Monday, May 21, 2012

Will Afghan realities matter to Chicago?

On the night of 23rd Sawr 1391 (May 2012) Najiba and her three sons (5, 7, 13 yrs) were brutally shot dead by their uncle and Najiba’s brother in law in Chardara district of Kunduz province. After killing Najiba and her sons, the brother in law who is named Zanabuddin has run away and there is no news on him. According to the police chief, the main motive of the killing was that Najiba had rejected marrying her brother in law after her husband died. Najiba’s brothers and cousins are now planning revenge.

What is new about this story apart from being sorry for Najiba and her sons? What do we hear from the police in such circumstances that ‘investigations are under way’? I am sure the murderer has already fled Kunduz and is in one of our neighboring countries, perhaps.

Yet another case of killing and murder that adds to the piles of cases and incidents that either have been filed by the police stations lined up under the dust or the cases that await their fate in the judiciary that takes ages to investigate and convict a crime. Of course, it’s a luxury to have a case registered with the police and that only happens if the crime takes place in the vicinity of the Provincial or District Police Station and if the police officers agree to register. When crimes take place in the villages and communities far from the district center, they have to solve their own issues if it means the perpetrators family gifts their young girl child to compensate for the crime or the local tribal elders agree to kill a member of the perpetrator family – it is none of the government’s business.

The whole focus of NATO/ISAF and Afghan government is on giving more guns to more men under Afghanistan’s Army & Police. How do these men use these guns, is a secondary issue. The transition process is calculating the number of armed men in every province who will be able to use guns and fight the insurgency. Girl’s schools have been closed in some of the transitioned provinces, increased ratio of crimes, lack of government response and shortage of police forces is a common reality in many of the transitioned provinces. An insurgency that is growing internally because of injustices being inflicted on Afghans in their homes and a government system that only perpetuates crimes and injustices. In such circumstances, where would the young angry Afghans go especially when there is a recruitment platform with money and gun available for them to fight their enemies? Why wouldn’t the local Afghan communities support the insurgency?

I remember the stories of injustices brought forward by the elders and community members in the Traditional Loya Jirga last November. My Committee’s recommendations were that at the end of 2014, Afghanistan does not need 350,000 illiterate armed men. But maybe half of these forces are enough if they know their primary responsibility is to protect Afghan lives and implement the rule of law.

Many of us in Afghanistan have been advocating for an international change of perspectives around Afghanistan for over ten years now, but every year there is an international conference on Afghanistan and every year we come up with the same recommendations and solutions. It is because the world leaders don’t listen to what Afghans have to say about their own fate and their own country.

Once again, the global leaders will come and sit together and cheer their achievements for Afghanistan in Chicago as distanced from the realities on the ground as the thousands of miles between Kabul and Chicago.