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Ambassador of Afghanistan at USC- Part 2

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For the moderator: this is the second part of the transcript of the
Taliban ambassador's outreach. This is the Q&A. 

Padmanabha Rao

Part-II follows
 ***Important Note: What follows are some of the answers to some of the
 questions that were asked during the Question and Answer session. Most of
 the questions were not included due to the poor recording. Apologies for
 the inconvenience.***
 Br. Sayyid Rahmatullah Hashemi:
  [A questioner asks about the statement he heard on the radio from the
 Afghan former minister (Mutawakkil) confirming that the statues have been
 destroyed, and further adds, Does that mean the statues of Hindus and Sikhs
 will also be destroyed? He further asked that since the destruction of the
 statues was done in retaliation, Was it really saving the children? (it was
 asked in a provocative manner)]
 Thank you very much and unfortunately again, the first question is the
 statues. So the statues as I told you, have not been destroyed so far. And 
 have contacted my headquarters there, and if they were destroyed, then
 people would not bother going there; as I told you Kofi Annan is there, OIC
 is there, and our foreign minister is there. And for us, as he [the
 questioner] said that Mutawakkil has said that [that the statues have been
 destroyed], I don't think he has said that they are destroyed. He said that
 [that the statues have not been destroyed]. And I don't reject this. They
 raised an edict which says these [the statues] should be blown. And we are
 not against Buddhists; absolutely wrong. We are not against any religion.
 There are Hindus living in Afghanistan; there are different religions. 
 is one man who is a Jew living in Afghanistan.
 [Audience laughs]
 So we are not against any religion. And there is no Buddhist in 
 this I can say. In our religion, if anything, you can leave anything until
 it is not harmful to you. If these Buddhas were not harmful to us, so far.
 But now when the money is going to Buddhas reconstruction, and the children
 are dying next door, we think it's harmful now. Not we think, the people
 think. And I told you that this decision is taken by the council of 
 and the council of people. And has been approved by the Supreme Court. And
 the media is saying everywhere that it is an edict by our leadership. Have
 you ever seen our leadership on TV? Have you ever seen or heard him (Mullah
 Umar) on international radio? He has never been on radio, so it's 
 wrong that we issued an edict. I do agree that there is an edict, but by 
 council of people and the scholars, and has been approved by the Supreme
 Court, but has not been implemented so far. Is it enough? You know, really,
 I am asked so much about these statues that I have a headache now. If I go
 back to Afghanistan, I will blow them.
 [Audience laughs]
  [Questioner asks about the infighting between Mujahideens now. He asks, 
 the past we knew that there was one common enemy (the Russians) and it was
 easy to support the Mujahideen but now it's the groups of Mujahideens
 fighting between each other. How do you explain this?]
 They [the different Mujahideen groups] killed so many people, and there 
 so many problem[s]. And that's why we started our movement. It's all in
 these people. They didn't fight for Shariah, or they didn't fight for
 Afghanistan, they only fought for their future post in power. So we, as I
 told you that, we finished that. And only now, we have one opposition 
 by Ahmed Shah Masood. And we don t have much problems with him. We had 
 with his representative in Ashkabad in Ramadhaan this year, and I was 
 So, we say that he failed in bringing about a constitution, a unified
 government; he could not even unify the capital, Kabul. So we did all these
 things. So we asked him, despite that he controls nothing, except 5% in the
 mountains, and we have said we are still open-minded. We agree that he
 should have a post, because he has fought the Russians. And in `98, we
 agreed on a joint government; actually, I was also there, so we agreed in
 giving them three ministries and accepting their judicial system merging
 with our judicial system, and giving them three or four district or
 provincial governors or something like that. And they agreed on that. Our,
 on our part, we asked them to give us their weapons, because the problem in
 Afghanistan is not political differences. The problem in Afghanistan is the
 weapons. Everybody has had weapons, and now if they are fighting us, it is
 not because of our very much ideological differences; it's because of
 weapons. There were a lot of weapons before, and you know, the Afghans will
 know that so many times they tried to have one government and then after a
 week or so, they fought, because all of them got different defense
 ministries, and they would fight. So now we have said that the problems in
 Afghanistan is not the political problem; it is the arms which exist. We
 are, we will accept them to be in our government if he accepts to give his
 arms to the Ministers of Defense. We have no problem however.
  [A questioner asked, As Salaamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh.
 Brother, Afghanistan is now supposed to be a Muslim country, Insha Allah.
