- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Business aids Afghans

The Afghan ambassador to Washington has created an American business coalition to help rebuild his country devastated by more than two decades of war.

"Afghanistan has had enough political revolutions. The time has come for an economic revolution to take place," Ambassador Ishaq Shahryar said in announcing the Private Sector Development Task Force for Afghanistan.

Mr. Shahryar, the first Afghan ambassador here since 1978, is using his experience in more than 30 years in business in the United States to attract executives to help revitalize the Afghan economy.

Afghanistan's new government has complained repeatedly about the failure of Western donors to meet aid commitments made after the United States liberated the country from the Taliban, which sheltered Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

Congress last week approved a bill to provide $2.3 billion in reconstruction aid for Afghanistan.

Mr. Shahryar said members of his task force have already traveled to Afghanistan to meet President Hamid Karzai and members of his Cabinet.

He said the main goals of the Afghan Embassy are to "facilitate humanitarian and relief efforts [and to] aggressively explore a vital economic redevelopment agenda."

"Today, the Afghan people celebrate the dawning of a new day," he said on the embassy's Web site (www.afghanistanembassy.org). "We have emerged from 23 years of invasion, war and terrorism as a stronger, more determined people."

Lawless Zimbabwe

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe complained yesterday about the "lawlessness" of the southern African nation after an embassy employee was assaulted by men calling themselves "war veterans," the same description government-sanctioned thugs have used in their two-year campaign to force white farmers off their land.

The embassy employee, who is a Zimbabwean citizen, was among a group conducting a survey among the displaced farmers to assess their humanitarian needs.

That employee, an official of the United Nations and another Zimbabwean citizen, whose position was not identified, were held and subjected to a "hostile interrogation," the embassy said in a statement, adding that the embassy employee was later beaten.

The assault "is symptomatic of the lawlessness that has affected Zimbabwe" since President Robert Mugabe began encouraging militants to seize the land of white farmers, the embassy said. "We call once again on the government of Zimbabwe to restore the rule of law and respect for human rights."

Tajik leader to visit

The president of Tajikistan plans to visit President Bush next month, the U.S. ambassador in the key Central Asian country said yesterday.

Ambassador Franklin Huddle said Emomali Rakhmonov will make his first official visit to Washington after his Dec. 3-6 visit to France.

Tajikistan has become a key U.S. ally in the war against terrorism. Mr. Rakhmonov allowed U.S. troops to use an air base for the war in Afghanistan and recently signed an agreement that will exempt American troops in Tajikistan from prosecution by the new International Criminal Court.

Mexico's mistake

Mexican President Vicente Fox is making a mistake by focusing too much on illegal Mexicans in the United States, according to the former U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

Ex-Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow told a Washington audience last week that Mr. Fox is risking the "very complex" U.S.-Mexican relations on one issue.

Mr. Fox has been upset that President Bush has not made more progress on granting permanent legal status to the estimated 4 million Mexicans living illegally in the United States. Both presidents agreed on the need to resolve that issue early in their terms, but the September 11 terrorist attacks changed the focus of Mr. Bush's foreign policy.

"I do think that dwelling on the lack of progress is actually counterproductive," Mr. Davidow told the Inter-American Dialogue.

"We made that mistake for many years when we reduced the entire relationship to the question of narcotics," he said of past U.S. policy of pressure on Mexico about drug smuggling and corruption.

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