It was like a scene taken straight from a horror movie, as the Taliban of Afghanistan stormed the city of Kabul commando-like, displaying their panoply of weapons and sending common citizens scampering away in different directions. I sat in my study, looking dazed, confused, and out of place, for, I knew that this class of disgruntled tribesmen were devoid of ideas or any modicum of competence, creativity, commonsense, or egalitarianism.
When they ruled that country between 1996 and 2001, they strangled innovation, stifled progress, and stunted advancement. And painfully, young girls and women bore the brunt of it all, as they were discouraged from accessing education, restricted to slavery existence, and given away in child marriage to chauvinistic warriors revelling in exaggerated machismo. To put it bluntly, the lives of young Afghan girls were simply burnt out, as they drifted along like shell-shocked skeletons across the country’s arid landscape. I fear there will be a resurgence of the blood-chilling, gory days of yesteryear.
The young girls and women of Afghanistan should be given freedoms, rights to education, and liberty although I say this guardedly and with some trepidation, knowing the mindset of the Taliban. I refuse to be taken in by the guarantees of their spokesman: Suhail Shaheen, whose charm offensive is only meant to patch up their tattered legitimacy and in so doing, induce Western nations into accepting the regime. The avalanche of promises spewed out so far, perturbs me, not least when the sweet-talking spokesman added a caveat to one of his depositions, that ‘Afghan women would be encouraged to take their place in society, but within our Islamic law.’ He remained tight-lipped when asked to expatiate on the italicised words.
Notwithstanding, there are already reports of women being roughed up for not donning the burqa as well as female intellectuals being teleguided and spied on. Just a day ago, Ms. Rangina Hamidi, the country’s Minister of Education expressed her fears of not knowing if she will be alive the next day, as gun-toting warriors milled around her veranda, staring ferociously through her curtain blinds. Yet, this is the ‘lawful’ Afghan nation that Mr. Shaheen spoke so impressively about as if advocating a reversion to the status quo ante of democratic values. In short, I can’t trust this gentleman with my cat for the weekend!
The United States and Great Britain have been pilloried so far for leaving Afghanistan unceremoniously and without accomplishing what they had ‘set to achieve.’ I really don’t see it that way, as it’s so easy to trade blames. There would not have been any way the allied forces can remain in that country forever. A day would definitely have been set, and that ‘right time’ would have divided opinion even if ten more years had been added. The British and American forces had been there for two decades training the Afghan forces in the use of modern weaponry and all aspects of warfare. Therefore, to see the Afghan forces retreat and dwindle like a pack of cards before the ill-trained Taliban rebels leaves me bewildered. I can’t really get it. Was it that these soldiers sold out due to the tribal nature of the country? Did the upper echelons of the Afghan Army hold tribal allegiances to the Taliban? Was it that there were moles within the armed forces who worked hand-in-glove with certain elements of the Taliban to undermine the country’s fledgling democracy? Urgent answers are needed as to why the well-equipped Afghan forces crumbled so easily without even the slightest resistance. Was their defeat due to a dearth of esprit de corps?
I heard on the grapevine that the civilian government of President Ashraf Ghani was corrupt and people were unhappy. If that was really the case, couldn’t this have been dealt with by arraigning the culprits before the courts as is done in civilised countries rather than clearing the path for the Taliban, who themselves, thrive mainly from the illegal plundering of the country’s opium fields? I just can’t see the wood for the trees. Believe me.
I am aggrieved at the treatment that awaits Afghan women and girls: the visible scapegoats classed as ‘war booties,’ their rights, breached with impunity. No one can undermine the fact that for the last two decades, women contributed massively in the area of Law, Literature and the Sciences to put the country where it is today. It stands to reason therefore, that the subjugation and dehumanisation of these women will dismally reduce Afghanistan to intellectual cemeteries to the extreme joy of these incoming ignoramuses hell bent on dragging the country into the abyss. I implore the international community not to give up on Afghanistan.
The incursion of the Taliban will spell doom for the country both politically and economically. This country must not be left in isolation to be devoured by these wolves in sheep clothing currently playing to the gallery. Western nations should open their doors to the fleeing refugees in the true spirit of mankind. International human rights organisations should please keep an eye on this country to ensure that food and vital medicines are not in short supply.
It pains that the ravaging forces of the Taliban have eventually succeeded in holding the country by the jugular. Britain and America have vouched not to go back there and understandably so. But for those of us observing the sickening events as they unfold, let’s keep Afghanistan in our prayers.
Martins Agbonlahor is a criminologist, journalist and author based in Manchester. His recent novel: Another Poor Cow – the Dangers of Tradition in Rural Nigeria, is available in Amazon and all online bookstores.