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Volume 34 :: August 2006                  

In This Issue

President Karzai will visit North America in mid September to attend a series of multilateral and bilateral meetings in the United States and Canada. The President will participate in the 61st Session of the UN General Assembly during September 19-21, and hold bilateral meetings with several heads of state to discuss issues of mutual interest. The President also plans to attend the Clinton Global Initiative conference to be held in New York to discuss poverty alleviation, combating climate change, improving governance, and use of religion as a force for reconciliation. In addition, the President intends to speak at a number of public forums in New York and Washington about Afghanistan’s achievements of the past five years, and regional security and development. The President will visit Ottawa and Quebec cities to meet with t he government and people of Canada to thank them for their strong support of Afghanistan’s peacebuilding process through Canada’s robust participation in the ISAF multinational force to restore and maintain security in southern Afghanistan. The President will wind up his visit in Washington where he will meet with President George W. Bush and senior members of the Administration and Congress.
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President Karzai Attends Tokyo Conference II

President Hamid Karzai visited Japan from July 4 to 7, 2006 at the invitation of the Government of Japan to attend the Tokyo Conference II: Consolidation of Peace in Afghanistan on July 5. The Conference followed the Tokyo Conference I in February 2003, and primarily focused on the process of the DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the former combatants), which began in October 2003 and completed at the end of July. “Taking the privilege of opening and addressing this important conference, I reiterate the importance of the shared commitment of Afghanistan and our partners from the international community to the security sector reform process, as a strategy to establish and deepen security in our war-torn country. I also believe it is timely that w e review our progress, not only in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration field, but also other aspects of the security sector, evaluate the present security environment and to explore ways that our remaining and present security challenges could be addressed in an effective manner,” President Karzai stated. Given Japan’s leading role in the DDR process, the Japanese government reviewed achievements of the DDR over the past year, and the Afghan government confirmed its firm commitment to implementing the DIAG (disbandment of the illegal armed groups) process. The President was accompanied by Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Zalmay Rasul, Minister for Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ehsan Zia, Economy Minister Mir Muhammad Amin Farhang, Deputy Foreign Minister Zalmay Aziz and Deputy Defense Minister Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani.

Foreign Minister Dr. Spanta Attends SAARC Council of Ministers

Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin D. Spanta and Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Mahmoud Saikal attended the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Ministers in Dhaka, Bangladesh on August 1-2. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Morshed Khan, who presided over the two-day meeting, had extended a special invitation to the Afghan delegation and told reporters before the meeting that “This will be the first time any Afghanistan Foreign Minister attends a SAARC ministerial meeting." Afghanistan was given full membership in the SAARC in its 13th Summit held in Dhaka in November 2005. SAARC, which now includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, was set up in 1985 to accelerate economic gr owth in South Asia. "Afghanistan is an important part of the south Asian region. Afghanistan plays a key role in the transit of not only south Asia but linking south Asia to central Asia, linking the Far East to the Middle East," Deputy Foreign Minister Saikal said during the visit.
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Ambassador Jawad: The Future of Afghanistan

This morning I attended the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. The electrifying moment when that bell clangs reminded me of one of my deepest held convictions: the future of Afghanistan lies through trade and the development of a robust private sector. Since the days of the silk route, Afghanistan’s unique location in the heart of Asia has made it a natural trade hub. Today it remains a land bridge between south and central Asia, connecting emerging markets with drivers of the global economy.

The Government of Afghanistan, with the partnership of the United States and the international community, has laid the foundation for a comprehensive restructuring of the economic system. Under our new liberal constitution, the state-controlled system is fading away as a free market economy has taken hold. The government’s role has been reduced to developing Afghanistan’s physical, human and legal infrastructure, providing an atmosphere that is conducive to private sector growth. In less than five years, the government has introduced a new currency, adopted liberal banking and investment laws allowing for 100% foreign direct ownership and full repatriation of profits, initiated membership negotiations with the World Trade Organization, and exceeded the structural benchmarks established by the International Monetary Fund. The economy is expected to continue to grow at double digit annual rates. More that 13 foreign banks have opened their doors i n Afghanistan and more than 3,000 new investment projects have been registered. We have created the Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA) as a one-stop shop to facilitate and promote investment in Afghanistan.

