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Prof. Sibghatullah Al-Mojadeddi Travels to U.S. for National Prayer Breakfast

Chairman of the Upper House of Parliament and head of the Independent National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation Prof. Sibghatullah Al-Mojadeddi traveled to the United States on February 7 as an honored guest of the annual National Prayer Breakfast with U.S. President George Bush. Prof. Mojadeddi has been a voice of reconciliation and consensus-building during times of conflict and is renowned as one of Afghanistan’s most respected scholars of Islamic law. He joined with foreign dignitaries, business leaders, and officials from throughout the U.S. government at the distinguished event, which has been attended by every U.S. president since Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s.

"We have a lot of distinguished guests here today - members of Congress, military leaders, captains of industry. Yet at this annual gathering, we are reminded of an eternal truth: when we lift our hearts to God, we are all equal in his sight," President Bush told the 4,000 guests, including representatives of about 150 countries. "It is fitting that we gather in prayer because we recognize a prayerful nation is a stronger nation."

Prof. Mojadeddi met with U.S. National Security Advisor Steven Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor General Douglas E. Lute, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, Armed Services Committee member Senator Jack Reed, and Senior Member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Joseph Biden to discuss the progress being made in reaching disarming and reintegrating former combatants through the National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation. Additionally, Prof. Mojadeddi briefed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs James Shinn on the security situation of the country.

Over 150 guests honored Prof. Mojadeddi ’s achievements during a reception at the Embassy of Afghanistan. “Prof. Mojadeddi is one of the most distinguished political figures in the history of Afghanistan and our most respected symbol of national unity. He has sacrificed throughout his life for the cause of freedom, prosperity and security in Afghanistan. He bravely stood up to the Soviet Union and his vision for Afghanistan continues to inspire us today,” said Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad.

In a public address at the prestigious United States Institute of Peace, Prof. Mojadeddi addressed the current political and security situation in Afghanistan, relations with Pakistan, the reconciliation program with moderate Taliban, and the growth of democratic institutions in Afghanistan. Prof. Mojadeddi discussed the progress made in the establishment of democratic institutions, the successful Presidential and Parliamentary elections, the presence of women in public life and Parliament, and the return of Afghanistan’s children to school. “Our boys and girls are very eager to study and learn,” he said. However, Prof. Mojadeddi cautioned that even with a robust international troop presence, Afghanistan has not yet achieved security and peace. “Fighting is not enough; we need to work on reconciliation,” he said. Prof. Mojadeddi described his work with the National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation, which has disarmed over 6,000 former Taliban. He expressed the gratitude of the Afghan people for the assistance provided by the U.S. and the international community, but said that more resources were necessary to capitalize on the gains already made in disarming former combatants. He identified hundreds of fighters and commanders in Helmand Province and the tribal regions of Pakistan that are willing to lay down their arms and partner with the Afghan government, provided that they are given the means to start a new life in Afghanistan.

“We hope our country will be a symbol of hope, peace and security, but we have many challenges facing us,” concluded Prof. Mojadeddi .

Prof. Mojadeddi was born in 1926. He attended high school at the Habibia High School in Afghanistan and Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Prof. Mojadeddi ’s reputation as a strong advocate of justice and social and political reform was established during his years as an educator at Kabul University. Prof. Mojadeddi was an outspoken critic of the government of President Mohammad Daoud Khan, leading to his arrest and imprisonment in 1959 for campaigning against the visit of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to Kabul. Following four years of imprisonment, Prof. Mojadeddi was exiled to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, before being allowed to return to his homeland.

In 1972, Prof. Mojadeddi established the movement of Jamiat-e-Ulamae Mohammadi, which played a decisive role in galvanizing the opposition to communist influence in Afghanistan. Prof. Mojadeddi was again forced into exile following the military coup of 1973. While in exile in Denmark, Prof. Mojadeddi established the Islamic Cultural Centre of Scandinavia.

Prof. Mojadeddi established the Afghan National Liberation Front in the aftermath of the communist coup of April 1978 and joined the growing chorus of voices advocating resistance against the Soviet Union. He served as the President of the Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen until1985 and as President of the Islamic Interim Government of Afghanistan from 1989-1992.

Prof. Mojadeddi denounced the terrorist attacks of September 11, and played an important role in the Bonn conference and the Emergency Loya Jirga. Prof. Mogaddedi was elected Chairman of the Constitutional Loya Jirga in December 2003, where he helped to guide the writing of Afghanistan’s national constitution. He was chosen to lead the Independent National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation in March 2005, which has been an effective mechanism for strengthening national unity and has disarmed and reintegrated thousands of former combatants. He was elected Chairman of the Upper House of Parliament, the House of Elders (Meshrano Jirga) in December 2005. Prof. Mojadeddi has traveled around the world to lecture about the compatibility of Islamic principles and international laws and values.

Prof. Mojadeddi was accompanied by President of Meshrano Jirga Professor Hazrat Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, Secretary General of the Senate Engineer Assadullah Falah,

Afghanistan National Assembly General Director of Security General Sher Aziz Kamawal, and Member of Parliament Ms. Sabrina Saqheb.

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