If Isis and the Taliban Think They Can Break the Spirit of Afghans, They Are Fools

As I watched news unfold that two separate terrorist attacks had taken place in the city where I once lived, my heart broke. It broke for the people and families affected, but also because it was an attack on the freedoms and democracy that people living in the country are trying so desperately to champion.

My family fled Afghanistan 19 years ago, when I was just five. Back then, the Taliban controlled 90 percent of the country under an extreme interpretation of Islam. Starvation, bloodshed and fear were rife. There was very little access to healthcare and justice and democracy had vanished.

So when last week the Taliban packed an ambulance with explosives to attack civilians, nearby hospitals and diplomatic buildings against a new democratic backdrop, it's clear to me that they were trying to rip out the heart of the changes made for the good of the people.

Present-day Kabul couldn't be more different to the days of the Taliban. There are democratic principles in place, and a vibrant cultural scene, with Instagrammers and trendy hangouts aplenty. The city has seen a growth in population in recent years, due to employment and education opportunities.

Kabul attack
Afghan medical staff treat a wounded woman, after a car bomb exploded near the old Interior Ministry building, at Jamhuriat Hospital in Kabul on January 27, 2018. An ambulance packed with explosives blew up in a crowded area of Kabul on January 27, killing at least 103 people and wounding 235 others, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Taliban. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images

I won't deny Afghanistan has a long way to go. The Government must work to strengthen stability and, as we have seen, there are still terror threats from the ousted insurgents. But with 70 percent of the population under 25, there is so much hope for a better future.

It is this hope that drives a new democratic and enjoyable life for Afghans forward. But with every act of hate, it is easy to think that the country, once ruled by terror, is on a backwards path. And it is easy for those living in the country to start questioning their future, their safety and their security.

What does it mean for ethnic tensions within the country? What does it mean for the parliamentary elections coming up this year and the presidential elections the year after? What does it mean for those countries working to protect the lives of Afghans? These are just some of the questions being asked by those I know living in the region.

There is no doubt that the country is in a state of shock, and there are many mourning lost loved ones.

Many have lived through the terrible Taliban years, and for those that are too young to remember, they are now all too aware that there is an underworld of terror organizations that are trying to destabilize the freedoms they hold dear.

With terrorist attacks being so persistent since the start of 2018, in an area that was once known for its security, concerns are arising that past events are beginning to haunt the present.

Afghanistan
Afghan laborers unload crates of fruit from a truck at a fruit market in Mazar-i-Sharif on January 26, 2018.Persistent terror attacks are raising concerns that past events are now beginning to haunt their present. But despite this, there is also still so much resilience and hope for the future of the country. FARSHAD USYAN/AFP/Getty Images

But despite this, there is also still so much resilience and hope from Afghans living in Kabul – it is something to behold.

It wasn't long before the city was back to business as usual; cafes reopened, colleges continued with lectures and children continued to play football on the streets.

Social media became awash with statements that stood in defiance of terrorism and hateful acts, and even began to talk of upcoming cricket tournaments that could make the city proud.

This is a glowing testament to the resilience of the people of this historical country. Afghans have had their fair share of trauma, and working through these hardships has allowed the country to build up their robust nature to conquer the troubles and set the foundations for an even better future.

If the Taliban, Daesh (Islamic State) or any other group think they can use intimidation, anxiety and heartache to break the human spirit of the Afghan people, they are wrong. It will take more than that to stop the people of this country building a better future for themselves, their families and their loved ones.


Rabia Nasimi is a PhD Sociology student at Cambridge. Follow her on Twitter. Rabia's father,Nooralhaq Nasimi, is the founder of the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA), a London-based charity that helps refugees integrate in the U.K.