This blog aims to highlight issues and information that don't always make it into the mainstream media. Recognising that comment is cheap, wherever possible it will link you directly to documents and sources that are mentioned in the text.
I realised some time ago that it was impossible to write about Afghanistan without writing about Pakistan and other neighbouring countries. With that in mind, the reader will come across articles that, while not specifically about Afghanistan, in some way shed light on the conflict.
I had to laugh at the Guardian story this morning about the British Army's discovery of 1.3 tonnes of 'opium poppy seed' in Helmand during Operation Panther's Claw. Having laid on press coverage and trumpeted their success to the world's media, suddenly the story began to look decidedly shaky. Guardian reporter John Boone submitted some of the 'poppy seeds' to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation in Kabul, only to be told they were in fact mung beans, a common food staple in the region introduced around 10 years ago. How anyone confused mung beans with poppy seed (you know, the tiny black ones you get on your bread rolls) is beyond me, but then again there's nowt so blind as those that don't want to see. This debacle came only days after the British announced they were not going to change their opium eradication policy in Afghanistan, despite the fact that the Obama Adminstration has decided to abandon a similar policy as unworkable. (PS The picture shows Mung beans).