Recently, in the wake of the surging Taliban offensive which soon will lead to the final assault on Kabul, the capital, an Afghan man was quoted as saying, ‘You didn’t fix the problem.’
He was angry that America was leaving his land.
America had come and stayed for 20 years but now was leaving and the Taliban would take over again.
Women would once again be forced to marry and wear the all-enveloping burqas, their possibilities for personal development deeply curtailed.
‘You didn’t fix the problem,’ said the man.
There is passivity in those words. The expectation that others are to fix the problem. The problem, of course, is the Taliban. The brutally rigid group of Afghans who wish to return to rule the country in the name of Islam.
Did America fail?
Yes, we did. Failed to fire up in Afghans who are open to change, the will and power needed to fight off the repressive Taliban and rebuild the nation.
But Afghans knew all along that America and their NATO allies would not stay forever. We had gone there to root out the terrorist group Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks and then stayed to boost the country’s modernization.
Afghans had to know that the foreigners would not stay forever – it was not their land – but failed to use that opportunity to summon up their own courage and work steadily to overcome their national differences and be prepared to fight the enemy.
‘You didn’t fix the problem’ is the lament of a frustrated man who, having seen how much different life can be, now will have to abide by whatever the Taliban says.
If he has a daughter over 15, then she is ready for marriage to a Taliban fighter if they so wish. Her choice is irrelevant. And truncated are her possibilities as a full human being.
‘You didn’t fix the problem,’ is the cry of Afghans who didn’t band together to stop the forces of darkness they knew were just waiting for the foreigners to leave.
But can Afghans still rise in defense of their land? I don’t think so. Of course, miracles can happen. But the likelihood is that the world has to prepare itself to read report after report of people executed because they were enemies of the Taliban.
And as soon as the dust and smoke settles after fighters on the ground capture Kabul and take over the entire country, the Taliban’s supreme leaders, now in comfortable settings in Qatar and under that government’s protection, will make their triumphant return.
The number of the executed will keep growing and we will be reminded of Myanmar’s tragedy.
Yes, America had to leave. It was time. We had to leave because we have to rebuild our nation.
Rebuild because we are not united and if we remain so we will lose our land.
But we should ask ourselves, how hard did we try to get Afghans to say, ‘We must fix our problem. It is our problem. Others can help us and we will be most grateful, but it is our problem to fix.’
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net