Ahmadullah Archiwal leads trainings in nonviolence through the Organization for Social, Cultural, Awareness, and Rehabilitation in Kabul. He has authored three books—two on the nonviolent movement Khudai Khidmatgar and one, in Pashto, on nonviolent civic mobilization.

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Is Nonviolence Possible in Afghanistan Today?

by Ahmadullah Archiwal 09-21-2021
The region has a rich history of nonviolent resistance.
Illustration of three raised fists emerging from shirt sleeves in the colors of the flag of Afghanistan

Illustration by Michael George Haddad

AFGHANISTAN HAS BEEN in conflict for more than 40 years. The former Soviet Union sent in more than 150,000 troops on Christmas Eve 1979 and left 20 years later. The U.S. began a massive bombing campaign in October 2001, the first stage of the war to oust the Taliban. Now, 20 years later, the U.S. has withdrawn the last American troops. It is hard to find a single Afghan, including myself, who hasn’t been a victim of the ongoing conflict.

As Afghans know, parties in these battles change, but the outcomes—devastation and killings—remain the same. Ordinary Afghans, as we have seen with the recent Taliban resurgence, pay an immeasurable price. They are killed, bombed, displaced, and disabled. However, the voices of these ordinary people are rarely heard. Perhaps they no longer raise their voices. What speaks loudly is their pain and sorrow.

Despite numerous formulas and prescriptions for ending bloodshed and oppression in Afghanistan, violence remains. Most solutions were formulated by the elite class. They are the ones in the driver’s seat. They make decisions as they please. The wishes of ordinary Afghans are nowhere to be found.