Schools and health centres built by the British in Afghanistan as part of the military’s counter-insurgency strategy are being forced to close down because President Karzai’s government cannot afford to pay for them, the Guardian has learned.
Britain has spent hundreds of millions of pounds in the province over the last six years building and restoring services decimated by conflict and the years of Taliban rule.
But the Guardian has been told that a confidential report compiled this year warned that some of the buildings in Helmand were constructed without enough consultation with the Afghan government and without thinking through how they would be maintained.
Senior British officials in Helmand are working with Afghan ministers to identify the schools and clinics that are deemed “critical” and should remain open, while most of the rest could be phased out between now and the end of 2014.
The report made clear the British “had built too much” in the province, and that this was a consequence of the UK military trying to win “hearts and minds” among the populace.
It is not clear how many schools and clinics will be affected, but it is thought dozens are potentially at risk, particularly in more rural areas.
“Of course we built too much,” said one official. “We didn’t think about how the Afghans would pay for it. But it was understandable. Nobody is blaming the military. We wanted to show them what we could do for them, but without regard for sustainability.”
EMPHASIS ADDED. I’ve been thinking about this story all day. It’s so perfect it makes me laugh, or it would do were it not for the uncounted dead, injured and bereaved the invasion has generated. How decadent! The longer the “war” goes on, the harder it is for the propagandists of NATO (who this week gathered in Italy for their annual shindig) to distract attention from the stench of their obscenity. The harder it is for them to pretend that their (our) stormtroopers are boy scouts. The harder it is for them (us) to maintain the always-ridiculous pretence that the whole circus is about the people of Afghanistan, and not about us, our national myths, our vanity, our lust for revenge, our election cycles, our GDP.