LONDON: In 2019, Afghanistan became the most dangerous place on earth for children, women and almost every other citizen and creature that happen to be within the geography of the country.
The foreigners who tested their billions and bombs in Afghanistan, are shocked at how they failed. So, as always from Africa to Afghanistan, they blame the locals. On the other hand, unlike their coalition partners, the government made up of American, British and European jobless citizens turned Afghan ministers, ambassadors and director generals with their filtered screen spectacles can only see success without a drop of misery of the people with big free bungalows for parties, free flights to Dubai and bullet-proof cars ready to loot.
A very dark and disappointing situation both for Afghans and a castrated humanity watching, especially when morally spineless white western diplomats pose with their own citizens of brown colour and introduce them back to their own nations as Afghans.
Behind this curtain of lies and bigotry, there are real heroes both men and women and their stories. One among them is Bilal Sarwary. A journalist, an activist and a humanist who fights for all those who have no one to blame, no one to beg and no where to go whether it bombs or rain. Bilal always tells the story of all AFGHANS who get up each morning and don’t have the option of just walking away from it all. With every story, Bilal risks his life.
Today we feel honoured to tell the story of this true son of Afghanistan.
Bilal does things a little differently. From reporting on front-lines and sometimes going even beyond the front-lines into the enemy territory to fighting elections to become a member of the parliament to raising awareness about corruption in the system and giving people of the world virtual tours of Afghanistan through land and air, Bilal just does it better than all.
Coming from the southern province of Konar in Afghanistan, Bilal took his chances to fight a very dignified election campaign as a true believer in democracy against corrupt opponents and a rigid system in 2018 risking his live on every step. Despite his popularity and a solid vision for the region that people believed in, Bilal lost the election to a fully orchestrated fraud led bonanza.
While some sold their soul and dignity to get a seat in the parliament, Bilal picked up his pen, paper and camera to go on a voyage of national awakening to fight a different type of battle with one photo, one article and one tweet at a time.
Bilal has been highlighting and bringing global attention to the merciless killings of endangered animals in Afghanistan’s most remote regions such as the Snow Leopard and Marco Polo Sheep, and the preservation of historic buildings in remote villages. He raises the voice of the weakest and shares it with the world. From areas most journalists would not even dare to go in their dreams. From bringing the stories of farmers who have lost their crops to the mothers who have lost their sons fighting terrorists, from the increasing street crime and drug abuse in Kabul to the shelling of Afghan villages by Pakistani army, Bilal is the most powerful voice for them all.
The most dignified thing that sets Bilal Sarwary apart from others, especially the foreign funded Pashto and Dari journalists paid by UK, US and EU is his reporting that is free from racism, linguistic bias and raw focus on the real issues that hit the common people the hardest.
These days Bilal is busy taking us on the most amazing aerial virtual tours of Afghanistan’s majestic mountains and lush valleys. Flying in helicopter throughout the country, he is bringing never seen before footage of the country to the people of Afghanistan and the world. Like the one below when he is flying over Ghor.
Bilal is a rare gem who stands up to corruption and bigotry within the establishment and powerhouses of Kabul at a time when it has become normal practice to bend backwards to get kickbacks from Washington to London and all the way to Kabul.
The more real citizens, humanists and journalists we have like Bilal, the more people will respect and trust them. Bilal is the formula to cure not only the rotten state of local and global journalism but also the sad state of Afghanistan.
Let’s be like Bilal. Dignified, responsible and proactive.
Adib Rahimi is an engineer, cultural critic and part-time painter.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the World Afghan Congress.