THE Mujahideen Day parade in Kabul, at the weekend, was supposed to show Afghanistan’s new, Western-trained, armed forces coming of age. President Hamid Karzai, other Afghan politicians and a jumble of diplomats packed a podium to review the troops. Then, just as a 21-gun salute began, what sounded like celebratory firecrackers crackled from a shabby hotel some 400m away. As six lightly armed Taliban fighters took pot shots the dignitaries and military men panicked, shedding bits of ceremonial uniform as they scrambled for safety.Where is the rest of NATO? Has Merkel had too much of an impact? It has been since 2001, and still the fight is on. I thought Afghanistan is the war everyone agreed on, what happened? With Petraeus taking over United States Central Command soon, hopefully there will be a turn around.
Casualties were not as serious as they might have been: the gunmen managed to kill three and wound 11 but failed to touch their main target, Mr Karzai. Even so, they scored a significant propaganda victory. Television pictures of the furore broadcast at home and abroad confirmed that Afghanistan’s capital is within reach of the Islamist fighters. “We can attack anywhere we want to”, boasted a Taliban spokesman after the attacks. This was the second big strike in Kabul this year. In January a three-man Taliban suicide squad blasted its way into the lobby and spa of a luxury hotel in the city, killing eight staff and guests.
Exit Question (rarely asked when people bring up our Iraq involvement): How many years are we willing to stay in Afghanistan?