follow up on expatriate responses

I got almost a dozen varied responses on my letter to expatriates.

Some responders saw part or more element of truth in it. Never the less, they raised some circumstantial concerns; most important of all is security. This means in the face of deteriorating security there is going to be less and less understanding and interaction.

I think trust and respect shall be brought to bear on security in a practical as well as principle fashion. Having that said the level of risk needs to be analysed and dealt with according the UN policy working group on the UN and Terrorism recommendation. The report published in 2002 says: ‘the protection and promotion of human rights under the rule of law is essential in the prevention of terrorism.’ This is not only because such an approach is right and any other method destroys the democratic credentials of the expatriates, but also because terrorists ‘exploits human rights violations to gain support for their cause’ which explains why Taliban elements are getting stronger in the south of Afghanistan where the coalition (and afghan forces) has killed, tortured and illegally detained and searched villagers.

As the secretary general Kofi Annan said in a speech to the security council in the beginning of 2002 “while we certainly need vigilance to prevent acts of terrorism, and firmness in condemning and punishing them, it will be self-defeating if we sacrifice other key priorities in the process” exactly, in the process of providing security Mr. Annan’s very own organisation has forgotten about the priorities. We need to find a common ground which reaches behind the particulars of our identity and culture, the overreaction to security challenges the ethical basis behind such a project, or at very least undermines it’s utility.

How can the expatriates build the trust and respect? I would say through showing a strong commitment to Afghanistan and human rights, and the full set of values that underpin the human rights ideal will have every chance of emerging from the current violence not weakened but rather strengthened, forged in the heat of battle into something tougher and therefore more durable. But this outcome is not preordained; I am sorry to say that I got responses which were not convinced about Afghanistan and human rights (I don’t want to make a direct quote). In the bigger picture back in your home there are very powerful elements (as well as in the rest of the world) that are not convinced that each of us deserves equality of esteem. ‘Conflict of Civilisations’ a famous essay by Huntington is a good proof of my point here.

With all due respect; what upsets me the most is the hypocrisy surrounding the whole security fuss. Expatriate’s exclusive outlooks have increased since last year while the security has got worst. Incidents happen, there is a lock down for a few days then everyone carries on as before. There is no learned lesson or change of tactic and life style.

The second kind of feedback said “no distinguish was made between expatriates. It was a sweeping generalisation which could be no where close to accuracy; as a matter of fact this kind of stereotyping is used when one fail to identify the right person”.

I have been stereotyped too, and I tried to prove differently. Attached please see some of my friends who believed it was unfair to stereotype me.

In my case stereotyping is not only about some guy sending an email; I abused by individual and institution.

I have been discriminated and was treated badly because I was from Afghanistan and I looked different. My very basic human rights were violated; I was subject to different treatment, which are politics and government laws. However the most crude and stinging form of abuse was individuals’ stereotypical conduct.

I felt it was unfair and I wanted to help them realise that. I delivered the letters from my friends, it didn’t help.

I appealed to justice and the court said that if I am stereotyped by an individual it’s not something claimable or if I am denied because of regulation then what I am saying is not enough to review government politics.

I am hoping that you could find a better way to deal with it.

I have a suggestion, maybe we write such letters for each other. But this is when we trust each other.

Another number of responders thought it was a pessimistic Afghan approach; it was a flawed criticism without offering a better approach. Let me quote something for you, “If the Afghan people do not want to engage themselves, to make the best use out of Help/Foreigners/Money: just tell us and it will be no problem, to spent it elsewhere.”

This is exactly what I was fearful of, the word foreigner, help and money has been used interchangeably as synonyms. From a rational point of view an individual or NGO has close to NO say where the money is spent. It’s a political decision. It’s very unlikely that you could convince your government who spend billions on military budgets to aid starving people in Liberia. or to cut down US military research which is 73% of all research projects and use that money to cure AIDS or cancer.

As a matter of fact Israel is the largest US aid recipient both in term of per capita and in blunk numbers in the world. Pointless to comment how Israel spend aid money and weapons.

Talking about aid weapons, quite a lot of that came to Afghanistan in the 80s and then some how the aid community forgot to send the aid medicine for the victims in the 90s, sugar coated and coloured with democracy, so they died.

Starting from the end of Second World War, throughout the cold war and until today western politicians’ weapon of choice hasn’t been WMD but aid money. International law has always been disregard under the pretext of providing or not providing aid.

Further more, why is the word “help” so often mentioned; it’s not only in my friend’s statement above but every aid website has a lot of it. This in itself is politicizing the aid mission; it makes the aid community a target of political opposition. “Help” becomes a hypocritical and double standard concept just like everything else in power politics game.

It will be more welcomed by Afghans if you say “I am here because I want to be and I enjoy it”

it sounds cooler too.

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