Fremont's Afghan community reacts to Obama's plan

December 1, 2009 11:01:59 PM PST
Fremont has one of the largest concentrations of Afghan people in the United States with an estimated 40,000 in the city. The reaction in Fremont on President Barack Obama's new plan for Afghanistan was mixed.

Laila Mogadedi is an Afghan refugee who fled the country when many in her family were killed 30 years ago. Until February, Ziaulhaq Yama was a medical doctor in the war-torn province of Kunar. Rona Popal is executive director of Fremont's Afghan coalition and Zarmina Wahid is a restaurant owner. In Fremont, thoughts and emotions on Afghanistan are strong and heartfelt.

"Sending more troops, spending more money on the troops, that's not going to be the solution, it's a temporary solution," says Popal.

Popal warns Al Qaeda and the Taliban will use increased troop strength as a propaganda tool to urge Afghans to rise up against the international forces.

Yama supports more troops, but not in a combat role.

"If the troops go there with financial support and do some reconstruction from my point of view, that would be the best thing so people know these troops are not here to kill us, these troops are here to help," says Yama.

For all the money and years now spent in Afghanistan, there is little change for a population living amid war and poverty. Wahid was in Afghanistan just two weeks ago.

"But they don't spend the money in Afghanistan for the people and for Afghanistan, that's why I don't like it. You have to have some kind of control over these things," says Wahid.

Mogadedi says despite good intentions, few people understand the centuries of history and culture in Afghanistan. Her words reflect the frustration and despair many feel.

"I really understand, leaving is chaos, being there is chaos. They are going around in a circle," says Mogadedi.

There is agreement that only a strong, honest government can put Afghanistan on a better path. After decades of war, people yearn for peace.

"The people are tired. Tired of war, the people would like to see for their children a future, they would like to see security," says Popal.


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