Afghanistan of Tomorrow Conference: Realistic Prospect for a Lasting Peace.
Publish date: 22 Nov 02
Attached file: afghantomorrowagenda.txt
Afghanistan of Tomorrow Conference: Realistic Prospect for a Lasting Peace. November 22-23, 2001 at the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) in Ottawa, Canada.
- Afghanistan of Tomorrow Report
- Realistic Prospects for a Lasting Peace
The two-day conference Afghanistan of Tomorrow: Realistic Prospects for a Lasting Peace took place in Ottawa on November 22 and 23, 2001. It was held in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ottawa, and drew some 200 people, mostly Afghans living in Canada, the United States and Europe, plus representatives of Canadian government, civil society organizations and high commissions and embassies in Ottawa.
The timing of the conference gave it added significance. It was held a few days before the UN-sponsored conference in Bonn, where representatives of several Afghan groups met to form a temporary governing council for Afghanistan; and three speakers at the Ottawa conference – Ms. Fatima Gilani, Professor Anwar Ahady and Dr Ishaq Nadiri – hastened on to Germany to attend the Bonn conference. Three other delegates at Bonn joined the Ottawa conference by phone – Prince Mustafa Zahir from Rome, and Dr Abdul Samad Hamed from Germany and Peer Sayed Ishaq Gailani from Pakistan. Also during that weekend the Northern Alliance siege of the Taliban stronghold of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan was reaching its climax, while another battle was closing in upon Taliban forces in Kandahar.
Several speakers referred to this “critical moment” and to the political vacuum left by the Taliban withdrawal from the capital, Kabul. One of the presenters expressed a “feeling of great unease”, adding “it all seems hauntingly familiar”, and recalling 1992 when hopes raised at the fall of the Communist regime and the Soviet defeat were misplaced and “our country descended into a dark age of brutality and destruction fueled by ethnic hatred and religious fanaticism”. This quotation conveys the piquancy in the timing of this conference, a time of renewed hope but also of uncertainty whether the opportunity for stability and progress can be seized.
In the opening statement of the conference, the Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) of the Canadian Government, the Hon. Rey Pagtakhan M.P., acknowledged how difficult would be the path ahead. He noted that “even before the events of September 11, some 5 million Afghans were vulnerable to famine, one million were internally displaced and some 3.5 million were refugees in neighbouring countries”. Canada, he said, had a long-standing commitment to the people of Afghanistan: it had provided $150 million in assistance over the past ten years, and a further $16 million since September 11. He spoke of “so many priorities” – de-mining, jobs, education, roads – and said that, while Canada with the international community stands ready to support their efforts, Afghan men and women must be engaged in the planning of reconstruction, while the Afghan diaspora “will play a critical role in providing the necessary expertise to rebuild Afghanistan”. He ended on a tone of hope. “We should look forward with realism; but I urge you also to look forward with a heavy dose of enthusiasm and optimism for the future of this troubled land and its long-suffering people.”
The conference had four objectives. Two of them related broadly to the situation in Afghanistan, while two focused upon the role Canada might play.
The four objectives were as follows:
- To provide an opportunity for prominent Afghan intellectuals and personalities to discuss among themselves the current Afghan crisis and ways to resolve it.
- To develop policy recommendations towards achievable alternatives within the context of the Afghan culture and history for governance in Afghanistan that can secure a lasting peace and stability.
- To develop specific recommendations on how Canada can provide leadership to promote dialogue among diverse Afghan groups on a just and lasting solution.
- To identify Canadian roles in the strengthening of civil society, achieving good governance and the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
The conference was not asked to debate resolutions, so that no consensus was sought on particular recommendations. However, from the panel speeches, the discussion that followed each session and the participants written recommendations, there emerged the following Main Messages, which are here grouped in three categories.
Internal stability and regional co-operation
- Foreign intervention and the meddling of neighbour countries has been a major factor in causing and prolonging the 22-year civil war. Neighbouring governments, including those of Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and India have vested and conflicting interests in who governs Afghanistan. These forces must be addressed before any effective reconciliation can be complete.
- An international peace force under the United Nations should be stationed in Afghanistan during the period when a transitional government is preparing a new constitution and organizing democratic elections. (There were differing views on whether it should be drawn only from Muslim countries, or from countries with no factional interests in Afghanistan.) Among its tasks would be to supervise the disarming of armed groups.
