On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Woes of Afghans are far from over

The people are also aware that even as the Taliban
retreat, that's not the end of them. It is just a case of them returning and
fighting another day.

And remember that the attacks against the Taliban started as a war against
terrorism. It was a hunt for Osama bin Laden, who is still very much alive in
some Afghan cave.

Now, we have a new situation. The United States needs to install a new Afghan
government which includes the ridiculous possibility of putting up an ageing
deposed king again.

It isn't clear whether the faction heads are ready for a king which they
probably cannot remember but the world is certainly not ready to swap the
Taliban for another form of totalitarian rule, particularly one imposed by
ethnic groups from a different part of the country.

We cannot expect the ethnic factions, with their ill-repute as bandits,
murderers, looters and rapists, to change their ways overnight.

In fact, as they made their way to Kabul, the rag-tag army did not appear to
have changed their ways although they were more restrained this time,
presumably aware that the world is watching them. Understanding the need for
foreign aid and the power of foreign pressure, these tribal chiefs must have
put up their minimum best.

For now, the responsibility of administration in Kabul is likely to fall to
international diplomats. Blue helmets will be required for military security
while aid convoys need to be speeded up to stop any form of famine with winter

The tribal leaders will need a crash course in the concept of power sharing and
the need to keep the alliance intact. The king may be used as a rallying point
but the tribal leaders are still the power brokers and they know it.

By keeping the coalition alive, that will enable them to be strong enough,
politically and militarily, to resist the Taliban.

No one should write off the Taliban. They probably gave up Kabul because of a
collapse in command and control due to weeks of aerial bombardment of
communication facilities.

But Osama is still very much alive and if he believes the Taliban is able to
protect him, then he would work with them to strike back. With winter
approaching, the chances of the western powers capturing him may now be

The Taliban has not yet been defeated and its diehards are sure to regroup
themselves in the mountains.

The northern alliance may have gained control of the cities and unless they
exert a stronger presence, the peace seems fragile but peace must be given a
chance, no doubt.

There is a need to encourage the western educated and enterprising Afghans, who
have fled overseas, to return to rebuild what has become a wasteland.

The social and political principles of a democracy need to be drawn up, even in
the most rudimentary form, especially when you have ethnic leaders who only
understand the language of guns and bullets.

Basic civil, criminal and commercial laws need to be written for basic
economics to function again.

Women must be allowed to attend schools, earn a decent living and discard their
burqa if they want to. There will be a need to replace poppy cultivation, which
has been the only crop farmers have to make their living, with other
agricultural produce.

It will not be easy, after the experience of the Taliban, and the Afghans will
need some time to adjust to normality.

We cannot expect the factional chiefs to accept western secular laws overnight
and neither should we expect the Northern Alliance to include women in their
discussions immediately.

The priority, however, is a workable framework which all factions must agree

The UN may be taking over temporary administration but the US cannot just wash
their hands and walk away. The Afghanistan problem has been created by the US
and they will need to find a solution.

Capturing Kabul has been a good Christmas gift for the US as until last week,
no one was clear whether the attacks against the Taliban had produced