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The Rediff Interview/Afghan Ambassador Masood Khalili
'May God not put any country in the fire that we were in'
February 03, 2006
In a bloody war that lasted nearly 25 years, Afghanistan lost 1.5 million people. Masood Khalili, the Afghan ambassdor to India until recently, feels it will take another 20 years before his country can stand on its own feet.
As the world pledged $10.5 billion for the rebuilding of the country in London this week, the situation remains grim in Afghanistan. Suicide bombers continue to kill security forces and citizens, and a fresh batch of Al Qaeda fighters from Iraq are known to have been dispatched to the country.
In his conversation with Managing Editor Sheela Bhatt and Nikhil Lakshman, Khalili -- who was seriously wounded when Al Qaeda assassins killed his friend, the legendary Ahmed Shah Masood on September 9, 2001 -- speaks about the toll of war on his country.
Don't you think this kind of democracy is spoonfeeding? America is mothering Afghanistan. It is little artificial, don't you think?
No. I will tell you that it is real. I don't want to argue. It is real. When I saw the elections, what I saw in the villages, I could not believe it. Villagers don't do this. It was announced that there will be elections after a month and people were to register, they all went for registration. Can you believe that?
In the remotest villages of Afghanistan where they have food to eat once a day or once in two days, they told their children to go and register. This country has a background, this country has a history, this country has a culture of five thousand years.
You can't believe how much these people suffered. I tell you go to Afghanistan. This cultural background helps you in critical times. When you have this blood it will help you. I was talking of the maturity of the people.
Maybe Nietzsche was right -- war purifies you and makes you mature. I have seen it with my own eyes.
The economy -- people indeed are very poor. The economy should be fixed, leave the rest to the people. The poor people cannot stop interference. If the Taliban come from any neighbouring country. If they have their own wrong agenda to make Afghanistan hell, they can do it because we are not yet strong enough to stand on our own feet. Give us time. After 25 years of war, at least give us 20 years to stand again.
This is not easy. The people want to live in peace. Help us with our economy, just so that we can stand again. The minute we do that we will be strong -- maybe not enough -- but strong to a large extent to hold matters in our own hands.
For 23 years people have seen war. They have lost 1.5 million people. Imagine it -- the pain of the loss of a brother, the loss of a son. We have a phrase that you will never know the fire as long as you are not in it. May God not put any country in the fire that we were in.
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