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EXPERT PERSPECTIVE: M. Ashraf Haidari on Afghanistan Reconstruction
Development Gateway

03/08/2006

http://topics.developmentgateway.org/afghanistan

The Development Gateway invited one of our Advisors on the Afghanistan Reconstruction dgCommunity, M. Ashraf Haidari, to respond to questions from our members. Formerly peace scholar and Foreign Service fellow at Georgetown University, Ashraf is First Secretary in Political, Security and Development Affairs at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington DC. In this discussion, he addressed a range of issues including security, commerce, refugees and IDPs, post-conflict reconstruction as well as government and international affairs.

Jaime Sotis, United States: Hi, I was hoping you could give me some information about the involvement women in Afghanistan have currently in the post reconstruction process in regards to the economical, political and social realms -in particular, programs that were specifically enacted for woman’s empowerment? I realize this question is rather broad but do you know of any websites I could visit that will put me directly on the trail of what I’m looking for? Thanks for any and all help you give.

Haidari: Since the overthrow of the Taliban, the women of Afghanistan have been involved in every aspect of the post-conflict political process in the country. From the Bonn talks to the emergency loya jirga, the constitutional loya jirga, the presidential elections, and the parliamentary elections, Afghan women have been fully involved in the rebuilding process, and exercised their full and equal rights under our new constitution. In last year’s parliamentary elections, the women of Afghanistan turned out in large numbers to elect members of the parliament and 34 provincial councils, in the first such poll in almost 30 years. Women voters accounted for 43 percent of the voter turnout. In the election, more than 600 women candidates competed for the 68 (out of a total of 249) parliamentary seats guaranteed for women under the Afghan constitution. However, preliminary poll results indicated that women would have won about 27 percent of the seats even without the constitutional quota. In late December, the first session of the parliament convened with a higher percentage of women representatives, 27.3 percent, than many of the most established democracies, including the US Congress (15.2 percent) and British Parliament (19.7 percent). Beyond parliament, an increasing number of women have returned to the workplace as members of the cabinet, governors, ambassadors, physicians, businesswomen, lawyers, army officers and teachers. In these roles, they hold numerous leadership positions in the private, public and civil society sectors of Afghanistan. This has happened as a direct result of the government’s commitment to ensuring gender equality and the protection of women’s rights under the constitution.

In December 2004, President Hamid Karzai appointed three women ministers to the cabinet, including two-time former presidential candidate and women’s rights activist Massouda Jalal as the Minister of Women’s Affairs. Minister Jalal now works to ensure that the government’s gender-sensitive policies are fully implemented to safeguard the rights of women under the constitution. In the meantime, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is spearheading the government’s efforts through its 55 diplomatic missions abroad to harness the goodwill and support of the international community for the women of Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah co-chairs the US-Afghan Women Council. In January 2002, President Karzai and US President George W. Bush established an initiative to promote public-private partnerships between US and Afghan institutions, as well as to mobilize private-sector resources to help Afghan women. This initiative focuses on four areas: political leadership and legal awareness, economic empowerment, education and health. In collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the initiative has contributed to the establishment of resource centers in 34 provinces to provide Afghan women with services in the above areas.

Despite our numerous achievements of the past four years, Afghanistan still has some of the world’s lowest social and economic indicators, ranking 173 out of 178 nations on the UN’s 2004 Human Development Index. Women and children, who constitute two thirds of the Afghan population and are the key to Afghanistan’s long-term development, are the main victims of the past 25 years of war and destruction. In the recent London Conference, the government of Afghanistan and the international community signed the Afghanistan Compact, which sets forth specific benchmarks to meet Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goals to be achieved through implementation of the Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy (I-ANDS). The I-ANDS substantially focuses on investing in the long-term socio-economic welfare of the population, the largest segment of which is women and children. I highly recommend that you read the Afghanistan Compact and the ANDS to learn about our specific plans to secure the future of Afghanistan at the following website: http://www.ands.gov.af/ In addition, there are numerous academic papers on the improving status of women in Afghanistan since four years ago. They can be located through http://scholar.google.com/

Mohammad Daud Kohi, Afghanistan: Dear Mr Haidari, after security education is one of the prioritized sectors for Afghan government in next five years but not the second priority. So, how the government can ensure the maximizing of capacity building of Afghan Nationals throughout the country in order to convince the donor countries of aid effectiveness while there are about 70% to 80% of governmental employees that are really in need for upgrading and productive (both short term and long term) on the job trainings with an adequate remuneration to reduce and eradicate corruption?

