Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Editorial

How Kabuli Afghans will cope without the Americans?

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | September 05, 2021 09:08 AM

By Harjap Singh Aujla

During the two decade old American military intervention in Afghanistan, the first city that they entered in and the last city they exited from was the Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul. After several days of non-stop earth obliterating bombing, the Americans followed into the city of Kabul after their friendly soldiers of the Northern Alliance entered the city.

By the time the American boots were on the streets of Kabul, the Taliban had fled the capital, where they held sway with an iron fist for half a decade. Kabul in the past half a century has become the most globalized city of Afghanistan starting from the days of the Soviet Union’s ill fated intervention and afterwards. They had seen the world more than the other Afghanistanis had seen and they had experienced some kind of civilization first hand. They started liking law and order better than the Afghans in the minor cities and they hated gun toting militants roaming the streets.

When the American soldiers entered Kabul, the residents of the city generally welcomed their presence. The Americans developed modern air bases and army cantonments around Kabul. This generated a lot of jobs of both skilled and unskilled laborers. The American’s paid them more than the prevalent minimum wages in the country and they could afford three square meals a day. The shut down schools were repaired and reopened, especially for the girls. The Kabuli Afghans reclaimed and repaired their houses for a better standard of living. There was a city wide trend to learn English and the other European languages. Several Afghans became translators for the NATO and American soldiers. Consumption of milk and meat took a quantum jump. There were better prices for the produce of Afganistan within the country and abroad. America helped them in marketing their dry fruits. Kabuli Naans were selling like hot cakes.

America’s two decade long stay in Kabul was generally welcomed by the residents. Women were getting education had entered the work force. Some had become broadcasters and television artists. In fact Amercan presence gave the women what was legitimately due to them. The roads of Kabul were patch repaired and resurfaced with modern pavers.

The city grew tremendously in size too. According to rough estimates, before the arrival of American soldiers, the population of Kabul was about 1.5 million, but it had grown to roughly 6 million during twenty years. President Donald Trump started parlays with the Taliban fighters for a complete pull out of American troops from their soil. The negotiations were held in the city of Doha, the capital of Qatar. Prior to the electoral defeat of Donald Trump, the agreement was signed between the Taliban and the American diplomats that the last American soldier will leave Afghanistan before the end of May 2021. Being an old matured Democracy, the succeeding American presidents are bound by the international agreements signed by their predecessors with the other groups. But Joe Biden, realizing the time constraints, decided that complete American withdrawal shall be completed by the last day of August in 2021.

America has stuck to the agreed timetable for withdrawal and their last soldier was airborne by the midnight of August 30th 2021, a day before the expiry of their date of leaving. True to their commitments, the Americans took with them most of the men and women, who served them honestly in the form of translators and go betweens during the American troops stay in Afghanistan. America did take with them more than one hundred thousand Afghans, who stood by them through thick and thin. But there are a lot more loyal Afghan citizens, who did not want to stay back, to be hounded and slaughtered by the Taliban gunmen. It was not possible to take every loyal Afghan within the time frame allowed for the American withdrawal, but America will keep trying for their being flown to America.

Now the Kabuli Afghans are used to decent living, it will be hard for them to go back to the older times of tyranny and torture.

harjapaujla@gmail.com

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