10+ Things to (sort of) Dislike about Afghanistan*

It takes a bit of courage to start writing about things a person dislike about the country and people he/she loves, but I believe that without hatred love is meaningless, and that hatred gives significance to love.
At the end of each point a famous Afghan proverb is used to showcase a niche perspective within the point, hope you get it right:

1. Heart in Kabul, investment in Dubai

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From left to right: Dubai skyscrapers and an Afghan beggar in Kabul

Afghanistan’s migration crises, insecurity, illicit economy and government instability cost the world and the country itself a huge amount of trouble and money. The international community grants trillions of dollars to the Government of Afghanistan annually, but unfortunately, the lions (most Afghan politicians refer to themselves as lions) who govern this country, takes hold of the money, spend a small bit in Kabul, and transfer the rest abroad (mainly Dubai) for financing their own companies.

“To eat salt and break the salt shaker”

2. World records

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Though holding world records; a highway to prosperity seems nearby. Band-e Amir, Bamyan

My country is very famous; we are the only country whose Election results were announced after the new imposed president and CEO created the National Unity Government (NUG). We are also at the top list of Transparency International’s corruption index; though there are many commissions and governmental organizations that work on combating corruption, but it seems the lions have grown up and these ordinary human-beings cannot combat the grown-up lions.
Afghanistan produces more than 80% of the world’s opium, and is the most dangerous place for women, second top illiterate country in the world.

“The wheat is a little wet, the millstone is a little dull”

3. Tribal insults

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Partridge fighting in the outskirts of Kabul

A lot of Afghan purza goya / babblers have a habit of using tribal insults to subjugate and control other tribes. Afghanistan is a diverse country from tribal, language, and cultural perspective. Around forty tribes live in Afghanistan, each representing beautiful culture, language and traditions. The babblers, for example insult: 1) Wardakis (residents of Maidan Wardak province) and Laghmanis (residents of Laghman province) by jokes on them and indicating that they are foxy and clever; 2) Punjsheris (residents of Punjsher province) for being very stuck-up; 3) Hazaragis (people from Hazara tribe) for being too liberal and hard-working. To these babblers I want to say: “Man, we love our diversity as we need clever Wardakis and Laghmanis, stuck-up Panjsheris, and hard-working Hazaras to build this country, only “politicians” and “lions” are not going to be helpful in this rebuilding process.”

“From one hand comes no sound”

4. Love for the past and hate for the present

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A souvenir from Afghan national heroes

Afghanistan has many national heroes; every tribe considers their leader to be a national hero. Most of these national heroes rose during the thirty years of civil war. Within the offices of governmental organizations, one can see photos of the head of office’s tribal leader; tribal leaders who have been the perpetrators of mass killings in Afghanistan. These photos indicate how current Afghans and descendants of these tribal leaders give value to tribal massacres that took place during the reign of these tribal leaders. Usually young Afghans use this proverb to criticize the reality about some Afghan’s love for past and hate for present: “Afghans have no good person alive, and no bad person dead.”
For some of the new generations of Afghans, every youngster who has a share in rebuilding Afghanistan, is a national hero.

“A dead goat has golden horns”

5. Poor governance by NUG

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A united fight, Kabul

A famous proverb: “Two chefs destroy the meal.” In the case of governance by NUG in Afghanistan this proverb seems to show its meaning in practical means. During the NUG Afghans have suffered from increased insecurity, unemployment, and declined economic growth. The government has been unable to ensure the equal share of Afghanistan’s tribes in power, enforce the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) to ensure gender equity, provide new job opportunities, fight against corruption, decrease opium production, promote education and literacy in northern and southern areas of the country, and promote equal development. Like most Afghans, I am also confused of the poor governance in Afghanistan during this time-period, for President Ghani being the world’s second best thinker and philosopher leads the country. The NUG’s approach for solving serious social issues by establishing unproductive special commissions surprise me; the commissions that are gone with the wind without prevailing justice – the windy commissions.

“Everyone should be looked at with the same eye”

6. Durand line, the line of blood and unrest

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A partition line in Dragon Valley, Bamyan, Afghanistan

It has been proven that some of our neighbors are evil. The Durand Line has proven to be the source of bloodshed and unrest in Afghanistan as most insurgent groups move and reside without any limitations within this line. Although Afghan politicians do not recognize this line by pretending that the Afghan king who signed the Durand Line agreement with the British-India was under pressure by the British, but let’s give a chance for the people of Afghanistan (if possible, Pakistan as well) to decide whether they want to give up on this line or not?
Inspired by Brexit, a Durexit campaign might be helpful for Afghan politicians to understand the people’s will; which might be giving up this line, and giving an end to the line of blood.

“Stopping your losses is a gain”

7. Women subordination

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Women washing dishes during a harsh winter, Bamyan, Afghanistan

Majority of Afghan men think of women as subordinate human beings. They think women are objects whose remotes are in the hands of men, and that women do not have the right to choose, get education, work, swim, jump, bike, and live on their own. This attitude of men has blocked the share of half of Afghanistan’s population in rebuilding the country, killed millions of hopes, taken hundreds of lives, and affected the lives of both men and women in this country.

“A mother shakes the cradle with one hand, and shakes the world with the other hand”

8. International media coverage about Afghanistan

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One can’t be an example of all, Kabul

The international media coverage on Afghanistan’s war on terror has only been focused on the military aspect. War on terror is never won by military means as has been proven during the decades of civil war and war on terror in Afghanistan, South Africa, and during the two world wars. The enemy can be defeated through education, equality of rights, negotiations, and national unity. Unfortunately, the international media do not cover the achievements (minor and major) of Afghanistan in education sector, human rights and gender sector, economic sector, rural development, and agriculture.

