Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 36 November 2006  

President Karzai Receives the Indira Gandhi Peace Award: President Karzai was awarded the Indira Gandhi Peace Award by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of the Republic of India, during a special ceremony coinciding with the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference in India. The Indira Gandhi Peace Award is an annual award bestowed by the Religious Society of Friends-affiliated organization Promoting Enduring Peace for "contributions made in the promotion of international peace and good will and it is named in honour of Mahatma Gandhi.” MORE

Afghanistan Joins Neighbors in Adopting "New Delhi Declaration": Following the recently held two-day Regional Economic Cooperation Conference (RECC) on Afghan Reconstruction on November 18-19 in New Delhi, India, a “New Delhi Declaration” was signed to bring stronger economic ties in the region. President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh jointly opened the conference attended by Foreign Minister Dr. Rangin Spanta, representatives from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and key players in Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction including Pakistan, Iran, China, members of the G-8 group of industrialized nations, and donor agencies. MORE

Foreign Minister Spanta Receives Representatives from the U.S., Australia and the Netherlands: On November 8, Dr. Spanta received visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher. They discussed NATO expansion, regional cooperation and the upcoming Afghanistan-US Strategic Partnership Dialogue. The Foreign Minister briefed Secretary Boucher on the Jirgas to be convened in Afghanistan and Pakistan.MORE

Defense Minister Wardak Meets with Vice President Cheney: Afghanistan’s Minister of Defense, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, met on November 16 with Vice President Dick Cheney to discuss security issues concerning Afghanistan and the region. Vice President Cheney assured General Wardak that building the security forces of Afghanistan will remain a crucial mission for the United States and the international community for the foreseeable future. General Wardak expressed the gratitude of the Afghan people for America’s continuous assistance and emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership. MORE

President Karzai Welcomes International Convention Against Landmines : On November 12, President Karzai welcomed the implementation of the international convention against landmines and unexploded ordnances. The President called the implementation of the law as crucial to ensuring the security and safety of the people. “The people of Afghanistan have suffered tremendously in the past three decades and landmines have taken the lives of thousands of Afghans,” he said. MORE

Minister of Commerce & Industries Makes First Visit to the U.S.: Dr. Mir Muhammad Amin Farhang, Afghanistan’s new Minister of Commerce and Industries traveled to Washington, DC, Des Moines, Los Angeles and New York during the first week of November to meet with senior U.S. officials and hundreds of representatives of U.S. and Afghan-American companies. MORE

Afghanistan's Minister of Defense Receives Legion of Merit Award from Sec. Rumsfeld: Afghanistan’s Minister of Defense, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, met on November 21 with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to discuss security issues concerning Afghanistan and the region. In a ceremony at the Pentagon, General Wardak was awarded the Legion of Merit Award with the Degree of Commander from Sec. Rumsfeld. The Legion of Merit is a military decoration that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. MORE

British Prime Minister Pledges International Commitment to Afghanistan: British Prime Minister Tony Blair traveled to Afghanistan on November 20, where he met with President Hamid Karzai and pledged his nation's commitment in Afghanistan "for as long as it takes." In a press conference with President Karzai, Prime Minister Blair promised that British and NATO forces would remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Attends International Conference on Creating Stability and Prosperity in Afghanistan and the Region: The Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination (LISD) at Princeton University held a conference on “Creating Stability and Prosperity in Afghanistan and the Region” on October 26-29, 2006 in Vienna, Austria. Conference sessions focused on issues relating to Afghanistan’s economy, infrastructure, energy, natural resources, and mining; the rule of law and effective governance; and international actors. MORE

Afghan Government Responds to the Resignation of U.S. Secretary of Defense: Upon the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld following US midterm elections, the Government of Afghanistan expressed its gratitude for Secretary Rumsfeld’s longstanding contributions to the mission in Afghanistan. "The resignation of Mr. Rumsfeld is their decision and we respect their decision," President Karzai told Radio Free Afghanistan. "However, Mr. Rumsfeld is a friend of Afghanistan, a good ally and supporter in the war against terrorism. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Attends Graduation of Afghan Businesswomen in Arizona: Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States Said T. Jawad traveled to Arizona's Thunderbird University on November 21 where 15 Afghan businesswomen were graduating from Project Artemis, an intensive two-week fellowship focusing on entrepreneurial training, coaching, mentoring and access to resources. MORE

