Eyewitness: How deep…

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…is westernisation?

Reading all the learned analyses on what “went wrong” in Afghanistan after the American retreat…sorry, withdrawal…you’d think the country has just a bunch of goat-herders who’ve never been exposed to “western civilisation”. Like some supposed “primitive” tribes deep in the Amazon who’ve – paraphrasing Sparrow – “never seen a white man yet”!! But if the truth be told, they’ve been the “graveyard” of civilisations from the Greeks to the British – they had to’ve had quite a lot of exposure to them in the two intervening millennia. Before the Soviets and the Americans entered from the 1970s to now!!

Trouble is, we’re so deeply embedded in what we call “modernity”, we don’t realise that we’re actually equating being “modern” with being “western” – and who says this is the only way to live in the present??!! Think about it! If those Afghans experienced so may versions of what it means to be “modern” and up-to-date – Greeks, Persians, Ottomans, Turks, Ottomans and, most recently, British – who’re we to tell them which path to take? And this is our “modern” dilemma, isn’t it?

Was a time when you could live any which way you wanted while the King just made sure he collected his taxes – and maybe have first dibs on your wife! For instance, while the Ottoman Empire was adjudged to be backward, they ruled over all those now fractious “Balkanised” states in Europe and further afield for four centuries!! It was only when Kamal Attaturk took over and decided he’d “modernise” by “westernising” that the present troubles began.

Ditto for Afghanistan. For the thousands of years, these were separate tribes who did their thing their way, and sorted out their coordinating problems by convening meetings of all their tribal leaders and dignitaries in what they called “Loya Jirgas”. And did this even after the British entered the picture in the 1830s to try to counter Russian influence from the north, which they felt might offer a path to their “Jewel in the Crown” – which they’d just conquered – India!!

And from then to the 1970s, British notions of what was “modern” infiltrated into towns – especially from the 1930s, when a Europeanised King – even more so than Attaturk – took the throne and ruled for forty years!!
Did you read “The Kite Runners”? You’d be surprised at how similar the author’s description of life in Kabul was to ours in Georgetown!! And with the same movies, comics, games and sensibilities!!

It was the same “modernising” elites who adopted socialism and sided with the Russians in the seventies that “caused” the Americans to fund the Mujahideen.
And the rest, as they say, is (modern) history!!

…are the (PNC) charges?

If you listen to the cacophony coming from the PNC camps – yes, plural “camps” – you’d think that the PPP are like the Assyrians described in “The Destruction of Sennacherib” by Lord Byron. Yes, dear reader, your Eyewitness has been deeply imbricated into “modernity” by the British!! “The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold. And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;/ And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.”

So, let’s look at the charges of “genocide” committed by the PPP on the PNC’s constituency. One of the acolytes insisted that “Govt must prove they’re not involved in racism”. But he’d know that the law says, “He who asserts must prove”!! House lots, flood and school assistance distribution? The allocation records are there for all to see. Why don’t the PNC acolytes just summarise the breakdown and release the figures?
Do they really believe the PPP insists on vaccination because they’re racist?

…is our cricket heritage?

CLR James explained the significance of cricket in our struggle to live with some dignity in the “modern” world, in his book “Beyond the Boundary”.
Your Eyewitness wonders how many of the present players care to know.