Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Independence and Political Upheaval

Afghanistan has undergone political upheaval within the last decades. Afghan King Amanullah Khan (1919-1929) proclaimed Afghanistan’s independence and sought to modernize the country, but political tension and civil unrest did not come to an end. A number of religious figures and tribal elders showed backlash against Amanullah’s modernization.
Amanullah Khan sought to reform Afghanistan’s political, legal, and cultural structures. He pushed for women’s rights to education and had many schools established. He paved the ground for girls’ education both in the country and outside as a number of girls went to Turkey to get education.
He also convened a Loya Jirga to approve constitution, which was widely based on democratic principles. For instance, in the constitution approved during his regime, sexual and racial discrimination was eliminated, which was a remarkable achievement in legal sector. Meanwhile, under-aged marriages and polygamy were also banned. Hence, all citizens, regardless of their race and sex, were supposed to be treated equally.
However, his reform was proved abortive as Afghans reacted against his modernization. To protect their self-interests, a number of religious figures and tribal elders showed strong reaction against his reformation, which led to the collapse of his regime. In other words, on the one hand, Amanullah sought to modernize a conservative state such as Afghanistan overnight. On the other hand, tribal code of conduct and conservative mindset were deeply embedded in Afghanistan’s culture. With this in mind, the people of Afghanistan found the sudden modernization contrary to their traditional culture and acted out of emotion.
Subsequent to the collapse of Amanullah’s regime, Afghanistan underwent many political challenges and upheaval. Kings, emirs, and tribal and political figures capitalized on religious tenets as they excommunicated one another and ruled the country under the name of religion. A large number of people, as today, were killed and wounded under religious terminology as kings and emirs called themselves the caliph of God simply to legitimize their practices.
Civil unrest also happened under the name of religion as a number of heavyweight religious figures and radical individuals were involved. Afghan people paid heavy sacrifices under the acts of religious fundamentalists and conservative figures. In factional fighting, emirs and religious figures issued fatwa against one another to legitimize their acts of killings and destruction.
It is self-explanatory that the emergence of the Taliban in 1990s was also based on religious terminology. The Taliban declared to bring peace and stability and fight against cruelty and religious taboos (haram). Their sacred narrative was welcomed by the people of Afghanistan, who were weary of war and civil unrest. However, their regime was colored with the brush of religion and ethnocentrism. As a result, the Taliban also killed people and destroyed the country under the cover of religion and the history was repeated.
Moreover, Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity were violated by foreign states and neighboring countries. That is to say, foreign interference continued despite the declaration of independence. The bulk of the challenges were brought about by foreign states. For example, the Taliban still enjoy safe haven in Pakistan as their leadership is leading their councils there. Terrorist groups, who are involved in acts of violence in Afghanistan, are supported by a number of countries. The Taliban, who claimed to fight against “foreign occupation”, held several rounds of informal talks in Russia.
Currently, Afghanistan is celebrating its independence amidst a myriad of political challenges. The Taliban are still being backed by foreign states destabilizing the country through killing Afghan soldiers and civilians. Insecurity persists. The Taliban fighters still fight in the country and kill women and children under the cover of religious terminology. Afghanistan is an Islamic country and its post-Taliban constitution was endorsed by religious figures as well as jihadi leaders, but the Taliban seek to impose their radical interpretation of Islam on Afghan constitution.
I do not deny Afghanistan’s independence, but foreign states have to stop interfering in Afghanistan internal issues as well as backing the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Afghanistan’s territorial integrity should not be violated anymore.
Afghanistan has made strides on the long road and Afghans are sensitive towards the interference of foreign states. Afghans deserve to mark its independence as they paid heavy sacrifices for maintaining their independence and supporting democratic principles. The current constitution of Afghanistan, which is based on human rights and democratic values as well as Islamic tenets, is a remarkable achievement. There is no room for racial, sectarian, or sexual discrimination in Afghan constitution and all citizens are deemed equal. Currently, women hold high positions and play active role in Afghanistan’s social, political, and economic sectors. It is hoped foreign states, mainly neighboring countries, will respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.