I am bugged by the thought of why is it that ‘modern Afghans’ are not backing the government and international community whose values of government system has made it possible for them to tremendously improve their life in comparison to Their situation under the Taliban.
I have come to realise that bright Afghans who do not have a social mind set orbiting solely around religion, with an interest of individual nature and hobbies are against democratic values. They do not possess any prerequisites for radicalisation such as social isolation, political grievances affecting their daily life, marginalisation, oppression and the rest of it. They are quite happy and not religious. They have an open mind about alcohol and sex as part of routine lifestyle, they know places in Kabul where they can purchase and drink. This group of Afghans I call the modern Afghan. This group theoretically should make up the core of Karzai government supporters. This is exactly the key allies that the international community and Nato should have on their side. If they are not on their side, then who is? I am wondering, why they are not, while stuck in this traffic jam. This group has much in common with the ordinary man of the west: a shared lifestyle, putting family first, secular views of daily life, sought education and career dedicated. But they differ in what is known as morality and political views. Ordinary man of the west, I consider those who are not partisan political such as members of religious, ultra right or left wing groups. The man who is family dedicated and seeks happiness for the loved ones. The ordinary man of the west, by and large, condemns violence against the innocents while the modern Afghan man condones terror and civilian targeting as a way of addressing the grievances of the group which, he considers, had been marginalised and betrayed. The ordinary man of the west sees terror as a serious threat to their safety, while the modern Afghan sees it as a part of life in what he can’t have a say.
Modern Afghan’s silence against ‘the evils’ has got to do with his inability to bond with the values of democracy, the current socio-political trend promoted by international community and Afghan government. The modern Afghan man is the closest Afghan replica, similar to the moralisation of democratic values by the ordinary western man. On the other hand and generally speaking, the modern Afghan man has political views and morality codes which do not go with his lifestyle. The modern Afghan condemned the Danish Cartoons and rallied to take action against Denmark. They launched a campaign which boycotted Danish products. The modern Afghan is anti-Semitic in what they see jews as human elements of Israeli state. Unaware of the fact that not all Israelis are Jews and there are Jews outside Israel too. An international colleague with last names as Sigal, Izaaks, Hickman or Sichel; are seen as another foreigner. The modern Afghan has not been disgusted by the action of Taliban rather they have become more sympathetic. Almost half of the modern Afghans I know have been involved in numerous incidents where they were close to be hurt. The target was some foreigners or government installation but the pedestrians took the toll; people going about their lives on the street. Witnessing this didn’t change their mind about Taliban tactics. The modern Afghan do not necessarily support Taliban but it is that they have a fluctuating ground in relation to what is happening around them on daily basis. They see that the dead pedestrians could be them and that Taliban puts their life in grieve danger but it is something behind their action.
Among the modern Afghan is Elias. A successful entrepreneur owning some several radio stations and other businesses. The radio station he owns is nothing less than a historical phenomena. The international intervention and the creation of a democratic space has made it possible for citizens to own media outlets; radio has always been a state monopoly. The radio stations are sustained by the market forces and development fundings available from international sources. Yet, Elias lacks any commitment to the current regime or the values of the system which has made it possible to own and profit from the radio stations. Elias has lived under the Taliban and he knows they wouldn’t even let him express his views about the dress he wears or his beard and hair let alone critic the social order.
Do you think Taliban would let you conduct your life, business and employment the way you do?
‘Current social is created under the influence of westerners. It is not the only and it is not the ideal. Things in Afghanistan changes fast, you won’t have a chance to reflect on what is happening and where I fit. To survive you need to punch forward. If there was no international aid, consequently my business, then I would be free to grow drug. Why do they whinge when I make money the way I do.’ said Elias.
Elias like many modern Afghans I know argue that democratic principles are riddled with double standards and contradiction. Modern Afghan grievances are based on what they see as democracies ineligibility to the moral authority. They say: what about Guantinimo, what about treatment of minorities in the ‘free world’, what about corruption in western politics. Muslims lack a sense of self criticism to enable them compare Islamic morality with democracy. Islamic morality is blazingly clear but its impairment is not questionable even by the modern Afghan. There is an urge for clarity. We should respond to the criticism of free world morality. I think there are three things here: the treatment of own citizens and the free world is doing very good. Secondly, respect to international law. Again the free world is doing good except the US under Bush administration and finally what the free world does to realise its own morality in places like Afghanistan and it is horrific. The free world is not only helping but has financed genocide. if we are talking politics that was then and now is now. The slightest believe in Islam does not distinct between personal and politics, making western support for previous wars a personal matter. We have been through enough crises to understand that decisions are not based on principles but political realities and human’s realistic ability as oppose to our wishful thinking. Elias seems to have been for most of his life at the betrayed end of hypocrisy culmination and he has experienced a larger share than ordinary man. Contradiction in the principles of democracy has made Elias highly suspicious of the values and principles of democracy. For instance, freedom of expression as a value and objectivity as a core principle of it, is viewed as a mirage. Elias is correct in saying that no outlet is objective and they have their own angle into the issues; but he doesn’t recognise how distorted their interpretation of the truth is. BBC has an angle but the angle Aljazeera or Taliban media or Iran state media has, lies some 180 degrees away from the truth. In the mid90s when Taliban were battling the northern alliance in the north of Kabul after capturing Kabul. Iranian Sada Wa Sima radio was reporting that Taliban has launched a massive attack on Kabul. This is why BBC has a reputation in Afghanistan for providing objective news and information. Truth doesn’t always matter; we as humans are fallible and for a believer in human fallibility truth doesn’t exist. The larger and the further the object of truth is from us, we’ll have more autonomy in selecting what truth is which basically means the angle we view it. if battle is raging at the gates of Kabul; a Kabuli wants to know the progress; it is a truth. I could be heard and felt. But some Taliban pocket of resistance in Kandahar some 500KM away can’t be felt but realised through anecdotes. That is why Aljazeera make perfect sense for millions of Afghans and other Muslims as well as non muslims as long as ones world view is compatible with it. once a modern Afghan starts to take Aljazeera as an outlook to the truth it means changes to certain aspect of his world has happened.
The notional objectiveness does not exist but do you see some are more objective than others?
‘There are international treaties and conventions. The western world has always violated these documents when it comes across their interest. The west has created an unfair world where everybody fights for survival, the weak has no choice of winning but to create a different perspective. If you are on the weak side it is as more objective than the western aspect.’ Said Elias.
Elias believes that Hamas and Taliban actions or other militant groups are justified because they are denied justice and have been shoved to margins of opportunity. They have no choice but to resort to cruelty. This is while Elias’s business partner Zameer has arrived at the conclusion that reconstruction projects are a waste of money instead the international community should have supported businesses. This view is generally shared by other business pioneers too. The basic of economics is: fixed exchange rates which will keep the goods circulate in the free market by keeping the price down is good for the national growth. Such a business oriented approach to development is assuming that Afghans would shoulder a bigger portion of responsibility instead of foreigners building stuff for them. Elias believes that those under tremendous stress can’t be judged by the same token as those living the good life often at their expense. I asked him if people are not to bear responsibility for their action disregarding their situation then why does he run a radio station, the basic notion of which is empowering people and providing a voice for the marginalised so grievances could be addressed and alternatives to the vicious circle of poverty could be found?
‘America has an obligation to Afghanistan. they can’t go around and destroy countries and leave them on their own. They can but they will taste the consequences as they did on 9/11. The west bombs, kills and destroys but when we demand justice we are told that is against human rights and when we take matters in our hands, we are called terrorists.’ Answered Elias.