“Dear viewers, you are watching the burial processions of our ToloNews journalists Samim Faramarz and …” but before she could mention the name of her second martyred colleague, cameraman Ramiz Ahmedi, anchor person Marzia Hafizi choked on her words and started crying.
Never before did a news report overwhelm me this way. Never before did an event galvanize me emotionally as this one. The two journalists had fallen victim to a suicide bombing as they were reporting on a terror attack on a Kabul gym.
Never before had I seen a better encapsulation by a field reporter of the suffering of the Afghan people. In Mr Faramarz’s final Facebook post last Friday, his eloquence reflected the frustrations of a generation losing hope in the face of cruel attacks, recalled a New York Times Op-Ed by his colleagues.
“In an era of passivity, fake reality and meaningless violence, what is it really that we should look up to?” he asked.
“The corrupt leaders who are dragging us into more conflicts while filling their pockets? The disputed god who is watching the whole world being destroyed in vain? Or the highly overrated democratic system which is already falling apart?”
“As of now, one thing we know for sure is that the long-lasting struggle and war in our small part of the world is a direct consequence of fights over power and greed,” he continued. “What we don’t know is how much longer it is going to last and where it is taking us.”
According to US security officials, there are now about 20 separate insurgent networks operating on Afghan soil. These include the dreaded Islamic State, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement
Fate probably overheard, and delivered Faramarz of the agony that he and his countrymen endure daily. While reporting on the victims of violence, he himself became victim of another gory act of terror, joining 11 of his ToloNews colleagues — all of whom were killed in similar bombings over the last three years, like dozens of journalists that conflicts in Pakistan’s border regions have claimed in the last decade or so. This by no means is meant to belittle the colossal human losses these conflicts have brought about, which includes tens of thousands of innocent non-combatants and security personnel in both countries.
“We live death,” Faramarz, then 28 had written on Facebook in September 2016 after a double bombing in Kabul. He lived death indeed, and in his martyrdom became one of the symbols of the suffering of the Afghan and Pakistani people — a direct consequence of the two wars. The first was the CIA-backed Afghan Jihad against the Soviets. The other was the highly controversial Global War on Terror (GWoT), unleashed in October 2001 to cull the ghosts born out of the Afghan jihad.
Ironically, both wars only created more actors. The more action was taken against the Afghan insurgents, the more they multiplied. According to US security officials, there are now about 20 separate insurgent networks operating on Afghan soil. These include the dreaded Islamic State, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).
Was all of this an unintended consequence? Or was it an endless chain of setting a new or old thief to fix other thieves? Isn’t the tactic — deploying new tools to obfuscate of the real perpetrators — a tested part of geopolitics?
Regardless; the reality is that humanity is screaming and suffering. Innocent men, women and children are being torn into pieces by deadly explosives, the blood reddening roads and alleys, dead bodies of the traceless at morgues piling up and space in graveyard shrinking. But geopolitical games are endless, devouring ever more innocent lives. Like Faramarz, we are all wondering whether the better angels of our nature will ever trump geopolitics?
The writer is Editor, Strategic Affairs, and also heads the independent Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad and author of Pakistan: Pivot of HizbuTahrir’s Global Caliphate. Can be reached at Imtiaz@crss.pk
Published in Daily Times, September 11th 2018.