Like many young Afghans, Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib has lived in a country that has been at war most of his life. Born in 1983, Ambassador Mohib stressed that he and Afghanistan's young population as a whole have benefited from the relative stability brought to the country by the arrival of U.S. troops in 2001. But this stability only came after Afghanistan lurched from monarchy to communism to anarchy and then to extremism and finally to democracy over the decades.
"It's unfortunate for me to have been born in a war, but it's not just me. Eighty percent of the country is under the age of 30. We were all born in a war that has been ongoing throughout much of our lives," Mohib told KGOU’s World Views.
Decades of war have destroyed Afghanistan’s infrastructure, and much of the population was left struggling to find stability.
"First there was the Soviet invasion and then the civil war between opposing Mujahedeen factions,” Mohib said. “Finally, there was the Taliban, and if there was anything left, that disappeared, too."
Ambassador Mohib is a self-styled "reformed technologist" who is formally trained in computer systems engineering and earned his Ph.D. in 3D video transmission. Mohib accepted the post of Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United States, in part because he came to know many Americans who served in his country during the past 15 years of U.S. military engagement there.
The arrival of the Americans began the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and Ambassador Mohib is grateful to the U.S. for that and many other things.
"I have had a front row seat to seeing the transformation from total destruction to a nascent democracy," Mohib said.
It's not only the roads and public utilities that have been transformed by the American-U.S. alliance. Afghanistan now boasts hospitals, universities, rising foreign investment and increasing opportunities for both males and females. Ambassador Mohib points to statistics that show 40 percent of those enrolled in school are girls.
"Today we have more women in our Parliament than you have in Congress,” Mohib said. “We have over 400 female judges and for an Islamic country, that's a huge achievement."
Mohib credits the very survival of Afghanistan to its resilient women. He believes they have not received the recognition they deserve for their strength and hope for the future during the dark days of war.
The ambassador has made it his personal mission to encourage American businesses to consider expanding into Afghanistan. Mohib recently spent time in Tulsa to discuss business opportunities with energy and technology companies. He highlighted the fact that Afghanistan is located at the crossroads of Central and South Asia and is ideally situated to act as a natural market, providing energy as well as other goods and services to these regions. Mohib cited the example of Coca-Cola, Inc., which has been distributing its products throughout the area from its base in Afghanistan for over a decade.
Despite the progress, Mohib said the average Afghan still dreams of the stability many Americans take for granted.
“We want to be able to save for our children’s college education. We want to be able to predict where they go to school and when. At the moment, without that kind of stability, we can only plan two years ahead, and sometimes even that is too far,” Mobid said.
Regardless, Ambassador Mohib believes Afghanistan’s partnership with the United States is crucial for converting his country’s dreams of stability and prosperity into reality.
Mohib on the “equal excellence” of women in Afghanistan
We have 25 percent of our Cabinet Ministers are female. They're ambassadors serving us abroad and they play a role in every part of our life, including being nurses and doctors and educators, but also representing us in the Olympics in sports. Their role they managed to regain the former prominence and it is at a stage where I think it can not be reversed. We think it cannot be reversed. They were always referred to in Afghanistan as the mothers and the sisters and the wives. But today they're no longer referred to that they’re referred to as the equal of the excellences.
Mohib on the reconstruction of Afghanistan
It's been wonderful to be part of reconstructing rather than you know seeing it destroyed. It’s one of the reason I'm very thankful and make sure that I reach out to Americans personally because I have had a front row seat to seeing the transformation from total destruction to where we are. Where we have a nascent democracy. But some institutions have matured and health care was, well, almost non-existent. We had to go to Pakistan and India to treat malaria. Today, our hospitals are separating conjoined twins, performing heart operations. We didn't have any universities, malls or many schools for that matter, that were functional. Today we have 135 universities and institutes of higher education and hundreds of schools across the country.
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