A general question: “When you think of Afghanistan, what first comes to your mind?”

And of course interestingly, and surprisingly a ‘general answer’: “War”

“Uff! Okay, so tell me what else comes to your mind beside WAR?”

“Hm! Suffering, death, women wearing long, big burqas and who are not allowed to do anything, ill children, and Yeah Taliban.”

Then I asked her about how she expected me to be at the first she met me.

“Well, frankly, I thought you will also wear long big burqa and the only thing I can see in you is your two eyes……” she said.

This was a dialogue between me and one of my friends, but similarly almost all other international friends have given me the same answer.

I strongly believe that media has a great influence on our daily thoughts and daily way of living. And so it has had a great influence on the ideas shaped about Afghanistan in every individual’s mind. Media, besides accomplishing its own responsibility: reaching the news to everyone in each corner of the world has also made Afghanistan as a ‘nightmare’ for everyone. The quotation below from a news website (whose name I don’t want to mention) can show you a ‘nightmare’ just right at the moment of your reading this article.

“When you think Afghanistan Imagine, Where 20 years of war has totally crippled the economy, (…) where hundreds of thousands of people are maimed, disabled, or blind because of war and land mines. Where you face a high chance of becoming blind or crippled because of the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables, causing vitamin deficiency. If you are blind or crippled, no one can help you because those that are not blind or crippled need help as well.”

I strongly believe this is to some extent wrong. Economy is getting improved through the foreign aid, improving the export products such as fresh fruit, dry fruit, rugs, hard works of people, and so on. Government has already initiated land mine cleaning projects to clean country from land mines. In fact, as I mentioned earlier one of Afghanistan’s main exports is fresh fruit, and so it shows the conception of ‘lack of fresh fruit and vegetables’ is wrong. People with ability to improve are improving their situations, but as there is a great sense of harmony, and condolence among Afghans, people with ability do, in fact, help others improve as well. Even if you try to Google about Afghanistan, the list of the options which will appear in your Google search bar are firstly: Afghanistan war, news, weather, map, casualties and so on. What most of the people might get from searching in this site would be that Afghanistan is a country with no positive things at all, but just negative. I remember the impactful, magical, and truthful words of Mr. Hans Rosling, the director of the Gapminder Foundation, who said, “Why should we still be afraid of Afghanistan and think of it as a place of war when we already know that at least normal life is going on there?” This is in fact the truth which is clear but is ignored by us, humans of the world. I am an Afghan and I know that I have lived there normal; I had a normal life there; and still I am here to be a first hand evidence to all. The place where I lived in Afghanistan is a beautiful place, with all smiley, loving and hard working people who are living their lives normally and are truly thinking to improve their beloved country. Afghanistan is a beautiful country with kind, hospitable, and trustful people. It is a country with a rich culture, beautiful weather, diverse type of fresh fruits such as watermelon, pomegranate, grapes, melon, strawberry, and many more, people are respectful to each other, and importantly there has been a continuous fast improvement in each corner of it. Afghan students get scholarship outside the country in order to have international education AND do change the misconception of foreign people about Afghanistan as we Afghan female students do here in our university.

The website “Good Afghan News” website, which has the slogan, “Afghan News That Will Make You Happy” is a website which gives good news about Afghanistan. This is how we can change Afghanistan: encouraging Afghan migrants around the world through making them hear about the positive side besides mentioning about the negative news. Let’s change this idea, and make a better understanding of Afghanistan as same as other regions of the world by both sharing, and searching the positive events besides showing and condemning the negative ones.

The link to the Good Afghan News website: (http://www.goodafghannews.com/)

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future 2011 Assignment: Op-Eds.


I totally agree with you about media's influence in crating an image about a topic for the people who don't know much about that topic. Honestly, when i first came at AUW, i also expected an Afghan girl exactly how you have described. But when i met you guys, i was quite surprised to see confident and smart young Afghan Women. Now my perspective about Afghanistan has changed a lot. I don't believe Afghanistan is a country of war anymore. Thanks for letting us know more about your beautiful country. :)

Regards Fahmida

Mursal !

As someone who has wonderful afghan friends, I do hear inspiring, intriguing stories from your country. There’s just so much to Afghanistan than Taliban! I recently watched (just last week!) A documentary about life in everyday Kabul, it was really refreshing. I particularly loved this line “ I am an Afghan and I know that I have lived there normal; I had a normal life there; and still I am here to be a first hand evidence to all. The place where I lived in Afghanistan is a beautiful place, with all smileys, loving and hard working people who are living their lives normally and are truly thinking to improve their beloved country.”

Thank you !

Hi Mursal,

You have touched my heart and yeah I have learned & known many things through your beautiful writing. Of course each country is unique - always has its own advantage and disadvantage (Positive & negative) so after reading your article, I feel I really wanna visit your country. I do love reading your article, it is well-done - powerful and inspiring!



Regards, Sarvina from Cambodia VOF 2011 Correspondent


I have learned many new things about your country after reading your journal. Thank you for sharing! I am inspired to share the positive things I have learned about Afghanistan and also look forward to learning more.

Sincerely, Lisa

Dear Mursal congratulations on doing your Assignment 3 module so well. I learned many things I did not know about your country. Best wishes, NatalieS


Hi Mursal,

I am impressed by your work here! I have to admit that I did not know about the many fruits in Afghanistan. The media in the US does paint a pretty one-sided picture of your homeland. While there are always ups-and-downs of any place, your OpEd here gives us the ups and asks each of us to focus on those for a change!

I will be looking into that Good Afghan News site! Thanks for the suggestions. One day I hope that I can visit Afghanistan and taste some of the delicious fruits, shake hands with smiling people, and see some of the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Warmly, Scott

Scott Beck

Dear all,

Thanks a lot for the nice comments. I hope my article was in a way helpful to show both sides of the reality. For those who want to visit Afghanistan, I hope you would be able to do that soon. Best of luck!



I remember the campus ground ceremony at AUW when me and my Afghan friends were wearing traditional Afghan clothes; colorful dresses decorated with small pieces of mirrors, and how that beauty of Afghan culture and art elicited admiration of every single guest at the ceremony. I heard many people said they had just the picture of war and burka in their mind about Afghanistan, but this time they saw the a true picture hidden under this gray surface. I was proud all that day that I could show something beautiful, something different, and something colorful about Afghan culture to an international society. War and lack of security is a reality about Afghanistan. My twin sister wouldn't be alive if she hadn't left the City Center market in Kabul 5 minutes before a suicide attack took place there. But the life didn't stop there. Afghanistan is still the home to 30 million people who are having a relatively normal life there, and it shouldn't be forgotten or ignored. Thanks dear Mursal for sharing your concern about the fact that war is not only aspect of our beautiful country.

Dear Masooma jan,

Thanks a lot for the nice comment you have given here. You are right dear, people do live normally in Afghanistan, and that is not something that should be ignored!

Kindest regards,

Mursal Harmaz