- An international should conference should be convened, at an early date, to include the major powers and the six neighbours, to seek binding commitments of non-intervention, plan for regional co-operation, and define donor roles and commitments. Canada should actively press for such a conference in the international community.
- Means must be found for the Afghan people – not simply the representatives of armed groups – to decide their form of eventual government. Rural peoples must be involved, no less than intellectuals. In general, participants wanted a broad-based government that is democratic, includes all parts of Afghan society, upholds human rights and operates with the full participation of women. A traditional Loya Jirga was thought the best means of gaining wide agreement on the detailed form of government. A national army and police force with loyalty to the Afghan nation should be formed as the militias or armed groups are disbanded.
Economic and social reconstruction – and aid
- Rebuilding the economic system was crucial for political and social stability. For example, jobs had to be found for the young militias on disarming their groups. Priorities in reconstruction include: rebuilding the education and health delivery systems, agriculture, clearing mines, rebuilding the main cities, roads and airports.
- The professional and intellectual skills of Afghans outside the country were vital in the reconstruction period. If many in the Afghan diaspora would not return permanently, they could contribute through internships, fellowships and other means.
- A major commitment of emergency aid and development assistance from donor countries was essential to reconstruction. The U.S.-led Coalition should offer reconstruction assistance commensurate with the amount spent on the air bombardment. In particular, Canada’s expertise in communications and banking systems, in de-mining operations and irrigated agriculture as well as building a police force would be a useful contribution.
The following recommendations are derived mainly from the presentations, discussion from the floor, and written responses of participants, and are grouped by categories. (The nature of this process of soliciting recommendations on cards results in a few contradictions.)
Basic Principles and Governance
- Respect for human rights in compliance with international human rights conventions. Full equality for women under Afghan cultural structures. No compromise over women’s (and girls’) rights to education, work and pay equity and the right to vote and take part in politics.
- Reconciliation must take place at all levels – individual, national and international – to restore lost trust. Brutal competition among Afghan factions and foreign powers has to yield to economic co-operation, and process of reconciliation requires not only working through unresolved issues but also developing mechanisms for peaceful conflict resolution. National reconciliation needs to involve popular consultations.
- On governance, refrain from adopting ideological models. Let Afghan people determine. Develop democratic and pluralistic institutions representative of all ethnic groups. Build on cultural traditions such as the use of governing councils or Loya Jirga.
- Constitutional democracy should be accountable to Afghan people, not to foreign powers. Warlords and other people suspected of crimes against humanity should be held accountable – and should not have any role in a new government.
- Islam is essential in Afghan society, so work for an Islamic democracy, not a secular state, and develop forward-looking school curriculum that reflects Islamic ideals.
- For the task of reconstruction, the United States and other nations should take a large responsibility and provide assistance commensurate with resources expended on bombing campaign. Bombing should stop now, as security lies in development, not in arms.
The Transition Period
- The transition period before elections needs to international involvement, including a UN peacekeeping forces to disarm militias, deliver humanitarian and food aid and maintain security; and international human rights monitors. The UN High Commission for Human Rights should hold a special investigation into human rights abuses, hold violators responsible for their crimes and provide compensation for victims.
- An interim council should be composed of competent people who reflect the country’s ethnic complexity and pursue policies to unite, not divide, groups. Its mandate is to prepare a constitution and establish democratic institutions. The former King should return as servant of the people to foster unity and stability. His role would be defined by the people. Full elections to take place in 18 months. A tribunal should be established to bring those guilty of crimes against humanity to justice, and mechanisms for child protection set up during transition.
- The resettlement of refugees, ex-combatants and as many Afghans in diaspora as will return. There need to be rehabilitation of ex-combatants through training in public works rebuilding and in mine clearance, with the incentives of this leading to land tenure and resettlement packages. There need also to be special programs for the re-integration of children involved in armed conflict, and for male youth re-education as part of demilitarization. (See also under Reconstruction and Canadian Government).
- A comprehensive assessment of war-affected children’s needs should be part of the UN peace agenda. Awareness programs are needed to warn of the hazards of unexploded landmines and bombs/grenades. The recovery program should include the special needs for protection of women and girls, ensuring equal access to health resources, including reproductive health. Programs aimed at protecting and promoting women’s and children’s rights should involve their own participation in planning. Centres for orphan children will be needed.
