Hundreds of billions spent by the international community, your expectations of the development and progress in Afghanistan would be somewhat satisfactory. You have high hopes from what you see on Afghan national TV abroad. There is excitement, adrenaline kicks high but all that changes as soon as you land in Kabul international airport.
Normally I am optimistic especially when it comes to Afghans and Afghanistan. But from what I witnessed in my first day in Kabul I was drained from all that positive energy. Every face I see has a story to tell of frustration, helplessness and hopelessness. Afghan nation is suppressed by the internationally community backed officials. There is corruption, warlords, drugs, illness, joblessness, homelessness, poverty and every act of aggression against humanity one can think of.
The immigration officer who was there to receive me at Kabul airport didn’t get paid his wages for the last three months, yet he was much friendlier from what I have experienced in a Pakistani airport. They did not asked for bribe and demanded to see those with family and young children first.
I came out of the airport there is sadness on every face, like if they are all denied justice. There is a green pickup truck of American private security personals parked in area outside the airport clearly marked as prohibited area. The afghan security guard is quick to spot it and give them a signal to move their vehicle from the area but they ignored him and showed him the middle finger. The afghan security guard lowers his head as he walks back to his post and shakes his head off embarrassment.
On the way to my hotel I saw convey of coalition forces protected by afghan national army. An afghan young boy on his motorbike was ridding next to the road on pedestrian pathway. With no warning, he was hit with a fire ball from one of the vehicle in the convey. But luckily they miss the boy and hit the tree next to him. It was a green tree within seconds the fire ball was so immense that turn it to ashes. Never in my life had experience something so furiously terrifying. I asked the driver what was that, he replied people are not allowed to get close to the conveys of coalition forces. Everyone knows this, but I said they went close to the young boy. He said try explaining this to the Americans. I asked what was that weapon they fired, he said welcome to Afghanistan, this is a laboratory for testing new weapons and the weapon deployed was phosphorus.
I got to my room and had breakfast, was tired from my long flight but somehow did not feel like resting or going to sleep. I was anxious to find out more. I was desperate to get my positive energy back. I thought hard where to go and who to see, should it be the politicians, NGO directors, child labourers or women begging on streets of Kabul. I finally come to the conclusion it has to be the young educated generation of Afghanistan, so I asked my driver to take me to Kabul University.
As I walk towards the faculty of psychology and educational sciences, I see hundreds of students lying on the ground on bare floor covered with dust preparing for their final exam. I had flash backs from the time when I was in refugee camp in Pakistan, things have not change much for afghans. I walked on; see a long queue of students for a broken manual water pump, water barely dripping. All the students were holding straws, I wondered why? Till I saw student sucking drips of water from the rusted tab of the broken water pump, probably put in place from time when this university was first inaugurated decades ago.
I walked on, belvedere by the thoughts of what is happening to the billions dollars of aid. I wanted to see the head of departments and research centres. Each department and research centre is backed by a different coalition country; therefore the head of departments are Afghan expatriate professors from the country supporting the department. This way, their loyalty is not to Afghanistan but the country supporting his research. All the subordinate of the department comes from the same ethnic background as the professor or head of the research team, so that they think like a group and will not clash with the overall donor objectives.
The head of university who is also advisor to the current government on environment has recently order a research group from the university not to publish their results on water resources of Afghanistan because it could collide with the international affairs and might strain relations with the neighbouring countries. One of the neighbouring countries has promised to donate a new building for the university art faculty. I prayed to myself hope the same country do not train suicide bomber to blow the building up the next day. The disappointed researcher responsible for the water resources project takes a sigh of frustration and says why show us dreams of democracy, development and progress and then trash it in the dustbin.
I was shattered as I walked out of Kabul University, thinking they are the very people you were so proud of “The educated wise Afghan professors”. If they can be corrupted why blame the uneducated Afghan warlords. On my very first day in Kabul I am irritated and annoyed then a thought struck me, Afghans have suffered this international and domestic acts of aggression for decades, which I could not take a day watching. There has to be hope. We are stronger than our aggressors, they can bomb us, and they can kill as by different means and names, they can violate and deny our rights, they can call us non-believers and cut our heads, they can exploit our resources but they will never break or enslave us.
I still keep on singing Farhad Darya song, “Watan Arzo Ast Mara”, (My land there is hope), may be Obama is not aware of what is going on in Afghanistan, or he will never mention in his historic speech, “What we chose for ourselves should chose for others”. Never have I heard in any western country where it is acceptable to kill up to 29 innocent civilians in an airstrike of high security target, or be it burning up to seven cars with civilians in them if they try to get close to a coalition forces conveys.