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A Nation’s Struggle for Liberty

The 97th Anniversary of Afghanistan’s Independence

Afghan Independence Day Speech by Habib Osman

Humans were born free and living a free life is their undisputable right. Enslaving, slavery, depriving one of life’s advantages are unforgivable sins and faults. Kings and emperors’ egoism and thirst for power and conquests throughout history have ruined the peace and tranquility of the peoples who live on earth and destined the history of human life to be caked with blood. However, against all this oppression and dictatorship, the masses have persistently struggled and fought to gain their freedom. As the saying goes, “Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance, too.”

Once referring to the history of Afghanistan, [one will see that] it has been replete with wars, bloodshed, saddening events and [people’s falling] victims. This country has always been invaded and rampaged by evil forces. In spite of this, the people of this country have never succumbed to the oppression, domination, exploitation and colonialism of the foreign powers; rather, they have always staged uprisings and waged struggles against them in each and every epoch. The pages of Afghan history narrate the struggles and achievements of the people of this land. In the works written on the history of this country – particularly, in the book ‘Afghanistan in the course of history’ - there are valuable historical facts as follows:

When Alexander the Macedonian decided conquer lands, he stormed every country like a devastating flood; however, once he arrived in Afghanistan, he was shocked at encountering the armed struggle and resistance of this country’s people, which was against his will and expectation. He was busy for four years trying to capture the country, and only after some fresh armies from Greece joined him to help did he manage to capture Afghanistan and pass through it.

In another case, the great Umayyad Empire encountered the people of this land. That powerful state – from the time of its establishment to its collapse - tried to suppress the uprisings in Afghanistan. Ultimately, the people of this country contributed to the fall of that powerful Caliphate and its replacement with Abbasid rule and declared liberation of Khorasan. That movement was led by Abu Muslim Khorasani, a young man of 23, who declared independence of Khorasan in 746 A.D., but later was meanly martyred by the Abbasid caliphs.

The freedom seeking voices of Afghan nation were not silenced. In 820 A.D., Tahir Fushanji officially declared Afghanistan’s independence. Afghan nation have always defended their homeland and resisted against any foreign forces in the course of history. Afghanistan was the first land to be razed by Genghis Khan and left awash in blood, with barely any sign of living beings, plants or civil life, except for some people who managed to save their lives taking refuge to mountains and other [remote] havens. People rose up against the army of Genghis to defend their land. They fought to death and total destruction of all their towns, cities and citadels; nevertheless, they demonstrated some heroism like which has been rarely recorded in history. As a consequence of Genghis and Tamerlane’s invasions, Afghanistan lost its sovereignty and was disintegrated with the neighbours capturing and sharing its territories among them in three directions (the North, East and West), a situation which lasted for several centuries.

In the 18th century, the Hotak Dynasty declared the establishment of Afghanistan’s Free National state hence safeguarding the nation against foreign invasion. Ahmad Shah Abdali was crowned as the king of Afghanistan in 1747 and united the country politically. Shah Zaman Abdali safeguarded Afghanistan against the foreign invasion. At that time, Britain and France coveted India; however, they dared not [usurp it] as Shah Zaman supported India. The French tried to unite with him a few times whereas the Afghan king remained indifferent [to their proposals] and maintained his independence of action. Nevertheless, the British dominated India as a consequence of disunity among the Afghan kings and removed Afghanistan from their way. As a result, the territories of Afghanistan were lost one after the other. The British forces invaded Afghanistan in 1839. Afghan people did not surrender to the British exploitation and colonialism while freedom-seeking and national uprising voices were heard from every corner. “The luminous light of freedom can never be put off”. In less than a century, numerous wars were fought against the British; finally, [Afghans] regained their independence.

The First Anglo-Afghan War

In 1838, the British forces entered Afghanistan with [the consent of] Shah Shoja [the king]. People realised that their country had been betrayed. The fire of revolution started to rage and war against Britain was waged. A total of 50, 000 troops backed up by artillery forces and cannons, the cavalry units, musketeers, etc. assaulted Afghanistan. Afghan people’s weapons were muskets, short swords, some other primitive rifles and a limited number of small Afghan-made cannons, yet morale of Afghans was high. In all the territories of the country, the flames of war were raging and Britain admitted defeat eventually. That was a day when a mighty European empire was defeated by the people of an Asian country.

The Second Anglo-Afghan War

The Second Anglo-Afghan War broke out in November 1878 in three fronts; namely, Kandahar, Kurram and Khyber. The number of British soldiers was around 60,000. A fierce fight erupted. Afghan fighters started to advance toward Kabul all at once from Ghazni, Logar, Kouhdaman and Paghman. The battle was fought in all the fronts. The enemy was defeated overwhelmingly. In the Second War, Kandahar people’s bravery in Meyvand region was unforgettable. One-on-one combats were going on. At last, Britain declared its defeat in this war in 1880.

The Third Anglo-Afghan War

Just in his first creed after ascending the throne on 23 February 1919, Amir Amanullah Khan declared Jihad against Britain. Adopting independent policies, he declared independence and made headway in the eastern and southern warfronts. The British government had a massive army of 340, 000 soldiers equipped with then modern armaments and air force ready to fight whereas Afghan people had no military forces, yet they managed to setback the great conquering British Empire merely relying on patriotic struggles and bravery. The Battle broke out in Kandahar, Paktia and Peiwar warfronts. The British forces were defeated heavily. On 19 August 1919, Britain recognized Afghanistan’s independence; thus, Amanullah Khan’s name went down in Afghanistan’s history for good.

Afghanistan was freed from the yoke of a colonizing power, but got caught in the trap of the vast empire of the twentieth century; i.e., the United Soviet Socialist Republics. Fighting Russians was not an easy feat; [Afghans] fought and resisted hard against them for thirteen years. After defeating Russians, a civil war and disunity afflicted Afghanistan and reached the highest point causing millions of Afghans to get killed, wounded, displaced or live in exile.

Colonialist ambitions of the super powers have no end. This time, it was the turn of America and other big powers of the 21st century to deploy their forces in Afghanistan under the name of supporting and reconstructing Afghanistan and fighting against terrorism. The cities and towns were divided, military bases were set up and bombing of towns and villages got started, in course of which it was only the innocent, defenceless and oppressed Afghan inhabitants who fell victim. The current situation of the country in which fuel is added to the fire of the war and discord is sowed, is another form of colonialism being practiced. The empires defeated in Afghanistan are taking their revenge from our nation in this way. Hail to you, the victorious people of Afghanistan who sacrificed your lives for defending the independence of your country; hail to you who reddened the snows of mountains and [meadows of] green plains with your blood and waged epic struggles [against your enemies]. Hail to the souls of Afghan combatants and war heroes as well as innocent and oppressed Afghan people who have kept losing their lives for their homeland for long, falling victim to the expansionist policies of the colonizers.

O peace, come and bless this land with thy presence; come and remove from here the last reminiscences of war. “Peace is the origin of all good things in the world.”

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