Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
They lose more than limbs. They lose, sometimes, lives. Very often, loves. And more often than not, their spirit and the will to live.
An ordinary day for an Afghani would begin without knowing if he (sic) would come back home to say his prayers at night. He lives in fear, anxiety and subservience. The war has been on for a decade now. What’s worse is that it shows no signs of abating.
The war began on October 7, 2001 when the collective armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Afghan United Front (Northern Alliance) launched Operation Enduring Freedom. It is now, ten years down the line, the reason why every Afghani lives his life knowing that he may, at any point, lose his all. This was the ‘war against terror’ that the US had initiated in response to the mayhem that was 9/11. The goal of the operation, as defined by the US, was to track down Al-Qaeda and end its use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorist activities. The members of Al-Qaeda, allied with the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, were identified as perpetrators of the attack. The US was fierce in its determination to fight and more importantly, win the war. The attack on the lives of its 3000 civilians was not something it was prepared to take lying down.
In a matter of weeks, the Taliban regime was ousted from the country and the interim government under Hamid Karzai came to power. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council for the benefit of Kabul and its neighboring areas. Since 2006, Afghanistan has witnessed an increase in insurgent activities against the democratically elected government and the ISAF personnel. Karzai’s extension of the olive branch to the top echelons of the Taliban regime has met with more bombings and assassinations.
The blasts at Mazar-e-Sharif on the 6th of December 2011 would be considered the latest feather in the already infamous cap. The occurrence of the massacre on the Shi’ite Muslims’ holy day of Ashura left 80 dead. The Afghan Taliban has denied responsibility for the blasts and the blood trail is now being tracked down to forces in Pakistan, most importantly, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
LJ is a militant organization in Pakistan and is regarded as a terrorist outfit by both the US and Pakistani governments. Activities it is alleged to have been responsible for speak for themselves. The suicide bomber involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and the mastermind behind the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009 are both believed to be LJ members.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The blasts seem to be directed towards stirring up sectarian conflict. This should not be difficult considering the already fragile relations among Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks, all of whom inhabit the country and are driven by individual interests. This explains why fears of a civil war after the scheduled departure of NATO troops in 2014 are not unwarranted. The perpetrators would benefit greatly from the chaos and discord that would follow ethnic conflict. Which is why Pakistan has often been accused of providing safe haven to insurgents and orchestrating blasts and other attacks.
One question, at the end of the day, still remains, though. Why, in order to satiate these competing, and often conflicting interests, does the ordinary, God-fearing working class man have to pay a price? And for how long will he live in agonizing fear for himself and his family? He goes out each morning, wanting to do his job well and serve as a responsible citizen of the country. Why then, must he bear the cost of the ammunition he has nothing to do with? He spends his entire life, quite literally, fighting for survival in the complex web that results from these conflicting interests. The US accuses the Pakistani army, particularly the ISI of supporting the Afghan Taliban,that often kills both NATO officers and Afghani civilians. Meanwhile, attacks by the Pakistan Taliban continue in the country, wiping out all hopes of a ceasefire.
What remains at the end of the day is the vision of a dismal future, where no one wants to give in. And the realization that these are not one-off attacks. Every Afghani, every Pakistani, every American or every Indian, for that matter, lives in an unsafe world. He has to struggle to lead a peaceful life with his loved ones. We might have journeyed through more than a decade of this so-called progressive century but we continue to live by historical differences and let the past plague us. We continue to be bothered by all that distinguishes us. We kill and we cry.
The war is always on.