“Taking fish from muddy water”

9. Financially heavy-weight weddings and Hajj

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Child malnutrition, central highlands of Afghanistan

On a daily basis Afghans die of hunger, women and children die during child birth, youngsters take dangerous illegal routes to seek asylum abroad, and youth join militant groups. Most Afghans ignore the current circumstances, and spend huge amounts of money to go for Hajj – not considering that the real Hajj can be done in their surroundings by supporting poor families, supporting health initiatives, supporting young entrepreneurs, and working towards development of their muddy streets. Dear Hajis, God is everywhere, not in Saudi Arabia. God can be seen in the faces of every human being – your family, your neighbors, and yourself; so stop seeking almighty God in Saudi Arabia.

“Extend your legs to the length of your carpet”

In addition to Hajj, the financially heavy-weight weddings and dowry system are another thing I dislike about my country. Youngsters spend thousands of dollars in their wedding parties to feed the guests, trying to promote obesity (which is not possible by one-time food availability) and trying to ignore people who die of hunger and kids who die of malnutrition on daily basis.

“The goat worries about his life, the butcher worries about the fat”

10. Dependency

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A queue of customers awaiting to buy breads, Kabul

Afghanistan is famous as a graveyard of empires for defeating the world super powers – the British and the Soviet Union. As a matter of fact, the defeats could not have been possible without foreign aid, this is an example of dependency from the past.
Currently, dependency comes in the face of migration and vast support from the international community. Most of the young Afghans who cannot bear crises in the country, migrate to other countries. I want to say to this youngsters: “dear migrant youngsters! Afghanistan needs you and depends on you. If you flee, I flee and others flee, who will rebuild this beautiful country?”

“Half a loaf, but a peaceful body”

11. Two-faced politicians

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An Afghan citizen, tired of poor governance and two-faced politicians think of future, Kabul

Lying in Islam is a big sin, though lying to cheat your enemy in times of war to win the war is permissible. Unfortunately, our politicians think of the population as enemies and lie to them in public. I remember the president and CEO of Afghanistan, promising the residents of our district to establish a university for them because one of them dreamed of teaching in the schools of our district when he was teaching in universities abroad.
I believe every district in Afghanistan, like my district, have been cheated by the politicians. Let’s hope for our youngsters to be honest politicians.

“Your mouth cannot become sweet by saying Halwa – a traditional Afghan dessert”

12. Quick adaptation due to weak decision-making (without further ado)

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Filafil-e Irani, a fast food named after a closely weird neighbour, Kabul

From ordinary Afghans to Afghan kings, one can see how globalization has affected both. I don’t say that adapting globally accepted norms and systems are a bad idea, but one should think and analyse their own situation, culture, and circumstances before adapting globally accepted norms. Unfortunately, in Afghanistan, without further ado the ordinary people and the politicians adapt to the norms and systems that look shiny for them at the first glance.
From King Amanullah Khan who wanted to bring liberal reforms to modernize Afghanistan on western design by announcing short-skirt western dress code for women; to our new generation who think of Polat Alemdar (a Turkish agent in a Turkish movie-series who tries to fight a mafia) as their role model; Civilization does not come with short-sleeve dress codes and an agent population, but it comes with suitable reforms through analysis, negotiation and a serious thought process. Afghans are sometimes very weak in decision-making about governance reforms and personal life reforms, and with the passage of time we learn to strengthen ourselves in these aspects.

“Looking for wool hairs in a wool carpet”

13. et al

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et al in picture, Kabul streets

To ensure that my list does not exceed 20+ things I dislike, I will shorten my points under one point:
a. Furious celebrations of happiness: Afghans are famous in celebrating happiness and joy with gun-fire towards the sky, and also they are also known for buying plastic gun toys for their children to celebrate happiness. Changing gun-fire to a Facebook post and changing plastic guns to a pen for the purpose of celebration would be a good revision for this furious process.
b. Littering and sparrow soup: Kabul is in the list of polluted capitals, and the pollution mostly comes from the dust blown by wind and the littered waste. Most Afghans I have seen litter anywhere they want, not thinking that another person is needed to bend and collect his waste. Also in some areas of Afghanistan sparrows are sold in 5 AFN per piece; people buy the birds and make sparrow soup. No litter and sparrow soup please.
c. Child labour: Due to poverty and unemployment, most families forcibly use their children to finance the family by waste collection, begging, herding livestock, and serving the minor needs of local markets. The children should be empowered, educated, and trained for leading us to the path of future development.
d. Landmines: Afghanistan still have millions of landmines in its soil, and there are usual casualties of landmines affecting the lives of children and the bread-bringers of families across Afghanistan.
e. Reliance on government: most citizens of Afghanistan think of the government as the superior body, responsible for handling every minor and major dilemmas of the country; from collecting their house waste to bringing security. We should better learn to be on our own and not depend on the poor government that lacks resources for our vast wish-list. We should learn to keep our cities clean and secure through reporting suspicious persons/objects to the police/act ourselves logically.
To conclude the post, I want to share the Afghan proverb:

“a sword wound will heal, but not a wound from words”

I hope my words have not wounded your heart, if due to my carelessness it has wounded your heart then please keep in touch through email for reasoning/healing the wound.
May we work hard and make Afghanistan prosper!

*This post is an edited version of a post that appeared on Global Voices.

*not all of my 10+ things address every Afghan. There are millions of Afghans who suffer from the consequences of the situation caused by my above points and dream of a better Afghanistan.

*those who want to check-out the 9 things to like about Afghanistan, please follow this link: https://globalvoices.org/2016/09/25/9-things-to-love-about-afghanistan/

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