U.S. and Afghan Attorney Generals Meet in Washington, DC: Afghanistan’s Attorney General Abdul Jabbar Sabit, Ambassador Said T. Jawad and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez met in October at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC to discuss Afghanistan’s efforts to fight corruption and narcotics. The two legal experts discussed methods of building Afghanistan’s institutional capacity—the ability to plan and execute policies and to enforce laws cleanly and transparently. MORE

Gen. Wardak Meets with Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns: Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, Minister of Defense, met with Nicholas Burns, the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Policy on November 22. Minister Wardak expressed the gratitude of the Afghan people for the many contributions the United States has made towards Afghanistan’s reconstruction since 2001. The Minister particularly thanked the American people for sending their sons and daughters to help secure Afghanistan. MORE

President Karzai Strongly Condemns the Terrorist Attack in Pakistan: President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the November 8 terrorist attack on an army training base in Pakistan. According to reports, a suicide attacker detonated a bomb at a Pakistan army training base in Dargai. The President expressed solidarity with Pakistan in the global war on terror. “Terrorists want to disrupt the peace and stability in Pakistan, therefore Afghanistan and Pakistan must unite against terrorism and extremism and destroy their root causes,” he said. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Discusses Afghanistan’s Partnership with the U.S. in Jacksonville: On November 6, Ambassador Jawad spoke at a Town Forum co-hosted by the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville and the University of North Florida. Commenting on President Karzai’s “Clear, Hold and Build Strategy” for winning the war in Afghanistan, he said, “We are fighting terrorism as a phenomenon along with fighting terrorists as individuals.” MORE

First Secretary Haidari Visits Afghan Pilots and DEA FAST Agents in El Paso: First Secretary Ashraf Haidari joined senior officials from the US Department of Defense Office of Counter-Narcotics and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to visit their training and commanding facilities in El Paso, Texas, on November 2-3, 2006. During his visit to Ft. Bliss, he met with Afghan MI-17 pilots and DEA Foreign-Advisory Support Teams (FAST) who train for air support and interdiction operations in Afghanistan. MORE

Survey: Afghan Citizens Support Coalition Forces and See Improvements to Their Lives: Most Afghans feel more prosperous today than under the ousted Taliban regime and overwhelmingly trust Afghanistan’s police and army. These were the finding of a comprehensive Asia Foundation survey released on November 9. "The findings of the survey challenge some common perceptions about what is out there," said the foundation's George Varughese, who led the survey. MORE

Afghanistan National Basketball Team Makes Impressive Debut: Over 100 athletes from Afghanistan traveled to Doha, Qatar in late November to compete in the 15th Annual Asian Games. Afghan athletes are competing in boxing, Judo, Taekwondo, gymnastics, wrestling and weightlifting. The Asian Games featured the first international appearance of the Afghan National Basketball Team. On November 23, the Afghan team celebrated victory over Hong Kong, China after a tense 65-57 game. MORE

California’s Rebuilding Afghanistan Summit Focuses on Reconstruction: Afghanistan’s continuing reconstruction was the subject of a November 4 conference that brought together over 20 west coast NGOs and non-profits at California State University (East Bay). The fourth annual “Rebuilding Afghanistan Summit” included presentations by many grassroots organizations that are actively building school and clinics, training teachers and health care workers, removing landmines, and providing micro-lending, job training and educational programs in Afghanistan. MORE

Middlebury Student’s Photographs Provide Glimpse of Life in Afghanistan: Throughout November the photographs of Afghan native Bilal Sarwary were shown at Middlebury College in Vermont to excellent reviews. Sarwary, the BBC’s former Kabul correspondent, is a first year student at Middlebury. After working as a photo-journalist Sarwary had amassed hundreds of photos from his time spent in Afghanistan. His formal exhibit at the Ross Fireplace Lounge on Middlebury’s campus attempts to capture the lives of regular Afghans. MORE

Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage Restored: Afghanistan is not far off in the restoration trend. In efforts to promote art and culture, a joint project between President Hamid Karzai and Britain’s Prince Charles will renovate Kabul’s historic Murad Khane neighborhood to make it an established arts community. Murad Khane, a neighborhood once praised for its richness in culture and elaborate buildings, was reduced to ruins in the decades following the Soviet invasion. MORE

From Mines to Vines: Two Mothers in Afghanistan: During the month of October, Mrs. Shamim Jawad and Mrs. Heidi Kuhn traveled to Afghanistan to witness a harvest of hope. Mrs. Shamim Jawad, wife to Ambassador Said T. Jawad and founder of AYENDA and Mrs. Heidi Kuhn, founder of Roots of Peace, traveled around Afghanistan, visiting health clinics, farms, orchards and schools. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Conveys Condolences to Ambassador of Pakistan: Ambassador Said T. Jawad expressed his condolences regarding the death of former President of Pakistan, Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Ishaq Khan, 92, had passed away after protracted illness last week. MORE

Embassy Reaction to the US Midterm Congressional Elections: In an interview with the Voice of America Dari TV on November 7, First Secretary Ashraf Haidari was asked how the results of the US midterm Congressional elections in favor of the Democratic Party would impact the US engagement in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan’s reconstruction has received strong bi-partisan support from beginning, and we are certain that that bi-partisan support will continue beyond today’s elections whoever turns out to be the winner,” Haidari said. MORE

Afghan Firms Receive $94 Million: Seven Afghan firms have received $94 million from the United States to improve roads and water distribution systems in six provinces. The funds, which were awarded under the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, will build more than 390 kilometers of roads in Kandahar, Uruzgan, Nuristan, Kunar, Paktika and Ghazni provinces and establish water distribution systems in Bamyan and Kunar provinces. MORE

Experts Discuss the Fate of Afghanistan’s Giant Buddhas: Groups of experts from around the world have converged on Bamiyan, with hopes of using the remaining fragments of the Giant Buddhas to reconstruct the massive structures. The statues, which stood at 174 feet tall and 115 feet tall and were destroyed in 2001 by Taliban forces. MORE

Afghan Beauty Queen Makes History: History was made earlier this month when Hammasa Kohistani became the first Muslim beauty pageant contestant to be crowned Miss England. Kohistani was born to Afghan parents in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and speaks six languages. MORE

Op Ed: Here's Why I'm Going Back to Afghanistan: In December, for a fourth time, my volunteer work for the not-for-profit Business Council for Peace will bring me back to Kabul, where indeed the news has been grim. Afghans need the courage that will come from knowing that the international community and America is committed, and the Taliban needs to feel the threat. Bpeace is one small piece of demonstrating that commitment. MORE

The Embassy Series Presents an Evening of Afghan Music and Culture: The Embassy of Afghanistan was pleased to host three outstanding Afghan musicians on November 17; Qurishi, Chetram Sahni and Saleiman Aziz. Qurishi, a native of Kabul, is a renowned musician who is dedicated to the work of preserving and reinterpreting Afghan music in American culture. His mastery of the Afghan Rubob has become legendary both here and in his native hometown. MORE

Embassy in the News: Ambassador Jawad and Embassy Officials were interviewed by a variety of media outlets this month, including Voice of America TV (Dari), the National Review Online, the GW Hatchet, the Daily Colonial, the Orlando Sentinel and the Florida Times Union. 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, due in part to the second annual U.S.-Afghan Matchmaking Conference and AISA Investment Road Show. To read these articles, please click Investment News

Embassy Events: In the month of November, the Embassy hosted an evening of Afghan music and culture with the Embassy Series and gatherings of the Harvard Club and Language ETC. To view photographs from and read about these events, please click on Embassy Events


Questions and comments can be directed to [email protected]

To unsubscribe click here.