For years, Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, has been a war zone. It has survived invasions, civil wars, and now it is being terrorized by constant sounds of explosions and bullets being sprayed everywhere. However, through it all, it is a 3,500-year-old city that will not die.
Kabul is no stranger to danger. On Sept. 8, 2016, the city experienced another IED blast. An IED, known as an improvised explosive device, is usually a bomb that is constructed and deployed by methods other than those used in standard military action. However, in Kabul, they are being used in terroristic attacks. According to Daily News and Analysis, on Thursday, September 8, a magnetic mine, placed on a bike exploded, on 5th and Taimani Street.
Early reports verified that three individuals sustained injuries in the explosion. It appears that the blast went off as masses congregated to honor the Bicentennial of Ahmad Shah Masoud’s death. He was a leading light in the fight to rid the Russians from Afghanistan in the 1980s. However, in the 1990s, he became a notorious enemy of the Taliban.
Nevertheless, before the name, Taliban, even existed the city experienced other forms of extremist attacks. Terrorism that goes all the way back to the Islamization and Mongol invasion in A.D. 642. Throughout the next centuries, Kabul would be dominated by the Khwarazmshahs, Khiljis Samanids, Ghurids, Khiljis, Ghaznavids, and Qarlughids. In the 13th century, the Mongol mass almost wiped out the city.
During the 17th century, Kabul was conquered by Nadar Shadar and his forces until his assassination. However, the city did not have long to rest before the British-led Indian militaries captured it in 1879. The British stay was short-lived, as most were massacred and few escaped.
Almost 100 years later, on Dec. 24, 1979, the Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan and Kabul was dominated by Soviet Armed Forces, as the city became their command center. Fighting was typically in the rural areas and other important cities, therefore, the Soviets thought things were fine and peaceful in Kabul. However, this was deceiving as assassination attempts, kidnappings, and guerilla attacks were taking place and spreading through Kabul like wildfire. The Russian occupation lasted 10 years before a jihadist group, called the Mujahideen, fought to run them out.
Mujahideen forces controlled Kabul, wreaking havoc and almost destroying 80 percent of the city. Then, the Taliban took over in 1996, running a reign of terror until 2001. It was under the Taliban’s new strict Islamic Sharia rule that took away the freedom of the Kabul citizens. Shaving beards became illegal, entertainment was restricted, women could no longer work, and everyday life was micro-controlled.
From 1992 to 1996, a civil war broke out. Thousands were killed, and there was a massive exodus of refugees. However, the U.S., in 2001, ended the harsh rule of the Taliban and ushered in a new era. War-torn Kabul was able to make some positive progress, and millions of emigrants returned to their home nation.
How did a city that was once known as the Paris of Central Asia, turn into a scene of fatal suicide bombings conducted by the Taliban anti-government group?
There may not be a definitive answer. What is clear, however, is that Kabul is recognized as a battle-damaged city. No amount of U.S. involvement and soldiers on the ground have been able to fully liberate Kabul, which is now one of the world’s most dangerous places to live.
As of this report, an ordinary life, in Kabul, includes walking down a street and witnessing terrorist attacks on embassies and hotels. These are typically places where the security forces are struggling to reinstate the façade of order. It appears that the Taliban is gaining more ground every day. On July 23, 2016, nearly 80 individuals were killed and 231 injured, when suicide bombers struck during a massive protest in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
A month before that, on the morning of April 19, Taliban revolutionaries assaulted a security team in charge of defending government leaders, in Kabul. This attack murdered 64 people and injured 347. This was recognized as the biggest attack on an inner-city area since 2001.
In the midst of thousands of years of conquest, invasions, and terrorist attacks, for many, there is still hope for Kabul. There is a new movement that is embracing a new beginning. It is a new birth from evolving artists and musicians that have found a way to find comfort in a unique garden, known as “The Garden of Peace and Hope.”
Here, in a place that was once a run-down building and a mound of garbage, these artists have come and admired its beauty that is untouched by the evil outside. However, these performers, who understand the great travail, oppression, and numerous decades of torment, have taken it upon themselves to protect the creation of this garden. They are determined to ensure it will be able to stand as a symbol of hope and peace.
A local artist said: “This garden should replicate joy and freedom of spirit; that which provides hope and inspiration to all of us that live here.”
Therefore, it appears that Kabul is not just a dangerous city that needs to be forgotten. It is a city that is resilient and full of survivors. Kabul is a city that refuses to die.
By Jomo Merritt
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Stars and Stripes: ‘Security incident’ puts US Embassy, NATO base in Kabul on brief lockdown
CNN.com: Kabul: Third bomb strikes Kabul, Afghanistan
Daily News: Twin Taliban blasts in Kabul kill 24, injure 91
Image Courtesy of Ninara’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License