By Huma Naseri
Independence Day is an annual observance and it is celebrated every year on the 19th of August. The Afghanistan Independence Day is a national holiday to celebrate the glorious past and national pride of the country. It’s a day when Afghans celebrate their emancipation. Traditionally, this festive celebration is marked by colorful firework displays, colorful lights on the trees, and inspirational political speeches accompanied by patriotic music and custom dance. It is also a time when Afghans display the national flag on their bikes, scooters and cars. On this day, some Afghans chooses to wear clothes that have the Afghan flag logo on them or choose to wear the flag’s theme colors, which are black, red and green. In addition, some prefer to wear a flag pin on their clothes or have a symbol of the flag painted on their faces.
Since Afghanistan fought several wars, there is an interesting point about the flag of Afghanistan. The three solid colors, which areblack, red and green represents a different page in the history of Afghanistan.
Black: Darkness of the past history of Afghanistan
Red: Bloodshed and war in the history of Afghanistan
Green: Hope, Prosperity and a bright future
There is an emblem (mehrab) in the middle of the red stripe in white color with two wheat branches on each side of the (mehrab) and on top of the wheat branches. This central image is encircled by a border consisting of sheaves of wheat on the left and right, and in the upper-center is an Arabic inscription of the Shahada (Muslim creed) below which are the rays of the rising sun over the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning “God is great”). Finally, atat the bottom center is a scroll bearing the name ‘Afghanistan’.
History of Independence Day
Although Afghanistan was never officially a part of the British empire, the British fought three wars with Afghanistan.
The First Anglo-Afghan War 1839–1842 led to the massacre of the entire British invading force by Afghan forces in the city of Jalalabad.
The Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878–80 led to the British victory over the Afghan army in Kandahar, bringing the Afghan rebellion to an end. The war left the British in control of the territories,ensuring British control of Afghanistan’s foreign policy in exchange for protection and a subsidy.
The Third Anglo-Afghan War 1919 led the British to achieve the reaffirmation of the Durand Line but their imperialist ambitious to conquer Afghanistan faced defeat. When on August 19, Ghazi Amanullah Khan proclaimed independence. Afghanistan gained its full independence and signed the Treaty of Rawalpindi (or Anglo-Afghan Treaty) on August 8, 1919, where Britain formally recognized the sovereignty and independence of Afghanistan.
Why is it important to celebrate Independence Day?
People like to celebrate special days. The reason is because these days have great historical and culture importance to them. Celebrating Independence Day demonstrates extraordinary significance in our social and political life. However, in our current time, it appears that Afghans’ views are divided with regards to their thoughts and feelings towards Independence Day. One group consists of those who are impatiently waiting for Independence Day while the other group of people argue that Afghanistan is not an independent state since it’s still under occupation, or in other words, foreign troops are present in the country.
I know we haven’t progress significantly after the independent, However, I still believe that there is no reason for any afghan to not celebrate Independence Day, because the spirit of Independence Day is not only about the Afghanistan officially becoming a sovereign state, as there are another splendour involved which leave no reason for any Afghan to not want celebrate this special day.
This day carries with it a long history and celebrating it is all about acknowledging and owning that very history. When we celebrate our independence, we reflect on the oppression, the horror, and the aggression against which we struggled. We celebrate this day in order to remember our ancestors who died while fighting for independence; it evokes memories of men and women who never returned home. Simply, who exactly doesn’t want to remember that the defeat of British Imperialism was a pride victory for our country? And who would not want to thankful having an identity to be known in this world for some of the remarkable events of the world history? Of course all of us Afghans want to commemorate it.
Besides the above reasons, I think it is equally important to celebrate this day in memory of our progressive King Amanullah Khan who, following independence, had initiated constructive and comprehensive political, social and cultural reforms. Some of his important reforms are noted below.
In the political and social grounds:
– “He emphasized on the fulfillment of the nation’s freedom and independence.
– He established a legitimate government.
– He approved the constitution which was named as a Nezam-Nama. The constitution was ratified in 29 Feb. 1924 in Jalalabad with the presence of 872 representatives and then it was confirmed in Paghman’s high council (Loya Jirga).
– He recommended the people to obey the constitution.
In the cultural ground:
– He urged to make compulsory the elementary teaching centers (school).
– He built the Amani High School.
– He established (Mastorat) school as a girl independent education center.
– He founded the Asmat teaching center which was then renamed to ‘Malalay’.
– He dispatched the Afghan students to foreign countries in order to become better educated.
– He published a special magazine for women titled ‘Arshad-ullnaswan ‘,which indicated a cultural amendment.
– He provided and implemented equal social rights between women and men in Afghanistan’s constitution and other social facilities, which were carried out by Shah Aminullah Khan’s initiatives.
In economic terms:
– He brought effective development on the industries and agriculture fields, as well as prepared the ground upon which Afghan traders would travel in order to reach the world market.
In the rehabilitating ground:
– He established new cities in Kabul. He also initiated the rebuilding and asphalting programs to repair the destroyed areas in Kabul and surrounding provincial towns.
– He founded the telephonic and telegraphic lines between Kabul and certain provinces”.