Our father Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai, and his Dream

January 21, 1999

by Sulaiman, Sediq, Youssof and Omar Ghafoorzai

"Prompted by a sense of responsibility, as an independent figure, not affiliated to any of the active political parties, I have prepared myself to assume the post of head of government at the most gravest juncture of our nations political life."

---- Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai

In August of 1995, as we drove through the streets, where the falling debris from vast destruction formed a trail of dust after vehicles drove by, we could not believe our eyes. The amount of destruction, by far exceeded our anticipation. Begging for food and money had become customary and on numerous occasions, we experienced heart-felt situations, which left us motionless. We noticed dozens of civilians with utmost innocence approaching us with tearful eyes, in dire need of some source of assistance. This was the same Kabul our father said was once so beautiful.

Between 1995-97, we had the opportunity to travel to various areas in Afghanistan such as Kabul, Kapisa, Mazar-e-Sharif, Puli-Khumri, Taloqan- Takhar, etc. What we observed were the remnants of years of devastation and prospects of a gloomy future. Living conditions for most inhabitants--as we witnessed-- were beyond the scope of our comprehension.

A prodigious 250, 000 Kabul inhabitants were being dispensed by food and shelter by the ICRC (the International Committee of the Red Cross), ACTED, the United Nations as well as other NGO’s (Non- Governmental Organizations). These aid agencies were the only source of assistance for our fellow Afghans. Ninety percent of all Kabul inhabitants were unemployed. Even those who were employed had not been paid their salaries for months, which was not sufficient for purchasing only two days’ sustenance.

The rise of the inflation rate and the decrease in the value of currency were other factors which made life troublesome. To give an example, $1 US dollar by then was valued at 5,000 Afghanis. Presently, since 1998, due to continued conflict and instability, the value of currency has even further deteriorated to the extent in which $1 US dollar is worth an unimaginable 36,000 Afghanis. How do people continue to survive?

The luxuries of meat and rice were not available. Most of the populace in Kabul survived on wheat and bread, due to their inability to afford any other foods. The degree of immense difficulty, both financially and psychologically was to an extent that an Afghan resident in Kabul last year, was quoted by the New York Times as saying, "Most days I wake up thinking I’d rather be dead than alive." These are just some examples of how catastrophic living conditions have become for our people. We also witnessed how the continued foreign-sponsored civil strife and protracted war had damaged the city of Kabul itself. Here in the United States, we had heard recurrently, to what extent our capital had been ravaged. Upon our personal experience, we were startled. An estimated forty-percent of Kabul’s residential and governmental buildings had turned to piles of rubble.

The areas of Shah-Shaid district, Jadai-Maiwand extending to cinema Pamir, areas surrounding Sari-Chawk, Masjidi-Puli Khishti, including much of Old and New Mikro-rayon residential buildings, had suffered immense devastation. In addition, areas such as Kote-Sangi, Dehmazang, Darul-Aman, Karte-Seh, and Karte-Char, an insurmountable degree of damage was also observable. The level of annihilation was due to continued conflict in our country.

In 1997, as we traveled to other areas of Afghanistan such as Mazar - Sharif, Talooqan-Takhar, Puli - Khumri, and etc., we experienced similar situations.

What we witnessed in Afghanistan was only a glimpse of the bigger picture, of a gloomy future. When we returned back to the United States and ever since, we have felt reinvigorated to do something about our common motherland. In fact, we worked and studied much harder. Of course, much of that credit goes to our late father, Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai, who opened our hearts and eyes to patriotism and service to one’s country.

Present Situation in Perspective: What our Father aimed to do

During the past five years, we have witnessed continued devastation and destruction in our heroic country, Afghanistan. After 14 long years of struggle against the former Soviet Union for its liberation which included sacrificing more than 1.5 million precious lives, we finally succeeded in achieving our independence from one of the world’s greatest superpowers. Unfortunately, eversince the fall of the Communist regime in April of 1992, Afghanistan continues to witness, yet consecutive phases of continued conflict and instability in its history.

Many factors have contributed to this unfortunate reality. There are those who consider it a conflict amongst our people; others believe it to be a struggle for power; and a third category see it as the inability of our elite technocrats to have played a decisive role upon the establishment of the Islamic State. However, if we were to look into the roots and analyze the developments upon the fall of the Communist regime, one can be easily convinced that the main cause for the turmoil in our country continues to be the meddling of foreign countries. Countries which desire nothing more than their self interest and the subjugation of our homeland.

