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S. Safarov: Navruz as a Symbol of a Bright Day for Afghanistan

Address to Eurasia - Europe Conference on 
Peace and Security in Multicultural Societies at a Time of Global Crisis

Moscow, Russia - April 6-7, 2012

In Tajikistan, the celebration of Navruz on the spring equinox is considered the symbol of the bright day that brings a benevolent message of the bright spirit of nature that rejuvenates the feeling of love and new life. In the times of the Soviet Union, the celebration of Navruz was banned. When Tajikistan became independent, Navruz was declared a nationwide celebration, emphasizing both the importance of the people and the state. Navruz symbolizes our national consciousness and our independence as a nation. This year, the celebration of Navruz in Dushanbe was attended by the heads of state of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. [Navruz is a Perian word meaning "new day" and is widely referred to as the Persian New Year.]

Navrus is listed by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind, and in 2010, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution recognizing the International Day of Navruz. It is a national celebration in Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

I participated in a conference on regional cooperation with Afghanistan that was attended by the heads of state from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan and by representatives of more than 40 nations and 35 international organizations.

Tajikistan presented a number of proposals in support of Kabul, including training personnel for government positions and members of the legislature of Afghanistan. Also Dushanbe is offering to help restore the national irrigation system and start joint projects of building a railroad and a power transmission line in its southern neighbor.

A main way to promote the sustainable social and economic development of Afghanistan would be to improve its commercial and economic ties with neighboring nations. “Tajikistan emphasizes the need to exploit the natural resources of Afghanistan in order to resolve Afghanistan's problems,” said Tajikistan's President, Emomali Rakhmon.

“When the atmosphere in Afghanistan becomes peaceful and calm, it will mark a starting point for the rapid development of the economy and commerce. In our opinion, building oil and gas lines to use the natural resources of Afghanistan will be economically profitable not only for this nation but also for the neighboring states,” said Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. [Pakistan is bordered by Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan.]

To carry out such programs, it would be essential for Afghanistan to gain the status of a neutral state. If the Rogun hydroelectric power station can be completed, it could supply energy to Afghanistan. This would solve the problem of drug production. In the past, when the northern part of the country had electrical power, Najibulla, who was president of Afghanistan from 1987 to 1992, eliminated drug production in Mazari-Sharif on the northern border; this is evidence of the positive impact of providing power. If poppy plantations are eliminated, in many places people could grow traditional crops such as grapes and crocus; they could also grow olive and citrus trees. Thus, other crops can be grown for export.

In Afghanistan, the main problem is currently interethnic relations. Only when this is solved can the nation start addressing other problems. Why can't they do something about it right now? There are many capable people in Afghanistan, but they are living either in different parts of the country or in opposition to each other, and sometimes both.

I have proposed establishing dialogue between the different nationalities and religious communities in the nation and including qualified politicians who care about the well-being of the state. These dialogues should take place in a neutral country with the support of the world community. I think that the Universal Peace Federation could play an essential role here.