The New Beginning
By Dr. G. Rauf Roashan
Abstract: A new beginning was ushered in, in Afghanistan on December 22, 2001. Afghans everywhere and the world at large watched with anticipation. Not many would know the full enormity of the task ahead of the interim authority that took over for a period of six months. But many believe in the power of love for a nation that might help it achieve its objectives, which as per their definition are near impossibility. The founding of a new Afghanistan, literally on the ashes of destruction and building of a nation on the ruins of an infrastructure are not easy tasks by any standard. And Karzai is only a human being.
It is a cold and cloudy winter day by California standards. A rough breeze is claiming the last of the leaves off the branches in preparation for a new beginning in the upcoming spring. The evergreens, pines and firs, stand tall and green in their majesty. And as I look into the distant horizon, I think of the events that occurred today December 22, 2001, thousands of miles away on the other side of the globe in a historic city called Kabul.
Some 2000 people gathered in the cold Kabuli day in a hall in the Ministry of Interior white washed for the occasion, to witness the swearing in of an Interim Authority including 30 members. Many who could not get into the hall wrapped themselves in heavy blankets and shawls and stayed outside to listen to proceedings through loudspeakers. Remnants of war and destruction, black burned structures and equipment dotted the courtyard.
The Bonn agreement provided for the authority that brought to power a 44-year-old Pashtun leader. As a classic example of the opinion that wars and devastation in nations do produce new leaders, Hamed Karzai came down from the heights of Simla in India where he studied political science to join an ongoing Jihad against the invading Soviet forces in his homeland Afghanistan. When I saw him in the resort city of Simla in India, for the first time in early 1980, he was an emotionally charged youth desirous only to see his country free from communist incursion. Now 22-years later that young man of yore is entrusted with one of the most difficult jobs in the world. He has six months-six precious months, to accomplish what seems to be near impossibility. He has to lay down the foundation of a new Afghanistan based on trust, hope and true devotion. He has to work for the unity of a diverse nation that needs to let the bygones be bygones. He has to provide for a real new beginning for his country on literally the ashes of a long and devastating war. He has been assigned a cabinet that is diverse and charged with nationalistic expectations. He has to know first, and coordinate members of his cabinet. He also has to reconcile many commanders of many factions and bring them together in a united, centralized and national army. Some top level commanders such as Ismail Khan who walked into the hall some half an hour late and Uzbek warlord Dostum need to be befriended as they wanted major shares in the new government. He has the formidable task of wiping out warlordism. And then there is the question of the infrastructure. Education, health, communication, agriculture, industries, mines, economy and re-launching of an administrative system for the country all require urgent attention. All of this at a time that the government coffers are empty and the nation is bracing itself against a fifth hard and hungry winter.
And then there is a war that is going on in the country as he takes charge. Only yesterday, American bombers destroyed a convoy of vehicles that was carrying southern Pashtun elders to Kabul for the swearing in ceremony. Reportedly 65 leaders were killed. US authorities say they bombed the convoy believing it carried El-Qaeda leadership. Friendly fire, flawed intelligence reports and many other factors have played a great role in collateral casualties to hundreds of Afghan innocent civilians and villagers. The US war on terrorism has only achieved one of its objectives namely the toppling down of Taleban. The El-Qaeda network destruction in Afghanistan in sight, but Osama the son of Laden has evaded capture or death so far.
As the new Interim Authority takes power in Kabul, many members of the international community are also reopening their embassies. The British, the United States and Indian embassies were opened one after the other last week. As the US marines hoisted the stars and stripes banner over the American embassy, the Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs hoisted his countryís flag on its embassy. As the British opened their embassy, they pledged never again to leave Afghanistan alone. The German Chancellor in a message to new interim leader Karzai, reminded him of the positive decisions that had been taken at Petersberg near Bonn and pledged his governmentís full support. The Italian legation is to reopen shortly and Pakistanís Musharraf has said that his countryís embassy and counselor offices will too, reopen as soon as possible. Iranian embassy in Kabul is already functioning.
The United Nations Security Council last week approved organizing of an international peacekeeping force to assist the new interim administration in its task of rebuilding of a government system. The first batch of troops from England arrived already in Afghanistan. Other countries including Italy and Turkey have pledged sending in troops for the same purpose. Karzai would need these troops for the initial period of his administration during which he would need to organize Afghan forces under a national army independent of factional influences.
Afghans everywhere and people of the world across the globe are watching with anticipation as the new beginning is ushered in, in the life of the old country, Afghanistan. May be not many do know the enormity of the tasks ahead, but there are many who do believe in the power of love, love for a nation, for its history, for its prides and traditions that may enable this interim authority and the incoming transitional government in six months time and the permanent government that is expected to take over in another two years after the one and half-year life of the transitional administration to heal the wounds of Afghanistan. 12/22/01
Ensing, National Coordinator
© 2002 by Ray Ensing
Last updated May 20, 2002