Afghanistan and its people are increasingly being connected to the globalized world of outside. The result is some interesting cultural and social changes that although nascent and limited to the young generation, have the potential to move Afghanistan away from its bloodies past and towards a better future. Cable television networks and internet can be considered as relatively new phenomena in the society of Afghanistan. It has been only in post-Taliban Afghanistan that the multitude of private television channels has presented to Afghan families, children and youth a window onto the world.
Before this remarkable transformation and in the absence of television and internet, it was movies from the Indian Bollywood that were more or less the only window of interaction for the people with the world outside Afghanistan.
Television was banned during the Taliban rule and the government-run Radio Sharia broadcasted religious sermons and at times the regime's propaganda. A large number of Afghan private TV channels as well as tens of other foreign ones easily accessible by cable or satellite dish coupled with growing access to internet are transforming the way the people of Afghanistan particularly in cities view themselves and the world around them.
The effect is already visible on the people in large; from school-going children to university-going young men and women and to housewives, everybody is seeing the world in a different light, unimaginable only a few years ago. A cultural upheaval is quietly but surely in the making.
A sizable section of young men and women, concentrated in cities but whose extension you can see also in smaller towns is rising everywhere. These young men and women are the backbone of a gradual cultural and social change that Afghanistan is undergoing. This ambitious young generation armed with knowledge of English, accounts in Facebook and access to the world outside on their computers and laptops are slowly re-defining tomorrow's culture and society in Afghan metropolitan cities.
The slow cultural transformation is aided by the growth of television, internet, expanding access to education and social integrationon a scale never seen before. This increasingly globalized class is made up of young people who are connecting to one another and to the world outside and in the process break away from some of the old stereotypes, biases and the cultural and social paradigms that defined the old society and the old Afghanistan.
This gradual change on the Afghan cultural and social landscape, although now nascent and limited to the young metropolitan men and women, is a welcome transformation. If this cultural and social transformation can survive these difficult days, which we hope it would, the result over the long-term will be a new generation of Afghans who are by nature supporters of peace, understand and appreciate cultural and social pluralism, and who are much less likely to choose intolerance and clash over reasoned dialogue and discourse.
The growth of television and internet, social networking, expansion of educational opportunities and young people's increasing openness to the world outside Afghanistan has the potential to ingrain such positive values in the rising generation. This gradual change has become possible on account of the progress Afghanistan has made in recent years with assistance from the international community. The same international community better knows that it should continue supporting Afghanistan since the fruits of positive change are slowly but surely revealing themselves.