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

Afghanistan as a Third World Country

Although the concept of “third world” is one of the most usual terms in political literature, there IS no single definition about it. Therefore, there are different definitions and descriptions about the classification of the world to the first, second and third world countries. The first definition was provided by United Nations in 1955. The United Nations defined it on the basis of financial income. Based on this criterion, those countries that make 80% income of the world but their population is just 20% were defined as first world countries. On the contrary, those countries that make 20% of world income, but their population are 80% were defined as third world countries. And those countries that fall in the midst of the two were defined as second-world countries. The next definition was introduced by communism. Mao, who is a renowned communist leader, defined the first world countries as synonymous with imperialism, the second world countries the same as socialism, and the poor and looted countries to third world countries. Besides these two famous definitions, there is another definition that was introduced by Bandung that defined it as equal to non-alignment movement.
Given the existing political literature, there is a long list of features that show the commonalities and similarities of the third world countries. In order to know the position of our country in the global ranking, and in order to recognize the third world countries, we need to put a glance at these common features. These features include a high level of poverty, high level of illiteracy, low level of political participation, political dependencies, traditional economy, ideological conflicts, lack of political sovereignty, vulnerability against foreign factors, political instability, environmental challenges, identity crisis, legitimacy crisis, high level of birthrate, administrative corruption, inability to exploit mineral resources and so forth. Based on these specifications or characteristics, more than a hundred countries, including Afghanistan, fall under the category of the third-world countries. In clear terms, more than a hundred countries are suffering from a wide range of issues that the first world countries have already crossed from those challenges.
As there is no effect without any cause, the main question is what are the causes and deterring factors of the backwardness in the third world countries? In response to these questions, there is a wide range of scientific discussions which is beyond the patience of this brief piece, but this article is going to pick a few major deterring factors that seem appropriate in the context of Afghanistan. According to political scholars, the first and oldest factor is colonialism and its divide and rule policy in colonized countries. The colonizers always pretend to build and propel the third world countries towards peace and prosperity, but in practice, they attempted to exploit their natural and mineral resources. In relation to this factor, Afghanistan has historically experienced different direct and indirect interferences of the colonialists including domination of the Great Britain and the Soviet Union which overtly had interfered in the internal affairs of the country causing years of bloody war and violence.
The second factor that has held back our country is the geopolitical location. Afghanistan is situated in the heart of Asia bordered by six countries including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan in the north, with Iran in the west, with Pakistan in the south- east and China in the remote east. This country has no direct land contact with India, but the proximity is very close to calling both countries neighbors. Accordingly, the ancient Silk Route, South Asia, and presence in the middle of important neighboring countries are the factors that made the country vulnerable to foreign aggressions and interferences.  Nevertheless, this location had been used as an advantage and as a transport hub between Central Asia and South Asia during the Khorasan civilization, but our national weakness combined with interferences of powerful neighbors changed this opportunity to threat. We would not revive the past glory as long as Afghanistan does not pursue a friendly geo-economic strategy with strong national unity and a powerful defense force to protect this vulnerable land.  The next major issue which has served as a deterrent factor is the tribal political culture in the country. Unfortunately, the political culture of Afghanistan has been built on basis of ethnocentrism and tribal traditions. However, ethnicity or race itself is not an obstacle, but ethnocentrism or racism tendencies are serious obstacles against peace and prosperity. The reason is that Ethnocentrism and racism act as barriers against indicators of political development. Unfortunately, many of the third world countries have not crossed from the tribal barriers as they still try to monopolize economic and political power within specific ethnical circles. As a result, the energy and talents of young intellectuals are largely wasted on how to knock out their ethnic rivals instead of addressing big and national issues of the country. If Afghanistan fails to establish a modern political culture, and if it fails to rescue the republican against retrogressive groups, it would not be able to defend the country against those strong factors that are not in the favor of a powerful Afghanistan in the heart of Asia. The last factor that is felt as complementary factor to the aforementioned ones is the weakness of our security system. If we look at the experience of last two decades, there has always been a self-invisible hand that has acted as a helper in bringing foreign factors. In fact, no foreign elements can infiltrate into an alien system without a native helper. This is more than several decades that terrorist groups have been waging proxy wars with the help of insiders to prevent formation of a strong government in Afghanistan in order to ensure the illegitimate interests of their foreign backers.