Monday, January 22, 2007

"A Picture of Afghanistan in Words"

Peter's Central Asian work for WCS makes him privy to information the rest of us seldom see. I liked the recent letter from an Afghan student, now studying in Bahrain. I'll post The Happy Picture tomorrow.


Afghanistan, once taking big steps towards becoming a developed country, is now one of the world’s poorest countries. More than three decades of war have destroyed almost every thing including roads, parks, government buildings, houses, army bases, airports, museums , national heritage sites and much, much more.

The list includes everything that was man-made but the loss is not just limited to man-made things.

The natural habitat including forests and large tracks of once beautiful countryside have been decimated by the American bombing and rich agricultural lands used to cultivate crops, fruit and vegetables has been poisoned and useless for any kind of farming in the foreseeable future.

Three generations of Afghan youth have grown up in complete ignorance through a lack of education. The only skill or knowledge most young men have today is how to fight. For young women it is how to cook the recipes their mothers taught them.

Most women have spent their lives like prisoners in their own homes, cooking and cleaning, and the biggest achievement a typical Afghan man can claim to have mastered in his life is to serve food for their families.

Everyone, men and women, spend most of their time talking about things that they do not have control over. It has now become a habit, and can even be classed as culture. Gossiping, answering people back, and wishing people ill-will run through the veins of many Afghans now.

Talking has taken the place of action. Everyone wants to be in charge of bringing about changes and making everything better, but once they are in a position to do this and are given the opportunity to make a difference, they become blinded by selfishness.

Instead of working for their country and its people, they start lining their own pockets. It wouldn't be so bad if they didn’t use money stolen from Afghanistan. The first attempt for anyone with such opportunities is to try and guarantee that their money is in a safe place by transferring it to foreign banks in foreign countries.

Only some get out of their prestigious positions alive. The attempt at making more and more money eventually takes over their lives. Those who are lucky enough to live, leave the country once the government has changed and never hope to return.

However, such “refugee” ex-patriots retain the right to complain about the current government and the current collection of officials not doing anything for the country while forgetting that when they were in a similar position of power, they did exactly the same thing, if not worse.

Our country today lacks almost all those things that even some of the poorest countries in world have. A lonely, fully constructed building is sometimes seen amongst the vast majority of ruins. It still gives a patriot happiness and hope for a better Afghanistan but the culture of praising the last government that was hated by the majority of the population when it was in power, is sadly still at large.

The current government maybe using some of the aid money to rebuild but most people in power are too busy building their own personal profiles and improving their own finances to pay any attention to the needs of the country.

Intellectuals and those who really want to help the country are disappointed by this attitude so they never even consider returning to the country from years of exile. Most people discourage those who want to do something just out of habit or jealousy.

Just because they cannot do what others can, they refuse to support those who do what they can. Considering all of these shortcomings, it is easy to be discouraged, hence we are what we are, and where we are, today.

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