America , The Taliban, And the war through American Eyes
Author – Anand Gopal
The World was in disbelief and shock when US army left the reins of the country to the same foes ,who they had fought for 20 years .The promise of Women empowerment ,Development ,universal education , Peace ,justice seemed ephemeral and the country was sliding back to the Dark ages
To those of us , whose investment in Afghanistan is merely through News Channels and Print media ,its chaotic socio- political history has always left us wondering , that when would an organized society , emerge out of this upheaval ?
Why Economic stability and self empowerment still eludes this part of the world?
Author Anand Gopal’s book gave us quite a few of those answers ,
In 2008 ,he not only moved to Afghanistan for four years but also learnt their languages and lived as one of them and in the process , interviewed thousands of Afghans and got a close view of actual happenings there
Anand Gopal, as a journalist covers , dangerous and disturbed terrians ,the likes of Afghanistan ,Egypt , Syria and contributes regularly to the renowned magazines ,Wall Street Journal,The New Yorker , to name a few
His new book’s title – NO GOOD MEN AMONG THE LIVING – comes from Pashto proverb [,a language spoken in Afghanistan] .
The title seemed very appropriate to him , reflecting present state of mind of Afghan people ,when they realized that none of the sides of the conflicting parties can help them anymore.
His three protagonists one an insurgent Taliban ,another a member of US backed Afghan government and the third a urban turned rural housewife , a civilian ,one from each echelon of society ,belonging to the different warring sides bounce us around through the turbulent years of the country
In order to get a better perspective , we need to delve deeper into the history
To unravel the grand puzzle of Afghanistan , author moves us back almost four decades to 1979 when Soviet Union invaded the country ,that’s the year protagonists felt , was the beginning of it all .
Afghanistan ,those days ,was a largely peaceful country .Though monarchy was overthrown by the then President , Daud Khan ,in 1973 for a one party AUTOCRATIC RULE ,urban part of the country was progressive .Women wore western attires and were allowed education , veils were optional and movie theatres were there
As compared , the countryside was the paradox , ruled by tribal leaders and tribal laws prevailed .
Over the course of time ,urban population was inspired by communism and embraced it and Daud Khan was overthrown and killed
Country saw urban development and women empowerment but to suppress rebellion ,communists also killed tribal leaders ,land lords and religious fighters . A million afghan were killed and 5 million became refugees
These were the times of COLD WAR and Communist influence had to be counteracted .
With the help of CIA money and ISI [Inter service Intelligence] , Pakistan Spy Agency ,Rural Afghanistan saw the making of Mujahideen commanders or War Lords .They were young men from the tribal areas who were trained and armed against the urban elites .Not only violence ,but also a violent version of islam was propagated in their religious seminaries
With the impending collapse of Soviet Union in 1991 , peace deal was signed with Afghan Government in 1989 and the proxy war gave way to CIVIL WAR ,1992-1996 . Horrendous atrocities were committed by the various factions of Mujahideens on each others as well as on the civil society
A fanatical band of religious students , in 1994 ,came together under the leadership of Mullah Omar to bring a certain law and order to the country .Most of them were from country side ,with minimal formal education but believed in practicing a pure version of Islam .
As per author ,almost 90% of the country was brought under control but it came with a price tag .Music ,films ,photography was banned as it was considered roadways to sin .Women empowerment and education was stalled , and women were incarcerated to their households.
We will continue this interesting conversation in our next blog
Wishing you all a happy weekend