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Mr. M. Ashraf Haidari, Deputy Chief of Mission, received and met with a group of 14 Afghan members of the Young Leaders Forum, supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), on a weeklong visit to New Delhi, on November 19, 2012, at the Embassy.

In a two-hour discussion of the group’s questions, Mr. Haidari briefed young Afghan leaders—including university students, recent graduates, and professionals—on a range of issues concerning Afghanistan-India relations, the status of Afghan students studying in India, as well as the challenges facing Afghan refugees in the country. He drew the attention of the young leaders to the many national responsibilities, awaiting their leadership in the near future. He noted that Afghanistan has one of the youngest populations in the region, as more than 70% of its population is below the age of 25. He told them that they were the leaders, who would soon have to take up positions of complex national responsibility in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, all of which must work hand in hand to help secure and develop Afghanistan in the coming decades.

On relations with India, Mr. Haidari reiterated what President Karzai emphasized upon during his recent State Visit to India: Afghanistan's relationship with India is one of civilizational, based on centuries of cultural, intellectual, and commercial exchanges between the two peoples. He noted that such rich, shared history underpins a comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement, which Afghanistan and India signed in October 2011. He thankfully pointed out that some 5,000 Afghan students were studying at different universities across India, and agreed with the young leaders that more Afghan students should be admitted to Indian universities to pursue degrees in such technical fields as medicine, mechanical engineering, geological engineering, agricultural engineering, computer science, and other vital technical fields to help address Afghanistan’s acute needs in the above areas.

Mr. Haidari also discussed the young leaders’ questions on the Afghan foreign policy and the Embassy’s activities, including promoting cultural understanding, assisting Afghan students and other Afghan groups of interest in India. He said Afghanistan was pursuing a sovereign foreign policy agenda, having concluded many strategic partnership agreements with its allies, who share Afghanistan's interests and concerns.

The meeting concluded with the comments of the young leaders on how the government should address some of the challenges facing Afghanistan. To do so, Mr. Haidari asked them to organize their constructive efforts in support of the government, which he said was one of their key responsibilities to strengthen.

Mr. M. Ashraf Haidari, Deputy Chief of Mission, met with UNHCR Chief of Mission to India, Ms. Montserrat Feixas Vihe, on December 3, 2012, discussing the status of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in India. There are some 8,000 Afghan refugees in India, of which 5,000 are Afghan Hindus and Sikhs, most of whom are seeking local assimilation as a durable solution to their problem. Other Afghan refugees in India, which is not a party to the Geneva 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, hope to be resettled in third countries because weak "pull factors" and generalized insecurity prevent their return to their communities of origin in Afghanistan.

Mr. Haidari pointed out that although some five million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran returned home between 2001-2008, they were not provided with adequate reintegration assistance, which had been promised to them. Hence, most of those returnees either relied on their already poor relatives for support, or ended up in IDPs camps without much assistance. 

He encouraged UNHCR to play a greater advocacy role in raising awareness among its donors that repatriation without reintegration assistance is not sustainable. He also noted that developed countries had not been forthcoming in sharing the burden of refugees through another long-term solution: resettlement of refugees in third safe countries. 

Ms. Vihe noted that there were only a handful of refugees, who UNHCR recommends for resettlement, noting that the best solution for others were to return home. This is also a solution, which UNHCR donors encourage. 

"In Defense of Afghan Refugees and Asylum Seekers" in the G-8 Summit Magazine below, Mr. Haidari wrote to draw the attention of G-8 leaders to the plight of Afghan refugees for long-term assistance through stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has one of the largest refugee populations in the world where some 22 million people remain homeless.
In Defense of Afghan Refugees and Asylum Seekers
The G-8 Summit Magazine - 2011
Page 50

On behalf of Ambassador Abdali on official visit outside Delhi, Deputy Chief of Mission M. Ashraf Haidari attended the funeral ceremony of India's former Prime Minister, Shri Inder Kumar Gujral, today, December 1, 2012, at the Smriti Sthal, Delhi. Mr. Haidari extended the profound condolences of the Afghan government and people to the family and loved ones of the late Prime Minister, as well as to the leadership of the Indian government at the cremation ceremony.