Afghan expatriates have played an essential role in bringing about our stunning economic growth. A significant number of Afghans from Europe and the US heeded President Karzai’s call for qualified Afghans to return and rebuild. Infused with hope and patriotism, these hyphenated Afghans went back to their homeland and enlisted their expertise and capital. Now, most of the major foreign direct investments (FDIs,) in Afghanistan are by Afghan entrepreneurs, who have made lucrative careers in telecommunications, IT and other sectors. With 25 million people, Afghanistan is the second most populated country in Central Asia and a largely untouched, virgin market. Geographically, in central and south Asia all roads lead to Afghanistan.

The sight of beautiful Afghan girls with their black and white uniforms attending school under a tree in a small village and the thousands of signs advertising computer and English classes in major cities are symbols of drastic social changes taking root in our country. Even though we cannot accommodate many of our people’s high expectations, for the first time in 30 years, success stories are replacing war stories.

I cannot wait to see what we will achieve within in a generation. I cannot imagine what our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will accomplish both within and outside of Afghanistan. I cannot imagine these things, but I know that when the next generation comes together as we have today, Afghanistan will have regained her former glory and splendor. Thank you.

-Message of Ambassador Said T. Jawad at the Afghan
Communicator event organized by the Afghan
Communityin New York City on July 27, 2006.

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Embassy Celebrates Independence Day

The Embassy of Afghanistan celebrated with the Afghan community in the East Coast Afghanistan’s 87th Independence Day on the evening of August 17, 2006 in Washington, DC. More than 300 guests—including senior US government officials, diplomatic corps, media, and friends and supporters of Afghanistan—attended the glamorous Independence Day reception at the Embassy in Kalorama.

Afghanistan’s renowned singer, Mr. Ahmad Wali, performed at the reception and sang patriotic songs in honor of Afghanistan’s Independence Day. His national songs moved the jubilant Afghan guests and reminded them of their debt of service to Afghanistan at a time when the country needs them to work together towards their homeland’s reconstruction. Similar celebrations were held in the capital and throughout Afghanistan, including in the south and east where thousands of people and government officials paid tribute to Afghanistan’s national heroes who fought for the freedom and sovereignty of Afghanistan.

Ambassador Said T. Jawad conveyed the messages of President Karzai and Foreign Minister Dr. Spanta to Afghan communities across the United States, wishing them a happy Independence Day. Ambassador Jawad said, “Today we salute our beautiful tricolor flag and pay tribute to those freedom fighters and leaders who secured and maintained our independence and freedom. 87 years is a brief period in the history of our ancient country. Our country with a rich five millennia civilization has been through many ups and downs of the history. The last thirty years in Afghanistan unfortunately endured two foreign invasions that destroyed our land but strengthened our unity and resilience. Today, Afghanistan is rapidly regaining her rightful place in the community of free, peaceful and pluralistic nations. With the partnership of the international community and the perseverance of the Afghan people, Afghanistan will emerge as a model of cooperation of civilizations f or peace, prosperity and global security.”

The Afghan Independence Day is celebrated in Afghanistan on 19 August to commemorate the recognition by the United Kingdom of Afghanistan’s independence in August 1919.
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Ambassador Jawad Visits NY City to Discuss Security in Afghanistan

Ambassador Said T. Jawad participated in a number of media engagements and private meetings in New York on July 27 and 28. This trip occurred days before the transition to NATO forces in Afghanistan’s southern region, and was meant to galvanize support for Afghan and Coalition Forces and present an accurate picture of the security situation throughout the country. In conversation with Steve Doocy of the FOX News Channel’s FOX and Friends, the Ambassador fielded questions concerning the NATO transition, stating, “NATO forces in Afghanistan are increasingly taking more important roles and taking command of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan. In this new mission, NATO forces, U.S. forces and the Afghan security forces are carrying out a large-scale military operation that involves about 10,000 soldiers.” In his comments about the political climate of the country, Ambassador Jawad assu red FOX that, “The engagement of United States is demanded by the Afghan people, and it's very much welcome. We are facing some challenges, but overall, Afghans today have more political and economic rights than at any other time in the history of the country.”

