(This piece was published in Washington Examiner. I am cross posting it.)
Lt Col. Siri Skare, was a 53 year old Norwegian pilot. She was Norway’s first female pilot, finishing her training in 1983. She was killed in the UN office attack in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan a couple of days back, by a “protesting mob”. She also remains Norway’s only woman pilot who died in Afghanistan. Ironically, she didn’t die in combat duty. She died while acting as an advisor in United Nations office, working for the “betterment of the standard of living” of the Afghan people. Worthy and deserving death? Perhaps.
The cause of her death, is not yet known. There are confusing reports in the media. Who died of beheading, who died of gunshots, who died of a single stab of knife just below the Adam’s apple is yet to be declared. Or possibly will never be declared ever due to the “sensitive” nature of the issue. We can just hope her end was swift, and without much suffering.
Criticisms from all quarters were rapid and immediate. Some blamed Afghans, some blame the “occupying force”, some blaming Terry Jones, who single handedly destroyed the whole “peace effort” and talks with the “Good Talibans” of Afghanistan. There were even calls from some desperate bloggers, saying this should prove that Afghans were barbarians, and it is not possible to change them, so better leave it at that.
Now answering these issues categorically. The Afghans were/are not uncivilised. Some people among them are. If one looks back, the Afghans were a very liberal society at one point of time. Till they were brutalised by a small group of some fanatics, whose way of gathering followers is not by teaching and preaching, but rather reminds a little of NAZI tactics of intimidation and fear.
The calls for coming out of Afghanistan are so utterly hilarious and absurd, that it’s almost surreal. I would just like to give an example. When a person is diabetic, he has to inject insulin every day. He can’t afford to think of the cost of the insulin injections, or the pain of it. Just because if he doesn’t, he will die a gruesome death. Similarly, if one leaves Afghanistan, it will turn back to a breeding ground of a group of people, who would then again start having a dream of ruling the world on horsebacks.
Leaving alone the geo-strategic aspect of it, with China, Pakistan, Central Asia and Iran surrounding it.
And now coming to the most important part. What would a man do seeing a man getting robbed on the road, or a woman getting molested? Protest, and try to stop, I guess. That’s what humans generally do. The moderate Afghans, and infact the moderate Muslims across the World, will never forgive this betrayal, if the coalition suddenly decides to leave them at the hands of some savages, who go on butchering people at the whims and fancies of their own pervert interpretation of a religious ideology. And before I am marked as an Islamophobe, I would like to say, anyone accusing me, to kindly check Twitter, and see the reactions to this killings from the moderate Pakistani, and Afghans, and Indian muslims.
Just to play a bit of a Devil’s Advocate, when the thousand year old statues of Bamyan Buddhas were destroyed, the Buddhists didn’t go on killing people or committing Kamikaze bombings.
Finally, the last point. There was a custom of Sati (or suttee, as pronounced by the British then) wherein a widow was forced to burn and die on the funeral pyre of her husband. During that time, around 1845, the “Commander in Chief” of the British Army in India was General Sir Charles James Napier. He was given a free hand to suppress insurgencies and promote modernity. This was what he said to a bunch of men who were going to burn a woman alive.
” You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours. “
Thing is, wise men like Sir Charles Napier understood what needs to be done, which many of us seems to have forgotten over time. The policy of Iron Fist. Barbarians never understood good will, and the policy of “winning hearts and minds” don’t work with group of savages. They should be paid back by the same coin, which they recognise.