Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 37 December 2006  

President Karzai Launches Action Plan for Justice: President Hamid Karzai launched on December 10 a three-year “Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice in Afghanistan,” focused on healing the wounds of war in Afghanistan. The announcement was made to coincide with the 59th anniversary of the UN General Assembly's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The plan contains five key elements: the acknowledgment of the suffering of the Afghan people; the strengthening of state institutions; a commission on truth and justice; promoting reconciliation among the Afghan people; and establishing a proper accountability mechanism for crimes committed. In his impassioned remarks, President Karzai stressed the need for unity amongst Afghans as a precondition for progress and reconciliation. MORE

Foreign Minister Spanta Visits France and Receives UNESCO Award: Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta met his French counterpart Mr. Philippe Douste Blazy in Paris on December 14. The two ministers discussed the security situation in Afghanistan, and Minister Douste Blazy reiterated France and the international community’s long term commitment to secure, stable, democratic Afghanistan. Minister Spanta then met with Director General of the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Mr. Saturnino Munoz Gomes at UNESCO Headquarters. Minister Spanta was awarded UNESCO’s 6oth anniversary medal. MORE

President Karzai Briefs US Senators on Security and Inaugurates Police Center: President Hamid Karzai received a US congressional delegation including Sen. John McCain, Sen. John R. Thune, Sen. Susan M. Collins and Rep. Mark Kirk at the Gul Khana Palace on December 16. The President discussed the security situation in Afghanistan and the region with the delegation and emphasized the need for continued U.S. assistance to the mission in Afghanistan. MORE

President Karzai and Foreign Minister Spanta Meet with Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid M. Kasuri traveled to Afghanistan on an official visit from December 7-8. Foreign Minister Kasuri met with both President Hamid Karzai and Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta to discuss strengthening regional economic cooperation, as well as enhancing bi-lateral security and counter-narcotics efforts. A major focus was the upcoming Loya Jirgas (tribal councils) intended to be held in Afghanistan and Pakistan. MORE

U.S.-Afghan Women's Council Partners with Georgetown University:

Georgetown University hosted First Lady Laura Bush, Ambassador Said T. Jawad and Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky on December 4 in a ceremony inaugurating a new partnership between Georgetown and the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council. In the next two years the council will transition from the State Department to Georgetown with the aim of becoming a sustainable institution independent from the federal government. MORE

Foreign Minister Spanta Travels to Uzbekistan: Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta met his Uzbek counterpart Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov to strengthen cooperation between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Minister Spanta reiterated Afghanistan’s gratitude for the role the Uzbekistan government has played in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process. MORE
Atlanta to Showcase Impressions of Afghanistan, Jan. 18-21: The Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, the Export Promotion Center of Afghanistan and the U.S. Department of Commerce will present Afghan Impressions: Area Rug Artistry & Inspiration, a special exhibition of Afghan culture and products exclusively at the AmericasMart expo center during the upcoming “Atlanta International Area Rug Market” from January 18-21, 2007. MORE

Bactrian Gold Makes International Debut in France:

Paris 's Guimet Museum of Asian art has become the first international museum to exhibit ancient Afghanistan’s fabled Bactrian gold. These ancient treasures resurfaced three years ago, after longstanding fears that they had been lost to the world. More than 220 pieces from the Afghan National Museum will go on display in an exhibit including numerous pieces from the 2,000-year-old Bactrian collection and numerous masterpieces of gold and ivory that have never been seen in public. MORE

Incoming Afghan Ambassador to the UN Presents Credentials: Dr. Zahir Tanin presented his credentials to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on December 19, officially establishing him as the new Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN. Dr. Tanin who has extensive knowledge of Afghanistan and international affairs, and was the former head of the Afghanistan section of the BBC world Service. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Welcomes New Congressional Leadership: Following the election of the 110th United States Congress, Ambassador Jawad reached out to the new Congressional leadership in a number of welcome letters. The Ambassador expressed his appreciation for their past contributions to the rebuilding effort in Afghanistan and emphasized the history of bi-partisan support for Afghanistan’s security and development needs. Ambassador Jawad stressed that while Afghans today enjoy more political, economic and social rights that at any time in the history of their country, the Afghan people continue to face serious challenges in need of immediate and strong attention. MORE

Governor of Afghan Central Bank Concludes IMF Training in Washington:
From December 8-15, Afghanistan’s Central Bank Governor Noorullah Delawari participated in a special training course on “Safeguards Assessments of Central Banks” hosted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Institute in Washington, D.C. Led by the IMF’s Finance Department, the seven-day course brought together senior Central Bank management staff from around the world for seminars on IMF reporting practices, reserve management and a variety of other related topics. MORE