 And these statues are just like the statues in Makkah, when Rasoolillah
 (saws) came to Makkah, and it was the very first thing that he did was to
 destroy the statues. What is taking us so long? Why aren t they destroyed
 already? Audience laughs, some say Takbeer]
 So, I don t know what to say. We don t have any Buddhists as I told you; we
 have to look at the problems of the Muslim minorities in some countries. So
 we do not want to create problems for them, that s why we are still 
 and we hope that we will resolve this problem.
  [A written question read, What is your opinion about killing the Iranian
 officers in Heraat in 1998?]
 So, there is this story about seven nine, nine Iranians, one of them was a
 journalist, and the rest of them were called diplomats. It happened in `98
 when we were capturing a city in the north of Afghanistan called
 Mazar-e-Shareef when we were, we announced before our campaign in 
 that city, we announced that all diplomats of organizations, including the
 UN, the diplomatic missions, and NGOs to evacuate because of the possible
 fighting that may happen in the city too. So, all of them evacuated, the
 United Nations, the NGOs, and even those people who actually bombed them,
 they also evacuated, so the only people who remained there was some seven,
 or eight, night Iranians, who were actually not diplomats, who were 
 military advisors to their puppets in Afghanistan. So, and we didn't kill
 them in diplomatic mission; they were killed on their way to Bamiyan;
 Bamiyan is another city in central Afghanistan, so they were and we didn't
 want to kill them; they just died because of the shelling that happened. 
 we issued an edict, and we declared that we were sorry for what happened.
 And now the Iranian government has also sent their mission, and when I was
 coming there, three of their villages were in Afghanistan; they reopened
 their consulate here and I think they have re-thought their policies now 
 maybe they will have a new chapter of friendship with us and I hope it will
  [Question asked about how people, especially Muslims, need to be educated
 about the situation in Afghanistan. He went on further to ask about whether
 or not he would be under a physical threat if he were to shave his beard 
 walk into Afghanistan, or if a sister would be under a physical threat if a
 sister were to wear Hijab according to the Islamic standards, not wearing
 You say that all the Muslims, or all the people, must be educated on the
 situation in Afghanistan. And now I am thinking that first they must be
 de-educated to try to understand what we are saying. There are not [--],
 they are really trying how to approach, and you are right, and I agree that
 you must have Public Relations, in teaching people, or at least, letting
 them know what we say. But as I told you that we have other priorities. Our
 priority is to save the children. Our priority is to de-mine our country.
 Our priority is to reunify our country. Our priority is to stop the foreign
 interference. Our priority is to fight the [--] that is already operating 
 our country. So for us to talk about Public Relations, it is important, but
 it cannot what would you do if you were in this status? And it is not easy
 to do Public Relations. You have to spend a lot of money. I will tell you a
 story of CNN. CNN was in Afghanistan interviewing bin Laden, in `98. You
 have to be careful in listening to this. I was there, and they asked bin
 Laden as to what was the thinking about the killing of civilians in Iraq.
 After three hours of formal conversation, and the camera was rolling. He
 said, that if all American citizens and if all British citizens are 
 or supporting, to kill all Iraqi civilians, then all American citizens and
 all British citizens deserve the same thing or to be killed. CNN cut
 everything. Three-hour conversation was not there, only thing they put was
 and it was not complete the only clause that they said was, the independent
 clause of what he said, they said that, all American and British citizens
 must be killed. This is what came on the air. But he didn't mean this. And 
 know that all Americans do not support the killing [of] civilians there. 
 even a quarter of that. That was impossible. But now what they taught their
 people was that bin Laden is saying that all American civilians must be
 killed. That is the story of media, and the media here is very
 irresponsible. They are commercialized, and they'll do anything for selling
 He [the questioner] talked about the beard and the veil. First of all, for
 all non-Afghans, this rule does not apply. So there are many non-Afghans 
 are working there; there are actually Americans who are working there in 
 UN, there are many people from different parts of the world. And they do
 whatever [--], they don t care. And we don t have a law for them. But
 Afghanistan is a country that has gone through 23 years of war, and there 
 still war, and the military is mixed with the people. Then you must have
 some sort of strict law, in order to insure security and peace in
 Afghanistan. So, maybe it is ridiculous for you that we ask people to grow
 beards, but this is what, it is in Afghanistan, and the Afghans do leave
 beard, whether or not you tell them. And it's something natural, and it's
 something [--]. And regarding the veil, or the Burqas, or the Islamic dress
 code, that is something that exists in Afghanistan for centuries. And it
 does exist in Iran, it does exist in Saudi Arabia, it exists in many 
 countries. It has nothing to do only with Afghanistan. And it does even
 exist here. So you can't force people not to have Burqas, and we do have
 that constitution that at this time, women should cover up. For us because
 our priority is that they should be safe.