Ever since our recollection enables us, we have always seen our father to have been deeply concerned with the fate of our country. A brief profile of our father will shed some light on why he chose the path he did and sacrificed his life for his people, country and above all, a sense of patriotic responsibility.

Our late father Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai, throughout his life demonstrated his patriotism during his distinguished service of his country. Upon successful completion of Habibia High School, he attended Kabul University, majoring in the field of Political Science and Journalism. Soon after, at the age of twenty one, he inaugurated his political career and entered the diplomatic service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kabul Afghanistan.

In December of 1979, upon the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, our late father Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai, while taking part in a Conference of Non-Aligned Nations, at the United Nations, New York, was the first Afghan official to denounce the invasion, and inform the international community of the Soviet blatant intention. Speaking on behalf of the tormented Afghan nation, he considered the intervention as a "shameful aggression by the Red Army on a Non-Aligned Islamic country, deeming his historical action as his "natural and just right to protect the freedom loving people of Afghanistan." He made this decision at a time when we, and our entire family were still in the capital Kabul. With his denouncement, he risked even our lives.

Between 1980 and 1992, he began his political campaign in quest for supporting the liberation of Afghanistan in various ways. With relentless efforts, he continued his direct contacts with the leaders of the Afghan Jihad inside Afghanistan. He worked immensely in deploying efforts in informing Permanent Missions to the United Nations, as well as many International Organizations on the Afghan liberation movement.

Upon the establishment of the Islamic State in 1992, he was appointed as Afghanistan’s Charge d’ Affaires to the United Nations. He later was promoted to the ranks of Deputy Ambassador-Permanent Representative (1993-94). In 1995, he served as the Deputy Foreign Minister and in March of 1996, was appointed as Foreign Minister of the Islamic State of Afghanistan.

On August 11th of 1997, with the approval of the leaders of the United Islamic and National Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, (UINFSA) and the support of the entire Afghan nation, our late father Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai was appointed as Prime Minister of the Islamic State. After nineteen years of misery and struggle, the Afghan nation had finally found hope for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, in which all people could rightfully determine their own political destiny.

He was determined to implement his goal of establishing a broad based government, which would be composed of all the ethnic groups in the country, in a political framework to be administered mainly by experienced technocrats, experts, and impartial personalities from inside as well as abroad, in quest of further enhancing the national unity of the country. The formation of this interim government would serve as a first-step to the convening of the traditional Grand Decision Making Assembly i.e. the Loya Jirga, within a time period of less than nine months. He considered this agenda the most viable mechanism for ending a prolonged era of misery and bloodshed.

Ghafoorzai on National Unity: The answer to Foreign Intervention

As our late father Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai, as Prime Minister on ( 11 August 1997 ) stated in his inaugural speech to the nation "Afghans triumphantly demonstrated an unprecedented resistance in defending their religion, independence and unity against aggressions launched by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Great Britain, as well as the former Soviet Union. Never can one claim that the great resistance staged by the Afghans in its history -- which reshaped the political landscape of the region and the world -- had been the work of one or two ethnic groups. Rather, only a collective action taken by the entire nation against a common enemy led our people to achieve their historic victory. "

What we are witnessing in Afghanistan today is not a civil war amongst our peoples. Rather, it is a conflict that has been imposed on our country from outside. The plans of a subjugated Afghanistan along ethnic lines by various neighbors will dash away despite careful orchestration of foreign inspired ethnic genocide and hatred by one group against another.

While delivering a public speech to the students of Mazar University in June of 97, our father stressed the importance of national unity between all ethnic groups, stating "the great religion of Islam has ‘cemented’ together all the ethnic groups of our country." Whether we be Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkmen, Baluch, we all must play a major role for the return of peace and normalcy to war-stricken Afghanistan. For all those who believe that they can positively contribute to help in the cessation of the current foreign- sponsored fratricidal war, this fact must not be undermined.

