From the online journal Eteraz Monthly, published by leftists in Afghanistan, June 2021.
Young people form the foundation and future of a society. Developed societies invest in the younger generation and provide ways to train, educate and nurture their talents. Young people are both energetic and psychologically ready to play their part in society and earn their appropriate due.
About 70 percent of Afghanistan’s population is under the age of 22. Thus, around 23 million young population live here in Afghanistan. But this population of 23 million youth is facing a lot of hardships. No attention is paid to them by the government. The Islamic State of Afghanistan and its international allies have no long-term plans for the well-being and better future of Afghanistan’s youth. Foreigners and their domestic puppets have created Afghanistan’s economic, security and social conditions in such a way as to trap the youth in their net and exploit their needs and poor life situation. Instead of giving them pens and books, they give them guns and weapons. Instead of encouraging them going to school and university, they are sent to the battlefield. Instead of teaching humanity and humanitarianism, they are taught bloodshed, hatred and destruction.
For the past 20 years, schools have been closed due to the war in most parts of the country, and the child born in 2001 since the occupation of Afghanistan is now 20 years old and illiterate. He has seen nothing but war, violence, hunger, migration, injustice and hatred. Both sides of the conflict (government and armed opposition) use these illiterate youth as fuel for the war. The warlords know that if illiterate and young people have jobs and a decent life, they will never sacrifice their lives to protect the interests of these traitorous government officials, jihadi leaders, Taliban extremists and criminal groups.
Class structure of war: The victims of wars and other economic and social and even natural disasters all over the world are the lower classes of society and the poor. The ruling class always imposes a heavy economic burden on the people of the lower and poor classes and continues its parasitic life by robbing them of the fruits of their labor. In Afghanistan, from the aspect of class structure, 99% of the youth who have been suffering from poverty, unemployment, psychological problems and addiction belong to the lower strata of the society. These 99 percent of young people, representing workers, peasants, teachers, lower-ranking civil servants and other deprived groups, are victims of the economic and political interests of the ruling class and those in power.
The battlefields are filled with these poor young people and the victims of the war are also the children and families of the lower classes of society. Ninety-nine percent of the young people who are killed directly on both sides of the battlefield belong to the poorer classes, and those who are killed indirectly in war zones through air strikes, suicide attacks, explosions or being forced to leave their homes due to the ill effects of war also belong to the lower classes. The reason why the human toll of the war in Afghanistan is so high and human blood is so cheap, and the voice of peace and ceasefire is not heard, is that the victims belong not to the ruling class but to the deprived classes. In a class society, especially in the capitalist system, all human values and moral standards lose their significance.
Unemployment: According to a report by Radio Liberty (July 29, 2020), the World Bank has stated that the unemployment rate in Afghanistan will rise to 72 percent by the end of 2020 and the poverty rate will mount from 55 percent to 72 percent. Even more terrifying news is that President Ashraf Ghani declared at the inauguration of the National Dinner Program that 90 percent of Afghanistan’s population lives below the poverty line.
According to the National Union of Afghan Workers, half of Afghanistan’s eligible working population is unemployed, and 9 million young people, some of them highly educated, suffer from unemployment. Unemployment has caused many poor families, instead of sending their children to school, to force them to engage in hard and inappropriate work, thus preventing them from reading and writing.
It is unemployment and poverty that have led to other security, economic and social adversities. Unemployment and poverty cause young people to commit theft, murder, kidnapping, begging, prostitution and other dangerous and criminal acts, endangering their lives, their families and other human beings.
The Afghan government, its international allies, and opposition armed groups such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS each recruit fighters from the army of unemployed and impoverished youth to achieve their goals and secure their own interests. Unemployment and poverty are two major disasters intentionally created by the government and its allies to keep their war machine active; they easily exploit them in order to achieve their strategic goals.
Youth joining the Taliban: The majority of poor families in Afghanistan are unable to feed and educate their children. So, they send their sons to Pakistani religious schools (Madrasa) where they are raised and fed for free. These children, numbering in the tens of thousands, are being trained as extremists and brainwashed by Pakistani Madrasas funded and supervised by ISIS. Finally, the Taliban and other terrorist networks use them as a blinkered army in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
There are also a number of young people who, without consciously being close to the Taliban, are dissatisfied and frustrated with the government, and join the Taliban ranks due to poverty, unemployment, and poor wages.
Young people join ISIS: Although some of the ISIS fighters in Afghanistan are foreigners, most of the militants are Afghans and Pashtun youths along the Durand Line who have fallen victim to government corruption, oppression and injustice. These desperate and poor youths join this extremist religious group in order to get revenge on the government. Some members of this group who claim Islam and the Khilafah do not even know their prayers and the five pillars of Islam.
