Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 15th, 2021

Hopes and Expectations in New Year

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Hopes and Expectations in New Year

Afghanistan enters the new year (the year 2021), carrying the profit and loss statement of the year that has passed. In the statement, the country definitely has more losses than the profits, but the new year that has started will bestow upon great opportunities to make up for the losses, and the Afghan people should have great expectations that it really happens. The best chance in this year will be the opportunity to decide, to some degree, their own destiny through an Afghan-led peace process, which they have acquired after numerous sacrifices. It will be important to see how they will stand against these challenges and how they approach the available opportunities.
They must start with taking note of the possible scenarios in upcoming year and analyzing how those will end in their favor or against them. They require understanding their weaknesses and strength as a nation based on a realist approach. Understanding their context is also significant as it will help them in determining the path that they need to follow to move ahead. In their collective efforts, they must be responsible and the best judge of themselves. For their collective well-being, this year they would require to be very vigilant in promoting democracy. For that their national conscience needs to be developed. They can only be victorious or defeated by their proximity or distance from democracy. Now, that they have formally adopted democracy as a system of government, they need to work for it as well, as words alone will do no service. Most importantly, they need to change their attitudes towards democracy and within it.
Democratic conduct is mostly focused on the art of communicating properly and listening with patience. It promotes free speech and encourages everyone to say what they wish. Basically, in democracy people embrace the kind of society that they can publicly criticize. Those people who support democracy basically want the problems to be resolved by dialogue and diplomacy, not by violence. They need to enhance their capacities to listen properly to the opposite views and to rethink their arguments consistently. As per the requirement of true democracy, they first of all need to cultivate the readiness to agree that the facts cannot be with them all the time; others may possess it as well. For those who believe that their viewpoint is an undeniable fact, there is no need for a patience to listen others.
People need to realize the capacity of an individual, and need to accept that it is not possible that a person can always have all the facts right. Neither, a person’s view can stand true in all the circumstances; therefore, it is essential that others should be listened to as well. This also stands true for democratic institutions. If a single institution within a democracy sees itself as the holder of all the truth, it is bound to derail the system. Therefore, tolerance to others and their opinions on both the individual and collective levels must be kept as a top priority if people want to pursue a true democratic culture.
While Afghanistan has taken significant steps towards democracy since the downfall of Taliban regime, the people have yet to deal with a number of behavioral questions. They must realize that at the present scenario their motives are deceptive and their actions are radical. They also need to realize that intolerance and even violence to address the disparity of viewpoint and thoughts can never assist them in continuing their journey towards a true democracy. As Mahatma Gandhi had said that intolerance itself is a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit. Currently, Afghanistan is suffering largely because of the curse that has emerged out of the intolerant attitudes of its people. Unfortunately, they are not tolerant in their religious beliefs though their religion has always taught them to be moderate in their approach and behavior. Many individuals and groups can be found in the country that have adopted exclusionary approach in their religious beliefs, mostly promoting hate-speech against ‘others’. 
As Afghanistan has imported the concept of democracy, the people at large are not able to realize its true worth. Neither, they are able to suit it as per their demands. Moreover, the political leadership itself is ambiguous about how to adjust the system in the country as per the requirements. However, all is not dark, as they have plenty to learn since the adoption of an Islamic and democratic constitution for Afghanistan in 2003. All, they need to do at the moment is to make the prerequisites for a democratic system possible if they really like to follow their constitution and the will of their people.
In order to steer their nation towards genuine democracy, they should feel that it is only possible through a responsible attitude, and without that the dream of democracy cannot be realized. While governmental authorities and people play a very important role, the main responsibility lies with the leaders and academics who can largely influence the people’s views and attitudes. They need to be mindful that they can spread positivism and empathy and can really engage the people as a whole in building an atmosphere that is ideal for democracy instead of planting the seeds of hatred and intolerance in people’s minds and hearts.

Sajjad Aasim is a PhD scholar in International Relations. He can be reached at sajjad.aasim@hotmail.com.

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