The West wrong to punish Afghanistan for its Islamic tradition

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London-based GB News channel has ruffled feathers with its raw take on current affairs, paving a way for a far-right, pro-Brexit agenda that is set to dominate the UK politics for a while longer as long as the Conservatives are in power.

Unlike the mainstream media outlets, GB News seems set to do news their own way, veering off somewhat from the traditional Fourth Estate solidarity.

Alastair Stewart, a GB News presenter, recently did what the new channel – launched only in June as a free-to-air, spectacularly ripped into the US President Joe Biden for the manner of the much-maligned American forces pull-out of Afghanistan recently.

Stewart bemoaned the fact that President Biden refused to extend the eventual withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan to beyond the original deadline of August 31. The UK and NATO allies had behind-the-scenes pleaded with the Biden administration to prolong their presence at least around Kabul airport so as to whisk out as many foreign nationals and Afghans wishing to start a new life abroad as refugees as possible. The plea fell on deaf ears. It sparked a much more open condemnation from the likes of GB News and Stewart, who said: “The rejection from Biden was brutal, and humbling for leaders, ours included. It was stark and with it came a brutal lesson, the United States has changed.”

The presenter said not only was President Biden wholly embracing of his predecessor, Donald Trump’s America First policy. He instead seems to have tweaked it to the moment, making it look like “America alone”. This posture, the news channel argued, is sure to drive a wedge between Washington and its NATO allies and the UK. It is certain to affect and influence the Geopolitics among the traditional allies in the North going forward. It is certain, too, to have a major bearing on the complex North-South relations. Said GB News channel’s Stewart: “Now shaken to the roots by an America, pulling its full weight in public, and even global gaze.”

There has been a markedly noticeable exasperation with President Biden’s apparent cut-and-run strategy from Afghanistan. The chaos ensued at the Kabul international airport when scores of desperate Afghans flooded that airport in a bid to be let in cargo airplanes out of their own country.

Some died due to stampede or discomfort caused by over-crowding, more than 170 later died when suicide bombers detonated their vests. The tragedy was brought closer to home in the US when 13 servicemen also lost their lives in the bomb attack.

The result of the fall-out from the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has given rise to tense relations between Washington and her Western allies. The whole debacle has also seen President Biden’s popularity take a tumble among US citizens. Some even heckled President Biden recently whilst on his visit to the recently storm-devastated locations.

Now, rafters of articles have been written about the US pull-out from Afghanistan, and the uncertain future the debacle has created and left behind. Fears of Afghanistan becoming a haven for terrorist organisations have been bandied about. But most of all, deep concerns about a probable civil war in the wake of the new interim Taliban government have no woman in its ranks and in fact claims that the Taliban government believes that women should not be involved in sport.

This is where cultures clash: During America’s 20 years of the occupation of Afghanistan, which took place in the aftermath of the attack on the Twin Towers in 2011, the fundamental fabric of Afghanistan’s lifestyles was deliberately altered to come in line with the notion of Western civilization.

Many Afghan women could move freely in public without covering their faces. Many men, too, adapted to the new way of life, a life of freedom and liberation from the Taliban’s toppled regime of 20 years ago.

But now that the same regime has returned to power and declared the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, women’s bodies not fully covered may no longer be dangled in public.

President Biden has argued in his impassioned plea to the American public opinion shapers that the US never went into Afghanistan to engage in a programme of nation-building. The US invaded the country to oust the Taliban and kill Osama bin Laden and nullify any future potential terror attack on the US emanating from Afghanistan.

Yet the stark truth under the effective US rule of Afghanistan over the last 20 years Islamic ways of life were grossly undermined during a ferocious effort to westernise the Afghan people. It is no wonder that even as we speak, the recognition of the Taliban government is conditional to accepting and recognising mainly the rights of women and men according to Western standards, and not Islamic ways of life.

The punishment and early warning signs to the Taliban are already there for all to see: None of the Western nations are showing signs of recognising the Taliban government. They have all adopted a wait-and-see strategy. The World Bank has withheld funding to humanitarian programmes in Afghanistan. The health facilities are all but collapsing, with no medicines in hospitals and clinics. The Taliban are being told to allow Afghan professionals, including health workers, to leave the country if they so wish, or else sanctions are a certainty.

China and Russia are the two global powers to recognise the Taliban government. Beijing said in a statement China recognises the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the right of the country’s citizens to determine their own destiny.

Both Russia and China have indicated their willingness to assist in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. The International Society of the Red Cross has also appealed to the international community not to turn its back on Afghanistan.

I have previously argued that it is in situations such as these that the real authority of the UN ought to come into play and be seen. The US needs to take a lead in playing an oversight role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. The US and its allies should not supersede the authority and importance of the UN.

It is a pity that the West and their self-declared role as the guardian of the world’s standards have systematically been allowed to undermine the very existence of the UN. Soon, the multilateralism that has held the world together since the end of World War 2 stands at the risk of being replaced by dangerous foreign policies of the West. It is mind-boggling that the West does not wish to recognise cultures that do not conform to their values and standards, stopping short of openly labelling different cultures barbaric and backward.