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Remembrance of Former Afghan Prime Minister Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai

August 21, 2007 marked the 10 Year Anniversary of the death of former Afghan Prime Minister Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai. Late Prime Minister Ghafoorzai was a distinguished career diplomat who served Afghanistan in a dignified and patriotic manner for many years. On the occasion of the anniversary, Afghan President Hamid Karzai conveyed a message of condolence on Radio Television of Afghanistan and a commemorative announcement was also made at an opening session of the Afghan parliament.

Many remembered Mr. Ghafoorzai’s service to Afghanistan including U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad who stated, “Ghafoorzai will be recognized as a patriot who tried to serve people in difficult times and made the ultimate sacrifice for Afghanistan. It was a great loss. He played an important role for his country.” He added that during the past several decades, Afghanistan lost many talented and visionary people like Ghafoorzai.

Mr. Ghafoorzai was the first diplomat to condemn – during the annual meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York - the former Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. This courageous and patriotic position proved his personal valor towards a noble cause of a free and liberated Afghanistan.

Upon the establishment of the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1992, Mr. Ghafoorzai was appointed as Charge d’ Affaires to the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations.  He was later promoted to rank of Deputy Permanent Representative in 1994.  In 1995, he was appointed as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996.  Mr. Ghafoorzai succeeded in providing fresh impetus to Afghanistan’s diplomacy while defending the sovereignty of Afghanistan with great proficiency at the international level.

During his distinguished political career, the late Mr. Ghafoorzai chaired various international conferences and gatherings. He led Afghanistan’s delegation in the XXII Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Non-Aligned Movement in Dew Delhi, and the 11th Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in Tehran, Iran in 1996. In addition, he also served as Vice-President of the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. 

On August 13, 1997, Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai was appointed as Prime Minister of Afghanistan. Mr. Ghafoorzai was determined to implement his long-held aspiration of establishing a broad-based government, with a view to achieving lasting peace and prosperity, and enhancing the national unity of the country.  The newly established political set-up was to be composed of all the ethnic groups of the country, within a political framework that would be administered by technocrats, experts and impartial personalities from both inside and outside the country.

Just eight days after his appointment as Prime Minister, Mr. Ghafoorzai headed a high-ranking official delegation to Bamyan province, via an Antonov 32 military transport plane. While landing at Bamyian airport, the plane crashed, resulting in the death of Prime Minister Ghafoorzai and eleven other government officials.

Ten years on, it is widely recognized that foremost among the characteristics defining Mr. Ghafoorzai’s vision and personality was his sense of patriotism and desire for a progressive Afghan state.

The late Ghafoorzai also possessed a unique interest and talent as an artist, calligrapher, writer and poet.  During his, Prime Minister Ghafoorzai authored the following books: “Analysis of the Geneva Accord on Afghanistan” (1995); “Carnelian Ring” (a novel on the life of an Afghan refugee family in search of freedom, (1995); and “A Guide to Islam for Afghan Refugee Children,” (1984).

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