Haidari: Establishing and maintaining protective security is Afghanistan’s number one priority because everything else depends on it. Without security, we would be unable to build our human capital, enhance institutional capacity, develop our private sector as an engine for economic growth, and attract foreign direct investment. Meantime, the government of Afghanistan fully realizes the importance of human security, an integral part of which is education. It is only through education that we can overcome both the short-term problems of weak capacity, aid ineffectiveness, corruption, and the long-term challenge of developing Afghanistan on a sustainable basis. Although we have achieved a great deal in the education sector since four years ago with over five million Afghans back to schools and universities across Afghanistan, the government of Afghanistan has specifically outlined its plans in the Afghanistan Compact and the I-National Development Strategy (I-ANDS) for enhancing education as a true means to secure the future of Afghanistan. At the same time, the government has taken effective measures to reform public administration including provision of on-the-job training and salary raise to meet civil servants’ basic living needs. For this to happen, we have asked our international partners to channel aid resources through the government institutions to enable them to deliver public goods to the population and to build their capacity overtime to drive development of Afghanistan for the long haul.

Barbara Gerten,United States: What is the Afghan government doing to increase and upgrade the competencies of teachers? Is this just in Kabul or all provinces?

Haidari: We are taking effective measures through the Afghanistan Compact to improve the quality of education, which remains poor due to lack of qualified teachers, text books, scientific labs, information technology, and effective curricula meeting international standards. By end of 2010 in line with Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), net enrolment in primary schools for girls and boys will be at least 60% and 75% respectively; a new curriculum will be operational in all secondary schools; female teachers will be increased by 50%; 70% of Afghanistan’s teachers will have passed a competency test; and a system for assessing achievement such as a national testing system for students will be in place. At the same time, by the end of 2010, enrollment of students to universities will be 100,000 with at least 35% female students; and the curriculum in Afghanistan’s public universities will be revised to meet the development needs of the country and private sector growth. In August 2004, the Ministry of Education in its “National Report on the Development of Education in Afghanistan” reported that about 45,000 schoolteachers had been given short in-service training programs to improve the quality of education and for 2004 a plan for in-service training of 125,000 teachers was prepared, which continues to be implemented. The Report indicated future educational priorities to include: 1) teacher education; 2) textbook development; 3) capacity building, especially the training of educational leadership for the present and future; 4) development of quantity and quality education for Afghanistan; 5) construction and repair of school buildings; 6) and equipping schools and administrative offices throughout the country. Education is one of the main eight sectors of the I-ANDS and falls directly under its economic and social development pillar.

Danish Khan, Afghanistan: How do you see the future of Afghanistan's relations with Pakistan? Especially in terms of potential trade which can benefit both the nations. Any steps been taken by Afghan Government to rebuild confidence amongst its own and the people of neighboring nations?

Haidari: I see the future of Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship in good neighborly relations based on trade and investment, long-term regional economic integration, and firm alliance against transnational security threats such as terrorism and drugs that destabilize stability, governance, and rule of law everywhere. Since the overthrow of the Taliban four years ago, trade between the two countries has increased manifold, rising from $30 million a year during the Taliban rule to $1.2 billion and increasing now. This massive difference in the level of trade between the Taliban era and now proves that the secure and prosperous future of Pakistan and Afghanistan lies in regional stability with Afghanistan serving not as a ground for external strategic adventurism but as a hub for regional trade and commerce benefiting all of our neighbors. As far as confidence building measures, the government of Afghanistan signed the Kabul Declaration on Good Neighborly Relations with our six neighbors in December 2002: Pakistan, China, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The group pledges non-interference in Afghanistan’s affairs and firm action against "terrorism, extremism and drug-trafficking." While Pakistan is our major ally in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, we would like to see a greater degree of cooperation from the Pakistan government to clamp down on the cross-border infiltrations by terrorists into Afghanistan where they attack soft targets and run back into Pakistan. Internally, Afghanistan is blessed by a strong nation, which fought the two greatest wars of the last and this century—defeating both the Red Army and the Taliban-Al Qaeda terrorists. But in the process Afghanistan and our state institutions were destroyed. Since four years ago, we along with the international community have made significant strides towards establishment of permanent stability and prosperity in Afghanistan, which the Afghan government is seeking to consolidate and realize through the implementation of its Interim National Development Strategy.

