By Farooq Sulehria
The recent wave of demonstrations are not something new. Actually
in the past one year many Afghan cities witnessed such huge demonstrations
mainly organized by people who oppose the policies of Mr. Karzai
and want to show their opposition to his pro-warlord actions.
People are fed up with many critical social issues and come out
on the streets to protest. When people see that Karzai shakes
hands with the most dirty enemies of the Afghan people, who first
of all should appear in a court of justice; when people see that
millions of dollars given in the name of the reconstruction of
Afghanistan goes into the pockets of warlords and no one asks
about their brutality (on the contrary Mr. Karzai frequently installs
them in key posts); they have no other option but to protest and
in many cases it takes a violent form.
The situation in Afghanistan is far more disastrous then what
you may imagine. The Karzai administration has done nothing positive
but just works hard to gather all the top fundamentalist criminals
around himself. Even these days he is trying to portray some key
Taliban leaders as "moderates," and tries to share power
with them. A few days ago through Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, the
government announced amnesty for Gulbuddin and Mullah Omar if
All these policies are contrary to the wishes of our people who
want justice and the prosecution of top fundamentalist leaders.
People are furious but are powerless. Mass protest is the only
type of weapon people have to put pressure on the government.
Therefore in such a situation people display their anger by such
demonstrations. They find any excuse to come to the streets. In
the latest protests, the gross majority of people dont care
about the report of Newsweekit is just an excuse for them
to protest. And of course the fundamentalists, especially the
party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
and Al Qaeda, try to make use of these protests and guide it according
to their own wishes.
It would be very wrong, however, to stamp these protests as being
pro-Al Qaeda. The US and Afghan governments certainly try to raise
propaganda that Al Qaeda is behind it. These protests are the
continuation of a larger wave which started one year ago all over
Afghanistan, and its main reason is the treacherous policy of
Mr Karzai and the pro-fundamentalist stand of the US government.
People are very much disappointed with what is going on in Afghanistan
over the past few years. They were given many promises but none
of them were put into practice. Regarding the desecration of the
Koran: of course we are of the opinion that such acts are disgusting
because it hurts millions of Muslims around the world. In fact
we are against any kind of disrespect and profanity to the sanctity
of any religion. However, the desecration of the Koran alone can't
move people to protest on such a large scale. Afghans are not
more Muslim than the people in other nations that they would risk
their lives for it while the Muslims in most other countries did
not commit any actions against the Newsweek story.
Abuse and torture of prisoners is simply an inhuman act. We are
in favor of internationally known principles regarding treatment
of prisoners. Abuse and torture of prisoners in US custody in
itself shows the futility of the US government's hue and cry about
human rights. It shows that the US government's claims about human
rights are there just so it can bomb countries to gain its own
interests. Many of the victims in the US custody in Bagram are
ordinary people who have been arrested under the name of Al Qaeda
The US government shakes hands with the real criminals like Mullah
Motawakal etc., but tortures our helpless people. Such tortures
are reported by the media to be in Guantanamo and Bagram but in
fact it is very common in all US bases across Afghanistan. Whenever
they arrest anyone, they remove their clothes and torture them.
They know that for Afghans to be naked is the worst torture and
a way to weaken their morale.
If the situation in Afghanistan continues like this, we will
see larger and more violent protests by the people. Of
course the Taliban and Al Qaeda will try to make use of this situation
more then others. Unfortunately, democratic-minded forces of Afghanistan
are very weak and not being supported by the international community
and are not in a position to lead these protest in the best possible
For many days there has been news that the US government wants
to legitimize its permanent presence in Afghanistan and to make
its base here for the next 60 years. This news intensified the
protests even more. Karzai gathered Loya Jirga members and fundamentalist
leaders like Sayyaf, Rabbani etc. to discuss the issue. In the
meeting Sayyaf and Rabbani in their speeches welcomed the idea,
but there were some opposition from other members. Though all
members were given 2 minutes time to speak they did not allow
Malalai Joya to speak!
But we think these protests are a positive sign and show that
our people have the consciousness not to accept any government
that is in place to fulfill the interests of the US government.
It shows Afghans will not accept the
occupation of the US forces for long. Fortunately the gross majority
of the protesters were students and young people, which shows
our young generation has learnt much from the past history of
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