Afghanistan’s Human Rights Inactivists and Ghostwriters: A Decade of Witch-hunting
“When human rights activism is used to gain political grounds with an agenda, it loses all its credibility and validity.”
The ‘Conflict Mapping in Afghanistan Since 1978’ report’s release that is blocked by the Afghan government has been serving more of a one final desperate attempt and ‘one final shot at the Mujahidin’ by the ghostwriters who always remain anonymous due to “personal safety reasons” and inactive activists of Afghanistan from the time its existence came into being. Since Afghanistan’s Marxists can no longer kill Muslims in masses the way they used to when Afghanistan was “in peace” before the Mujahidin forces toppled their regime, they are now wearing all kinds of masks that have been seducing the western audience. Some of these masks include self-declared titles of activism of sorts, which in the western countries, people find it as “acts of courage” and therefore blindly end up supporting individuals who seem to promote such “activism”. When human rights activism is used to gain political grounds with an agenda, it loses its credibility – in other words, they become human rights inactivists.
The feedback from sources that have read the ‘Conflict Mapping’ report point that the report is marred with inconsistencies and factual flaws. This should come as no surprise when the aim of such reports is not humanitarian justice but rather political blackmail by one group of people against another – both of whom are old enemies meeting again in the political battlefield in a new, changed Afghanistan. Western journalists claim it is the Mujahidin leaders who do not want the release of these reports because they connect many of them to “atrocities”. If there is one group that will benefit the most from the release of these reports, it is the Mujahidin. Finally, it would be time to put the myths and malicious lies of red-diaper babies, the anonymous writers and their era of propaganda and witch-hunt to an end.
“The best way to attack someone’s argument is to examine their evidence – when the ‘Conflict Mapping’ report is released, every single line and evidence should be studied carefully and Mujahidin leaders should lodge legal cases (at a national and international level) against all involved in such politically-designed reports maliciously aimed to slander Mujahidin leaders.”
I personally want the report to be released and it must be released in full with the names of every single person who contributed in any way (writing/funding/researching/providing evidence). When people are being accused of such gross crimes, there has to be accountability because justice works both ways – the ones pointing the fingers should be held accountable for their words. If we want to build an Afghanistan where we want people to be held accountable for their actions, we must push for transparency in all our processes. How can people defend themselves when their critics are ghosts? The best way to attack someone’s argument is to examine their evidence – when the ‘Conflict Mapping’ report is released, every single line and evidence should be studied carefully and Mujahidin leaders should lodge legal cases (at a national and international level) against all involved in such politically-designed reports maliciously aimed to slander Mujahidin leaders. If anything, we should take the matter a step further and this report should be released and its factual correctness debated on national TV with Dr. Sima Samar, Head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commisson (AIHRC) who was spearheading this project and her entire team who worked on it. How can Afghanistan trust a report put together when people are not willing to disclose their identities? Do we even know if the report is written or researched by any credible sources at all? It is a very common tactic Afghanistan’s human rights inactivists use to gain a quick ticket to gain political asylum in western countries; i.e., attack a political figure with lies and then run to Australia/Canada or somewhere in Europe and gain asylum because “their lives are in danger because they helped expose crimes against humanity”. It is about time all this witch-hunting is put to rest once and for all and the works of these inactivists in writing such reports is practically the last nail on the coffin of their credibility.
A Personal Challenge to Critics of Afghanistan’s Mujahidin
Before you criticize the Mujahidin for “starting” the civil war and asking easy questions like ‘why did they fight?’ – ask yourselves the more difficult questions: What if the Mujahidin did not fight? Would we even be looking at the same world map today? I challenge every Afghan critic of the Mujahidin to do the same amount of work they did in fighting for their country – since our country’s war on terrorism is not over yet, please go join the Afghan army, pick up a gun and go straight to the frontline for the next 30 years of your life – if you can do this, then come back and talk about what Mujahidin did wrong. If you are living in the comfort of your homes, comfortably sitting behind your computers and tweeting and writing propaganda articles against Mujahidin, ask yourselves what would you be doing if a similar threat like that of communism came to Afghanistan again today? Do you have the courage to leave all your comfort behind to fight for your country? Or would you prefer to not get involved and let the others do the fighting for you and your children’s future?
