A man in his thirties suddenly threw himself on a busy road in Kabul and yelled, “kill me and drive over me.”
“They can’t feed us; the easier way is to kill me and my children. Oh people, for God’s sake, come and kill us,” shouted the apparently exhausted man lamenting the government’s failure to provide him with a livelihood.
Bodyguards of a former commander, disembarking from a luxury Jeep, were the first to respond to his call by kicking and hitting him with the butts of their Kalashnikovs. The armed men then dragged and removed him off the road. In utter disappointment, the man, in shabby cloths, started weeping like a child. Misery-Stricken
Beggars are the prime feature that draws the attention of tourists and foreigners who come out to the streets of Kabul. This is not the only way adopted by the misery-stricken people of this impoverished country to express their feelings about the awful circumstances they are passing through every day. When one goes shopping in the markets or walks in the streets of the Afghan capital, Kabul, he has to face swarms of beggars, old, young, burqa-clad women, and underage children, asking for alms money. A shopper has to talk to beggars more than anybody else while moving from a shop to a shop or from a street to a street of the capital city. Others, mostly disabled during the three decades of war and civil strife, have adopted a novel and more attractive way of begging—sitting in the middle of a road and displaying the chopped parts, usually hands or legs, of their body to attract the sympathy of the passers-by and motorists.
… sense of pride among the people of this nation is fading away because of a government that is begging before the international community every now and then. The incumbent Afghan government has always been seen holding the bowl before every visiting foreign dignitary asking for “more assistance”.
President Hamid Karzai was on a tour to Copenhagen last year to attract support and assistance from Denmark. His visit coincided with the beginning of the row over the publication of the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Karzai told reporters that the stance of the Danish newspaper and government on the cartoon’s issue was understandable and completely convincing to him as a Muslim. These comments came at a very sensitive time when millions of Muslims were pouring into streets to condemn Denmark for its folly.
It was impossible for President Karzai to object the policies of his backers, especially in return for aid. Thereby, stuck between two options, whether to defend Islam’s precious values in a very sensitive time or to surrender to his donors’ demands, Karzai chose the second, proving that “beggars can’t be choosers”.
The biggest manifestation of change and development could be seen only in cities where high-rise stores, fashionable markets, and luxurious hotels have been built. But this just benefits the private investors and foreigners involved in the business.
There is less interest in investing in projects of long-term benefit to the country, such as launching factories, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructures, and taping of the country’s natural resources.
Both investors and top government officials, who mostly have come from the West, are living like guests and have no intention to stay here for long. Even some ministers did not give up their foreign nationality and did not bring their families from abroad. They are sure that they have nothing to do with future of this country apart from their present personal interests. They are sure that they will leave or will be forced to leave as soon as the foreign occupation forces pull out of Afghanistan. Nobody in the government or among the investors really wants to rebuild this war-torn country.
So where does the $$ go?
Nobody knows what happens to the billions of dollars in aid and where this money is being spent. The answer could be found when you ask about the ownership of many of the lavish stores and hotels in the city. Most of them belong to the government’s bigwigs, former Mujahideen leaders, and a clandestine circle of mafia. When somebody is appointed to a high-level government job, he starts as ordinary man, but when he leaves the job, his kitty is bulging with money and he becomes a trader, a big investor, or at least has got bank accounts abroad. This fact can give an answer to where the money, begged in the name of this proud nation, goes.
Another exit for the money is the presence of overwhelming number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The international donors do not trust the corrupt Afghan government, alternatively they pass the money to NGOs, most of them run by foreigners. NGOs, for their part, often spend most of the aid money on their personal needs, transportation, holidays, high staff salaries and renting comfortable guesthouses and offices. A small portion of the aid is thereby spent on improving the lives of Afghans.
(Source: Bourhan Younous, ION. 2 January 2008)
A disheartening photo. I know it’s sad, but i can’t stop looking at this and feel deeply upset.
Read Full Post »