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Ambassador of Afghanistan at USC -Part I



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To moderator: Do I suppose the previous post of this message was truncated
due to the length ? In that case, I am sending it again after breaking it
into two parts. This is part One (the speech). Part Two, the Q&A. If it
was truncated for other reasons, I would like to request you to reconsider
the decision. It's an important speech by the roving ambassador of the
Taliban and we in India ought to increase our perception of both that
regime and the people there; this speech, given the orator, is an
important source of information, even if it be fictional. For the matter
of real policy, both for today and the conceivable future, Afghanistan is
important for India, and not just for Kashmir (perhaps Kashmir may become
insignificant over the timescales we concern ourselves here at ipi).
Thanks.

I think it's time to get REAL facts of the matter. Masood may be a nice
guy, no doubt, (and the ambassador says as much), but I wonder if WRONG
facts have been bandied about too often and very effectively against the
taliban. The ambassador makes a compelling case about his government.

This is a looong speech and Q&A. But it would be nice to hear counter
arguments, if any.

Thanks.

Padmanabha Rao

Part-I follows.
_____

 Sayyid Rahmatullah Hashemi is the roving Ambassador from Afghanistan who
 recently visited the US. He has been active in giving lectures on the
 real situation regarding the Taliban in Afghanistan throughout central
 and Southern California. The following is the transcribed lecture given
 by Sayyid Rahmatullah Hashemi at the University Of Southern California on
 March 10, 2001:
 
 Sayyid Rahmatullah Hashemi
 
 I was just coming from [a meeting with] a group of scholars, and the
 first thing we started there was the statues. And the first thing we
 started here was also the statues. It s very unfortunate how little we see
and how 
 little we know. And it really confuses me, if people really know that
little or
 not. Nobody has seen the problems of Afghanistan; nobody saw their problems
 before. And the only thing that represents Afghanistan today are the
 statues.
 
 The problem of Afghanistan was not new. As you know that Afghanistan is
 called, The Crossroads of Asia. So, we are suffering because of our
 geo-strategic location. We have suffered in the 18th century, 19th
 century, and we are still suffering in this century.
 
 We have not attacked the British. We have not attacked the Russians. It
 was them who attacked us. So the problems in Afghanistan you see is not
 our creation. That reflects the image of the world. If you don t like the
 image in the mirror, do not break the mirror; break your face.
 
 The problems in Afghanistan started in 1979. Afghanistan was a peaceful
 country and it was doing its own job. The Russians, along with their 
 140,000 troops attacked Afghanistan in the December of 1979, just 21 years
ago,
 stayed there for a decade, killed one and a half million people, maimed one
 million more people, and six million out of the eighteen million people
 migrated because of the Russian brutalities. Even today, our children are
 dying because of the landmines that they planted for us. And nobody knows
 about this.
 
 After the Russians left during the Russian occupation, on the other side,
 the American government, the British government, the French, the Chinese,
 and all of the rest, supported the counter-revolutionaries called the
 Mujahideen; 7 parties only in Pakistan and 8 parties in Iran who fought the
 Russian occupation. And after the Russians left, these parties went into
 Afghanistan. All of them had different ideologies, a lot of weapon[s]. And
 instead of having a single administration, they fought in Afghanistan. The
 destruction that they brought was worse than the destruction the Russians
 brought. 63,000 people were only killed in the capital, Kabul. Seeing all
 this chaos, and the complete destruction of our country, and I don't have 
 to forget that after the Soviets left, another million people migrated
because
 of the lawlessness that existed in Afghanistan 7 million people.
 
