Monday, 14 June 2010

Afghanistan: mineral wealth of more than $900 billion found

The latest about Afghanistan is that vast mineral wealth has been discovered there, enough to turn the country into Saudi Arabia of mining. Of course, most media is using headlines such as "US finds mineral riches in Afghanistan." Details suggest that the wealth is enough to turn Afghanistan into an ultra rich country as well as financing the US war in Afghanistan. Hence one can begin to wonder about the ulterior motives of foreign powers and about how much of this wealth will eventually go to the people of Afghanistan (see details in The New York Times and Yahoo! News).

Those familiar with the work of Allama Iqbal may recall the apt advice offered by him on this matter long ago. In 1923, he dedicated his second volume of poetry, Payam-i-Mashriq (A Message from the East) to King Amanullah of Afghanistan and suggested that Afghanistan should pay attention to acquiring modern knowledge for extracting its mineral resources while at the same time building moral strength and sharpness of mind for defending them. In his latter writings, Iqbal went on to suggest that Asia was a single organism and the Afghan nation was like the heart in it: the whole body would remain ill as long as the heart was diseased.

The dedicatory epistle addressed to King Amanullah has been summarized in Chapter 32 of the revised version of The Republic of Rumi (available online on blog as well as website).

The following is translation of an excerpt from the original (translation is by late Hadi Husain), followed by link to the chapter of RR which summarizes the poem.
Life is a struggle, not beseeching rights;
And knowledge is the arms with which one fights.
God ranked it with the good things that abound
And said it must be grasped, wherever found.
The one to whom the Quran was revealed,
From whom no aspect of truth was concealed,
Beheld the Essence itself with his eye;
And yet “God, teach me still more” was his cry.
Knowledge of things is Adam’s gift from God,
The shining palm of Moses and his rod,
The secret of the greatness of the West,
The source of all that it has of the best.
We would see, if our spirits had true zest,
Nothing but diamonds in the roadside dust.
Knowledge and wealth make nations sound and strong,
And thus enable them to get along.
For knowledge cultivate your people’s minds;
For wealth exploit your mineral finds.
Go, plunge a dagger into your land’s bowels;
Like Somnat’s idol it is full of jewels.
In it do rubies of Badakhshan lie;
In its hills is the thunder of Sinai.
 See details in Chapter 32: The King of Afghanistan

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