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The Continued Neglect & Repression Against Indigenous Rights Defenders In Jharkhand

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Indigenous people of Jharkhand have long been at the forefront of their struggle for rights. Their decades-old demand for ‘jal, jangal, jameen’ against nature’s growing privatization is resilient. A rise in activism in the state has given birth to several grass-root activists fighting for fundamental rights of physical survival, integrity, and cultural identity, referred to as Indigenous Human Rights Defenders [IHRD]. Nevertheless, their voices remain unheard at the national level due to the specific nature of their demands. While one can see a strong network, legal understanding, and organizational and financial support to the urban working-class movements, it fails to reach the defenders working in the remote districts. The lack thereof makes it difficult for them to amplify their voices.

The stories of Kamal Munda being branded as a Maoist and subjected to custodial torture (February 2021) for his involvement in protests against the abrogation of rights of the gram sabha and construction of police camps has failed to make enough noise in the national media. He was illegally detained, physically assaulted, forced to sign false confessions of being involved in Maoism. Gulab Chonde from Tuti Jharna village in Bokaro, Jharkhand, was allegedly tortured by police authorities for four days while held in illegal detention in August 2020. Conde is an active member of the Adivasi Mulwasi Adhikar Manch, involved in struggles of upholding land, water and forest rights of the people.

Due to being located in remote parts of the state, leading to unequal access to justice and lack of national attention, their struggle goes unnoticed. Professor Virginus Xaxa, former Deputy Director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati, remarks, “the resistance in Jharkhand remains invisible to the outside world as they do not appeal to the majority.”

There is a glaring distinctiveness in the activism in Jharkhand compared to the other more popular movements. An IHRD in the state is more likely to belong to marginalized communities or low-income families, sometimes living in the remotest part. Their geographically and politically marginalized status keeps their struggle away from national attention. While the more prominent persecution cases grab attention, many more face risks at the grass-root without the deserved attention.

International Status of ‘Indigenous Human Rights Defender’

The 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) recognizes individuals working to eliminate all human rights violations and fundamental freedoms. The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner commented on the criminalization of IHRD, indicating their persistent vulnerability and exclusion on account of being most disadvantaged and marginalized.

IHRDs are identified variedly worldwide, essentially referring to people fighting for indigenous people’s rights, often related to land, natural resources, and the environment. Front Line Defenders has accorded IHRDs as the second most targeted sector for HRDs. The HRD Memorial Project in 2020 mapped 331 HRDs killings across the world, 69% of whom worked on the land, environmental, or indigenous people’s right.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Indigenous People called for the Human Rights Council’s relevant special procedures for recommendations to protect  IHRDs. As the protection framework of IHRDs is still at the nascent stage at the international level, concrete protection remains utterly absent at the grass-root level.

The risk of defending rights in Jharkhand

Within the context of historical and structural violence against the indigenous people, the work of IHRDs is met with pervasive repression by the state actors. Given their demands for preserving land and resources, they are branded as ‘anti-development.’ The region’s social and economic context heightens their vulnerabilities as they are under closer scrutiny and distrust. It is common to either mistake them for or threaten the IHRDs with false charges of link with anti-government movements of Maoism and Naxalism. The state uses the crisis of these IHRDs as an opportunity, cracking down through means of threatening and police high handedness. 

The foremost reason for the continuing harassment is state repression, including illegal arrest and detention, threatening with legal action and false criminalization, smear campaign, raids, and physical attacks. 

In 2020, Ramji Munda was murdered in Khunti’s Ghagra region amidst a heavy police presence. Ramji was vocal in the Pathalgadi movement and highlighted cases of police atrocities. It is not an isolated case; instead, there is a persistent pattern of such killings. Sukhram Munda (2019), Suresh Oraon (2018), and Amit Topno (2018) were active voices, succumbed to death for their struggle for rights. The widespread killing of IHRDs in the state results from reigning impunity and the government’s failure to provide a congenial atmosphere for the defenders’ work. 

Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations [CDRO] and Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression [WSS] conducted a fact-finding on five women activists gang-raped at gunpoint Jharkhand’s Khunti district. The report mentions that in the name of pursuing ‘unidentified’ suspects, the police have unleashed targeted persecution against John Jonas Tidu and Balram Samad, two prominent faces leading the Pathalgadi movement. However, in an interview, one of the gang-rape victims revealed that she never mentioned any of the Pathalgadi leaders in her statement. As a result, they continue to languish in jail as accused in the case.

In 2018, Damodar Turi of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan and three other activists were arrested on charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA). Damodar, a leading voice against land acquisition, was alleged to be a member of the banned trade union Mazdoor Sangathan Samiti and kept under solitary confinement for over 15 days, in a blatant violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. In 2019 a Dalit rights activist, Naresh Bhuiyan, was charged with UAPA and illegally kept in custody by the police. Bhuiyan was not produced in court for several days, against the Supreme Court’s strict directions in DK Basu v. State of West Bengal.

The incidents narrate an increasing intent to crush the dissenting voices in Jharkhand through persecution and criminalization. These instances of state repression handicaps the defenders positioned to agitate against exploitative development models. “The severe repression by BJP Government in their tenure has broken the spirit and unity of people defending rights. There still is immense vulnerability and fear among the people”, says Aloka Kujur, a leading woman IHRD in Jharkhand.

Locating a protection mechanism for IHRDs at-risk in Jharkhand:

A holistic understanding shows that the attacks on IHRDs do not occur in a vacuum but form part of the systematic attacks against HRDs throughout the country. However, the severity of repression increases as we move to the indigenous areas for anti-establishment movement and the absence of solid counter-forces. Being historically marginalized from the justice system, the cost of false criminalization is too much for an IHRD to bear. With limited knowledge and resources, it becomes difficult to understand legal complexities and find financial support to continue their social justice struggle. 

In a Joint Statement in the 45th Human Rights Council Session, it has been said that states carry the primary responsibility to protect IHRDs to ensure accountability for any violations. The ideal situation is for the state to ensure placing policies and mechanisms relating to the protection of IHRDs. The National Human Rights Commission has a separate focal point for human rights defenders. A 2015 one-day workshop recommended all State Human Rights Commission [SHRC] to set up a Focal Point for Human Rights Defenders in the NHRC. However, the Jharkhand SHRC has taken no initiative in furtherance, as disclosed in a Right to Information application reply (2019). With a rise in state inaction and repression against the state’s human rights movement, the lack of political will becomes amply clear.

The starting point to build a safeguarding framework for IHRDs is to train them to defend themselves in a crisis. The solution lies in capacity-building measures by imparting legal consciousness of the means to demand procedural compliance and build evidence of violations. The mechanism for protecting IHRDs should be locally arising from within themselves, acknowledging the practical constraints. There remains a need to make the IHRDs more visible to the public eye through building counter-narratives to mobilize public support. Building a solid local support system will lead to a strengthened counter-force, making it difficult for repression to persevere.

National and local organizations’ collective efforts should be concentrated on documenting the risks and vulnerabilities and consolidating data for broad public understanding. There is a dire need for civil society organizations and networks to adopt a penetrative approach, reach the remote areas of Jharkhand, and more explicitly embrace their risks. “The repression and risk to an IHRD worsen as we move to the further interior in the state,” says Prof. John Dreaze, an activist working in Jharkhand for the Right to Food campaign. The existing networks need to multiply and reach the state’s remotest corner to be accessible to the IHRDs in the time of need. In addition, a holistic protection framework must be worked upon considering the mental, physical, legal, and financial help that an IHRD in crisis might need.

Shrutika Pandey is a Litigation Assistant with MANASA Centre for Social Development. She has been working for the protection of human rights defenders in India for last two years. She has previously written on women human rights defenders, attack of journalists and other rights based issues.

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South Asia

The Post-US Withdrawal Afghanistan: India, China and the ‘English Diplomacy’

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The recent developments in Afghanistan, the impatient Tri-axis and the emphatic India at SCO, with the ‘English Diplomacy’ at display that tends to blunt the Chinese aggressiveness in South China Sea mark a new power interplay in the world politics. It also shows why the US went for AUKUS and how it wants to focus on the Indo-Pacific.