 So seeing this destruction and lawlessness, a group of students called the
 Taliban Taliban is the plural word of students in our language; it may be
 two students in Arabic, but in our language it means students so a group of
 students started a movement called the Movement of Students. It first
 started in a village in the southern province of Afghanistan, called
 Kandahar. It happened when a war-lord, or a commander abducted two minor
 girls, raped them, and the parents of those girls went to a school and 
 asked the teacher of the school to help them. The teacher of that school,
along
 with his 53 students, finding only 16 guns, went and attacked the base of
 that commander. After releasing those two girls, they hanged that 
 commander, and so many of their [the commander's] people were also hanged.
This story
 was told everywhere; and this was called the terrorist story of the 
 Taliban, or the Students. BBC also quoted this story. Seeing or hearing
this story,
 many other students joined this movement and started disarming the rest of
 the warlords, who were worse than these. I will not prolong this story so
 far, this same students' movement controls 95% of the country; they 
 captured the capital, including the four major cities. And only a bunch of
those
 warlords are remaining in the northern corridor of Afghanistan.
 
 So our achievements are as follows. We are in a government for only five
 years, and the following things that we have done, and many of you may not
 know:
 
 * The first thing we have done is re-unify the fragmented country.
 Afghanistan was formerly fragmented into five parts. The first thing we 
 have done is to reunify that country. The United Nations, the United States,
 everybody was confused as to how to reunify that country, and nobody could
 do it. First thing we have done is to reunify that country. * Second thing
 we have done, which everybody failed to do, was disarming a population.
 After dealing [with] the war of the Russians, and the Americans I would 
 say, every Afghan got a Kalashnikov, and even sophisticated weapons such as
 stinger missiles, and they even got fighter planes and fighter helicopters.
 So disarming these people was impossible. The United Nations in 1992 passed
 an appeal asking for 3 billion dollars to re-purchase that arms, to start a
 process of repurchasing those arms. And suddenly, because of its
 impracticalibility, that plan never materialized, and everybody forgot 
 about Afghanistan. So the second thing we have done is to disarm 95% of that
 country. * And the third thing that we have done is to establish a single
 administration under Afghanistan, which did not exist for 10 years. * And
 the fourth achievement that we have that is surprising to everybody is that
 we have eradicated 75% of all worlds Opium cultivation. Afghanistan 
 produced 75% of all worlds Opium. The drug, you know that Opium? The
Narcotics
 business? And last year we issued an edict asking the people to stop 
 growing Opium, and this year, the United Nations Drug Control Program,
UNDCP, and
 their head, [Mr.] Barnard F., proudly announced that there was 0% of Opium
 cultivation. Not at all. And this was not good news for UN itself because
 many of them lost their jobs. In the UNDCP, 700 so called experts were
 working there and they got their salaries and they never went into
 Afghanistan. So when we issued this edict, I know that they were not happy.
 And this year they lost their jobs. And this was our fourth achievement. *
 The fifth achievement that we have, but it's a little controversial, some 
 of our friends will not know is the restoration of Human rights. Now, YOU may
 think that is a violation of Human Rights, but from OUR perspective that is
 the restoration of Human Rights. Because usually [among] the fundamental
 rights of a human being is the right to Live. Before us, nobody could live
 peacefully in Afghanistan. So the first thing we have done, begun [to give]
 to the people is a secure and peaceful life. The second major thing that we
 have restored is to give them free and fair justice; you don t have to buy
 justice, unlike here. You will have justice freely. And you have criticized
 us for violating women's rights; now, who knows what happened before us.
 Only some symbolic schools, or symbolic posts were given to some women in
 the ministry, and that was called the restoration of women's rights. I can
 see some Afghans living here, and they will agree with me, that in the 
 rural areas of Afghanistan, women were used as animals. They were SOLD
actually.
 The first thing we have done is to give the self-determination to women, 
 and it happened not in the history of Afghanistan. Throughout the history of
 Afghanistan, during all the so-called civilized kings or whatever, they
 didn't give this right to women, so women were sold. ! They didn't have the
 right to select their husbands, or to reject their husbands. First thing we
 have done is to let them choose their future. And you will know that
 throughout south Asia, women are killed under the title of honor killings.
 It happens when a woman's relation is detected with a man, whether or not
 the relation was sexual, they're both killed. But now this is not happening
 in our country. And the third thing that happened only in Afghanistan, was
 women were exchanged as gifts; this was not something religious; this was
 something cultural. When two tribal tribes were fighting among themselves,
 then in order to get their tribal issue reconciliated, they would exchange
 women, and then [they] would make, or announce reconciliation. And this has
 been stopped. If we [had to give] fundamental rights of woman, we had to
 start from zero; we couldn't jump in the middle. Now you've asked me about
 the rights of women s education and the rights of women's work. Unlike what
 is said here, women do work in Afghanistan. You're right that until 1997 I
 mean, in 1996 when we captured the capitol Kabul, we did ask women to stay
 home. It didn't mean that we wanted them to stay at home forever, but 
 nobody listened to us. We said that there is no law, and there is no
order, and
 have to stay at home. They were raped before us, everyday. So, after we
 disarmed the people, and after we brought law and order, and now women are
 working. You are right that women are not working in the ministry of
 defense, like here. We don t want our women to be fighter pilot[s], or to 
 be used as objects of decoration for advertisements. But they do work. They
 work in the Ministry of Health, Interior, Ministry of Education, Ministry 
 of Social Affairs, and so on. So, and we don t have any problem with women's
 education. We have said that we want education, and we will have education
 whether or not we are under anybody's pressure, because that is part of our
 belief. We are ordered to do that. When we say that there should be
 segregated schools, it does not mean that we don't want our women to be
 educated. It is true that we are against co-education; but it is not true
 that we are against women's education. We do have schools even now, but the
 problem is the resources. We cannot expand these programs. Before our
 government there were numerous curriculums that were going on; there were
 curriculums which preached the king for the kings, and there were
 curriculums which preached for the communists, and there were curriculums