(Photo: Ashraf Haidari with President Hamid Karzai, Source: Wabash College)

Nadia Afrin, United States: What are some steps the Afghan government is undertaking to curb corruption and ensure aid effectiveness?

Haidari: The government of Afghanistan has identified corruption as a crosscutting issue in its Interim National Development Strategy’s three pillars: security; governance, rule of law and human rights; and economic and social development. The Strategy includes specific steps in each pillar to fight and substantially reduce corruption. The government’s five-year anti-corruption benchmark as set forth in the Afghanistan compact includes public administrative reform and anti-corruption measures. By the end of 2010, government machinery (including the number of ministries) will be restructured and rationalised to ensure a fiscally sustainable public administration; the civil service commission will be strengthened; and civil service functions will be reformed to reflect core functions and responsibilities. A clear and transparent national appointments mechanism will be established within 6 months, applied within 12 months and fully implemented within 24 months for all senior level appointments to the central government and the judiciary, as well as for provincial governors, chiefs of police, district administrators and provincial heads of security. By end-2006 a review of the number of administrative units and their boundaries will be undertaken with the aim of contributing to fiscal sustainability. By end-2010, in furtherance of the work of the civil service commission, merit-based appointments, vetting procedures and performance-based reviews will be undertaken for civil service positions at all levels of government, including central government, the judiciary and police, and requisite support will be provided to build the capacity of the civil service to function effectively. Annual performance-based reviews will be undertaken for all senior staff (grade 2 and above) starting by end-2007. In addition, we will ratify the UN Convention against Corruption by end-2006 and adapt national legislation accordingly by end-2007 with a monitoring mechanism to oversee implementation to be in place by end-2008.

As the Afghanistan Compact points out, the Afghan government is committed to improving the effectiveness of the aid being provided to Afghanistan in accordance with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005), recognizing the special needs of Afghanistan and their implications for donor support. Consistent with the Paris Declaration and the principles of cooperation of this Compact, the government and the international community providing assistance to Afghanistan agree that the principles for improving the effectiveness of aid to Afghanistan under the Compact are: 1) Leadership of the Afghan government in setting its development priorities and strategies and, within them, the support needs of the country and the coordination of donor assistance; 2) Transparency and accountability on the part of both the government and the donors of the international assistance being provided to Afghanistan. Under these principles and towards the goal of improving the effectiveness of aid to Afghanistan, we will: 1) Provide a prioritized and detailed Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) with indicators for monitoring results, including those for Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); 2) Improve its abilities to generate domestic revenues through, inter alia, customs duties and taxes; and to achieve cost recovery from public utilities and transportation; 3) Agree with donors, international financial institutions and United Nations agencies on the benchmarks for aid channeled through the government’s core budget and for the utilization of such aid; and monitor performance against those benchmarks; and 4) Provide regular reporting on the use of donor assistance and performance against the benchmarks of this compact to the National Assembly, the donor community through the Afghanistan Development Forum and the public at large.

Robert Marmaduke, United States: Would you discuss the ambassador's views on reconstruction within Kabul proper, versus the outlying provinces of Balkh, Kandahar, Herat, et al? Are the outlying regions to rebuild under local rule, or is Kabul the final reconstruction authority over funding?

Haidari: Our main concern about implementing reconstruction and development programs across Afghanistan is lack of capacity in state institutions both in the center and periphery. However, as we build institutional capacity, there will be close coordination among central and provincial institutions in identifying local needs to be mainstreamed in the national development strategies. The Interim-National Development Strategy (I-ANDS) serves as an example in that it takes the different and common needs of all provinces of Afghanistan into account and addresses them through specific plans of action. At the same time, members of the newly elected parliament will play a key role in ensuring that all provinces in proportion to the number of their population and specific needs equally benefit from national reconstruction and development programs.