- Economic reconstruction and an open economy are crucial in the social and political reconstruction of Afghanistan. Priorities include: re-opening schools, restart literacy programs, build libraries; build an education system inclusive of girls and boys, and include therapy for traumatized children in curriculum. Also rebuild agriculture to ensure food security, and make massive efforts on landmine clearance. Rebuild roads and transportation system, including airports. These various efforts should ensure large-scale employment generation, including finding jobs for disabled people.
- Reconstruction should follow a process of consulting broadly among refugees and in rural areas, so that previously neglected peoples have a chance to articulate their vision. It also needs active involvement of Afghan intellectuals and scholars. For those outside the country, a program of short-term assignments (up to one year) should be designed. Afghans living outside can also contribute to national reconstruction via the Internet, television, books and other means.
- Canada needs to support a long-term peacebuilding and development agenda for Afghanistan, grounded in a regional approach and strategy, which takes into account the political, economic and social linkages with Pakistan, Iran and other neighbours. An immediate move Canada should promote is deployment of security forces, so that humanitarian assistance and a start to reconstruction become possible. Canada should provide humanitarian aid through Canadian organizations already working in Afghanistan. If the current bombing campaign prevents access to populations in need, Canada should call for a halt to bombing, or at least create ‘corridors of peace’ to ensure such access.
- Canada should send peacekeepers under a UN mission; peacekeepers should be from countries with no national interest in Afghanistan. It should provide more funding for the UN High Commission for Refugees, should continue to play a leading role in human rights, and should press for the appointment of a UN Under Secretary-General for Afghanistan on humanitarian and reconstruction co-ordination. It should urge a plan for non-proliferation of conflict in the region, including humanitarian, reconstruction and conflict resolution elements. It should support a role for retired Canadian military and police officers to train the core of a multi-ethnic Afghan national army and police force in international humanitarian issues. It should include the Minister for International Co-operation in the Cabinet Security Committee, to bring development and peacebuilding perspectives into its purview.
- Canada should actively press the international community to hold an International Conference on Afghanistan. In this regard it should put pressure on the major powers and neighbouring countries to stop political interference in Afghan affairs. It should build program support for public engagement education in neighbouring countries about the importance of non-interference in Afghan affairs, combined with positive ideas of regional cooperation and economic integration. It should only support processes that allow the Afghan people to share the planning of UN initiatives. It could share its own experiences of democracy with the future government of Afghanistan and its people.
- For the Afghan diaspora, Canada should give encouragement and support to Afghan scholars and intellectuals living in Canada, as well as Afghan Canadian NGOs and youth groups, to take part in the country’s reconstruction. It should fund youth counsellors from the Afghan Canadian community. Canada should continue to accept, and counsel, refugees from Afghanistan. It should encourage a scheme of dual citizenship as a means to attract Afghan Canadians to work in Afghanistan. In supporting a transitional administration in Afghanistan, Canada should continue to consult with the Afghan diaspora and with moderate leaders to ensure a thorough sharing of ideas – with enough time to make well-considered decisions.
- Reconstruction. Canada should co-ordinate its program of reconstruction assistance with the international community and groups in Afghanistan. It should include a strategy for working with civil society groups, particularly women’s organizations, in Afghanistan. One element would be support for building local capacities in popular and democratic education in post-conflict reconstruction and also in developmental interventions in pre-conflict areas. It should focus energies on clearing the tremendous arsenal of unexploded bombs and mines, help develop the communications and banking systems, and foster economic growth by encouraging Canadian investment in Afghanistan.
Canadian Civil Society
- NGOs must speed up their efforts in Afghanistan. They should operate from within Afghanistan, and move offices from Pakistan.
- NGOs should urge the Canadian Government to sustain the concern for Afghanistan and the region, after the military and humanitarian crises are over. They should engage the Canadian public on the importance of assistance to Afghanistan, and work to introduce programs into high schools that would increase awareness of Afghan realities. Linkage programs between Canadian and Afghan youth could involve internships in either country. They should lobby the government and M.Ps to ensure there is adequate and new funding for responsive programming. And they should lobby the Canadian Government to distance itself from the American bombing campaign and to place any intervention under UN auspices. They should also call for more dialogue between Canadian civil society and government departments (DFAIT, CIDA, Defence) in the shaping of Canadian policies and actions.
