Preserving Afghanistan’s National Values: Upholding Heritage Amidst Challenges


A large Afghan national flag is carried by Afghan diaspora during a demonstration against the Taliban ban on women's education in Vienna in January 2023. Photo: @Ali Ahmad

Ilhamuddin Afghan

National values are an integral set of beliefs and principles that exist within a specific cultural society, reflecting its historical uniqueness and core values. They often express the culture and history of a society, acting as a defining force for religious and cultural beliefs. As a traditional and cultural society, Afghanistan has long cherished and upheld its national values.

However, when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, they posed a significant threat to these values from the very beginning. One of their anti-national measures was the suspension of the constitution, which is considered a fundamental national value. The Taliban deemed this constitution null and void, asserting that their governance is solely based on the Quran and Sharia. Additionally, on their first day in power, they removed the national flag, a symbolic representation of Afghan national values, from government institutions and raised a plain white flag with Shahada in its place.

Fahimullah, a Pashto writer, highlighted the enduring nature of national values, stating that governments and political parties may come and go, but these values remain the foundation upon which the entire nation rests. He emphasized the obligation of every Afghan to cherish and uphold religious and national values, as they represent the beliefs of the Afghan society. Throughout history, any group or individual who disrespected or disregarded these values faced humiliation and was forgotten by history.

Recently, the Taliban even whitewashed the national flag painted on mountains and public buildings, which deeply saddened and angered many Afghans. It was expected upon the return of the Taliban that once their emotions subsided, they would recognize the value of the national flag and show it the respect it deserves. However, this did not occur, as the national flag was also removed from the presidential palace, the Arg.

According to scholars, the national flag of Afghanistan holds both national and Islamic significance. Each color represents a specific historical narrative, making it a national symbol. Moreover, the flag incorporates Islamic colors that have been used in various Islamic eras throughout history.

Afghans widely recognize the 28th of Asad (19th August) as their national holiday in honor of King Amanullah Khan’s victory over the British Empire. This day holds immense importance for Afghans, signifying their national identity and the beginning of a transformative movement encompassing political, economic, and cultural reforms. However, the Taliban fails to acknowledge this day as a celebration of freedom.

An anonymous professor from the Faculty of History laments the lack of respect for these values, noting that even after gaining independence, Afghans have faced ongoing challenges and foreign aggression that threaten their political and national identity. Enemies of Afghanistan, often backed by foreign powers, seek to exploit and erode these national values, resulting in the destruction of the nation’s history and identity, stated the professor.

Similarly, the national anthem, which the Taliban rejected, holds great significance as a symbol of Afghan national identity. When Afghans hear the national anthem, they feel a sense of ownership and patriotism toward their country. Taj Muhammad, an Afghan writer, affirms that Afghans stand with respect and place their hands on their chests when the national anthem plays. It evokes a profound sense of patriotism, unifying the nation and instilling a deep love for the country. In public gatherings and cricket matches, the national flag stirs the emotions of Afghans, who show unwavering respect and reverence for it, while disregarding the white flag of the Taliban.

National values play a vital role in shaping the cultural and historical identity of a society. For Afghanistan, these values are cherished and upheld as a testament to its rich heritage. Despite the challenges posed by the Taliban and foreign aggression, Afghans remain steadfast in their commitment to preserving and honoring their national values.

The identification of national symbols is also to define a nation in the light of its identity and to call it a symbol of its identity. Many analysts based in Afghanistan believe that national heroes, national symbols, the national anthem, and the national flag have a national color and have been created by the people, so no one should try to erase them. There are many political changes in the world, and systems and governments change, but the national values ​​remain the same and no one tries to change them. Afghanistan is a very different country, with every change, the national army, police, flag, anthem, and many other values ​​disappear.

*Mr. Afghan chooses a pseudonym. He is a local journalist based in Eastern Afghanistan. 

Note: The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the article.

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