Jen Lacroix, United States: I would like to know where one could access existing educational materials that Afghan teachers use. For example, is there a department of education that structures such resources, and if so, where would one find them? Further, I’d like to know what educational developments are taking shape in response to post-conflict reconstruction and international affairs. FYI: I am developing new research materials for a K-16 American audience in the U.S. on Afghanistan, but I would like to collaborate and familiarize myself with Afghan educational methods and/or requirements as well. Thank you.

Haidari: Afghanistan has two ministries, one for education and one for higher education. Both are good sources of information if you were in Afghanistan or go there for research. However, they do not maintain websites with educational materials to be accessed online. You may visit the following websites of USAID, UNESCO and UNICEF, which are working with Afghanistan’s ministries to develop the education sector. The last website contains the Ministry of Education’s National Report on the Development of Education in Afghanistan, which should provide you with specific information on Afghanistan’s education method and the need to reform it based on international educational standards.

USAID Website: http://www.usaid.gov/locations/asia_near_east/countries/afghanistan/
UNICEF:
http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/afghanistan_afghanistan_latest.html
http://www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=95
http://www.unesco.org http://www.ibe.unesco.org/International/ICE47/english/Natreps/reports/afghanistan.pdf

Tariq Shah, Pakistan: Dear Sir, I am pashtoon from Quetta, Pakistan. I have a great interest in research about Afghanistan. I have a question about the expenses of reconstruction of Afghanistan. So many countries have promised to pay the amount for reconstruction purposes in Tokyo but their promises are yet unfulfilled. What are the reasons of it?

Haidari: Based on the Interim-National Development Strategy’s (I-ANDS) analysis of resource needs, we expect that Afghanistan is going to require $4 billion per year for the next five years to achieve the goals in the I-ANDS and the Afghanistan Compact. Most countries that pledged in the Tokyo and Berlin conferences have disbursed the funds, albeit not always in full or in time. However, we are unsatisfied with the way the funding has been disbursed through parallel institutions set up by NGOs and international contractors that lack coordination, local ownership, and involvement of government institution. To fix the problem, the Afghan government has developed a set of aid effectiveness principles, which encourage donors to base their programs on the I-ANDS and fund them within the framework of the national core budget. Working within the budget will help eliminate parallel delivery systems and enhance cost effectiveness by simplifying donor procedures. We expect donors to limit the use of top-up payments that the government will be unable to sustain. They must rationalize technical assistance and develop performance standards for aid delivery. Donors should help build the government’s capacity to benefit from such policies by supporting anti-corruption measures, improved fiduciary management, and capacity building. In parallel to these core principles, the government commits to strengthening institutional capacities in both aid coordination through the national budget and the management of data and information for policy-making.

(Photo: Ashraf Haidari at the Embassy of Afghanistan, Source: Wabash College)

Ali Ahmed, United Kingdom:Dear Mr Haidari, I'm a British citizen of Afghanistan origin, currently working (as a structural engineer) and living in UK. I think, as a Civil & Structural Engineer with about 12 years educational and working experience I have a lot to offer to Afghanistani people. It's a while that I'm trying to get involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, but unfortunately after sending many emails to different individuals / organizations, not being able to get access to the right authorities I'm about to lose hope. I was wondering if you could help me talk to the right people.

Haidari: After twenty-five years of war and destruction, educated members of the Afghan Diaspora are Afghanistan’s greatest asset that needs to be tapped effectively. The government fully realizes this, and President Hamid Karzai frequently encourages Afghan expatriates to return home and participate in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. There have been a number of Return of Qualified Afghans programs, which I hope you are aware of. The ARTF (Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund) is implementing an ARTF Expatriate Services Program with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The purpose of the program is to identify worldwide, highly skilled human resources (expatriate Afghan professionals) with significant reconstruction and development experience, in order to place them within key ministries and other government agencies/institutions to enhance the government's effectiveness in overseeing urgent policy and institutional reforms. For further information on the application requirements and procedures, please visit the ARTF-ExsS website at: http://www.artfexpat.gov.af/ Meantime, please e-mail me your resume at Haidari@embassyofafghanistan.org to share with our contacts in Kabul.

Mariam Jalali,Afghanistan: Sir, Can you please say something about your embassy’s role in promoting the development of the country’s human capital and how you coordinate it with the reintegration of the refugees and IDPs in the reconstruction of Afghanistan?