The following morning, in an interview with Soledad O’Brien, the Ambassador illustrated the reasons for the spike in terrorist violence within Afghanistan, stating, “The first reason is domestic. The national institutions in Afghanistan are not strong enough to provide services and protection to the Afghan people, due to a lack of resources. The second reason is regional, as terrorists still have access to ideological and physical safe haven in the neighborhood of Afghanistan.” When asked how Afghanistan has changed in the past five years, the Ambassador replied, “If you consider especially the fifth anniversary of 9/11, coming up soon here in New York, Afghanistan has made significant progress. Afghanistan is the first round in war against terror. We cannot fail."

In the course of his trip to New York, Ambassador Jawad also met with Jeff Eubanks, Vice President of Global Affairs for the New York Stock Exchange, the editorial boards of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, as well as Ambassador Ravan Farhadi and the staff of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations.

On the evening of July 27, the Ambassador addressed an audience of Afghan young professionals and New York community and business leaders at the Empire State Building during an event hosted by Afghan Communicator. In a speech entitled, “The Promise of a Free Afghanistan,” the Ambassador encouraged Afghan Americans to help rebuild the country in any way they could and applauded the patriotic contributions that have already been made. “Some of these enthusiastic and committed young professionals will lead our communities to new heights here in the U.S., others will return to Afghanistan to contribute to the state-building process,” he said. The Ambassador discussed recent manifestations of the war on terror both inside and outside of Afghanistan, stating, “Tragically, New Yorkers understand better than anyone that global security depends upon defending freedom in each and every corner in world. As the terrorist attacks in India e arlier this month demonstrate, the global war on terror is far from over.”
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Enhancing the Effectiveness of PRTs in Afghanistan

The governments of Canada and the United States organized a Conference on Enhancing the Effectiveness of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan in Budapest, Hungary, on July 20-21, 2006. The Government of Hungary, planning to take over the Dutch PRT in the province of Baghlan, hosted the Conference. The overall purpose of the conference was to share experiences and insights from countries contributing and committed to the PRT program and to use that shared wisdom to develop ways of improving the PRTs’ effectiveness to benefit the government and people of Afghanistan.

Delegations from more than 36 countries attended the Conference and discussed with the Afghan delegation, led by Adviser to the President Enayatullah Qasimi and Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari, ways on how the PRTs could be more effective in their efforts to provide security and development assistance to Afghanistan. The Afghan delegation made four key recommendations that set the stage for the Conference attendees to discuss the experiences of their PRTs in Afghanistan. Mr. Qasimi elaborated on the recommendations in his opening statement and discussed the delegations’ questions on how to achieve them together with the government and people of Afghanistan.

The recommendations included: First, PRTs must engage in greater communication with the Afghan people, through regular discussions with the elderly, local government officials, the clergy and ordinary Afghans. Second, PRTs must increase coordination with local Governments and work in a manner that their efforts increase peoples’ confidence in the Government and help improve governance. Third, the contributing countries should come up with a standard framework for PRT structure, commitment and operations. Finally, the name Provincial Reconstruction Team creates an expectation that PRTs are there to help rebuild the provinces. They must all make a concerted effort to increase the capability and resources of PRTs to engage in reconstruction. Representatives from Afghanistan’s Ministries of Interior and Defense were part of the Afghan delegation, and substantively contributed to the discussions.
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Afghanistan Since 9/11

Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari spoke on “Afghanistan Since 9/11” to a large group of honor students from across the nation at Georgetown University on July 31, 2006. Speaking on behalf of Ambassador Jawad, Haidari discussed with the students Afghanistan’s major achievements of the past five years, and stated that global security squarely depended on the continued international engagement in the country to help the government and people of Afghanistan overcome their many challenges. “With the support of the Afghan people and our international partners, Afghanistan has gone through an extraordinary transformation since 2001. Where the extremists and terrorists ruthlessly oppressed our people five years ago, today, we have a democratic state with an elected president and parliament that strive to rebuild a new Afghanistan where everyone is free and safe from the tragedies of our recent past,&r; dquo; Haidari stated. However, he noted that “a new Afghanistan free from terrorism” could not be ensured without regional cooperation to fight and eliminate the sources of terrorism outside Afghanistan. Several students commented on Afghanistan’s problem of narcotics and its connection with terrorism.

