(contribution by Tom Griffiths)
With the Afghan government’s ignominious defeat on the tail of the US government’s humiliating withdrawal, a lot – and I mean a lot – of gloating has been in evidence on Farcebook by ostensible leftists, some of whom are former comrades, celebrating another defeat for good ole US imperialism.
Pointing out the defeat and the role of the US in effectively setting up this situation is not the problem. What the problem is is the total (this might be an exaggeration, but not by much) silence on the fate of the Afghan people, in particular Afghan women.
Nowhere amongst my former comrades do I see an ‘ok, now the Yanks and their lackeys have gone the main enemy of the people is the Taliban and the most likely means of defeating them will be through armed struggle.’ Instead, there is silence. If this continues for more than a nanosecond this silence transforms into collusion. Left in form, right in essence we could call it.
A year or so ago I wrote a poem celebrating the bravery and example of a 15 year old girl in regional Afghanistan who, in response to her parents being gunned down before her sought out her father’s machine gun and killed the murderers, at least one of whom was Taliban. I reprint it below:
Qamar Gul and a father’s teaching
As others forgot to question
And rushed to defend the
Old verities and
As others remained fast
Confusing darkness for light
The old spell began to break
And its truths began to decay
As others panicked
From the revealing light
Confusion spread and freedom beckoned.
From the depths ghouls and false healers emerged
Screaming and cajoling
Harnessing death and instilling fear
Settling old scores and new alike.
Such times are indeed dangerous.
How was this man to protect his family?
What if he should fall?
Can friend still be seen from foe?
What if he should fall?
Tradition dictates his daughter’s marriage
The past may still protect…
But what if these ways are not enough?
What if they should fail?
He placed his gun into her hands
He’ll teach her what to do
If fall he should and well he may
Let new ways show the way.
When death came bursting through the door
Stealing her parents from her
This father’s girl knew what to do
And didn’t fail to do it.
She honored her father’s teachings
And moved into the light.
I wrote this poem a year ago when news of Qamar Gul’s actions made international news. I was very impressed by her bravery and the example she was setting – and worry about her safety now given that the Taliban are back in control. When I completed the poem I sent it to a young Afghani colleague and asked her to check the accuracy of its ‘line’ and suggest corrections if necessary. She gave it the thumbs up.