Published August 31, 2021, 12:02 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

Before CNN and the worldwide web, news did not travel as fast as light. As it was an unknown entity, the name Afghanistan stood for anything that was strange, unfamiliar, far and far away. In short, Afghanistanism was the catch-all for whatever seemed or appeared  exotic.

When a batch of OFWs returned last week, their leader narrated how they escaped Kabul by dodging arrest and bullets like a scene straight out of a movie. The more fascinating story was about the unbelievable scale of corruption within the Afghan government which he implied led to its collapse and into the arms of the Taliban. As the expression of the week put it, Afghan soldiers just “melted away,” giving up without resistance, their president having fled the capital.

Afghanistan did not loom large in our minds until our workers found employment there. Pre-POEA, it was a place vaguely somewhere in the Middle East, a name without biblical references like Mesopotamia, Jordan, Israel, Palestine. (So exotic that a TV news reader could not pronounce the word correctly, for every time he said it, it came out as Aghfanistan).

According to the leader of the returning OFWs, a few of the kababayan left behind are not inclined to return home, better to die in a war (they say) than hunger in their homeland. That, too, says something about corruption – over here.

His description of the corruption there as worse than “the Philippines and Nigeria” makes it easier to imagine, in a manner of speaking, how the US spent $2.36 trillion in 20 years to train the Afghan military in the art of war and the civilian government in the science of governance (and democracy); when in the end, all that might was no match against a band of mujahideen (holy warriors) bent on setting up a caliphate without foreign meddling. The Americans were not the only ones who put their boots on the ground. British and Soviet armies did the same  before.

US President Biden vows to “hunt down” ISIS-K for the bombing of the Kabul airport last week that killed 13 GI’s and 90 Afghans. How will Taliban, now in control, treat IS? Both groups are Sunni, hardliners. A situation too exotic to contemplate for now.