With today's news of the death of "brutal butcher" Mullah Dadullah Lang, the Taliban's second-in-command man with a "gruesome penchant for decapitation", one is forced for a moment to contemplate the manner and method by each one of us will meet our own certain and eventual end.
So the question of the day is, if you were a citizen of Afghanistan and you could choose the method of your death, would you prefer to go quickly, or would you rather wait to meet your maker, in a most agonizing fashion - one that would take a very, very long time?
Americans are rarely (if ever) told the truth about anything. So what is actually going down in
Afghanistan is usually left to articles and blog sites written from people who either live near the line of fire or know somebody who does.
To get a better idea what has happened since the US first plundered into Afghanistan in October, 2001 to search for a now-legendary cave hopper on dialysis, I spoke with Dr. Mohammed Daud Miraki, a native Afghan here in the United States with many ties "back home", to tell us all about the long-forgotten people of Afghanistan that the US mainstream media will not. After hanging up the phone, it occurred to me that what is actually going down in
Afghanistan is, without any doubt, the greatest crime against humanity in perhaps all of
A recent article in The Hindu Times gives us a glimpse into the creation of devastation in which the
U.S. is so deeply immersed. So, courtesy of foreign press, recently we learned that the violence so far this year alone has left around 1,000 people in
Afghanistan now quite dead. This number includes Afghan civilians as well as "insurgents" and 30 international troop soldiers. This number, by the way, does not reflect how many Afghans are among the almost-dead, due to the radioactive poison used by military weaponsused there.
Steve Lendman, in "Afghanistan - The Other Lost War"shares a deeply disturbing account of reality in the nation where we are waging this long-ignored-but-not-forgotten war:
"For them [Afghans] life is harsh and dangerous, and they show their frustration and impatience in their anger ready to boil over on any pretext. As in Iraq, there's been little reconstruction providing little relief from the devastation and making what work there is hard to find and offering little pay�Unemployment is soaring at about 45% of those wanting work� half of the working population getting it earns on average about a meager $200 a year or a little over $300 for those involved in the opium trade which is the main industry in the country�about one-fourth of the population depends on scarce and hard to find food aid creating a serious risk of famine� life expectancy in the country at 44.5 years is one of the lowest in the world� infant mortality rate is the highest in the world at 161 per 1,000 births�One-fifth of children die before age five�An Afghan woman dies in childbirth every 30 minutes�.In Kabul alone an estimated 500,000 people are homeless or living in makeshift and deplorable conditions...Only one-fourth of the population has access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation�Only one doctor is available per 6,000 people and one nurse per 2,500 people...100 or more people are killed or wounded each month by unexploded ordnance...Children are being kidnapped and sold into slavery or murdered to harvest their organs that bring a high price...Less than 6% of Afghans have access to electricity available only sporadically� Women's literacy rate is about 19%, and schools are being burned in the south of the country and teachers beheaded in front of their students�--Many women are also forced to beg in the streets or turn to prostitution to survive�lawlessness is back, Sharia law has been reinstated, the internal conflict has resumed, and no one is safe either from the country's warring factions or from the hostile occupying force making life intolerable for the vast majority of the Afghan people."
A disturbing scenario indeed. And lest Americans are tempted to believe this is nothing but liberal, anti-war rhetoric? One gets the sense that things are pretty darn bad when even the Council On Foreign Relations (arguably not exactly the bastion of progressive ideals) is forced to admit at least some of this as the actual truth.
The CFR recently featured on its website comments made by
Afghanistan's ambassador to the
United States, Said T. Jawad, who stated that:
"it's been five years since the international community came to
Afghanistan, but still only 6 percent of Afghans have access to electricity. The Afghans are entitled and are demanding an improvement in their daily lives, in the form of better security, more roads, energy, schools, and health clinics� It's very important that we deliver assistance to the Afghan people and implement some of these reconstruction projects as soon as possible�
From the entire financial assistance that's been given to
Afghanistan, only 5 percent has been given to the Afghan government. Twelve percent of the funds have been given to the Afghan reconstruction trust fund established for
Afghanistan. And we can withdraw money under certain conditions. The remaining 82 or 83 percent of the assistance has been spent outside the budget and control of the Afghan government. This is a problem.
