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Editorial: Afghan Mona Lisa

Afghans are going through the most difficult time. The country’s history has never recorded such a period of despair and bloodshed. In past the enemies were known and they were outsiders. From Alexander to the Soviet Union, all were seen as invaders. Indeed they were the aggressors. They have oppressed Afghan people to either expand their sphere of influence or territory. The nation showed great strength and unity to defeat them. In some cases foreign support was also involved. But Afghans remained in the same line. That is why this was the period of harmony and tranquility for Afghans. They shared same goal—to defend the country at all cost.

After defeat of the Red Army, local groups had drawn daggers against each other which led to civil war. This was the point breaking. Hundreds of thousands of people left the country to seek refuge in Iran, Pakistan, Europe, the United States and other countries. National treasure was plundered and the president was killed. Expensive machinery was sold in the neighboring country. Even orchards and vineyard cannot escape the violence. It was hope that the civil war, fueled by internal and external factors, will come to an end after fall of the Taliban regime. Unfortunately, it did not happen.

Afghans are fighting an imposed war. The war is fought simultaneously on different fronts. Afghan economy, culture, civilians, security forces and history is under attack. Therefore, Afghans abroad are also facing difficult situation, especially in Pakistan and Iran. The latter sending them to fight in Syria while the former is harassing them and violate their fundamental human rights. Islamabad is showing great hospitality and generosity to only those Afghans who are ready to take arms against their own country.

Arrest of the renowned Afghan woman, Sharbat Gula, has opened the lid on inhumane polices of Pakistan toward Afghan refugees and the government. Ms Gula who is known as Afghan Mona Lisa has suffered a lot. She was involved in a case and put behind bars by some Pakistani officials who wanted to get promotion and fame. It is an easy way of publicity. Despite her ignorance of the rules, love for Pakistan as a Muslim country, fame and deteriorating health condition, she was arrested. Gula is the sole breadwinner of the family. Who made Pakistani citizenship card in the first place for her? Why there is no information about them? Why Pakistani security agencies have not arrested a single government official in this case? The widow received some relief because of Afghan Ambassador’s efforts. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal had not only raise the issue with Pakistani officials but also brought their attention to the honor by hosting Sharbat Gula.

Pakistani officials have realized it but it is too late now. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government offered assistance to Sharbat Gula which she denied. Of course, she will deny because the widow has been mentally tortured and harassed. Not only Pakistani officials hurt her good feelings for the country but also a senior journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai who has been accused of pocketing the money sent for her by the National Geographer photographer Steve McCurry.

It is time to bring back her home with dignity. Afghan government should not only repatriate her but also provide necessary facilities including home, job and healthcare services. She is the image of Afghanistan. We shall not let the image to become dull because of our inattention.

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