Haidari: The Embassy plays a key role in promoting development of human capital in Afghanistan. In his public statements, H.E. Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad regularly highlights lack of human capital as a major obstacle to the process of state building in Afghanistan and encourages long-term investment in the education sector as a means to secure the future of Afghanistan. Despite our resource constraints, the Embassy established a social protection department last year to help establish relations between U.S. academic institutions and those in Afghanistan, and to encourage American schools and universities to set up scholarship programs for talented Afghan students to study in the United States. In addition, the Embassy has supported the establishment of the American University of Afghanistan (AUA) in Kabul, which once fully established would provide the returnees from neighboring countries with access to quality higher education in Afghanistan. On January 17, 2006, the Embassy hosted an informative symposium to discuss women’s participation at the AUA. Based on the existing models at American universities, the Institute would serve as a mechanism to advance women’s issues, support professional development and leadership skills, and strengthen women’s participation in the Afghan society.

Farid Sayed Faridullah, Afghanistan:Dear Sir, What are the interactions between Development and Security as well as Development and Reconstruction?

Haidari: Afghanistan is a complex post-conflict country where the nexus between security and reconstruction/development is interdependent. The two reinforce one another and should be improved at the same time. Without security, reconstruction/development projects will stall. For example, insecurity and violence in parts of the south and east of Afghanistan have prevented the aid community from setting up offices there and be actively engaged in recovery and reconstruction programs. Lack of reconstruction or development can in turn cause insecurity, particularly in post-conflict settings where lack of reintegration assistance to returnees and disarmed former combatants can encourage them to resort to violence and crime that undermine peace and stability.

Sophia Milosevic Bijleveld, Switzerland: in the nation-building challenges facing Afghanistan, how important is national identity, and along which lines should it be envisaged

Haidari: In Afghanistan, the international community is helping build a new state and rebuild the country’s physical infrastructure to support a viable economy. So the process should be rephrased as “state-building” in Afghanistan where we have a unified and strong nation, unlike in the Balkans where various ethnic groups were fragmented and sought independence from former Yugoslavia. Like the Swiss, Afghanistan’s ethnic diversity and rich cultural heritage build our core national identity under which we fought two foreign invasions over the past twenty-five years and defeated both of them. However, in the aftermath of the wars and destructions, we need to build a new state in Afghanistan to safeguard our country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and full independence in the international system.

Joseph C. F. Lufkin, Philippines: It would seem that there is much potential in Afghanistan for a security-related NGO to bring together bilateral and private-sector donors and contractors to provide improved security for critical infrastructure (e.g. airports, roads etc.), and for security-related (but non-military) government capacity-building -- customs, AML, immigration, as these important dimensions are largely overlooked by Multilateral Development Banks and traditional development organizations. Would you agree?

Haidari: The needs of security and development in Afghanistan are complexly massive. I doubt if a security-related NGO would be up to the task. The government of Afghanistan effectively addresses the current challenges to secure Afghanistan’s future through the implementation of its Interim-National Development Strategy (I-ANDS) if it is timely and fully resourced by the international community. If you get a chance, please read the I-ANDS along with the Afghanistan Compact to learn how we are planning with the assistance of the international community to rebuild Afghanistan on the long run.

Kunniseri Eswaran Vaidyanathan, India: After the killing of an Indian construction worker recently in Afghanistan, what has the government done to provide security to foreigners working to rebuild the country?

Haidari: The Afghan government is doing its best to provide a secure environment for aid workers and foreign investors to do their work in Afghanistan. In addition to the Coalition forces and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) are deployed in urban and major rural areas to maintain security, law, and order. But terrorists are hard to control as they take their own lives by suicide bombing to attack soft targets. Even so, through closer coordination and sharing of intelligence among the Afghan security forces and their international partners, we have been able to avert many terrorist attacks.

Ceri Oeppen, United Kingdom: Dear M. Ashraf Haideri, Please can you say something about the role that Afghan professionals living outside of Afghanistan can have in the future of Afghanistan? What are the best ways in which they can contribute? Sending money? Making return visits? Or can they contribute in some other way?