First, there is a waste in the way the money has been spent in
Afghanistan, like many other places. Second, while we are building a political system in Afghanistan by encouraging the Afghan people to participate in that process�86 percent of Afghans participated in electing their president, we have a parliament in place in Afghanistan�yet at the same time, the government and the parliament have not been given the financial resources to address the needs of the Afghan people.
The people are saying, 'We have played our part, we've played our role. You've asked us to participate in the political process, we did. But we don't see visible improvement in our daily life."
To get to the heart of the matter by someone who is intimately familiar with the current situation, I contacted Afghanistan native and author of Afghanistan After Democracy, Dr. Mohammed Daud Miraki, to get his take on how the people of
Afghanistan are doing now, after the
United States has been occupying, fighting "insurgents", and reportedly helping to "rebuild" his native homeland since October, 2001.
AfghanistanAfter Democracy is a graphically stunning pictorial that lets the world know the gritty truth about exactly what is going on in
Afghanistan today. Now that we have supposedly "liberated" the people of
Afghanistan for the past 5 � years, what made you want to write this book?
MDM: There were two reasons, actually. One was to really expose what is really going on there�the truth, for the common folks to know what's going on in
Afghanistan, where the official rhetoric of democracy, liberation, etc. is really the truth? Or is it just really a deception? So these efforts that I took, basically aimed at exposing these lies and really unveiling the truth to the common folks, that really, in
Afghanistan, there is a total disaster going on.
Sure, the big power benchmark of elections, constitution? These things are simply words - intangibles. They do not mean anything to the common people. To them, what matters is food, a warm place to sleep and spend their nights in winter, and have basic necessities, medical care. To make sure that their kids don't die from cold, from infections, from other conditions. But all that�they not only cease to have these services, the common people, but even whatever rudimentary services in terms of health care, they cease to exist - they exist� but nonetheless, they are not provided because even doctors nowadays ask for bribes! So if you're poor? A government hospital is no place to go, either, because even there, doctors and nurses take bribes.
And the second reason for producing this book was the hope that I could raise some funds�to pay for the land that I actually lost a month and a half or so ago. In
Afghanistan, usually when you get the land for something, there are two costs. One, you have to pay a significant bribe which is equal to the cost of the land. Then you have to pay for the land. What I did was I, through some pressure, I bypassed the bribe, with the extension that I would get the money in "X" time. My hope was that by producing this book, I could raise funds.
CG: When did it "hit" you that Americans don't have any idea what's going on inside
MDM: - Actually it happened when I was in
Afghanistan. I had a camera with me - video as well as regular camera - and I started taking photos of how life is there, I started taking photos of people working �what's in the book� as well as little children. And sitting there one day in my hotel, I started telling my relatives, my in-laws, "Look! I took these photos! You know, you and I see what's going on here, but the American people? They don't know what's going on here. They think that all is well in Internet cafes there and everybody has access to it and everybody can afford it and they think in the shopping centers that everyone can buy things� but no one can! Just a handful can."
I told them, "Let's make this a pictorial presentation in the form of a book, and open people's eyes and see if that works! And everyone said, Yeah, it makes sense. Let's go for it! Go right ahead. That's a really superb idea. Lots of people will be fascinated or saddened or whatever, or surprised - but nonetheless, they will be informed. So having said that, I'd made sure that I'd taken all these photos and documented what I'd jotted down, and then subsequently when I came here, we produced it � and a lot of optimism, I think.
The whole purpose was � the idea was, I'll show people these photos and say, Hey look, this is how life is over there. But the whole thing is, how this conceptualized into a book, was sitting that evening in a hotel room and I thought to myself that evening was, instead of me just roaming around, showing these to people, how life is there, let's make it into a formal book, so people could look at it. And meanwhile, the revenue from the book will benefit people here. And I thought by purchasing this land, I would have something tangible to show to people, and this tangibility would serve as a cornerstone for extracting more funds from whatever sources to build a hospital and such facilities. Because unless you have something to show to people � tangible that you're able to result it into, people will not be too optimistic of what you're doing. So this book was to produce these funds and hopefully, produce it in terms of land for which a hospital or such will be built. And that will serve as a domino effect for concerned people worldwide.
