INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Poetry and Motion - Sikhs and Hindus Return To

Published: Wed 21 Dec 2005 10:07 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 005188
SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR SA/FO, SA/A, S/CT, EUR/RPM
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN, KAMEND
CENTCOM FOR POLAD, CG CFA-A, CG CJTF-76
E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PHUM AF
SUBJECT: Poetry and Motion - Sikhs and Hindus Return to
Paktia Province
1. (SBU) Summary: A November 11 poetry reading hosted by
the Paktia Literary Society not only opened Gardez's new
Afghan Government-built Marriage Hall but also revealed
significant progress in the faith of the people in the GOA.
A three hour gathering of some 300 Pashto men in Gardez's
unheated Marriage Hall revealed little if any fear of the
Taliban or other insurgents and provided the surprising
revelation that some 60 Sikh and six Hindu families intend
to return to Paktia from long exile in India. End Summary.
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Poetry Against Violence - The Pen takes on the Sword
--------------------------------------------- -------
2. (SBU) In Gardez, a well-attended meeting of the Paktia
Literary Society featured some 20 poets reciting their
latest works. In attendance were some 300 Pashto men from
Gardez as well as the more remote districts of Paktia
province. The gathering included provincial notables such
as Governor Taniwal and members of the newly elected
Provincial Council. In a short speech Dr. Abdul Hadi, the
head of the Literary Society, explained they were gathered
to encourage the people to embrace their own culture in the
Pashto language. He stressed that this was a culture of the
pen, not of the weapon. Poets spoke movingly of their love
for Paktia and Afghanistan and at least one repeatedly
ridiculed the former rulers of Afghanistan, including the
Taliban. In a surprising turn an Afghan Sikh recited a
moving poem about his love for the mountains of Paktia and
his desire to return from exile in India to the land of his
birth.
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Love of Country and Ridicule of Taliban
---------------------------------------
3. (SBU) The poetry focused on two main themes: love of
country and ridicule for past governments including the
Communists, Mujahideen and Taliban. Several poets spoke
movingly of the destruction of the country, its people,
natural resources, and infrastructure. One especially
articulate poet, Fiazullah Zazi, from Jaji District located
on Paktia's border with Pakistan, exploded with humorous
ridicule of Afghanistan's past rulers, especially the
Taliban. Resembling more of a standup comedian than the
serious poet he clearly is, Fiazullah spoke for over 30
minutes of the three-hour session. His popularity was
clearly demonstrated by the intense and long-lasting
laughter that repeatedly disrupted his oration and the
standing ovation given him as he stepped down from the
podium. Displaying the raw intelligence and courage of the
Afghan people, Faizullah, who is 29 years old and a tire
repairman by trade, is also illiterate, keeping the
repertoire of his poems in his head.
---------------------------------
Sikhs and Hindus Return to Paktia
---------------------------------
4. (SBU) Dia Singh, a 40 year old Sikh born and raised in
Paktia province, recited a poem about his love for his home
in the mountains of Paktia. Well accepted and roundly
applauded, Dia Singh was very clear about his intention to
return to Gardez after two decades of exile in New Delhi.
In a private conversation, Dia Singh related that 60 Sikh
and six Hindu families intend to return to Gardez in 2006.
Governor Taniwal has approved 84 parcels of land (housing
plots) just south of Gardez city for them.
5. (SBU) COMMENT: That poet are now willing to standup
in a public forum, in rural eastern Afghanistan, and openly
ridicule the leadership of the former Taliban government is
a strong indicator of the success of the Karzai government
and the Coalition efforts in Paktia and Afghanistan. That
laughter and applause are liberally applied to these
comments also provides strong evidence the public no longer
has much, if any, fear of what remains of the Taliban. The
planned return of 66 Hindu and Sikh families from India to
Paktia province also shows that trust in the present Afghan
government to provide peace, security, and stability is
growing more widespread. If these events are possible in
the more turbulent areas of eastern Afghanistan, it bodes
well for other, more developed and stable areas in the north
and west of the country. END COMMENT.
NEUMANN
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