Image: Afghan protesters shout anti-American slogans during a protest rally in Kandahar
Allauddin Khan  /  AP
Protesters shout anti-American slogans during a rally in Kandahar in April, 2010, after NATO troops opened fire on a bus carrying civilians killing four people.
msnbc.com
updated 5/12/2010 11:37:11 AM ET 2010-05-12T15:37:11

More than eight years into the war in Afghanistan, msnbc.com is launching "Voices from Afghanistan" to highlight the often overlooked thoughts of people who live in that country. This occasional series will try to provide an insight into the thinking of Afghans.

The following pieces stem from conversations on Facebook. While the views expressed by these four young Afghans are not those of msnbc.com, they do reflect the feelings of many members of the country’s tiny educated elite.

As a patriot, my happiness at the fall of the Taliban and my excitement on returning was unforgettable! I simply can't find words to express how it felt when I bowed down, letting my forehead touch the soil of my land. It felt as though I were hugging my country.

My family and I didn’t always feel this way about the Taliban. At first, most people were happy about its emergence. But with the passage of time, many of us began to believe that it was simply a tool of American and Pakistani foreign policy.

So, after the Taliban fell we returned to Afghanistan with the hope of restarting a good life in our homeland.

But the U.S. and other countries' military and political involvement in our country has worsened the situation, prompting feelings of fury and anger in many, including myself.

Foreign troops come under the banner of peace-keeping, but I believe their existence is a threat to most people. Mostly the international forces break into the homes of those living in the provinces and kill out of frustration.

And when they kill they justify it with the following:

"We thought they were Taliban insurgents – the men looked suspicious."

"We suspected the woman was Taliban-affiliated because she was wearing a burqa and we couldn’t be sure she wasn’t carrying bomb."

"The child was crossing the road and we suspected that the enemy might have plotted a suicide attack through her so we blew her up."

"The guy looked like he was al-Qaida-affiliated, so we took him into custody and questioned him to death."

So foreign soldiers are hurting people and nothing can compensate for this. The word "sorry" has really lost its meaning for us Afghans.

Another infuriating fact of life is whenever American soldiers’ vehicles go through town, taxis and cars are not allowed to drive close to them, and in fact local vehicles often have to wait for hours until the soldiers are finished.

In such situations patients, including pregnant women, face big problems getting to the hospital.

Some positives
There are some constructive aspects of international involvement – while diplomats and NGOs are never free of political ties and are often compromised, some NGOs have had a positive effect.

Furthermore, we have access to more schools and universities and other educational institutions in the capital. Overall, things are better in this respect, and people are interested in educating themselves and their children. Still, people in the countryside have little access to education.

Slideshow: Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads As for President Hamid Karzai, while he represents the government and the country around the world, it is wrong to hold him solely responsible for the corruption throughout the government.

In every government we come across cases of corruption and in this my countrymen, just like others, are not an exception. Human nature is greedy – the extent to which just varies from individual to individual.

For some Afghans, corruption creates distrust and negative feelings about the government. For many others, corruption sets a baseline to their daily, professional and even personal achievements, which is fatal for a society.

My ideal Afghanistan
Many times I have closed my eyes for hours thinking about an ideal Afghanistan and hoping for such a country.

My ideal Afghanistan is a land where all are educated and able practice what they have learned. It is a free state whose government is devoid of any kind of corruption, and whose leaders are patriotic, honest and not self-centered. It is a state where every ministry works for the national interest taking the public welfare into account.

It is a county where every citizen takes logical steps and stands with their government when it comes to any crisis or confronting the enemies.

My ideal Afghanistan is a country where every citizen is committed to preserving their culture, respecting every ethnic group, religion and language, and working only to put the nation’s welfare first and their personal interests second.

As told to F. Brinley Bruton

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