“Turkey has a very special place in Afghanistan. It is the only Muslim country in NATO, and the Afghan people trust Turkey. The source of this trust is the assistance provided by the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency [TİKA] and Turkish schools in Afghanistan,” Rashid Mubariz, Afghanistan’s deputy minister of culture and information, said on Thursday.
Mubariz was speaking during a meeting of Turkish and Afghan journalists hosted by the Medialog Platform, a body affiliated with the independent Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) promoting dialogue among media institutions. “There are 48 countries [contributing to NATO’s peacekeeping force] in Afghanistan. But no country can do what Turkey is doing,” Mubariz, who visited Turkey with a group of 10 journalists, also said.
The Afghan official called on Turkish schools operating in Afghanistan to increase their efforts to provide education to the Afghan people, saying the Afghans are very pleased with their current work.
There are six Afghan-Turkish schools -- including one girls’ high school -- operating in Afghanistan, the first of which was opened in 1995. The high schools -- in Shibirgan, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Herat for boys, and one all-girls high school in Kabul -- operate under the designation “Afghan-Turkish Schools.” This year, Turkey is to build and furnish 15 schools and seven health clinics through TİKA. There are over 6 million students in Afghanistan, with over 4,000 schools operating without proper school buildings.
Victims of the Taliban
Afghan journalists attending the meeting appeared to be united in blaming the Taliban for the current instability and insecurity in Afghanistan and in stating that the NATO presence in the country was a necessity. “There was not a single Afghan national involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Yet we became victims of the Taliban,” said Sanjari Suhayl, editor-in-chief of the Hasht-e-Subh daily, told the meeting. Another journalist, Fahim Dashti of Haftanamey-i Kabul, said almost all Afghans wanted NATO troops to stay because Afghanistan was currently unable to fight the vast number of problems it faced.
Dashti also warned that Afghanistan’s security problems were a threat to the entire world and that, if efforts to contain them in Afghanistan fail, the whole world would be affected. “We don’t have much to lose. But if we lose, our allies will also lose. The Taliban has objectives outside of Afghanistan. If they seize control in Pakistan, they will seize control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Then the war that we lost will continue in İstanbul, Berlin and other places,” he said.
Commenting on the presence of international troops in Afghanistan, Mubariz said no country would want to see foreign troops in its streets but added that NATO was providing security in Afghanistan and that NATO’s withdrawal depended on Afghanistan’s ability to create its own army.
Mubariz also called for more cooperation between Turkish and Afghan media institutions and training programs in Turkey for Afghan journalists.