Peace without Justice

In matters of history, nations behave as individuals. Nations have collective memories. Nations have collective feelings and emotions. Nations have collective pride, collective aspirations and collective dignity. Nations prosper during peace and suffer during war. Nations hate wars and warmongers and collectively seek reparation of their damaged pride and dignity. They also seek compensation for their moral and material losses caused by irresponsible perpetrators of unrest, aggression and injustice. Nations believe there can be peace when there is justice and they doubt the achievement of peace without justice.

The Afghan nation was dragged into a protracted war designed and planned in the Kremlin and executed by the Red Army of the Soviet era. The state of war with the Soviet invaders lasted for a decade. It is one of the darkest decades in the country’s long history of many thousands of years. The nation suffered drastically. This suffering has and can be documented and material damage can be calculated to the infrastructure of the country both in urban and rural settings. The moral blow of the invasion is much harder to be priced in monetary terms, but there are examples of gauging even the mental consequences of aggressions. Furthermore, there is the lingering effects of the destruction into the future of the country and social and economic repercussions of war and oppression. One example can be the many years of productive educational opportunity lost to the innocent young members of the society due to war and insecurity and destruction of educational institutions and forced displacement of educators and destruction of the system as a whole.

In addition to the above, there is the question of continued aggression and oppression on and of the nation by warmongers and warlords, who imposed on a nation already weakened by war, their will in an atmosphere which was not unlike that of a lawless jungle where the gun ruled and the mighty quenched their avaricious thirst for more power at the price of inflicting more suffering on the innocent weak. This further injured the psyche of the nation.

Now, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the United Nations researchers and a great majority of the intelligentsia are talking about the need for meeting the great need of the nation for justice. The International Herald Tribune of February 3, 2005 carried an article by Sima Samar, the head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and Nader Naderi one of its members. The article says: “Haji Qudos, a middle-aged man from Nangarhar Province, is one of a vast majority of Afghans who are willing to commit their lives to promote peace and stability in order to pave the way for a sustainable democracy. But peace and stability in our country are
possible only if the United States and the international community help the Afghan people bring to justice those who have committed crimes against humanity.

Haji’s wife, sons and daughters were killed in front of his eyes in his house on June 7, 1995. Those responsible now hold very powerful political positions in the country and work closely with U.S. military officials in the war against terror.”

The commission’s report has drawn both praise and criticism from many quarters. The Afghan president has welcomed the report and has diplomatically and vaguely expressed a willing to look into the implementation of some of its suggestions. Some have criticized the report for having failed to identify the true culprits of injustice, war crimes and excesses committed against the Afghan nation.

But all of the above make only one aspect of the nations concern, namely identifying those guilty of the crimes against the Afghan nation and trying them for their crimes. The other aspect, on which the government of president Karzai has kept quiet and has not even given it his evasive diplomatic comment, is the issue of the demand for war reparations from Russia.

One of the questions raised recently among Afghan observers is: What can you do, if the government in place in a country either fails to demand the legal rights of the nation to war reparations or ignore it? The issue of imposition of war reparations on the aggressor is now a fully established international fact. If an aggressor nation is not subjected to meeting international justice, at least by payment of war damages it has imposed on the victim nation, justice is not maintained. Peace and justice go together and neither can be maintained without the maintenance of the other.

It is time that the government working with experts and intelligentsia take serious steps regarding the abovementioned two important issues so that a new democratic Afghanistan starts on a new slate of peace and justice working together and a nation that is satisfied with the work of its government regarding dressing of its collective wounds inflicted on it by aggressors and war criminals. Alternatively, Afghan patriotic circles and individuals could take up the issue for legal follow up with responsible national and or international organizations. 2/5/05