At a time when communism was standing at the footsteps and knocking at the doors of every nation in Europe, we lost an estimated 2-3 million of our people (figures vary in different reports) to drive communism out of our country. This is one of the biggest losses of human life in the past 30 years alone. Show me a single book written by any western historian, author or journalist who has praised Afghanistan for not only driving communists out of our country but helped bring the spread of communism to a halt – once and forever. Pick up any book on Afghanistan and it would be a miracle to find a writer (western or non-western) to even acknowledge the contribution of Afghans in the downfall of communism – a dark force that traumatized one-third of world’s population at its time. It is very convenient for western journalists and writers today, as it is for their Afghan counterparts, to say that communism did not fall because of Afghanistan, rather it was the fact that Soviet Union’s economy was already crippling, their army was over-stretched, their soldiers grew increasingly tired and therefore, Soviet Union was bound to fail. While this may be some of the factors, it cannot go ignored that at the end of the day, it was the Afghans on the ground and in the mountains under merciless conditions who did the fighting and drove the Red Army out. When the Afghan Mujahidin initially started the rebellion against communism, western powers were not even taking Afghanistan seriously because who would have thought that such a small country can have such a passionate drive to keep its sovereignty.
“If there is one thing I want Afghans to remember from this blog post and from all my writings, it is this: by speaking out against Mujahidin, you are denying Afghanistan her right to claim her contribution in the world history for the fall of one of the most powerful and atrocious ideologies known to mankind.”
How dare we forget that the majority of the estimated 2-3 million Afghans who died in the hands of communists, died when Afghanistan was still “in peace” long before the Mujahidin started their political careers as student activists and later toppled the communist regime? (Similarly, an estimated 70 million Chinese died under the other communist brand of Mao in China during the “peaceful” times). When our existence as the people of Afghanistan and our identities as Muslims was threatened by communism, Afghans from all walks of life kept their ethnic/religious/tribal and other personal differences aside and fought for the one cause of having a nation we all identified ourselves with.
Mujahidin leaders are the only group of leaders in Afghanistan that have lived the most public and documented lives in the history of Afghanistan to date. Most of the younger critics (most of them in their 20s and 30s) of the Mujahidin were not even born when the very people they call “warlords” and “war criminals” were fighting the Soviet invaders out of Afghanistan in dangerously critical conditions. I wonder where these young generation of Afghans find their source of information about their history from – could it be because their parents are sympathizers of former communist regime? Or do they just want to blend in to the international theme by joining the propaganda campaign where anyone who has fought for their country in the past is labeled a catchy term used in international media? This brainwashing has led to a demise of a sense of unity, patriotism, pride and appreciation of Afghanistan’s soldiers. If there is one thing I want Afghans to remember from this blog post and from all my writings, it is this: by speaking out against Mujahidin, you are denying Afghanistan her right to claim her contribution in the world history for the fall of one of the most powerful and atrocious ideologies known to mankind. The saddest part of it all is that younger generations of Afghans are working against Afghanistan’s right to claim this right by supporting any and all criticism of the Mujahidin. Other nations and their people who fought against fascist ideologies of people like Hitler and the Nazis are hailed as heroes in today’s history books, films, documentaries and educational institutions – so what about Afghans? Did the lives of 2+ million Afghans who died under and while fighting communism not mean anything? Afghanistan did not earn the title of “Graveyard of Empires” for no reason.
A similar propaganda against Afghans is when western writers and journalists talk about the British empire and colonialists trying to conquer Afghanistan and how the British empire was so over-stretched and had internal problems which is the reason why British empire was not able to conquer Afghanistan. When you listen to literate elder Afghans in their 60s and 70s speak on popular Afghan TV channels, they give a different story, the Afghan side of the history – in that Afghans, with their own might and force, fought the British out with great many losses. It is shameful that today, younger generations of Afghans have allowed themselves to be confused and led to think that the one group of people who brought communism down to its knees are the ones who “destroyed” Afghanistan.
Are the Mujahidin perfect? Of course not. There is no doubt that a number of Mujahidin leaders went rogue, took matters in their own hands and went about serving the interests of others as opposed to the national interest they were originally meant to serve. So why punish everyone by blacklisting all who fought for Afghanistan? The war Afghanistan fought against the Soviet Union was not only an Afghan war, it was just as much a western war – a western jihad – as it was an Afghan war. It is important for Afghans to continuously remind the post-9/11 western journalists when they write about Mujahidin and speak of them as if their own governments had nothing to do with Mujahidin when they needed to see communism fall apart. The trend we have seen in the past is this: when the west wants war, they come to Afghan Mujahidin – when they want peace, they again come to Mujahidin. When the enemies of western countries and Afghan Mujahidin are the same, why are they not considered an integral part of Afghanistan’s future?
Pakistan: Afghanistan’s Best Neighbor or Worst Nightmare?
