Love on the Run

5 May

Note: This was originally written on April 15 (Tax Day!) and I forgot to hit “publish.” I still think the story of Gul and Abdul is worth telling.

With all the excitement with the arrival of the First Dog, the brazen defiance of the Somali pirates, and the ongoing financial crisis, it’s easy to miss things when reading the news.  Sure, we hear about child abductions, court cases, and what’s going on with the military at home and abroad.  Other stories are important because they’re absurd or unique or strike close to home, but this one is tragic.

It would have been easy for me to miss the headline:  “Afghan Taliban Kill Young Couple for Trying to Elope.”  But I didn’t; I clicked on it and realized the story of these two young lovers needed to be retold.

I don’t know how 19 year-old Gul Pecha and 21 year-old Abdul Aziz first met.  Gul, I imagine, enchanted Abdul with her feminine charms.  Or perhaps Abdul was a man that Gul knew her whole life.  Of course, living in the untamed areas of southwestern Afghanistan, which is still ruled by the Taliban, was risky.  Women are still forced to wear head coverings here and Muslim clerics rule with a legalistic iron first!  Somehow in all the chaos around them, Gul and Abdul found one another, fell in love, and decided to journey together to Iran to be married. Isn’t that romantic?

Unfortunately, their families didn’t see it that way.  Villagers from their hometown of Nimroz brought the pair back.  The couple was either handed over to the Taliban by their neighbors or seized by a militant group.  Gul and Abdul were then gunned down by AK-47’s by a Taliban Firing Squad–all for trying to elope.

To say the couple was in love is speculation on my part, but why on earth would two people risk their lives to elope if that wasn’t the case?  Perhaps Gul was pregnant.  Maybe Gul was promised to another man or Addul was to marry another woman.  Whatever the reason, they wanted to get the heck out of Nimroz and they wanted to get married.  Sadly, Gul and Abdul were denied both.

Here in the United States you can go to Las Vegas to get married in a drive-through by Elvis and you can get divorced almost as easily.  If only Gul and Abdul were in the U.S., they could have had a wedding–a real wedding–not a dash through the desert. They knew the risk; they had to.  Yet they went forward with their plan, which ended up costing them their lives.

Happily ever after isn’t supposed to end in gunfire.   But this isn’t a fairy tale romance; it’s the real plight of a couple who lived and died in the lawless borders of Afghanistan–executed for trying to get married!

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No Responses to “Love on the Run”

  1. TemporalEarthling June 19, 2009 at 6:35 PM #

    A nation is a hard thing to build. A poor nation is even harder to build. Afghanistan was a nation in the process of getting built, ascending that path precariously, haltingly, but deliberately. It wasn’t perfect, no nation is. It wasn’t even good enough in terms of standards of living, social justice, basic necessities of life. But it was getting better, slowly and surely.

    Then outsiders, with their own selfish agendas that had nothing to do with the welfare of the nation or its people, got involved. Afghanistan became an unwitting pawn-proxy in the war between the the United States and Russia. Between the two of them this babe-in-the-woods of a nation got the crap kicked out of it. Lately, with Russia long out of the picture, the good old US of A, this paragon of freedom where liberty grows on trees and you can get married and divorced so easily, continues to kick the corpse of the former nation of Afghanistan. There is no nation there. And there won’t be either for a long time, as long as the likes of America continue to torture and brutalize this portion of the world, instead of taking full financial responsibility for its condition and and fixing it from the ground up (that would actually cost a lot less than its military adventures … but that is another story). And in the absence of there being a nation — which means things like schools, and cops and courts and army and real government (not a puppet one) and real economy and hospitals and roads and all those things we have here that help us get to Vegas as and when we please — thugs and criminals like the Taliban will run the show. Shouldn’t really come as a surprise. The same thing would happen to us if someone came in from outside and destroyed the essential bits and pieces of our nation.

    • Amy June 19, 2009 at 7:17 PM #

      I’m curious to see what the cost of rebuilding Afghanistan from the ground up versus military intervention would actually be–do you have any information on that? Also, thanks for the interesting read on the country itself.

  2. TemporalEarthling July 16, 2009 at 3:00 AM #

    How does one figure that out? I can make an indirect back of the envelop guesstimate. Pakistan, the country next door, is far better functioning by a considerable degree. If Afghanistan could be brought up to just that state, that would be a huge improvement. What does it cost Pakistan’s government to keep it at that level? Last year the budget was US$ 36 billion. Keep in mind that this number is inflated by that country’s own insane aggressive defense budget. If you remove the defense portion, you are left with 28 billion. Now consider that Pakistan has a population that is 6 times larger. So now we divide the number by 6, giving us about 4.5 billion. Pakistan has infrastructure, Afghanistan has pretty much none (although non-existent facilities also don’t cost anything to maintain), so for rebuilding lets triple the number. We get 14 billion dollars per year. Intelligently done it will I believe cost much less than that.

    Compare that to what we’ve been spending blowing the country up: http://www.armscontrolcenter.org/policy/iraq/articles/supplemental_war_funding/ . Note that this is just the current cost. Future costs such as cost of taking care of vets, interest on debt etc isn’t included. a

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