CG: - Why do you want a hospital for the people of
MDM: -There are a few hospitals over there, but first and foremost there is the age of corruption� widespread corruption, no investment in health care, there's infant mortalities gone through the roof, mortality rate of women during childbirth has gone through the roof, and really, some of the hospitals you have that have gotten so deteriorated they look like medieval hospices, rather than hospitals!
Secondly, this hospital would not be solely a hospital, per se. Rather, the hospital would be the operational wing of a research facility. The research facility would be a kind of a "mother ship" for collecting data throughout
Afghanistan about the magnitude of contamination of soil, vegetation, people, and so forth and amassing that data at such a facility towards building a dynamic data base. That would be a data base that would forecast the future fluctuation in the contamination level and in time series analysis. And based on that magnitude of contamination in certain protocols, or unconventional or alternative medicine would be developed in the hospital in conjunction with a research facility that would be applied to people in the land and so forth, and people would benefit from it�on top of the conventional medicine that is out there.
So I subscribe strongly to herbal medicine, alternative medicine, and by having such an approach and by getting various resources, various people who have innovative, diverse approaches dealing with these matters? I could create really an innovative center that could treat people for various ailments and detoxification that could become a regional center.
CG: - You know such about Uranium in weapons and its effects on health. Are you thinking that your medical facility would fulfill the people's needs?
MDM: - Yes, the whole thing was to produce, build this facility, the aim will be � this would become a hospital, a research facility, if you will. But it would become part of a paradigm shift in health care that would provide healthcare to everyone throughout the country and train other physicians in alternative medicine. Train doctors and nurses how to deal with various ailments, environmental researchers how to deal with cleaning the [uranium-contaminated] soil�.kind of a widespread, expansive approach to well-being.
My philosophy is that if you want to take care of somebody's ailment, you have to look at that person in his totality, he or she, in his or her environment, in conjunction with that person. And then you can treat the person in such a way that could benefit the person or the people there.
CG: - The people don't have any socialized medicine?
MDM: - Initially, before these issues, they had socialized medicine, yes. The infrastructure is still there, but the problem is that there is more money invested in the so-called "war on drugs" deception nonsense - the "war on drugs" - than on medicine! Then, this whole idea, making the economy the dollar as the cornerstone of everything, has really induced people to simply want to earn dollars rather than be concerned about the well-being of others! Worse thing is, doctors � the last people in the world you would expect - doctors want to take bribes and perform surgery and at the end of surgery you will hear "Where's my gift?"
So people, the type of dependence that they had on hospital and facilities? They cease to have those dependencies because they can't count on them, because if they do, they have to have money. Officially they don't ask for money, but when your procedure is done or a visit is performed, they ask for money, under the table. And people are just simply are desperate and they don't know what to do.
CG: - Was it like this before 9/11 and the subsequent
MDM: - Oh no, not at all! Medicine there � people would go to the hospital and they would be given the best care possible at that time. Sometimes they didn't have medicines themselves, the patients, at the time, because the government did not have the money to supply the medicine. Mostly, they would rely on donations, from outside world medical donations.
But now, because everyone is concerned about how to make green, green dough, everyone is concerned with how to really rip the other person off, no matter what the context of the rip off is � whether they're in medicine, whether they're in administration, whether they're regular folks. It's just a complete mess! It is absolutely hopeless for the common people because those in power are actually the utmost corrupt, from Karzai all the way to the very bottom, eager to fill their pockets rather than being concerned about others.
CG: - Has the
US been involved with installing the current government leaders?
MDM: - The
US is totally involved, actually, it's the art � the handiwork of the
US and the
US has actually implemented � put that government � that nonsense, in place.
