Tag Archives: afghanistan

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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Umm…there was a prison break in Afghanistan, right?

14 Jun

If you Google “Afghanistan prison break”, this is one of the images on the first page–a still from Fox’s show “Prison Break”…ironic, isn’t it?

If I hadn’t spent 20 minutes watching Fox News on Friday afternoon just before news of Tim Russert’s death broke, I wouldn’t have heard about it.  For some reason, media outlets seem to be burying what seems to be a major story–790 (maybe up to 1,100) prisoners escaped from a prison in Kandahar, a city in Afghanistan.

According to this tidbit, a suicide bomber drove right up on to the gates and bombs and rockets were used as well.  There’s no word how it all went down, but as many as 1,100 inmates may have escaped, including 390 Taliban.

While NATO and the media are pretending this little event isn’t first page news (read a Canadian news article about their commander’s comments), the Taliban is certainly taking credit saying that two suicide bombers and 30 “fighters” on motorbikes assaulted the prison.  Nine police officers were killed and another dozen were wounded.  Of course, the information’s just all over the place on this one.

The AP released this article, which ironically isn’t front page news.

I admit that it’s been six years since I earned my undergraduate degree in journalism, so I may be a little rusty…but isn’t this a big story?  Not to negate the other stories hitting headlines as my heart goes out to those in Iowa and other areas of the Midwest who are dealing with devastating flooding.

However, 1,100 alleged terrorists on the loose and a big-scale attack that was powerless to prevent the escape–that’s pretty dang newsworthy.

What’s behind the lack of coverage?  Does it prove that should keep military stationed overseas?  Does it show that no matter how hard we fight against the terrorists we can’t prevent every attack?  Or does it just scare us silly?   I don’t really know, but for a bunch of professionals dedicated to reporting world events, the U.S. media has crapped out on this one.

But, hey, you did hear that this Bush wants Osama Bin Laden caught before he leaves office, didn’t you? (Read this TOP NEWS story here). No word from the White House on the Kandahar escapees though.

1 in 5 Come Home Mentally Ill

18 Apr



“A war is like when it rains in New York and everybody crowds into doorways, ya know? And they all get chummy together. Perfect strangers. The only difference, of course, is in a war it’s also raining on the other side of the street and the people who are chummy over there are trying to kill the people who are over here who are chums.”–Hawkeye Pierce, “M*A*S*H”

When it comes to electronics, I’m pretty lame. I mean, I just got an iPod in March (thanks Sarah!) So it should come as no surprise that I own a Playstation 1 with a variety of outdated games including Spyro the Dragon, Tomb Raider (1 & 2), and Crash Bandicoot Racing. The last one is my favorite because cartoon characters drive little cars around and lob bombs, rockets, and other weapons at one another. I get a certain feeling of satisfaction running one of my opponents off the road with one of the weapons in my arsenal. I feel even better when I win. However, if it wasn’t a game (and didn’t involve cartoon characters), destroying others wouldn’t be so…fun. It would be devastating, heartbreaking, and just plain mean. But it’s just a game, right?

Sadly, every single stinkin’ day there’s a suicide bomber somewhere blowing up something. There are militants slaughtering the innocent. There are troops out in the desert being shot are by snipers. In reality, war is hell, and people are living it every day. Plus the technology developed to kill is far more sophisticated than my Playstation 1. With a press of a button, a missile can wipe out a village, like the people never existed.

Is it any wonder that one in five soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan now suffers from major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder? (Full story) Maybe the sickest “deaths” can’t even be measured in a body count. Perhaps the sickest death isn’t just a dead son or daughter in a body bag, but a man or woman suffering from mental illness. Despite how noble our military is, you can’t go to a place and kill people for six months and be OK. I believe it changes a human because it’s dehumanizing. We were never created to kill. It’s not part of the original design that God had for us. But because we are fallen, we are at war with ourselves, our world, and each other (Rob Bell points this out in Sex God).

Major depression and PTSD can be treated effectively. They can be medicated, get counseling, and go on to lead great lives. I’m not condemning our men and women in uniform to life in an asylum. I am merely saying that the cost of war isn’t just in dollars and death, but in the quality of life that exists for our soldiers once they do come home. I don’t know how I feel about the war in Iraq. I don’t know whether we should have gone in the first place. I don’t know what to do now and if immediate withdraw is the right option. I just don’t know. But I do know that once the troops do come home, we need to support them, love them, and help heal them however we can.

The other thing I know is this–I hate war. Yet I know that war will continue to be part of this present reality, as Jesus said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 24:6-7).

You know what I hate most about war? The fact that no one really wins. In the end our side has casualties and so does their side. And really, when you think about it, you have a 19 year-old American soldier fighting against a 19 year-old Iraqi or whoever. They’re shooting at each other and but they really have no beef with each other…just that the other one is the “enemy” because they’ve been told the other side is the enemy. Given another situation, and if they could communicate well enough, they’d probably go get a beer and pick up girls together. But war makes them enemies and they shoot to kill.

I hate war and I have what it does to the minds of the people who are fight in it.

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