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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/6/12

Afghanistan between two fires

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When one goes deep into history finds that Afghanistan since immemorial days are facing the brunt of foreign invasions and internal conflicts. Annexation of new lands and creation of new de facto frontiers was common phenomena in those days.   For instance take the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and Durand Line.

Sages aptly said that time changes many things and nothing is stationary except the Almighty God. Afghans, once ruler of sub-continent (mainly India and Pakistan) and other parts are now oppressed and hardly see silver lining, because presently Afghanistan is between two fires.

On one hand anti-Afghanistan elements are supporting the free mercenaries (Taliban) financially and technically to destabilize Kabul while launching terror attacks in the war-torn country. On the other hand they hand employed soft and hard propagandas against this land of rulers, by targeting specific ethnic groups to create distance between them and achieve their nefarious agenda--no doubt the agenda is to keep Afghanistan in the dark age, or else it would be once again a regional power, as it got rich natural and human resources and strategically important location.

  Propaganda is one of the powerful instruments of foreign policy. Soft propaganda is more dangerous than the hard as it could disseminate chosen information with the aid of graphics to millions of people with single click. Social networking websites are main and only platforms for this type of propaganda.   It is new in its nature as it is the product of digital age, whereas hard propaganda is as old as hills, but new methods were introduced   hen "World War-I' started.  

All key players employed hard type of propaganda, to win the war on their front. Amis and methods of propaganda were very simple in those days, as it was sponsored by the respective governments while supervised by foreign ministry. Huge budgets were allocated for the purpose. Basic aims of the propaganda remained same in past and present. This instrument is employed in wars to keep morale of forces and public high and show the rival down or adventurist in order to gain sympathies of the world.

Movies, dramas, documentaries, advertisements and news were published or broadcasted for a specific purpose--to spread chosen information without revealing the source of information. Information like that was often false or out of context. Mass media in all ages remained key medium through which a government can carry out propaganda, because in less time the perpetrators can reach to thousands of viewers or readers, to mold their views and win their minds and hearts, or at least make them confused. So, the nation-state can keep masses in dark or in search of elusive things.

When World War-II was waged and paved way for the Cold War, the fighters emphasized on two things, ethos and pathos to misguide public even intellectuals; both are of utmost importance to initiate and complete propaganda successfully.   In programs aired or broadcasted were full of these two elements. Activities of the rivals were showed as evil doings and crimes against humanity.

Now we are living in digital era and things have been changed. Earlier it was hard to target people belonging to different walks of life, all the time. Specialized agencies with heavy budgets were responsible to initiate propaganda successfully in order to have desirable achievements. But, now this is the age of social media. Through social networking websites and micro-blogging a small group with low budget can cause much damage to the rival state while working as an agent. Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Myspace, Orkut, Ustream and Youtube are efficient media tools as well as easy to use and spread false or targeted information beyond frontiers in less time as compared to the time which takes hard propaganda. For hard propaganda you have to make a movie or documentary and even then you cannot access easily the public of rival state.  

Hence, social media is becoming a threat to the unity of Afghans as various groups and pages are available on Facebook and other websites which are continuously busy in propaganda against Afghanistan. It seems that they are brain washed and paid by anti-Afghanistan elements to create uncertain situation here.

These groups are publishing objectionable materials including articles, charts, edited photos, maps and videos to create distance between various ethnic groups living in Afghanistan. No doubt it is propaganda and started by the enemies as elements of the propaganda are same. They are targeting our leaders, army, youth, and ethnic groups and are misrepresenting facts about Afghanistan to the world in order to demoralize us or create our bad image. Everyday our youth are bombarded with false information through aid of graphics.    They are making ass of public through soft propaganda by showing one ethnic group the aggressor and the other oppressed one or in minority. No doubt, that they are add fuel to the fire in well engineered manner.

These people should not be considered above board as they are enemies of the Afghanistan and want to install their favorite government here, so they can utilize our natural and human resources for their own development. It is evident that two of our neighbors are supporting Taliban for this very purpose and want to use them against the elected government   to meet their energy needs and to some extent their false and rubbish ideologies. One cannot rule out the fact that the almighty dollar is playing important role in such types of propaganda, as nobody is so useless to use social media for propaganda all the time, neither it is easy to write articles or make documentaries and publish misguiding graphics.

The government of Afghanistan should pay heed towards this serious issue in order to cleanse the Augean stables, or else results would be catastrophic at end of the day. Because, this is fact that our youth are not well educated and left on the mercy of time during the more than three decades of wars. Schools have been destroyed and still many students are afraid of going to schools due to the new tactics of enemies in which they targeted students and poisoned them. In such circumstance if our youth are bombarded every hour with misguiding information, then one can envisage the horrific result easily.

  It is the responsibility of the government to hire services of those who are trained in the field of New Media, to launch counter propaganda as soon as possible, or else one day anti-Afghanistan elements would succeed in cultivating false ideas in the minds of our immature youth. Then it would be difficult for the leaders to amend lose and repair damaged ideologies.  

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Muhammad Nadeem Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

The writer is a freelance journalist. He is an ICFJ fellow and did his master in International Relations and in Mass Communication.
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