Over these past 45 years, the UAE has never shunned its responsibilities towards the international community, to helping those in need, to being a source of humanitarian compassion at the most difficult of times and the most trying of circumstances. And there has never been a shortage of UAE citizens who step forward to play their part, to volunteer, to try and make a difference and to help regardless of the cost. Sadly, the cost of such work is high, with five diplomats from this nation now dead in a terrorist bombing in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Tuesday evening.
The UAE martyrs have been named as Mohammad Ali Zainal Al Bastaki, Abdullah Mohammad Eisa Obaid Al Kaabi, Ahmad Rashid Salim Ali Al Mazroui, Ahmad Abdul Rahman Ahmad Al Tunaiji and Abdul Hamid Sultan Abdullah Ebrahim Al Hammadi. The prayers and thoughts of a thankful nation are with their family and friends. If there is comfort to be found in this despicable attack, it is in knowing that the five were martyred while on a humanitarian mission, engaged on projects for the development and betterment of the people of Afghanistan.
There are few words that can truly express the pride and gratitude of this nation for the ultimate service of these martyrs. They will never be forgotten, remembered in perpetuity as they join the legion of brave men and women who died in the service of the UAE.
Honouring the fallen
President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has led this nation in mourning and grief, directing all ministries, government departments and institutions across the country to fly the flag at half-mast for three days in honour of the martyrs. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said on Twitter that “there is no human, moral or religious justification for the bombing and killing of people trying to help” others.
Proudly, the UAE has played an integral role in Afghanistan’s recent history, joining its international partners in ridding the troubled land of the Taliban, terrorists and extremists who sheltered within its borders. But combatting evil requires a fight on many fronts — doing good; restoring faith in humanity through the reconstruction of hospitals and schools; providing proper infrastructure; making sure there’s ample clean running water; or providing clinics and health facilities to mothers and their children. All are required on a long-term mission for mankind.
Sadly, the Afghan people face a determined threat from those who tread the path of evil and extremism. These terrorists believe only in their cause, that bomb and bullet trump the ballot box and the beneficial. They are intent on pursuing a policy of hatred through the agenda of terror. Even those who fight to eradicate polio and its debilitating effects are considered to be evil, as if curable suffering and illness ought to remain part of the human condition.
Bringing light to darkness
These five martyrs died bringing light to the darkest reaches of Kandahar, a province where the Taliban and its ilk have proven resilient and difficult to eliminate. The martyrs’ mission was to bring schools and hospitals to fruition, providing hope and inspiration, education and medical facilities where they are most in need. It is a mission that will be completed and one that will be a lasting legacy to these brave men who died in the service of fathers and mothers, their children and the elderly.
These past months have been trying for this nation, exacting a deadly toll on the men and women who proudly wear its uniforms and those who step forward to help and assist. Barely six weeks ago, the UAE honoured all of its martyrs, opening a garden of remembrance and marking Commemoration Day. Now, these martyrs of Kandahar join those ranks and the legacy will be enshrined by a grateful nation. From the earliest days, when the UAE was in its formative hours, brave men have died in its service, defending its territorial integrity on the Arabian Gulf from Iranian aggression. They have never been forgotten — nor have all those who died in the line of duty. It is our duty to honour and remember.
But make no mistake: The UAE will never be deterred by those who follow the path of terror. The Kandahar bombing was a nefarious and evil deed, plotted and planned by men who seek to intimidate and was executed in a cowardly manner.
Let us be clear too: The UAE will never yield to threats, will never be swayed by intimidation, will never budge in the face of difficulty, will never falter in fighting terror, will never flinch through fear, will never cease to help those in need, and will pursue its humanitarian mission regardless of the difficulty. These are not hollow words, but the resolution of a nation that is proud of its work in the service of humanity. That is our duty now — and to those who died in Kandahar performing theirs.