When it comes Afghans highlighting Pakistan’s involvement and meddling with Afghanistan’s internal politics, many carelessly put the blame on specific Pakistani politicians. Looking at the background of Pakistan’s political recognition of the Taliban and military support, it is not a matter of whether a religious or a secular government is in place in Islamabad. When the late Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the head of Pakistani army was the main decision maker in support for Taliban. This support remained consistent when later General Pervez Musharraf took over as the President of Pakistan. So whether Pakistan has a female, secular leader with socialist roots or a religious leader with Islamist roots, the support for Taliban is a matter of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
This relentless support due to fear of Afghanistan being influenced by India and Pakistani politicians claiming the famous notion that they already have an unfriendly neighbor on one side and do not want an unfriendly Afghanistan on the other side has led to many Afghans resenting Pakistan. It is an unfortunate loss for Pakistan where millions of Afghans took refuge and generations of Afghans were brought up and made the country their second homes. The Pak-Afghan relationship under the current Karzai administration is not the healthiest relationship the two countries have had and Afghanistan is increasingly seeing a group of nationalists who, if and when in power, are likely to get confrontational with Pakistan to the point where they want to expand Afghanistan’s borders into Pakistan. These Afghan nationalists are living in their own little fantasy worlds where Afghanistan is the centre of the world. Instead of dreaming and feeding their fantasies, Afghans should pay attention to their own country and put their own house in order before even thinking about starting any kind of geographic disputes with their neighbors.
Moving forward, any future Afghan administration will need to work hard in dispelling the myths of Pakistan’s fears in India’s relationship with Afghanistan. It is highly unlikely that any future administration would compromise Afghanistan’s relationship with India to allow Pakistan to reach a comfort level, as that would only happen if Afghanistan was under the Taliban leadership again and there is direct proxy control over Afghanistan’s political affairs.
Legalizing Terrorism in Afghanistan
While Pakistan’s direct influence in the Afghan government is still being dismantled more than a decade later with tremendous difficulty and mistrust within the Afghan government, we are giving room for additional future problems being sowed in our country by allowing Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia to invest in multi-million dollar projects designed to spread their own brand of militant Islam. The recent announcement of Saudi Arabia’s project to build a multi-million dollar mosque and Islamic center is spelling terrorism for Afghanistan’s future.
One of the reasons Saudi Arabia formally recognized the Taliban and still continues to support them financially is the propensity of Saudis to thinking that Islam cannot and should not be followed in any other way but their way. This superiority complex and mentality results in suicide bombings during Ashura to kill minority Shias Muslims – not the Afghanistan we want to live in or should be allowing to build for our future generations. Why are we allowing such multi-million dollar projects when our priorities should be building multi-million dollar educational and healthcare facilities first?
If we are not helping empower our people, we are not helping our country. If anything, allowing this project to proceed is injustice to our future generations due to bad decision-making. The Afghanistan we want to build should be one where every Afghan citizen of every religious belief – Jewish Afghans, Sikh Afghans, Shias, Ahmadis, Ismailis and all others are aware of and understand their rights in their country, and are given full rights to practice their beliefs. We cannot ignore to address and help integrate our religious minorities, or ignore building a country where even the high majority of Muslims would be dictated by foreign trained religious scholars on how to be Muslims. The result of such investments in Afghanistan is going to be what is happening to Pakistan today – drowning in a quicksand of militant Islam that was planted decades ago.
Lebanon: An Example for Afghanistan’s Future
On my recent trip to Lebanon, I realized some similarities in the past and present of Lebanon with that of Afghanistan:
- Both countries have been through lengthy civil wars
- There is sectarian divide in Lebanon whereas Afghanistan faces more of ethnic divide
- Both countries have passed laws through their parliaments that does not punish people engaged in wars of the past
- Electricity goes on and off throughout the day in both capitals of the two countries
- There is a designated seat available in the highest positions in the government for Christians and Muslims similar to designated seats available to various ethnicities in the highest positions in the Afghan government
- Both countries have generations of their youth that are born and brought up overseas and are still moving overseas leading to continuous loss of human capital
- Both countries have neighbors with porous borders and turbulent relationships
Nevertheless, the two countries can hardly be compared – Lebanon, in its state today, is light years ahead of Afghanistan. Afghanistan can expect sectarian violence in future due to projects like those of Saudi Arabia coming in with the attitude that if anyone wants to be considered a Muslim, it would have to fit their definition and interpretation of Islam and anyone deviating away from it by a thread is an infidel (regardless of how pious of a Muslim you might be).
If Lebanon can come such a long way, there is no reason for Afghanistan not to. It is a fact of life that countries that have gone through a civil war bear its bruises for a very long time. Even if we look at Afghanistan’s relatively peaceful neighboring countries like Iran, Pakistan, and India – they all have an increasing number of their youth moving to western countries in search of a better life – this trend is only just beginning in Afghanistan and will continue to be a challenge for decades ahead leaving a vacuum of skilled Afghans that can otherwise help develop the country.
The decisions Afghanistan’s leaders take today will determine the country’s future and I can only hope that Afghans across the world put their mind in building a progressive and reform-minded Afghanistan that is true to its values, customs and traditions. I truly hope that Afghans learn to understand that their problems are not their own people and continue to challenge themselves to separate the two. As a nation, we cannot move forward if we are so caught up to staying stagnant because of what happened in our past and keeping each other backward by using that as an excuse.