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Culture, Language and Diplomacy: Position of Afghanistan

Abstract: The article explores the significance and impact of language in diplomatic missions. The discussion on language is placed within the broader context of public and cultural diplomacy, emphasizing these aspects’ crucial role in shaping international relations. I examined the position of Afghanistan in the current global landscape, and the paper aims to underscore the importance of language as a key axis in promoting cultural and diplomatic exchange.


Afghanistan’s diplomatic strategy has been primarily focused on official diplomacy for over the past 40 years, lacking a comprehensive approach toward public diplomacy. However, contemporary international relations emphasize the importance of general relations, including cultural, educational, and informational aspects, in addition to formal state relations. Although Afghanistan has had some successful experiences with cultural relations in the past and benefited from the international community’s presence in the last two decades, the country’s communication foundations in language, culture, and social conditions remain weak. This highlights the need for a new approach to people-to-people communication, emphasizing language, culture, and social factors to build stronger diplomatic relations between nations.

Afghanistan is an ideal country for pursuing public diplomacy due to several reasons. The country’s language is a crucial feature that facilitates exchanging its history, culture, and social experiences with neighboring nations. Additionally, Afghanistan’s natural influence on the countries in the region is significant. For example, Amir Amanullah Khan, the king of Afghanistan until 1924, welcomed the emir of Bukhara, Gomara, and his family to Kabul, where they lived and were buried. This shared cultural, linguistic, and historical foundation between Afghanistan and present-day Uzbekistan presents an excellent opportunity for public diplomacy between the two nations.

Culture and Diplomacy: 

There are several tools available for public diplomacy, such as political discourse, trade, and investment, civil society relations, educational and university programs, language institutions in both countries, media cooperation, partnership, seminars and conferences on cultural commonality, tourism, cultural events, and more.

France’s experience and model in public diplomacy, which is often referred to as cultural diplomacy in scientific terms, is noteworthy. France has successfully enhanced its influence and contribution to other nations through language learning, cultural materials, and educational programs. One of the significant outcomes of this effort was strengthening understanding and harmony between the two nations and expanding relations.

The cultural geography of Afghanistan is based on a common language, cultural experiences, and social conditions that could be shared with Muslims in India, in historical Rohilkand, below the Durand Line and neighboring countries. This presents an opportunity to improve general relations among the government processes and establish a mindset for negotiations and official transactions between the related countries.

Afghanistan has not been successful in promoting its country’s goals among its citizens through public diplomacy, which is easier and more necessary than any other diplomatic work. The language similarity and cultural commonality between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Iran should have been leveraged in such a way that the people of these two countries could have pressured their leaders and officials not to interfere in Afghanistan for the sake of stability, offering guaranteed help and permanent friendship.

Language and Diplomacy: 

When it comes to diplomacy, proficiency in foreign languages among Afghan diplomats can help the country’s ability to effectively communicate its wishes, experiences, foreign policy, and visions to other nations, diplomatic and host countries. The lack of proficiency in foreign languages among Afghan diplomats has led to defeat and failure in the diplomatic field, as official representatives cannot convey the country situation and suffering of the Afghan people. Understanding other countries’ social norms, messages, and cultural indicators is critical for Afghan diplomats to comprehend their needs and convey the demands and messages of their people.

The importance of language in diplomacy must be addressed, as it is the primary means of communication between diplomats. However, there has yet to be a consensus on which language is the best for understanding diplomacy. Different countries and individuals have presented various arguments based on convenience, scientific wealth, the number of speakers, and political, economic, and commercial influence. While English is currently considered the language for communication between diplomats, many countries still prefer to use their national languages in communication with rival diplomats.

In addition to spoken language, diplomats must also be skilled in body language, which can convey different messages and have varying interpretations. Successful diplomats must possess the necessary language skills to convey and understand messages, respond appropriately, and analyze and interpret the messages received from other diplomats.

Language can also be used as a form of action in diplomacy, such as issuing warnings, making suggestions, or agreeing to terms. It is not just about what is said but also what is done, and this form of communication can have significant implications for diplomatic relations between countries.

A diplomat employs the art of diplomacy to persuade the opposing party to make decisions that align with their country’s interests while also considering their people and values. The ultimate goal is to reach agreements and understandings that enable the diplomat to return home with successful negotiations.


The article highlights the importance of language and culture in promoting effective diplomacy, especially for countries like Afghanistan. Afghan diplomats’ lack of proficiency in foreign languages has led to challenges in effectively communicating the country’s wishes, experiences, and visions to other nations. The article suggests that a new approach towards people-to-people communication emphasizing language, culture, and social factors can foster stronger diplomatic relations between nations. Diplomats must possess the necessary language skills to convey and understand messages, respond appropriately, and analyze and interpret messages received from other diplomats. The article underscores the significance of language as a crucial axis in promoting cultural and diplomatic exchange. Effective diplomacy requires a prosperous diplomat who communicates clearly, eloquently, persuasively, and effectively.


  1. Patinka, E. (2014). Cultural diplomacy in contemporary international relations: Theory and practice. Faculty of Political Science and International Relations, UMB Banská Bystrica.
  2. Cummings, M. C. (2003). Cultural Diplomacy and United States Government: A Survey. Washington: Center for Arts and Culture.
  3. Klubbond, N. Cultural diplomacy as “soft power” and the significance of cultural awareness in the German mission in Afghanistan.

Source: Modern Diplomacy