Her Excellency Maliha Zulfacar, Afghan Ambassador to Germany
Ambassador Maliha Zulfacar taught sociology as a professor at California Polytechnic State University before her current position representing Afghanistan in Germany. In our interview she speaks about the wishes, hopes and fears of the men and women of her country. She is concerned for the hundred thousand young Afghans with high school diplomas who may not have a place at universities in 2010, and calls it both a humanitarian catastrophe and a threat to security.
Education questions lie close to her heart, as they do for most Afghans, who above all want their children to have opportunities to learn. She gives frank criticism of the way the international community has approached reconstruction in her country, and outlines some of the challenges that lie ahead in the upcoming years.
Among the points she makes in the video:
- Relations with Germany are crucial for Afghanistan. Germany has also benefited from Afghan sacrifice. During Soviet occupation, 1.5 million Afghans died to claim their liberty. The defeat of the Soviets also impacted Europe, and this is connected to Germany and the fall of the wall. This reinforces the historical connections between the countries.
- Despite a dark picture in the media, ordinary Afghans share the same hopes for the future as other people all over the world. The media overlooks a lot of the positive stories of the country, and the wishes of parents to educate their children.
- A piece-by-piece approach to rebuilding the country should be replaced by a coordinated, unified strategy, along with funding for the countryside.
New troops should be engaged in welfare and reconstruction, ideally in ways that provide employment for the local population.
- By 2010 there will be 100,000 Afghan students without access to universities. International support is needed to create technical schools and other sources for vocational education, to give practical skills to young people.
- The Mumbai terror attacks, along with other tragic incidents worldwide, show that terrorism is not only a problem in Afghanistan, but rather a regional and global question. The problems in Afghanistan are one of the many outcomes of terrorism, not the source of it.
- A withdrawal from Afghanistan would mean that the mission of fighting terrorism had been abandoned and lost.