Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Interesting story about a group of professional Afghanis working to build a civil society, starting in Herat.

The Herat Professionals Shura was founded just after the fall of the Taliban to promote social justice and democracy, its head Rafiq Shahir said in an interview.

"We don't have any political position but in national matters we give our opinions and ideas," said Shahir, 47. "We want to work our best in each field for the country." And to do that he says it is time for former warlords and mujahideen to make way for educated professionals to rebuild the country rather than using their anti-Taliban and anti-Soviet military credentials as an excuse to retain power.

"We respect the mujahideen for their sacrifices in the past but they cannot set up industries, build factories and schools. These things have to be done by professionals," said Shahir, himself the son of a mujahideen commander killed in battle.

Started with 137 people on December 28, 2001, the shura now counts more than 800 members, 35 per cent of them women, who remained in Afghanistan rather than going into exile during the decades of war.

Members have to be graduates, or have at least three years' professional experience, and uphold the charter's aims of promoting social justice and securing human rights.

"We would like to change the socio-economic conditions of our community in which all causes of backwardness such as ignorance, poverty, and illness should be eradicated," the charters states.

Members are divided into 10 separate associations depending on their profession, including teachers, economists, lawyers, engineers, doctors, veterinary workers and painters.

Unfortunately, Ismail Khan, the governor of Herat has been very unreceptive to the group.

< email | 5/20/2003 12:44:00 PM | link

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