Joining the youth with the government: Although the corrupt government of Ashraf Ghani is no longer acceptable to anyone, but due to the special circumstances that they have imposed on the country and its people, the poor youth have no choice but to join the Aghanistan National Army and Afghanistan National Police or Arbaki (government local militia). The government preaches to the poor youth about the protection of the homeland and the territory and takes advantage of their sacred feelings and love for the homeland and their countrymen to maintain their nefarious system and power. On the strongholds and front lines of the war, the children of poor families are being placed. Dozens and hundreds of soldiers are killed and wounded every day. Often the families of fallen soldiers are not helped by the government and their children and wives are forced to beg in the markets and on the streets. The condition of wounded or disabled soldiers is even worse. They are burdens on their families and have no money for treatment.
Some young people joining with mafia groups and criminals: Mafia and criminal groups also fish in this muddy pond of Afghanistan. They exploit the needs of poor youth and hire them to carry out dangerous work. These criminal groups often wield considerable influence in the government, have contacts with and are supported by senior government officials. Mafia gangs involved in kidnappings, armed robberies, assassinations of dissidents, drug trafficking and smuggling across the country and in Kabul are earning millions of dollars.
Joining Jihadi parties: Religion, ethnicity and language and even the region are attractive deceptive slogans that jihadi organizations and some other politico-military parties use to find manpower for themselves. These criminal jihadi organizations, violators of human rights, have no program for the development and prosperity of the country and, like parasites, they are attached to the body of the state. Sometimes by holding rallies and street protests in Kabul or other provinces, they show their power to the government and thereby receive privileges. These parties are always trying to attract young people to their ranks by inciting ethnic and linguistic differences and thus gaining their support.
Immigration: Most young people are worried about their future and feel hopeless. Many young people, after a lot of hard work and knocking on the doors of governmental and non-governmental organizations, have not been confronted with the right approach, guidance and reassuring response. They have been insulted in every institution and their time has been wasted for months.
Most young people do not have legal opportunities to travel abroad. The “civilized countries” that have fanned the flames of war in Afghanistan and provide hidden and visible weapons, money and facilities to the warring parties have no sympathy for the youth and refugees of Afghanistan. These so-called human rights defenders are unwilling to assist or facilitate the asylum process for Afghan refugees or young people fleeing the flames of war in accordance with international human rights standards. These human rights defender governments, supposed defenders of human rights, are watching with open eyes how hundreds of migrants are drowning in the oceans every day and every month, their hopes for a better life buried.
When the US and NATO start wars in poor countries under the pretext of defending democracy and human rights and turn every corner of the country into hell, the poor people and the youth have no option but to resort to illegal and dangerous means. Young people and their families are well aware of the dangers, deaths, problems and threats of illegal migration routes, but still prefer this approach to gradual death, hunger, poverty and misery. 80% of migrants are unable to reach their goals.
Many young people are killed, injured, tortured and imprisoned on the Afghan-Iranian border, on Iranian soil, on the Iranian-Turkish border and inside Turkey by the police. Some of them drown in the ocean between Turkey and Greece or lose their lives in smugglers’ containers. Those who get a chance to escape from the clutches of the police die of starvation, thirst, cold or heat and other disasters along the way.
Drug Addiction: Many young people fall into the trap of drug use and addiction when they are safe from the scourge of war and migration. The Ministry of Counter Narcotics says there are 3.6 million young addicts in Afghanistan, and that number is growing every year. Drug traffickers and some powerful people with ties to government officials have a hand in distributing drugs and infecting young people.
Many young people with higher education turn to drugs after years of not finding a job with the doors of hope and success closed. Drug addiction in adolescents is a catastrophe that causes irreparable physical and psychological damage to young people and families and society in general, and leads them to the abyss of destruction.
Corollary: At least in these 20 years, it has become clear that the imperialist forces in Afghanistan, the United States and NATO have their own strategic goals, and that the Afghan people and youth are the victims of these evil goals. The Afghan government officials and the ruling class, for whom the war has turned into a lucrative business, have a prosperous life for themselves and their families and children inside and outside Afghanistan, but the heavy burden of the war and its devastating effects remain on the shoulders of the poor. Therefore, to expect peace and prosperity from foreign forces and domestic warlords is to deceive oneself for another 20 years.
If poor families and poor youth are on both sides of the conflict, they should immediately lay down their arms and leave the battlefield. Do not be deceived by the empty slogans of Islam, patriotism and “national interests” and do not sacrifice yourself for the interests of a small ruling class. It is the duty of intellectuals, revolutionaries and activists to play a constructive role in educating the poor and raising their class consciousness.
The path to freedom does not go through nationalism, ethnicity, religion, patriotism or national interests, but derives from the awakening of the deprived youth and the oppressed classes, their organization, and the overthrow of the parasitic minority class.