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AFGHANISTAN A YEAR LATER

Updated: Jul 10, 2022




On 23 March, the Taliban announced that girls would no longer be able to return to school, reversing statements earlier last year reassuring the international community that it would commit to respecting women.


Yet, what happened was not a shock to many. Time and time again, it has been proven that the Taliban is a group controlled by religious extremists. That in their eyes, women are nothing more than cattle, born to marry, give birth and take care of their family.


We must lend support to the civilians suffering by donating, and raising awareness. We must make sure that they do not feel alone in the crisis, and that they have allies praying for them.


Despite the Taliban's reassurances, ever since they came into power in Afghanistan, female activists have gone missing, and continue to do so. Many have died trying to make it out. The desperate images of people falling off airplanes have been imprinted into our minds.


Pointing fingers at anyone is not going to do any good - every country has a different history, and Afghanistan has a complicated one. A unique mix of cultural, religious, political, and social factors is the reason for its state today.


The first factor for the state of Afghanistan lies in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, another disaster for the Soviets resemblant of the Ukraine War for its modern-day counterpart. All in all, the Soviet Union never recovered from the financial loss during the war when it was defeated by the Afghani Mujahideen soldiers.


What is the most important, however, is what that loss meant for the common-day Afghanis. While many were jubilant at first that their imperialistic conquerors were pulling out, they slowly began to realise the different ways in which their life was being affected. The mujahideen fighters could fight, and evidently, they did it well. But they could not rebuild a state. Attempts for democratization failed as different Mujahideen factions battled for power, neglecting the very people they claimed to have fought for. The civil war led to widespread suffering for Afghanis, resulting in malnutrition and reduced access to health care, among other issues.


The bloody war continued even when the Taliban captured Kabul and set up a government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. It was during this phase of the civil war that the Al-Queda began commiting terrorist attacks; one of which would notably change everything, from society to foreign policy during the turn of the century: 9/11


It would be a plain lie to state that the reason for the devastation in Afghanistan is solely because of America and its long presence. From 2001 until 2021, the United States has had 4 different administrations - George W Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden, each of whom made decisions that drastically affected the country. George W. Bush was the one who invaded Afghanistan in the first place. 9/11 had happened under his watch and the American public was anxious for revenge, with some going as far as to display prejudice against Muslims. On October 7, less than a month after 9/11, he authorised the invasion of Afghanistan that overthrew the Taliban government.


America and its partners sought to establish a democratic government much like the Western world's, where women were able to go to school and take jobs; where they enjoyed freedom.


However, life wasn't a bed of roses. The government was incredibly corrupt, and people were still suffering. To many, it started seeming like yet another imperialistic power was ruling them, not because they desired to help the people but because they wanted power.


Back in Washington, there was a new president, Obama. In the beginning, he desired to pull out of Afghanistan as soon as he could and began to work towards that by collaborating with the civilian government to safely transfer power.


The problem, one Obama would realise as his tenure neared an end, is that cultivating a Western-style democracy in Afghanistan would be near-impossible.


And therein lies the issue distilled into simple words - America and its allies did not recognize that Afghanistan, or any other non-Western country, had a totally different culture. It had a different society and societal expectations which could not be erased fully. Afghani culture is embedded in childhood tales and festivals Instead of seeking to erase them, a type of equilibrium should be reached. This doesn't mean that people should have just sat by and watched as others were killed but it means that countries should have sought to understand the cultural context and anticipate the public’s reaction.


Even before being elected, President Biden’s stance on the Afghanistan crisis was well-known. He was against foreign military intervention and wanted to bring US troops back home. In the words of the President, "nation building was never the point." By the folly of previous governments, nation-building was never made the true priority which meant that the government would collapse without US military support.


Although many are tempted to argue that American forces should not have pulled out and left a mess of a country behind, it was the reasonable thing to do. Twenty years had been spent waging a war that was doomed when foreign troops pulled out. Not to mention the numerous accounts of torture, rape, and murder perpetrated by Western-aligned forces.


However, the way President Biden withdrew was, frankly, chaotic and unplanned. For people on the ground, it seemed like the US did not have a clear plan for evacuation. Indeed, it later emerged that Biden administration officials initially resisted plans for evacuation from Kabul, leaving behind desperate people with no clear plan on how to get out.


And later, when asked about the crisis, Biden had the gall to reject even moral responsibility for the situation there, and for the fate of all those innocent girls and women who had the right to not just survive but thrive.


There is no clear person, country, or party responsible for Afghanistan, but if one thing is clear it is that America does hold responsibility for at least some part of it. And as such, it should help refugees fleeing the crisis in any way that it can.


Afghanistan can in no way be classified as an American success. But should America go back and fight another bloody war? No.


Afghanistan is the tale of a country that has suffered through war after war, conflict after conflict, suffering after suffering. I think that it is time we let the Afghan civilians decide their future. Not groups like the Taliban or Al-Qaeda but the civilians; the people who are being affected.


For now, instead of being quick to pull out our guns, we must lend support to the country in other ways. We can donate and sign petitions. Attention must also be paid to the plight of the many female reporters and activists who are living and reporting in an extremely dangerous environment.


 

Yaalni is a staff writer at the Incandescent Review. She is a high school student studying in Singapore and is interested in an array of things, including writing, reading and most things related to the social sciences and humanities.

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