As a Durrani Pushtun from the Mohammadzai tribe and an independent figure who had no affiliation with any of the political parties currently active in Afghanistan, he was always of the conviction that equality amongst all ethnicity’s would serve as a pre-requisite for peace and stability in Afghanistan. We recall on many occasions our father stressing to us the importance of not distinguishing the people of Afghanistan along ethnic, religious, or linguistic backgrounds. One occasion that stands out was when he used the analogy of a State to a human body, where when one ethnic group was left out of a decision making, it would be similar to a human being not possessing a specific and vital body organ.

Referring to his Prime Ministerial speech in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan on 11 August 1997, he had warned Afghan men and women of conspiracies by "those who have wanted to separate citizens of this devastated country, sometimes in the name of Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, or Baluch etc., and on other occasions under the guise of Shia and Sunni and at instances under the title of Farsi or Pashtu." He emphasized to the Afghan nation in front of their TV and radio sets, "We must understand that only by fueling the annihilating flames of division -- emanating from social discrimination -- leading to the weakening of our strength and national unity, yours and mines, the outside circles can realize their political and economic interests in our land. We shall remember that God has disavowed racial discrimination; humanity has renounced it; and our nation has yet to have forgotten most bitter memories due to effects of this destructive ideology. What is a better guideline and milestone than the saying of the Prophet (pbuh): ‘ Anyone who calls for racial and tribal intolerance, whatsoever, is not from amongst us.’"

Ghafoorzai saw Loya Jirga as the only Solution

He was much dedicated in drafting a constitution, consisting of articles to become basis of political party laws, electoral laws, which would eventually lead to the convening of the traditional Grand National Assembly - free and open elections (Loya Jirga), under the auspices and supervision of the United Nations and OIC ( Organization of Islamic Conference) during a time period of no later than six to nine months. This would allow the people of Afghanistan to exercise their right to self-determination: which leader they would want to elect and under what type of system they should be governed, etc.

In the inaugural speech, he said "The unsparing support provided by social segments i.e. religious scholars, national grass-root figures, and unceasing success, gathering the support as well as the backing of the world peace loving forces -- aimed at the materialization of the peoples will, with the single heart and mind under the banner of ‘God, homeland, Self-determination and national unity,’ and convocate the Loya Jirga within six months, shall we build a country where all its citizens will find themselves secure under the laws adopted by the Loya Jirga in less than a years time."

He further continued, "With the convocation of the Loya Jirga we shall create a government that would definitely serve as a source of national confidence which shall be able of eradicating people’s problems. An experienced and competent government shall be formed as a source of national confidence. It is with the restoration of peace, security, and supremacy of law that the international community will trust Afghanistan."

For the realization of the nations will and the convocation of the Loya Jirga, our late father planned to take the following constructive steps:

1) To form an Interim council (in line with the Quranic order: "Consult on affairs...") with the cooperation of the United Nations and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The Council would work as a provisional legislative body.

2) To assign a number of commissions composed of the members of the interim council for drafting the following legislative documents:

a) Laws on the Grand National (Decision Making) Assembly (Loya Jirga), and pertinent procedures. b) Constitution of the country c) Laws on political parties d) Laws on General Elections

3) To assign a commission for laying out a program for the formation of a national army and a nation-wide collection of arms and closure of border passages for preventing the inflow of arms, in order to end foreign intervention, and guarantee Afghanistan its territorial integrity.

4) To create a larger committee, in which representatives from both conflicting sides would participate. This committee would also include a number of independent figures for the convocation of a Grand National (Decision Making) Assembly. The Commission could be headed by a venerated figure acceptable to both sides.

5) To convocate the Loya Jirga under the supervision of the United Nations and Organization of the Islamic Conference to decide on the following:

a) Adoption of a constitution b) Nomination of a President who will in turn nominate the new government for a specific term of office. c) Declaration of a cease-fire, cessation of war and exchange of POW’s. d) Adoption and declaration of the General Amnesty Charter. e) Adoption of a program for the formation of a national army and arms collection. f) Creation of an interim parliament from among the members of the Loya Jirga who would temporarily serve until the holding of general elections. g) Selection of a date for the holding of general elections. h) Adoption of the law on General Elections. i) Adoption of the law on Political Parties. j) Adoption of the code of Civil Law.

