Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Democratic Principles, People-to-People Exchanges Support Peace Process

Political and cultural exchanges and economic give-and-take are likely to pave the ground for sustainable peace and stability. In the global village, the entire world is connected in one way or another. Human societies have common interests. Collective conscience of mankind will be outraged if a bloody incident happens in the farthest corner of the world.
Liberalism and democratic systems are most likely to facilitate exchanges between states and nations. Liberalism reiterates individual liberties, views human nature optimistically, and challenge internal and external territory. Liberal states also stress “democratic peace” since their political culture is based on haggling, negotiations, and reconciliation.
In democratic states, which are based on liberal principles, the public oversee the government and citizens’ consent is highly crucial in case the state is seeking to start war with a country. Since citizens are aware that, in case of war, they will pay the sacrifices and undergo the pain and sufferings, engaging in “risky game” will not be approved of. Hence, citizens will prefer negotiations and other diplomatic channels for resolving tension rather than approving of war. In democratic states, therefore, peace prevails.
There are three main elements in liberalism, which are strongly connected: Peace as a principle between states; democracy as an organizer of political life within the states; and free market as a main source of wealth production. That is, democracy is naturally inclined to peace; free market supports peace and democracy; and disarmament and common security are also emphasized.
Liberalism also supports transnationalism, which means people-to-people exchanges rather than those of state-to-state. For instance, liberal states will support contacts and exchanges between people through coalitions, multinational companies, revolutionary movements, educational networks, etc. Intra-national contacts between two people are believed to result in attitudinal changes i.e. interactions at grassroots level will change the perspectives of people towards each other. 
Afghanistan is also moving towards democracy, however, it still prefers collective values and freedoms to those of individual. Afghanistan has to engage actively in social, political, diplomatic and economic exchanges with the rest of the world. In other words, Afghanistan is in dire need of supporting unimpeded trades as well as social, political, and cultural interactions with the region. It is self-explanatory that social and economic give-and-take will, on the one hand, alleviate poverty and boost economy and trades and, on the other hand, cultivate friendship between the country and the region. In short, misunderstandings will be removed and a sense of trust and friendly atmosphere will be formed as a result of exchanges.
The world has a negative notion of Afghan people as a result of decades-long conflict. That is, war and violence ongoing in Afghanistan for decades have portrayed a negative picture of the people and the country. To change the attitudinal approach of the world and paint true picture of the people of Afghanistan and their culture, the government has to facilitate people-to-people exchanges as well as exchanges between different layers of the society, including members of civil society, school and university students, educational and cultural institutions, national organizations, etc. There should be exchanges between Afghanistan’s cinemas and filmmaking studios, media persons, businesspersons, etc. and those of regional and global states. With this in mind, the Afghan government should not only focus on state-to-state interactions through formal channels but facilitate interactions at grassroots level, too. For instance, if a Pakistani’s food basket contains nut and fruit from Afghanistan, and a doctor’s prescription for an Afghan patient contains some Pakistani medicine, they will feel hearty towards each other. They will seek to learn more about each other. In addition, feeling the interdependence, the two will not approve of border closure or sour relations.  Overall, exchanges between ordinary people, businesspersons, entrepreneurs, tourists, students, and educational and cultural powerhouses of states will play a highly significant role in understanding the culture of one another and deep understanding of a nation. These exchanges will be better facilitated in democratic systems. Since Afghanistan has embraced democratic principles in the post-Taliban regime and almost all men and women support democracy as they flocked to ballot boxes to cast their votes in presidential and parliamentary elections, interactions and exchanges need to be supported.  Regional and global states should also seek to increase their exchanges and interactions with the Afghan nation so as to have a deep understanding of the people and culture of hospitality and friendliness.
Afghans have urged that democratic gains and principles should not be compromised in the peace talks between the government and the Taliban. Hence, democracy carries heavy weight for the people of Afghanistan.