Brian Smith 12/6/13
Professor Books Afghanistan
Afghanistan is arguably the most eye-opening, controversial country we have covered this year in our class. According to Roozbeh Shirazi’s Schooling in Afghanistan, Afghanistan can be described as “an amalgam of ethnicities, languages, and cultures resulting from the rise and fall of various historic empires”. Tamim Ansary goes on to describe the country as a “laboratory”. “So many currents have flowed through this territory from so many places over so many centuries.” (Ansary 2) Ansary then goes on to say that Afghanistan is “rife with contradictions”. It is those three words that strike me ...view middle of the document...
(Norton 48) Here we see one of the first examples of the contradictory actions of Afghanistan as a country. Just as progress was being made, the control was back in the hands of the conservatives.
In 1973, Sadar Daoud overthrew the government. He proclaimed himself to be the military dictator of Afghanistan. Foreign aid from the United States and Soviet Russia helped to improve the country’s wealth, agriculture, irrigation, and health services. Four years later, a Constitution was created that “outlawed all political parties except his own”. Once again this seems like a contradiction that the country that over a decade ago supported elections, now limited the parties to one. Of course, Daoud (from the only party available) was elected President.
Afghanistan would not go down without a fight. According to Norton, a “zealous group of militant clan leaders, armed and trained by Pakistan, arose to harass his (Daoud’s) government”. These people called themselves the mujahideen, which means “fighters for the faith”. The mujahideen were a Islamic fundamentalist group that would stop at nothing to overthrow Daoud. After a couple of assassinations of Daoud and other leaders in the government, the mujahideen resistance grew so strong that the next president had to seek Soviet aid. All the Soviets did was come in and replace the leader who called on them with a more fitting leader of their own. That once again sounds contradictory that someone coming to give “foreign aid” to protect against overthrowing the government would instead overthrow the leader himself.
Once the mujahideen saw these Soviet efforts were against their wishes, they utilized the help of the United States to fight back. In 1991, after the resignation of the leader appointed by the Soviets, the United States and Soviet Russia both agreed to stop “arming the warring factions in Afghanistan”. (Norton 48) Unfortunately, after the mujahideen gained control of the government, they became self-destructive and bombed their rivals in their group in order to gain control of the city. According to Norton, the city of Kabul was reduced to rubble. After this mess came the turning point in Afghanistan history. In 1993, the Taliban arose and chaos would soon follow. One huge contradiction is that the word “Taliban” means seekers of religious knowledge, and mujahideen means fighters for the faith. You would think two groups that want to “seek religious knowledge” and “fight for the faith” would find a common ground to get along. That could not be further from reality. By 1996, the mujahideen were driven out of Kabul. Kabul, a city that longed to become modern, was now a religious terror ground. (Norton 49) Afghanistan would now be covered by the shadow of the Taliban.
After the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan began seeing more contradictions in its culture than usual. For starters, Taliban (as stated earlier) means “seeker of religious...