Haidari explained Afghanistan’s comprehensive drug control strategy to fight drugs effectively, and said drug money was directly funding the Taliban and terrorists in Afghanistan. He said the narcotics problem in Afghanistan could be gradually overcome by sustainable rural development and building the capacity of government institutions to protect people and deliver services to them. He added that regional cooperation in combating drugs was key and necessary to save not only Afghanistan but the entire region from drugs that harm public health and undermine security and governance everywhere.
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Secretary Gutierrez Supports Afghan Rug Industry

Afghanistan’s rug industry was featured during a reception hosted by the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. on July 19. The event celebrated the first official joint U.S.-Afghan government delegation of Afghan rug & carpet producers. Ambassador Jawad welcomed the guests stating, “I am honored to be here with you this afternoon to showcase an Afghan product that is a symbol of our country’s culture, history and tradition.” The leader of the delegation Mr. Sayed Javed Andish then introduced his delegates and thanked the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Embassy’s Economic, Trade & Investment Department for providing opportunities to link directly to rug importers in the United States.

US Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez attended the reception, and spoke warmly of the Afghan people and his recent visit to Afghanistan. He restated the United States’ long-term commitment to the economic revitalization of Afghanistan, and wished the delegates a successful trip. Secretary Gutierrez said, “two-way trade between the United States and Afghanistan reached $330 million last year, a 43 percent increase over the previous year.” Afghan rugs are allowed access to the American market duty free, and hand woven rugs were designated as duty free in June 2005. Investment opportunities exist in Carpets and Textiles as well as a variety of other sectors in Afghanistan. Please visit www.afghanistan.business-gateways.com for further information.
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Herat Experiences Shakespeare

Shakespeare's “Love's Labor’s Lost” was preformed before large audiences of men and women in the ancient and artistic city of Herat throughout the month of July. The dramatic production was a stark contrast to the time when the Taliban ruled Herat, destroying paintings and artifacts, and banning music and dancing. The acting troupe, made up of 11 men and women, has performed “Love's Labor's Lost” throughout the country to large crowds of food vendors, policemen and picnicking families. At the final performance, one of the actors spoke with journalists about his experience. “This was in our culture once. It was not new to us, and we want to see more. Slowly, slowly, we have to take a step. Things will take time to change.”
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Afghan Soccer Enthusiasts Convene in DC Area

Over 5000 Afghans from all over the United States gathered in Gaithersburg, Maryland to celebrate the Afghan Sports Federation’s 9th annual 4th of July sports competition. The Brishna Soccer club of New York was pronounced US-Afghan Soccer Cup champions after defeating the Afghan United of California team. The trophy was presented by the Afghan Sports Federation Executive Committee members, Ajmal Ghani, Atiq Panjshiri, and Sulaiman Lutfi. Former Interior Minister Ali Jalali spoke about the positive role of the Afghan community in the lives of the younger generation. The program ended with a live concert by famous Afghan artist Habib Qaderi. The Afghan Sports Federation has held soccer, volleyball, and basketball tournaments every year and has been the leading Afghan-Am erican organization in the promotion of sporting activities in the US and in Afghanistan. ASF was the first organization to call for the re-establishment of the Afghan National Committee and the reinstatement of its membership at the International Olympic Committee in 2001-2002. Afghans came from California, Canada, Georgia, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Idaho, Florida, the Washington DC Metro Area and as far away as Europe and Asia. For more information and pictures of the event visit www.afghansportsfederation.org
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Time to Recommit to Afghanistan's Secure Future

Hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the international community rallied in solidarity with the United States for a collective response. They traced the source of the terrorist attacks to Afghanistan, a country that after the end of the Cold War had slipped backwards into a medieval nightmare under an extremist Taliban government that actively encouraged Islamic radicalism and terrorism; that made Afghanistan a global base for drug production and trafficking; and that was responsible for smuggling light weapons and illicit goods. Living under the Taliban regime, the Afghan people suffered from unspeakable atrocities, while state institutions collapsed and the country’s physical infrastructure was completely destroyed. The international impact of Afghanistan's downward s piral was widespread, with 9/11 only the highlight that finally mobilized the world to take action. Before that, proxy conflicts had driven hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees into neighboring Pakistan and Iran; exported drugs had killed millions in many countries, while the money earned from those sales had funded the war machine of the Taliban and Islamic militants far and wide. Al-Qaeda freely used Afghanistan as a base to target American assets worldwide — including the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 and the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998...
Diplomatic Traffic, By Ashraf Haidari
Full article can be read at the following sites: diplomatictraffic.com or diplomatictraffic.com/debate.asp?ID=576
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M. Ashraf Haidari - Editor
Embassy of Afghanistan
2341 Wyoming Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202.483.6410
Fax: 202.483.6488
<www.embassyofafghanistan.org>

In the Media
The Embassy of Afghanistan celebrated with the Afghan community in the East Coast Afghanistan’s 87th Independence Day on the evening of August 17, 2006 in Washington, DC. please read below.

Statement from Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad
This morning I attended the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. The electrifying moment when that bell clangs reminded me of one of my deepest held convictions: the future of Afghanistan lies through trade and the development of a robust private sector. Since the days of the silk route, Afghanistan’s unique location in the heart of Asia has made it a natural trade hub. More>>
Message from the Editor
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Afghanistan and Brazil Sign Cooperation Agreement

Afghanistan’s non-resident Ambassador to Brazil Said T. Jawad and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim signed the Basic Agreement for Technical Cooperation between the Governments of the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Brasilia on August 1, 2006. Afghanistan and Brazil initiated the signing of the Agreement based on the participation of Brazil in the London Donor Conference held from January 31 to February 1, 2006. At that time, Foreign Minister Amorim praised Afghanistan’s achievement of the Bonn Agreement objectives at the London Conference and pledged to help the country implement the goals of the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), stating, “We are ready to offer our cooperation to Afghanistan, particularly in such areas as foreign trade monitoring, population census, agricultural research, de-mining and electoral assistance. Brazil has been implementing a range of policies and programs in the human rights area, such as gender and racial equality and the fight against hunger and poverty, which we are ready to share.”

President Hamid Karzai has expressed his appreciation for Brazil as the only South American nation to participate in the London Conference. “I am grateful that our partners in the international community, such as Brazil, took the opportunity of the London Conference to renew their commitment to supporting Afghanistan by joining us in the Compact,” the President wrote in a letter to Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva. Foreign Minister Dr. Spanta extended an open invitation to his Brazilian counterpart Foreign Minister Celso Amorim to visit Kabul to further enhance bilateral relations. “I would also like to extend my gratitude for your Government in initiating the Basic Agreement on Technical Cooperation to assist Afghanistan in areas where Brazil has the expertise and resources,” Minister Spanta wrote his counterpart.

At the August 1 signing ceremony, Ambassador Jawad commented: “Brazil is a regional and global leader with vast resources. We welcome with deep appreciation Brazil’s participation in the long-term development of Afghanistan, and look forward to investment by Brazilian companies and reconstruction aid through the Agreement we signed today.” The Ambassador will meet with relevant Brazilian officials to initiate an exchange of delegations, implement new projects in accordance with the Afghanistan Compact and ANDS, and to discuss bilateral assistance in the following areas:

Conducting population census and training statisticians
2. Training counter-narcotics and border police
3. Technical assistance in hydro power generation
4. Mining and processing coal, minerals, precious and semi-precious stones
5. Agronomy and agribusiness
6. Building trade capacity

Afghanistan’s first indirect diplomatic relations with Brazil began in 1962. After a long interval, Ambassador Jawad presented his credentials to President Lula da Silva to reestablish diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and Brazil in September 2004.

