Sep 05 2009
From some of the coverage during and after Afghanistan’s election, you might think the country was a hopeless case. CNN contributor Peter Bergen throws some light on the real progress that has been made since the overthrow of the Taliban.
• More than five million refugees have returned home since the fall of the Taliban. This is one of the most substantial refugee repatriations in history, yet it is little remarked upon because it has largely gone so smoothly.
• One in six Afghans now has a cell phone. Under the Taliban there was no phone system.
• Millions of kids are now in school, including many girls. Under the Taliban girls were not allowed to be educated.
• In 2008, Afghanistan’s real GDP growth was 7.5 percent. Under the Taliban the economy was in free fall.
• You were more likely to be murdered in the United States in 1991 than an Afghan civilian is to be killed in the war today.
Some reading this may be thinking — can this really be right? But do the math: In 1991, almost 25,000 people were murdered in the United States at a time when the American population was approximately 260 million. In Afghanistan today some 2,000 Afghan civilians are killed each year by the Taliban and coalition forces out of a population of around 30 million