As far as cautionary tales go, this one is worth noting: Afghans celebrate all their modern-age anniversaries of liberation, except one. The day of victory over the British in 1919 is commemorated in August. The fall of Najibullah’s Kremlin-backed regime in April 1992 is marked as well. The exception is the 2001 ouster of the Taliban from Kabul by the US-led coalition.
October 7 may have been a seminal day for aid workers, soldiers and diplomats in Afghanistan, but the 10th anniversary of the US-led intervention exposed mixed feelings among many Afghans about the ongoing presence of foreign troops. Underscoring the diverse nature of opinion, 300-odd protestors marked the anniversary by demanding an end to the military intervention. At the same time, a network of women’s groups protested against the pending withdrawal of foreign troops, fearing rights progress since the Taliban fled will be quickly reversed without NATO to keep order.
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Aunohita Mojumdar is an Indian freelance journalist based in Kabul.