CG: - Do you think that's why we are not reading much of this in the media, because they're shielding us from this truth?
MDM: - That's the main reason, because they just want to put the really positive spin on it. All this is fine! We've done a superb job! We've done democracy. We've done liberation. All this is crap. Nothing really is going on. The fact of the matter is? It's disaster - on many levels.
CG: - I was shocked to see the pictures in your book, the pictures of the children, not going to school, but rather, going out in the streets every day, trying to earn money in the streets. Is that what you mean by disaster?
MDM: - Exactly! Children ages 7, 6 and up to teens, they are outside till late at night, actually endangering themselves to the common criminal element, who are preying on children. In fact, they kidnap those children for various purposes. They are actually selling them for prostitution, they are actually kidnapping them for their organs, to sell them for transplant to the highest bidder.
These people do not get anything. They are basically running around, hoping to survive, at what they know best, which is basically begging and cleaning car windows. If they have some money, somehow found? They buy gum and sell it, so that people can buy gum for them.
CG: � In your book you said that children would walk an hour or 5 miles to get into
Kabul, the city?
MDM: - Yes, in order to get to
Kabul from the periphery, they would have to take a bus. And they don't have money to pay for a bus. So what they do is they just walk. They get up early in the morning and walk � walk for a couple of hours or so, more or less. And then what happens is they get to their destination, hoping they could find some money by begging or by doing whatever they are capable of doing, so they could buy some loaves of bread. And then they walk back to their place, and the walk is even more horrible, especially during winter, because it's very cold, and it's mostly snow or mud, or lack of sanitation. They have to walk under really miserable conditions to get to their places. And many of them become very ill, without any care, they end up having pneumonia � and they die from it.
CG: - And there are not any big soup kitchens - or anything like that to take care of people?
MDM: - Oh no, no. Nothing like that! In fact there was an orphanage in
Kabul that had been from the past, that, back in the 80s and a lot of orphans during the time were created, and the real estate prices went really up. And then they kicked the orphans out, and took over the orphanage, because of the price of prime property, of prime real estate.
CG: - That is horrible!
MDM: - It's absolutely horrendous. Think about it. Within
Kabul, the center of
Kabul , before the
US invasion, if you got a really fancy house and you would rent it, at most for $300 to $350 a month? Now the same house goes for $15,000 to $32,000 a month.
CG: - Your book shows there a great disparity between the very poor and the very rich.
MDM: - Yes, so these various NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and consulting firms, they get millions of dollars in US contracts, they simply get these contracts to share them for their employees. And the common people who can't afford to live in the city, they get pushed out, or they try to subsist or try to survive in bombed-out buildings, or tents, or shacks here and there � they just build some ways to try to shield themselves from the elements. And then, when the night is over, they get out and try to survive.
So the result of that extreme amount of corruption at the social level also, has emerged. And so, society�society has turned into crap. It has become trashed. So it is a difficult thing, and when you, if you have money, let's say, to purchase land in
Kabul and end up doing so? To secure the permit for the small real estate and you try to get a permit from the mayor's office of
Kabul? It could cost you up to $80,000 to secure a permit. Think about it. In a country where a normal government civil servant makes $40 a month - $40 a month! And you ask for $80,000 for a permit? Or a judicial�in the courts� if you want to really contest an issue? The judge asks you for up to $70,000 for a property somebody else has taken from you and you want to secure it.
If the judge asks you permission for this, the police ask, Okay, where is my share? That is, if you want them to implement what the judge has said.
CG: - Did people lose their homes because the economy fell and there are no more jobs to be able to support themselves and afford them?
MDM: - Many people lost their jobs, but first and foremost, what happened is that when the Northern Alliance came in with the
US , they took over a massive number of houses and neighborhoods that were vacant. And also, other who people had taken over somebody else's property, who had left the country? Those people were being paid a small amount. They simply took over the apartments or those houses. And when the actual owners returned? They were left without a house! Okay, tough luck � it's no longer your house!
