In the first person voice of Abdulai, a fifteen year old Afghan boy whose father was killed by the Taliban:
“The place where I live is the worst place on earth in which to be born . Good thing my mother survived her pregnancies . But my father -- he didn’t survive the war. Isn’t it strange that there is a graveyard marked out especially for children in my small remote mountain village? A quarter of all children do not live beyond five years of age and they are buried there; we already have to find new space because the graveyard is filled. As 42 percent of Afghans live in poverty , my family could not afford a proper grave for my father for five years. My father would have understood our predicament: in a land with the worst food risk in the world , we make do with whatever food and clean water we can get. Since we don’t have electricity , we are grateful for diesel lamps. And most importantly, my father would have understood that we still struggle to stay away from the killings.
Since War World II, wars have killed mainly civilians and this war in Afghanistan is no exception. In fact, we now have nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide . We face night raids , computerized aerial bombings and the armed players who neither recognize our language nor our faces.
Many of our families and friends have sought refuge in far-away places . What can our people do? Wait to die of sickness or violence? Be pawns in the warlords’ games? I made hand-sewn leather cell-phone peace pouches for our ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ in Kandahar and I know that before the NATO commander had launched the current offensive there, 94% of Kandaharis said they wanted peace talks , not war. But the US led coalition went ahead and launched its deadly military operation. They proved their utterly un-democratic, unimaginative addiction to an unchanging military solution.
Karzai said that more than 42 percent of children in Afghanistan still have no access to schooling : at least, that’s not as fatal as the three children killed daily in the conflict last year . If you don’t grasp how the Afghan state is the third most corrupt in the world , come take our school exams to experience the rampant bribery and cheating this war encourages. Like other war-torn countries, the influx of weapons and un-accounted monetary aid fosters corruption, fuelling deceit at all levels of our society.
Drugs made from poppies grown in our country are everywhere, with more than a million drug addicts in country . Perhaps, being doped is better than putting up with our sheer lack of work and recourse to government services or justice. Last year, estimates are that we Afghans had to pay $2.49 billion dollars in bribes to our own government officials , which is equivalent to 23% of our country’s GDP.
But heck it….we don’t even want your money! Two billion of which you spend on the military weekly and the remaining dirty trickle cannot even be accounted for by your Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) .
My mother and sister say to you that you can forget about promoting ‘women’s rights’ with your uniformed pride. Last year, there were 2300 suicides related to depression among women and girls . And don’t ever claim that a military strategy can stop them from taking their lives. Neither the US-NATO coalition nor our warlords can, with their violence, stop the desperation of our people. In fact, like the people caught in the Helmand operation that was declared a success, the women of Afghanistan want you, with full responsibility, to transition out as soon as possible .
President Obama, please completely rethink the ‘progress’ you declared in the December review . To Ms. Hillary Clinton and Mr Robert Gates, we’re sorry for your dismissal of world public opinion . Now, get ready for its flood!
"So what's my option?" the president asked his war cabinet, seeking alternatives...