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November 21, 2018
The Kabul Times

Fixing Flawed Fears: Afghanistan Endures Pains

The global “war on terror”continues and Afghanistan suffers in it. However, the Afghan society successfully overcomes the challenges resulting from the ongoing-armed conflict. It is not the purpose of our discussion here to define terrorism, nor to provide prescriptions on how to manage the global “war on terror”. The objective of this article is two-fold: first, to challenge the general mistaken assumption that Afghanistan lacks the will, determination and ability to rebuild itself; and second, to provide some suggestions voluntarily in areas necessary for repairing society.How is the general assumption that Afghanistan might “collapse”flawed? The assumption is logically, emotionally, and intellectually contradictory. Here is why:Is Afghanistan under an existential threat? No. Will Afghanistan give up its thousands years of history and civilization under any circumstances? No. Will Afghanistan go into any civil war that might cause some “fractions”? No.The fear from the unity of Afghanistan is one thing; and the fear from disunity of Afghanistan is another. In other words, the wish for the unity of Afghanistan is different from the wish for its disunity. The latter is flawed. Those who think and mistakenly fear that Afghanistan will somehow fall – and some may knowingly or unknowingly wish it so – are misinformed or do not intend to know better.
A brief treatment of the notion of fear is useful. What is fear? Do people fear death? Indeed, they do. How do we know this? The method of critical investigation – that is, analyzing factual and psychological realities about the nature of a phenomenon, can help us clarify the distinction between rational and irrational fears. An elaborated distinction of right and wrong, or true and false is unnecessary here. We are concerned with valid and false (or valid and invalid) information only. Let us examine the notions of rational and irrational fears in two examples. First, if true information (critically investigated) tells us that a B-52 bomber is on its way to deliver a GBU-43/B (also called: Mother of All Bombs) at a particular time and space, then the fear of obliteration engendered in the target is real and rational. Conversely, if a horror movie is on display in a movie theater, the fear stimulated in an audience is irrational. We know this distinction because of the nature and conformity of the facts that form our perceptions of the two frightening situations. However, when a society or nation collectively becomes fearful of time (mainly future), other people (their ideas, actions, race, color, abilities…etc.), and things(natural and artificial), then the urgency of distinguishing between real and imagined fears becomes a matter of national security.
Every society can have rational and irrational fears. Weather experts tell us about the condition of atmosphere in a particular time and space. Political scientists provide us with predictions about states and non-state actors behavior.The fear of a hurricane predicted by weather experts or that of the rise of a regional hegemon predicted by competent political scientists are valid in their own distinct ways and degrees, all else considered. The important point is that the irrational fears are less worrisome, but the rational fears need management to the extent possible. This management is more critical when discussing political questions. How rational is the fear of an Afghan citizen, whose immediate concerns are food, shelter or cloths – the three basic human needs –, faced with the uncertainty that they (he or she) can be a victim of an armed or suicide attack in their home country? It is as rational as it gets. Look the recent floods that swept parts of Panjshir (July 2017), or the deliberate violence of the armed attacks on Gardez (October 2017), and Ghazni (August 2018) and other parts of Afghanistan. Look at the strains of poverty, violence, confusion, and destruction in the Afghan society over the past thirty-nine years. While not every information may be suited for scientific measurements on which to build strategies, making prudent judgements about future uncertainties may help a society better prepare for, response to, and recover from natural or human-made catastrophes. This narrows our discussion to some suggestions.
The Afghan society is free and a place of tolerance, respect, traditions, and hospitality. Those who think the contrary to these Afghan national and institutional ideals may not know better. Afghanistan has been here for thousands of years, longer than the past almost four decades of transplanted political violence. The social cohesion of Afghanistan-founded on these national ideals. The ideals serve as the “binding energy” of Afghan society. Ibn Khaldun calls it “group feelings” and the French philosopher, Henri-Louis Bergson, would have mentioned his coined term, “Élan vital”.In practice, the permissively used term “system” will not fix itself on its own. Those equipped with the resources, ideas, and leadership skills need to help shape the direction of the society. The suggestions are four-fold in order of importance: military security, economy, public health and education.