- Canadian NGOs should concentrate their aid on helping create a primary and vocational school system in Afghanistan, with initial focus on teacher training and schools for girls. It should support an education program for demobilized fighters of all factions and parties. (Canada’s similar work in Eritrea and elsewhere could be models.) They should also support a ‘tolerance education’ project among Pakistan madrasas that have exported intolerance into Afghanistan.
- They should focus on the rebuilding of hospitals and clinics, and upon improved sanitation. They should focus on projects in the subsistence sector: small-scale agriculture, manufacture of clothing, micro credit, distribution of seeds and tools. In working with rural communities, they can identify priority needs that would be communicated to the provisional government structure. They should help the sharing of information among Afghan communities about conditions on the ground.
- Capacity-building inside Afghanistan. NGOs can help reconstruction in the media, particularly a community radio system, through training programs and capacity building. They can support efforts to establish local civil society groups, and strengthen their capacity to monitor and protect human rights, in particular women’s and children’s rights. They can help in the formation of an Afghan monitoring and education group to assist in the elections to follow the transitional government.
- Support for Afghan diaspora. Canadian NGOs should make a special effort to link with the Afghan diaspora, and bring their voices forward to policy and advocacy platforms, and to the designing of development projects. They should support establishment of a clearing-house in Canada to help co-ordinate the use of Afghan-Canadian human resources, and avoid competition for scarce resources. [CANADEM is already involved and active in this area]. They should support the formation of an Afghan civil society group to monitor the honouring of pledges of development aid from donor countries. They should work to strengthen youth groups from the Afghanistan diaspora. They could sponsor an annual prize for Afghan poetry and arts, and use the Internet to help revitalize the poetry, music and culture of Afghanistan.
SUMMARY OF SESSIONS
The presentations in full provided a wealth of information and insight to the issues of Afghanistan. The brief summaries presented here are intended to convey the scope of the presentations and some of the key views and ideas of the speakers; they are not meant to be exhaustive. The discussions among the participants stimulated by the presentations have been captured in the main messages and recommendations.
Historical background and current reality: Three speakers set out reasons for the continuing problem of instability which, as Professor M. Hassan Kakar said, was nothing new although the present state has been “longer, deeper and more consequential than any other”. One set of factors stemmed from its geographical location, encircled by six countries (resembling Germany in Europe) and with unnatural, porous boundaries. “This means that in disturbed times each of Afghanistan’s neighbours can create instability for it, as it can do so for them.” Professor Kakar also said that among Afghans “respect for law and order is superficial, but recourse to revenge is the strong dictate of tradition”. In the last century six constitutions had been promulgated, and then abruptly abrogated, as political groups of right and left took short cuts to authoritarian power by violence. At present Afghans have no written constitution but vaguely defined and self-interpreted Islamic Shari’a.
Professor Ahmadshah Ahmadzai reinforced this account with details of Russian and American competing in influence on President Mohammad Da’wud. The people, he said, were tired of killings and foreign intervention, from which children had suffered most. Dr Seddiq Weera spoke of the legitimate concerns of neighbours: Iran fears a Sunni government, India one that is too pro-Pakistan. Internally, there were obsessive differences about a federal structure, and a neglect by intellectuals of public consultation. But there were more peace groups than war groups, and he had made headway in eliminating obstacles in meetings among Afghans based in Pakistan.
A political process for peace: Prince Mustafa Zahir, speaking by phone from Rome, set out the policies of his grandfather, the exiled monarch Mohammed Zahir Shah. If the Bonn process succeeds, he said, an emergency Loya Jirga (traditional assembly) would choose a transitional government with a mandate for 18 months before elections. His grandfather would return, not as king but to work on national unity. His principles embraced pluralism, human rights for minorities and a commitment to women’s full role in society. Women have, he said, “taken the brunt of suffering of the last 22 years. I will do everything possible to empower them.” He was concerned that the 2 million Afghans dispersed around world – 80,000 in Canada, 250,000 in the United States – should make a significant contribution with their skills and experience.
