Afghanistan, surviving but most of all resisting

Survive. It is probably the main activity of afghans who watch cars passing by, sitting on the sides of the dusty roads of Kabul. It is the thought of the children who play with rubbish and make their kites fly high, over the walls covered in barbed wires. It’s probably also the thought of the women with the many coloured veils who sometimes watch the busy city from behind a light blue burka’s tight net.

In Afghanistan you have to survive many things. The terrorist attacks, which are well known in Europe as well. You need to hope not to find yourself at the wrong time in the wrong place. For example when a man from one of the fundamentalist groups, or affiliated to the Afghan Daesh or from one of the Taliban’s factions, blows himself in the middle of the road, to demonstrate the power of his organization, just for a rivalry between groups.

You need to survive the shortage of water and electricity, the hunger, which also affects the animals that carry the small carriages in the heavy traffic. You need to survive the traffic itself, with crazy cars overtaking from every side, going the wrong way, with an indefinite number of passengers. You need to survive to the pollution caused by the Toyota Corollas and from the old pick-ups, which make air thick and hard to breath, like a fog that hides the sun.

When you’re a woman you need to survive twice as much since sometimes you are considered half a man. Confined in one corner of the kitchen, between an arranged marriage and an average of five children, without being able to go to school and learn how to read or write, being tortured when they try to argue against the patriarchal system, held up by religion and fundamentalist notions. To survive imprisoned in a house, in a fabric when you want to go out and in a veil of ignorance, for the sole reason to be born a woman.

A girl I was travelling with once told me “When I see a girl in Afghanistan I feel sick to my heart”.
You survive the daily life according to you ethnic heritage – pashtun, uzbec, tajika, hazara… You survive in a country which is torn up by daily wars and violence, where the government is extremely corrupted and directed by the United States of America, which supports it and concurrently finance Talibans, maintaining a blurry situation, to exploit it according to their interests. Thus, surviving the American military occupation and surviving the warlords, with their private militia, which control entire regions and have seats in the parliament.

However, although the Afghan people seems “too busy surviving” to worry about politics, there are some who provide alternatives. There are independent parliament’s members, like Belquis Roshan, and young members and activist in the Hambastagi Party (The Solidarity Party of Afghanistan), who on their website and on social media organise protests and events where they expose government criminals, the American occupation and islamic fundamentalism as the real causes of the situation in their country. The party promotes democratic ideals over any ethnic difference, a factor that is often instrumentalised by other parties to divide the population. They also promote the respect of human rights and equality between men and women.

Photo: Selay, spokesperson of Hambastagi at the event organized on the 8th of march, for the International Women’s Day
Photo: Selay, spokesperson of Hambastagi at the event organized on the 8th of march, for the International Women’s Day

The Afghan people do not trust the words “politics” or “political party”: they saw the warlords change their political stance once part of the government, promoting human rights and women’s rights, while they had been promoting stonings, humiliations and rape for years. It is a people that has seen the government change, the military occupation increase and shrink, public taxes go to corrupted politicians, and the daily life, the roads, the schools, keep being the same: dusty. The people know who the culprits are, but they find themselves supporting them, in fear that it could be even worse.

For this reason, the Hambastagi’s representatives go to the villages located in the most distant provinces from Kabul, and listen to their needs – such as the basic ones, like water, health services and education – and try to make them more politically involved, more aware of the situation, and to make them recognise the true criminals. Justice will be carried out, they say, when these criminals are reported and condemned in front of a national court that will recognise their responsibility in the situation of their country, and in front of the International Justice Court, which will bring to light all the war crimes they did.

Meanwhile, the people are condemning them in their minds. However, to continue this process and encourage discussion and participation in politics, an education system aimed to the women and the youth is necessary. Indeed, ignorance is the main tool for Islamic fundamentalism to maintain the status quo. The country also needs to become more secular, to obtain equality between women and men, a necessity for a stable and durable democracy.

Photo: Belquis Roshan walking around the parliament hall showing the banner « Treating with America is selling the Motherlands »
Photo: Belquis Roshan walking around the parliament hall showing the banner « Treating with America is selling the Motherlands »

An Afghan democracy is not possible as long as the American troops are there; it is not possible until Afghanistan is free from the manipulation and interests of the neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan and Iran. Hambastagi is not against international relations with other countries but believes that they need to benefit the people and not the capitalist countries or their local puppets.

Survive yes, but for Hambastagi living means resisting at all costs, fighting and dreaming that a revolution is possible, that the power in Afghanistan goes back in the hands of the Afghans.

Linda Bergamo