  [Questioner asks about what Afghans living in the US can do for
 Afghanistan. She also gives a brief account of her experience in
 Afghanistan, when she traveled there recently, and gave proof that schools
 existed there, and that the situation there is much better, more peaceful
 than it was six years ago. She traveled alone, all over the country.]
 Thank you very much. I m very happy that at least I found a proof!
 [Audience laughs]
 I m thankful to you [for] what you say, and I really appreciate the 
 you have for your country. I myself, I'm 24, and serving my country. I 
 play football now, and I could even play here, and I could stay in the
 United States, but I don t do any of those things I serve my country. So I
 agree that whatever, all those things that exist in Afghanistan, maybe 
 are many things that we don't want, but they do exist. So we are not a
 sponsor for that. They did exist for two decade[s]. So the best thing to do
 for Afghanistan is to have an association of Afghans to raise funds, and 
 best thing I would say [is to] educate people. Instead of criticism, they
 can come there and open a school. They can open a school for girls, for
 boys. But that would be the best thing. Unfortunately some of our Afghans
 are sitting in their air-conditioning rooms here, play their TV s, and when
 they have nothing to do, then they criticize us because we can't make 
 for them. We can do it, we have a lot of problems, but the first thing they
 should do is to stop harming us. They have to come and help us, in all the
 sectors. We do need all the Afghans from here. If they really criticize our
 policies, they should come there and criticize our policies, not from here.
 So the best thing for you is for you people to raise funds, do NOT give it
 to us, one of you should come there, help the people.
  [Questioner: Do you respect our right to tell you that if you didn't
 believe in PR, you wouldn't be here right now. [--] Actually I d like to 
 you, does your version of Islam preach hate? I don t know, I m asking you;
 do you believe in the religion of hate? Because I was very disgusted when
 that lady got up and asked you why don't you blow those idols, because that
 boy right there (points to a boy in the audience) laughed. MSA
 Representative interrupts, Please ask your question. Questioner, I'm asking
 you, are you preaching hate? MSA Representative, Is that your question?
 Questioner, That is the question. He continues to argue.]
 Enough? I don t know what to say but you only expressed your emotions. 
 means Peace. First you have to understand. And a peaceful religion will
 never preach for Hate. And we do not preach for Hate. And you said that if
 we didn't believe in Public Relations, I wouldn't be here. It s my first
 time here, and I've waited for an American Visa for a long time, and I'm 
 used to doing these things. I brought a letter from my leadership that I
 explained before that I will be submitting to the leader of the
 administration here, and hoping that they will re-think their policies. So 
 do believe that, I say that we must believe in Public Relations because 
 are very important. But I say that Public Relations needs a lot resources,
 and at this time we have resources for the [--] for the plight of our
 [Questioner: I actually agree with you about the western media; they are
 very biased [--], but looking at people like him (the young boy who 
 at such a young age&[--]. ]
 [Small dispute in the Audience]
 [Father of young boy, He is my son, ok, and you have come here to accuse
 him..[--]. MSA Representatives calm both parties and rest of Audience, and
 apologizes to audience.]
  [Questioner asks about women being required to have a male escort 
 they go out. She also questions whether or not if she were to go into
 Afghanistan wearing what she was now (a jilbab and hijab) would she be 
 any physical threat.]
 You [the questioner] said, told me about whether a woman was allowed to go
 without a male escort. I'm here, and my wife is shopping in Kandahar now. 
 they don't have to be escorted, this is absolutely wrong. Yes, they were, 
 those cities that we captured first, because that was for their safety. 
 they don't have to. And I don't have any problem with whatever you wear, 
 women do wear the same thing that you do wear, and they don't have any
 problems. And I say that those cities, which are close to the frontline and
 there is military operations going on close, there are thousands of 
 soldiers of ours, we do ask women to avoid the social areas. Now you're not
 understanding what I mean, but some of our friends here do understand. In a
 country that is in a war, the military is mixed with the people, and there
 are certain limitations. So I can't go beyond that, and I say that women
 does not have to be escorted. I m here now and my wife is shopping maybe in
  [Questioner asks What is Afghanistan's priority in regards to 
 an Islamic state for all Muslims, not just for Afghans? ]
 He'd like to destroy us.
