Nick Clegg called today for a Government of National Unity in Afghanistan. He said:
"Afghanistan will never see the dramatic change it needs unless Karzai works with his opponents to reach across ethnic and tribal divisions, stamp out corruption, and start to build the legitimate institutions of central government that the country so desperately needs."
I'd have liked him to say, also, that he expected any Afghan Government to pay more than lip service to the plight of women in Afghanistan. It's appalling that 80% of women are subject to domestic violence, that they are forbidden from even leaving the house without their husbands' permission, that they are held back from having careers and those who attempt it are subject to threats, intimidation and violence.
I found this excellent article written by a woman who has worked in Afghanistan. If you read nothing else today, have a look at it. I was particularly taken by her last statement:
What happens to women is not merely a "women's issue"; it is the central issue of stability, development and durable peace. No nation can advance without women, and no enterprise that takes women off the table can come to much good..
The US and British Governments haven't allowed the issue of women to get even into the same room at the table. It's time for that to change and Nick Clegg, who has stood up for fairness on so many issues, the Gurkhas, MP's expenses and all sorts, is best placed to call, emphatically, for that change.