May 14, 2017

Why Campaigning Against TUTAP is a Bad Idea?

I initially wrote this post in an e-mail to an acquaintance (whom I thought was behind the campaign) when demonstration in D.C. was still a burgeoning idea. Then, a few days ago, I noticed that some Hazara diaspora living in Virginia and in the neighboring areas of Washington D.C. are potently campaigning for a protest in front of the Asian Development Bank in D.C. After a few phone conversations with some friends in D.C., I started mulling over the very idea of the protest and its potential failure.

What I primarily wrote to this person was to discourage some individuals from gathering in front of the Asian Development Bank building, which is just a branch not the headquarter. Protesting against the project that is going to be financed by ADB to boost Afghan access to electricity indicates how this group of people, who are prone to demonstration, is oblivious to the facts. Protest against ADB that finances an important energy project for Afghans is unreasonable and foolish. It does not matter anymore for whatever reason it is rerouted, but at this moment, any kind of objection against it would be automatically construed as an act that contradicts the national interests of Afghanistan. Some activists including the Enlightenment Movement leaders have gone far beyond their initial demands that now they can be easily branded as fanatics or extremists. As the way this movement is handled by its fervent enthusiasts, one of these days, they can be characterized fanatics because of their extreme attitudes and ideas that now have become toxic and to some degree inimical to the comfort and well-being of the Hazara minority group.

Every rational person understands that the TUTAP issue is obsolete now, but unfortunately some people are not able to get over it. They are constantly being imbued with inaccurate information by some of the leaders of the Enlightenment Movement who themselves are now ensnared by their own struggle for fame and publicity.

As to the protest in D.C., most of these campaigners are the newly arrived refugees and they are quite clueless about how the politics in Washington D.C. works. Some of them, I heard, even don’t speak English. They are not familiar with the areas where they live in. My suggestion to these fervent demonstrators is to rethink about their plan; instead, they should come up with alternative ideas that can be beneficial for their well-being in the future. Whosever’s idea it is, it is sounds amateur and to some degree ridiculous. Their decision to print out quotes of Martin Luther King and Gandhi and then shout their lungs out in front of the ADB Bank indicates how lost and ignorant this group of people is. Their courage to go out, not even think of how ridiculous they would look, is admirable, but I wish they would collect their money – that they would spend on transportation – and send it to school children in Afghanistan who are in dire need of school supplies.

Another alternative idea would be to raise money for organizing workshops on learning basic things about American life. This would encourage the newcomers to integrate into the society and learn about American culture and values, which eventually help them become good citizens. Flocking around the White House does not solve the TUTAP issue. Any activity in relation to TUTAP is futile and the protestors would bring petty upon themselves, and the response to their spirit would be just ridicule upon ridicule.

I have previously seen crowds of Hazaras marching around the White House shouting at the top of their lungs the way they have done elsewhere. I am doubtful that such protests bring visibility to the campaigners and their cause in the most sophisticated capital where lobby groups are the main form of advocacy in order to influence the decision-makers. I invite these campaigners to inform themselves about some recent changes and events in Afghanistan, it would help them to rethink about their decisions. Here is the SIGAR’s recent report on Afghanistan: "April Quarterly Report, "Reprioritizing Afghanistan Reconstruction."

Finally, one can assume, based on previous gatherings, that the impetus for some of these Hazara campaigners is personal - that is to take selfie in the streets of Washington D.C. If that is the case, flocking around the White House is a good opportunity for taking selfie that shouldn't be missed.

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