I went there to secure my own land that was actually taken over by somebody else! That's why I went there in 2005 and also, on top of that, I was trying to unveil what was really going on in 2005. And when I looked at all these situations there? I was simply speechless. I said, this is hopeless! And then in 2006, I went there again, and the situation had gotten even worse, especially in winter. My God, it's horrific!
CG: - Are the pictures in your book, that of a very filthy, dirty city � it didn't always look like this? How has it gotten worse?
MDM: - No! It was much cleaner, there were sanitary conditions, and at least the mayor's office had a budget for cleaning the city. And it was a reasonable place. But now, whatever rudimentary infrastructure that existed got collapsed throughout the years, and instead of investing the so-called development money in that? They're simply investing that into symbolic nonsense of democratic projects � this project, that project, which is nothing but BS!
They should be investing in how to build sewage facilities, how to build sewage infrastructure and canals to clean the city and prevent infections and other diseases, but that's not an issue. Because they say, that's public projects are not profitable. They just invest in things that are supposed to bring them money.
When you create a living environment that's fit for animals? Because just everyone is after everyone, trying to outdo the other person, in whatever way is possible. They do not behave in ways that are expected of them. For example, on the one hand you have the
Hotel, a five-star hotel in
Kabul, whose dirt and trash and sewage runs through the city, through the main
Kabul . Inside it's like the
Europe. Outside? It's a total disaster!
So people [who live in
Kabul ] look at that and say, Okay people live there and they enjoy themselves! And look at me. I am dying from hunger.
You have the dichotomy of disaster� and a few with riches.
CG: - Are there any significant aid relief agencies there, trying to help the people?
MDM: - There are agencies there, yes. Nonetheless, there are some legitimate aid agencies there, but they're overwhelmed! The problem is too big. The problems are too many, and too vast to tackle. And there is no really systematic � What's going on is that first, the aid really goes through certain corporations, certain designated NGOs. Whatever they choose to spend it on? They spend it. They bypass the needs criteria that the government, or at least the administrative infrastructure, formulates and say, okay, these are the basic needs of people and they should be tackled first. They bypass that and do whatever they want to do with that money. They pocket most of it. They're rich or "fat", if you will, and they just take a hike and leave.
And so, of the billions of dollars that supposedly went to Afghanistan, twenty-three percent of that went to the Afghan government, which mostly went to the basic needs of running the government. But the other seventy-seven percent of or so of that went into the pockets of the NGOs, consulting firms. For example, in the case of the US, eighty-six cents of every dollar that the
US donates for
Afghanistan and other countries is really "phantom aid". It's not real aid. It's tied to how you can spend that money on goods here in the
United States, on overpriced advisors and specialists.
CG: - It's not actually going to put fruit and vegetables on people's tables?
MDM: - Forty-seven percent of all the aid goes to overpriced experts! They will go to someone and say, How should you do this thing? He then gets $18,000 a month for whatever stupid opinion he or she has. And the very opinions are widely available through Afghan experts who would more than happy to accept $1,800 a month, instead of $18,000 per month! But that's not how it works, because the corporations they designate their own people, they find their own individuals, to fill their pockets. That's how things works.
Those few companies that actually serve as lobbyists in Congress are the ones that get the contracts for work in
Iraq other places. Mostly companies that are selected, most of them are geographically situated in the
DC area. It's basically, a huge scam. How can you get some money, how can you get kick backs, how can you really take the money, bring it back, and put it in your pocket?
CG: � What do you know about the combat that's still going on?
MDM: - Combat is really widespread. Combat is going on in mostly west and southwest. South and southeast in
Afghanistan, as well as pockets in the north and areas in south, southwest are actually out of control of the government. Essentially two-thirds of
Afghanistan is not in the control of the central government.
The NATO forces and US forces are in constant military action, bombardments as we speak. They use munitions, Depleted Uranium munitions on their targets. It's a total disaster.
People can't travel. They will be robbed and killed by someone, or they will just be caught in crossfire between the insurgents and the
US and NATO forces. From whatever angle you look at it, it's really hopeless.