 from all these seven parties [the previously mentioned]. So, the Students
 were confused as to what to study, and the first we have done today is to
 unify that curriculum, and that's going on. But we are criticized, and we
 say that instead of criticism, if you just help us once, that will make a
 difference. Because criticism will not make a difference. If you [talk?]
 criticism from New York, thousands of miles away, we don t care. But if you
 come there and help us, we do care. So actually there are more girls
 students studying in the faculty of medical sciences than boys are. This is
 not me who is saying this, it is the United Nations who has announced this.
 Recently we reopened the faculty of medical science in all major cities of
 Afghanistan and in Kandahar, there are more girl students than boys. ! But
 they are segregated. And the Swedish committees have also established
 schools for girls. I know they are not enough, but that s what we can do.
 So, that is what I say that we have restored. I don't say we are 100%
 perfect, and nobody will say that they are 100% perfect. We do have
 shortcomings, and we do need to amend our policies. But we can't do
 everything overnight. * And the sixth problem, that we are is it sixth or
 seventh? Seventh I think the seventh problem that we are accused of is
 Terrorism, or the existence of terrorists in Afghanistan. And for Americans
 terrorism or terrorist means only bin Laden. Now you will not know that
 Afghanistan, or bin Laden was in Afghanistan 17 years before even we
 existed. Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, fought the Soviet Union, and Mr.
 Ronald Reagan, the president of America in that time, and Dick, Mr. Dick
 Chaney called such people freedom fighters or the Heroes of Independence,
 because they were fighting for their cause. So Osama bin Laden was one of
 those guys who was instigated by such media reports, so in that provocation
 by these countries to go to Afghanista! n and fight the Soviets there. And
 now when the Soviet Union is fragmented, such people were not needed
 anymore, and they were transformed into terrorists from heroes to
 terrorists. So exactly like Mr. Yassir Arafat was transformed from a
 terrorist to a hero. So we don t know as to what is the definition of
 Terrorism. We do regret that the terrorists were actually horrific acts and
 they were terrorist acts. But if they are terrorist acts, what is the
 difference between those terrorist acts and the attacks on Afghanistan when
 in 1998 attacks, cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan. Neither of the two
 were declared and both of them killed civilians. So we are confused as to
 what is the definition of Terrorism. If it means killing civilians blindly,
 both of them killed civilians blindly. And the fact is, I m not going to be
 offensive or rude, or rude about this, I m going to be frank. And I think
 it's  sometimes honest to be rude. If the United States says that it has
 acted for its defense, lets see. The United States government tried to kill
 a man without even giving him a fair trial. In 1998, they just sent cruise
 missiles into Afghanistan and they announced that they were trying to kill
 Osama bin Laden. We didn't know Osama bin Laden then. I didn't know him; he
 was just a simple man. So we were all shocked. I was one of those men who
 was sitting at home at night, I was called for an immediate council meeting
 and we all were told the United States have attacked Afghanistan. With 75
 cruise missiles and trying to kill one man. And they missed that man; 
 killed 19 other students and never apologized for those killings. So what
would 
 you do if you were in our status; if we were to go and send 75 cruise
missiles
 into the United States and say that we were going to kill a man that we
 thought not believed that we thought was responsible for our embassy, and 
 we missed that man, and we killed 19 other Americans what would the United
 States do? An instant declaration of war. But we were polite. We didn't
 declare war. We had a lot of problems at home; we didn't want further
 problem[s]. And since then, we are very open-minded on this issue. We have
 said, that if really this man is involved in the Kenya/Tanzania acts, if
 anybody can give us proof or evidence about his involvement in these
 horrific acts, we will punish him. Nobody gave us evidence. We put him on
 trial for 45 days and nobody gave us any kind of evidence. The fact is that
 the United States told us they did not believe in our judicial system. We
 were surprised as to what kind of judicial system they have?! They showed 
 us as to what they are doing to the people they just tried to kill a man
 without even giving him a fair trial, even if one of us is a criminal here,
 the police is not going to blow his house, he must go to a court first. So,
 that was rejected. Our first proposal, despite all these things, was
 rejected. They said they will not believe in our judicial system, and we
 must give him to New York. The second proposal that we gave after the
 rejection of this first proposal we gave was, we are ready to accept an
 international monitoring group to come into Afghanistan and monitor this 
 man s activities in Afghanistan. So that he does nothing. Even that he
 has no telecommunications [--]. That proposal was also rejected. And the
 third proposal we gave, six months ago, was that we were ready, that we
 were ready to try or accept a third Islamic country s decision, or the
 trial of [--] in a third Islamic country, with consent of Saudi Arabia
 and Afghanistan that was also rejected. So we don t know, as to what is
 the problem behind. If bin Laden was the only issue, we are still very
 open minded, and for the fourth time, I'm here, with a letter from my
 leadership that I m going to submit to the state department hoping that
 they will resolve the problem. But I don t think so [that] they ll solve
 the problem. Because we think, and I personally think now that maybe the 
 United States is looking for a Boogy Man always. Remember what Gorbachev
 said? He said, that he s going to do the worst thing ever to the United
 States. And everybody thought that he s going to blow the United States
 with nuclear weapon[s]. But he said, I'm going to remove their enemy. And
 then he fragmented Soviet Union. And he was right. After he fragmented
 Soviet Union, a lot of people lost their jobs in the Pentagon, in the
 CIA, and the FBI, because they were not needed anymore. So we think that
 maybe these guys are looking for a Boogy Man now. Maybe they
 want to justify their annual budget, maybe they want to make their citizens
 feel that they are still needed to defend them. Afghanistan is not a
 terrorist state; we cannot even make a needle. How are we going to be a
 terrorist state? How are we going to be a threat to the world? If the world
 terrorism is really derived from the word terror, then there are countries
 making weapons of mass destruction, countries making nuclear weapons, 
 forest deforestation, soil, air, and water pollution they are terrorist
 states; we are not. We cannot even make a needle; how are we going to be
 a threat tothe world? So as I said in the beginning, the situation in
Afghanistan is
 not our creation. The situation in Afghanistan reflects the world's
 image. If you don t like the image in the mirror, do not break the
 mirror; break your face.
 
