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Afghan embassy speaker brings national debate to Elon

M. Ashraf Haidari speaks to the Elon community in Whitley Auditorium.

By Jack Dodson, September 16, 2009

To kick off the start of the semester's series of talks and events regarding Afghanistan, Elon University welcomed political counselor, acting defense attaché and spokesman of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C., M. Ashraf Haidari, on Wednesday.

There was a 3:30 p.m. question and answer session held Wednesday specifically for university students, faculty and staff in which Haidari discussed the history of Afghanistan before Sept. 11., 2001, and the dramatic effects on the country since then. At 7 p.m., he delivered a speech that was open to the public which expanded on the ideas discussed earlier in the day.

Haidari lived in Afghanistan until he was in his early twenties, when he was forced to flee the country with his family and take refuge abroad, according to his biography on the Embassy's Web site. He has received numerous awards for his work with the Embassy and is frequently writing Op-Eds in various publications, including the Washington Post, the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.

"I had a thought-provoking dialogue with a number of students this afternoon to discuss international peace-building efforts in Afghanistan," he began before a crowded Whitley Auditorium. "And I met with President Lambert, whom I would like to thank for this prestigious University's significant contribution of educating promising Afghans to help rebuild our country. Indeed, there can be no greater contribution to any nation than helping educate its tomorrow's leaders..."

He posed an initial question to the audience: "What is the United States' mission in Afghanistan?" He went on to say the country remains unstable despite the fall of the Taliban eight years ago and throughout his speech stressed the importance of diplomatic and militaristic support from nations like the United States.
In a follow-up interview with the Pendulum, Haidari praised the study abroad program at Elon and the university's value of globalized thinking. "We, at the end of the day—as global citizens—must care for each other," he said.

"I think the students at Elon University must care about your country's presence in Afghanistan," he said, "which in turn means safety from future acts of terrorism and violence in the world."


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