Commenting on the late Prime Minister's death, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: "In his passing, the country has lost an intellectual, a scholar-statesman and a gentleman politician whose liberal and humanist vision was rooted in the teachings of the leaders of our freedom movement. I personally have lost a friend of long standing, whose wisdom, idealism and deep concern for social equity left a great impression on me and whose counsel and opinion I often sought and valued greatly."

President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President of National Congress Sonia Gandhi, senior General Officers, and the Diplomatic Corps attended the funeral ceremonies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Memorial Lecture 2012

by H.E. Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

(NEW DELHI - November 12, 2012)

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim. Good evening and a very happy Diwali to all of you here today, ladies and gentlemen.

Your Excellency Dr. Karan Singh, Your Excellency Mr. Salman Khurshid, Dr. Goel, Mr. Rangarajan:

I am so honoured to be given this privilege of talking in a lecture in the name of a personality so immense and great that transcends time proving his philosophy to be a flowing current of water nonstop. For someone like me who does not stand even close to a human being of that stature, it is indeed to bestow upon me an honour that I do not deserve. But thank you anyway.

Ladies and gentlemen, as a student in India and when we were reading about the Indian movement for Independence, inevitably all students of the subject or as a matter of fact all students in India, Indian or foreign, do come across the name of Maulana Azad and the other great leaders of India during the struggle for Independence here and there and often during their lifetime of study.

I was one of those students too, impressed by Gandhiji and the peaceful struggle and his associates from Maulana to Pandit Nehru, to Patel, to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan the Frontier Gandhi, to all other leaders. But then as students since you are in history as a subject you come across these names in passing. And later in life there are occasions of course that confront you with the depth of these personalities.

My second encounter with Maulana Azad was in Mr. Jaswant Singh’s book on the Partition of India in which I read a speech, or the translation of a speech, that Maulana Azad probably gave at the Jama Masjid in Delhi perhaps right after the Independence of India. Then I began to get impressed by him and by the ideas and the vision that he had.

When I learned last year or a few months ago that I would have the privilege of speaking in his name, I asked for his books and writings. And going through his writings and books I was amazed to see the scope of vision and the thoughts, and how deep Maulana’s thinking and knowledge of this region and of the world was.

A man who did not have a formal education but a man who learnt Persian language by the time he was 12, and a man who learned Arabic because he was born in Mecca and also because he was raised in a religious family of clergy and Mullahs and the Alim-e-Deens they are called, a man then who goes on to learn English though his preference was for French, as was mine for French but English of course is a colonial dominance now and we have accepted it. So, he did go to English too and he mastered in English in a manner that few of us at that time would have mastered having come from a religious family.

Reading through his book somewhere, he refers to the death of his wife while he is visiting Bombay three years before that and on his way of returning to his home he visits her grave site and he recites a poem from Wordsworth. Goes even into poetry in English! A journalist, he published newspapers, he published articles, he published books. A great Urdu writer, a great Persian writer, and a par excellent Arabic speaker and writer.

So, a journalist, a revolutionary man working for the Independence of India, a revolutionary man in the sense of the social reform that he was seeking for us all in this region. A politician, a practical person, a moralist who admits to his moralism along side the practical application of politics. A personality of many beautiful colours. Rarely you find an occasion where you find one man having such a variety of qualities assembled in him.

When you go through his life, when you read his work, during the struggle for Independence there was a remarkable episode of a conversation between him and Gandhiji. Right after the Independence of India, when the unfortunate events occurred and when the loss of life took place, when migrations took place East to West, and when Gandhiji goes on a fast unto death, and when the people of Delhi get together in their thousands and assembled to give Gandhiji the assurance that there will not be trouble any more or communal disharmony, even Azad goes to Gandhiji and says, “Well, what are your conditions?” And Gandhiji says that his conditions are that the Muslims who left Delhi must be returned back to their homes.

And Maulana Azad says, “Well, very good idea. But how about the Hindus who have taken residence now in Delhi who have been expelled from their homes?” A Hindu and a Muslim - one talking of the Muslims and the necessity of their return back to their homes. Then he says, “Well, right. It is a good thing. But how about the Hindus who have now settled in those homes?” It is like the most enchanting music especially at the miserly time of hours today to have people of that caliber, of that great humanism and humanity. Greatly impressed!