 Now, we are under sanctions. And the sanctions have caused a lot of
 problems, despite that we are going under so many problems, the 23 years
 ofcontinuous war, the total destruction of our infrastructure, and the 
 problem of refugees, and the problem of land mines in our agricultural
 lands, all of
 a sudden the United Nations, with the provocation of Russia, is imposing
 sanctions on Afghanistan. And the sanctions have been approved; we are
 under
 sanctions. Several hundred children died a month ago, here it is (holds
 up
 pamphlet). Seven hundred children died because of malnutrition and the
 severe cold weather. Nobody even talked about that. Everybody knows about
 the statues. For us, we are surprised, that the world is destroying our
 future with economic sanctions, then they have no right to worry about our
 past. Everybody is saying that they are destroying their heritage they dont
 have any right to talk about that. They are destroying the future of our
 children with economic sanctions, how are they going to justify talking
 about our past? I know it's not rational and logical to blow the statues
 for, for retaliation of economic sanctions. But this is how it is. I
 called,
 after this announcements, I called my headquarters, and I found out, I
 was  really confused, I asked them, why are they going to blow the
 statues, and I
 talked to the head of the council of scholars of people, who had actually
 decided this, he told me that UNESCO and NGO from Sweden, or from one of
 these Scandinavian countries Norway, Sweden, one of these they had actually
 come, with a project of rebuilding the face of these statues, which have
 worn by rain. So the council of people had told them to spend that money in
 saving the lives of these children, instead of spending that money to
 [restore these] statues. And these guys said that, No, this money is only
 for the statues. And the people were really pissed off. They said that, If
 you don t care about our children, we are going to blow those statues.
 
