Counter-Terrorism: Using Schools as Weapons


March 5, 2006: One reason why the Taliban government collapsed so quickly in late 2001, was because, for most Afghans, the government wasn't doing much besides putting the warring factions out of business. The current Afghan government has introduced reconstruction, which includes thousands of badly needed schools. The Taliban attacks the schools for being "un-Islamic" (educating girls, something the foreign donors insist on). But since the schools educate local children, and are often taught by members of local tribes, the people in the area see all this as something of theirs. Afghanistan's Langham province, in the northeast close to the Pakistani frontier, has been plagued by frequent Taliban attacks on schools and teachers, most recently against a girls' school in late January. As a result, tribal leaders in have decided to begin providing their own security. Several of the local tribes have developed a plan to hire and equip young men to serve as security guards at local schools, and to back them up, if necessary, with tribal militiamen.

This decision has implications on several levels. It does commit the local tribes more openly than in the past to an anti-Taliban stance. But it also signals that the Afghan government is not sufficiently capable of providing security in remote regions. Which means the tribes will cling to their militias in the foreseeable future. As the government has been trying to get the tribes to give up their militias, often by integrating the fitter men into the National Army or Police.

Taking a longer view, however, the decision of the tribal elders is fully in keeping with the way Afghanistan has always operated, with a relatively weak central government lighting overseeing some aspects of national life, while tribes and local warlords maintain internal security.


Article Archive

Counter-Terrorism: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close