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The Urgency of Promoting Harmony among Citizens

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With the worsening ethnic fissures in Afghanistan, promoting national harmony among Afghan ethnic groups is exactly what the country needs the most. In recent weeks, tensions have been boiling on social networking websites over controversial remarks made at a private TV channel. The tensions finally spilled over the streets on Saturday with hundreds taking part in a demonstration near the Afghan Parliament. The latest tensions began to emerge last week after disputes between lawmakers over whether to print ethnicities or not in the electronic National Identity Card, Tazkira. The exacerbation of the ethnic sentiments is once more highlighting the fact that only way ahead for building a nation in Afghanistan is promoting national harmony among all ethnic groups in the country.

In one last decade, the Afghan government has attempted to promote national harmony through carrying out many foreign-funded programs aimed at bringing unity and harmony in the multi-ethnic nation. However, the fact is that Afghans have long way ahead to achieve national unity and overcome over the centuries of inter-ethnic conflicts and hatreds. In politics, Afghan politicians and government officials’ rhetoric about national unity are often seen as opportunistic or superficial, while the goal of building a true nation is still remaining a distant dream. This year, athletic successes of Afghan sport teams brought a rear sense of jubilations and joy among all Afghans, irrelevant of ethnicities and languages.

Afghans have suffered from decades of violence and animosity and shared values that could swiftly patch the rifts in the nation. As Afghan political spectrum is leading the nation-building process, the politicians are often directly or indirectly involved in the inflammation of ethnic tensions. With the inter-ethnic tensions boiling and distrusts among politicians higher than ever, Afghan elites must ponder on how to lead the national processes towards building a nation through democratic processes. Polarization of politics in the Afghan parliament and the government is reversing any efforts aimed for promoting coexistence among the citizens.

Politicizing of issues related to language and ethnicity would not be in interests of Afghanistan. The Afghan government must seriously rethink the weak role it is playing in the processes of politics and governance. It should take measure and strictly impose laws to punish groups taking advantage of ethnic rifts among the people. As many other countries, laws must be passed to help promote national coherence through banning racism and racial discriminations. This would ensure the national unity of Afghans and promote the spirit of coexistence among the people of Afghanistan.

In a troubled country like Afghanistan, even very minor issues could turn to a divisive issue in the country and pose threats to national unity and cohesion. The government of Afghanistan as well as the lawmakers in the parliament needs to avoid pursuing policies and goals that, on one hand, violate the basic rights of the citizens, and, on the other hand, creates wider fissures among ethnic groups with long-term impacts. Afghanistan has a long way ahead to go to develop and the government needs to focus on these goals rather than allowing different groups to create the space for dissipation of hatred and disunity among different ethnic groups.

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