IN his latest opinion piece for the Advertiser, local minister, Rev Ian Miller, gives his take on the events unfolding in Afghanistan...

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THE tragedy of Afghanistan and foreign occupation is a long one. In fact it has a history of many hundreds of years.

Our focus, perhaps understandably, is on more recent events, which have seen Russia, America and Britain involved. One wonders what exactly has been achieved?

I am sure the government of the United States and the UK genuinely believe that Western democracy is a good thing. And, in the main, it is. But I don’t believe it can be forced upon anyone at the point of a gun.

This whole sad, sorry episode reminds me so much of Vietnam – and, maybe even before that, Korea.

One image of the Vietnam War remains with me – even though almost half a century has passed since it was taken. I am sure it is embedded on the minds of many of a certain vintage, too. It is that of nine-year-old Kim Phuc running screaming towards the camera after a napalm attack on June 8, 1972 incinerated her village, her clothes, and then her skin.

Likewise, from Afghanistan, the tragic image of people clinging to an aircraft, and eventually falling from it, in a doomed attempt to escape from what appeared to be the bigger fear, will stick with me for a long time to come.

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I weep for Afghanistan. I weep for parents who lost their sons, wives who lost their husbands, and children who lost a father. For what? I have no answer, only questions.

One American clergyman put it this way.

We pray for Afghanistan’s people today, for those who are fleeing, who know they can’t stay.

For those who face terror by day and by night, for those who can’t leave and whose dreams can’t take flight.

We pray for the people who fear what’s in store, for dreamers and poets who grieve a closed door

For those who are hiding so no one will see the people they are, or who they might be

We weep for the places where war leads to war; we pray for a hand to heal and restore!

Bless all who seek justice and peace as the way. We pray for Afghanistan’s people today.