Former Foreign Minister Says Afghans Have Regained Their Land

Posted: March 27, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister of Afghanistan, lectured a diverse crowd on topics ranging from the history of Afghanistan during the Cold War to his experiences as a medical student in a speech he gave in Harris Theater on March 22.

Abdullah began his lecture, titled “Afghanistan from the Bonn Process to the London Conference and the Path Ahead,” by describing his experience growing up in Afghanistan. He told the audience that his studies as a college student in the early 1980s were productive until he witnessed a major event that threw his regular studies off course.

While walking around one day in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, Abdullah saw Soviet tanks on the streets. “That prevented us from our studies,” says Abdullah. “I hoped [during that time] that Afghanistan would be liberated of Soviet occupation.”

More than two decades later, the former foreign minister is content that the situation in Afghanistan has improved. “Afghans were deprived of any opportunity the last two and a half decades. Today, Afghans have regained their land.”

Abdullah spoke of the nascent democratic system in Afghanistan and its interaction with Afghanis. “If the government is not able to deliver, it will be perceived as a failure of democracy.”

To bring about additional respect for Afghanistan’s fragile democracy, he emphasized the role of education. “Education is seen as a core element in human development.”

Marek Sojkas, an adjunct philosophy professor, attended the event because he is interested in reconciling democratic values with traditional culture. Sojkas shares historical experiences with Abdullah. As an immigrant from Poland, he experienced Soviet occupation during the Cold War. “Poland and Afghanistan…had a similar historical experience. Both lived under Communist rule,” says Sojkas.

Abdullah’s future is uncertain. The day he gave his lecture, he received a phone call informing him of a cabinet reshuffle that removed him from his role as foreign minister. Although he was offered another role in the government, Abdullah declined. He would like to try another occupation, citing his more than 20 years of service in the Afghani government.

Abdullah’s speech was sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Center for Global Studies.

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