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Afghan History Endangered by Iran

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Message Roohul Amin

The history of Afghanistan is riddled with foreign invasions, intrigues and interventions. During the last three decades, Iran and Pakistan have played their intrigues and interferences to undermine the foundations of Afghanistan. Iran's aspiration to become a regional power, to catch its old glory, and to make a powerful influence base in Afghanistan is not unseen; rather it is quite visible from what it has been doing in Afghanistan since the 1980s or before.

As Pakistan has brought its war with India to the land of Afghans, so did Iran bring its cold war with Arabs to this country. Iran shipped money and piles of arms and ammunitions to groups fighting the Soviet occupation; but, at that time, the Afghans welcomed it, as it was the need of the times. Nevertheless, when an elected democratic government is present, such covert activities in Iran, which are detrimental for the historical roots of Afghanistan, are not an exception to anyone -- irrespective of ethnic belongings.

Since the United States and its allies ousted the Taliban in 2001, Iran came to the fore to take advantage of the weaknesses on grounds and to pursue a more nuanced strategy. It has been playing a three-sided strategy -- part reconstruction, part education and part propaganda. Discerning Iranian motives is a Herculean job. Despite that, the question of Iran's intentions in Afghanistan has come under scrutiny since the fall of the Taliban. American officials say that they are watching closely to monitor whether Iran is up to its old games to destabilize the country.

That's why Iran is very cautious when it comes to indulging in sabotage activities like Pakistan. Iran has avoid supporting sabotage activities against American installations and bases for fear of earning the wrath of its archrival -- the United States. But it has been busy attacking and undermining the identity and history of Afghanistan. The phenomenon is not new; rather Iran has a bad history of intervening in the affairs of Afghanistan. In recent times, it has brought a seismic shift in its intervention. Avoiding sabotage activities, it has kept its meddling limited to the extent of intellectual attacks by flooding books and other propaganda into Afghanistan. Iran has done it in the past as well as in the present. Currently, Iran has ostensibly chosen the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan (ASA).  

KABUL: Two-day seminar is held by Afghanistan Science Academy for the 300th death anniversary of Pashto renowned poet and scholar Rahman Baba in Kabul today (28/10). by Pahjwok News Agency

ASA was established in 1978 when the Afghanistan History Association, the Aryana Encyclopedia and the International Centre for Pashto Language Studies merged into one body. It has surfaced in media reports that Iran has been busy honing its covert interference in the academy's affairs. It is said that ASA's members are getting perks and privileges from Tehran to become Iran's mouthpiece -- to spread the language of hate against Americans in the region and against the history of Afghanistan.

In July 2011, Iran attacked the history of Afghanistan when it distributed books in a seminar organized by ASA. Among the books, one worth citing is "Lessons from History," which is completely against the history of Afghanistan. Page 41 of the book says that the current name of Afghanistan is not acceptable for a part of the country's population, while a group in the majority has imposed the name based on their group's identity and clanship, which puts in doubts the identity of Afghanistan.

Moreover, the cultural attachà of the Iranian embassy has established close links with the "high-ups" of ASA, so that the Iranian embassy can use its exertion on Afghanistan's historical foundations through them by their teachings and by injecting certain propaganda material in history books. What is worth lamenting is the apathy and indolence of Kabul, as all these things have been taking place under the very nose of the government. Kabul should come into move against these intellectual attacks on Afghans' history and identity. If Tehran's such devilish activities are not gagged at its very stage, polarization will take place, which will eat up the historical roots of Afghanistan. Though the head of ASA has shown his ignorance about the distribution of the book, the government should initiate a probe into it so that Afghanistan can be spared from such intellectual attacks in the future.

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The writer is a Kabul-based journalist and contributes articles to English dailies in Kabul and Peshawar.
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