Uranium is all over. While I was in
Afghanistan, ninety-five percent of the time I was wearing a mask. And not necessarily that it worked, or has worked, but just to give myself peace of mind, I would have two masks, one of them on another, covering my nose and my mouth. And when I slept, I would not wear a mask.
The people though? They don't know about this�the issues of Uranium and so forth? That's a luxury for them. They're focusing about food, about shelter, about medical care. Those issues are beyond them.
Even the government did not want to address this until I pushed them, and until I brought the issue to the office of the President there as well as to the Ministry of Public Health. They did not want to touch the issue! They said, "Oh that's controversial". Well, controversial rather what? "That affects the people, so what the hell is wrong with you people?" I told them!
Those who are in power are cowards and they have their own interests to worry about rather than to worry about what's really going on.
CG: - I was floored about the numbers of early deaths. Nearly one-hundred percent don't expect to survive past forty-five and one in five children don't make it until age five. Is this correct?
MDM: - Yeah, one in five children don't make it to their fifth birthday. And also the projection of them dying after the fifth year is extremely high and childbirth mortality for women is extremely high. Statistically, from whatever angle, this is a disaster for the population.
This whole notion of re-building and reconstruction is nothing but a total lie. It has not amounted to anything. If you go to
Kabul, you see a few buildings, shiny buildings built here and there. These are built by individuals who have money� actually drug dealers - they try to launder their money into construction. But those places are far, far away from the common people, who have no access to it and have no business to go in there.
They worry about and hope that somebody will come out of those places, and they will donate a few bucks to them and then they could go and eat.
You've seen the pictures of the trash in
River is full of trash but it also serves as the facility where vegetation is stored. So it's a natural place for the inception of infection and the dispersion and infusion of infection in neighborhoods across the city.
CG: - Where are they getting their fresh water?
MDM: - There is no fresh water. There are some wells dug in houses they end up using. One reservoir in
Kabul is in complete disrepair that needs to be fixed and hasn't been fixed. The drought, of course, makes the situation even worse� but clean water? The provision of clean water is out of the reach of the common people. If people got clean water at least that would literally reduce the death rate and minimize the conditions such as diarrhea, dysentery, and other things from which they lose their lives � the children!
It is not very expensive for clean water. They could produce clean water. There is no budget for them because every amount of money that's donated from abroad has to be approved for certain projects. If that project is not in the domain of acceptability of the donor, irrespective of how needed it is for the common people, it will not be implemented.
Kabul 's Mayor's office does not have the money to clean the city, does not have the money to build the streets, does not have the money to do the basic neighborhood functions. It's only geared for the projects of what the donors want to build. And what the donors want to build, most of the time, do not really reflect what's needed in the country."
So the question remains, with heavy military combat dispersing toxic, radioactive Uranium contamination in the air, high rates of cancer, short life expectancy and high death rates for children, filthy polluted rivers and a vast shortage of clean, uncontaminated water, the necessity of finding shelter at night in bombed-out buildings and begging in the streets for a loaf of bread�what sort of life is this for any human to endure?
Is a quick demise perhaps sometimes more of a blessing � a more humane way to be allowed to go and meet one's maker�than a life filled with protracted, unfathomable amounts of hunger, thirst, grief and illness, of endless pain, misery, hopelessness, and suffering?
After hearing what has happened in
Afghanistan since its invasion and perpetual occupation, one can not help but ponder if the most brutal butchers of all are not the ones presented to
America as the villains? Perhaps even more heinous than those who do their killing swiftly are those who work hard to ensure a horrifically obscene and long, drawn-out process of death for the citizens of
On Saturday, May 19, Dr. Miraki will be speaking at the National DU Conference http://www.wfn.org/2007/05/msg00127.html at
University, along with Dr. Doug Rokke and Cathy Garger. The conference is being sponsored by the Stop-DU Campaign of the Christian Peacekeeper Team and First
Cathy Garger is a freelance writer, public speaker, and certified personal coach. Living in the shadow of the national District of Crime, Cathy is constantly nauseated by the stench emanating from the nation's capital during the
DC, federal work week. Cathy can be contacted at email@example.com .