After the Taliban, what do Marjah residents want?
Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and President Hamid Karzai's deputy walked the streets of Marjah Monday. With US-led forces now in control of the former Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan, US and Afghan officials told Marjah residents that the Taliban were gone - and life would improve.
One by one, the men of Marjah tentatively approached the high-ranking Afghan official with their complaints.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
One man accused US Marines of insulting Afghan men by conducting intrusive searches. Two worried that the government would tax their poppy harvests – just like the Taliban did. A fourth was told he'd receive financial compensation for relatives killed during the fighting.
With US-led forces now in control of the one-time insurgent stronghold in southern Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai's deputy flew from Kabul on Monday to reassure Marjah residents that the Taliban were gone for good – and that things would slowly get better.
"We will not abandon you," Mr. Khalili said. "It is not like it was in the past where they cleaned a place and left. No. We will stay – and we will fight."
"What I think we've got to do is try to move fast enough to try to meet expectations, but carefully enough that we're not in any way ... blind to some of the nuances that have to be worked through," said Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the head of coalition forces, who joined Khalili in walking down Marjah's main street as marines threw candy to children and Afghan soldiers kept guard.
There was not much public jubilation when Khalili walked down Marjah's main street with a group of Afghan security forces and NATO officials, passing shuttered shops and austere town buildings, which US Marines are transforming into military compounds.
At the afternoon shura, residents greeted Khalili with tepid applause.