When the United States fences youth exchange programs with prospective countries, it is worrying. When the United States fences a youth exchange program with Afghanistan, it is unnerving. But this year, the U.S. has quietly suspended the popular youth exchange which brought hundreds of Afghan high school students to small communities in the U.S. beginning in 2004. The reason? Fear of a dark future in Afghanistan was prompting too many of the students to bail out of the program and seek asylum elsewhere.
Afghani students are fleeing. They are fleeing the States for the fear of taint and white stain. Following the unkempt stereotype of a geographical jargon, the US is a forbidden lexicon of a riddled, troubled Afghanistan. Fundamentally, this notion resides and is nurtured by basic cultural and practical differences.
Following the Talibanised Islamic bridle in and around the abuts of the nation, it is but an anticipated, general dogma. While the situation is supposed to be of similar contour in all Islamic states, the reality is quite the contrary. This disparate is directly consequential of lack of development, urbanisation, infrastructure, education and proper economics. Whereas other Islamic states have cunningly utilised foreign aids and the western nexus to block build a shape of self-sufficiency, Afghanistan has been and still is a continuous victim to spiralling, flourishing feudalism, provincial supremacy and an undemocratic doctrine.
The robust central governance continues to remain elusive to Afghanistan’s leaders. Entrenched local administrative procedures, based on authority from tribalism or local power brokers’ influence, continue to be resilient, while faith in the state is decreasing or is null.
Some of the very global economic forces that should, theoretically, overthrow the local political status quo are actually playing an important role in sustaining it. Afghanistan’s local power brokers are using new opportunities arising from global integration within existing traditional power structures to augment and entrench their power in ways previously unachievable. As Barnett Rubin notes astutely, “Tribalism in the modern world is more often a strategy of state control or social resistance than the culture of an autarchic, kinship-based world that no longer exists, if it ever did.” And in a very apologetic note to the escapee Afghani youths, the US is both facing the effect and the cause of a cringe-worthy Middle Eastern state of affairs, gambling with the future of thousands of clayey individuals — pushing them towards a radical end by default.
Embassy officials say they want to restart the YES program, but only if they can ensure students won’t jump the program to claim safe haven somewhere else. Whilst the statement is utterly considerate in its own way, it does rule out (deliberately or not) a few clauses that are inevitably attached to this phenomenon. To cite an example, NATO forces are leaving Afghanistan without ensuring absolute stability in the region. Central incompetence, reinforced by endemic corruption and ingrained tribal mores, have fomented a growing sense of confusion and impotence within the country’s institutions. The impacts may be such that women in Afghanistan will be homebound, opium economy will clog the tunnels of other frames of development, education will see stagnancy and foreign exchanges like that of the YES program will be reduced to an annoyance meant for the unpatriotic.
Reluctance to act effectively and timely by western intruders in Afghanistan has resulted into a diabolic groove and hampered the possibility of light and civilisation. And what can be more appropriate than to allude to the fraudulent elections of 2009 to show that the young democratic fields are salted with many of the despotic power structures that have characterized their landscape for centuries, and at this pace there are many more to come.
Written for The Huffington Post