Occupied Afghanistan celebrates “independence”

Note the last sentence of this Aug. 19 AFP account. Do you think Hamid Karzai grasps the irony?

Afghanistan celebrates independence from Britain
President Hamid Karzai led Afghanistan’s Independence Day celebrations on Sunday with a call to the country’s young people to educate themselves to preserve their freedom.

Karzai told tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital’s sports stadium that Afghanistan’s youth should “spend every second of their lives in learning” to maintain the country’s cherished independence.

“To maintain Afghanistan’s independence the youth of the country the youngsters must spend every second of their lives in learning, and better learning,” Karzai told the gathering.

An enthusiastic Karzai asked the crowd to repeat after him “we want to learn and live better.”

“Do you want to learn, become engineers, doctors and experts?,” Karzai asked the crowd. “Say yes, loudly, Yes,” Karzai exhorted. The crowd applauded and shouted: “yes, yes, we do.”

Reiterating condemnation of Taliban attacks on the 88th anniversary of full sovereignty from Britain, he warned there were still “plots against our independence by the enemies of this land.”

Karzai denounced “the killing of innocent people — men, women and children,” referring to the 15 victims, including 11 civilians, killed in a Taliban-linked suicide bombing in southern Afghanistan on Saturday.

Although Afghanistan was never a full colony of Britain, London under a treaty controlled its foreign affairs until agreeing to allow full independence on August 19, 1919.

Afghans had earlier fought three wars against the British, the first starting in 1838 and the last ending months before the 1919 agreement.

Russia invaded the country in December 1979, kicking off a 10-year rebellion that eventually forced the Red Army to withdraw in 1989. The Soviet withdrawal heralded a civil war that killed tens of thousands of civilians.

The emergence of the Taliban brought about a brief period of stability after civil war had soured a rebel victory over a Soviet invasion force, but the Islamist extremists’ sponsorship of Al-Qaeda eventually led to their overthrow in the US-led invasion in late 2001.

“Taliban and terrorists had captured Afghanistan under a plot which was defeated with the support of international community and Afghan sons,” Karzai said.

Sunday’s ceremony included a military parade by the newly-trained Afghan national army and police being trained under an internationally-backed effort to help the Central Asian nation stand on its own feet after decades of conflicts.

Some 5,000 British troops currently form part of a 50,000-strong international force deployed in Afghanistan to combat a Taliban insurgency.

See our last post on Afghanistan.