Afghanistan has turned out to be the most incandescent point of world politics today deflecting the eyes from the South China Sea and Gaza Strip. What is more startling is the indifferent attitude United States has shown to the other stakeholders in the war torn state. While Brexit appears to have created fissure in the European Union the AUKUS effects further marginalisation of France and India against the US-British and QUAD understandings. The vacuum that US have created in Afghanistan has invited several actors willing to expand their energy access to central Asia and Afghanistan provides an important bridge in between. The TAPI economics (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline) and huge Indian investments are endangered by the Afghan security question and make it imminent for India to stay in Afghanistan as a reckoning force.

The Taliban and the Troika

While the Russo-Chinese and Pakistani engagement with the Taliban’s takeover was visible the US exit has invited the wrath of other stakeholders like India, Saudi Arabia and Iran. India is significantly affected because of its huge investments of over 3 billion dollars over two decades in Afghanistan that would become target of the orthodox retrogressive Taliban regime. The government of India’s stand on Afghanistan is that an ‘Afghan peace process should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled. Any political settlement must be inclusive and should preserve the socio-economic and political gains of the past 19 years. India supports a united, democratic and sovereign Afghanistan. India is deeply concerned about the increase in violence and targeted killings in Afghanistan. India has called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire’(MEA).

However, the takeover by Taliban that endangers India’s strategic and capital interests has made it pro-active in the state. Probably for the first time in Afghan history, India has shown aggressive tones against the militant government which may create problem for Kashmir in the longer run. The Pakistani air force’s engagement over the Panjashir assault by Taliban has unravelled the larger plans of destabilisation in South Asia.

In the meantime China has unequivocally expressed its willingness, as was expected to work with Taliban. The visit of Taliban delegation, led by Abdul Ghani Baradar who also heads the office of Taliban at Doha, met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials in Tianjin, on July 28, 2021. The visit followed the Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Kureshi’s visit to Beijing and unravelled how the two states have been supporting the Talibani cause. Although, China has its own perceptions about Xinjiang and Mr. Wang even told the Taliban “to draw a line” between the group and terror organisations, specifically the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) which has carried out attacks in Xinjiang. Russia too has shown interest in Taliban and it didn’t plan to evacuate its embassy at Kabul. Its foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov said that Russia will carefully see how responsibly they (Taliban) govern the country in the near future. And based on the results, the Russian leadership will draw the necessary conclusions.

The little Indo-Russian engagements over Afghanistan have minimised the scope of cooperation over the decades now. Although, Russia has been trying to follow a balancing policy between India and Pakistan yet its leanings towards the latter is manifest from its recent policies. “The extent of Russia-Pakistan coordination broadened in 2016, as Russia, China, and Pakistan created a trilateral format to discuss stabilizing Afghanistan and counterterrorism strategy. In December 2016, Russia, China, and Pakistan held talks on combating Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP), which were widely criticized in the U.S. for excluding the Afghan government.” (Ramani). The deliberate neglect of Afghan government and Indian role reveals the neo-Russian policy in South Asia that de-hyphenates India and Pakistan and sees Pakistan through the lens of BRI and at the cost of North-South Corridor. The Chinese and Russian belief that by supporting Taliban they will secure security for their disturbed territories and escape from terrorism appears to be unrealistic keeping in view the Taliban’s characteristics which are chameleon like i.e. political, organizational and jihadi at the same time looking for appropriate opportunities.

Is it the Post-Brexit Plan?

The Brexit ensures a better space for Britain; at least this is what Brits believe, in international politics following the future US overseas projects. However, it for sure annoys some of its serious allies with the new takes. The announcement of the AUKUS (Australia, UK, US) pact, a historic security pact in the Asia-Pacific to contain China is an important step in this direction. The Brexit and the US-withdrawal seen together mark a shift in US policy perception of Asia that aims at Asia Pacific more as compared to Central Asia. It has not only betrayed India in Afghanistan but also France through AUKUS which sees an end to its multibillion dollar deal with Australia. France now shows a stronger commitment to support India in its moves against Taliban and Pakistan’s interventions.

