Afghanistan is a country blessed abundantly by Mother Nature; destroyed by Human Nature.
We decided to explore Afghanistan through the eyes of its residents, not through the Western forces present there.
‘Dispatches- Behind Enemy Lines- Afghanistan’ is a documentary allowing us to take a dangerous journey into the land along with the Mujahideen.
The Soviets had fought a war against Afghanistan in 1979, and history stubbornly sticks around the country in the visible form of war wreckage and buried ammunition. Afghanistan is still at war.
Will calling the war, ‘Holy War’, make destruction and fighting any much sweeter or justifiable?
South and North
Initially, the more arid Southern part of the country was under the oppression of the ‘Holy War’. Now, the Mujahideen ( people who struggle and fight the Holy War for Allah), have moved North too and claimed territories outside the cities. A compound of a UN built school has also been ceased by the Holy Fighters.
The Mujahideen are not just people living in Afghanistan who have taken up their arms to fight in response to the invaders. People from Chechnya (South-West Russia), Uzbekistan and other Muslim nations flock to Afghanistan, especially during the warmer times of the year, to help with fighting the Holy War.
Special Mujahideen, mainly Arabs from Yemen and Saudi Arabia,could have been part of the Al-Qaeda and were difficult to strike a conversation with in the presence of the Media.
Commander Mirwais, the overall leader of the Northern battlefront who claims to have over 4000 men under his control, was a foreign businessman importing cars from Europe before he made the decision to give his life to fighting the Holy War.
“Jihad has become a duty for all of the Afghan nation because the foreign and non-believer countries have attacked us. They’re getting rid of our religion and cultural values in Afghanistan. They’ve increased obscenity and want to force Western democracy on our nation.”
A young and newly-joined fighter, one of the most revered in the group, smiled saying, “I check my gun. I don’t want it to jam when fighting the non-believers.”
Jihad as a Duty
An Al-Qaeda representative who was a rare individual who agreed to speak in the presence of the Media said: “ We have a duty to come to Afghanistan to fight the non-believers and protect the Muslims.
When asked how long he would be willing to fight, he said on behalf of the others, that they would stay until martyrdom or until “they get America, Europe and the non-believers out of the country.”
Do the Afghan Muslims feel protected?
Perhaps, the Muslims in the country do feel protected and see it as their duty to be grateful towards the Mujahideen who fight for their safety as the video crew films them rushing out to bring food to the fighters.
Or is the giving of food only existent because the people feel fearful towards the fighters?
After all, fear can uncomfortably exist alongside respect.
Suppression of Desires
“What is your wish?” a reporter asks a boy below the age of 12.
Prompted by the Afghan men at the sides, his eyes wander around his surroundings emptily as he says, “jihad”, with a suppressed smile on his face.
What dreams the boy might have had- we will never really know. All we know is that he suppressed the mention of those dreams in the moment he hesitated before his lips parted to utter the word “jihad”.
Akin to him, don’t we suppress desires when we make decisions to pursue any path in life? I’m sure even the Mujahideen have to fight an internal battle to first suppress their desires before embarking on their duty of Jihad.
Suppression and Sacrifice of dreams is also one of the themes explored in the thirty minute short film Buzkashi Boys directed by Sam French.