American Friends Service Committee PA Updates June 2013
by Scilla Wahrhaftig, AFSC PA Program Director
Today I was part of a magical experience as I was part of a video conversation on Afghanistan that AFSC had set up. The panelists were three experts from Kabul Afghanistan, Mohammed Hamid Saboory consultant at Kardan University, Sami Sadat, Director of Strategic Communications at Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, Abdul Waheed Wafa, Executive Director of the Afghan Center at Kabul University, and Matt Southworth, Foreign Policy Legislative Assistant at FCNL. It was amazing to be part of such a video conversation which was being created in real time between Philadelphia, Kabul, Washington, DC and with us wherever we were in the States.
What the panelists had to say about the withdrawal and the situation in Afghanistan was significant and, I think, something that Friends would be interested in.
One of the things they talked about was the changes that have been happening in Afghanistan that we seldom hear about. They pointed out how often we only hear the negative things and yet huge strides in women’s rights, education, the economy has occurred.
There are freedoms that were not there before including a peaceful nonviolent protest on the campus of students and professors.
It is very important to support what has been achieved in economic and political gains as we withdraw our troops from the country. It is mutually beneficial for not only the US but the international community to see this withdrawal of troops is done in a way that leaves a stable Afghanistan.
There was a lot of talk about security and the need for negotiations between groups within Afghanistan, with Pakistan, between Pakistan and India and regionally. While none of the Afghan participants felt like the country would descend into civil war, they did feel that reconciliation within the country was difficult while some groups were looking to Pakistan for direction and support. They felt, however, that there were too many highly educated people with a political and economic stake in the country who would work to prevent a civil war. The American public has largely written off Afghanistan now that we know the troops are coming home. However, it is important for us to remember our responsibility to this country and to work with it to maintain the strides towards democracy that they have made. This video conversation is one of a series of talks that AFSC will be holding in the coming months and it would be a wonderful opportunity for Friends to be part of. I will be sending out information on the next video conference and how Friends can access the present one.