The war in Afghanistan is an unmitigated disaster. It deeply shames me as an Australian that we have trooops in the country contributing to the carnage. Pull out now.
The Guardian published on the weekend a moving essay about the effects of last week’s NATO missile attack in Kunduz. The stories of civilian suffering is all-too-rarely examined:
Jamaludin, a 45-year-old farmer, had been praying in the mosque when he heard the sound of a tractor. “I went home and found that three of my brothers and my nephew had left with my tractor,” he said. “I called my brother to ask him where they had gone. He said the Taliban had asked him to bring the tractor and help them pull a tanker.” Jamaluddin was alarmed. “I asked him what tanker? It wasn’t our business, let the Taliban bring their own tractors. I called him back an hour later. He said they couldn’t get the trucks out and the Taiban wouldn’t let him leave, so I went back to sleep.”
Realising the tankers were stuck, the Taliban decided to siphon off the fuel and asked people to come and help themselves to the ghanima, the spoils of war. There would be free fuel for everyone.
Assadullah, a thin 19-year-old with a wisp of black hair falling on his forehead, got a call from a friend who said the Taliban were distributing free fuel.
“I took two fuel cans with me, I called my brother and a friend and we went. There was a full moon and we could see very clearly. There were a lot of people already there. They were pushing and shoving, trying to reach the tap to fill their jerry cans. We are poor people, and we all wanted to get some fuel for the winter.
“I filled my cans and moved away while my brother was pushing to fill his. I walked for a hundred, maybe two hundred metres.”
It was about 1am on Friday that the aircraft attacked and incinerated the stolen fuel tankers. “There was a big light in the sky and then an explosion,” Assadullah said. “I fell on my face. When I came to, there was thick smoke and I couldn’t see anything. I called, I shouted for my brother but he didn’t answer. I couldn’t see him. There was fire everywhere and silence and bodies were burning.”