This exclusive report provides seemingly undeniable evidence that NATO’s battle for the hearts and minds of Afghans has failed. With the fight still raging almost a decade later, has patience finally run out?
Afghans are still fleeing hundreds of miles north, leaving behind their lush farms in Helmand province. “We’re fed up with the fighting and the loss” says Wali Jan, a refugee who has brought his family to Kabul, far from the rockets in the south. NATO is fast losing its battle for the hearts and minds of ordinary Afghan people. The new NATO-trained police are cracking down on poppy crops. But a blow for global heroin means the loss of precious livelihoods here. A NATO-paid Governor assures that security in the province is improving with every pocket of insurgents weeded out. But on the ground locals tell a different story. The Bazaar in Lashgaragah is deserted, one shopkeeper explains why: “our market relies on the villages but there’s no security in the villages. There are bombs along the roads.” The Taliban fighters responsible for planting those bombs are unrepentant: “our message to the international community is to get out of our country. We won’t stop fighting them unless they go.” It’s a sentiment now echoed by local Afghans: “We don’t need these infidels, we don’t need their help.”