on Afghan

"It is ridiculous," said
Malalai Joya, an elected member of the Afghan parliament. "On the one
hand they call on Mullah Omar to join the puppet regime. On another
hand they launch this attack in which defenceless and poor people will
be the prime victims. Like before, they will be killed in the Nato
bombings and used as human shields by the Taliban. Helmand's people
have suffered for years and thousands of innocent people have been
killed so far." Her fears were confirmed when Nato reported yesterday
that a rocket that missed its target had killed 12 civilians at a house
in Marjah.

Dismissing Allied claims that Nato
forces won't abandon Afghan civilians after the surge, she said: "They
have launched such offensives a number of times in the past, but each
time after clearing the area, they leave it and [the] Taliban retake
it. This is just a military manoeuvre and removal of Taliban is not the
prime objective."

Ms Joya believes that corruption is endemic,
citing uranium deposits and opium as incentives for Nato and Afghan
officials to retain a presence in Helmand. Operation Moshtarak is
described as an inclusive offensive, depending for its longer-term
success on involvement of Afghan forces. But Ms Joya said: "The Afghan
police force is the most corrupt institution in Afghanistan. Bribery is
common and if you have money, by bribing police from top to bottom you
can do almost anything. In many parts of Afghanistan, people hate the
police more than the Taliban. In Helmand, for instance, people are
afraid of police who commit violence against people and make trouble.
The majority of the police force in this province are addicted to opium
and cannabis."

The suspended MP was not invited
to the recent London Conference that discussed her country's future,
but she is pessimistic about its outcome. Politicians regard Joya as a
loose cannon: quick to criticise but slow to suggest solutions.

uncompromising position has, however, earned her legions of supporters.
It has also gained her enemies and, after allegedly insulting her
fellow parliamentarians in 2007, she was suspended from operating as an

Reflecting on the London Conference, Joya
said: "Ordinary Afghan people say it was like a meeting of vultures
coming together to discuss how to deal with the prey which is
Afghanistan." Joya sees moves towards any reconciliation with the
Taliban - an exclusively male and cruelly anti-female group - as a

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