Bhutanese citizens along with the rest of the world has been watching the disaster unfolding in Afghanistan for a few weeks now.
In terms of geo-strategic location there is a similarity between Afghanistan and Bhutan in that both the countries are located strategically next to powerful neighbors.
In the case of Afghanistan, the combination of never ending invasions, big power rivalry and domestic instability led it from one historical conflict to another.
In the colonial period while the British rushed to control it to seal the northern gates to India, in the cold war era it was the Russians who wanted a friendly regime knocked down by American help, and for now Pakistan seems to hold the cards.
Bhutan has had the blessing of not becoming a stomping ground for big powers despite its strategic location through a combination of being on the right side of history and geography, and also good leadership at crucial times.
In fact, the strategic location of Bhutan has been converted into an asset rather than a curse in the modern era by the steadfast and visionary leadership of our Kings.
Another similarity between Afghanistan and Bhutan is the different ethnic groups but in the case of Afghanistan their divisions have been used by foreign powers to create turmoil and also pave the way for foreign invasion.
In the case of Bhutan one of our biggest strengths is our national unity.
A third similarity was that Afghanistan had a forward looking and progressive Monarchy before the cold war and the country was stable, prosperous and modernizing.
However, internal political feuds led to assassinations and coups and Afghanistan was never the same.
Its last president fled without giving a fight and a plane load of money.
In the case of Bhutan, we are blessed with a Monarchy where His Majesty The Fourth King led his army from the front in 2003, and we now have a King who kept us safe from COVID-19 even at personal risk to himself, and is now selling shares to ensure every Bhutanese has financial support in such tough times.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”