© 2022 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.The departing point of this study is to understand the implications of ‘nation-building’ as a Western initiative in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2004–2021) particularly in terms of the local conceptualisation of nation or millat. Based on this larger question, the goal of this study is to reveal the idea of nation as presented in the discourse of education constructed by the state of Afghanistan. To this end, the study employs three major primary resources: official state documents, school textbooks and expert interviews conducted at the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan. Pursuing a qualitative research methodology, the study uncovers four major elements that make up the idea of the ‘nation of Afghanistan’ or the millat-e Afghanistan: (1) Islam, (2) watan (homeland), (3) qawm and (4) Afghaniyat (Afghanness). Reflecting a very specific understanding of nation that is peculiar to the context of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, this study concludes that the Western-imposed form of nation has a local content which struggles hard to keep the idea of nation together.