Saturday, September 24, 2011


DO TERRORISTS make good rulers? I know they are good at terror but do they actually administer the country they have won over by terrorism? Do they feed and educate the people they rule? We know from their latest statements that they love dying while the Americans love living. It is much harder to live than to die.
I have yet to figure out how the Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. I have read countless articles on them but they remain veiled behind their beards and clerical garb. I know they issued edicts frequently. These edicts were terse and mainly had to do with their religious beliefs. Like the edicts that ordered the destruction of the giant statues of the Buddha. The Taliban spent a fair amount of money and ammunition on that exercise, despite the worlds protests. What did that achieve? Did it feed the starving people or give them employment? It was said to be destruction for the sake of the purity of Afghanistan.
Then the Taliban issued other edicts, equally terse but quite terrifying. Men had to grow beards to a certain length. I scanned the articles to discover what length, but they failed to give me the information. So a man could be walking down the street ith a four-inch beard and the Religious Police could whip out a scale, measure it and whip him if it was too short or too long.
Women had been driven behind the veil. They could not work, they could not get an education. They could not leave their homes without the Talibans written permission. According to an eyewitness report, a woman taking her dying child to the nearest hospital was stopped by a Taliban cop. When she pleaded with him that her child was dying and that she did not have a pass, he hit her and tried to drive her back home. She dodged past him and began running, with her child in her arms, to the hospital. The cop shot her in the back and walked away.
Having come to power through a brutal civil war, I have yet to figure out how the Taliban ruled their country. I have not read about a Finance Minister making any economic statements or planning for the future. Was there a Finance Ministry? The Taliban made a lot of their money out of drugs enough to pay for shells and bullets. I know there was a Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but it must have been one of the most under-employed ministries in the world. The only foreign affairs they deal with related to Pakistan.
I had noticed how extremely well-fed the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan was. He looked like he was fed well with naan, butter chicken, lamb kebabs and lassi. In contrast, his compatriots in Kabul looked undernourished and thin. I was surprised they still remained upright. Equally emaciated were the two million refugees in Pakistans various refugee camps. The Taliban, naturally, dened their existence.
Terror and religion have long been bedfellows. The Roman Catholic Church practised its brand of terror the Inquisition in the 13th century. If you were judged a heretic, you were burned at the stake. Such persecution arises out of a sense of deep insec urity and the fear that the prevailing beliefs will be diluted by mans progress. In those days, only the priests were educated and gave their own interpretations of the religious texts. Gradually, through education and the spread of information, they los t this monopoly over knowledge.
Today, Islam is also going through a period of insecurity. It wants to protect its followers from all the contamination of a more powerful culture. The Taliban clerics learn the Koran by heart and are prone to interpreting it whichever way they choose. In India, we have the saffron brigade that also wants to regress to the golden age of Hinduism. If they grab power (as it is attempting), we would have our own version of the Taliban dictating the way we dress and behave.
Change frightens people and our world is constantly changing. Although, at times, it looks as if it is for the worse, huge numbers of people have found a better life than their fathers and grandfathers. And with change they abandon the old ways and take up the new to fit into their increased economic freedom. It is possible that religion becomes less important in their lives.
As Karl Marx wrote: Religion is the opiate of the masses. For those religious fanatics everywhere, it still is.

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