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Linda Norgrove’s father fears for country she loved

Scots aid worker Linda Norgrove, who was kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan, seen here on a trek with friends in the Wakhan Corridor, Badakhshan

Scots aid worker Linda Norgrove, who was kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan, seen here on a trek with friends in the Wakhan Corridor, Badakhshan

  • by ALISTAIR MUNRO
 

The father of Scots aid worker Linda Norgrove, who was kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan, believes that scaling down the presence of Western troops in the country will lead to “a political mess”.

John Norgrove, who with his wife, Lorna, set up a charitable foundation in memory of their beloved daughter, also claims that their own humanitarian efforts for the Afghan people affected by the conflict will be needed more than ever.

Speaking almost three years after Ms Norgrove, 36, from Uig in the Western Isles, died in a failed rescue attempt, Mr Norgrove said: “One of the drawbacks of working for a charity working in Afghanistan is that one is assumed to have some idea of how things will turn out when Western troops scale down next year.

“Well, no-one knows but I can make some pretty uninformed guesses. From the perspective of a Scottish person, it will be a political mess.”

The civil engineer does not believe foreign troops should be in Afghanistan, adding: “They have acted as a lightning rod for dissent.”

But now they are there, he claimed scaling down a military presence would also lead to problems. He said: “The lack of a foreign occupying force will increase tension and conflict between the various factions.

“The Afghan army is a lot stronger than it was and it is better equipped, but is unclear who it will report to and how it will perform when things get messy. The current president is not popular.

“The democratically elected government has been compromised by infighting and corruption. Unstable neighbouring states Pakistan and Iran are both prone to interfere in the political processes.”

Mr Norgrove added: “As far as our charity is concerned, then, it would appear likely that things will initially deteriorate, particularly security and the economy.

“So it will become both more difficult for the organisations that we support to continue with their work, while the need for them to do it will increase.

“Our efforts will be required more then than they have been up until now, so it wouldn’t be the time for us to give up.”

He fears for women and children if the Taleban gain a greater grip in the country, saying: “Literacy, which is one of the areas we support, might be more difficult for us to assist in the future.

“The Taleban is really against women being educated as they feel it will undermine their idea of the family structure there. That is a major battle.”

The Linda Norgrove Foundation has provided help to children and women left devastated by the troubles in Afghanistan.

Ms Norgrove worked for Development Alternatives Inc and oversaw an aid project designed to create jobs and strengthen local Afghan leadership and economies in vulnerable areas.

Mr Norgrove said: “Afghanistan has always appeared politically unstable and Afghans are accustomed to it. A nation comprising three main ethnic groups speaking different languages, and a whole host of minorities speaking theirs.

“It’s a tall order to expect stability, but one shouldn’t underestimate the capacity of the Afghans to endure, or their love of their country, or their pride that they have never been completely conquered or colonialised.”

He added: “A lot has changed since the Taleban were last in power, and reverting back to the situation in 2001 won’t happen.”

 

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