President Macron recalled French ambassadors for consultations after the AUKUS meet that dropped France deliberately from the major maritime security deal. The French anguish is not about its absence in the deal by the Canberra, Washington and London but being an allied nation, its neglect in the secret deal. “The announcement ended a deal worth $37bn (£27bn) that France had signed with Australia in 2016 to build 12 conventional submarines. China meanwhile accused the three powers involved in the pact of having a “Cold War mentality”(Schofield 2021). It also reminds one of the Roosevelt’s efforts at truncating French arms in Asia, especially in Indo-China and the consequent sequence of betrayals by the US. AUKUS also symbolises the ‘English diplomacy’ of the English speaking states just like the Five Eyes (FVEY), an intelligence alliance consisting of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Started around 1946 the member countries are parties to the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence. Recently there have been voices for taking India, Japan and South Korea also into its fold to strengthen the contain China job.

The Wildered QUAD

While the first ever in-person QUAD summit approaches near, the announcement of AUKUS shows haze that prevails over the US decision making. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japan’s Yoshihide Suga meet at the White House for the summit on September 24, 2021. This follows the virtual meet held in March 2021. How apposite it would be to declare a maritime deal at a time when the QUAD meet is about to take place with the same motives and plans, notwithstanding the fact that QUAD has a wider platform for discussion like climate change, cyberspace, pandemic and Indo-Pacific. Is there an uncertainty over the realisation of QUAD? However, AUKUS  unravels the US intentions of first line preferences and second line associates in its future projects that will further marginalise its allies like France, Germany and many other states in future.

SCO

At SCO meet at Dushanbe India has unequivocally announced its view of the situation that takes Taliban as a challenge to peace and development in Afghanistan and South Asia. Prime Minister Modi remarked that the first issue is that the change of authority in Afghanistan was not inclusive and this happened without negotiation. This raises questions on the prospects of recognition of the new system. Women, minorities and different groups have not been given due representation. He also insisted on the crucial role that UN can play in Afghanistan. India’s investment in the Iranian port of Chabahar and the International North-South Corridor along with TAPI are central to its argument on the recent developments in Afghanistan. Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar had also remarked in July 2021 that the landlocked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with the huge market of India and the future of Afghanistan cannot be its past and that the world must not let the new generation of Afghans down (Hindustan Times). The Indian message is clear and received huge support at Dushanbe and India is poised to play a greater role in Afghanistan, where the US and Russia have failed miserably.

The Internal Dynamics

The internal dynamics in Afghanistan presage a government by uncertainty in the coming months as Sirajudin Haqqani of Pak supported Haqqani network, captures Mulla Baradar, the man who settled the deal with US at Doha. It appears from the Pakistani backed government of Haqqani that Baradar has been dumped for his commitment for inclusive government expected to be pro-west against the Sino-Pakistan expectations. The US reluctance to remain engaged in the troubled region marks a shift in US foreign policy but the exclusion of its allies from Indo-Pacific plan are bound to bring new engagements in world power politics. While US dumped Afghans France and Israel appear as new hopes for Indian led moves against the undemocratic terrorist forces in Afghanistan.

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Opposing Hindutava: US conference raises troubling questions

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Controversy over a recent ‘Dismantling Global Hindutava’ conference that targeted a politically charged expression of Hindu nationalism raises questions that go far beyond the anti-Muslim discriminatory policies of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and ruling party.

The conference and responses to it highlight a debilitating deterioration in the past two decades, especially since 9/11, of the standards of civility and etiquette that jeopardize civil, intelligent, and constructive debate and allow expressions of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes to become mainstream.

Organizers of the conference that was co-sponsored by 53 American universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers, insisted that they distinguish between Hinduism and Hindutava, Mr. Modi’s notion of Hindu nationalism that enables discrimination against and attacks on India’s 200 million Muslims.

The distinction failed to impress critics who accused the organizers of Hinduphobia. Some critics charged that the framing of the conference demonstrated a pervasiveness of groupthink in academia and an unwillingness to tackle similar phenomena in other major religions, particularly Islam.

