Round-up of regional news

Militant wood

President Hamid Karzai's odd outburst in March, in which he threatened to quit the government and join the Taliban, was no doubt a momentary flare-up of frustration. But the Kabul government has indeed implemented policies that have, perhaps unintentionally, backed the Taliban militancy.

One example is the 2006 ban on logging and lumber sales in the country, a policy that is now being revisited because it is viewed as 'counterproductive'. The ban was meant to try to preserve what remained of the fast-diminishing Afghan forests, which have been reduced by 50 percent since 1978. Yet four years later, the smuggling of timber and lumber has continued in Kunar province of northeastern Afghanistan, where great stretches of forest still remain, and under the control of the Taliban at that.

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Himal Southasian