Professor Rostar Taraki said that, although the Northern Alliance found itself in a strong position militarily because of the American bombing, it was in a minority in social terms and cannot govern Afghanistan by itself. Washington had started the bombardment without a political platform, and had created a political vacuum into which the Alliance moved. He saw signs that Russia and Iran were encouraging the Alliance to hold on to power, and that would sabotage the UN peace plan. Since the peace initiative was completely out of the hands of Afghans, he proposed (ahead of the Bonn conference) the stationing of a UN peace force drawn from Muslim countries in all main cities, with the mission of disarming all armed groups, and of assuring security and humanitarian aid. A government of national unity should be representative of all ethnicities, but a coalition government did not suit present circumstances. Dr Karim Qayumi believed that the former king was the only person with wisdom who enjoyed trust enough to reconcile the people. Replacing one warlord with another was no advance, and their interest was in making money. He urged politicians (in Bonn and elsewhere) to put the interests of the country first. He concluded his presentation by reciting a Farsi poem about selflessness.
Options for governance: From interim to long-term. Three speakers in this session looked back – to good times as well as bad – in order to set a course ahead. Dr Abdul Samad Hamed, speaking by phone in Germany, said “we find ourselves in the pre-Taliban era”, having moved in circles, and called this time “one of the most dangerous in our 5,000-year history”. As deputy prime minister under the monarchy, he said “we should blame ourselves” for failing to provide a broad structure of governance. To break the vicious circle, Afghans had to be realistic and frank, and the Bonn conference should agree on basic principles, and the principle of an Islamic state was a binding element. Professor Anwar Ahady, president of the Afghan Social Democratic Party, also spoke of a return to the 1992 situation, with the unpleasant phenomenon of warlords in four areas. The United States had not considered the consequences of allying with the Northern Alliance, and didn’t take time for the Pashtoons to prepare an insurgency against the Taliban. Transitional measures would be imperfect, he added. An international force was needed in Kabul to protect the transitional government, even if warlords remained in power in the provinces for the short term. There were universal values the four groups meeting in Bonn should embrace: human rights, women’s rights, democracy (involving elections, a free press, government accountability). Afghanistan should be an Islamic state and modernize at the same time. As a multiethnic society, it should legislate for bilingualism and for devolution in a federal structure.
Dr Sharifa Sharif, a journalist and member of the Afghan Women’s Solidarity Organization, spoke of the relief to see Afghan women “at the verge of regaining their public space and voice”. She traced three phases of reforms back to 1919 and noted a woman was appointed minister of public health in 1965. Women doctors, engineers, lawyers, writers and musicians were active in the society of major cities after the 1964 constitution declared equal status for women and men. Although reforms were halted and women forced to struggle for very survival, “the experience of 22 years of war and many false hopes has made women not weaker but stronger” and they would demand the right to plan and make decisions for their families and country. The moderator, Mr. Mustafa Karim, added two thoughts. First, that the UN should assure repatriation to depopulated areas before elections were held. Second, it would be a mistake to try to impose a western-style, secular government; Allah gives authority as a matter of trust and Islam is based on trust. He looked forward with hope: “in 30 years Afghanistan will be both peaceful and prosperous.”
Space for women: Four women leaders set out priorities in this session. Ms. Fatima Gilani observed that it took a disaster like September 11 or a newsworthy event (such as the arrest of EC Commissioner Emma Bonino) to draw attention to the condition of women. This time Afghan women demanded commitment as well as promises and, unlike “extreme feminists”, claimed three rights: equal education, same work opportunities and wages as men, and election to public office. The first order of Allah was to “read and learn” and she appealed for support for women’s rights from scholars and men everywhere. Many leading Afghans who were outside would return, and it is not too late to rebuild the education system for both boys and girls, although the gap of those poorly educated in the last 25 years cannot be filled . Ms. Asmah Ibrahim, of the Toronto-based Afghan Women’s Organization, said she supported an international peace force that would disarm all armed groups. When schools reopen, do not neglect the mental as well as physical health needs of children, she urged. Conditions in refugee camps needed immediate improvement, and Canada should take in more refugees.
Ms. Safia Seddiqui, a lawyer who has worked for 11 years in refugee camps, read a poem she had written and entitled “A Voice of a Social Prisoner”, a call for women to maintain self-esteem. She pointed out that no law school now existed in Afghanistan. Finally, Ms. Nafisa Zurmati, an Ottawa-based teacher who produces an Afghan TV show in Ottawa and writes children’s books, spoke of the “massive task” of reconstructing Afghanistan’s school system. The country needed a new curriculum to encourage respect for all cultures and for Islamic ideals. Children carried deep scars, not always visible, from recent years, and would need therapy. Teachers had a critical role in building a literate society and social cohesion by guiding young people to enjoy the “wonderful and amazing diversity” of Afghanistan. She ended by challenging her audience: “Teach your children to be truly Afghan!”