Haidari: You can find a detailed and specific response to your answer in an article I wrote on “Rebuilding Afghanistan: The Diaspora Role” in October 2004. It is available online through www.google.com - if the title is typed, it should come up. According to the article, given Afghanistan's comprehensive reconstruction and development needs in social, economic, and political spheres, the Afghan Diaspora can play a substantial role in the overall rebuilding and development of Afghanistan through four main ways: 1) institutional capacity building, 2) business and investment, 3) strengthening civil society, and 4) advocacy.

I. Institutional Capacity Building

Afghanistan's governance institutions lack capacity. The country's general challenge of state building squarely lies in reforming, creating, and building effective institutions to run a modern government. The influx of hundreds of foreign NGOs to Afghanistan is due to lack of local capacity to deliver essential services to the people the majority of whom are yet to benefit from the "peace dividend." The Afghan Diaspora should not sit back and watch this continue. They should fully participate in the rebuilding process of Afghanistan by joining key government institutions in Kabul. This will strengthen the capacity of government institutions subsequently enabling the Afghan government to takeover the ownership of the rebuilding agenda based on Afghanistan's specific needs.

II. Business and Investment

Business investment provides the jobs, the economic development and the hope allowing Afghanistan to break out of the circle of conflict and poverty. The Afghanistan Interim National Development Strategy (I-ANDS) considers the private sector as the engine for economic growth and the role of government as facilitator and regulator. The humanitarian role of the Afghan Diaspora has to be acknowledged. They have sent millions of dollars to their families and relatives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. While continuing the humanitarian role, Afghan expatriates should take advantage of the very generous business and investment environment in Afghanistan. By being the first movers, they will not only reap substantial profits but also pave the way for foreign direct investment. Unless Afghans with national ties move in first and build confidence in others to invest in Afghanistan, foreign investors would be unlikely to do so.

III. Strengthening Civil Society

Civil society means all civic organizations, associations and networks which occupy the 'social space' between the family and the state except firms and political parties; and who come together to advance their common interests through collective action. There is emerging a vibrant civil society in Afghanistan and in the Afghan immigrant communities spearheaded by women, intellectuals, and ordinary Afghans opposed to conflict, violence, and factionalism that have ripped apart Afghanistan for many years. The Afghan Diaspora can play a significant role in strengthening and enabling Afghanistan's civil society at home and abroad to be an effective interest group against socio-economic and political ills in Afghanistan. In most developing and post-conflict countries, civil society is a beacon of hope for realizing the principles of democracy, human rights, and gender equality. Civil society can play the same role in Afghanistan to bolster rule of law and accelerate the overall peace-building process in the country.

IV. Advocacy

Advocacy is the process of actively speaking out, writing in favor of supporting, and/or acting on behalf of oneself, another person, or a cause. Afghans' cause is the rebuilding of our country after its complete destruction. The Afghan Diaspora will soon enter its third generation in developed countries and number over a million. In spite of their multiple causes, Afghans do not as yet have a single advocacy group committed to lobbying for Afghanistan. Good lessons can be learned from other North American immigrant communities: Armenians, Indians, Pakistanis, Israelis and others—who are using their resources such as wealth and voting power to bring their home countries' problems to the forefront of the international agenda. Afghans understand the importance of the international community's commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan. Without sustainable international aid, Afghanistan's nascent institutions will collapse and the vacuum immediately filled by non-state actors who have already victimized Afghans for too long. Afghans need to prevent this from happening again, and they can do so only if we unite, organize, and commit to promoting Afghanistan's interests that match the interests of the international community.

While initiating to use the above ways to help Afghanistan rebuild, the Afghan Diaspora should not have high expectations from the Kabul government to facilitate their role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. They should be self-initiative individually and collectively to lift our people and government up at a very critical juncture in Afghanistan's history. Once American President John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." On January 27, 2002, President Karzai echoed the same statement differently while addressing 3000 Afghans at Georgetown University. He told Afghan students, "You are the future of our country, so work hard, study well, make money—and bring it to Afghanistan." True, the Afghan Diaspora needs to give to our homeland not vice versa when Afghanistan is weak and needs reconstruction. There is a realization that small independent efforts toward a common goal can succeed in turning a country around. There should be a concerted and sustained effort on our part to turn Afghanistan into a model state in the region and the world over. Together Afghans can do it.

 

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