Letter from Kabul

In 2004, when asked about the state of his country, an ordinary Burundian is known to have said, ‘we can’t eat the constitution.’ Five years after the fall of the Taliban, the same sentiment echoes across Afghanistan.

On the one hand, it has been an impressive five years. A democratic constitution has been drafted and ratified, two relatively free and fair elections have been held, and a National Assembly – 25 percent of whose members are women – has been inaugurated for the first time since 1969. Foreign governments and donors have pledged more than US $26 billion in aid to Afghanistan, clinics and schools have been built around the country, and there are countless NGOs and aid organisations working on everything from literacy to physical education curricula.

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