I have just finished reading Khaled Hosseini’s novel, The Kite Runner. It is a wonderful, multi-layered story. It is a novel about lies, betrayal and redemption. It works as an exploration of culture, of character and as an allegory. It is about Afghanistan.
There is a phrase on the last page of the book, ‘… when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time …’
I have also been reading troubling press accounts of the fighting in Southern Afghanistan, of British casualties, tactical mistakes, and the awful deaths of civilians. Commentators talk of withdrawal, of defeat, of the failure of ‘liberal imperialism’.
Then I turned to the Canadian writer, Terry Glavin’s blog. He has been a consistent advocate of the Canadian commitment to Afghanistan. He has posted a report from the Ruxted Group, detailing hundreds and thousands of melting snowflakes.
Millions of girls are back in school with 400,000 new female students starting school for the first time this year; Over 100,000 women benefited from micro finance loans to set up their own business; 83% of the population now has access to medical facilities, compared to 9 percent in 2004; 76% of children under the age of five have been immunized against childhood diseases; income per capita of $355, compared to $180 three years ago; 10 universities are operating around the country, against one (barely functioning) under the Taliban; work has begun on 20,000 new homes for Afghans returning to Kabul; over 1 billion square metres (roughly 32 km X 32 km) of mine contaminated land cleared.
The violence in the South is real, the failures are real, the frailties of the new state are real, but I sense winter in the mouths of the commentators, breathing an icy blast of betrayal. I want the thaw to continue. One snowflake at a time.