Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Martyr's Day Bloodshed

(Originally on 8 September, 2012.)

I went to the hills of Shakardara county in the northern parts of Kabul province. There in front of one's eyes opens a scenery to the Shomali Valley, which connects Kabul north to the provinces of Parwan and Panjshir. This was once the frontline of the Soviet occupiers and the Afghan communist regime against the mujahids resisting the occupation, and later the same area became the frontline of the mujahids against the Taliban movement that had captured Kabul.

Upon the hills I saw two Shikras, two Kestrels and down in the gardens a flock of Woodpigeon. The last surprised me with their presence, until I recalled how the Woodpigeons in winters suddenly flocked to the groves surrounding the Rawal Lake in Islamabad.

Afghanistan has today had a memorial day for the anniversary of the martyr Ahmad Shah Masoud. Al-Qa'ida assassinated Masoud on September 9, 2001, as an advance payment to the Taliban for that when al-Qa'ida two days later, on September 11, 2001, attacked the United States, the Taliban would be expected to protect al-Qa'ida. This proved a virtual kiss of death for the Taliban. For years the world powers had remained indifferent at the Taliban raging and massacring in Afghanistan. The destruction of the giant Buddha statues of Bamiyan actually caused more anger in the outside world than the massacres of thousands of Hazara people. Now, however, al-Qa'ida managed to provoke the American-led coalition to return to Afghanistan, which had been abandoned in 1989. This in turn led to a crucial change in the balance of power, and the Taliban's might collapsed. Masoud himself didn't live to liberate Kabul for a second time, but his mujahids did it.

To commemorate the anniversary of Masoud's martyrdom, his supporters and the Tajik population in general have been driving around the city, sporting Masoud's pictures, black flags of grief, and flying the green-white-black flags of the Rabbani republic. The Pathans in the opponent camp have not liked this at all, and there were even some minor clashes. The official Afghanistan nowadays uses the black-red-green flag that was in use in the Pathan-led kingdom.

While I was out on the hills of Shakardara, there was a tragic terrorist attack in Kabul. It once again made the foreign media get excited and remember Afghanistan exists. Although there's a bombing or a shootout somewhere in the country every day, this bomb blast made headlines because it happened in an area favoured by foreigners, in a street quite close to a couple of embassies and a gate of one of the compounds of international troops. It was also speculated that the target might have been a nearby Afghan film company.

Anyway, the bomb exploded in the street without any obvious target in the immediate vicinity. Most of the victims were Afghan kids. Apparently those same boys who sell cloths and other items and usually flock in that section of the street. Also the bomber was first claimed to have been a fourteen-year-old boy [but later seemed to be an adult male instead]. It is not yet known whether he did a so-called suicide bombing or whether he was ignorant of what he was carrying. Some time after the attack a couple of women wearing burqa were seen in the street, shouting anti-American slogans.

Three radical groups top the list of suspects: the Taliban, the Haqqani Group, and Hizb-i Islami. It was said that someone from the Taliban already claimed responsibility. However, the Taliban has usually concentrated in the provinces, while most of the attacks in Kabul city have been connected with either the Haqqani Group (recently) or the Hizb-i Islami (earlier). It is sad indeed that these days some radical groups consider it justified to fight "American imperialism" and whatever by brutally murdering innocent Muslim kids.

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