x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Voices on Afghanistan: ‘This all depends on peace’

Alishah Farhang dreams of an Afghanistan at peace, with a leader that will protect its sovereignty and plenty of foreign tourists.

An Afghan man waits for customers at a tea stall on a hilltop, where people come for strolls, in Kabul on June 4. Ahmad Masood / Reuters
An Afghan man waits for customers at a tea stall on a hilltop, where people come for strolls, in Kabul on June 4. Ahmad Masood / Reuters

Alishah Farhang is a 24-year-old university student and ski guide who plans to vote in the final round of Afghanistan’s presidential election this week. The first person in his family to attend university, he dreams of a sovereign, peaceful Afghanistan that attracts tourists from all over the world.

This will be my second election.

In May, I voted for the first time in the first round of the presidential election in Bamiyan, my hometown. It is not a dangerous place and everyone was able to vote. I definitely will go to vote next week, in the final round of the election.

After this big decade of war, every Afghan wishes for peace every day and for the Taliban not to return. They are all tired of war and killing each other.

I work in the mountains as a ski guide and for the Afghan ski challenge, which happens once a year. When there are no tourists I train for the ski challenge. When people tell their friends about plans to visit Afghanistan I am sure their friends say: “Are you crazy, you are going to be killed in Afghanistan.”

There are some provinces that are dangerous and not safe, but Bamyan is perfectly safe since the Taliban have left. Since 2001, we have not had much gunfire. The Taliban are trying their best to cause destruction and make people too scared to vote in the election.

Whoever becomes president, he has to bring changes to Afghanistan so that it can be a true country and not only at war. If that happens I am sure there will be more tourists in the country in the future.

I am the only educated boy in my family. I have three brothers and three sisters. They are all older. I am the youngest. It is my first year at university and I am studying journalism.

Why will I vote? I am voting for the future. I am taking part in the future for everyone, for the citizens of Afghanistan.

If Afghans want to decide the future of Afghanistan, they will vote. That’s why taking part in the election is very important if Afghanistan will be peaceful in the future.

If they don’t vote and they don’t choose their president then there is no future.

What is the future for me? I want to work in tourism and I want to be a good journalist and to travel around the world. I want to travel a lot. I want foreigners to travel to Afghanistan. There are provinces in Afghanistan where the landscapes are incredible. There are historical sites like Mazar i Sharif and Kabul and Bamiyan. These parts of Afghanistan are very historical. There are people who will come to see the different cultures of Afghanistan. The cultures are very different if they go to the Pashtun provinces. If they go to Kabul the people are more urban. They are getting more and more that way. There are also the Hazara people. That is another culture to experience. It depends on the tourist. They can go climbing in the mountains. If they want to ski there is Bamiyan.

This all depends on peace. The situation could get worse. Afghanistan is now almost like a football stadium. All the countries come to play. People want the US out of Afghanistan at the end of 2014, but I am sure they will not be gone forever. They have a very good axis in Afghanistan to oversee Central Asia.

And Pakistan is disturbing Afghanistan. It doesn’t want Afghanistan to be peaceful. Iran, Russia, they also make Afghanistan the place where countries play.

If there is a good president here, he will be a person who can think about freedom for the country. If we have a president who just signs agreements for every country to have their troops in Afghanistan then I am sure we will not have peace.

If there is a president who can understand the situation, who can kick out all the people who play, than we will have peace.