The Great Debate UK
- Ahmad Shah is a Afghan social entrepreneur and human rights activist living in London. He is currently studying MSc in International Business Economics at the University of Westminster. The opinions expressed are his own. -
An oft-heard refrain holds that Afghanistan is a “graveyard of empires” where corruption and violence are endemic; a land that never had a strong central government, and cannot be democratised. While perhaps flattering to Afghan pride of strength, these half-truths bear little relation to reality.
It is true that Afghans are fiercely independent, and that Pashtun precepts concerning honor are more sacred than life itself. It is also true that no outside power has ever succeeded in subjugating Afghanistan. None of this means Afghanistan is destined to remain a failed state.
In fact, for much of the 20th century Afghanistan had a strong central government. Corruption may have always existed, but until recently it was not the centrepiece of Afghanistan’s economy or society. Under King Zahir Shah, who ruled from 1933 to 1973, Afghanistan was stable and progressive, and while not a wealthy country, it was certainly not one of the poorest.