And on the issue of war, during the World War II, on whether India should join as a colonial power of the British force, for Gandhiji it was no, under any circumstances because he was against war itself, no matter who was fighting whom. There were no wrongs or rights on any side fighting a war. But Maulana Azad said, “No, I will join Britain or the democratic world, as he puts it, against the non-democratic world provided Britain assures that India will be given freedom”. Then he said, “Not fighting a war was not a matter of creed for me, but a matter of a political demand”. And yet he coexisted with Gandhiji’s high super morality. And he is heart broken when his own associates who agreed with him, like Ghafar Khan and perhaps Lal Bahadur Shastri, I do not recall all the names, they break rank with him eventually and side with Gandhi on not joining the war.

A man who is also at the same time a Maulana, a great educator of Islam, and Alim-e-Deen. There is no translation of this phrase – an Alim-e-Deen. Should we say theologian? No, no translation. So, let us say Alim-e-Deen, who in his pursuit of religion excels so much that he translated Quran. And a Mullah from Afghanistan who travels all the way from Afghanistan with businessmen to Lahore to Delhi follows him to Ranchi. And he writes that one day in Ranchi after the early morning prayers, cultural prayers, when he was I believe under internment, house arrest at that time, when he is going back home, he finds that someone is trailing him, fast, very close to him. And he turns back and sees a man there and says, “Yes, Sir, do you have some work with me?” And the man says, Yes, “Maulana sahib, I have something to ask you. I have been reading your translation of the Quran as it is called, the Tafseer, and I have some problems understanding parts of your translation.

He says, “Who are you? Where are you from?” The man says, “I am a Mullah from Afghanistan and I have come all the way here to Ranchi to ask you this.” And Maulana says, “Let us go home with me”. And they go home. And he stays a few days with the Maulana. The Maulana gives him the meaning as the understood of those translations of the Quran that he has done. And one day in the morning the Mullah from Afghanistan says, “Well, Maulana sahib, now I want to beg your leave and I want to go home.” And the Maulana says, “Wait a minute. I will come back in a second”. He goes home to bring some money to this very poor person who came all the way from Afghanistan to learn the Quran from Maulana, and the Maulana finds that the man has already left, has not waited. A great interaction! Beyond Delhi or beyond Ranchi. People knew him.

But for me, as I was reading Maulana Azad, the biggest moment came when reading ‘India Wins Freedom’ a Maulana’s work, his memoirs, on the fourth or fifth page of his book you come across the man Maulana. And if you want to know about him, there is no need to go further in this lovely book of hundreds of pages. You are stuck there with the whole meaning of Maulana and his philosophy.

A religious man, a Mullah, a Maulana who tells you that for me religions are to unite humanity. For me, religions are to unite people, especially the people of India and beyond. And that we as one nation of different religions and different varieties of groups live together. And, therefore, I shun away all those who speak for division – Muslims, non-Muslims, whoever. Here you find Maulana, a man who sees in God and the religions that God sent to earth to mankind a message of unity not of division. And that message of unity then he takes as his creed and moves forward.

Therefore, Dr. Karan Singh, your title “A Maulana for Our Time”, is exactly true to the spirit. He is a Maulana for Our Time, especially for our time today with all that radicalism, with all the brutality coming in the name of radicals and by the radicals, with all the terrorism in the name of religion, with all the violence perpetrated against innocent people in the name of religion.

Look at the story of Afghanistan of the past so many decades. Look at the destruction of schools in the name of religion. Look at the killing of teachers in the name of religion. Look at Pakistan, what is happening there. Look at the bigotry and the hatred spread there. Look at the shooting of a teenaged little girl. Malala Yusufzai going to school has been shot because she has been seeking education. And look at it before Malala in Afghanistan. Acid thrown on the faces of girls, teachers killed, Ulema killed, Mullahs killed, parents destroyed by the life of their children lost, all in the name of religion.

Who is representing Islam better? Is Maulana a true representative of Islam and of unity of religions and of people or all these extremists, the faceless extremists? They do not dare show us their faces. Or are they the representatives of Islam?

