As Camp Bastion, is handed over to Afghan security forces, the last British base, a very many column inches will be given over to covering the mistakes made in the Afghanistan intervention.
453 British troops gave their lives (their names are here) and 2,188 were injured in battle. We must never forget their sacrifice. But we must never let ourselves believe that their sacrifice in vain.
Mistakes were undoubtedly made. But let us also reflect on some of the transformative successes achieved in the country. An evil regime that terrorised and repressed civilians, especially women, was deposed. 13 years on, Britain has helped achieved the following:
– nearly 6 million children now attend school, up from 1 million in 2001, nearly 40% of them are girls, which would have been unthinkable under the Taliban control
– access to primary health care has increased from 9% in 2003 to over half of the population now
– maternal mortality has halved since 2001 and life expectancy for Afghans is at its highest ever level
– Afghanistan’s $18 billion GDP is seven times higher than 10 years ago and Afghan Government revenue has grown eight fold since 2004 to $2 billion in 2012
– a written constitution, a democratically elected government and a system of local democracy now exist –
– Afghans now have an unprecedented voice in how their country is run, nationally and locally