 [Audience laughs]
 We have our first headache in Afghanistan, and that's a big headache. We
 have a full-time job there. If we were worked 24 hours a day, we will 
 ever be able to re-construct an [--] Islamic system in our own country. And
 we have no intention of going beyond our borders, and neither we can. So,
 all these people who exist in other countries, or their policies, they have
 nothing to do with us. We are only concerned about Afghanistan. And please
 do not try to make assumptions. Ask me questions. I was asked in, I was in
 Bay Area just yesterday, a journalist asked me, Why do you hate women? And 
 told him, Why do you beat your wife? And he said, I don't beat my wife. I
 said, I don't hate women.
 [Audience laughs]
 So you have to ask me questions. You just make assumptions. You just make 
 assumption. Like he said, you explain for one hour, for five minutes saying
 the same thing again and again, you ve made an assumption. You didn't ask 
 whether a woman must be escorted or not this is an easy question. But if 
 say, Why are you doing this, Why are you doing... We're not doing it. The
 question is, here, you don't have to make assumptions.
  [Questioner: My country (Iran) is suffering from drug-trafficking from
 Afghanistan; you said that you [--] drugs from your area, but how can you
 explain this contradiction? You have said that you cannot even make a
 needle, what does it mean..? ]
 I would like to answer this question first and then I will not forget. I
 said Afghanistan produced 75% of all worlds Opium, 75% of all worlds. And 
 eradicated it last year. And this was announced not only by United Nations,
 who rejects this? All of them know it was announced by Iranian government
 [--]. I don t say it was we eradicated five years ago [it was] this year.
 United Nations announced &
 [Questioner: You mean 2001? So that s two months ago??& But our country is
 still suffering from that?! He continues to argue&]
 Please, please try to hear what I m saying.
 [Questioner continues to talk and argue, MSA representatives try to calm 
 [Questioner goes on, I know, but this is the question I wanted to ask! ...]
 My brother, listen to me. You say that your country is still suffering from
 Opium from Afghanistan. I do not say that we eradicated it five years ago.
 This year, the United Nations Drug Control Program, announced that there 
 0% Opium cultivation; Iran, too, admitted that. So if you don't know that,
 your problem. New York Times announced this; it was in a New York Times
 editoral. So if you don't know this, then it's your problem. I do admit 
 there are still some piles of Opium that exists from the years before the
 last cultivation that may [have been sent] to your country. But we will
 admit, that we have, and I told you that, there are missions for us, across
 Afghanistan, to Iran, to our country, and they are trying to eradicate the
 already existing Opium; it was not produced this year; it was produced the
 year before last.
  [Questioner asks whether or not they have asked for a loan from the World
 Bank or BMF]
 Not yet. We have not asked BMF neither the World Bank to help us. But if
 they do help us, we will no reject it. So we are not asking because we are
 not being recognized so we can't ask them for loans.
  [Questioner is a Political Scientist and is asking whether or not
 Bureaucrats and Technocrats are needed in Afghanistan because, according to
 him, the Taliban are not smart enough, suitable to be governing
 We never say that we are perfect. The question is, Who could do more than 
 do? These seven parties? The Communists? Or the King? Who did this? The
 things that we have done? Who could do more than that? It s very easy to
 say, to criticize from here, Do this, do this, do that.. But it's very
 difficult to do that. You said that the Taliban are not Bureaucrats and
 Technocrats, and we're not going to change that. I m sorry to say, you know
 what the old king of Afghanistan, he was 88 years old, and he spent seven
 years living in Rome, he had bought an island there, and now this man wants
 to come back to Afghanistan and head the government. The old, rotten
 [Audience laughs]
 So, we were very surprised as to what did he do in 43 years of his
 government? He didn't do anything. He only knew how to decorate his palace.
 I m sorry to say this. And now the same man, after 43 years Sorry, 27 
 is willing to go back and govern; he cannot even take a flight back to
 Afghanistan. He's too weak. So how's he going to? So we do need
 professionals. We don't say that we are perfect. And I repeat it again, we
 cannot come here, and ask everybody to come help us. We have asked so many
 times. Anybody willing to help their country, come and help.&n! bsp; And
 many people come and ask me, Well, how do we go? &..How did you come here?!
 [Audience laughs]
 And yeah, go there if women can go there, what is the problem? But if you
 ask us to give you the government, then that's difficult. So I agree with
 you that we need Technocrats, but we don't need politicians.
 This ends the transcribed version of the lecture by Sayyid Rahmatullah
 Hashemi. Please distribute it to as many people as you can Insha Allah, as
 it contains a lot of valuable information and insights; it clears up many
 misunderstandings that people have today regarding the Taliban. If we can
 come together to spread this knowledge, perhaps we can alleviate the 
 that Afghanistan is experiencing by creating an awareness of the situation
 there, and thus bringing forth funds and resources to aid them, bi
 idhnillaahu ta ala.

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