Ladies and gentlemen, the representative of Islam is the Maulana of Our Times. And if you have to choose between what Maulana is teaching us and what these extremists are perpetrating, no doubt if we take a vote in this room the absolute great majority, unanimously will go for Maulana, the Maulana that is poetic in his writings as well.

I was going through his book “Ghubar-e-Khatir”, a beautiful title for a book. If you speak Persian, ladies and gentlemen, if you read the title of the book “Ghubar-e-Khatir, that title itself would take you to reading the whole book, just like I was attracted to the title of the book “God of Small Things” by a lady writer, Arundhati Roy. “The God of Small Things”, when I saw this title I was drawn to the book and read it first page to the last page. Maulana’s Ghubar-e-Khatir is equally romantic and yet with a message. Ghubar-e-Khatir perhaps means in English the “Dust of a Pensive Heart” or the “Mist of the Pensive Heart”. The mist of the Pensive Heart. If you go through it, I am sure lots of you read Urdu, it is a great mixture of Urdu prose and Persian verse.

The same is the case in Tazkirah, another book of his where he speaks of his life and of his thinking and of his philosophy wherein he speaks of it in Urdu and relates it to beautiful Persian poetry.

In one of his those writings called Estederaq, the Maulana is talking about his education and his life. And then he goes to narrate a beautiful Persian poet perhaps by Bedil, I do not know by Hafiz or one of these great poets, he says, “ Rahrawan ra khastagee-e-rah nest". Those who are moving forward, who are in the movement, who are walking ahead, have no tiredness or exhaustion of the way they are following. “Ishq ham rah ast wa hum khud manzil ast”. The love of an objective, of a purpose is the way itself and also the end in it. This is what we should learn from Maulana and follow.

Whether Maulana achieved all of his objectives there or not, we must walk ahead the journey that he began and completed. And that journey is a journey of peace, a journey of togetherness, a journey of tolerance, a journey of us as a civilization, like Dr. Karan Singh referred to, being one and indeed we are one. We are one in the examples that Maulana set for us, we are one also in the many examples subsequently that came to us.

Just as I became the President eleven years ago, the second day of my arrival in Kabul, an elderly man from Kandahar who was a Headmaster for about fifty years called Headmaster Ibrahim Jaan came to me and stayed with me for fifteen days or twenty days. Suddenly one morning he came to me and said, “Mr. President, I beg your leave. Now I need to go home.” And I said, “Sir, Mr. Headmaster, but what brought you here and why are you leaving so suddenly?” He said, “Well, I have nothing else to ask you, Mr. President, but one thing.” And I said, “What is that?” He said, “That one thing is that the Muslims in Afghanistan will regain their lost properties and goods. But it is the Hindus of Afghanistan who you should pay great attention to. Call them back and give them their property.” This is the Maulana in the aam aadmi. So, the story continues. So, the story does not end.

Or, take an example much more recent, just in the past two or three months. When there was some atrocity committed in Pakistan against Hindus somehow, there was a gentleman called Advocate Khurshid who went to Gurudwaras and temples, and who began to polish shoes of the visitors of Gurudwaras and temples. I believe he also came to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to do the same. Take this by extension to others. There are hundreds of thousands of examples in our ordinary life of the pursuit of Maulana and his message.

So, the Maulana of Our Time lives on and inspires us. A man so great as him can only be given meaning in the words of great people like him. And I believe Tagore’s “The ocean of peace lies ahead of me. Sail the boat, Oh pilot!” is the best meaningful description of the purpose that Maulana had.

So, let us say, “The Ocean of peace lies ahead of us. Sail the boat Oh, Maulana!” That is our future.

Thank you very very much.

 

 

  • MoU between the Govt. of the Republic of India and the Govt. of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan regarding Indian Grant Assistance for implementation of Small Development Projects through local Govt. bodies, Community Organizations, Charitable Trusts and Educational and Vocational Institutions.
  • MoU between the Govt. of the Republic of India and the Govt. of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on Cooperation in the Field of Fertilizer Sector.
  • MoU between the Govt. of the Republic of India and the Govt. of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on Cooperation in Youth Affairs.
  • MoU between the Govt. of the Republic of India and the Govt. of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on Cooperation in the Field Development of Coal Mineral Resources.