By Kumar David –
There are all sorts of rights that must be cherished such as democracy and cultural rights and mores. By “cultural” I mean religious freedoms, language rights and the opportunity for ethnic communities (Lenin’s “Nations”) to administer their affairs. Basic human rights (definition well known) trump them all. No crude and odious religious edict should prohibit women from schooling, working and dressing as they wish; no religious opium should prevent other opium smokers from sniffing a powder of their choice; no race should be allowed to lord it over others in matters of state, and governments must encourage and foster all national languages. To this extent we must stand shoulder to shoulder with enlightenment values, liberalisms genuflection to the bourgeoisie notwithstanding. Despite liberal’s piety to capitalist economics we must make common cause with liberal activists who campaign on these issues.
What triggered this column is that liberal democratic institutions like the UN and EU and the world’s capitalist governments have got the Taliban government on its knees; they should keep it there until it is compelled to give Afghan women their rights, form an inclusive government that with other ethnic groups and Shia Muslims and terminate the lunacy of Sharia law. I know I am hoping for too much; power flows out of the barrel of a gun, the Taliban after 20 years won the war against the Americans and now hold a near monopoly of armed power. To win human and democratic rights by internal struggle alone will involve the people of Afghanistan in protracted, bloody struggle. True women’s movements are simmering and there have been sporadic outbursts in minority dominated regions, but international pressure will help grind-down these mad mullahs.
There are counterbalancing reactionary forces at work internationally; China will cheer any scoundrel useful in its own foreign policy objectives and the Russians seem quite dopey but these two are outliers in terms of influence in helping the Taliban even to crawl. I do not need to repeat what’s all over the news; 18 million near starvation, 9 million children destitute, gun-wielding Taliban thugs unpaid for two months and hospitals sans medicines. This is why plane loads of unwashed and bearded mullahs have been flocking to Qatar beseeching anybody they run into on the way to rescue their regime before there is a general uprising in the country. The UN’s António Guterres and the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen have struck the right note: “Ok there will be money for the desperate population; it will be channelled through and administered by humanitarian agencies of our choosing. You Taliban buggers keep out, you will not be allowed to touch it”. Taliban leaders can if they chooses quite easily get on the inside track of this equation by conceding ethnic-community and women’s rights, jettisoning crazy Islamic excesses and – this optional – taking a shower with plenty of soap and cold water.
Of course you have seen through me. This column in not only about a bleeding heart for the miserable people of Afghanistan, it is also to encourage the international community (meaning to be perfectly frank, liberals everywhere and capitalist states) to increase pressure on the Gotabaya Regime to cut back its attacks on human rights and democratic rights in Sri Lanka. I will not make a list; the pages of Colombo Telegraph are replete with new examples every day and most recently Gota seems to be preening the military for some dangerous move. My point in this column today is that not enough pressure, and not decisive pressure is being exerted to penetrate thick militarised skulls and Vistas of Splendour quacks. Let’s hope that success in Afghanistan will embolden the UNHRC, UN and EU to redouble pressure on the Lankan regime.
And the fight against dictators, authoritarian regimes and presidents who subvert elections must be globalised. Trump is the example from which such lice may take encouragement. If this is the state of Congress, one of two of America’s big political duopoly and about 60 million voters, the future of mankind on planet earth looks grim. These trends must be fought to the ground wherever possible, not an inch must be given. The Taliban and Gotabaya must be forced to lower their pugnacity.