 I don't say that he s right or wrong, the decision is yours. Think of
 yourself. If you are in such a problem, what would you do? If your children
 are dying in front of your eyes, and you are under sanctions, and then the
 same people who have imposed sanctions and are coming and building statues
 here? What will you do? So, I talked to my headquarters today, and they 
 said
 that the statues have not been blown so far. But the people are so angry.
 They are really angry, they want to blow them. And there is Kofi Annan is
 going, you know Kofi Annan, the Secretary General o! f United Nations? He
 went to [--], to Pakistan, and he said he s going to meet our 
 representative
 there. This man never bothered to enter, to talk about these children, he
 never bothered himself to talk about six million refugees, and he never
 talked about [the] poverty of Afghanistan. He only goes to that region
 because of these statues. And the OIC is also, they've also sent a mission
 to go to Kabul and talk about those statues. So we'e really confused. That
 the world is really caring about the statues, and then they don t care 
 about
 human beings. I don t say we have to retaliate in blowing the statues; we
 have not done that. But if we were to destroy those statues! , we would 
 have
 destroyed them three years before now, because we captured those areas 
 three
 years before now. We didn't want to blow them. And now the situation has
 come, and it's not our decision. This is the decision of the scholars and
 the people. And that is the decision has been approved by the Supreme 
 Court.
 We cannot reject this decision. So these guys are there, the OIC and some,
 even I think some ministers from different countries are there to save the
 lives of these statutes. I think they will not be blown because of the
 concerns of these people. But it is really, really ridiculous. These people
 do not care about children, about people who are dying there, about the
 foreign interference that still exists, they only care about the statues.
 And I m sure they don t care about our heritage. They don't care about our
 heritage; they only care about their picnic site one time. Maybe they'll
 have a good picnic site there, seeing those statues. They don't care about
 our heritage, I'm sure. If they were to care about our past, they wouldn't
 destroy our future. And I'm sure these sanctions which are imposed on our
 government will never change us, because for us, our ideology is 
 everything.
 To try to change our ideology with economic sanctions will never work. It
 may work in the United States, where the economy is everything, but for us,
 our ideology is everything. [--] And we believe that it is better to die 
 for
 something than to live for nothing.
 
 We are still open-minded. We are still, we have still opened our doors for
 negotiations, but our offices are closed everywhere our office was closed 
 in
 New York a week ago. They are trying to shut our offices in other 
 countries,
 trying to isolate us, and they don't know that isolation is
 counter-productive. Because they don't have experts; the only experts they
 have are those people who speak English. They don t even speak the 
 language.
 Those experts who are advising the sanctions, or the sanction committee 
 have
 not even been to Afghanistan. And they are setting benchmarks for us to
 achieve.
 
 I'm prolonging this speech, I'm sorry, because I have been repeating it
 everywhere, so I may have left some thing in it, and I will let you ask me
 questions.
 
________________

Q & A in Part-II


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