Elaha Rahmani writes that as Afghans, we take pride in our deepest of roots, but when will we Afghans become one tribe?
An Open Letter To The New Generation
In a letter to the youth of Afghanistan, Rahmani points out that the people of Afghanistan cannot achieve peace and stability if we are at “each other’s throats”; she urges the nation to “shake hands, rather than shake our heads at the ethnicity of our neighbor”.
Dear Youth of Afghanistan,
I only humbly say, it is not my place to give advice, nor it is to direct one in a certain path but more of a statement: As an Afghan, it bothers me to see highly educated youth pursuing anything other than peace. The promotion of hate is wrong, especially if we hope to see our homeland rise anew and prosper. I simply have made an observation that has affected my environment, and perhaps in the most toxic way. The new Afghan generation, of which I am a part, can end this lingering toxicity.
We are the generation capable and qualified to imprint, educate and transform the course of Afghan history—and we outnumber the generation that came before us. We must carry the torch of unity, not division; of hope, not cynicism; and of peace, not violence. Peace is risky, yes; what do we have to lose?
New nations are built on unity, which we need in order to put forth and implement novel ideas. This requires tolerance and all-embracing compassion. The momentum of change, however, can be destructive when wayward elements of our generation take up arms in the name of one or another ethnic distinction.
As Afghans, we take pride in our deepest of roots, as we should, but when does our Afghan heritage become deep enough to protect? When will we Afghans become one tribe? Our land is spilled with the blood of our people—the consequence of war, occupation, and natural disasters. These national travesties did not discriminate according to ethnicity but were felt by all of us.
Let us cast aside the longstanding religious and tribal differences of our forefathers. Bury them for the betterment of our country. Unity is perhaps the one thing that Afghanistan’s history can teach us precisely because division—and destruction, and death—has been the cornerstone of our national narrative. I for one, as a member of our new generation, pledge to embrace the other Afghan story: our land’s diversity and perseverance.
Our national Afghan consciousness can renew our hope and potential, rather than our age-old violence and vendettas, stubborn histories and ethnic stigma.
We cannot achieve this task if we are at each other’s throats. Let us shake hands, rather than shake our heads at the ethnicity of our neighbor. We can abolish the lethal hatred that pollutes Afghanistan like a black bloody cloud lingering above every province. Our young, vibrant minds can transcend the past and articulate a clear vision for the future.
Elaha Rahmani is a M.S. Candidate at New York University, Center for Global Affairs, concentration on Transnational Security, with a regional focus on Central Asia and Russia. Elaha's professional background includes working at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. and on a number of developmental projects in Kabul. Twitter: @e_rahmani