UNESCO Names 2007 “Year of Rumi (Maulana Balkhi)”: The United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated 2007 "Year of Rumi" to mark the 800th birth of Afghanistan’s philosopher and mystical poet Jalaladdin Rumi. Rumi is one of the greatest spiritual and literary figures of all times, renowned for his message of love, humanity and peace, and for his founding of the Mawlawi order, better known as the "Whirling Dervishes". MORE

Afghan Poet Raziq Faani’s Life and Works Celebrated: Mr. Raziq Faani is one of Afghanistan’s most celebrated contemporary poets, with a world wide audience of admirers. Afghans from across North America gathered at an evening reception at University of Maryland on December 2, 2006 to celebrate the life and works of this renowned poet and writer. Attendees read from the works of Mr. Faani and discussed the mystical and social meaning of his poetry. MORE

First Secretary Haidari Speaks to Princeton Students : First Secretary M. Ashraf Haidari spoke to a group of Princeton University students on Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics efforts on December 12, 2006. The seminar on the problem of narcotics in Afghanistan—taught by former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Dr. Robert Finn—works as a task force with each student studying and analyzing a major pillar of the country’s counter-narcotics effort. Haidari briefed the students on how drugs have become a significant obstacle to the process of state-building in Afghanistan. MORE

Afghanistan and Pakistan Partner to Eliminate Polio: Vaccination teams were on ground in the mountainous tribal lands bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan, leading an effort to eradicate polio in areas that had been previously inaccessible due to security conditions. Teams traveled house-to-house from December 12-14, vaccinating each child against the debilitating disease. MORE

Afghanistan's Two Adopted Grandmothers: 59-year-old grandmother Major Jo Danner of the Air Force Reserves will be leaving her family and home at the end of December to travel to Afghanistan and serve four months as a nurse in a military hospital. When Major Jo Danner arrives in Afghanistan, she will join Nancy Hatch-Dupree as another adopted grandmother of Afghanistan. Ms. Hatch-Dupree, 78, has traveled extensively throughout Afghanistan and written five guidebooks on the country's cultural heritage. MORE

Psychiatric Center Inaugurated in Kabul: The Health Department at the Ministry of Women Affairs inaugurated in December a psychiatric center in the Alauddin area of Kabul. Six other centers will be established in the provinces over the next year. Dr. Marghalary, head of the Health Department, will lead efforts in conducting seminars to train teachers and students in the prevention and treatment of psychiatric problems. MORE

Talent Contest Announced for Afghan Businesswomen: The Business Council for Peace (Bpeace) announced on December 5 a nationwide Afghanistan talent competition in search of Afghan businesswomen in non-traditional industries to participate in on-the-job training in U.S. “The Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip” will give Afghan businesswomen the opportunity to gain practical experience in the U.S. in their chosen industries. Bpeace will bring 12 Afghan women entrepreneurs to the US in 2008 for three-week internships and apprenticeships with different firms. MORE

OP ED: Rebuilding Afghanistan, The Diaspora's Debt of Service: Do we Afghans ever think about our debt of service to Afghanistan and actually doing something about it? I think we hardly do so. But let us begin with the basic fact that the land we call home is diversely populated, geographically landlocked, politically and economically least developed, and unfortunately located in a predatory neighborhood where at least one of our neighbors sees its raison d'être partly dependent on instability in Afghanistan. Meantime, we understand that other state and non-state actors—such as extremists, terrorists, and drug-traffickers—have exploited our country's vulnerabilities to their advantage, and they will continue to do so alone or together in common self-interest. MORE

Innovative Ideas Empower Afghans with Disabilities: Numerous projects designed to aid Afghanistan’s disabled citizenry are being implement across the country. The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has created an innovative workshop in Jalalabad, which holds classes for 32 blind and disabled returnees in Braille, basket-weaving and broom-making. One teacher named Ihsanullah teaches Braille – a system of dots which allows blind people to read and write – to enable his blind students to learn alongside other Afghan children in school. MORE

NGO Brings Distance Learning to Remote Afghan Villages: San Francisco based group Equal Access, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has begun a project to broadcast literacy programs for children in rural Afghan villages via satellite. The group will distribute small satellite dishes to 100 towns and villages that UNICEF has identified as being most in need of distance learning technology. About 2 hours of educational programming will be broadcast each day. MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Jawad published a Letter to the Editor in the New York Times. He and Embassy Officials were interviewed by a variety of media outlets, including the Voice of America, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Georgetown Hoya. To read or watch these interviews, please click Embassy in the News.

Investment News: This month, numerous publications covered business and investment opportunities in Afghanistan, including a TIME Magazine profile of Capitalism in Afghanistan and an Economist report on Afghanistan's mineral wealth. To read these articles, please click Investment News

Embassy Events: In the month of December, the Embassy of Afghanistan hosted a business dialgoue with the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce. To view photographs from and read about Embassy events, please click on Embassy Events


Questions and comments can be directed to [email protected]

To unsubscribe click here.