Thursday, September 14, 2006

What is Afghanistan Really Like

I suppose like most people I read travel books that took you to exciting and romatic faraway lands where authors use more adjectives than verbs in a sentance. Lands where everything is wonderful, the people are the most kind friendly and hospitable people you are ever likely to meet on the whole entire planet and everyday is an adventure with romantic soft light filtering thru the cloudless skies.

No how in the hell did these adventurers ever come up with this concept for Afghanistan, let me state from the begining before I ever get into travels with the Taliban and land post 9/11. That Afghanistan will only ever exceed in the Olympics in three sports : the first being sitting on your hunches in a pile of rocks doing nothing, the second throwing aimlessly rocks from the position they are sitting in and finally total oppression of women.

If they did not have opium poppies to grow in abundance then the only other thing they could farm would be rocks, the potential for farming rocks is limitless, no matter what size rocks they have them in ambundance.

I had like so many others preconceived ideas of noble warriors, a nation that had never been beaten from the days of Alexander the Great thru the rule of the British and Russias Vietnam of the 1980s. This notion was not what I came to see to experience, It is a land of self induced tragedy where life has minimal value and without doubt some of the most corrupt people I was ever to meet, where moral values came from two sources, US dollars and the barrel of the Kalishnakov.

Some facts and figures about Afghanistan can make you see the reality of the country. It's number one Agricultral Product is Opium, the number one export from Afghanistan is Opium, 80-90% of the heroin consumed in Europe originates in Afghanistan. However under the Taliban Opium production dropped to close to zero, they decreed it immoral and hence thru sheer force of terror they did eradicate the production, more on this later.

For a nation that can trace it's history back 5,000 years, the average person is lucky to live for more than 43 years, 70% of the population is malnourished, more than 15,000 womed die in a pregnancy related illness every year that is one death every 30 minutes.

For a country that is listed as being slightly smaller than Texas, they have big problems and as the International Red Cross Plane took of from Islamabad with us on board in May 2001 headed for Herat on the Western border with Iran, nearly 20% of the population of Afghanistan were Refugees living in camps in Pakistan and on the Iran border, fleeing not only the Taliban but also drought of biblical proportion.

For the next 15 days we were to be guests of the Taliban.


Scarlet said...

Yeesh! Sounds like a real garden spot!

21st Century Mom said...

Oh my God! I cannot wait to read the rest of this.