by Abdullah Qazi / May 28, 2010
Other spellings of name: Mustafa Zaher, Mostapha Zahir, Mustapha Zahir
Mustafa Zahir is the grandson of Afghanistan’s last king, Mohammad Zahir. Since 2005, he has been the Director-General of Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA). NEPA serves as Afghanistan’s environmental policy-making and regulatory institution. It’s role is to regulate, coordinate, monitor and enforce environmental laws.
Before returning to Afghanistan (after the fall of the Taliban), Mustafa Zahir served as his grandfather’s diplomatic assistant (1991-2000). In 2000, he eventually became the former king’s chief of staff until he was chosen to be the ambassador to Italy in 2002. He served in that role until he became the head of NEPA in 2005.
In March 2007, he surprised many supporters of the former king and President Hamid Karzai by joining an alliance of political groups that opposed President Hamid Karzai and the setup of the current government. The alliance called themselves the United Front of Afghanistan, and was initially headed by former Afghan president,Burhanuddin Rabbani. The group formed because they wanted to amend Afghanistan’s constitution in order to transform the political system from a presidential system into a parliamentary system. The group also wanted provincial governors elected rather than selected by the president.
On April 22, 2010, Mustafa Zahir received the Champions of the Earth Award by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He won in the Inspiration and Action category. More than 100 nominations were submitted from around the world, and from that, 6 winners were chosen. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, told the audience that Mustafa Zahir won because: “Prince Zahir has transformed environmental policy and laid the foundation for sustainability in one of the most challenging countries on the planet at this moment in history. He has balanced the day-to-day realities of Afghanistan with a determination that his country will have clean air and healthy water-backed by laws- upon which a sustainable and peaceful society can be built.”
There are speculations being made about how American officials are working with Pakistan and former Mujahideen leaders to “groom” Mustafa Zahir into a leader that would eventually replace Hamid Karzai.
Mustafa Zahir was born in Kabul in 1964.