It’s time they say enough.

It is believed that 3,500 cases of violence against women had been registered in Afghanistan in the first six months of Afghan year which began from March 21, 2012.

For many, a new year brings new resolutions. For Afghanistan, it brought more civilian causalities. Reading back one old article of mine, I realized that nothing has changed. Afghanistan still prevails as a vulnerable country and with its steady speed of recovery; it still has a long, long way to go.

It’s time they say enough!
By Kriti Khandelwal (12th March 2012)

March 11th marked a day when 17 innocent lives were brutally taken by a US military soldier who, like his lawyer said, “May have snapped”. Robert bales had been accused of conducting a shooting rampage in Southern Afghanistan, gunning down 9 children and 8 adults for a reason yet to be clarified.

Soon after the massacre, Bales was sent back to Kansas before Afghanistan could even have a chance to voice their rights over Bale’s verdict. So someone kills innocent civilians on their soil and before the deceased’s family could demand an explanation for the unjust death, the guilty party is safely flown back to his country. Though I may not be a big fan of the death penalty, but where has all the justice vanished? Afghans should be playing the big role in bringing the man to justice but all they get are big words and cold condolences from US people who actually don’t really care. If they did, some actions against Bales would already be in progress by now. John Henry Browne, Bale’s attorney, says that his client doesn’t remember about the scene, possibly due to the head injury caused in his previous war. Another reason given was Bales witnessing his friend’s leg blown off one day before the shootings. But that doesn’t excuse this murderer for his misdemeanor. This shouldn’t give the court a reason to be lenient towards his prosecution because not only is this a murder, but it’s also a case which can destroy relations between two countries who already share a very sensitive tie. Even then let’s assume that Bales somehow saves himself from being sentenced to death, I can only imagine what actions Afghanistan will take to let their rage and revenge out. There will be riots, chaos, and turbulence. There will be blood for blood. For this is how the system works worldwide. If the court’s hearing does not satisfy a party, other means will be used to reach justice. To prove this point, we only have to look as far as Middle East, where protests have become an everyday thing.

On that note, its time Afghanistan stop depending on NATO troops in their country fighting the enemy. This incident should pull the straw and motivate one to stand on their legs and fight on their own without the US’s support. First it’s the American Marines laughing and urinating on the corpse of Taliban fighters. Next, it’s the burning of Koran at a base in northern Afghanistan and now it’s the killing of 17 innocent victims, mostly children. After these rapid successions of events which shattered Afghan’s trust in US, one can only imagine what the nation must be going through. It’s time they said enough. US troops has been allowed in the country to fight AGAINST the threat, not to be one of the threat. It is a shame for Afghanistan to sign a strategic partnership with US with all these things happening to their people. It’s a shame for them for each apology accepted by their much hated president, Hamid Karzai, who apparently needs to be protected by the US guards to stay alive in his own presidential palace.

But like they say, there are two sides of the same coin. There should be a reason behind the killings extending beyond mere head injury. Are there other internal factors shadowed by the US military that needs to be blamed?  Statistics shows an increase in the rate of Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PSTD) in the military each year.  If I rely on these statistics, I can undoubtedly conclude that Bales has been made a scapegoat in this whole scene because one of the big motives behind the massacre lies in the military itself. More than Bales, there are officers, commander-in-chiefs, and military doctors who needs to be blamed for sending every psychologically unfit soldier to fight battle after battle.  It’s the repeated combat tours that drives soldiers to perform these horrendous crimes.  Perhaps effective measures and some genuine concern towards these men can help the innocent before more Robert Bales are created.

Keeping all that aside, another thing is the act of media. The media has covered everything about Bales from his brave, well-regarded and courageous personality, to his wife’s interviews claiming, “Bales loves children….he would never do this”. But what about those 17 victims? They have become a footnote. All we know is a number- 17. Nobody bothered to ask for their, age, family or worse, their names.  Are we already used to reading news covering the deaths from powerless Afghanistan? Has this got something to do with the third world country? Or is this because US has got more to offer to us than Afghanistan? Deep down, we all know the answer.

The case will probably take years to unfold. Till then, let’s all hope that this incident will be there to set an example for both the Afghanistan and the US military. Let’s all hope that both the parties learn something and make peace, not war. My heart reaches out to the families whose parents, partner, child or siblings has been perished in the ill-fated event. May their souls rest in peace.

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