Travel

Afghanistan behind the veil

BY ROYA AHMAD

Roya sets out to interview farmers near Salang.

You’ve still got those same lonely songs to remind you of someone you seemed to be so long ago. Kris Kristofferson’s song, “Breakdown (A Long Way From Home)” is so true, I think. You always do think about something that reminds you of the home that you left and loved in your past.

I have heard so much about Afghanistan from people in the past few years, some good things and some not so good. But what really made me so sad is that no-one really has seen the real Afghanistan behind the veil.

I went back to Afghanistan after 19 years. I don’t remember much when I was young but when I went there, a lot had changed. There were so many people, restaurants, hotels, shops and so much more.

A richly diverse history

Snow of Kabul - Karte Parwan.The food is an important part of Afghanistan, but what I want to focus on is the country’s natural beauty and a brief description of its history.

The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul. Afghanistan means the land of Afghans.

The first part of the name, “Afghan”, designates the Pashtun people since ancient times, the founders and the largest ethnic group of the country.

The main religion is Islam but previously, there were other religions that occupied the land including Zoroastrians, Hindus, Shamanists, Jews and Buddhists.

This had been the home of famous Buddha statues until these were destroyed by the Taliban.

The main languages are Pashto and Dari, which is often called Afghan Farsi.

As there are more than 30 provinces in Afghanistan, there are many dialects spoken throughout the whole nation.

The four major ethnic groups of Afghanistan are Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks.

There has been much news about the Hazaras in the media because of the boat people or asylum seekers, as many call them.

Paghman.

The reason many Hazaras and Pashtuns don’t get along is because the central region, along with many other parts, were overrun in 1219 by Genghis Khan and his Mongols who, according to many Afghans, acted as barbarians, devastating much of the land.

Genghis Khan and his troops are said to have annihilated the ancient Khorasan cities of Herat and Balkh.

This destruction depopulated major cities and caused much of the locals to revert to an agrarian rural society.

The later periods of the Ghaznavids, Ghurids, and Timurids are considered some of the most brilliant eras of Afghanistan’s history because they produced fine Islamic architectural monuments as well as numerous scientific and literary works.

Yet many people believe they do not belong in Afghanistan because many of their families were killed and their land was invaded and taken from them.

Even with their differences, they have lived together and managed to live with their differences. But now things have changed, they claim they are more in fear of persecution.

What we tend to not look at is that most Hazaras chose to live in rural areas because it’s the centre of Afghanistan and their fathers and grandfathers lived there. Other factors were the harsh weather conditions, which meant they were not able to travel far or often. Another factor was political situation.

Looking forward to the future

Sorobie.

Now things have changed and are much better among many Afghans.

However, many of the Hazaras, who have moved away from Afghanistan many generations ago and lived in Pakistan and Iran, are coming to Australia as asylum seekers.

Afghanistan is still not safe because of its geographical location and minerals. Afghanistan is a nation, which has been suffering from war for more than 30 years, whether it’s civil conflicts, international interference or other factors that have contributed to its tension and war history.

The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in mineral deposits, including copper, iron, and lithium, in Afghanistan.

The war destroyed so much of Afghanistan and its history and artefacts.

However, there are many things that still exist such as the friendliness of its people, as seen by many tourists, and the beauty of its nature.

Afghanistan is a mountainous country. It has very beautiful scenery.

It was and still is so beautiful, filled with rivers, mountains, gorges and people. The nature of Afghanistan is something so amazing and once you’re there, you can’t believe such beauty exists.

Yet because of the war, people from around the world miss that opportunity. The view is spectacular just breathtaking.

It is hard for me to describe much of what I have seen, but as they say, “a picture speaks louder than words”.

I will show you some of the natural beauty of Afghanistan through my images taken behind the veil of war and its destruction.

I guess what I have to say from my journey is although I loved much of my time there, what I will always miss is the natural beauty of Afghanistan and the breathtaking views it is something I will never forget.

Child outside orphanage centre in Pagham.

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