Afghan journalist asks Americans to help stop Karzai corruption

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Javed Hamim Kakar, senior regional and international editor of Pajkwok Afghan News of Kabul, speaks about the government corruption in his country Tuesday in the Student Center Ballroom. — Photo by Kinley Q. Nichols

Photo by Kinley Q. Nichols

Javed Hamim Kakar, senior regional and international editor of Pajkwok Afghan News of Kabul, speaks about the government corruption in his country Tuesday in the Student Center Ballroom.

Zainab Mohammadi, senior reporter for Pajhwok Afghan News in Kabul, speaks about women before and after the Taliban regime Tuesday in the Student Center Ballroom. She and co-worker Javed Hamim Kakar have been making appearances throughout the area all week. Their final appearance will be as keynote speakers for the NCMA luncheon Saturday. — Photo by Kinley Q. Nichols
Zainab Mohammadi, Senior reporter for Pajhwok Afghan News in Kabul, Afghanistan
Javed Hamim Kakar, Senior regional and international editor for Pajhwok Afghan News in Kabul, Afghanistan

Javed Hamim Kakar and Zainab Mohammadi, both of Kabul, Afghanistan, urged audience members to push their government representatives to stop corruption in Afghanistan at a public address Tuesday night in the CSC Student Center Ballroom.

The two Afghan journalists are in the United States for a collegiate media conference taking place at CSC this weekend. As part of the visit, they are speaking at CSC and other schools around the area.

Kakar, senior regional and international editor of Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN) in Kabul, addressed Afghanistan’s election milestones and corruption problems.

Kakar believes that corruption is the “mother of all problems” in Afghanistan. Grants that were given to Afghanistan were not spent properly and resulted in the situation they see today.

“Excluding a few road projects and school buildings, there is not a mega project being accomplished that could bring positive changes to the living standards of the Afghan people,” Kakar said.

In some cases in Afghanistan, millions of dollars are spent on projects to help rebuild infrastructure, but very little of it actually goes to the cause. A majority settles with the company who implemented the idea.

Kakar urged the audience to voice their opinions to the U.S. Congress to help stop the corruption in Afghanistan.

“Ask them to assert their power to help us achieve democracy as you have it here in America,” he said.

On Oct. 9, 2004, Afghanistan held its first presidential election to establish a democratic government.

“I still remember that people were standing in long lines in front of polling booths, braving the chilly weather conditions,” Kakar said. “I was in Peshawar, Pakistan, on that day to cover the election process where more than three million Afghan refugees living in camps along the border cast their ballot.”

Hamid Karzai was elected president in 2004, but failed to honor the pledges he made to the Afghan people.

Partially because of this, the Afghan people had little excitement for the 2009 election, which suffered from low voter participation.

Mohammadi, senior reporter for PAN, addressed the current status of women in Afghanistan compared to the position of women at the time of the Taliban.

“Under the Taliban regime, we women in Afghanistan were like prisoners,” Mohammadi said.
“We could not leave our homes without a male family member and when we did go out in public, we were forced to wear the burqa, which covered us completely from head to toe.”

Mohammadi made it clear that the only job for women was to “marry and make babies.”

After the Taliban regime was deposed, women were allowed much more freedom.

In 2001, an international conference in Bonn, Germany, developed the Bonn Agreement, a temporary government for Afghanistan. This temporary government called for the establishment of the Ministry for Women’s Affairs.

Now, not only do women participate in political affairs, but they’re also very active in the economic, social, and military sectors in Afghanistan.

“Although it is true that 50 percent of Afghanistan’s population is women, these political and social advances are not enough,” Mohammadi said. “Statistics show that every 30 minutes, a new mother dies in child birth everyday in Afghanistan.”

Despite the on-going problems still surrounding Afghan women, Mohammadi is happy with day-to-day changes. She said she would still like to see more investment and consideration from the Afghan government.

“It is the ambition of all Afghan women to live as a human in our war-torn country,” Mohammadi said.

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