Afghanistan is an Islamic country. Article II of the Constitution of Afghanistan states: “The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Followers of other faiths shall be free within the bounds of law in the exercise and performance of their religious rituals”. Unlike John Lock’s brilliant distinction of the private and public “spheres” of life, Islam governs all realms of a free Muslim: be it at the exchange market, public office, or at home. Muslims learn in Islam. It is suggested that the diverse bodies of Afghan Ulema help guide their communities through discussions, conferences, and other educational mediums about the importance of tolerance, sympathy, creativity, frugality, and cooperation with law enforcement in matters of public safety and crime prevention. Afghan teachers have the responsibility to inculcate in the minds of children values of Islam such as kindness, peace, tolerance, knowledge, exercise, and understanding scientific discoveries. Afghan youth have the responsibility to read the history, teach, invest, and serve. Social professional institutions, i.e., universities, civil societies, and research centers, play crucial role in shaping discourse on public policies and nurturing expertise. Experts are people who have extensive actual knowledge in a particular field, i.e., medicine, law, and social sciences. Furthermore, the state is the moral and responsible authority of protecting and defending the national security of Afghanistan.
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is empowered to deliver military security to the society. The concept of security is multidimensional and complex. It is difficult to measure.Here, military security means protecting the public from existential and manageable threats. The society empowers and expects the state to ensure basic needs and services. Society and state operate together in this dynamic process. Reforms in the security realm means: a careful reexamination of expertise and leadership, the employment and deployment of Afghan resources, geographic protection – that is, managing the porous borders –, and proper utilization of strategic intelligence. Consider the strategic importance of interconnected provinces for national security as a whole. The military significance of the Bala Hisars of Gardez, Ghazni, and Zabul; and the economic interconnectivity of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Uruzgan, Farah and Nimroz.Inner cities’ rings are insufficient and mismanaged even on tactical levels. Moreover, public security is essential for economic growth.
While regional markets offer opportunities for Afghan exports, Afghan businesses remain hesitant to commit resources, energy, and time for elevating Afghan productions. Some economic initiatives, i.e., air economic “corridors” to India, China, the Persian Gulf and Central Asian markets are encouraging; however, unemployment and poverty remain high across the country. Rules and regulations are useful for efficiency and productivity, not to create “dead locks”. Special committees of legal experts in intergovernmental departments are necessary to ensure the efficiency of administrative processing across the board. Afghan businesses may invest, produce, and hire in Afghanistan. A balanced social and economic development is the key to the healthy relationship between citizens and their government.
Additionally, reforms in the domain of public health include the administration of checked and certified vaccines, rigorous enforcement of food and drug regulations, laboratories assessments at all times, narcotics prevention, and clearing public territories from drug addicts through alternative means. Furthermore, reforms in public education means: rigorous evaluations of curriculums from elementary all the way up to university levels, teachers and professors’ credentials and benefits evaluations, the adaption of suitable modern technologies, and hiring Afghan graduates who form the mantle of the attentive public in the society. Some recent initiatives in the areas of civil service employment are helpful, but insufficient. Ultimately, reforms mean engagement with the society and acquiring Afghan expertise to serve and enhance the evolving priorities of the state. Additionally, the international community have an inseparable relationship with Afghanistan.
Though the role of international bodies in Afghanistan directly lies in the realm of Afghan foreign policy, humanitarian aid organizations can help the Afghan society through the Afghan government. Afghan refugees and displaced populations within the country need immediate and long-term support. The immediate needs include shelter, food, and employment opportunities. Afghan disabled populations are in desperate need of rehabilitation programs. Afghan farmers need tools and resources to improve their crops and local production. The list goes on. Thus, international legal NGOs and humanitarian organizations may help in the areas mentioned above. A simple question on many minds is this: how can these suggestions bear fruit in the absence of public security? True. This is the real question: how can we [Afghans] create public security and how much of it do we need? It is up for informed debates, which is not the purpose of this piece.
Ultimately, Afghanistan has been here for thousands of years. It has been through more difficult moments than most of those experienced in the past 39 years. Afghanistan is one home for all Afghans. Every Afghan member of this home has the responsibility to help repair and perfect it. Some fear and demonstrate the attitude that Afghanistan will fall, figuratively speaking. Such flawed fears become problematic when credited without critical scrutiny. Some unchecked media outlets betray the freedoms of expression and press by amplifying irrational fears, but they realize not. However, when legitimate worries about the social, economic, and political conditions hover over a society, the implications for the national security as a whole can be real. Afghanistan has the will, determination, and ability to overcome the suffering resulting from the ongoing global “war on terror”.

Hakim Jan

An Independent Researcher 

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