Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nullify Afghan Independence Day Forever

Nullify Afghan Independence Day Forever
by Nemat Sadat

One of the biggest myths in Afghanistan’s modern history is the idea that Afghans somehow gained an independence from a foreign power.
"Although I do like to celebrate everyday the fact that Afghanistan is an independent nation, there is no specific date at which Afghanistan became independent," says Mushtaq Sadat an undergraduate at the American University of Afghanistan.” Let’s make it very clear to everyone. Afghanistan first entered the Westphalian system as a modern nation when it became a unified state in 1747. Since Afghanistan’s inception, Afghans have crushed all attempts of colonial intervention. Afghanistan fought three major wars with British India and in each battle Afghans triumphed to protect their national autonomy. While Pax Britannica’s dominance as a world power stretched the globe, Afghanistan was never occupied by the British. Let there be no confusion about that. So what exactly then are Afghans celebrating today in a tradition that began ninety-four years ago?

August 19 marks the day to commemorate the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 which allowed Afghanistan to freely exercise its own foreign relations with the rest of the world. After the third successive defeat of the British which coincided with the decline of the hegemon, there was no other choice than to negotiate a settlement with the Afghan regime in Kabul. It was after the second Anglo Afghan War that the British were given control of Afghanistan's foreign affairs in exchange for protection against Russian and Persian intrusion into Afghanistan’s domestic affairs. But the British reneged on their own promise when they continued to escalate hostilities and waged another war against Afghanistan. So my question is this: Why must Afghans belittle themselves to celebrate and independence just to please the crushed ego of a British emporium. The whole notion of an Afghan Independence Day is a historical lie that continues to be perpetuated by those who manipulated the facts. It’s an unequivocal truth that Afghanistan is one of a handful of countries in the world to have neither been a colonizer nor colonized. As a courtesy, we must respect the cultural integrity of these brave nations who resisted foreign domination.

While I do admire the late King Amanullah Khan as a progressive leader who had the courage and foresight to modernize Afghanistan, I humbly reject the declaration to an Afghan Independence Day following the Third Anglo-Afghan War. As of today, Afghans must cease celebration of a deceptive holiday that has been dubiously and wrongfully imposed on them. In blood and treasure, the ancestors of Afghanistan suffered huge losses to remain a fiercely independent and a unified nation. In many respects, Afghans today still suffer from their conflicted past of foreign meddling into their internal affairs.

Let’s begin a movement to end Afghanistan’s Independence Day. Boycott any planned celebration throughout the country and save your fireworks for another festive occasion. The Afghan government must rewrite history in a manner that boosts the self-image of Afghans to accurately reflect the facts. Confusing the masses is no longer acceptable in a world where access to information provides us first hand knowledge to the truth. As the ancient adage goes, “History is always written by the victors.” In this story, the Afghans were the victors who protected their territoriality and thrice defeated British subjugation. At the very least they deserve to be given the dignity they deserve and the right to have their cultural heritage be protected and restored. All Afghans of conscience must abstain from an unjust celebration and cease to support Afghan Independence Day—today and forever.

Biography: Nemat Sadat is a an aspiring novelist and a frequent contributor on Huff Post Live. Sadat is former Professor of Political Science at the American University of Afghanistan. Sadat has also worked at ABC News, CNN and the United Nations. Sadat is an American of native Afghan origin who now lives in New York City and can be followed on Twitter @nematsadat.

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