Forty two years ago, my grandfather Mohammad Naim Khan and his brother Mohammad Daoud Khan, the first President of Afghanistan, were martyred along with 16 members of our family including women and children--one was only 18-months-old--in a bloody communist coup. That coup was singular in its brutality and signaled the start of a tragic war that has plagued Afghanistan since. Every moment since has been war. Generation after generation has come and gone knowing only war. Millions have been killed, maimed, orphaned, widowed, or have become refugees. Afghanistan bleeds.
This must end. And today there is a small but tangible window of opportunity to end the more than four decades of war, and reach an enduring peace. The ability to live in peace is a universal right, and after over four decades of death and destruction, my people deserve to live in peace too.
As a common citizen, a devout patriot, a responsible member of my community, and a carrier of a legacy of my grandfathers and their predecessors, I am raising my voice.
To my fellow Afghans, who have suffered in the last four decades, your sacrifices will not go in vain--be hopeful that an end is in sight. Our losses have been unthinkable. We have more reason than ever to bring an end to the barbarism of the last four decades. We must have hope that peace is possible and is our right.
To the government, the Taliban and to political leaders, I call on you to earnestly work in these final days and hours and to put the interest of the Afghan people above all else. We owe it to Afghanistan and our people. Our history has proved time and again that no external force can impose their will upon this freedom-loving nation and that ultimately we as a nation carry the responsibility of shaping our shared future. All Afghan leaders have made mistakes but the time has come for us to have the courage to forgive one another and to move on. We have paid and are still paying a high price for exchanging bullets and accusations, while we should know better now that the only path to lasting peace is to open our hearts and arms to one another.
To our international partners, who have paid in the past two decades in blood and treasure, this great nation is in your debt. We Afghans are known for our hospitality but we also remember who helped us in times of need. I urge you to not let the sacrifices of the past 20 years go in vain, don’t diminish the hopes and dreams of a bright and talented new generation, who have the passion and the determination to build Afghanistan, by abandoning Afghanistan, so close to the finish line. Whatever you decide, the candle that has been lit in the heart of this nation will never dim or be blown out.
To our neighbors and regional powers who have had direct and indirect roles in the past four decades, I need you to have a solemn outlook. The cost of this war has been millions of lives and a trillion dollars and while Asia as a continent is emerging as an economic powerhouse, its heart, which geopolitically is Afghanistan, is bleeding. The great philosopher and writer Allama Iqbal wrote:
“that Asia is a body of water and earth,
of which the Afghan nation is the heart.
From its discord, the discord of Asia;
and from its accord, the accord of Asia.”
I consider myself lucky to have been born in what is now considered the golden era of peace and stability in Afghanistan during the reign of my maternal grandfather King Zahir Shah. Deep in my heart I truly believe that we can get there again. We have all paid high prices. Afghans have been forced to show a resilience that shouldn’t be asked of anyone. But we have done it. And today we must use that resilience and heartbreak to bring peace to our land. This war must end. Peace must come. And I, for one, am ready, hopeful and embracing an end state of an Afghanistan at peace.