Disclaimer: This article was first published elsewhere and is republished here with recommendation and full permission of the author.
By Mushtaq Rahim
Nearly four-decade old conflict in Afghanistan has resulted in suffering for all segments of the society and has negatively impacted all Afghans. Children in particular have been affected and plagued by different phases of the ongoing conflict. However, change in regime was considered change in fortunes for Afghan Nation after 9/11 and a prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan was foreseen. Yet; very little has been done in regard to delinking current Afghanistan socially and politically from its past. The children, as such, remain a source for advancement of legacies of war to the future. One of the major legacies of the past is use of all kinds of weapons by different warring groups. Current generation of children of the war torn country have already started practicing use of dummies of simple as well as sophisticated automatic weapons, making them source of transfer of legacy from the past to future.
Eid offered a good opportunity for children to collect money as part of their Eidy (money gifted to children as part of Eid Celebrations) and spend as per choice of their own. During the just passed Eid, children fully invested their Eidy in the dummy weapons where almost every second child was seen carrying the ugly stuff. The children also played a lot of street gang wars and fired plastic bullets at each other around the clock during Eid days. Not only the dummies and plastic bullets, but actual Chinese crackers with small blast sounds were also exploded. The mini explosions were a perfect practice for children to familiarize them with detonations and blasts.
While Afghan child is playing with fire, the Afghan society has been sleeping. The traders are busy in importing, retailers are distribution points and parents are paying without realizing that they are nudging the ugly legacy of conflict into future of the country. The Government unfortunately is sleeping and is unable to take proactive action against such social ills. Civil society is seriously busy with bigger issues not allowing them to think of small little things which in turn could soon be challenging the whole Afghan society. Hence, children are buying and using weapons of different designs without any hindrance.
The electronic media, supposed to be a tool for public education, has been offering a killer punch in regard to social destruction of Afghan Society. The TV channels have been telecasting drama serials imported from different countries without analyzing impact of those on the social sphere. The serials such as Valley of Wolves imported from Turkey has been proving a source of learning Mafia wars for Afghan children which was played during eid cross fires among them. Every other child aspires to portray Poulad Alamdar, lead character of the Turkish serial. Children, having their minds as empty canvases, are filling the large gaps with aspirations that could destroy their future.
A country having suffered devastation and calamities due to the use of weapons should be hating them. At a time where the current and future generations should be reminded of misfortunes brought upon them by these inventions of men, Afghan child is busy in using dummies of what could end up in a love and fondness for the actual ones. While the country should be helped in healing wounds of war and make-up for the ugly episode of its history, it is bracing a new era of hater and weapon use.
Afghanistan is going through a transitional phase and eliminating remnants of wars is a collective responsibility of all which has to be realized and acted upon quickly. Parents need to be active in educating their children, civil society needs to advocate at all levels for ban on import and sale of dummy weapons and the Government has to come up with strong policy against import and sale of such toys. Else, the Afghan war and weapon legacy will peep into future Afghanistan where dagger will remain mightier than pen and chaos will prevail over peace and stability. Afghanistan has to bury its near past, else, it will eat its future.