Ambassador of Afghanistan outlines
Taliban's achievements during visit to USA in March 2001
The Qur'an says,
"O you who believe! If
a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you
harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what
you have done." [Al-Hujurat 49:6]
[Sayyid Rahmatullah Hashemi is the roving Ambassador from Afghanistan
who recently visited the US. The following is the edited version of the
transcription of a lecture given by him at the University Of Southern
California in Los Angeles, on March 10, 2001]
I was just coming from a meeting with a group of scholars, and the first
thing we started talking about there was the statues. And the first
thing we started talking about here was also the statues. It is very
unfortunate how little we see and how little we know. Nobody has seen
the problems of Afghanistan; nobody saw their problems before. And the
only thing that represents Afghanistan today are the statues.
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 are not our creation.
The Soviet invasion
The recent problems in Afghanistan started in 1979. Afghanistan was a
peaceful country. 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
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; There were
seven parties only in Pakistan and eight parties in Iran who fought the
Russian occupation. And after the Russians left, these parties went into
Afghanistan. All of them had different ideologies, and a lot of weapons.
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
capitol, Kabul. Another million people migrated because of this
The beginning of Taliban
Seeing this destruction and lawlessness, a group of students called the
Taliban, i.e. a group of students (Taliban is the plural of student in
our language; it may be two students in Arabic, but in our language it
means 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 and violated them. 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 his people were also hanged.
This story was told everywhere. BBC also quoted this story. Hearing this
story, many other students joined this movement and started disarming
the rest of the warlords. This same students movement now controls 95%
of the country including its capital. Only a bunch of those warlords are
remaining in the northern corridor of Afghanistan.
We have been in government for only five years, and the following things
that we have done, and many of you may not know:
1.) The first thing we have done is reunifying the fragmented
country. Afghanistan was formerly fragmented into five parts. We unified
it when nobody else could do it.
2.) Second thing we have done,
which everybody failed to do, was disarming the population. After the
war every Afghan got a Kalashnikov, and even sophisticated weapons such
as stinger missiles, and they even got fighter planes and fighter
helicopters. Disarming these people seemed to be impossible. The United
Nations in 1992 made an appeal asking for 3 billion dollars to
re-purchase those arms. And because of its impracticality, that plan
never materialized, and everybody forgot about Afghanistan. So the
second thing we have done is to disarm 95% of that country.
3.) The third thing that we have
done is to establish a single administration in Afghanistan, which did
not exist for 10 years.
4.) The fourth achievement that
we have that is surprising to everybody is that we have eradicated 75%
of world's opium cultivation. Afghanistan produced 75% of worlds opium.
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. Zero, zilch, none at all.
Incidentally 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.
5.) The fifth achievement that
we have, is the restoration of Human rights. Now, you may think that we
are involved in violation of Human Rights. The reality is exactly the
opposite. Among the fundamental rights of a human being is the right to
live. Before us, nobody could live peacefully in Afghanistan.
The first thing we have done, is to give to the people 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.
In Afghanistan justice is free and readily available.
We have been criticized for violating women's rights. Do you know what
happened before us? 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. We stopped this abominable
They didn't use to have any say in the
selection of their husbands. First thing we have done is to let them
choose their future. Another thing that used to happen in Afghanistan
was women were exchanged as gifts. Of course, this was not something
religious; this was something cultural. When two fighting tribes wanted
reconciliation, they would exchange women. And this has been stopped.
Unlike what is generally said women do
work in Afghanistan. True that until 1996 when we captured the capital
Kabul, we did ask women to stay home. It didn't mean that we wanted them
to stay at home forever. We said that there is no law, and there is no
order, and you have to stay at home.
We disarmed the people, and we
established law and order, and now women are working. True, that women
are not working in the ministry of defense, like here. We don't want our
women to be fighter pilots, 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.
Similarly 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 numerous curriculums were
going on. There were curriculums that preached for the kings,
curriculums that preached for the communists, and curriculums from all
the seven parties. So, the students were confused as to what to study.
We have started to unify the curriculum and that is going on.
Recently we reopened the faculty of
medical science in all major cities of Afghanistan and in Kandahar.
There are more girls students studying in the faculty of medical
sciences than boys are. But they are segregated. And the Swedish
committees have also established schools for girls. I know they are not
enough, but that is what we have been able to do.
Osama bin Laden
We are also accused of sponsoring terrorism. And for Americans terrorism
or terrorist means only bin Laden. Now you will not know that
Afghanistan, or bin Laden was in Afghanistan for 17 years before we even
existed. Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, fought the Soviet Union, and Mr.
Ronald Reagan, the president of America at that time, and Mr. Dick
Chaney called such people freedom fighters or the Heroes of
Independence, because they were fighting for their cause. And now when
the Soviet Union is fragmented, such people were not needed anymore, and
they were transformed into terrorists. From heroes to terrorists. This
is exactly like Mr. Yasser Arafat who was transformed from a terrorist
to a hero.
What is the difference between those
acts that bin Laden is blamed for and the 1998 cruise missile attacks on
Afghanistan. Neither of the two were declared and both of them killed
civilians. If it means killing civilians blindly, both of them killed
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 had
attacked Afghanistan. With 75 cruise missiles they tried to kill one
man. And they missed that man; killed 19 other students and never
apologized for those killings.
What would you do if you were in our
situation. 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 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 are polite. We did not declare war.
Rather we have been 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 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 just tried to kill a
man without even giving him a fair trial. Even if one of us is a
criminal here, the police are not going to blow his house; he must go to
a court first.
So our first proposal was rejected.
They said they do not believe in our judicial system, and we must
extradite him to New York. After the rejection of this first proposal
was we said we were 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.
The third proposal we gave, six months
ago, was that we were ready to try or accept the trial of Osama bin
Laden in a third Islamic country, with the consent of Saudi Arabia and
Afghanistan. That was also rejected.
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
that they'll. Because we think, and I personally think now that maybe
the United States is looking for a boogey 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 weapons. 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 boogey 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, they are
terrorist states; we are not.
Now, we are under sanctions. And the sanctions have caused a lot of
problems. Despite that we already had been going through so many
problems--- the 23 years of continuous 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. Seven hundred children died because
of malnutrition and the severe cold weather. Nobody even talked about
that. Everybody knows about the statues.
Renovating statues as people
When the world is destroying our future with economic sanctions, then
they have no right to worry about our past. I called my headquarters, 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 an 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. The council of people told them to spend that
money in saving the lives of these children, instead of spending it to
restore these statues. And these guys said, "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.
If you were in such a situation 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 would you do?
And there is Kofi Annan. You know Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of
United Nations? He went to Pakistan, and he said he is going to meet our
representative there. This man never bothered to come, 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.
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 am sure 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.
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.