The other side of Afghanistan

During the course of last three months I have been researching about Afghanistan, reading memoirs, checking out places described in books...


During the course of last three months I have been researching about Afghanistan, reading memoirs, checking out places described in books via Google Maps (a companion, say a virtual travel guide). Interestingly, as Qais Akbar Omar, the author of "A Fort of Nine Towers" describes, a person not born in Afghanistan, whose feet has not touched Afghan soil, will visualize the nation as a blood-streaked place, with bearded soldiers, wearing turbans and carrying grenades. But no, he says, they are not real Afghans. I've come to know about the Afghans a lot more than an average person does.


    Modern-day Afghanistan: The road to Mazar. Copyright: Qais Akbar Omar.

I'd provide a very brief timeline of what happened: At first, the Russians had invaded Afghanistan. Afghans didn't like that. Of course, in our country, when the British took us as a colony, we were not happy, too. One night people came out of their homes- unified in a common outcry of "Allah-u-Akbar". They wanted the Mujahedin, the "holy warriors" to come to Afghanistan to drive out the Russians. The Mujaheedin came. People of those times, when Afghanistan was peaceful, thought them to be their saviors. Instead, they turned out to be robbers and dacoits, who were interested only in their self-interests and profits. They tortured people, molested women and broke laws. Everything was in shambles. They were divided, too: factions fought to take "control" of a city. And the lives of countless number of Afghans were taken. Countless, let me repeat. Then the Taliban came, driving out the Mujahedin. Though they reversed the Mujahedin's many evil policies and such, they bought more mishaps, too. They destroyed cultural monuments, whipped people to death, and the list goes on. The arrival of international troops in 2001 did help matters a bit, but not very much. Currently, the Afghans intend to promote peace and start re-building after the departure of the troops in 2014.
   
     The Bamyan caves. It was destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Copyright: Qais Akbar Omar.

Afghanistan is a very beautiful country. The people there (of course I'm speaking of ones not associated with any group) are kind and generous. They'll respect you if you respect them. Afghanistan isn't a bad country- it's just tangled in a bunch of evil thorns. The evil thorns need to be cut out and shed- that's when Afghanistan will awake. It seems mother nature has put the best of herself in Afghanistan. Green meadows, distant mountains...
   
 
    A view from the caves of Bamyan. Photo copyright: Qais Akbar Omar.

Afghan economy is ailing, too. The rise of Taliban had forced merchants who were still in Kabul or someplace in Afghanistan to flee. The rich ones went to America, others went to Pakistan. Afghanistan today lives because of carpets- that's the most important business there, now. Afghan carpets are famous all over the world. The currency is Afghani, which currently stands at 54 a dollar. 
Speaking of culture and heritage, there are not too many left. Most of them has been destroyed by warfare. The only ones that remain are in a poor state and requires maintenance by private companies immediately.  

Lastly, as I mentioned before, Afghanistan is currently desperate for help. War cannot be ended with war. Someone has to take up the responsibility of building Afghanistan again. If war wasn't present in Afghanistan, it'd have earned millions from the tourist industry, as well as the carpet market. If war wasn't there, Afghan children would have learnt to trust each other. If war wasn't present, things would be different. 

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