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Promoting National Unity

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Cultural, ethnic and language-related divisions among different parts of the Afghan society has always helped igniting wars and conflicts, holding Afghanistan back from nurturing national unity and harmony. The process of nation-building does not bear result overnight, but it is an extensive process in which all parts of the society including the government, politicians and other national institutions in line with civil and academic bodies must play a cohesive role.

Rightly stressing the need for an approach in the media that serves Afghanistan’s national interests, President Karzai called on the media outlets and political parties to act in a way to safeguard the national unity and the country’s interests. Addressing an event marking the World Environment Day on Saturday, Karzai criticized protests about a week ago in Kabul in which the protesters accused Iran and Pakistan of meddling in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, setting fire to portraits of some neighboring countries’ leaders.

In the past, Afghans have had repeated failures in building a nation. The country is now recovering from a long-lasting conflict which the civil war is a major part of it. As the country is moving towards to shouldering the responsibilities alone and the foreigners are withdrawing from Afghanistan, national harmony is even a more urgent need for the country. Ethnicity, language and religion have played a major role in the crises in the past. Although the Afghans are moving into the right direction, but politics of ethnicity is still playing a major role in Afghanistan’s political arena. Regrettably, during past decade, the government and the rest of the political elite of Afghanistan have had enormous failures in promoting national harmony.

There are politicians who invest on ethnic and religious fractures to strengthen their bases of ethnic and religious support. And there are media outlets that – willingly or inadvertently – support these politicians as many of them are funded and operated by the Afghan politicians. These politicians are obviously on the wrong side of the history. The Afghans are determined to put the dark past behind and move forward towards a better future in which all Afghans are part of a nation. In the future course of nation-building, all Afghans need to embrace new values and standards for national unity.

Some recent developments in the capital Kabul is of great concerns. There were protests against neighboring countries and some Afghan politicians, which brought the recent condemnation by President Karzai. There were tensions in the parliament over the ‘national terms’ and specifically about the national word for the university. And there were – and still continuing – strikes and protests that were sparked by ethnic and religious divisions reinforced by government’s inability and some politicians’ ethnic agendas and their attempts to cement ethnic base of supports.

The government of Afghanistan needs to spare no efforts and policies that could create broad national consensus. And the political parties as well as the politicians need to recognize the importance of national unity for the future of the country and the fact that any agendas damaging national unity is treason to the country. The political elite of Afghanistan need to understand that national coherence and a stable politics is in best of their interests and the interests of Afghanistan.

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