Afghanistan dispatches: ‘when people are forced to live in an imaginary utopia, things always change for the worse’
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Afghanistan dispatches: ‘when people are forced to live in an imaginary utopia, things always change for the worse’

JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Here, a law student in Kabul offers his perspective on the recently-reported deaths from starvation of 8 children in Kabul. For privacy and security reasons we are withholding his name and institutional affiliation. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

Gender equality, human rights, freedom of speech and economic growth are things of the past now in Afghanistan. I reckon not many will be able to remember them after the years of oppression and religious extremism that may lie before us. But what cannot be forgotten is the immediate means of living—shelter, water, food and not being blown into pieces by a bomb.

Eight children died in the west of Kabul recently from cold, illness and lack of food – or simply maybe from disparity of not having someone to look up to and think things will be alright. These children were four boys and four girls who lived in a place called “Shahrak Etefaq”. They had lost their father to cancer and after a while, their mother died of a heart disease called cardiomegaly, in which the heart dilates and cannot properly function. These kids survived for a while after receiving food from neighbors who aren’t doing any better themselves. One of nights after a while of suffering and dismay all took their last breath and passed; the details of their condition at the time of death is not known. These kids were ethnically Hazara so naturally the Taliban and their officers did not make much fuss about it. Days after their passing a local reported it to Salaam Watandar, which is a domestic news outlet, and was their deaths were made public yesterday. One of the Hazara leaders who has fled the country now—Muhmmad Muhaqeq—verified the news and said this had happened witjin the jurisdiction of a group claiming to operate under Islamic law.   

I don’t think these eight poor souls really died of hunger or cold, however. I think they were killed by the decisions of men filled with apathy, violence and an unimaginable thirst for power. Men who decided to sack a nation behind closed doors and men who devoured millions of peoples’ dear lives on poorly constructed idealism in hopes of bringing a moral way of living and the rule of god’s law. I believe it is the same everywhere: when people are forced to live in an imaginary utopia, thing always change for the worse.

One could only wish that the story of eight small children’s deaths would be a made up or at least a solitary incident. However, long bazaars of household furniture and items being sold for food are in abundance throughout the city, children being sold in Ghoor province in fear of starvation, suicides, fathers selling their organs just to be able to provide for their families for a little longer and loud horrifying, distressing chants of music from Taliban fighters’ vehicles – all are the New Normal in Afghanistan.       

Is there a God anymore? And if there is a God, what can God do? Epicurus the ancient Greek philosopher argued that natural evil challenges our belief in God. He said “is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able but no willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil.” This makes me and many like me perplexed and uneasy, or thinking that these terrible incidents are not very far away from ourselves and our families. It makes us question the essence of whatever we’ve ever heard read or believed. But after a while of thinking about it, one could only conclude that this is a conversation for those with a full belly and a warm bed.