The campaign against the conference appeared to have been organized predominantly by organizations in the United States with links to militant right-wing Hindu nationalist groups in India, including some with a history of violence. The conference’s most militant critics threatened violence against conference speakers and their families, prompting some participants to withdraw from the event.

Opponents of political Islam noted that Western academia has not organized a similar conference about the politicization of the faith even though powerful states like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt have lobbied Western capitals against the Muslim Brotherhood and its Turkish and Qatari supporters with notable successes in France, Austria, Belgium and Britain.

Academia was likely to have been hesitant to tackle political Islam because Islamophobia is far more prevalent than Hinduphobia.

Moreover, perceptions of political Islam, are far more complex and convoluted. Islam is frequently conflated with political expressions and interpretations of the faith run a gamut from supremacist and conservative to more liberal and tolerant. They also lump together groups that adhere and respect the election process and ones that advocate violent jihad.

Scholars and analysts declared an end to political Islam’s heyday with the military coup in Egypt in 2013 that toppled Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brother, who was elected president in Egypt’s first and only free and fair poll. Political Islam’s alleged swansong loomed even larger with this year’s setbacks for two of the most moderate Islamist political parties in Tunisia and Morocco as well as hints that Turkey may restrict activities of Islamists operating in exile from Istanbul.

A more fundamental criticism of the framing of the Hindutava conference is its failure to put Hindutava in a broader context.

That context involves the undermining of the social cohesion of societies made up of collections of diverse ethnic and religious communities since Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The attacks fueled the rise of ultra-nationalism and politicized expressions of religious ultra-conservatism not only in the Hindu world but also in the worlds of other major religions.

These include politicized ultra-conservative Islam, politicized Evangelism and Buddhist nationalism. Right-wing religious nationalism in Israel, unlike Islamism and politicized Evangelism, is shaped by ultra-nationalism rather than religious ultra-conservatism.

The worlds of religious ultra-nationalism and politicized expressions of religious ultra-conservatism are often mutually reinforcing.

Scholar Cynthia Miller-Idriss’s assessment of the impact of Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks on the United States is equally true for India or Europe.

“In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the rise of violent jihadism reshaped American politics in ways that created fertile ground for right-wing extremism. The attacks were a gift to peddlers of xenophobia, white supremacism, and Christian nationalism: as dark-skinned Muslim foreigners bent on murdering Americans, Al-Qaeda terrorists and their ilk seemed to have stepped out of a far-right fever dream,” Ms. Miller-Idriss said.

“Almost overnight, the United States and European countries abounded with precisely the fears that the far-right had been trying to stoke for decades,” she added.

The comparison of politically charged militant nationalist and ultra-conservative expressions of diverse religions takes on added significance in a world that has seen the emergence of civilizationalist leaders.

Scholar Sumantra Bose attributes the rise of religious nationalism in non-Western states like Turkey and India to the fact that they never adopted the Western principle of separation of state and church.

Instead, they based their secularism on the principle of state intervention and regulation of the religious sphere. As a result, the rejection of secularism in Turkey and India fits a global trend that conflates a dominant religious identity with national identity.

Sarah Kamali, the author of a recently published book that compares militant white nationalists to militant Islamists in the United States, notes similar patterns while drawing parallels between far-right xenophobes and militant Islamists.

Militant Islamists’ “sense of victimhood […] is similar to that of their White nationalist counterparts in that [it] is constructed and exploited to justify their violence… Both mutually – and exclusively – target America for the purpose of claiming the nation as theirs and theirs alone, either as a White ethno-state or as part of a global caliphate,” Ms. Kamali writes.

Similarly, the Taliban defeat of a superpower energized militant Islamists, as well as proponents of Hindutava, with Islamophobic narratives spun by Mr. Modi’s followers gaining new fodder with the assertion that India was being encircled by Muslim states hosting religious extremists.

Modi is essentially helping the recruitment of…jihadist groups by taking such a hard, repressive line against the Islamic community in India, who are now being forced to see themselves being repressed,” said Douglas London, the CIA’s counter-terrorism chief for South and South-West Asia until 2019.

