Ambassador Illuminates History and Goals for Future
by Scott Ewart
past Monday, Rashid Alimov, the Tajikistani ambassador to the United
States, spoke to the Oberlin community on Tajikistans relationship
with Afghanistan and outlined goals for ensuring security and development
throughout Central Asia. Alimov, who is also Tajikistans ambassador
to the United Nations, expressed gratitude for the global communitys
involvement in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. We knew
peace and prosperity would reign in our country only after the Taliban
regime ended in Afghanistan, he said.
Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan to the north, was gripped
by civil war between secular and Islamic government advocates for
five years after its 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet
Union. Alimov described how terrorism had been used in the conflict
and emphasized the recent instability of the Central Asia region.
Sept. 11 opened the eyes of those who pretended to be blind.
Alimov explained how numurous political conflicts had wrought over
20 years of suffering upon Afghanis, particularly children. This
turmoil culminated in the Talibans 1996 ascent to power. He
described how children were given ammunition cartridges for toys,
and cited that weapons outnumber people three to one in the country.
They believed that life meant war, they became children of
war, actually they became a lost generation, Alimov said.
Alimov warned that before Afghanistan could achieve national stability
a great number of problems would have to be overcome and stressed
that there would be no miracle. In Afghanistan there is practically
nothing, he said. The process of forming a government has
been slow because of factional disputes among Afghanistans
many warlords. He also described how heroin production continues
to be a problem, and although farmers dont want to grow the
plants they lack seeds for other crops.
The tone of the speech was not entirely pessimistic, however. It
is our strong belief that the Afghan people will reach prosperity,
Alimov said, but cautioned that rebuilding the country would require
cooperation from nations around the world, especially Pakistan and
India. He also described the hopes of the Tajikistani people for
Afghanistan. We want women and girls to feel themselves dignified
members of society, and see they have a future. We want the border
between Tajikistan and Afghanistan to become a border of friendship
and free trade, Alimov said, encouraging the Oberlin community
to raise money for the relief effort in Afghanistan.
Alimov also outlined goals for development in Tajikistan, pointing
to reduced inflation and growth in the private sector, including
240 joint foreign ventures, as signs for optimism. He explained
the need to create a modern day silk road by establishing stable
trade connections between Central Asia, Europe and East Asia. This
would not only further economic growth, but also encourage cultural
exchange and raise world awareness of the Central Asian nations.
While the audience received Alimov warmly, some were disappointed
by the broad nature of the talk. Other students questioned how truthfully
he spoke about Tajikistani sentiment on American involvement in
the region since Sept. 11.
It was difficult to tell whether he was expressing true gratitude
for American involvement in the region, or he was simply telling
an American audience what he thought they wanted to hear,
sophomore Kate Merrick said.