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.