What frenzy is this!
In Kabul, the rainy days don’t always evoke a somber mood. Every cloud, as they say, has a silver lining. The dark clouds hovering menacingly over Afghanistan these days also have a silver lining, albeit elusive and obscure. On Wednesday, as hundreds of intrepid young men and women poured out into the streets of Kabul, defying all sorts of threats and odds, I could see both the dark clouds and silver lining.
Emotions were running high. The mood was incredibly tenebrous as people marched on the streets of Shehr e Naw, the bustling urban center of Kabul, with flags and banners in their hands. Students, activists, academics, journalists – everyone was out there to make a statement. Some of them struggled to hold back tears, the copious tears that were indistinguishable from rain drops descending from heaven.
There was deep anger and outrage, and understandably so. Three days ago, almost 80 Taliban guerilla fighters had ambushed an army outpost in eastern Kunar province, killing 21 Afghan soldiers in cold blood. The soldiers were asleep when they were showered with bullets in the dead of night and put to sleep forever. The ‘defenders of faith’ soon claimed responsibility for the attack, which was clearly the deadliest in last one year.
The American drones killing Afghans or Pakistanis in border provinces cannot be justified as ‘war against terrorism’. Similarly, the bloodshed of Afghans or Pakistanis by Taliban guerillas cannot be termed as ‘jihad’
Any loss of innocent lives must be unequivocally condemned, irrespective of who the perpetrator is. The American drones killing Afghans or Pakistanis in border provinces cannot be justified as ‘war against terrorism’. Similarly, the bloodshed of Afghans or Pakistanis by Taliban guerillas cannot be termed as ‘jihad’. The 21 soldiers killed in Kunar were not terrorists, occupiers or tormentors. They were Afghans.
There is no love lost between the Afghans and US-led allied forces occupying their land, and there is a history behind the animosity and hatred they share for each other. But Afghans are immensely proud of their own soldiers. The families of slain soldiers are equally proud of their martyrs. “I sent my son to defend the country and I am proud of him,” said father of Amir Husain, one of the soldiers killed in the attack. Amir, 35, leaves behind two small children. “I have another son who serves in Afghan army and I will feel more proud if he too gives the ultimate sacrifice for the country,” said the proud father, a Hazara. Most of the soldiers killed in the attack belonged to Hazara tribe, which bears testimony to how deeply patriotic Afghans are, both minority Hazaras and majority Pashtuns.
That brings us to an important question. Why are Afghans baying for blood of Afghans? The answer to this and many other questions was so convincingly and compellingly given by young men and women on the streets of Kabul yesterday. “Pakistan is a terrorism-sponsoring state,” read a poster carried by the activists of Awankend Youth Movement. There were many other posters and banners in Pashtu and Dari language, slamming Pakistan and Taliban. That is the war-cry in this country. Everyone here is pointing fingers at Pakistan for fomenting trouble on this side of border.
Why are Afghans baying for blood of Afghans? The answer to this and many other questions was so convincingly and compellingly given by young men and women on the streets of Kabul yesterday
Even the top-notch politicians, who otherwise make all the incoherent noises, are now training guns at the neighboring country. Condemning the attack by “enemies of Afghanistan”, President Karzai called on the government of Pakistan to crack down on its militant sanctuaries. But, the outgoing President did not deem it necessary to attend the funeral of slain soldiers, giving heartburn to many Afghans. As Noam Chomsky told me in an interview recently (to be published in March issue of Afghan Zariza), “I don’t know what President Karzai thinks he is doing.” Even I have no idea. When the nation is mourning, Presidential protocols should be thrown to the wind. The funeral was, however, attended by thousands of people from all walks of life. Many eyes turned moist when 21 coffins made way into the ground.
The Presidential contenders for April 2014 elections, however, did the miss the opportunity to offer their condolence messages. The slain soldiers were hailed as “martyrs of peace” by Abdullah Abdullah, one of the frontrunners in the race for Presidential Palace. Zalmai Rasool suspended his election campaign for a day as a mark of respect for martyred soldiers. Ashraf Ghani Ahmedzai called it “unacceptable”.
Interestingly, the Afghan intelligence officials have squarely blamed Pakistan for orchestrating the attack as revenge for the killing of 23 Pakistani security personnel last week. Pakistan government alleged the hand of Afghan intelligence agencies behind the killings, but the Spokesman for Afghan government dismissed the allegations as baseless. “It is impossible to nurture venomous snakes on one’s soil and wishfully think that they will only bite others”, read the scathing statement. The killings in Kunar happened a day later.
The truth has many layers and there is certainly more to this story than meets the eye. What is unfortunate is the loss of innocent lives on both sides of border.
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