Ghafoorzai and the Technocratic Government

As many considered peace to be elusive, our late father, exemplified and proved -- through determined and relentless efforts in aim of bringing about a substantial change within the countries political infrastructure -- that all patriotic Afghan intellectuals whether residing in the country or abroad -- have a responsibility toward their country and people. It has been proven, with the dedication, determination, and courage of one individual, after years of turmoil, the people of Afghanistan, were once again hopeful, for an era of peace, progress, and development. With the newly established government, in which our late father was appointed as Prime Minister of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, one of his main goals and aspirations was to gather the support of Afghan technocrats outside the country and bring them as well as experts and scholars to assist the peace process and the reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan. In his famous August 11 speech he said, "[d]uring the past two decades, more than 10,000 educated Afghan elites have migrated abroad, a process which still continues. This has produced a lack of technical, scientific and administrative shortages of cadres. The Afghan nation calls upon all scholars, cultural and artistic figures, intellectuals and vocational experts to return back and participate in the moral and material rehabilitation of their country."

Reiterated in his inaugural speech, he stated "I have pinned hope to the contribution of a number of figures -- in the context of a collective conduct for the formation of an interim government -- from within and outside the country. I hope they will play their rightful role in the restoration of sustainable and immediate peace and stability; realization of national and administrative cohesion through a sincere conduct of intra-Afghan dialogue and granting of pre-dominance to the peoples will. This has always been a fundamental principal for social justice and democracy traced in the early stage of the emergence of Islam." It should be mentioned that the majority of the Afghan people currently residing in Afghanistan have not been fortunate enough to have received a decent level of education, therefore, acquire minimal ability towards the restoration of the shattered infrastructure of the country. Thus, for this reason, the people of Afghanistan rest much hope on those Afghan intellectuals residing abroad.

It is time, we as Afghan intellectuals--as those fortunate enough to develop our thoughts and academic foundations away from the war--must exhibit our abilities and deep commitments towards what God Almighty prescribes as our most important duty, for we have been bestowed with this duty since we all share common languages and a cultural heritage. We are certain, no foreigner would feel the same towards Afghanistan.

As our late father has stated in his inaugural speech, "this nation deserves to be offered all services, not ill-treatment; deserves to live in prosperity, not deprivation and disgrace. Merits just treatment, not subjugation; and finally, deserves to be granted a constitution guaranteeing them safety, security and development, and not lawlessness. The will of nation must be considered as a determining factor for its political destiny."

He further continued: "Let us go toward building a system and an infrastructure. This remains as the only condition to regain international trust. No single soul can lead an eternal life. To tie up the hopes for national existence to the personality cult will be an anachronic play with people’s life and fate. Only a system can consolidate peace, national unity, and ensure prosperity. For us, it should be a system built on the sacred Islamic Laws and National Values. Privileged and committed social figures may have a role in solidifying a certain system. All committed and compassionate compatriots anywhere in the world can contribute in the realization of this objective only by sincere cooperation and unity of mind."

Conclusion

It has by now become evident, there can be no military solution to the Afghan conflict. Rather, a negotiated settlement and the formation of a broad based government --consisting of all the ethnic groups in the country--is the only solution to the dilemma. Let’s leave our differences aside. Afghanistan serves as a common home to our multi-ethnic family, whose members have suffered enough. A family which has overcome the most difficult obstacles--from foreign invasion to internal disarray--throughout its history. Let us, once again remind ourselves, that overcoming such obstacles would have never been possible, without the collective struggle of all our ethnic groups.

Realizing the impact of our father’s service as the Prime Minister of Afghanistan --in a short time period of only nine days-- we can only imagine what can be achieved in a joint effort, launched by our elite technocrats, towards the lofty goal of national unity, formation of a broad-based government and realization of a lasting and durable peace in Afghanistan, irrespective of our ethnic, religious, or linguistic backgrounds. It is only by our lack of participation in the political arena of Afghanistan that we permit the situation to be prolonged as status quo.

It is an unfortunate reality that our father is no longer with us to implement our hopes of a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan. With his loss, to a great extent, fellow Afghans throughout the world lost hope for his dream to come true.

However, we as members of the Afghan nation, should cherish the fact of having had such a leader, who sacrificed his life in the service of his country and countrymen. As such, he paved the way and established a path to be followed by anyone who desires and is courageous to undertake his ambitious task for a better tomorrow, for the Afghan nation saw with its own eyes, that with patriotism, courage and strenuous effort, peace and advancement can be possible. It is highly hoped that we all--as a collective voice and effort--shall follow his path. We believe it is our only hope.

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