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Panjshir – the last stronghold of democracy in Afghanistan

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The Taliban’s rapid advance in Afghanistan has briefly stalled only in the face of strong resistance mounted by the people of the country’s recalcitrant mountainous province of Panjshir. Whoever controls the region’s passes controls the routes leading to China and Tajikistan, but to seize this mountain valley and, most importantly, to keep it permanently under control has always been a problem for all invaders. Eager to let the international community see for the first time in 40 years a united Afghanistan as a sign of their final victory, the radical Islamists were prepared to make any sacrifices, including filling the approaches to the Panjshir Valley up with dead bodies. Moreover, the Taliban’s longtime ally Pakistan, which, regardless of its status of an ally of the United States, has provided them with direct military support. In fact, Islamabad admitted its less than successful role when it proposed signing a truce to find and take out the bodies of its special Ops forces who had died during the attack on the valley. However, drones flown by Pakistani operators, professional commandos (possibly once trained by the Americans), air support and other pleasant gifts from the allies eventually bore fruit letting the Taliban be photographed in front of the mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Massoud Sr., the famous “Lion of Panjshir,” who controlled the valley from 1996 to 2001. The Islamists also took control of the province’s central city of Bazarak.

Having deprived the province much of its Internet access, the radicals, who control most of the Afghan territory, found it easier to wage an information war. Their claims of victories were now more difficult to contest, even though information about their retreat did reach the outside world. Reflective of the heavy losses suffered for the first time by the Taliban and their allies – the Haqqani Network and other remnants of al-Qaeda, as well as by the regular Pakistani army is the brief truce arranged by Islamabad. Looks like the mountain passes leading to Panjshir were literally filled up with corpses…

As for Massoud Jr., the young lion of Panjshir, and his supporters, they retreated to the mountains. In fact, they had nowhere to fall back to. The problem of Afghanistan is its ethnic diversity. Thus, the country is home to 23 percent of ethnic Tajiks, most of whom live in the Panjshir Valley. However, the Taliban rely mainly on the Pashtuns, who account for over 50 percent of the country’s population. As for the new masters of Afghanistan, they are ready to carry out ethnic cleansings and even commit outright genocide in order to bring the valley into submission. To make this happen they are going to resettle there their fellow Pashtun tribesmen. Local men aged between 12 and 50 are already being taken away and, according to the National Resistance Front, no one has seen them again. However, due to the information blockade, the Taliban will not hesitate to refute such facts. One thing is clear: Massoud’s Tajik fighters and the government troops that joined them are fighting for their lives, and there will be no honorable surrender!

The main question now is whether the young lion of Panjshir will receive the same support as his father once did, or will find himself without ammunition and food. After all, the Taliban leaders have reached certain agreements with the United States. Suffice it to mention the numerous remarks made, among others, by President Biden himself about the Taliban now being different from what they were 20 years ago.

But no, the Taliban`s remain the same – they have only hired new PR people. Meanwhile, hating to admit their defeat, Brussels and Washington will have to engage in a dialogue with those who are responsible for the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and for the numerous terrorist attacks in Europe. The Taliban are pretending to make minor cosmetic concessions. Minor indeed, since they are still depriving women of the opportunity to work and study, destroying higher and secondary education and brutally clamping down on people who simply do not want to live according to religious norms.

The United States is actually helping the “new-look” Taliban. Their potential opponents, including the famous Marshal Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, left the country under various guarantees, and Washington is trying to keep them from any further participation in the conflict. Democratic politicians naively believe that by creating an Islamic state and ending the protracted civil war in Afghanistan the Taliban will ensure stability in the region and will not move any further. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan do not think so and are strengthening their borders and preparing to protect their Afghan compatriots, because they know full well that the Taliban`s are not a national political party; they are a radical Islamist ideology.

It knows no borders and spreads like a cancerous tumor, destroying all pockets of Western culture. It can only be stopped by force. However, the two decades of US military presence in Afghanistan showed that Washington, which quickly took control of the country in 2001, simply had no strategy to keep it. The Afghans were given nothing that would appear to them more attractive than the ideas of radical Islam. As a result, the few Afghans who embrace European values are fleeing the country, and those who, like Massoud Jr., decided to fight for their freedom, now risk being left to face their enemy all by themselves.

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