Afghanistan: Atrocity ‘Right Under Our Noses’
It is the kind of occurrence that is absolutely exasperating about Afghanistan and our continued presence there.
According to Ben Arnoldy of the Christian Science Monitor, an Afghan woman accused of adultery was publicly executed — by shooting her nine times — in Parwan Province “directly under the noses of the Afghan government and the international community,” and just north of massive U.S. Bagram Air Base.
The entire atrocity was caught on video.
[In another report by the Christian Science Monitor:
In the three-minute video, a turban-clad man approaches a woman kneeling in the dirt and shoots her five times at close range with an automatic rifle, to cheers of jubilation from the 150 or so men watching in a village in Parwan province.
"Allah warns us not to get close to adultery because it's the wrong way," another man says as the shooter gets closer to the woman. "It is the order of Allah that she be executed."]
Now, to be fair — if that is at all possible in this case — Afghan officials claim the executer was a member of the Taliban and the execution was the work of the Taliban. The Taliban denies this.
If it wasn’t the Taliban, then who?
The answer to that question is sadly of no concern to the woman who was murdered and is little consolation for her family, but it certainly should interest a government, a country and a people where and for who we have been sacrificing so many American lives and have squandered so much of our treasure for more than ten years.
This is some of what Arnoldy says about “lovely” Parwan Province, in addition to “There’s a lovely ice cream shop off one of the rotaries, and a decent restaurant serving fish and kebabs overlooking the Panjshir River”:
Since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001, the province has always been the most obvious place for foreigners looking to work or relax outside Kabul. It’s one of the safest places in the country, with the large security footprint, good connectivity to the capital, and the mostly-Tajik ethnic makeup.
The province has received a lot of development assistance, both by nongovernmental organizations based out of nearby Kabul and from the military Provincial Reconstruction Team operating out of Bagram.
A local elder in Parwan once told me how the foreigners had now built three girls’ schools within a mile of each other. Girls schools are a popular project for foreigners, and Parwan is a popular place to put them, given the relative security, but there weren’t enough girls in the area to fill three, the elder claimed. Instead, the security guard at one of the schools did nothing but protect the squirrels and birds who nested in the empty building.
Paraphrasing the author, if there’s any place in Afghanistan where one might expect that our presence, influence and efforts would bring some change, some enlightenment and would at least prevent such atrocities, “Parwan would be it.”
Alas, and back to the author’s words:
Parwan presents a problem for those who argue that foreign militaries need to stay to hold the country together and protect its women. As regional expert Christine Fair told CNN in the wake of the execution, “We can ask the question what will happen when we leave, but let’s remember that this is actually happening while we’re still there.”
Having supported our military efforts in Afghanistan to capture or kill those responsible for 9/11, I must agree with the author and find the situation in Afghanistan, as I said, exasperating.
Ben Arnoldy is the Deputy International Editor at The Christian Science Monitor. He has served as the Monitor’s bureau chief in India and Northern California.