Afghanistan native, Nasir Shansab, author of “Silent Trees: A Novel of Afghanistan,” recently talked with me about his novel, life in Afghanistan, how and why America got involved in a war there, the still-booming opium business in his native country, and Afghanistan’s bleak hopes of ever having a stable government.
Nasir Shansab was one of Afghanistan’s leading industrialists when much of his and his family’s wealth originated from the many businesses that they owned in Afghanistan. Though Nasir left the country in 1975, he has made over 40 trips back to visit friends and relatives and try to regain control over the businesses that the Communists took over when they came into power there.
Afghanistan is a poor country, but one which is also a strategic one, fought over by several other countries which have sought to defeat it and maintain control over it over the millennia.
It’s a country which has been instrumental in breaking the former USSR, and greatly damaging the economy of the USA. That’s largely because while conquering a country is expensive, maintaining control of one is even more expensive. Afghanistan is small, but it has brought these two powerful countries to their knees, over time.
Why did America become involved in fighting a war in Afghanistan?
Ostensibly, America became involved in a war against the Taliban government of Afghanistan because, after the tragic events of 9/11, the United States was strongly motivated to capture and/or kill Osama Bin Laden.
Osama Bin Laden didn’t remain in Afghanistan for very long, fleeing to the more welcoming country of Pakistan after the United States brought the brunt of their military power to bear in their mission to track down the person behind the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City that cost over 3,000 lives.
However, while in Afghanistan, after an initial token effort at destroying the poppy crops of farmers there, little word came out of the country as to continued efforts in the direction of eradicating the flowers.
Poppies were one of the lures of the USSR, and of the Taliban, for these flowers are literally the “stuff of dreams.” Opium and heroin is derived from the flowers. While the USSR and the Taliban, and later on, the USA, have all publicly stated their disapproval of the drug trade and the farmers of Afghanistan growing poppies, each of these entities have sought to gain control over Afghanistan’s poppy fields and take their cut of the pie.
Though fortunes can and have been made through the growth of poppies, the costs of occupying a country rift with poverty, a lack of an infrastructure, and with hostile countries like Pakistan as next door neighbors, eventually the costs have eaten up the profits and Afghanistan has become a “money pit” to occupying countries.
Nasir Shansab discusses these topics and more in the interview I conducted with him. The interview is also posted at YouTube. Please check out the interview, below, and consider buying Nasir’s excellent novel, “Silent Trees: A Novel of Afghanistan.” You’ll be glad that you did!
Written by: Douglas Cobb
You can buy “Silent Trees” at: Amazon.com