The sustainability of peace: By phone from Peshawar, Peer Sayed Ishaq Gailani offered a series of 11 steps towards reconciliation. At an early stage he foresaw the former king playing a healing part, and the need to form a national army. The final step would be the calling of a Loya Jirga to approve a new constitution and to prepare elections. He defined qualifications for membership of a “broad-based government” to include “any ethnic group with credibility” and he would most certainly include women in a government. Professor Abdullah Kazem said that, despite the “warrior spirit” apparent in Afghan politics, the possibility of peace and reconstruction was “more imaginable now than ever before”. He offered his own list of 14 actions needed to sustain peace. In the external sphere, he included the expulsion of all foreign militia and the banning of poppy-seed cultivation – he emphasized mutual measures with recipient countries to close down the “demand side”. Domestically, this economics professor focused on control of all financial and military transactions into Afghanistan and immediate reconstruction projects to help revive the national economy.
Mr. Kawn Kakar, now a lawyer in California who recently served a year as UN adviser on human rights in his native land, said that earlier treaties in the 1990s lacked popular support and moral mandate, and he hoped the current process, begun at Bonn, would soon include members of the Afghan civil society, women activists and community leaders. Speaking on behalf of the Institute for Afghan Studies, he urged Canada to “ensure that human rights is central to the negotiation of a peace settlement”. He called Afghan’s brain drain “the worst in the world”.
Youth: Potential for nation building. By happenstance, all four young speakers were women. The first, an architecture student at the University of Toronto, Ms. Durkhanai Ranzooryar said Afghans in Canada were not well organized and needed more settlement programs, as there were problems of psychological health. An effect of September 11 had been that students were afraid to disclose their Afghan identity in schools. Of educational needs in Afghanistan, she spoke about adult literacy classes, libraries and vocational schools. A modern system should be based on creativity and moderate Islamic teaching. Ms. Gulalai Zakhilwal, a Carleton University student, said Canadian government funding could help unify many small Afghan associations, and “drops make an ocean”. Internships could help take young expatriate Afghans back home.
Ms. Haleema Kazem, a documentary film-maker based in New York, said it wasn’t a matter of “nation building” for Afghanistan had been a nation for 240 years, as long as the United States. There were efforts by foreign powers to divide Afghans in their ethnic diversity, but “there are many different flowers in a garden”. She urged fellow expatriates to benefit from the resources in their new home, for “power comes from success and education”, and they should become mentors for younger people. As an economic journalist, she believed that the destruction of women’s rights in Afghanistan had been “a by-product of economic destruction” and one path of recovery was to revive such exports as carpets and fruit. The final speaker Ms. Rubina Karyar, a journalist in Ottawa, said young expatriates were absorbing both democracy and Afghan values, and had a responsibility to help their sisters back home to become educated. She also said there should be no forgiveness for crimes committed against women.
Economic and social reconstruction: Dr Ishaq Nadiri said that reconstruction of Afghanistan’s economy, now in a state of total collapse, had to be matched with the revival of its political and cultural institutions. It could not be done cheaply or in a hurry – “Afghanistan is not a place for quick fixes” – but there were three problems of immediate concern. First, aid for feeding the Afghan people, now suffering from drought and starvation, for the next two years with “a secure distribution system safe from warlords”. Then the resettlement of refugees and of internally displaced Afghans, which required sound plans for the farming sector, in turn involving the clearing of mines, restoration of local irrigation systems and water supplies, and incentives to plant crops other than the opium poppy. Thirdly, investment in both physical and human infrastructure – rebuilding of the larger cities, roads and airports; and investment and planning for the education and health delivery systems.
In the longer run, he said, Afghanistan’s own oil and gas and mineral resources should be explored in the framework of regional cooperation with countries of both Central and South Asia that would serve the cause of peace. Afghanistan could even become “an Asian Switzerland” with tourism, and if it grows to be a central economy in the region. In the meantime the professional skills of expatriate Afghans were needed to help rebuild the economy and society, together with the full participation of women. “The Afghan economy will get nowhere if more than half of its talented labour force is not fully utilized.” Dr Nadiri added that Canadians could contribute in particular their expertise in communications and banking systems, in police training and in de-mining.