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Afghanistan and Colombia Enhance Bilateral Relations

Afghanistan’s non-resident Ambassador to Colombia Said Tayeb Jawad paid a weeklong visit to Bogota to promote bilateral relations with Colombia. Ambassador Jawad met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe-Velez on August 7, 2006, and submitted to him a letter from President Hamid Karzai, who congratulated President Uribe on his reelection for a second-term and his inauguration.

“I am happy to note that Afghanistan and Colombia are enjoying enhanced bilateral relations today. Our Minister of Counter-Narcotics, Habibullah Qaderi, led an inter-ministerial delegation to visit Bogota last year, and there is a team of Colombian police officers currently visiting Afghanistan to mentor and share their experiences with our National Interdiction Unit forces,” President Karzai wrote in his letter to President Uribe. President Uribe expressed his gratitude for the participation of Ambassador Jawad in the inauguration ceremonies on August 7, and welcomed the exchange of two significant delegations between Afghanistan and Colombia since last year.

Ambassador Jawad met with senior Colombian officials on August 8, including Foreign Minister Maria Consuelo Araujo, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, Director of Counter-Narcotics Police General Jorge Alirio Baron, and Presidential Adviser on Alternative Assistance Luis Alfonso Hoyos. The Ambassador discussed with them opportunities for bilateral cooperation to fight narcotics in Afghanistan, particularly requesting Colombia’s continued assistance to mentor and train Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics police.

Commenting on his visit to Colombia, Ambassador Jawad said: “I am pleased that our relations with Colombia are steadily growing. We’re grateful to the Colombian government for sending a technical delegation to Afghanistan to share their expertise with our National Interdiction Unit forces. We look forward to the continued exchange of bilateral delegations in a common effort to fight and eliminate narcotics in Afghanistan and Colombia. In doing so, our two countries need increased international cooperation to combat this transnational threat [drugs] to our security and to the security of everyone in the world.”
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Afghanistan in the Globalization Era

Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari addressed a symposium on “Transnationalism: Its Impact on South Asian Economy and Politics,” organized by the National Advisory Council for South Asian Affairs on August 10, 2006. Speaking on behalf of Ambassador Jawad at the symposium’s Ambassadors Luncheon, he said, “Over the past thirty years, Afghanistan has unfortunately been on the negative side of both the Cold War and the post-Cold War eras. While ‘division’ defined the Cold War, Afghanistan symbolized that ‘division’ between the United States and the former Soviet Union for a full decade from 1979 to 1989. In the end, Afghanistan helped defeat the Soviets, but failed to benefit from the promise of the globalization era that followed th e demise of communism in 1991.” He added that although “many nations moved towards economic integration that defined the globalization era, Afghanistan disintegrated, as the international community abandoned the task of rebuilding it at the end of the Cold War. This effectively allowed the negative forces of globalization including transnational extremists, terrorists, and drug traffickers to further destroy Afghanistan and victimize our people.”

But international inaction towards Afghanistan ceased on September 11, 2001. The world finally came to our aid, and together we have gone a long way since five years ago. Today, we have the most progressive Constitution in the region, and our democratically elected president and parliament strive to prepare Afghanistan for becoming a subject of positive globalization. Hence we have aligned our foreign policy with the promises of globalization and reached every country in the region and beyond for cooperation based on trade, commerce, and investment. As President Karzai recently said, ‘a globalized world will consist of united regions that have geographical, cultural and economic commonalities.’”

Haidari noted that although Afghanistan is linked with all South Asian countries by deep historical and cultural ties, “we would like to enhance our economic ties with each of them bilaterally and multilaterally through regional mechanisms such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). We are pleased to be the eighth member of the SAARC and look forward to participating fully in the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).” However, Haidari cautioned that South Asia could hardly realize the objectives of SAARC and SAFTA unless the region collectively learned from the positive experiences of other regional groupings, such as the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to do away with strategic adventuraism and focus on true regional economic cooperation so that together they could exploit the vast natural and human resources of "our region to move every South Asian nation above pove rty line towards greater prosperity in the community of democratic and developed nations."


