The Price of Peace in Afghanistan

US may have started its infamous ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan post-9/11 but the fact remains that Afghans have been fighting terror long before in what was labeled as a ‘civil war’

Sunday, 20th of September 2015, marks the 4th Commemoration of my father’s assassination in Afghanistan. While my father’s assassination was a rude awakening in life for me and the rest of the family, there are many good lessons to be learned from such experiences in life. When you witness the death of a loved one in a suicide bombing, you don’t remain the same person. Sometimes when I think about it, there may have been a reason why my father named me ‘Shuja’ – meaning, ‘brave or courageous’ in Arabic.

An extremely kind-natured father to me, Burhanuddin Rabbani was a spiritual father to generations of Afghans who looked for the slightest ray of hope for a free Afghanistan during some of the country’s darkest times – beginning from the Soviet invasion to the emergence of the Taliban. His active involvement and dedication to Afghanistan for over 40 years of his life made him one of the most recognizable names and faces in the country.

From an activist by nature to a university professor who stood against Communist leadership in Afghanistan and later on to becoming one of the leading Afghan politicians of the 20th century, he was a force to be reckoned with. The fact that he stood out and stood firmly for the principles he fought for did not go well with world and regional powers that wanted Afghanistan to remain a subjugated nation through proxy authorities like the tyranny of the Taliban.  Going up to the top of your game doesn’t come as an easy ride and after my father’s assassination, I’ve had to learn about some of these challenges.

Democracy and freedom have become the charter for war crimes and genocide of epic proportions in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the rest of the world

I share some of my personal observations here:

1. No matter what you do for them, some Afghans will never be grateful: When reading articles by the new breed of Afghan journalists and how some Afghans speak bitterly of the Mujahidin leaders like my father, I’ve come to accept that you just can’t make everyone happy and no matter what you do, people will find any excuse to go against you. Once you come to accept this as a life’s reality, every criticism against you – however bitter and unjust – will be neutralized.

2. There are many young, angry, and resentful Afghans: In trying to understand the reasoning behind cyber-bullying and hate messages I get online, I now find it hard to reason with people that have no intention of doing anything good for Afghanistan. Impulsive behavior which gives instant gratification through cyber-bullying may give some a quick fix, but they’ll still need a lot more help than getting a rush of pleasure for their larger, personal issues. I’ve come to learn who I need to avoid when I’m online and ii doing so, however many hate messages I get, they’ll just have to get in line if they want any attention.

3. The war against children of Mujahidin leaders has begun: When it comes to Afghanistan’s English writers, I’m probably one of the very few vocal voices who speaks for the Mujahidin of Afghanistan – that is, of course, before the term ‘Mujahidin’ was bastardized with the birth of the Taliban. Afghan and western critics of the Mujahidin forget that the Afghan jihad was very much an American jihad against the Soviet Union at the time. Constant demonization of Mujahidin leaders over the past 20+ years has not resulted to much except damaging their reputations in the eyes of the world. The US may have started its infamous ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan post-9/11 but the fact remains that Afghans have been fighting terror long before what was labeled as a ‘civil war’. (The other ethnic wars which many Afghans are afraid to talk about will be discussed in a blog later this year)

4. Resilience and tenacity is the key to survival in Afghanistan: Going head to head with the vicious propaganda of the western media with young Afghans educated in the west through USAID-Fulbright scholarships as their foot soldiers is no easy task and anyone getting in the way is bound to get destroyed – but this is just another chapter of the war on terror. The next war of winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan youth has already begun a decade ago. The west has successfully made it a default mindset for the Afghan youth in thinking that the root cause of all the evils of Afghanistan was the Mujahidin and they – the worldwide licensed distributors of democracy and freedom – are the only force of good for Afghanistan.

To date, I have not come across any Afghan journalist honest enough with themselves to challenge the west and speak of the lives lost in the name of freedom and democracy. Democracy and freedom have become the charter for war crimes and genocide of epic proportions in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the rest of the world and yet, the Afghan youth is made to believe that the freedom and democracy that we have is real – the Mujahidin are a good anchor that can be used to point to when trying to find someone to explain why and where things have gone wrong.

Regardless of how much propaganda has been waged against people like my father, their strength and influence continues to grow. Today, my family’s political presence in Afghanistan is stronger than it has ever been – even stronger than when my father was alive. There’s a constant sense of revival and reform in his political party and things are moving forward with full force. Young and older members of the immediate family are actively involved in gender and ethnic inclusion of youth in politics, philanthropy work, and sending the greater message of what Afghanistan’s Mujahidin fought for: a sovereign united country.

It seems that in a post-9/11 world, the price one has to pay for peace and for a truly free Afghanistan may have to be the ultimate price of paying with your life for any other Afghan who stands up for it with conviction.


2 thoughts on “The Price of Peace in Afghanistan

  1. First of all, I am so sorry for your loss. It must be difficult to accept that your father sacrificed so much for Afghanistan and in return passed away in the hands of those same people he fought so hard to defend. I must say, however, that I do not agree with your analysis of Afghans being ungrateful. I think in every country there are people who will always dissent – you cannot logically expect 100% of ANY country to support a single person. I have my personal issues against the mujahideen, specifically the fact that they could have banded together instead of breaking into factions in order to fight the communists. Ethnic ties and personal interests have always fragmented our society and the mujahideen, just like everyone else, blew whatever chance there was of restoring this country. Good luck on your journey healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Nahid,

    Eid Mubarak!

    Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts – I appreciate it. I don’t always make my points clear in my blogs and perhaps that’s a good thing because it encourages this type of discussion and leaves room for further dialogue.

    I totally agree with you and by no means do I expect everyone in the country to be grateful for whatever the Mujahidin do and have done – let’s face it, not all Mujahidin were the best of Afghan people and certainly in our recent history, we’ve seen some of the worst times under the Mujahidin leadership. My main argument against the critics is that when criticizing, at least be fair and give credit where credit is due.

    As the son of a Mujahidin leader, I’ve been a strong advocate of having these discussion on a national level amongst the youth so that whatever misunderstandings, resentments, biases (on both sides) people have may be addressed and Afghans can move on without this chip on their shoulder and mental baggage which keeps haunting them. Hundreds of Mujahidin are still alive and these misunderstandings can be addressed in a very transparent manner through first-hand accounts but where are those responsible journalists who’d be willing to take up such tasks of bringing both sides of the story? If our younger generations have so much anger and so many questions that have gone unaddressed, why isn’t our social activists doing anything to make that change happen? We can’t leave all our problems for politicians to come up with solutions for – we’ll need to get creative and find our own solutions.

    As an ending note, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:

    “If you are depressed you are living in the past.
    If you are anxious you are living in the future.
    If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

    I am convinced that our country is depressed because most of us are still living in the past and frustrated because of false promises of a bright future. We just have to work with what we have today – be it good or bad – but that choice is individually made and every Afghan has that option to choose what they want to do.

    Thank you again for reading. I’ll be publishing my next political blog in a month or so and look forward to hearing from you again.



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