He emphasized during his presentation that Afghans must go beyond a wish list for reconstruction to develop practical ideas and full proposals.
Mr. Hafeezi Yaqoobi spoke of the impact of the lengthy drought, and of the destruction of energy facilities. As well as clearing landmines, there was need to help mine victims. Housing and vocational training were also priorities in economic recovery. Professor Mohamad Salim Modjaz, law professor and former Deputy Minister of Justice, focused on the need for Afghan intellectuals and foreign experts to help reconstruction. Most of the ‘brain drain’ expatriates would not return permanently, he thought, but a series of internships (six to 12 months) could bring them home to train other Afghans. Others could help from outside by, for example, organizing distant-learning courses, or by dubbing films or recording Afghan songs.
SPEAKERS, PRESENTERS, & MODERATORS
Hon. Rey Pagtakhan M.P. Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) of the Canadian Government. Ottawa, Canada
Prince Mustafa Zahir Special assistant and security adviser to the former King of Afghanistan. Rome, Italy
Prof. M. Hassan Kakar, PhD Author of Afghanistan The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response and Government and Society in Afghanistan. San Francisco, USA.
Prof. Ahmadshah Ahmadzai, PhD Former Professor of Law, Kabul University. Virginia, USA
Dr. Seddiq Weera Center for Peace Studies, McMaster University. Hamilton, Canada
Prof. Rostar Taraki, PhD Former professor of Kabul University. Paris, France
Dr. Karim Qayumi Professor of Surgery and Director of Research for the Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, University of British Colombia. Vancouver, British Columbia
Dr. Abdul Samad Hamed, PhD Former Deputy Prime-Minister of Afghanistan and professor of Law and Political Science in Kabul University, Bonn, Germany
Prof. Anwar Ahady, PhD Professor of political science in Providence, Rhode Island, and the president of the Afghan Social Democratic Party. Long Island, USA
Dr. Sharifa Sharif Journalist. Member Afghan Women’s Solidarity Organization. Toronto, Canada.
Ms. Fatima Gilani Daughter of a spiritual Afghan leader Sayed Ahmad Gilani and a strong voice for the rights of the Afghan women. New York, USA.
Ms. Asmah Ibrahim Afghan Women’s Organization, Toronto, Canada
Ms. Safia Seddiqui Writer and a poet from Afghanistan. Former Director, DACCAR. Toronto, Canada
Ms. Nafisa Zurmati Teacher. Producer Afghan Television Show. Ottawa, Canada
Peer Sayed Ishaq Gailani President, Afghanistan Council of Understanding. Peshawar, Pakistan
Professor Abdullah Kazem Former professor of Kabul University. San Francisco, USA
Mr. Kawn Kakar Lawyer. Institute for Afghan Studies. San Francisco, USA
Ms. Durkhanai Ranzooryar Architect. Afghanistan Women’s Organization. Toronto, Canada
Ms. Gulalai Zakhilwal Student, Carleton University. Ottawa Canada
Ms. Haleema Kazem Documentary filmmaker. New York, USA
Ms. Rubina Karyar Journalist. Ottawa, Canada
Dr. Ishaq Nadiri Jay Gould Professor of Economics, New York University. New York, USA
Prof. Mohamad Salim Modjaz Scholar in Penal Law. Former Deputy Minister of Justice of Afghanistan.
Mr. Hafeezi Yaqoobi Executive Director, Guardian Afghanistan. Ottawa, Canada.
Hon. Flora McDonald Former Member of Parliament and Foreign Minister, Government of Canada. Ottawa, Canada
Mr. Mustafa Karim: Executive Director, FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance. Toronto, Canada
Mr. Faruq Faisel Canadian Program Manager, South Asia Partnership Canada, Ottawa, Canada
Mr. Kaleem Akhtar Executive Director, Human Concern International. Ottawa, Canada
Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, PhD Senior Research Economist, Statistics Canada. Founding member Institute for Afghan Studies. Ottawa, Canada
Mr. Richard Harmston: Executive Director, South Asia Partnership Canada, Ottawa, Canada