Embassy Celebrates the Launch of First Afghan-American Magazine

The Embassy of Afghanistan hosted a reception in honor of Zeba Magazine, the first Afghan glossy monthly Lifestyle & Entertainment magazine to be released in the United States. Zeba, which translates to “Beautiful” in Dari, celebrates the rich culture of Afghanistan and the accomplishments of Afghan-Americans, while promoting democracy and modern culture. Printed in both Dari/Farsi and English, Zeba features stories on entertainment, health, sports, fashion, food, the arts and business. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Jawad encouraged the young professional attendees to get involved with the reconstruction of their country and praised Zeba for playing their part. “I am proud of young, successful Afghans like the staff of Zeba who have inspired many with their dedication and their passion. These talented young people that we are honoring tonight are representative of the new generation of Afghan-Americans who are truly embracing the opportunities that they have been given as U.S. citizens.”
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Investing in Heart of Asia

Commercial Attaché Khaleda Atta addressed a group of private sector, academic, business and community leaders of the greater Rochester, New York area on July 25 in “Investing in Afghanistan, the Heart of Asia.” Ms. Atta discussed the potential linkages between business in the Rochester area specializing in key sectors such as manufacturing and technology where Afghanistan can use their expertise assistance. She specifically discussed foreign investment opportunities and encouraged the participants to invest in Afghanistan’s key profitable sectors: energy, telecommunications, water and waste management, civil aviation and consumer goods. The event was co-hosted by the International Resource Group (IRG) and the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara (WTCBN).


Fashion Show Returns to Kabul

For the first time in decades, Kabul was the backdrop of a fashion show rivaling the spectacles of Paris and Italy. On July 9 th, Italian designer Gabriella Ghidoni and her Afghan partner Zolaykha Sherzad presented original designs ranging from creative, stunning burqas to less conservative options that still use traditional Afghan styles, such as the chapan. Ms. Ghidoni and Ms. Sherzad are not the only designers working from Kabul. Sarah Takesh, an Iranian-American, manages the fashion label Tarsian and Blinkley which provides 300 women with work and combines traditional styles with rich fabrics. Ms. Sherzad has explained that people used to hold small fashion shows in Kabul before the war began in the late 1970s. Thesedays there is a market for fashion in the city, “There is fashion wi thin a private environment, within the houses…People like to be fashionable,” she said.
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Afghan Poetry Delights the Nation's Capitol

Afghan cab drivers may now be the literal embodiment of the remark “perception is not always reality” as they band together to form poetry societies in Washington, DC. Currently, two groups have emerged to maintain the spirit of poetry and art within Afghan culture. "An Evening with the Dervishes," one of the poetry groups, engages in the scholarly pursuit of poetry. They focus on renowned Sufi poets, such as Abdul Qadair-e Baidel. The group often convenes top poets and scholars for a weekly recitation. On the other hand, "An Evening of Sufism" focuses on a broader scope of Afghan poetry. The groups were initiated by Maroof Popal, who immigrated to the US in 1978, and established weekly poetry meetings with other Afghan cab drivers. The groups have helped draw attention away from d isheartening political debates to uplifting philosophical discussions. The groups meet inside the Masonic lodge in Springfield, Virginia, on different Friday nights each month.
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Afghanistan Stun India

Afghanistan put on a spirited show to hold three-time SAF Games champions India to a goalless draw in the opening match in Group B. Sri Lanka, undaunted by the day's bomb-blast in the heart of the capital that killed seven people, edged Maldives 1-0 in the day's second match. A last gasp penalty helped Nepal snatch a point from Bangladesh as the two sides shared a 1-1 draw in the third match and last match of the opening day of the 10th South Asian Games football competition at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Monday.
The Daily Star
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